Celebrating the Body
Celebrating the Body
by Bob Davis (excerpted from How to Achieve Peace of Mind)
We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive, and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.
—D. H. Lawrence
When we were young, we were sensuous and playful and we naturally celebrated our bodies. Intent on understanding the strangeness and beauty of the world, we used all five senses to open ourselves to life. This is why, when we think back to our childhoods, we can remember a time when even the simplest movements we made were magical. Winding up and spinning on swings, skipping to our own inner rhythm, or waving our hands like birds, we celebrated our physical selves.
As Diane Ackerman said in her book, A Natural History of the Senses, “We need to return to feeling the textures of life. Much of our experience in twentieth-century America is an effort to get away from those textures, to fade into a stark, simple, solemn, puritanical, all-business routine that doesn’t have anything so unseemly as sensuous zest.”
To celebrate the body, that miraculous form we assumed at birth, we must reconnect with our senses and live through them, as we did as children. This will heighten another sense as well: our sense of wonder. After all, what is the sense of wonder—our sixth sense that delights in the other five—if not a special appreciation for life’s abounding mysteries?
Science now challenges the notion that the mind exists solely in the head. The most recent discoveries in physiology indicate that the mind journeys through the entire body via enzymes and hormones, carrying the information we receive from our five senses. So in these terms, the mind is sensuous. It creates intimate connections within us.
Think of your body as a habitat of enjoyment, a place which, for at least a certain period each day, you will enter and explore. During this time, focus on being an animal, moving like a bird or deer, gracefully alive. Go for a walk in the country, dance in your room, or if you remember what seemingly absurd act you performed as a child to enchant and delight your senses, do it again and do it playfully. Whatever you choose to do, give yourself over to the feelings of your body as you move through that act.
Be as keen as a wild animal. If you touch something, attune yourself to your sense of touch, as if you were your hand. Feel the impulses rising through your feet as you walk. Attend to the swing of your arms, the turn of your head, the oxygen pumping through your lungs.
When you finish your playful movement, close your eyes, then slowly and lovingly stroke your arms and your face. Sit quietly in gratitude for the life that pulses through you. As Sufi poet Rumi said, “The throbbing vein will take you farther than any thinking.”
This practice will refresh you and increase your zest. Celebrating your body on a regular basis gives you short, much-needed vacations from your daily routine.
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Bob Davis is the coauthor of How to Achieve Peace of Mind and a Certified Yoga Teacher.
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