There are two ways I learn about my body/mind. One is scientific; reading, looking at anatomy illustrations, photos and occasionally x rays. Most of this is actually about others bodies and I apply what I can, hoping we are very much the same. I love it because it gives me visuals and concepts and information to” feel” into my body/mind.
The other way is less dependent on facts and marries sensation with imagination. Getting a felt sense of my inner experience requires my imagination to translate my experience to something I can consciously grasp. I notice discomfort or pain or something less definable somewhere in me and focus my attention toward it. In the first moment I often “see” an anatomical view, a compilation of all the study I have done. But what I want to know how is this sensation is uniquely me? Specifically, me now? Cultivating curiosity I allow my imagination free reign to describe what I sense; at times it is a specific material, or animal or quality or image that is seemingly unrelated. But this image, sometimes static some times in motion, tells me what is true for me in my body/mind right now, I have a sense of “oh yes” when I get it. And sometimes the image changes a bit before I feel the “oh yes”. As long as I stay with it, sensing, watching, accepting, it is so beneficial.
But let me tell you how last Thursday I got to add to my scientific view. I took my Mother (she’s 92) to a swallow study and I got to stand behind the partial wall and view a screen of the action as she swallowed. There moving before me I saw below her flesh; jaw bones, skull, vertebrae; the movement of tongue, esophagus, and windpipe. I was drawn to her neck vertebrae, the spinal processes and disc spaces; as she moves, can I see her neck pain? But there is too much to see, I was trying so hard to determine what is what as she swallows. I heard the voices of the doctor, speech therapist and technician but not clearly enough; I catch bits of why she is having trouble also that she is doing well at coughing what is headed the wrong way. Standing there amazed, I want to know everything about what I am seeing, but I can only watch, assimilate the magical action inside her throat, my throat, yours. This is a beautiful sequence, amazing even with the challenge of an esophageal diverticulum, the rhythm of the muscles calibrated to exert just the right amount of force at the precise time. So now as I drink this cup of hot tea, I cultivate the sensation and marry it to the images I saw on the x ray screen. Adding to the appreciation, nay gratitude for my body/mind.