Hi, and welcome to Talk Rx with Doctor Neha.
I’m filming from Bali and a New Year’s topic has been resonating with me here. Since I’m sweating a lot in this hot, humid climate, experiencing a new relationship with my body, and eating all organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free, everything is just so real and natural. For instance, my morning papaya drink has fresh mint in it and even the straw is made from a papaya stem.
This environment got me thinking about resolutions for the new year. I can’t even count how many times changing my body was part of a resolution. Either I was going to lose a few pounds or get stronger. It was an externally focused goal. Of course, a few days, hours, weeks into my resolution, everything usually went kaput.
In the last year, I’ve actually spent time with my body from a different angle. I started to think about my body in a new way. I started to get curious about how strong the “muscle” in my head was, my intellect. And I thought about how that I’d spent the last 10 or 15 years dropping from my head into my heart—an 18-inch distance but many-year journey. When I came to Bali, I started to piece together new ways to think about the rest of my body. Could there be a way that instead of creating a punishing goal for myself—I want to lose weight and if I don’t, then I have failed—I could start thinking about my body in terms of joy?
Last year while visiting Costa Rica, I took this dance class that’s called Qoya. Rochelle Schieck is the founder of Qoya, and it’s about movement with meaning and remembrance. Through movement, we remember that as women, we are wise, wild, and free. The wisdom piece draws upon the wisdom of yoga. The wild element draws upon free dance and freedom in movement. The free part of it is about expanding our capacity to feel pleasure in our body. When I took that class, it was one of the first times that I actually didn’t feel annoyed or irritated when it was time to “workout.” For years, I always thought, I don’t need anymore work. I’ve got plenty of work.
The dance class got me thinking back through my life. I realized I’ve always enjoyed playing games. I loved tennis, and I loved games where there’s an exchange with someone else. I think that might have been about competitiveness and the ability to disconnect from my body so that I could focus on the strategy of a game, rather than being present in my body. When I came here to Bali, I started journaling about that and realizing that my disconnection from my body started a long time ago.
When I was very young, my mother’s brother, who was 18 at the time, died on his high school graduation night. Our family was devastated, and this was right before I was born. While my grandparents and parents were grieving, I was born. I was the second daughter. My grandparents got called away to an assignment in Africa, and so my mother, as an act of love, sent me at three months old to live with my grandparents until I was two. My parents then came to get me and bring me back home.
When I’ve spoken to some of my relatives, they told me how much I cried and how upset I was. Of course! I thought that my grandparents were actually my parents, even though I was actually being brought back to my family of origin. When I asked my parents about this, they told me how important that time of grieving was for my grandparents and how me being there allowed them to focus on this new bright light of raising a child instead of the loss of their own son. It made perfect sense.
For me, though, as I grew up, anytime someone would leave me, even as simple as leaving at the end of a dinner party, I’d be saying goodbye and feel a little bit upset. I started writing about this discomfort and understanding that I may have checked out of my body a long time ago. The feeling of loss made me think my body was not a very safe place for me to be. So every new year’s resolution that I made, every time I tried to get back into my body, were all failed attempts.
For the first time this year, I didn’t make a new year’s resolution about my body per say. I just got curious about how I could enjoy it more. How can I expand my capacity for joy in my body?
As you’re looking toward the new year, consider if any of this resonates with you. How might you expand your capacity for joy in your body? Now, I’ve worked a lot on the intellectual part of my being. I’m an engineer and a doctor, and I’ve learned how to connect my head to my heart a little bit better. Now I’m learning more and more about body consciousness.
Good luck as you look for the excitement that comes with New Year’s resolutions and goals.
What’s one way you can think about this differently than you have in the past?Send me your questions — drop me a tweet at #AskDoctorNeha or write your question and comments down below.
Because your body is where you live…