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Unpaid Advertisement: Your Body

Follow your body around. It knows the way.
Unpaid Advertisement: Your Body
Not my body. That’s a sea lion’s body. But my body led me to it.

It started with my hands. One hand, actually. “What’s that hand doing?” asked my then-therapist, an older guy who was very into Ecstatic Dance and practiced a hybrid of Somatic Experiencing and Hakomi therapies. Both modalities often hone in on the sensations in a client’s body; in my sessions with Monty, he’d clock my every gesture or twitch and point out the ones he thought might be significant—might be my body trying to tell us something.

It was 2016, and I’d recently had my world melted by a series of psychedelic experiences that were desperately trying to show me that my life was built on lies. I didn’t want to listen to them, any more than I wanted to pay attention to a random-seeming itch I went to scratch while talking to a therapist. But Monty persisted.

“What’s that about?” he’d ask.

“I don’t know!” I’d say at first, trying not to sound annoyed. I kind of wanted him to leave me alone. But I was persistent, too. I’d already had another kind of somatic therapist for years before him, in San Francisco, and here I was again showing up, making teeny tiny baby steps in being able to feel the body I’d spent decades trying to ignore, to subjugate. I was mad at Monty for asking me hard questions, but I still paused and tried to tune into the wrist I’d just flicked or whatever, leaning into it, exaggerating it, seeing how it felt, what emotion it brought up or expressed.

One day, after we’d been seeing each other for a few months, he told me to go home and let my hands be in charge.

This sounded so bonkers to me at the time. I remember lying in bed and holding them out in front of me, just staring at them. What do my hands want to do right now? I asked myself at every turn in my day, and the answer was: I had no fucking idea. Not then, I didn’t. I lived mostly in my head, which Monty could see. He must have known that I wasn’t going to make it to anything true, to my version of real life, trying to think and rationalize my way through everything.

“You are so attuned to your body,” therapists say to me now—have been saying to me for years now. “You must have done a ton of work”/“You have done so much work,” bodyworkers and doctors have said. I started by asking my hands what they wanted to do, and I didn’t know the answer, but the question opened up the possibility of my hearing it. And eventually, sometimes I did.

My hands want to make some toast, I remember knowing one time, suddenly, jumping up excitedly to know it.

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