Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Body My Friend

You are made of stardust and magic. What's not to love?
     I used to think my best friend was actually my worst enemy. I did a lot of really bad things to shut her up and everytime she healed herself and forgave me. I used to be ashamed of my friend, trying to hide her and then convinced she just needed to shape up I would push her until she dropped and she always cooperated. And everytime she forgave me. Before you start thinking I am a horrible mean girl I should confess my best friend is my body. But, boy, has this been a long journey and it has not been mine alone. For as long as recorded history and probably before, there is evidence of humans struggling with exactly how to occupy our bodies. "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience". This old saying is meant to focus people on our spiritual experience, but it makes me wonder about our "human" experience. We occupy these bodies for a reason and we are menat to occupy them in a certain manner.

     But before I get into that lets look at what hasn't worked. Corporeal mortification or flagellation was a common event in spiritual circles back in the day. It is said that at the end of his life St. Francis of Assisi asked his body for forgiveness for all the wounds it bore for him and from him. Beating ourselves either with a whip or with a treadmill has never worked to make us comfortable in our own skin. Then of course, to this day, many religious communities deal with the body by simply covering it up, especially womens bodies. Out of sight out of mind. We let our minds conduct our lives while we beat and hide our bodies. It has been said that the West is a disembodied culture. And I wonder as uncovered as we are, are we any better off? Just because we're not beating our bodies with lashes from a whip anymore doesn't mean we're not beating them. This blog post was prompted by a song lyric I heard on the radio today (forgive me I won't get it exactly right) but it went something like this
"you've got a great body baby so put on top of me because bodies we're made for fun and we're gonna use your body all up until we're done". UGH! So, of course we're meant to experience pleasure in our bodies. We are sensual creatures and, of course, we're meant to have fun. But our bodies are not toys meant to be used up. Can you imagine thinking that another person in your life was solely there for you to have fun with until they were used up? It made me sad\mad in the same moment because I know that song lyric is just representative of our ongoing body bullying. Our bodies are smart. They have their own intelligence that we have shut down from over thinking, neglect and modern day corporeal mortification (ultramarathons, cross fit, starvation diets).

     The good news is there is a way out. Even though huge billboards tell us our thighs should be airbrushed and ads all day long tell us that physically we're not good enough so frequently that we have come to view our bodies as a project or a machine, there is a way back home to your body. Even though many of us are literally numb in much of our bodies, there is a way home. Coming home to your body, making friends with your body makes you wiser and stronger and kinder. allowing your bodies voice to be heard again helps you navigate decisions and balance your life. When someone threatens you your body tenses up, when someone comforts you your body softens. This is our most basic body talk. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.. Our bodies just may be the wisest part of us. So, let's thaw them out. Let's come home to our bodies.

     The coming home journey is simple but maybe not easy and certainly not quick. You just have to pay a lot of attention to the sensations of your body both externally and internally. Can you remember the last time you were super happy? Now can take a moment to feel how that feels in your body? Every emotion we have has a physical bodyprint, it's all there. So, we pay attention, but the attention we pay is a specific kind. This attention must be curious (we can't assume to know what's going on with our bodies( and the attention must be kind. When you make space to just sit with your body a few minutes everyday it will allow your bodies voice to begin to bubble up again. Our bodies can give us direction, warn us of danger, protect us when danger comes, our bodies offer us pleasure and warn us with pain when we go to far. and the thing of it is when you spend enough time with your body it becomes your friend and ally. Are you comfortable in your skin? if the answer is no what do you have to lose? Sit, pay attention and make a new friend. Because your body is a wonderland, just not the way they mean it on the radio!

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