I am standing beside a tree, its branches denuded of leaves, its limbs exposed to the elements. I lean into it. Place my hand against its gnarled bark. Lean my body into its strength.
The tree and I become one in felt relationship.
I feel it embrace me with its loving grace. The sap within it flowing into my veins. The wind’s stories etched against its limbs merging with mine.
I know peace.
As a group we had come outside to experience one of the fundamental exercises of The Embodied Present Process – The Elevator. The process is about consciously bringing your awareness down into your body, deep down into the pelvic bowl where your entire being comes alive to the mystical nature of life and then, from that place of grounded connection to the earth, to let your curiosity lead you on a walk through nature.
As part of the exercise, we were invited to repeat out loud a memorized verse of our choosing. The purpose of the memorized text is to release your mind of thinking as you connect, not through the meaning of the words, but through your senses expanding out to connect with the world around you in a ‘felt’ relationship.
My verse is a prayer.
I am hesitant to repeat it. I feel immense resistance and know, deep within, I must go here. And so, I begin to say the prayer out loud.
“Hail.” I stall after the first word. I feel my body begin to shake. To quiver. “Hail Mary,” I feel tears gathering at the edges of my eyeslids. I hear the tree inviting me to lean into it. I lean and I feel its strength.
I say the prayer out loud and grace embraces me.
Years ago, when I was released from a relationship that was killing me by the police arresting the man who had promised to love me ’til death do us part and was actively engaged in the making the death part my reality, I was completely lost. My identity, the person I’d known as ‘Louise, had become completely submerged into his identity as I jettisoned everything I knew about me to the terror and horror of being in that relationship. By the end I had become an extension of his identity, or as he would tell me, his creation.
Prior to meeting him, my connection to the spiritual, in particular to the Blessed Mother Mary sustained and guided me. That connection created beauty and texture, depth, tranquillity and peace in my life. I felt whole.
Through being in that relationship I lost that connection. In some ways, I felt betrayed by the spiritual and struggled to reclaim the freedom of aliveness it had imbued into my life after he was arrested and I got my life back.
Since being set free of that relationship I have tentatively stepped back into the spiritual waters of life, searching for the path to reclaiming what I told myself I had lost. I believed I could think my way home.
Yesterday I discovered it, nor I, was lost – I just hadn’t released my thinking I could find my way home through my head. Yesterday, my body lead me home to my essence.
We think we can think our way through to where we want to be within ourselves, using the brain as the intelligence to get us where we want to ‘be’ and treating the body as the vehicle to get us there.
The body is an integral element of our aliveness. Its senses come alive to our being present when we release ourselves from thinking our cranial brains know the way.
We cannot think our way home to our innate brilliance, magnificence, beauty. The way home is through our senses. It is embodied in our being present, in the moment, to life.
I found my way home yesterday. In that journey I received the healing grace of the wind whispering in the trees, the grasses murmuring exaltations to the sky, the autumn fallen leaves rustling words of encouragement into the earth upon which I walked as I took each step home.
II felt supported, cared for, Loved. I felt alive. I am alive and so very very grateful.