***Disclaimer: This piece is written in the spirit of inspiration, NOT judgement. Please take that into consideration. Thank you.***
Have you ever been outside with someone who is profoundly uncomfortable with their own body? Have you ever heard parents yell “Don’t run, you’ll fall!” “Keep your shoes on!” “She’s clumsy, just like me.” “We don’t want skinned knees!” “Don’t get muddy!” “Don’t touch that, don’t eat that, don’t get sunlight on you, don’t breathe that smell!” “Sit still!” Oh, my heart.
Yikes. We put our bodies in ‘casts’ then wonder why they don’t move right-or at all.
We say “you’ll fall”, then look smug when it happens. I told you so.
We hit each other over the head with fear of the world and mistrust of a still semi-wild body.
It isn’t our will to do harm but our own baggage, our own inner wounds that create this paradigm.
What have we turned off in order to survive, and what is it doing to us?
We may split ourselves into little parts and pieces, boxing things off and shutting bits down in order to fit into a broken culture-without even realizing what we are doing. Messy! Jiggly! Dirty! Aaaahhhh!!
Let’s look at it, let’s examine it. Let’s un-woo the vital force, friends, because the flow state is a real thing not hippie jargon. It is the moment when your body and mind are aligned. When your circulation is pumping, you’re building muscle, moving lymph, sparking thoughts, feeling free. And it is great.
As parents, as caregivers or teachers or just citizens who give a shit we can set an example. We can look at how we feel about our own bodies and shine some light into the dark places we have created. We can, at the least, stop passing this body baggage down. We may even join the next generation in unraveling the shame spiral and begin to re-connect!
What can we do?
We can examine how we rely on products and, rather than use them all because they exist, choose only those which serve our needs and use them lightly.
For example, when someone tells us they are bored, offer movement rather than products, snacks, devices. Free movement such as dance. Walking, running, skipping. Stretches. Use your body to act like an animal or a plant or a force of nature. Give kids a piece of rope, a ball, a hoop, a bucket of water.
Show them how to squat or balance or climb or grapple or forage or just make noise.
I call it imaginative self-inhabitation and it used to be known as PLAY.
We can stop thinking we aren’t doing it “right”. It is about getting free from the idea that there is one right way. It is about finding our own darn right way. It is about laying down the burden of the perfect body, the perfect form, the perfect expression. It is about the journey, the discovery, the practice.
We can stop with the fear. It’s unlikely that you’ll die from a skinned knee, bug bite, splash of mud or grass stain.
We can stop shaming bodies, no matter how they look or what their skill level is.
We can use devices like strollers and chairs much less, and just let kids (gasp) walk around.
We can stop over-using those damn carseats. (note: of course we should use them in cars, for safety reasons. Referring to non-car use)
We can stop handing kids our iPhones!!!!
We can let kids (and ourselves) go barefoot at times, let them feel their body touch some actual earth. Sure, you run a risk by taking off your shoes. Assess it. But hey, how were you planning to teach risk management? Looks like a great opportunity.
We can give our kids and ourselves an outlet for physical expression rather than sedating-via food, meds, technology and tv-every emotion that comes up. This is a gift.
“Keep calm” is overrated-let’s also give ourselves the space to actively seek release.
Boredom is a catalyst, a chance to transform yourself, your moment, your outlook, not something to fear and avoid at all costs.
It is never too late to shift this course we are on. It is never to late to look at our bodies from another angle, to untangle our feelings about our bodies and their history, to notice that we are NOT inherently “clumsy” people but maybe just insecure or under-practiced and that it’s totally solvable. We can experience moments of revelation right up until our last breath, friends, so don’t give up. Movement does not belong to someone else.
Because living in a state of fear is just exhausting.
Because we haven’t evolved out of a need for movement.
Because we are missing out on a great opportunity.
Because we can re-inhabit ourselves, and inspire others to do so, too.
Because we aren’t going to get another body.
It is not too late.