What does it mean to have a body?
What does it mean to have a body... because my friend, Heather, doesn't have one anymore.
I have been thinking a lot about her journey...and subsequently my journey.. and subsequently “our” journey, meaning, the human one.
But before I get into all of that, a backstory:
When I entered my 30's, I realized that I had spent so much of my teens and twenties analyzing myself and others, that I forgot completely to check and see what was happening in and with my body. Like many, I had lived the majority of my life in my head and in my thoughts. It hadn't even occurred to me to live anywhere else. As I started to pay attention to how I felt in my physical body, I realized it was kind of an unfamiliar place to live.
In 2012, I was asked to help a group of women work on weight loss and food addiction. As I listened to their stories, I got it. I related. These folks also weren't living in their bodies. I understood. Being in a your body is a hard place to be. Especially if it feels uncomfortable to live there. Especially if there are things about your body that you judge. And especially if you have some tiny awareness that your body is only a temporary condition and that your soul is only renting it for a finite amount of time....
In 2015, my body-curiosity hit a different level when I had the privilege to learn from the renowned psychic medium, Tony Stockwell. Tony taught a class called “Trance Mediumship” at one of my favorite places, the Omega Institute. I saw the advertisement for the class. I had a reaction in my body. I felt like I should go.
Then my head took over and judged it.
“Well, it's a lot of money...”
“Well, I am not ready for Tony's work...”
“Well, I just don't know...”
Yet the image of Tony and Omega kept coming back to me.. over and over.
I decided to sign up and hope for the best.
I was super nervous that I had made this commitment. In my next mediumship circle, I decided to share with my group that I was going to go learn about Trance Mediumship. My teacher's response was: “You know it's not mental mediumship, right?”
Well, in actuality I had no idea what it was going to be, but there was something about it not being “mental” that seemed to make sense in my journey with getting the heck out of my head, and starting to live.. well, somewhere else.
In the event that you don't know, trance mediumship is, it is essentially the practice of giving your body over for spirit to embody- to “entrance,” if you will.
Oh yea, it's super trippy.
And yet, Tony has a way about him. He subtly eases his students into this idea with a gentle respect and a compassionate empathy. His love and care for the spirit world is palpable. He talked of those in spirit (from departed loved ones to master, guides, and holy entities) with such kindness, humbleness and grace.
What does it mean to be a spirit? Being in spirit means you no longer have a body. It means you are now entirely in the spirit world, having left your physical body behind. This is what happens when we die, or so I believe.
During the week long training, Tony suggested during one exercise that we all go outside, allow “spirit” to come so close to us... so close so that they overshadowed our own physical being. He encouraged us to invite spirit to use our bodies to experience, once again, what it is like to be in the physical plane. His words were so moving, so kind. They give me goosebumps again now as I type. Allowing the spirit of one who once walked on this earth the opportunity to come back in and experience it again-it was a beautiful sentiment.
And, yeah, it also was super weird! We all looked like a bunch of zombies, eyes closed, allowing our bodies to go heavy and imagining a spirit-being taking over our physical form in order to experience the fresh air, the grass, and the sunshine again from the physical world.
During that time in class, I felt so loving. Just in general. I embodied kindness. I felt full of light. I continued to have empathy for what the experience might be like once we leave our physical bodies behind and return to spirit. I thought a lot about what it must be like on the other side. I wondered if when I become a spirit if I will miss my physical body.
Returning back in my regular day to day life was hard. I fought to keep the perspective that I had at Omega. It was challenging to continue to move about my life with such mindfulness and grace, noting and appreciating everything, remembering that someday I won't have the opportunity to appreciate it in the same way again.
These thoughts came swirling back to me after the news of Heather's transition to spirit. I sat in the bath a few days after the news, and just one day before I was to run my 8th half marathon. My body has been acting up a lot this year following a running injury last fall. I have not appreciated my body, I have not loved my body. I have talked angrily at it, I have been frustrated by it, and at times I wished I could take my body off and pull a fresh one out of the closet to start again.
As I reflected, I knew the half marathon would be important. It was my come back after last years when I had to drop out at mile one (mile ONE!) because my calf injury acted up so badly after I began running, that I couldn't even walk.
And now, Heather had passed. I knew the race would be important. I did not think the timing was coincidental.
I was nervous. Not at all confident. I was not sure if my injury would act up. I was certain I wanted to cry- for all sorts of reasons. I made a joke to my husband that I hoped the race photos along the course would not catch me in an ugly cry while running. I felt emotional from head to toe.
As I lined up at the start line, adjusted my music play list, received last minute words of encouragement texts from my friends, I said a little prayer to Heather that I would be running this race for her, for the fact that I have a body, and for the fact that she fought so hard for hers for so many years.
The mob of runners at the start line began to move, slow jogs at first, and then into race pace, I crossed the start line and I was off headed out for 13.1 miles.
I was feeling it. Music pumping, emotions swelling, this will be good.
And then the funniest thing happened. At the same one-mile marker where I had to drop out last year, my head phones stopped working.
What? What is this?? Phone works, music plays, but not through my head phones. No music for me.
Sooooo... 12 miles in front of me ….with just me.... and my thoughts.
Some interesting things happened on that run. I was present with myself. I was present with my body. The mile markers came before I even knew it. I was aware of my form and my muscles working.
I repeated the mantra “I love myself, I love my body.” I don't know why that mantra. I don't know where it came from, but I just wouldn't let go of it. It just played over and over in my mind for two and a half hours.
Maybe Heather gave me that mantra. Heather fought for her body. She had hope for her body. She wanted her body. She wanted it in good health. She stayed positive and optimistic. She followed through with appointments and recommendations and advisements. And yet still, she no longer has her body. And now I feel, even more so, it is my duty to honor mine because she no longer has hers.
Thank you, Heather, for reminding me to love my body.