Several weeks ago I spent a whole day looking for my favorite jacket. It’s a blue and green Gore-Tex all-weather hooded jacket made by Eddie Bauer. It’s my very favorite jacket. First I looked in the living room coat closet where I usually hang it. No dice. Then I looked in my bedroom closet and on the hooks in my office without success. I went back to the living room closet and started pulling coats off hangers thinking that something might have been hung on top of my jacket. No more dice.
Time Travel Search
At a complete loss, using a kind of Anthroposophical Ruckshau process, I elected to go mentally back through my week attempting to recall the last time I wore the jacket. While the rest of the country was suffering under sub-zero temperatures, here in Puget Sound the temps had been in the high forties / low fifties. Mostly all I had to put on to go outside was a fleece-lined hoodie. As I thought back through the week I remembered that on Wednesday I had lunch with my friend Craig at Pickles Deli. And since we often go for a walk before or after lunch, I remember deciding I should wear the jacket to be ready for Any Weather. That was the last time I recalled wearing it.
As I continued to cogitate on the week, I suddenly felt a shiver run up my back. Paying closer attention to it, I recalled feeling a similar shiver out in the parking lot as we left Pickles. Before my brain could fully consciously register it and make the connection to my forgotten jacket however, Craig called my attention to the fact that we were both walking towards a car that looked exactly like his, but which actually wasn’t. I made a comment in response and the shiver that ran up my back along with the message it was attempting to get me to pay attention to was over-ridden.
But feeling it now again, as I sat in reverie, I realized that what my body was attempting to do outside the deli was wake me up to the fact that it was cold out and that I’d forgotten my jacket inside. When I got up and called Pickles, I didn’t even have to describe the jacket: they told me it was in their back storeroom and I could come over and get it any time I wanted to. (Note: If I hadn’t been able to recall what I’d done with the jacket through waking reverie, I most certainly would have been able to using night Dream Incubation Query, a process I’ve used successfully dozens of times over the years. Professor Richard Wiseman outlines the process in his recent book, Night School: Waking Up to the Power of Sleep).
Our bodies are continually speaking in a language that is both universal and unique to each of us in any moment. And it’s actually a language that we can learn with the same degree of skill as we might learn French or Farsi. In her book, Body Eloquence, psychotherapist and therapeutic storyteller Nancy Mellon goes through each organ in the body and details some ways that say, the spleen, our inner harmonizer might speak to us, or the liver, our good-tempered well-being strategist, or the pancreas, that guardian of sweetness for the whole body. Remember what Poly-Vagal Theory teaches us: each of the organs in our body has great bundles of vagus nerve fibers constantly transmitting messages to our brain, mostly below conscious awareness. But as Freud so adamantly argued: much of our work as evolving human beings is to make the unconscious conscious.
Elementary to Start
I only wish that training in learning to pay attention to and understand the messages my body is constantly sending my way was something I had begun practicing in elementary school. The human body is so miraculously elegant and complex, if you really want to teach kids about spirituality and divinity, teach them about their own bodies. Teach them how to use the information readily available in any moment, alive and in a constant state of dynamic flux in their own bodies every day. Not only do I think it would impact general health and well-being – since any training in body listening would necessarily involve training in stress awareness and modulation – but I also think it would positively impact behavioral problems. If the body is telling you it needs to move, and you’ve received training in honoring and responding to the body’s needs, you’re going to move in positive, constructive ways.
And along the way, you won’t be able to avoid positively impacting the brain’s ability to grow new neurons and make new connections as well. And who knows, by the time you graduate elementary school and become a senior citizen, Senior Moments may simply be a thing of the past!
Dream a Little Dream of You: I’ve put together a new online offering. It’s about dreamwork and human development. Click HERE to check it out: Dreaming with the Heart in Mind. We actually can begin to know what the night holds in store.