Our Physical Body

What is your relationship with your physical body? Do you derive enjoyment and pleasure from it? Do you love and respect it equally to your mind and spirit? Do you treat it as part of your being, listen to its needs and take care of it, or consider it something foreign and very often neglect it?

Body vs. Mind
It is a common misconception that the physical body is a hard, fixed material object or mechanism, separated from the mind, its lighter counterpart which reflects all the spiritual qualities of the human being. This Cartesian duality is deeply engraved in the social unconscious of the Western world and it is the reason why the body is quite often mistreated, objectified, even deemed evil and sinful.

Mind and body interact in so many different ways. If you observe your thoughts closely, you will realize how a thought can trigger an emotion, which in its turn can move the body to react in diverse ways. When you think that the world is cruel and unfriendly, sadness can cause your eyes to tear, your muscles and joints to hurt, your immune system to weaken. When you make stressful thoughts, your cortisol levels rise high and your heart rate and blood pressure increase. When you make joyful and loving thoughts, your body also reacts by releasing endorphins and serotonin in the brain, by causing you to smile, lowering your blood pressure and making your skin glow. Also, remember how your body moves when you listen to your favorite music or you taste delicious food.

We are multidimensional beings, having a physical existence, but also emotions, thoughts and energetic bodies. All these dimensions are interconnected in so many ways that a physical imbalance can affect the emotional, mental and energetic state of the person and the other way around. Health can be achieved if the different aspects of existence are united, balanced and flow towards one direction. If thoughts, emotions, body and energy are conflicted or going towards opposite directions, then there will be illness and suffering. The same will happen if one of these aspects is neglected, suppressed, not allowed to grow and flourish.

Taking care of the physical body is, in other words, as important as balancing your thoughts, emotions and energy. Also, training the body is as significant as training your mind, as the body has the capacity to change, evolve and become stronger and immune to illness.

The body enables us to experience life
Our body is, in fact, a gateway to the reality of the world we inhabit. Through the senses, the very consciousness that resides in the body can experience the surrounding universe. Our eyes enable us to see the beauty of life. Without our ears, we wouldn’t be able to listen to the sound of the sea waves or the voice of our beloved people. You can actually think of the body as an extension of “inner” consciousness into the “outer” reality. It is the means which make it possible for us to experience the world and communicate with it, the primary vehicle of our life on Earth; some also call it “the temple of the soul”.

Your physical body assists you in experiencing the world. It is made to let you feel reality through the senses and, as a consequence, through pleasure or pain. Children, even more than adults, explore material reality through taste, touch, smell, vision and hearing. From our first months of life, we are so involved in the process of “learning” about the world through our physical connection with it. Being alive is associated with a vibrant body, living every moment, absorbing the beauty and magic of existence and interacting with it in order to derive meaningful realizations. Of course, realization and knowledge do not only result from physical experience, but allowing this interplay of body and environment without repressing it can be the starting point to a profound understanding of our existence.

In our day and time, we are offered so many opportunities for travelling, interacting with people, getting to know the world, and, at the same time, our bodies are being suppressed more than ever. Stuck all day long in front of a computer, tablet or mobile phone screen, some of us may often feel like we are carrying a massive brain on a tiny body whose needs are not entirely met, being so lost in the mind and having lost contact with the rest. Becoming separated from our physical side means we are denying one very significant aspect of our being. Therefore, suppression should give way to freedom. We can be mentally efficient and grow spiritually only if we accept and release all the aspects that comprise who we are. It is important, to this end, to embrace also the needs of our body and learn how to meet them.

Taking care of the body
In order to be healthy and strong, the body requires balanced nutrition, a balanced combination of movement and rest, as well as freedom of expression. Listening to the body and learning to decode its signals is essential. Each and every body is unique: some need a lot of movement and little rest, while others require a lot of rest and a calm form of exercise. Experimenting with different food, types of exercise, sleep patterns and forms of expression can lead you to understand what your body is asking from you. But the most important is to accept your body and learn to love it as it is, without judgment.

Accepting, loving the body and learning to listen to it may not come intuitively and it requires some effort in the beginning, especially because of the fact that you will need to substitute your unhealthy habits and patterns with new, healthy ones, not only on a physical but also on an emotional and mental level. Meditation and yoga can help you cultivate a state of unity and harmony within. In this way, you can give back to your body the attention, respect, balance, connection, health and freedom that it has been longing for.

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