I pause for the body to catch up
a race mind v. body
Pausing is Progress
This newsletter I'm pausing: to bring awareness to what all is going on.
Ninety percent of suicides are fatal wounds to the head. Although I don't know if that is true, it sounds right to me. I write that because when in my darkest, most sinister, most hate filled, it’s my head that isn’t serving me. My mind foams with confusion, and in those moments I'm severed from my body.
As a sensitive boy I upsetted easily. My older brother would do something wild like run in circles around me, and I would flee to the care of my mother. I silently nuzzled my face into her lap as she watched TV. When my mother would upset me, I went even further inside. I nuzzled my face into the corner carpet in the corner of my room where I bared the emotions until they subsided. Sometimes hours of gripping, cut off from my body.
As an adult, I used this to my advantage as a poker player. I learned to not upset at all. Poker is a game of rational, "un-emotional" thinking. Players who play emotionally are looked down upon. A player who loses a hand and begins to play angrily is targeted by every player at the table: blood is in the water. Robots are praised, and I considered myself one. I could lose for 8 hours straight and not feel a thing that's happening in my body. Like a good poker player. I was a professional at this cutting off my head from my body.
Nowadays, I no longer play poker, and I focus on creative pursuits: yoga, writing, dance. Each of these relies on the body. In yoga, we cultivate proprioception which is awareness of where your body is in space. In writing, well-written essays are consistent in a feeling and tone, unlike the mind’s jumpiness. And in dance, we want the body to move from the music, not the mind.
Weekly I attend a "dance pop-up" where a few of us get on camera and shake our bodies about. I know I want to move without thinking, so I tend to think how can I do that. While on zoom, listening to Taylor Swift 'Shake It Off' and what not, I'm trying to move into feeling, I’m trying to think less.
I try different prompts: how do you want to move right now? what does it feel like to be in your stomach and dance? how do you dance wrongly? how do you dance without guilt? how do you dance and stay connected to yourself and your friends? What... on and on and on, I prompt. My mind in a foamy confusion.
Meanwhile my body, the source of feeling, is lagging behind all this thinking.
Recently a friend told me sometimes she writes on her wall everything she wants to do, and she stares at it. "I let the body catch up."
Our minds race ahead of our bodies. Our minds while racing ahead juggle fifty thought-balls in the air. Our minds while racing ahead, while juggling thought-balls tries to be present with different prompts, try to recognize what's going on.
When I think about feeling, all I’m doing is adding momentum to the mind which is already ahead of the body.
I asked my friend to repeat what the hell she just said. It was profound, I said. "I let the body catch up."
The mind is racing. The body is lagging. And awareness of this brings the two together.1 When I try to feel the body, I picture my mind trying to hand my body the baton, but it's simply running too fast. In awareness it slows and the body catches up, and when they meet, they say screw the race, let's walk together.
That's what I want. To give awareness to everything that's going on inside and out. And literally just sit with that. Observe it.
I did this before I began typing this. I got some time to write but I didn't know what to write about. I also got a lot of options. Emails, Messages, Interview prep, Essay to Publish newsletter. WRITING. I opened every potential writing project that's on my mind and I just sat with them.
I meditated with this view. I began to feel something in my gut. Normally when I feel something, I also have thousands of prompts to try and go deeper. I want to go deeper. But this time, I got meta. I observed the prompts and thoughts. I gave them my awareness and sat with it. The feeling balloned, grew, and expanded. This was a first as normally with the prompts I sink into deep sobs, albiet restricted sobs. This wasn't so black/white, feeling/no feeling. It was stopping by for tea. And I realized this is compassion.
I felt deep compassion for myself. Look at all those writings. That's a lot. But also cool. And wow. And man, I'm hard on my body, screaming at it you suck, take the baton, we're going to lose. I don't give it space like this. Until today.
And even in my most sinister moments. I can write it all down. Observe it all, including the cloudy day outside and the rainfall. Life fucking sucks, observe that too. And within that, the body will take over. Goodness within will shine.
* New readers, hi. I promise you if you subscribe, I’ll send letters with compassion. *
I realize this is what I mean when I say I paused. To pause, is to give time and space for the body and the mind to synchronize together.