A few reasons why we dissociate from our bodies (and what we can do about it...)


Dissociation is a feeling of being detached from our bodies, environment, and people around us. It’s a feeling of being split – not quite ourselves. It's associated with trauma and anxiety.

We all disappear into our thoughts. The nice thing about thoughts is that they're totally private. No one needs to know what we're thinking unless we chose to share them.


Our bodies, by comparison, are always visible, despite our fancy clothes or cars - we can't hide them. We have no choice but to move through the world with our bodies (ourselves) on full display and totally vulnerable to criticism.

And, oh boy, is the judgement out there. Have you ever noticed that “no body” is ever good enough? How could it possibly be that even Olympic athletes and super models (and maybe even especially Olympic athletes and super models!) are subject to criticism about their physicality?


Steve Hoskinson of Organic Intelligence says we live in a culture of “what’s-wrong-ism”.


Our bodies/ourselves are particularly sensitive targets in this habit of always looking for what’s wrong. We are all apparently too thin, too fat, too short, too tall, too old, too young, the wrong shape, the wrong sex, the wrong color. And if we are sick or disabled, our bodies/ourselves are somehow at fault and our hips, backs, shoulders, ankles, and ears are “bad". And what's even more crazy is that we often impose this criticism on ourselves.


And what do we do when we feel under attack, even self-attack? We brace. We tighten our muscles, numb our senses, breathe shallowly, and subconsciously prepare to run. We retreat into our apparently safer, private, thoughts, and while thoughts can be a wonderful source of creativity and ideas, they can also run rampant, rush us down rabbit holes, rummage around in the past, or ramble into the future, in ways that can bring us great pain.


I was once surprised to learn that Activism came under the umbrella of contemplative practices.


But activism at its core is a sudden clarity that a cultural idea is ludicrously and dangerously wrong. Taking a stand in doing something about it. It doesn’t have to be bullhorns and placards. We can face off against a destructive cultural norm simply by accepting our own bodies/ourselves just as they are.

Sensing and feeling your own body is your most potent portal into mindfulness and knowing yourself in the present. Where is your breath? Are you holding onto any unnecessary muscular contraction? Is your gaze on the horizon? Can you feel the incredible length of your whole spine?


Slip more fully and acceptingly back into your own skin and immediately feel yourself as bigger, stronger, more supple and more whole. The next time you are waiting in the grocery line, or at an endless school concert, quite literally take a stand; feel how your feet are contacting the ground and be amazed that this tiny surface area, in concert with your muscles and your nervous system, holds up your entire body.

The human self, the whole human self cannot be something less-than, or faulty, or inadequate, any more than an oak tree or dolphin is inadequate. Martin Luther said, “if you could understand a single grain of wheat, we would go mad with wonder.” Indeed. We are really nothing short of miraculous.




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