Finding Home in The Body
The Body is our home, but we don’t live there Thérèse Bertherat 1976
In my early teens I read a lot of books about spirituality, shamanism and mysticism, religions and personal development methods of all kinds. My shelf was full to the brim with the exotic names and ideas of Gurdjieff, Castaneda and Steiner. I collected books about Zen, Kabbalah and Yoga and was exposed to Shiatsu, Reiki and Meditation.
I lived in a tiny Kibbutz in northern Israel and during the mid 70’s these ideas were rather new and exciting and very few people there shared the same weird interests. Amongst our selves ‘special’ books started circulating creating a flourishing little underground, which brought me in touch with fascinating new ideas and insights.
These books, authors and ideas shaped my life and ever since have opened some questions that are still with me today. An especially thought provoking idea came from a rather short but very impressive passage by a French therapist called Thérèse Bertherat. In her book “The Body has its Reasons” she wrote that “our body is a home for us, but we do not live there”.
This sentence stuck with me and I could not shake it off. I was familiar with spiritual approaches to the body, as a prison of the spirit or a tomb of the soul. I was familiar with the body being considered a material component we need on this earth as a temporary shell of our true being. But in all these, I had never before seen the body as a possible ‘home’. For me this was highly intriguing and I continued to grapple with that idea on and on. It sounded radically different from everything I have read and learned.
The more I thought about it, the more absurd it seemed. Why is it that we end up living in an inner exile, namely, not living in our own body? It was strange for me to consider that one would not be living in one’s ‘home’ and even stranger to consider where else would one ‘live’, if not here in the body. And I was of course also wondering if it is possible to learn to come to inhabit that home and how does it work.
My life’s work since many years as a bodywork practitioner and as a somatic coach was following those questions struggling to answer them in my daily practice and training. It seems like a pilgrim’s progress that gradually makes amends with who we physically are and making peace with and within our own body. In our modern, fast lane hi tech surrounding and media ever connected life style this journey home might be painstakingly slow and yet it is a step at a time closer to home.