Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life as a Body

It is an unavoidable fact that we spend a great deal of our time "localized" in our human bodies, seemingly bounded by the limits of skin and five senses. This is as it should be. This is a far more beautiful and perfect thing than our culture and education would have us believe... an absolute match to the real world, if we just notice...

Most of us at this time feel "assaulted" by life (this is evident in the amount of assault going on everywhere!). Within this social and political "system" (which is, at the root, a psychological belief happily fostered for profit by insecure and power-hungry egoists--bless us all!), we attempt to live in some form of sanity while being bombarded from all sides by huge demands on our time, intelligence and bank accounts. Truly, it's enough to make a sensible, sensitive human want to stop the world and step off.

Our local and extended organism knows perfectly well how to deal with multiple issues and tasks, all the necessary angles of being embodied. Our big brains, however, aren't here just for competition and defense and "survival". They are equally, and perhaps even more adapted to expansion of experiences like love, giving, learning, and playing. You know--nonprofit goofing off, meaning-making activity, development of renaissance skills. Things that feel good.

Consigning our relatively fragile, individual selves to lifelong mental and physical slavery results in a natural occurrence we call "illness". It manifests in many ways, from lingering fatigue and cynicism to outright consumptive disease. This makes perfect sense, when a person lives solely according to ideas of cause-and-effect. When we mentally and emotionally place ourselves on a battlefield, within an impoverished paradigm, war and destruction happen. Alas, many of us view ourselves as either reluctant or enthusiastically hardened warriors, even addicted to the adrenaline rush of impending much so, that we create problems where there are none. It's difficult to believe that we are lovers, as well as fighters.

But the mind and body are always wanting to heal. The natural tendency is to repair, resolve, make whole--that is, accept the wholeness that we are. The entirety includes every experience, even those we label "problematic". An acceptance of experience as what it is creates no problem.

I am very interested in radical mental health--in promoting the concept of a non-problematic existence. That is, living in relative joy. Currently, our default mode is suffering--not physical poverty, necessarily, since most of us have a layer of bodyfat and and quite a pile of stuff--but a pervasive, painful psychological suffering that is simply a slow suicide. For all I know, that's exactly what it is--a huge part of the current dream killing itself off. My instinct, though, as a lover of life, is to point out to those I care for that we might as well be ingesting poison along with the status quo models of living.

A while back, I had a very painful surgery that effectively took me out of the world for a time. I had to prioritize my days so that I eliminated unnecessary tasks, allowed people to help, and made time for my body to heal. It was an absolutely vital and wonderful experience, being forced to be "down", quiet and patient. During the healing process, I had to pay very careful attention to how I moved, what I ate, even how I breathed. The relief of being so unburdened--of having an "excuse" to just live outside the schedule--was very revealing. Take away the physical pain, and it would have been the ultimate life! Suddenly, there was mutual attendance and voluntary cooperation in the family; there was the joy of napping, of noticing my range of motion and the distance I could walk; paradoxically, I hadn't felt so free since childhood, even though the physical limitations were more extreme than any I had previously known. I wrote often and spent more time drawing and painting and listening to music--activity that, for whatever the reason, is positively essential to my expression here.

I got to be "myself" long enough to recognize what authenticity in my physical body is like. Even though my task load has resumed, it is not here in the same way. Nothing is here in the same way. But do we really have to be sick, to get the flu, a clinical depression diagnosis, cancer, alcoholism or a jail sentence in order to realize what is most important to being?

Maybe so. Maybe not.

When various indigenous cultures are observed, there is often a kind of astonishment that there is not more "work" involved in scratching out a subsistence from environments we might consider to be harsh or dangerous. People seem to spend an awful lot of time celebrating, singing, dancing, crafting, formally ushering in the seasons and cycles they are a part of. They simply don't kill themselves with stress diseases, or the idea that profit is to be had at all costs. They don't look at life in general as an incurable problem. This isn't due to a lack of sophistication or intelligence--this is a sign of it!

I do not "romanticize" a life independent of the tender loving care bestowed by modern society and government...ha...because the tribe has its own set of difficulties, even without persistent destruction all the way around. Living close to the earth is not "easy" in the sense that we understand ease. But action aligned with love, connection, pleasure and learning has an inherent feeling of authenticity, balance and worth for a reason. So, I am happy to be living from a perspective which is indigenous--not to a geographic location, but to being.

There is within us a feeling, a recognition of anything forced or not naturally occurring. It arises with a direct path to origin, whatever that may be for each of us. Acknowledging both is a spontaneous healing, a return to an innocence that readily enfolds and unfolds our true potential as This...body, mind, and heart.

Oh, and it feels good. :)

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