Lynne Murray says:
Learning how to listen and talk to my body in a positive way was probably the most valuable part of my fat acceptance experience.
Through a support group and several workbooks, I used techniques similar to those in Carol Munter and Jane Hirschmann’s When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, as described on their website overcoming overeating. One exercise was writing a letter to your body, inviting a dialog to heal the many wounds inflicted by decades of body hatred. I never managed much back and forth dialog during those exercises. My body had few words, even in my imagination. But the more I respected it and listened, the more I heard what it had to say on its own terms and in its own terms–essentially in “body language.”
Bodies communicate on the simplest level, very much like Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan in Tarzan of the Apes. Burroughs had many flaws. He was a spinner of yarns and an early 1900’s kinda guy, with all the prejudices of his era. But he created an unforgettable noble savage in Tarzan, and when I was 9 I read all the Tarzan books I could get my hands on.
Tarzan, self-taught from books found at the scene of his parents’ death, could write but not speak English. The body’s first language, like Tarzan’s, is purely animal. But now that I’ve learned how to listen, and the channel is open, my body makes clear and always sensible requests:
Mind: Ramen noodles with egg?
Body: Nah. More protein.
Self: Eggs, cheese and spinach?
Body: Pain in hands, stop typing.
Self: 15 minutes more.
Body: Pain in hands, arms.
Self: Almost done.
Body: Pain–hands, arms, shoulder…back?
Self: I’m stopping to rest now.
It’s like having a roommate who never speaks, but leaves notes like: “Buy more Soy milk!”
From a Buddhist standpoint, body and mind are two sides of the same coin, and I have found that respectfully listening works better than trying to restrict.