Your Body is an Animal

Updated: Jan 24

By Brandon Alter:

I was thinking about the beautiful Mary Oliver poem "Wild Geese." In this poem, she refers to the “soft animal of your body,” and it struck me yesterday how profoundly insightful it is to identify our bodies as animals. Because in a weird way, it’s like our body is this different species, this alien, that is trying desperately to communicate with us—if only we knew how to listen.

It’s like that scene in ARRIVAL where Amy Adams is trying to have a conversation with the strangers on the other side of the glass—it’s gonna be trial and error, but you will get there.


If you have a pet, you might know what I mean. Over time, you and your pet develop a system of exchange even though there is no common language. Scratching the door means "I want to go out." Rolling over on their back means "Give me attention." And I think our body works the same way. So if you’re interested in learning the language of your body, it’s gonna take time. But it’s immeasurably worth it to invest in learning how your body talks.

Our body knows how to feel energy. That’s one of its super powers.

In Yoga, we refer to these sensations in the body as SUBTLE: your subtle body and subtle energy. And maybe this is one of those duh-I-know-this-already moments, but subtle energy is called that for a reason. It’s SUBTLE. It’s not gonna hit you over the head. When you’re listening into your body for messages, it probably won’t feel like a punch in the gut. It’ll more likely feel like a gentle breeze. At first you might not even be sure if you’re feeling anything at all; but eventually you will catch on to the way in which your body communicates.


Just for today try and notice any signs your body is giving you. It could be a ringing in your left ear or chills up and down your arms. It could be a buzzy feeling in the belly or cold constriction in the throat. None of this is random. Every sensation in your body is a message, but only through paying attention will you come to understand their true meanings.

BRANDON ALTER is a queer healer, Tarot reader, teacher, mystic and writer living in Los Angeles. He is passionate about sharing spiritual tools that have helped him reconnect to the wisdom of his heart. He is the Tarot reader in residence for The Numinous and he co-hosts The Spiritual Gayz with his husband, a twice-monthly podcast dedicated to exploring the wide reaches of spirituality, without pretending that it all makes sense.


Brandon’s mom took him to his very first psychic when he was seven and gave him his first Tarot deck when he was eleven. Since then he has devoted himself to the study of Tarot, Yoga, Pilates, Reiki, Astrology and Shamanic Skills.


Visit www.brandonalterwellness.com to learn more. And to sign up for his twice-monthly newsletter, click here.