Your body vs You
Mind-body activities and wisdom traditions are fashionable these days. It’s easy to join the class, wear the t-shirt and spout the jargon. It’s possible to build an identity and a social life around it too — or to be repelled by the whole scene.
In this article, I explain a shift in perspective that is powerful, but easy to overlook between postures, breathing exercises and trending techniques. You absolutely do not need the t-shirt to try it, or to benefit.
Most people are fairly comfortable with the idea that as humans we have ‘an unconscious’. There are many definitions, many arguments as to what that may be of course. Since those definitions are for the convenience of the conscious mind, it is not surprising that they are likely to miss something.
There is a saying that comes back to me, with its own little message from the deep. It demands some examination.
The body is the unconscious.
The body is the unconscious. All those processes that happen: waking or sleeping, the play of enzymes, the ebb and flow of populations in our microbiome, the regulation of hormones, the rhythms of the nervous system. These form the ground for whatever rises into awareness, in the organ that we have decided is the seat of the mind, the brain.
Brains are amazing. We may privilege them because many of our sense organs are situated in close proximity. It is easy to identify with the approximate position of where we see from, hear from, smell from, taste from and speak from.
However, the branches of the nervous system reach out of the brain throughout the rest of the organism, the brain is fed by and bathed in the chemicals produced in the rest of the body. It’s only in anatomy textbooks and cartesian fantasy that the brain is separate.
Your body is your unconscious. Your body is your deep mind.
It’s not you and your body (or you vs your body). It’s just you.
Make that shift from your body to you. From my body to me.
You are your body.
Objections brewing? Quite possibly.
I have spiritual friends of many descriptions who insist that they are not their bodies. They have personal experience (or some teaching) that convinces them of this.
I have no intention to argue about this because paradoxically I do not think that what I will propose below will contradict those beliefs of experiences.
For the spiritual among you, meat and matter are not the opposite of spirit. Constricted awareness is the opposite of spirit.
There are others who cultivate detachment from their flesh selves so they can perform extreme physical feats, sacrifice health or risk their lives for causes they care for. I don’t want to argue with them either. They may find something interesting if they experiment with the shift.
The shift from your body to you is not about identifying with your six-pack, or your fatty liver, with glossiness or wrinkles. Those are just what your conscious mind singles out from its own limited perspective.
To make the shift I propose an experiment.
Notice when you are experiencing your body, as a set of limbs and organs that belongs to the voice in your head. When you do, make the shift from your body to you.
Stop thinking of those things as exterior to you.
Expand wherever you have a sense of ‘I’ to include the whole kit and caboodle, without judgment or preference, each part, each sensation.
Do this anytime. Do this now.
Do it when your ‘treacherous’ body has let you down with some ache or injury.
Do it when you find some new line on your face, or admire the fruits of your workouts.
Do it as you edge towards sleep, or in some idle moment.
Do it as you read about some new diet, some special exercise or your next integrated body-fitness program.
Do it even if you have already read all the books on Yoga and mind-body practise.
What is there to gain with this shift?
It is the beginning of the end of separation.
The transformation of experience when you are your body is like the difference between knowing someone in person, and knowing their carefully curated social media output.
If it is you VS your body you are in a constant state of conflict.
If it is you AND your body then there will be a gulf between your sense of self, which is only a few decades old, and a host of capacities that have been millions of years in the making.
Your body, you, form a single link in an ancient process that forms an unbroken chain to the first life on this planet. It’s one thing to understand that intellectually, but when you are your body you begin to live it.
Intellects are bubbles, and egos are islands, but bodies grow from and connect to the world. As your body, you gain the peace of insignificance and the privilege of belonging.
It’s not you vs your body. It’s not your body. It’s just you.
I will be presenting at the Embodiment Conference (sharing some Chinese Martial arts ‘secrets’). It’s free and there are some amazing presenters…