By Mikaya Heart
This is the fourth in a series of articles on sex as an aid to understanding reality, first published on cherrygrrl.com.
Many of you may hate me saying this, but it must be said: our relationship to our bodies is of fundamental importance in terms of allowing energy to flow. Our bodies are a source of infinite wisdom which we need to learn to listen to. Most religions denigrate the body and look on bodily desires as lowly. Sex, bodies, desire: they are all thrown in the same basket, and any evolved being is supposed to be able to rise above them. But we are not physical beings trying to become beings of spirit. We are beings of spirit who have chosen physical form and are playing around with that experience. The body is the repository of all the wisdom we need in order to function well. When we try to ignore the body’s messages, doing what we think we ‘should’ instead of what the body is telling us, we will not thrive. We may survive, for a while, but we will not grow and thrive. The messages we get through our bodies are messages from life itself, from the vastness that we truly are.
Disliking and ignoring our bodies, and trying to force them to do what our intellect wants them to do instead of what they want to do, is a primary source of internal conflict for enormous numbers of women, who go to great lengths to force their bodies into a so-called acceptable mold. Many women are barely present in their bodies at all. Yet, if we are spiritual beings choosing to be in physical form, surely it is true to say that our most profound spiritual task is to appreciate, love, and enjoy that physical form.
Part of the skill in appreciating the body is in differentiating between the body’s messages and cultural influences, which can give us very limited ideas about (for instance) what is beautiful and what is right. We need to give priority to the messages that come to us through the body. But the belief systems that go along with our culture are deeply inculcated into us and are not easily dismissed. As we grow up, they become embedded into the cells of our bodies. Changing them can’t be done with the mind alone; it isn’t usually effective to think, oh, I see now that belief is very limiting, I’ll believe this instead, and then imagine it’s done. On the other hand, making the decision to change one’s belief systems is a very necessary start, and the cells of the body change all the time. We all can change our beliefs, as long as we really want to do so, and we make the decision to do so with all of ourselves, which includes our bodies.
I don’t believe it is necessary to have any concept of yourself as a spiritual being in order to be happy, but I do believe it is essential to learn to love and appreciate your body in order to be true, lastingly happy. Once again, sex is an arena where we can begin to love our bodies, since sex, whether alone or with a partner, is about being loving towards the body. Like many things in life, this is a two-way street—the more you love your body, the more you will enjoy playing within all kinds of ways, and the more you enjoy playing with your body, the more you will come to love it. Feeling loved makes the body happy, and being in a happy body is a wonderful thing. We need to practice relating to the body and figuring out what it enjoys, listening to the body’s rhythms and needs, relaxing into the body and feeling it fully, being completely present within it. When we have a whole body orgasm, the skin becomes electric, soft, receptive, radiant, vibrant. That is a happy body.
Be grateful for what your body gives you. It is an amazing organism. Start now developing a two-way relationship with your body. Talk to it, out loud if you like, and listen to what it has to say, which will often manifest as a sensation or a knowing. Your body wants to please you, but we have a tendency to give it very mixed messages: “Ooh, I really want that chocolate cookie, it will taste really good! But it’ll make me fat and ugly, and give me indigestion.” Well, now your body is really confused about how to react. If you are going to eat the cookie, don’t tell your body that it’s going to get fat and ugly and sick as a result. Tell it that you are going to enjoy eating the cookie and you want it to pass through your body easily and harmlessly. Perhaps you are allergic to milk or wheat, and the cookie really is not a good idea. So then you may decide not to have it. But truthfully, the cookie will not make you fat and ugly. You perceive yourself as fat and ugly because you are always telling yourself that this, that, and the next thing will make you fat and ugly. You may feel fat and ugly because you’re focusing on fat and ugliness. I can only say that it is essential to learn to perceive outside socially imposed and very limited ideas of beauty. Practice appreciating your body for the joy it brings you: the feel of a silk scarf, the afterglow of an orgasm, the sensuality of skin on skin, whether it be your hand on your arm, or someone else’s hand on your arm, or your hand on someone else’s arm. Appreciate the gifts of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. You wouldn’t have any of those without your body. Yes, be grateful for what your body gives you. Notice all those things that you only experience because you have a body. And it is through the body that we are able to know truth and wisdom. Many westerners believe that wisdom is a function of the brain, but they are talking about knowledge, or information, which is quite different. Wisdom is a physical sensation of rightness, which is felt in the body. Developing an awareness of what feels right and good, versus what feels wrong and bad, is a very useful practice. Some people feel these sensations in the gut, others in the heart. It may be a sense of constriction in some other part of the body. More on that in the next article.
I am not saying this is easy. I am well aware that having a body entails experiencing pain in various forms. I personally spent a great deal of my life feeling desperately uncomfortable in my body and trying very hard to avoid all the feelings that came up on the rare occasions when I was present in my body. Yet it is the most basic aspect of the art of being human, to learn to listen to the wisdom of the body. Begin now to appreciate the gift of physicality in every small way that you can. It’s the greatest gift you can give to yourself, and a vital step on the way to being fully alive.