Christmas has come and gone, but I’ve continued reflecting on the beauty and mystery of the incarnation. Along the path of my spiritual journey I now find myself in the process of slowly reconnecting with my body. The experiences of my younger years left me disconnected from many of the feelings and realities of my body. And, as I am reconnecting with my body I am finding new avenues and pathways for spiritual growth and psychological healing (that began for me as an intimate journey with anxiety and depression 20 years ago).
I can now see that my descent into anxiety and depression was due in large part to this disconnection from my body and from my internal world. I was accumulating wounds and pain through my experiences in life that I had little capacity to process. So much so that they were beginning to overwhelm my body to the point where something inside of me decided that decisive action was necessary. Anxiety exploded within, carried along by an undertow of depression. It slowed me down, and in some ways debilitated me, just so that I would begin doing the necessary work to process and transform my accumulated pain.
Contemplative spirituality and good psychology have been foundational to a journey that has opened me up to profound and transforming experiences of God’s presence, love, healing and peace. They have also begun to establish nondual seeing (also known as the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5)) as my way of relating to all of life. At the same time, I keep bumping up against the limitations of my body … not so much the ordinary physical limitations we all face as we age, but the limitations of my body’s imprinted memories of these accumulated wounds and its patterns of anxiety and muscle constriction. Patterns that my body originally adopted as protective measures during the overwhelming experiences of my childhood that went unprocessed.
God has graciously brought deep tissue massage and Craniosacral Massage therapy into my life and now the work of releasing the stored memories of trauma and unprocessed experiences from my body has begun in earnest. This ‘body work’ is creating new avenues and pathways for relating with God, deepening my spirituality, and healing my psychological wounds. It is deepening my understanding of incarnation … what it means for me to be spirit and matter put together … and what it means that Jesus’ incarnation is making it possible for us to see the bigger picture of incarnation … that this putting together of spirt and matter, of the Divine and the world of form, is our essential nature as well. And, for me, as it is for a few others I know, the pathway into this deeper experience of the reality of incarnation is coming through the work we are doing with our bodies.
What are you learning about the mystery and beauty of the incarnation through your own body?
Director of Hole in the Rock Ministries, Central California Regional Affiliate of Christian Formation and Direction Ministries