The Body Knows: Honoring the Primal Wisdom of our Animal Skin

It was just a voice, on the phone in the other room. I sat straight up, heart pounding, whole body on alert.  The burning in my gut started right away. It was fire. Consuming. Churning. Right in the white hot root of me. There was no information. No logic. Just the reaction itself, it all of its immensity. It warned of danger. Run now, it said. Do not stop to understand. Do not wait. Do not second guess. Go. 


And that’s the thing. The body knows.

This world teaches us to disregard the wisdom of our bodies. When it hurts, we push past the pain. That swirling sense of unease we call gut instinct? Woo woo mumbo jumbo. Our kids feel run down with a minor cold – we push them to school; no sick days unless you have a fever. It aches? Take a pill. Tired? Down some caffeine and push through.

We learn suspicion is the correct response to the signals gifted us by bones and guts and skin. At best, they are an inconvenience to be silenced. At worst, a lie determined to hold us back. We can’t read the signs because we’ve decided that our bodies speak a language not worthy of fluency.

But that’s the thing. The body still knows.

The body knows what the mind does not. The body knows what we are not ready to see. The body knows what we do not want to face.

The tightness in your throat? The one that makes you feel silenced when she comes home at the end of a long day?  The way your jaw clenches and your breath feels stuck in your chest? You are not being heard. Your voice has been stifled. You need wide open spaces that let your spirit sing. You need someone with a wild steady heart who is ready to listen. It will not happen here.

Listen to the tightness.

That tug deep in your gut? It cuts right through your not-quite-inhale when you first catch his eyes. He stands across the worn wood counter at the hipster coffee shop you’ve recently begun frequenting without knowing why. He likes obscure independent documentaries too, and he’ll bring you gone-to-seed dandelions in bed one lazy Sunday morning just so he can memorize what you wish for.

Listen to the tug.

The primal burn that declares danger?  The way his name makes a silent refusal rise from deep inside. His breath makes the hairs on your neck stand up in a way that alarms and pulses with menace even though there is no reason to believe he means harm. He will disrespect your boundaries. He will take what is not his. He has done it before. He will do it again.

Listen to the burn.

Because that’s the thing.  The body knows.

Some people have a sixth sense, and some are duds at it. I believe I must have it, because the moment I stepped into the house I felt a trembling along my skin, a traveling current that moved up my spine, down my arms, pulsing out from my fingertips. I was practically radiating. The body knows things a long time before the mind catches up to it. I was wondering what my body knew that I didn’t.
~ Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

Our bodies are sacred shrines of wisdom. The knowledge and truths of generations; spliced into our DNA and knitted into the fibers of our being. They are finely tuned instruments of insight and awareness and they speak our mother tongue, if only we are willing to listen.

But again and again, we ignore the insight. We discount the silent hush along our skin and the ache in our heartspace and the way our leg muscles twitch run-run-run despite our brain overriding with a sensible stay. In doing so we turn our backs on truth and expansion walk head on into danger, or complacency or the slow quiet death of living small.

But we don’t have to.

It is time to start honoring the ancient pattern of call and response gifted us by our animal bodies, by our heart pound and blood pulse and primal burn. It is time usher back your sacred knowing.

remember how the body knows || jeanette leblanc #writing-2It is reclamation time.

So gather close the wisdom in your bones.
Honor the fire in your belly. 
Offer gratitude to the tug and the tightness and the way the chills rise across your skin when her finger trails down your arm. 
Give blessing to the heat of fever and the churning of rage and the ferocity of fear.
Bow before your holy body.
Listen to its voice.
Remember the language you were born knowing.

Remember how the body knows.


In the end, it almost took me out.  It caused a fire that eventually burned down all I held dear. Pushed me off the deep end of jealousy and insufficiency and lack. Brought forth demons who were not content until I was on my knees, hoarse and screaming and afraid. And I could feign surprise or shock or dismay. But I knew.  If I was honest with myself, I knew from the very start.

Because you see, the body knows.  It always knows.


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