Experiential Practice for Seasons of Uncertainty (3): Journal Prompt from adrienne maree brown
Updated: Jun 15, 2022
Sometimes, writing can be incredibly helpful as a grounding exercise - especially if the writing orients you toward a new perspective or way of seeing/being. I find that when I use journal prompts, it helps me get out of my own whirlwind of emotions and thoughts and gives me a way of sifting and sorting my thoughts into a new perspective.
The following journal prompt comes from a poem written by the author/activist adrienne maree brown (pictured above).
1. Take a few minutes to read through adrienne's poem. Listen to how she orients towards her body in a new and more empowering way by simply asking the question at the beginning of the poem "Ah, but what if this is the ideal body?" Notice how she takes the particulars of her own life and her own body and begins to see them as sources of power and strength (rather than deficits) to draw upon in the midst of uncertainty. I have included a version of my own as well, for you to see how I tried to answer the same question.
2. Once you have taken time to read adrienne's words, and how she articulates her own answer to the question. Consider how you might answer that same question for yourself. What if your body is the ideal body after all, to carry you through this season? Consider your life and the experiences, memories, knowledge, skills, struggles that your body has lived through. How might these things help you going into the future?
3. Take a blank or a lined piece of paper and, using the same first line as adrienne (Ah, but what if this is the ideal body), write whatever comes to your mind. Do not worry about grammar or the perfect sentence structure. Just write about the things that come into your head as you think about the following prompt. If you notice yourself being critical, focus your attention on the feeling that emerges when you think about the prompt, not on the product. Feel free to repeat the prompt in your writing as much or as little as you want. It could be in note form, it could be a poem or a paragraph, an essay or a bunch of notes jotted down. It doesn’t matter as long as you are letting the words that pop into your mind flow out of you. If it helps, you can set a timer for 10-15 minutes and tell yourself you are going to
give yourself to this for that amount of time.
4. As you write pay attention to what happens within you as you engage.
○ Do you notice your muscles tense or relax as you do this?
○ How fast is your heart beating?
○ What are the feelings that emerge for you as you do these exercises?
○ Does your chest feel open and light or heavy and constricted?
adrienne maree brown's version:
ah but what if this is the ideal body after all this body which once danced all night and still waited to see the sun rise this body which caught mothers as they released babies from their bodies this body which has known so many kinds of touch from lovers who wanted and didn't want it from doctors who saw and didn't see it from children who did not hesitate to surrender tears or laughter or dreams onto my bosom
what if this body has kept me from becoming a monster kept me humble stilled me from ego with sufficient doubt
what if this body was the ideal protection from the death throes of patriarchy if this body was a lighthouse to the lovers who knew freedom was the arousing aspect
and what if this body is the ideal body for what is coming when the food dwindles on the shelves because all of us willing to pull it from the ground and milk or slaughter the beasts have turned to feed our own or are too busy grieving or gone quiet in the plague of a nation that will always choose pride and profit over its people when the rest of the world is sick of indulging the bully and the rich men are stabbing each other with phallic weapons and we are all simply too sick to apologize or be accountable
the farmers are sick and the teachers are sick and the babies are sick and the soldiers are sick and the nurses are tired and the doctors are depressed and the scroll is eternal and the rest of us are watching the end muted on our televisions
what if this body was made for an endless quarantine as this dysfunctional nation collapses what if this body is the promise of a lush future perfect for holding on to through another night of grief that is not even shocking because we all know we all die
what if this body is the last to know hunger unveiling the strength always there carrying us through this wild life while greedy bellies grumble in absence of the fat that fills one up may mine swallow my thighs from within delight in self loving sweetness sustained by soft
what if this body is the ideal body for this apocalypse what if? what if the future is simply all the fat girls outlasting the fools
Ah, but what if this is the ideal body? This one that knows how to grow life from what emerges from within. This body that has been stretched and scarred, expanded beyond comfort, that has moaned and pushed. This body that has bled. And bled And bled.
But what if this is the ideal body? This body which knows how to carry heavy loads. That knows how to shift its position to bear the weight of shelter and food and babies. That knows that emotions also bear a particular sort of weight.
But what if this is the ideal body? This body that has made long journeys, one heavy water logged foot in front of another. That knows that the skeleton is stronger than muscle: step, rest, step, rest, step, rest. This body that has squeezed through cracks into caverns, bushwhacked through alders toward vistas, and has lived for a short time off wild berries. This body that has lost its way and re-located itself over and over and over again.
What if this is the ideal body because of the memories it holds. How the full flat of the foot on granite is sturdy. How to make friends with finches. How to rock a newborn to sleep. Knowledge embedded in cells.
What if this is the ideal body because it’s a body well practiced in laughter, even and especially in moments of uncertainty and sorrow. This body that knows that sometimes the only way to face something horrendous - and to keep looking at it)- is to find the joy (or at least the absurdity).
What if this body is the ideal body because of all the ways it has never been contained. Never contained inside those pants. Never contained inside. Never contained within itself.
Always spilling over And out And down.
What if this is the ideal body because of how it has made company with death. How it knows the sound of a persons’ final breath. How it intuitively trusts in a Mystery that lies on the other side.
There is so much uncertainty about tomorrow. So much out of our control.
But what if this body is the ideal shape to carry me into the unknown future? Just as a squirrels’ cheeks swell with food that will sustain it through the cold, so too might my own form hold nourishment for tomorrow.
Your version? :)