Jess’s Body Story.

My Journey Of  Embodiment (so far!)                                           

My mum tells me as a baby I just used to lie silently in my pram, staring in wide eyed wonder at the world and smiling every time a head appeared.

Having been induced I was likely somewhat traumatised in not being ready to leave the womb and forced out into the world so abruptly. Mum had wanted my father at the birth but he was having none of it.

As I was her first child, I imagine she was quite anxious. As a mother, she was naturally maternal and very relaxed and I didn’t learn to walk until around 3, preferring to shuffle everywhere on my bottom, devouring woodlice in the garden. Such was my natural affinity with the earth and innately felt need for grounding!

A standout memory for me around the age of 10 is of doing handstands on a hot summers day and suddenly discovering life force energy coursing through me in the form of orgasms.

Whatever this blissful feeling was, I knew it had something to do with the sun’s power magically reacting with my body. I became quite adept at headstands, handstands and climbing trees and have loved hot weather ever since! Exploring my sexuality at this young age and connecting with nature in this way seemed entirely natural. At the other end of the spectrum and at the same time, I was also in contact with the spirit world and seeing visions on my bedroom wall.

At boarding school, I shunned an enforced and competitive sports curriculum aside from sneaky cigarettes on cross country runs, where once again in nature, I could take my time. Locked up for 6 years, my body was only compared to others and routinely hidden away, with no focus whatsoever on its maturing and any feelings therein.

An unspoken need to quash any felt senses in the body like homesickness, confusion and desire. Also grief due to the sudden death of my grandfather and father two weeks apart. There was just no room to feel any of it, least of all in my body. Hormones were raging at an all girls school and this unnatural environment produced in me a need for illicit excitement and rebellion, a survival personality.

So I ran away from school to Paris age 15 with my boyfriend. When the excitement had worn thin, I started seeing one of the school builders and would take cabs after lights out to his parents house in the nearby village. All very secretive, a sure fire way to build shame around the human body, sex and relationships with men. Later at university, a heartbreak, the pain of which triggered deep fear of abandonment and caused me to repeatedly blackout. My body had become an unsafe place to live.

 

It was at drama school in my late 20s that I discovered the use of Jung’s archetypes, dance and embodied movement in really getting under the skin of a character. During this time, however, I was still chiefly identified with [living in] my head, the conditioning I’d received being what it was, where on earth else would i be, if not thinking…studying…worrying...dreaming….yearning. Role play and fantasy. Playing Nina in ‘The Seagull’, I struggled to embody this young girl’s physicality and through this, her idealism and lightness of being. I was embarrassed and felt paralysed by my body, like it was letting me down and just getting in the way, such was my disconnect.

My sleep had become erratic in my mid 20s being out in the world with no anchor and by my late 20s I began to suffer with chronic insomnia in an unstable relationship. My body was trying so hard to make itself known to me but I was not rooted in it. I could feel unmistakeable gut instincts in certain situations, but dismissed them. Around my 30th birthday, I was on a nudist beach in the Canaries. Feeling paralysed by shyness in such a public place, i grabbed my sunglasses so I could walk into the sea incognito! Literally to me this felt like the biggest walk of shame.

However my body disconnect manifested, behind closed doors sex continued to be a source of pleasure, shame a necessary ingredient. Yet there was another side to this, transcendent sexual experiences in nature where I would leave my body (inconveniently!). This  cemented for me the spiritual power of sex, how it can free us from our usual sense of separateness and bring us a heightened awareness and sense of connection to the world. So in a way, whilst I was disembodied, my soul was forging a healing path through the sacred nature of the body as vessel. It is no coincidence to me that I have Chiron in the Plutonic 8th house, when you consider the French refer to orgasm as ‘le petit mort’. In 2011 I became pregnant but decided against becoming a mother to a child I hadn’t planned and didn’t desire to be with the father. (This is something I have only recently returned to in personal therapy and womb work).

 

 

In 2013 I travelled to Australia where I discovered hot yoga in a Bikram studio in Sydney. I instantly found this addictive, loving the sweating and gentle, non competitive movement that put me in touch with the body mind. Suddenly, here was a way I could calm the internal chatter and learning the importance of the breath and conscious breathing, I was reintroduced in a very felt way to life force energy – here was the meeting of mind, body and spirit. I soon had to escape the city with its endless parade of perfect bodies pounding the coastal beach runs and went to live and work on a permaculture smallholding in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Getting off a night train 3 hours north of Brisbane, I felt instant magic. As my new friend Amy introduced me to the untouched nature of the region in 40 degree humidity and on adopting a raw vegan diet, I felt a profound connectedness and sensed that this exotic spot would play a pivotal role in my life. I’d never felt such an immediate pull to a place an overwhelming stirring of my senses. Each night I would sleep under the stars amidst the strangest of sounds, emerging in first light to the kookaburra. In spite of (and perhaps due to) its otherworldliness, I remember the real feeling of home and telling family and friends this is where I would emigrate. In hindsight, I believe the yoga practice and beautiful nature of this part of the world activated and balanced my entire chakra system.

Three years later, I realised it was indeed a home I had encountered, both physical and spiritual. Finding Chakradance in its virtual incarnation and knowing i needed to train as a facilitator, followed by the familiar ‘ah-ha’ moment as synchronicity revealed itself. The founder of this beautiful holistic dance practice lives right next to where I had stayed in Queensland. I signed up to the training and began the real journey of discovery, coming home to myself more fully in my physical body and healing my energy body. Chakradance is often referred to as the ‘sister’ of yoga, due to the chakra system & yoga emerging from the same Tantric tradition and shared physiological associations.

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