By Linda Berry
The original article was first published in Crazy Wisdom Community Journal Issue #77. Read it HERE.
What do you get when a poet and a chiropractor set out to explore and revitalize the physical body from a spiritual perspective? Poet Elizabeth Alberda and I created the work and workshops called Spiritual Anatomy. Our journey took us from the inner workings of the body’s organs and tissue to the mystical and mythical writings and imaginings of teachers and scholars.
At its heart, spiritual anatomy became a practice—a study of the human body as a reflection of the soul. We visualized the soul telling its story through the physical body, using tools like meditation, writing, movement, and sound to evoke and express that which was within. Each month we focused on the unique aspects of a certain body part which allowed us to call forth that which needed healing and that which provided strength.
As beings composed of a Spiritual Anatomy, we embody balance, homeostasis, wholeness, and health. Our brain holds the vision of our whole, unblemished health. Science shows that after amputation a “phantom limb” remains. Recovering yourself through Spiritual Anatomy allows you to envision your perfection as a dance, a poem, a song, or a dream.
How do we recapture this innocent acceptance of our wholeness, our holiness? Harnessing the power within through physical, energetic, creative, intellectual, and meditative exercises, Elizabeth and I set out with a group of intrepid explorers. As the chiropractor, I built the scaffold of body parts and processes by giving names and teaching functions. Elizabeth blew soul wind into the forms with words and spirit practices.
We relied heavily on myth, folk wisdom, spiritual teachers, and practices from our own investigation and trainings for the groundwork. Each month, as a different system of the body was unveiled, we let Spirit guide us and our group toward the achievement of greater joy in our lives.
I invite you now to allow yourself to expand the “Health within You” with one small exercise. Consider that health is the entity within, and we are all born with a large, all-encompassing amount of it. Within us is a life force so powerful, so intelligent that it commands our heart to beat, our lungs to expand and contract, our hormones to rise and fall, our digestive system to extract exactly what it is needed—and this happens moment to moment all the years of our lives.
Prepare for this experience by being seated in a comfortable position with pen and paper handy for recording words, images, or messages you may receive from within. If you wish, you could record your voice describing this process and then play it while meditating. Or you could have a trusted companion read the words to you and you signal when to pause.
The intention of this meditation can be whatever you designate. However, consider this an opportunity to Re-member parts of your anatomy that may be lost, or neglected, or just have something to say to you!
Close your eyes and visualize yourself walking a path through the woods. Know that you are safe and protected by the spirit that moves through all things. Feel the warm breeze, smell the leaves and the undergrowth, hear the water flow in the brook by the side of the path. Up ahead the path crosses over the brook on a small wooden bridge. As you walk across you come to a large oak door. You step forward and open the door. In front of you now is an open meadow with wildflowers, soft grass, and singing birds. In the center of the meadow is a round table with several chairs. You take a seat at the table facing the open doorway you just passed through.
With silent intent, you ask your spirit guide, your ancient one, to sit on your left side. Thank them for coming when they arrive. Now ask that your inner creative, playful, joyful child come and sit on your right side. Thank them for coming.
Now announce your intention for being here today. (Ours was to ask for all our body parts still in need of healing or of communicating in some way to come to the table with us). Say, “I have undertaken a journey of merging flesh and spirit into an integrated whole through the process of spiritual anatomy. I now ask that any body parts that have information or wish to be present for this integration to come and participate or observe. I invite you to enter one at a time through the open door and be with us at the table.”
Focus your attention now on the doorway with an open heart, open mind, and sense of play.
Who has arrived? (I once had my intestines slither in!) Thank the body part for joining you and say, “I’m open and eager to hear what you have to say, to know what you may need, and to receive any information you can share to help us on our journey toward wholeness. If you are willing to communicate with words, sounds, pictures, or even just feelings, please feel free to do so. If you just wish to be present as witness, join us.”
You may wish to take time to write down what each body part transmits before moving to the next part of the exercise.
Say, “Now from the intricate richness of the left and right halves of our brain, from the masculine and the feminine, from our playful, creative self, and our spiritual, mystical, ancient self, we offer these possibilities” to let the body part know that the three selves gathered here would like to offer possibilities for healing, wholeness, and reintegration. Ask if this would be acceptable and if so continue. Allow the ideas to flow as a beam of light, color, and sound to the body part who has arrived. Do this for as many body parts as wish to join the gathering.
When a sense of completion for this day arrives, thank all the body parts for their participation. Stand and offer each a loving embrace before closing. Go back through the door, down the path, and back into the present moment.
The energy wave generated by this exercise may manifest in many ways. Your dreams could be rich and vivid. You may find yourself drawn to some particular music or movement. You may rediscover yoga, writing, or a forgotten art form from your past. Or perhaps you have unearthed fodder for talk therapy or sharing with a friend. Whatever arrives, may it ignite with you a cohesion of your body and your soul, what we like to call your Spiritual Anatomy.
Dr. Linda Berry is the co-founder of Complete Chiropractic and Bodywork Therapies. For more info: https://chiroannarbor.com