My Body—A Sacred Conduit for Revelation
Guest Post by Kelly. Kelly is wife, mom of two teenage daughters, and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
The body is quite a gift! When experiencing good health, I am able to perform a variety of daily tasks ranging from the highly fulfilling to the mundane and tedious. My body allows me the ability to do almost anything—from menial chores like dusting and dishes, to reading poetry and playing the piano, to conversing and cooking dinner, to exercising, praying, having sex… you get the idea. My body has the capacity to serve many purposes, but I am most in awe of its’ ability to communicate—to me, that is. For example, I have noticed that when I am happy my body feels energized, but when I am depressed my body feels depleted. When I am anxious my neck muscles get tense, but when I feel secure my body is relaxed. Being in tune with my own body has been essential for navigating the challenges of life and keeping me connected to God. The more I listen to the messages from my whole body—that is mentally, emotionally, and physically—the more I am able to be touched spiritually. No wonder the apostle Paul compared our bodies to a temple, a body can be a conduit for inspiration and revelation! We just need to listen to the messages it sends us.
In my own experience, one of the ways (probably the most common way) that God will communicate with our spirit is through our body. It is comforting to think of my body as a gift, a unique tool that God can use to communicate with me personally. Jesus Christ declared, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), and it makes sense considering that we are the spiritual daughters of Heavenly Parents, created in their divine image. It is likely that each of us are far more in touch with God than we ever realized. Maybe receiving inspiration is a whole-body experience, one that requires being sensitive to the thoughts that come into our minds, the feelings/emotions in our hearts, and the physical sensations which can accompany them. Let me try to illustrate.
My daughter recently had a seminary lesson in which the topic of priesthood was taught in a way that made her feel insignificant, powerless, and less than in God’s eyes. She did not feel uplifted or edified in any way. Seeing her distraught with tears and heart-broken was cause for concern. I did my best to validate her thoughts and feelings and corrected what misinformation I could. However, I felt it was most important to encourage attention to what her mind, heart and body were communicating to her. Modern day scripture teaches us “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart…this is the spirit of revelation” (D&C 8:2-3). Such a disturbing mental, emotional and physical response can and should lead a person to ask, “Is what I am learning actually coming from God, or from humanity’s own misguided interpretation?”
Having a negative visceral response to something we hear at church can be confusing and discouraging. However, I have found it is often a blessing in disguise because it can spur us into action by motivating us to question, pray, study and expand our minds in preparation to receiving our own inspiration and revelation on the matter-at-hand. In the scriptures we learn “And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67). Over the years as I have sincerely sought truth and wisdom from God, I have been shocked, comforted and healed as I personally discovered through revelation that God was not necessarily the author of what was being taught or practiced at church.
Now, a quick word of caution! Of course, just because an idea or concept rubs us wrong does not necessarily make it untrue. Richard Rohr, a well-known spiritual leader and author wisely stated in his book, Falling Upward, “before the truth sets you free, it tends to make you miserable”. Any challenge to our own worldview has the potential to cause us discomfort and even pain, which might be an indication that we ourselves have some maturing to do! Religion should push us out of our comfort zones in order to expand our perspective and foster positive growth and development. Like I said before, we should pay attention to what our bodies are saying and use these opportunities to compel us to find out truth for ourselves.
Too often though, the opposite happens. Like when I sit in a class at church and hear the same insensitive, inaccurate doctrinal rhetoric perpetuated week after week…after week. My body has become a powerful tool in alerting me to problematic teachings, especially ones that may result in exclusion and marginalization. In the scriptures we learn “And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67). Paying attention to things like body tension or dark or negative feelings, allows me to recognize truth from error. In contrast, I know when my heart feels enlarged or my mind is calm and peaceful, those are the fruits of the Spirit! I have come to rely more fervently on the ways in which God touches my own spirit in order to know what is “lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13), rather than feeling forced to accept or rely on the ignorant opinions or misguided statements of members or those who deem themselves in authority of others.
Essentially, I have concluded that there is something to the old saying, “trust your gut instincts”. When I tune in to my body—mentally, emotionally and physically—I notice that I am blessed with a greater capacity for spirituality. As I seek greater truth and understanding for myself, I can feel my Heavenly Parents smiling down on me. They have given us each a body with the capacity to learn, grow and become more like Them. By taking time to be still and foster connection between my body and spirit, I have able to commune with my Heavenly Parents more effectively, receive revelation and feel an increase of love towards all of Their children.