Bodymind and Earth

A video I posted recently discussed ‘What is the body?’  It starts with Mark Walsh saying that the body is ‘not a brain taxi’, but that’s pretty much how many people experience their embodiment. There are many reasons for this dislocation of ‘self’ from ‘body’; sometimes it’s cultural and sometimes it’s due to physical trauma. In general, threats, stress and violence encourage withdrawal and alienation from the body and the world.

In her powerful TED talk, the poet Eve Ensler describes her sense of disconnection from her body and how her awareness slowly developed.

It’s a provocative talk and there’s lots to say, but I want to focus on what I see as her central insight: When you split the body from the mind you often loose the connection between self and the world.

This disconnected mind-self is often fear driven and seeks control: Eve recounts how she “lived in the city, because, to be honest, I was afraid of trees”.

When the breakthrough came and Eve came to live fully in her body, that fear disappeared: “Now I make a daily pilgrimage to visit a particular weeping willow by the Seine, and I hunger for the green fields in the bush outside Bukavu”.

If we have an embodied sense of self, it’s much easier to have a rich sensual connection with the other-than-human world and to enjoy empathetic engagement. This makes the subject/object distinction less rigid: Our sense of ‘body’ can shift from a perspective that’s enclosed inside the skin-bag to a more fluid, open appreciation of bodymind/self as integrated within the world. We thus come to know ourselves as a single point of awareness within a vast matrix of being.

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5 Responses to Bodymind and Earth

  1. Littlesun says:

    One of the things I learnt during the anatomy section of my massage course it that there is not any sort of divide between the tissue of our brain and that of our nerves that go throughout our body, it’s all one continuous organ.

    I’ve also been thinking about the chakra system quite a bit recently, despite not being really into eastern spirituality. It’s an interesting idea that different parts of conciousness relate to different parts of the body, and that in order to be fully conscious we need to be fully present with our whole body.

  2. Administrator says:

    Hi Littlesun,
    Not only is the brain just part of a body-wide nervous system; chemical messengers flow though the body all the time that further emphasize the unity of brain and body. This biochemical system is less well known and more complicated to understand – for me at least! For more, check out Candace Pert’s work (http://candacepert.com/). Her latest CD links the chakra system with recent anatomical research. Chakras aren’t an area I’ve studied, but I’m intrigued by what Candace claims.

    Incidentally, I first realised that the body has its own way of knowing when I did a massage course.

  3. Bonnitta Roy says:

    I found it interesting that in the beginning she said she (“me”) was always trying to be somebody — i.e. some Body. Language is fascinating that way.

  4. I wonder if she said ‘I want to be some body’ before her realisation that she had one? I first thought of Lakoff and Johnson’s work on embodied metaphor, but maybe it’s more like a kind of Freudian slip. The other than conscious mind know more than the conscious awareness and communicates via symbols, metaphors etc.

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