I cannot remember being in my body until I was in my early-mid 20s. I think I had been with my body up until that point, but certainly had not been in. I had looked at my body in much the way that many young girls and women view their physical self: as something upon which to apply ones will, or something, in turn, that fell short of my expectations and strivings and was thereby a disappointment. The notion of being connected to ones body was never raised- not at home, not at school, not in sports or dance. The body was not something to listen to or receive wisdom from, it was simply something else to apply directive to.
There are moments throughout my childhood and my early adulthood that when I look back upon all I see is a young girl and woman isolated within the terrain of a critical mind without any connection to the bridge of a body that could connect her into the world around her. I feel so sad when I remember that feeling of isolation, of such a deep separateness. The initiation into the body, for me, did come in the form of the physical practice of yoga and then later on through breathing practices, meditation, mantra. Yoga was a huge access point for me then and continues to be one that I am well entrained to today. But I am no longer naive enough to think that yoga is the only way or even a feasible way for everyone. I think it is rather that I was fortunate enough to come in to contact with skilled teachers and guides along the way, that I was able by some grace to identify them as such and then, thankfully, let them support me in finding my way home to my body. Early on, these guides were yoga teachers. Sure. But once you develop skill in identifying teachers, guides, and mentors, you can pretty much find them everywhere.
A few years back I started to consider the ways in which asana practice is really not a complete movement system and the ways in which there were a variety of functional movements missing from my skill set. I began to explore different modalities including Crossfit and Movnat. Round about the same time, a Crossfit gym opened not far from my house in small town Wisconsin. I put my big girl panties on and made myself a beginner in a foreign land. And it didn't take long for me to reap some real and quantifiable benefits. Sure, it made me stronger in lots of ways. It brought in some much needed movement to my practice including pulling, hanging, and swinging, just to name a few. But it has revealed a few unexpected gems as well. It has given me an additional language with which to endeavor and strive in my body and my mind and it has also asked me to be humble and easy, forgiving and compassionate with myself.
But most importantly, perhaps, it has allowed me hold space for my children, via the kids groups that they attend at the gym, as they come into deeper knowing and integration with their own bodies. My girl Maple turned 12 this year folks. Not the easiest time in life to be a kid and have a body! I look at her everyday- the way she moves and breathes and rests and works in her body and I remember not just what it was like for me as a 12 year old, but also what it was like for her just last year before she began Crossfit. Sure, she has been exposed to yoga forever, and we are for sure an active family and she is no exception- but her body was beginning to change and she was getting so tall and lanky like an awkward overgrown puppy. And I could see her separating. I could see her lurking within the corners of herself, unsure of how to inhabit her full terrain. And while she is the kind, compassionate, generous, sensitive ,understanding Maple that she has always been- the tentative and meek part that was hiding her within herself- is now overshadowed by the rising up of this strong, self-assured, and able youth.
So, as I watch who she is becoming, and I give thanks for the timing of her coaches in her life, I also have become much softer in my consideration of the roll of my time at the gym in my own life. And while at times I think that it is about becoming strong and able, I am beginning to understand that it is really about becoming more whole. In my body, for sure. In my heart and my mind as well. In all of the ways that bring all of the parts of myself together. So that when a part of me rises up and asks to be seen, I am ever more able to hear the call.