End of January and the sky is grey outside the studio windows. We’ve had freezing rain on and off this morning. Step outside and you take your life in your hands. Ice is everywhere.
I’ll stay inside in my studio, thank you very much, where it is warm and bright and the footing is sure. The music is on, Joe Hisaishi’s Freedom Piano Stories 4. My three strings of Christmas lights, hung around the walls, are on as well. They are my year-round joy, especially when days are grey and the light from the windows is dim like today.
My senses are wide awake this morning, and I am understanding how different my words are when I write from my body.
That sounds odd. I use my mind to write, of course. Well, yes and no. The more I write, the more I use body and mind as one.
This is a huge shift for me.
As child and adult, I’ve lived primarily in my mind. Mind ruled because my body was not a reliable place in which to be.
I grew up experiencing how my body was defective, broken, and wrong in so many ways. Eyes and ears requiring medical correction to function well. Balance and coordination just a little bit off kilter. Skin overreacting. A menstrual cycle guaranteeing monthly pain. Muscles and sleep throwing themselves into deeper dysfunction the older I became.
Being in my body did not equate to safety or comfort. No surprise I preferred to live in my mind.
As a writer, I am shifting this. I have to.
Body is the living place of my emotions and the beginning place of my writing. When I write from my body, emotion and experience become immediate. What I notice enriches me and makes its way into the words.
My mind refines what my body has initiated. It listens to the words that emotion and experience have put on the page. It listens for rhythm and pattern. Something in my mind knows when a word, phrase, or more, sounds wrong. It hears the stutter or break in the rhythm. It knows where the pattern is out of balance.
How it does this, I am not entirely sure.
I do know my body is rhythm. Breath, heartbeat, movement. My body lives in constant rhythm, and the experience translates itself to my mind.
Even more, my mind lives within my body, lives within breath and beat and movement.
“Not separate.” I hear as I write this. “We are one,” say my body and mind in chorus. “We are the ocean in which you live.”
I hear this, and suddenly I feel my mind in the tips of my toes, noticing how my socks are warm and soft and how my toes love the feeling. Noticing how the wood floor beneath my feet grounds me and my writing both. Mind and body noticing the reassuring steadiness of the chair I sit on, the familiar worn touch of my studio work table where my elbow leans. Noticing the joy of being deeply anchored in this moment of my life.
Here is body, mind, senses, emotion, and experience in concert. Braided in a single melody. Heard and experienced in a single voice.
Hear us. We are one.
In this post:
Composer and musician Joe Hisaishi, piano album Freedom Piano Stories 4. I first met his music through Hayao Miyazaki’s anime movie My Neighbour Totoro. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Hisaishi