Our body is the home for our soul
Can you remember a time when you felt completely at home in your body?
For many women, these moments are becoming increasingly rare and infrequent. We are suffering from a deep sense of homelessness as we battle, loath, neglect, hurt and objectify our body. Because we are estranged from and don’t know our true identity, we have somehow come to believe, ‘I am my body’. But… our body is not all of who we are; it is a part of who we are; our body is the home for our soul.
Massimo Roselli, in Being Your Self at Home writes,
“The Soul needs the body in order to be truly manifest, just as the body needs the Soul in order to be fully alive and animated.
There are fundamental ingredients for this journey, and one of them is to have a home for all this movement. The Self needs a home, a holding structure, welcoming and acknowledging, protecting and allowing the freedom to manifest oneself.”
Our true identity
From a spiritual perspective, in each of us, there exists a spiritual centre of identity; this is known as the Self or soul.
The soul is whole and unbroken and is considered the deeper essence and source of our being.
It is made up of life energy, will, and consciousness. It is our life-force. The soul is continuously calling for us to grow and awaken to our innate wholeness; often calling us through our symptoms.
We also have a personality. Diana Whitmore writes that the personality is ‘made up of a unique blend of physical, emotional and mental characteristics’. It is through our personality that we are able to express our soul’s essence in day to day life. To this effect, all parts of the psyche – including our body, feelings, and mind – encompass soul and spirit.
The trance of unworthiness
When we do not know our true identity, our life-energy can become trapped in ego defenses and maintaining cycles of anxiety, addiction, depression, disordered eating and body image concerns, as well as unhealthy relationships with self and others. When we are trapped here, we feel broken and in need of fixing.
Geneen Roth writes,
“Like everyone else in this diet-mad culture in which we live, my retreat students all loath to stop the frantic attempts to change themselves. They know that something is not quite right in their lives, and because they are not at their ideal weights, they believe that food is the problem and dieting will fix it. When I suggest that they’re trying to fix something that has never been broken, a wave of anxiety courses through the room.
“How could you say that nothing is broken when I can’t fit into any of my clothes?…. Can’t you see something is terribly, terribly wrong?”
And I say,
“Yes, something is terribly wrong, but it will not be fixed through losing weight.”
One of the ‘terribly wrongs’ that Geneen is talking about, is that our being has experienced shame, neglect or trauma, and as a consequence, we live our lives from a deep sense of separation and unworthiness.
Tara Brach calls this ‘the trance of unworthiness’. She writes,
“… we have the feeling that something is wrong, something is missing. We want life to be different from the way it is. An acute sense of separation—living inside of a contracted and isolated self—amplifies feelings of vulnerability and fear, grasping and aversion. Feeling separate is an existential trance in which we have forgotten the wholeness of our being…
Both our upbringing and our culture provide the immediate breeding ground for this contemporary epidemic of feeling deficient and unworthy. Many of us have grown up with parents who gave us messages about where we fell short and how we should be different from the way we are. We were told to be special, to look a certain way, to act a certain way, to work harder, to win, to succeed, to make a difference, and not to be too demanding, shy or loud. An indirect but insidious message for many has been, “Don’t be needy.” Because our culture so values independence, self-reliance and strength, even the word needy evokes shame. To be considered as needy is utterly demeaning, contemptible. And yet, we all have needs—physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual.
So the basic message is, “Your natural way of being is not okay; to be acceptable you must be different from the way you are.”
Thus begins our search for wholeness but in all the wrong places. We search for Self-identity and soul qualities such as:
- joy, love, and the emotional connection we missed out on through food
- acceptance and worthiness through the ideal body
- wisdom and knowing through wellness, diet and exercise gurus
The problem with this misdirected search is that we continue to feel empty and disconnected because emotional and spiritual needs can never be filled with food or by changing our physical being. Focusing on changing or fixing our body is a wild goose chase, or what Dr. Anita Johnston calls, a red herring.
The call of the soul
To heal from our food, weight and body image concerns, we need to explore in depth where our deep sense of ‘not good enough’ stems from, and begin to view our symptoms not as something to get rid of, or to fix – rather – as a call from the soul to awaken to our intrinsic wholeness.
We don’t need to search outside of ourselves because the soul and spiritual qualities of beauty, goodness, worthiness, acceptance, and compassion, to name a few, already reside within.
Our work is to come home to our true self and to realize, “I am already the Self/soul that I am seeking to become”.
Image Source: Flickr
So well written. You discuss the journey to recovery and the soul as an experience to embrace, nurture and cherish. I see why you are a leader if the field. Well done Jodie.
I needed to read this today. I’m sitting with my sister-in-law and her friend who eat 3 times as much as I do and drink a ton of alcohol and they’re skinny. My aunt sat next to my sister-in-law and said, “You look gorgeous, how do you stay so thin?” I was plunged into shame because I’m taking such great care of my body right now but I’ve forgotten about my soul. I read it with tears in my eyes and the knowing that I’m not broken. Thank you Jodie, this is beautifully written and I look forward to reading more from you.
This is a beautiful reminder of the value of self-acceptance. Thank you Jodie!
This is such important work that you have written about and are doing in your work as a Psychotherapist. It is tragic the number of men, women, boys and girls that are trapped in a cycle that spirals downward. The food, their relationship to their bodies and their internal tapes are a reflection of the shame they have carried for so many years. Excellent article!
Your Article Also Like Soul to Community ….