The Body Realm

Essay and Sketch By Mary Reddy

As we prepare for Lorian’s summer conference, many of us are exploring our relationship with Gaia, how to “think like a planet,” and what it means to be a loving and conscious member of the web of life that is our earth. David Spangler describes relating to Gaia as more than viewing the planet as a living organism. It’s about “a more holistic, ecological, systems-oriented way of viewing reality, seeing things in terms of interconnections, patterns, networks, relationships, integration, and interacting wholes rather than as collection of discrete but separate entities.”

But it can be daunting at times to think about the enormity of beings and relationships within Gaia. How can I possibly stretch that far and wide? It helps to start with what’s right at hand. I go to what surrounds me, knowing it is a fractal slice of the broader and more complex relationships and energies within which my little life nests. What is closest to me as an expression of Gaian life is my own body. Our bodies, on levels both physical and subtle, interconnect with the earth and tie us to it.

Many of us have experienced trauma in our lives and have unwittingly frozen into defensive physical stances. Or perhaps we have followed the siren call of our culture and learned to live as disembodied mental beings, addressing physical needs as perfunctory tasks to perform on our way to the next great online experience. Even athletes and yoga experts can fall prey to a central-command model of authority over muscles, joints, and nerves. Despite our ignorance and inattention, a multitude of cells, organisms, subtle energies, and networks carry on the workings of our physical life—mirroring what happens on the broader Gaian level. Imagine what changes if we respect the innate intelligence within our bodies?

I once had an opportunity to try Hakomi therapy, a somatic approach to healing. As I lay on a massage table, fully clothed, the therapist invited me to tune into my body and simply mention what I sensed and where I felt it. I was drawn to my abdomen and noted a certain tension there. The therapist hovered her fingers over an area and said, “Do you mean here?” Without warning, I began to tremble in that spot. I experienced several minutes of spontaneous tremors within the tissues of my abdomen, as though a hundred butterflies had taken wing. Peter Levine describes this trembling in his books on healing from trauma. It’s the body’s mechanism to release the build-up of adrenaline after a traumatic event. (It’s amazing that the body can hold this tension for years after the initial trauma.) Even though I began the session with no preconceptions, I was thoroughly surprised by this deep energetic release.

Since that experience I have explored a number of somatic healing modalities and I’ve learned to relate to my body with open attentiveness. Experience in meditation and a good imagination have helped me feel into parts of my body. Sometimes I sense every bone, cell, and pore. Other times, I may connect with my left hip joint or the back of my neck and listen to what’s going on there, observing sensations when they arise. (I’ve developed a solid respect for the work done by my joints, fascia, and bone marrow.) I began to knit together these felt-sense meditations on various parts and reached a point where I can light up with an energetic sensation of the whole. This deepening relationship with my body allows me to move more fluidly into daily activities. It feels like I am part of a village.

Now when I move into the surrounding realms of life and Gaia, I begin with this open and loving partnership with my body. And my body has taught me how to stand confidently and extend that loving relationship outward. Ron Kurtz, the man who developed Hakomi therapy, drew the name from the Hopi Indian language. Hakomi is a Hopi word which means "How do you stand in relation to these many realms?” What a wonderful way to invite contemplation of Gaia and all the networks and alliances we participate in as members of her Body. Let us stand in beautiful relationship to these many realms.

Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the