Tags: pier

The Body Speaks

by Sabina I. Rascol
Published on: May 1, 2014
Categories: Other Topics
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benches Seal BeachSo there’s this pier at Seal Beach, the beach closest to where my Southern California-brother lives. My brother loves the pier, any pier, and he’s got a nice, strong personality. So pretty much every time we go to the beach there, or anywhere there’s a pier, we all walk on the pier, together, talking. Maybe we talk intensely, maybe we talk desultorily, but usually, all of us who come stick with my brother and walk with him on the pier.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy spending time with my brother, and I love walking on piers myself. But not every time, I realized a while ago when I happened to go to Seal Beach with my nephew instead. This surfing-mad nephew parked himself on the pier above the breaking surf. “I’m going to stay here and watch the waves,” he said. My younger sister had already peeled off, eventually finding the ice cream shop. And I? I began to walk on the pier, as we usually do. Then, ‘No, I’d rather sit right now!’ So I did.

Ah, how my body savored just sitting on that bench, the sea in front of me, nipping wind safely at my back, my thoughts freely wondering!

I noticed my body’s physiology, affected by my emotions and thoughts, and remembered a goal setting/visioning seminar I attended at the beginning of the year. One of the speakers said our bodies talk to us, if we’d only listen to them. They can even help us make decisions, if we think of options and look at how our body reacts. We observed ourselves by thinking of a difficult situation in our lives, and noticing our body’s reaction. Then we thought about a happy time…

I haven’t nailed it down yet, but I’ve been ruminating lately about this connection between thoughts, feelings, and body/physiology. There are ways to harness this connection for my writing that I haven’t gotten yet, but it feels important to continue to ponder. I think how differently I would have felt—and how different my physiology would have been—if, on that bench, rather than savoring a lovely choice, I would instead have been waiting for someone who was terribly late, and I in a terrible, terrible hurry…


I observed my thoughts-feelings-physiology connection another time, on a perfect beach outing that I didn’t want to end. As I kept expecting the announcement that it was time to leave, my stomach and mind tensed, siphoning off enjoyment. When the call to leave didn’t come as soon as I feared, my mind and body finally relaxed. I could again enjoy the sweep of seaside colors, of clean, warm air…

The fab instructors of Mt. Hood Meadows ski instructors host movement analysis sessions, where we get to think through how we teach. The point is not to just tell a student to do something. If he knew how to do it right, he’d already be doing it. Instead, we need to specify exactly what muscles he needs to use and in what ways to achieve a desired outcome.

So, too, we can listen to our body speak, and include specific muscle reactions when painting the mood or action in a particular scene we’re writing. Before falling asleep the other night, for example, I felt myself tense my upper arms because I remembered something I should have done that day that I hadn’t gotten done. I may one day use that physical reaction for a character. Maybe it will be something defining, that s/he does all the time, or it may signal a situation outside the norm.

Alright, my tensing stomach and arms are telling me that I’ve spent too much time on this blog post and it’s time to turn in. What is your current physiology alerting you to? Or what conclusions might you have come to, on the topic of physiology and writing, that you’d like to share?


-Sabina I. Rascol

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