The Body Series: The Connection Between Body and Soul


Usually when I run a series here on Still Forming, I have a strong sense of where it will go before it even starts — an outline already exists in my head, or a list of post ideas has been scribbled in my journal, to be used as a guide along the way. 

But this time? No such outline or list exists. 

Yes, there are the seven posts I wrote last year on this topic, some of which we’ll revisit here. And there are the three books I’ve read or am currently reading that will spark conversation and serve as additional voices for us in this series. 

But right now I have no list. I have no outline. 

And so today, I simply want to share what I’m noticing in this present moment: the connection between body and spirit. 

This isn’t new information.

Most are no doubt familiar with the concept that the body and soul are related and affect each other. There’s the prevalence of yoga as a form of exercise and an opportunity for meditation. There’s the sense of overall well being that results after having exercised the body. And there’s the evidence of psychosomatic illnesses, where mental or emotional factors create physical results in the body, such as migraines or ulcers or back pain.

But since this series is, for me, an attempt to take head knowledge deeper — for it to become real knowledge, not just head knowledge — I’m sharing today what I noticed this morning that is helping this concept become more real.

It happened when I sat down at my desk to enjoy my usual morning routine of coffee and prayer. Before I got started, I checked in on my usual online haunts. And there, I learned some news that startled me. Grieved me. Panicked me. Confused me. 

And then I couldn’t concentrate. 

There I sat, the psalms open before me on the desk, but my mind and heart couldn’t translate the words. Instead, my knee shook up and down. I sat with my elbow on the desk and my hand covering my mouth. My eyes glazed over. My mind shot elsewhere. I stared out the window. I checked my email. I texted. 

Every few minutes, I would return to what was meant to be the central focus — prayer and quiet — but my focus continued to be anything but those things. 

Eventually, as I paid attention to what was happening, I experienced my body speaking to me.

My shaking leg told me I was nervous. My inability to read the psalms said that my mind and heart had other things taking their notice. My glazed-over eyes said I’d gone someplace else. 

Listening to my body — noticing what it was telling me — became an opportunity for my time of prayer to go a different direction. Rather than the psalms being a launching point for prayer, as they usually are, my body instructed my prayers instead. I talked to God about what bothered me. I prayed for those concerned. I sat with questions, letting God be with me in my holding of them.

Have you ever had a similar experience, where your body “spoke” the state of your soul?