The Wisdom of Your Body
Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection through Embodied Living
Many of us have a complicated relationship with our body.
Maybe you've been made to feel ashamed of your body or like it isn't good enough. Maybe your body is riddled with stress, pain, or the effects of trauma. Maybe you think of your body as an accessory to what you believe you really are--your mind. Maybe your experiences with racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, ageism, or sizeism have made you believe your body isn't the right kind of body. Whatever the reason, many of us don't feel at home in our bodies. But being disconnected from ourselves as bodies means being disconnected from truly living and from the interconnection that weaves us all together.
Psychologist and award-winning researcher Hillary McBride explores the broken and unhealthy ideas we have inherited about our body. Embodiment is the way we are in the world, and our embodiment is heavily influenced by who we have been allowed to be. McBride shows that many of us feel disembodied due to colonization, racism, sexism, and patriarchy--destructive systems that rank certain bodies as less valuable, beautiful, or human than others. Embracing our embodiment can liberate us from these systems. As we come to understand the world around us and the stories we've been told, we see that our perspective of reality often limits how we see and experience ourselves, each other, and what we believe is Sacred. Instead of the body being a problem to overcome, our bodies can be the very place where we feel most alive, the seat of our spirituality and our wisdom.
The Wisdom of Your Body offers a compassionate, healthy, and holistic perspective on embodied living. Weaving together illuminating research, stories from her work as a therapist, and deeply personal narratives of healing from a life-threatening eating disorder, a near-fatal car accident, and chronic pain, McBride invites us to reclaim the wisdom of the body and to experience the wholeness that has been there all along. End-of-chapter questions and practices are included.
An Invitation to Begin
1. Fully Alive: Exploring and Understanding Embodiment
2. How We Become Disembodied: Lies about Our Bodies and Finding Our Way Home
3. The Body Overwhelmed: Healing the Body from Stress and Trauma
4. Appearance and Image: How We See Our Body from the Outside
5. Feeling Feelings: Getting to Know the Emotional Body
6. You Are Not Broken: A New Perspective on Pain
7. The Body and Oppression: When Bodies Are Political
8. Pleasure and Enjoyment: The Sensual and Sexual Body
9. Holy Flesh: Reconciling the Spirit-Body Divide
10. Living as a Body: Embodiment Practices to Return to Ourselves
Epilogue: A Letter to My Body
"No single leader has impacted my concept of healthy embodiment more than Hillary McBride. Her work fundamentally changed the way I talk about, think about, treat, and cherish my own body. The Wisdom of Your Body is the exact message I wish someone had given me thirty years ago. Perhaps the best endorsement I can offer is that I gave a copy to each of my daughters. This book will help set people free. We will be talking about McBride's work for decades."
Jen Hatmaker, New York Times bestselling author of Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire and Of Mess and Moxie; host of the For the Love podcast
"In The Wisdom of Your Body, McBride offers us a clear and practical road map out of the most painful and difficult schism in modern life: the division between people and their own bodies. This is a book offering profound healing and insight--the rare tome that can change not only individual lives but also our world."
Mike McHargue, host of The Cozy Robot Show; author of You're a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass)
"In The Wisdom of Your Body, Hillary McBride offers both permission and practices to get to know who you are in a holistic way. This book is an invitation to look deeper and to live a fully connected and embodied life. These pages are filled with stories you'll remember, ideas you'll want to come back to, and gentle reminders of what's true: even here, there is a way home."
Morgan Harper Nichols, author of All Along You Were Blooming
"This might be the revolution for which we've all been secretly longing. Wise, political, powerful, and deeply healing, The Wisdom of Your Body is a book I will be recommending to everyone. Hillary is such a worthy guide, the kind you can trust in the most dangerous wildernesses of your body and soul and mind. I could not be more grateful for this book."
Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, editor of the New York Times bestseller A Rhythm of Prayer
"As a gay man raised evangelical, I was quick to despise my body and learned to float above it. It is the most important work of my adulthood to not only reconnect with my body but learn that I am my body. This book is the indispensable tool I've been looking for. My soul and my body shout: Required reading!"
Jedidiah Jenkins, New York Times bestselling author of Like Streams to the Ocean and To Shake the Sleeping Self
"Soulful. Joyful. Hillary McBride is the gentle and powerful voice that calls us back home to ourselves."
Kate Bowler, Duke Divinity School; author of Everything Happens for a Reason
"Too many of us have been taught that the body is bad but the spirit is good. I am grateful for Dr. Hillary McBride, who has the ability to bring together both the spirit and the body through research and her personal experience to show us how our body can also be our teacher. The Wisdom of Your Body deftly draws from ancient and contemporary sources to emphasize that if we are connected to our bodies, we are connected not only to community but also to the Divine."
Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation
"If you have ever felt disconnected from your body and wanted to find the way home to yourself, please read this book. McBride's insights are a gift to us--through tender stories and valuable expertise, we learn the importance of embodiment and what it means to be human. I believe this book can lead us all toward healing."
Kaitlin Curtice, author of Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God
"This book is a gift. A gift filled with wisdom and sound research all eloquently threaded together. This book is also a key for unlocking the unacknowledged mysteries and marvels of the human body and how it connects to everything. McBride is not only informative but encouraging and vulnerable. This will be a book you can't put down and one you come back to year after year as you relearn the wisdom of your body as it continues to change and grow."
Arielle Estoria, poet, author, artist
"An essential read for any on the journey of spiritual, mental, or physical wellness. McBride's teaching and invitation to connect with the wisdom of our bodies changed my life. I'm so grateful her collected insights live in this elegant book."
Scott Erickson, author of Say Yes: Discover the Surprising Life beyond the Death of a Dream
"Everyone who knows Hillary McBride falls in love with her. She has this magic in her personal life and clinical work that disarms you and suddenly, you're in love. But the deeper thing is that she gives you insights, keys, and practices to fall in love with yourself. And this is what she does in The Wisdom of Your Body. McBride takes us beyond knowledge and into experience; she explains how we have arrived at our ideas of the body, dismantles those ideas, and lovingly paints a better way. This book and its practices are what our society desperately needs because it creates lasting change at the heart of who we are."
Lisa Gungor, musician, author, and co-conspirator of Sacred Feminine
"From her opening invitation to the last sentence in The Wisdom of Your Body, McBride holds the reader close with the fierce gentleness of a mother, just as she holds herself. All the while, her words wink at and dare each of us to say a resounding and resonant yes to our bodies--to their sacredness and to their salty, earthy goodness. I believe this work, this vulnerably and brilliantly written book, will create healing ripples in the world for years to come."
Audrey Assad, artist, author, mother
"Hillary McBride has changed my life through her combination of powerful intelligence and extraordinary tenderness. This masterpiece will awaken us individually to reclaim the wonder, delight, and beauty of our bodies, and collectively to dismantle the systems that have told us otherwise. McBride presents hard science and mind-blowing facts in a compassionate voice that results in a can't-put-it-down companion for all who are seeking the confidence and self-love we know we're capable of. McBride has given us a new handbook for embodiment with tools to deepen our relationship with ourselves and to expand our understanding of each other. What a treasure!"
Mari Andrew, author of Am I There Yet?
"Hillary McBride has written us a road map back home. Back into our bodies, which are our true home and our gateway to healing. Reading her words feels like a mixture of the most attentive, attuned doctor sharing deep wisdom and science, a parent expressing loving tenderness and care, and a treasured friend offering camaraderie and communion. McBride's words are a gift to the world."
Ruthie Lindsey, speaker and author of There I Am
Globe and Mail Bestseller List, November 2021 (Self-Improvement)
"Although informed by contemporary philosophy, [this book] is designed to be helpful, a balm and guide for those with commonplace shames and pains . . . and for those who are socially and politically oppressed or who have been cruelly violated. . . . Much of the book is full of practical guidance and helpful ideas. . . . The Wisdom of Your Body is a heady, serious book loaded with deep scholarship and practical application, with delightful (and sometimes, horrible) stories and healthy guidance to help us live as the embodied persons we are. . . . We want to commend it to be read discerningly, talked about with others, taken seriously. The topic is important, Dr. McBride's passion is palpable, and this is a major work."
Hearts & Minds Books
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