We live in a time where we feast on information, yet starve for connection. When it comes to our wellbeing, although we have access to a wealth of knowledge, resources, and research about what to DO, the culture’s state of health indicates a lack in how well we really BE.
What is missing? I believe that part of the equation is how we perceive what our body is. How we view, relate, and care for our body, or not, reflects our quality of wellbeing. Our thoughts and feelings dictate our actions and therefore, our results. If we want behavior change, it is critical that we include the point of view of how the body is defined and experienced. There is a plethora of negative body myths that have been programmed into the culture for a very, very, very long time.
Once upon a time, in ancient times, there was a perspective that honored the body as sacred. The rhythms of nature, including the body, were respected and integrated into daily life. This was thousands of years ago.
Then, qualities of domination and control over the natural world rose up and the value of the body went down. As time went on, with suppression of the body and its wisdom well underway, there were attempts to understand how the world really worked. Although well intended, René Descartes (“I think, therefore I am”), developed a conviction that the natural world could be understood in mechanical terms. After all, his take on the body was that it was like a clock. It could be taken apart, studied like pieces of machinery, and then put back together with the assumption that it would work again just fine. Sound familiar?
When the Industrial Revolution began a few hundred years ago, the experience of our body was transformed from a human being to a human doing. The assembly line way of life and push to produce become the status quo. Although this era contributed to the progression of culture, this pace of life caused an increased regression from our natural state of ease and grace. Life got more linear, repetitive, and static; the experience of the body did too. There was a continued loss of connection to our fluid, expansive, and dynamic nature.
We are now in the age of technology, and then some. We are constantly overloaded with information, the onslaught of data is relentless, and try as we might to keep up with it all, we can’t. Why? Because we are not designed to live up to the myth that the body is a machine. Or many of the other myths that have been injected to keep us distanced from our true nature.
One of these myths is body as object. This is a whole other discussion. For now, I’ll share a story of a recent observation by my 10-year old son. We were in a store where I was looking at nail polish colors. My son saw a poster ad of a woman selling make up. He wondered why it looked like she wasn’t wearing any clothes. It was a headshot from the shoulders up with no evidence of an undergarment or a shirt. He was confused. I was awestruck. I asked him why he thought they show ads like this. He said he didn’t know, that they should have clothes on, and just focus on the products they are selling. I gave him a hug.
Other body myths include getting caught up in metrics madness. Measuring the status of our body based on the size of our dress, the shape of a body part, or our blood pressure, BMI, and number on a scale. Or our age. Or our fitness level.
There is another body myth that has also been around since ancient times; bypass. Even though this perspective is coming from a place to connect to something greater, there also can be enormous judgement of our physical existence and denial of our incarnation.
Sometimes this bypass is employed when life gets too much and we numb. We want to feel better, so we make choices to not feel. I get it. My perspective on numbing is that there is a time and place for it. We do the best we can and can only do so much when we have run out of tools or support or both. However, this way of life is not really living, and at some point, we have to come back to Earth.
The presence of these body myths, especially when unconscious, can contribute to the degree of behavior change success. If the body is perceived as a machine, an object, or measured only by numbers, then, although some positive change can occur, it may not be as long-lasting, integrated, or well, easy.
The remedy to expand beyond the ancient presence of warped, limiting beliefs about the body is to remember what it really is: a natural living process.
The body is alive, full of life. The degree of vitality reflects how the inner environment is adapting to the external world. If dis-ease is occurring, the body shape-shifts, evolves, and does its very best to back into balance, center, homeostasis. The body WANTS to feel good, or at least better. It functions optimally when effective communication between the systems takes place. It roots for cooperation. It depends on our listening skills and the positive ways we respond to its needs. It can self-heal (!) when given the opportunity. It thrives when we bring its voice to the table of our life. It celebrates when we go with its flow!
Our body is a sacred vessel, guiding us to choose from the feel-good and live in alignment with our best self. When we reclaim this truth, we raise our body consciousness. This awareness, coupled with positive lifestyle choices that prevent a majority of dis-ease, increases a state of wellbeing that is sustainable. Your body is speaking; it is time to listen. Your life depends on it.
Lisa Medley, MA serves as a Wellbeing and Body Intelligence Expert. She supports her clients to cultivate positive relationships with their body for sustainable inside-out wellbeing. Lisa believes in reintegrating the body and its wisdom to support the evolution of our divine human potential. Learn more at SoulisticArts.com