Moving Emotions Through the Body

Words by Leigh Ware
Photos by Libby Smith

A desire is a feeling. A feeling is communicated first as a physical response. We laugh, cry, ache, tingle…something that comes from within our bodies and guides us. Then our minds kick on, and can mess everything up. But when we turn off our minds, our bodies will tell us everything we need to know. Easier said than done, right?

This week, in partnership with THINX, we explored how we listen to our bodies and our desires.

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If you had asked me many years ago, I wouldn’t have had a clue what you meant by the wisdom of my body, much less what I personally desired. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that kind of listening to myself was completely drowned out by the din of “shoulds,” “have to’s,” and “I don’t know, what do you want?”

I knew that some days I felt intense periods of joy, and other days I felt so nervous I didn’t want to get out of bed. It seemed like evidence that something was inherently wrong with me. Long before the popularity of the term self-care, I didn’t realize that there was any other path than trying my best to copy what I deemed the “more normal” people around me–people that seemed to not be overwhelmed by the living of day-to-day life.

In high school I was prescribed anti-depressants for the first time. The weight of my anxiety and the inability to talk about it felt crushing. I want to recognize that medication is life-saving and vital for some people...but in my case, it came without a deeper conversation of what was happening inside of me. I hid my emotions away even further.

Around that time, I started experiencing migraines and intense neck and jaw pain. It took many years before I made a connection between the pain of my body and the emotional pain inside me.

My adult years have been a journey to be gentler to myself. Some years have been easier than others. I’ve moved in and out of cycles of people-pleasing, shame, working all the time, guilt, joy, freedom, and levity. I’ve come to better recognize that the feelings of my body are all connected.

My jaw pain reminds me when I’m wound up too tight. The tears that come unbidden remind me when I’ve ignored the depths of my emotions. The tightness of my chest reminds me to better examine the voice that says “I’m not enough.”

It is, and will be, a journey. I’m so grateful to my body for guiding me, and for all of the wisdom I continue to learn.

A photo of Leigh, our Head of Marketing at Quilt. 
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