Akilah S Richards defines deschooling as “shedding the programming and habits that resulted from other people’s agency over our time, body, thoughts, and actions.”
Many unschoolers begin with shedding beliefs about learning and education but we quickly move on to other areas.
As the deschooling process unfolds it touches our beliefs about success, time, relationships, creativity, communication, self-worth, our bodies (to name just a few.)
When we are ready to deschool our bodies we observe that we spent formative years training our bodies to sit long hours at a desk, eating and toileting according to the agenda of someone in authority. We learnt to squash bodily urges. We learnt that we don’t have a right to bodily autonomy.
We notice how this programming shapes how kindly we treat our bodies in adulthood, how as adults we are quite out of touch with our body’s wisdom (something that has served us well for millenia.)
We become aware that we often punish ourselves with our bodies, going hungry or eating beyond comfort, exercising to the point of pain or not resting when we desperately need it.
We don’t trust our instincts about food, or people, or decisions. We don’t pay attention to the signals our body gives us.
When it comes to pleasure; we might go beyond what we have consented to because we don’t believe we have the right to go against another’s agenda or we don’t prioritise our pleasure because we’ve learnt it’s not important.
Many of the beliefs we hold about our bodies are a direct result of “wounds of institutionalisation.”
Bodily School Wounds:
You must train your body to sit / not eat/ not sleep
Your body urges can’t be trusted
You must be told what to do with your body
Bodily Religious Wounds:
You are too sexual
Your sexual side is impure
Bodies are not for pleasure
Your body is a temple
Bodily Patriarchal Wounds:
You are too fat / tall/ little/ not right
You should eat this, not that
This food is good/ this food is bad
Your body is a toolRest is lazy
Pleasure is wrong
Your body isn’t to be trusted
The effects of these bodily wounds are threefold.
They rob us of joy.
They rob us our bodily wisdom – for most of humankind our bodies, our senses and intuitions have been our greatest guides – these wounds prevent us from our knowing.
They rob us of presence.
So many of the myths are to do with “healthiness” but in fact, by stopping us from hearing our own body wisdom, they make us less physically thriving.
When these wounds are perpetuated on our kids, they are taken out of this innate, good relationship with themselves they are born with. They learn to distrust themselves, to turn down the knowledge on their own selves.
There’s also a collective effect of these wounds. On our society, on our planet, because we ourselves are connected to the energies of the land, of each other. Our own self-hate so easily translates into struggle with others, a non loving response to the planet.
Chales Eisentein “What we do to the world, we do to ourselves. Self and other, humanity and nature are not separate. We may not die if the Amazon dies, but surely something within us dies, something precious, something sacred.”
The living body that is us and all earthly creatures and elements is in such pain. War and conflict, floods and fires.
Through deschooling we begin to liberate our minds from these School Wounds and begin trusting our bodily urges again, we slowly restore our ability to prioritise our pleasure and we reclaim our right to rest.
My body is a tool to be trained”
“My body is to be loved and cared for”
“My body is something to be ashamed/ afraid of”
“My body is designed for pleasure”
“My body betrays me”
“My body has her own wisdom and can be trusted”
As we bring awareness to the old programming, not only do WE begin to thrive, but it becomes easier to trust our children and their choices about their bodies:
We are able to trust their ability to eat intuitively.
We are able to celebrate when they choose rest and play.
We can create an environment where their bodily autonomy thrives.
We can create an environment where they can trust themselves and their body’s wise ways.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not an Apology (essential reading!) is a powerful guide in deschooling our bodies and healing these wounds.
“The most powerful antidote to a world of body terrorism is a world of compassion. Giving yourself the gift of grace is an act of revolution!”
“Making peace with your body is your mighty act of revolution. It is your contribution to a changed planet where we might all live unapologetically in the bodies we have.”
“Think of radical self-love as resistance training against our decades-old, tight, calcified thoughts. Adopting actions that promote radical self-love is comparable to working a muscle that has not been moved in years. It’s going to be sore and tender. You are going to be tired. But the exhaustion and frustration will lessen over time, and there will be ease where there once was pain.”
INVITATION TO BEGIN DESCHOOLING YOUR BODY:
Write a letter of compassion to yourself.
What do you need to hear from yourself?
About your body? About pleasure? About sex? About rest? About food?
You are born worthy. Every cell in your body is a miracle. You have full permission to rest. To experience deep pleasure.
You should never have had that stuff said about your body. You should never have been forced to eat what you didn’t want to. You shouldn’t have been coerced to go beyond what your body wanted to do.
I am sorry those things were said to you. And done to you.
You can let them go. You can begin claiming new beliefs today.