Feel with Your Whole Body

Black people have a lot of trauma to process and healing to engage in as a result of the centuries of abuse and harm we’ve experienced at the hands of colonizers. To arrive at a place of true healing we need to remember and utilize every tool and technique known to Black folks. One example is remembering that the body as a vital component in the healing process because the body holds a depth of memories that the mind has long forgotten.

Engaging the body in feeling allows you to gain a deeper knowledge of your emotions, thoughts, and patterns. It expands the tools and techniques you can use to manage difficult emotions and amplify pleasant emotions. It unlocks a whole other level of understanding and healing. This is especially pertinent for Black folks because this has always been a way our ancestors processed situations and expressed emotions.

…this has always been a way our ancestors processed situations and expressed emotions.

Although powerful, it can be hard to strengthen the mind, body, and spirit connection that is needed to feel with your whole body. Especially, if engaging with your emotions in this way is new to you. So, here are two suggestions that can help you start the practice of feeling with your whole body:  

Use a journal prompt.
Identify a feeling and write about it. As you’re writing, notice where you feel it in your body or what changes happen i.e. tightness in the chest, breathing change, and heaviness all over. Find ways to change or deepen those physical sensations, which can influence your feelings/thoughts.

Use music.
Choose a song that reflects how you feel, how you want to feel or a feeling you want to investigate. As you’re listening, notice where you feel it in your body or what changes. Move the parts that you’re noticing to change or deepen those physical sensations. Turn those movements into a repeatable sequence or mantra to use later when you need to feel deeply again.

...creativity is expression from the soul.

If you want support in your body healing process, I encourage you to seek holistic Black mental health practitioners, such as a dance/movement psychotherapist, somatic-based or mindfulness-based therapist, and/or other African body-based healing practitioners.

Lastly, using the body helps us tap into our creativity which is vital to our well being because creativity is an expression from the soul. While writing this piece I was not only inspired to move but also moved to create. Enjoy.

Feet firmly planted like the root
connected, feeling, feeding the earth,
energy moving up and moving thru.
Breath, breathing,
expanding and refreshed, releasing and loosed.
Lungs, belly, heart, hips, breast, gut,
the core, the center, the 2nd brain
feeling inside and expressing out,
circulations of sensations across our channels and streams
pacing, setting tone, and guiding the flow,
Arms stretching, fingers tingling
like leaves and branches catching the breeze
recognition that something is moving outside and within.
The head, the eyes, the mouth and ears taking it all in,
absorbing, filtering, recycling again
this is where our thoughts and patterns live,
often separated from the rest,
a part, but apart
like the nest in the tree
Part of the system, of our eco, but forgotten
the dwelling of the species that germinate the earth
like the thoughts the sow good deeds
like the actions that plant growth seeds.
We are one,
connected
Inside and out.
We are one,
connected.
Spirit and earth.
Feel as one,
wholly.
Sensation and idea.
Feel as one,
wholly.
Body and mind.

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for your words. I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the small quick guided meditation, and your connection to dance and moving the body. You offer some great ways to investigate our feelings and is something everyone can take away from the reading and incorporate it into their daily lives.
    Plus, the inhaling of breath is so important because it allows the body to release tension, and become grounded.
    LOVE IT!!!!

  2. Thanks for tying the mind-body connection tighter for me. I don’t use movement as feeling as a way to connect with my body. Exercise, sure. But it’s different. Thanks for the prompts on how to find a place to start and to use music as a tool to focus on my body’s feelings. And I felt that poem!

    1. Yes Ren! Exercise is a great way to be active and learn your body, but we often don’t allow it to connect us to the deeper feelings.

  3. Music has always been a way for black people to express how they feel and get the feelings out there to others. We have been using music to tell tales of slavery, history, love, rights and all the feelings in between. We are a musical people and using it as a instrument to relax is just another step on that road to recovery. Thank you for reminding me of this, especially in these times that are upon us now.

    1. Yes to all of this! We got rhythm and song intertwined in literally every part of ourselves, it’s deeply ingrained.

  4. Great information. These type of tools can be implemented for everyone. I’ve also found that animals are a good releaser. They can channel the peace. Animals aren’t engulfed with troubles we face.

    1. Absolutely Larry! Animals are great at sensing and improving our moods because they’re great listeners and help us get what we need, whether slowing down or get moving.

  5. Beautiful! There is nothing like breathing deep within, getting new life, and then, exhaling the worst parts of it. This story reminds me to take the time to breathe, renew one’s thoughts and to also exhale.

    Take a load off!

    And, that it’s okay to feel it, but it’s even better to process it until you reach resolve. Thank you for helping us to work things through to the end.

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