A Book for These Times

By Ann Brode   |   December 10, 2020
A Guide to Body Wisdom – What Your Mind Needs to Know About Your Body devotes an entire chapter to stress and relaxation

This year marks my fiftieth anniversary as a body therapist and healer. What I eventually came to know as “body wisdom” was the result of working with the wonderful, intelligent people of Santa Barbara and Montecito. For their trust and continued support, I am eternally grateful. 

From the beginning, it was apparent that in order to heal the body, you needed to include the mind. If not, even the most brilliant hands-on work was short-lived, eventually reverting to old tensions and habits. In order to ensure long-lasting success, I developed a bunch of fun facts and experiential exercises to help the mind understand the body. Though no two healing journeys are the same, the impetus to embark always entails some kind of discomfort. Whether physical, emotional, spiritual, social, relational, or circumstantial, there’s catalyst that nudges us to grow and let go. 

As I hold our community in my loving thoughts, I realize that this year has been one big catalyst. On so many levels we’ve been challenged to let go in order to go on.  Circumstances have made us slow down and stay apart. As a result, we’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time just with ourselves – our body, our thoughts. We feel the stress, we hear the distress. Your particular tension and self-talk are probably familiar. Rooted in history and reinforced by uncertainty, your discomfort reveals what needs to heal. Why not use this opportunity to change the story – for now and the future? Here’s a timely exercise I designed to help you along: 

Get small: Instead of resisting the flow, embrace the moment. To let go of tension in your body, get underneath it. Locate muscles that are stuck with tension and slowly, softly move the bones underneath. As you break the lock-hold and get things moving, feel the tension dissipate and carry away all the reasons why. Getting things moving shifts the perspective so you can see the big picture. 

Get big: Instead of reinforcing negatives, change your expectations. Reframe social isolation as an opportunity to explore virtual connectedness. No, not on the internet, but through your imagination. Close your eyes and let your body’s spatial awareness open to everything nearby – sounds, trees, air. Then expand the near space to embrace all the places and people that are dear to you. Feeling the comfort of connection to something bigger than yourself helps you relax. 

I don’t need to tell you that stress and deprivation undermine good health. I do need to tell you that paying attention and applying a bit of body wisdom can make a difference. 

A couple of years ago, I wrote a book to introduce readers to the intelligent body and bring it into everyday life. Designed as a journey of self-discovery and self-healing, A Guide to Body Wisdom – What Your Mind Needs to Know About Your Body is the perfect book for our times. There’s a whole chapter on stress and relaxation and a troubleshooting index with formulas for emotional upheaval, finding perspective, and existential crisis. Ultimately, the intention of the book is to help readers listen to and trust their inner knowing. What a valuable touchstone for these uncertain, tumultuous times.

Whether or not you use my book as a guide, I hope you’ll remember to pay attention to your body-mind and avoid the tendency to hold on to unproductive ways. As you head into the holiday season, remember the small things that make a difference and align with the big things that are part of the magic. Being body-wise will help you indulge without over-indulging; set aside time for rest when needed; and honor rituals to anchor intention for the new year ahead. Going forward, continue to cultivate your body wisdom. Besides helping you through challenging times, it may hold the key to renewed inspiration, intimacy, and spiritual connection.  

Words about the book:

Larry Dossey, MD: ”Ann Brode gives the body its due by showing how it can function as a source of wisdom and strength in total harmony with the mind.”

Pamela Larsson-Toscher: “These past few months, nothing has seemed normal and everything feels stressful. Being in my studio, playing with my granddaughter, and reading Ann’s book have helped me remember what’s important and relax.” 

Anna Cronshaw:“Ann’s book has helped me understand my body in a new way. Reading it cover to cover felt like doing something important for myself. Now I know how to help myself get relaxed, feel supported, and make good decisions!”

Marilee Gordon: “Like many women, I had found it easy to disregard the importance of just getting comfortable – even for a good night’s sleep! After reading Ann’s book, I now know that supporting my body makes a difference. Combining a soothing ritual of body awareness with pillows placed ‘just so’ allows me to rest in the best possible way.” 

A Guide to Body Wisdom – What Your Mind Needs to Know About Your Body is available locally at Chaucer’s, Tecolote, and Heritage Goods and Supply.


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