Laura Paskell-Brown is a PhD student and teacher in New York city. She runs a circle for her young female students, to help them get in touch with their own intuition, their bodies and the leaders inside of them all. She is also on the Young Leaders Council of Women of Spirit and Faith.
This morning the voice in my head screamed: “Pick up the phone stupid. You should because she’s your friend and she needs you. You’re a bad friend if you don’t!” My body just says “no.” She says it gently. I could easily miss it, if I wasn’t listening. She knows I must give from my abundance and not from my core. She is right of course.
Yesterday head-voice bellowed: “You need to work eight hours today because that’s what people do. If you don’t, you’re lazy!” My body was not so silent this time. She moans loudly, almost audibly, to tell me she’s tired. She asks me to ask head-voice what purpose will be served by this nose-to-the-grindstone mentality. Head-voice is angry but has no real response.
The “Yogi” tea that I drink daily comes with a little message lovingly attached to each teabag. The one I keep getting over and over at the moment says: “Develop your intuition”. Sitting in the room at the Women of Sprit and Faith retreat I suddenly knew that my intuition could not be further developed until I learned to listen to my body.
My history of ignoring “body” has been a long one. As a teenager I didn’t know that the feeling I often felt was thirst – it had to be pointed out to me. As a young woman I put myself on the pill and – just as humans use umbrellas and indoor shelters to hide from the elements – I was disconnected from the ebb and flow of my own seasons. The irony was that my desire for sexual liberation cut me off from the very thing that could give it to me: connection to my own body. The pursuit of freedom led me to its opposite.
On day two of the retreat I felt mental anguish. This was not new; now that I meditate daily I am well acquainted with these obsessive and painful thought patterns. But there was a new awareness: the bodily sensations that accompanied these thoughts. I felt a jamming in my blood, as if my veins had become an LA highway at rush hour, filled with road raging motorists. I wanted to scream. My throat was tight. My muscles achy. I could not free myself from this.
Thankfully a seasoned leader heard my silent scream. She said “Everybody out of the room. We’re going to the river.” Standing in front of the water she told me to express what wanted to be said. As I screamed body’s feelings into the river I became more free. This was not articulation for the purpose of clarity, but of freedom. Pure and simple.
I learned that day: “body” needs to be listened to if I am to become the woman who will lead others to do the same. This is a matter of life and death for “body” and for the planet She walks upon. And She knows it. Even when head-voice is too busy or angry to notice.
After the water ceremony we returned to the same room and “body” relaxed into it. She said: “Yes. You can rest your bones here for a while. You are safe. You are free.”
One thing I know for sure after the WSF retreat is…
…it’s all about the body.