Body Types

“It may not be survival of the fittest, it may be survival of the fattest, probably not survival of the skinniest.”

“Whoops, did I say that out loud?” I asked my friend as we drove down

I-5 on our way South for the week-end.

“Talk about politically incorrect, you best be careful how you proceed with this conversation. I know, you were just trying to be funny. It can get you into trouble Dr Jim.”

As we transitioned onto the 73 toll road with our fast pass for the privilege of saving 10 minutes to La Jolla, I grunted and thought to myself about my sense of humor and sometimes insensitivity for other people.

It’s not politically correct these days, any kind of apparent prejudicial remark about any kind or group of people. Even though there are definite body types. Some body types look like a football player, some like Santa Claus and some like a beanpole. And we don’t change much as we live. Different body types are real and all very beneficial for different reasons.

My favorite book these days is “Fish Don’t Exist” by Lulu Miller.   Lulu Miller is a science writer for NPR. Her notion is that it is grossly unfair to group seahorses with sharks and call them both “fish”. The term fish obscures the absolute unique expression of life that each creature is. This is certainly true of people, each being a unique expression of life. Any label, judgment, criticism or grouping robs us all of the marvel of gifts that each individual has to offer.

So what do I have to offer, I wonder. As a Doctor and Hellerwork Practitioner, I begin to assess each person as they walk into my office. I notice which shoulder appears higher or lower and how they tend to cock their head and whether one hand is held different than the other, chest up or down, shoulders rolled or not and how they walk. Each walk is a signature and unique that displays the held tensions that relate to torso rotations, knock-knees, pigeon toes, forward or backward pelvis tilt or any of hundreds of variations we all adopt to allow the stories, histories and tensions we carry to grapple with gravity.

I prefer to do the initial Doctor interview standing in front of the patient. I keep the windows shut and the lights bright in the office. Very quiet mood music is in the background. I have two hanging, healthy potos plants. My seven diplomas, permits, 50 years experience and my face provide some credibility for my skills. I notice the particular wrinkles in the person’s face reflecting chronic unconscious thought patterns and the restfulness or not of their eyes assessing safety, rapport or fear. Mouth breather or not? Shoulders held up or not? Balanced on feet or back on the heels like a “pushover”. Held tension to avoid pain of neck or back or shoulder or hip. Dressed, tattooed, hair with self-esteem or not? These are all clues to what it will take to release some of the historical-stories or recent traumas that have kept this person struggling with their physicality and possible pain.

My first job is to accept them completely just the way they are. Everything about them is an expression of their life to this point. I get too see them as an expression of love, or lost love, winning or losing or the combinations therof.

After we discuss old fractures, surgeries and current and past drug regimens, I eventually ask them, “When was the last time you had your heart broken? Maybe not romantic broken but any kind of loss or failure?”

This question rarely gets answered right away. It takes some rapport and safety for this kind of emotional introspection. It is the emotional energy that has us twist up our structures or get into accidents or injury…. And we hold onto the emotional stories and postures. I know I have for my lifetime. These emotional stories will shape our posture and our habits. Emotional rapport, two people with similar histories is the best access to letting go of old energy. Emotional rapport makes all the difference in the world in how we can relax our fears. This is what is meant by “physician heal thyself”. When I can relate my similar stories with my patients then we can both relax. This is why combat vets only talk to other combat vets, and drunks only to drunks and childhood damaged victims to other damaged victims; the emotional energy can be understood and diminished for both people.

Emotional energy is what makes life worth living. Interestingly enough, fat and smooth muscle tissue, like guts and fat, transmit emotional energy much better than skeletal, football muscle tissue does.

This is why people with more smooth tissue make better cooks, singers, lovers, counselors and poets than any other body type. That’s why if Santa Claus looked like an MMA cage fighter no one would want to cuddle with him. The fighters and football players have lots of striated skeletal muscle. This stuff can take an arrow and keep on fighting. And it doesn’t transmit the emotional hesitancy to stop taking the head off of a bad guy. The jocks are built for that kind of fighting. They, like everyone, can feel emotional energy, but the fat folks are built for it and much better at it. Fat folks feel for all of us.

And that emotional energy is what makes life worth living.

I say this as I am a skinnified closet fat person who works very hard at appearing to be thinner. In the world of phoney, I may have been cheating myself all this time.

Life’s joy comes from the deep, fully felt belly laugh.

Thank God for those that can lead us in a deep, fully felt belly laugh.


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