I am bone weary of the objectification of our bodies. The judgement that pervades our waking hours and even sneaks into our dreams. The dissatisfaction, the shame, the never enough and always too much messages like cancer in our bones. The suspicion with which we regard our own bodies, the objectification in the eyes of others, and culture's insistence that we lose bodily value as we age or as we expand.
Of course we know a bit about how this affects our confidence and our self-worth. I feel compelled to look at other consequences. I wonder, what do we lose, living embodied and full of condemnation for our bodies? In the stifling atmosphere that judgement creates, I mourn that there is so little space and air in which we can kindly and curiously listen to what our bodies know and need. How many times in a day do our bodies know what we need to be safe, to be well, to be smart--and yet we miss those messages because our connections to our bodies' wisdom is blocked by shame? Do you know what I mean? Those times when you shushed the shudder in the back of your neck when you met a potential boss because logically the job seemed like the right fit? The arrival of a long battle with a cold after weeks of stomping on your body's requests for space from that toxic situation in your family. The headache that becomes crushing every time you spend time with that old friend, and yet you keep making plans with them without allowing yourself to think about why.
Our bodies are wise. Our bodies are powerful. Our bodies have known every single moment of our storied lives, and hold all the knowledge gained through a million experiences of people, places and relationships. This is stunning, really. We walk around in literal bodies of knowledge, always available to us, constantly right with us.
For an upcoming weekend of the Certificate program at The Allender Center, I am reading some chapters from Embodiment by James B. Nelson. I came across a quote from Alexander Lowen that I can't stop thinking about:
"Letting go of ego control means giving into the body in its involuntary aspect. It means letting the body take over. But this is what patients cannot do. They feel the body will betray them. They do not trust it and have no faith in it. They are afraid that if the body takes over, it will expose their weakness, demolish their pretentiousness, reveal their sadness, and vent their fury. Yes, it will do that. It will destroy the facades that people erect to hide their true selves from themselves and from the world. But it will also open a new depth of being and add a richness to life compared to which the wealth of the world is a mere trifle."
I realize how distrustful we can be of our bodies' messages. I understand that we fear what our bodies will insist upon if we listen to them. Some of us have bodies that are deeply angry at how hard we push them. Or bodies that are screaming at us for staying in places (jobs, friendships, unhealthy patterns of relating) despite all the urgent messages they send us to Get Out.
It's a simple thing I am saying: I want to listen more, to my body. I want you to listen to yours. I want us to fight against the judgement that is smothering the life out of our bodies. I want us to fight that judgement with curiousity, with kindness, and with a willingness to say, How rich could my life be if I let my body have more of a say in how I live it?