Through practicing martial arts, I learned to recognize and feel the other parts that comprise who I am, in addition to my conscious mind, or my intellect. I learned to be comfortable when other parts of me take control and trust them.
My body is faster and wiser than me. It can mimic complex movements without understanding what I am seeing. I can allow my body to act without being guided by conscious thought.
In drills that require a rapid motor response, I learned to let my hands move, guided by my peripheral (and less conscious) vision. When I started practicing martial arts, I would stretch my muscles deliberately, e.g. by stretching a leg with my arm. I now stretch internally: my knowledge of what’s good for the body comes from internal sensation itself. I am now able to balance my body is space during different types of kicks, despite the deep and sickening fear of losing balance that continues to haunt my conscious mind.
In some stressful situations, fear infects both my conscious mind and the other, more corporeal parts of my being. When I am afraid, I breathe heavily, even when I am not engaged in any physical effort. My muscles tingle, and my body feels stiff and heavy. When stress is extreme, I feel electric pulses moving from my shoulders to the tips of the fingers of my hand, energy being released from the ends of me to the world.
I am aware of and open to the sensation of all my body parts and organs in different situations. Even as I spar (in BJJ), I am constantly attuned to the rest of my being at any given moment.
I know now that I am never alone, even when I am by myself. I have other beings inside me. I am plural, and we encompass a continuum, from the intellect and conscious thought to the brain stem.