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07 - Our Body Center of Being

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

The journey of personal transformation often begins with revealing our need to change. It can begin with unanswered questions. It's important to learn how to sit with these questions and give the answers time to be revealed.

When it comes to getting answers, we often desire a great degree of certainty and expediency. But when it comes to spirituality and the growth of self, answers don't always come easy or quick. In that process there is a great degree of discernment, because the answers are coming to us, not from us. The process is not often in our hands to understand and control. We can't always just muster a greater degree of effort through our rational mind to get the answer. So, sitting with questions is necessary.

Most things change slowly, over time. That's especially true of our body center. If you've ever tried to build muscle, or lose weight, you've realized that this is true. It's more advantageous to think of the process as working with our bodies, instead of trying to control our bodies in order to produce a certain outcome. That's because, in a way, we live in our bodies, but they don't belong to us. You are not your physical body. You are a spirit, with a soul, that lives in a body. When we overidentify with our body center, we can lose touch with the most true sense of our selves.

When we treat our bodies as a possession we own, instead of a house we live in, we can come to inhabit a more disembodied mindset towards our physical self. We can end up objectifying our own bodies, and that of others. How can we come to be more in tune with our body center in a more healthy way?

We all see the world through a set of lenses or filters. We are rarely seeing the world as it is. This is what we could call an overly self-referential mindset. One of the goals of personal transformation through contemplation is to identify and overcome these self-referential filters in order to see thing more true. Most of the time, we aren't aware of our filters. It's like the older fish who passed by two young fish and said, "how's the water," to which the younger fish responded, "what's water?!" In order to get out of these self-referential filters we have to start by assuming we have them, even when we can't see that we have them. Our "seeing", after all, is part of the problem. Transformation and growth of self comes as we see our need to change.

With the body, in particular, this means that what feels good and seems good may not be. It also means that being aware of your body doesn’t mean you’re well in tune with your Body Center.

Understanding your Body Center is understanding your place in the world, as a part and not the whole. It means cultivating an "other" mentality. This entails moving away from the distortion of self-centeredness. You are not the center of the universe. You are not even the center of your own life. You are not in control of your body. Giving up the attempt to control of your body can help move you towards inhabiting your body in a more healthy way. Your body, despite what you may think, works independent of you in so many ways. It is not here for you to use, in order to get what you want for yourself. It is here for you to inhabit, tend to and take care of. Understanding your physical self as a part of all things will help you to be more in tune with all things, and yourself as a part of that.

You are an actor on a much larger stage. This is not your world, or your story. This is not even your body. It is the physical vessel you currently inhabit. Cultivating a more detached attitude towards your body helps you actually be more fully alive in it, and with it. Even on the molecular level, you are not causing your body to work, move, live, or be. Your body is doing most of its work completely apart from your conscious self. Learning how to work with your body as something you inhabit will help you separate much of your skewed attachment and view of your physical body as being you.

For most of us, we are too vested in a physical body identity. The irony is that we often only identify with the surface of our body. Our body image is often based purely in the external. This describes how we can do many things to make our external body “attractive” while actually damaging and harming our body as a whole. When we understand how small a part our physical body is in terms of our whole self, we can begin to be centered in our bodies in a more healthy way.

In this way it is actually very helpful to listen to our soul and spirit in order to live better in our bodies. The messaging from the body is about limitation and lack. The body is our most limited part, and sees the world very compartmentalized. To the body, I am in this space and place. To the body I am very disconnected, fragile, and perishing. Fear can easily dominate the body experience, and translate into all kinds of self-defensive behaviors, ideas, and identity. But the soul sees from a more enlightened perspective.

The soul understands that there is a permanence beyond the life and space of the body. Through thoughts and actions, we can actually invest ourselves in places and times apart from our physical presence. We can leave part of ourselves in the world, and make a mark that lasts long after our physical self is gone. Our love can outlast our lives. Our ideas, and truth can impact people who have never even met us. The soul knows, better than the body, that we are more than our physical self.

But the spirit center knows this best. The spirit knows that we outlive our bodies, and even our lingering effect in the physical world. The spirit knows that we are, in fact, eternal, and cannot die. So, it is important, when the body speaks of our impermanence, that the soul and the spirit speak to it of our permanence. When we understand the reality of our immortality, we will live an entirely different way on this earth, even through our bodies. But we cannot know this, or live in this frame if we are too invested in our body self.

Ironically, it is by letting go that we are actually better able to take hold of our body, and live with it as we are intended.

This is what Jesus meant by losing your life to find it. Those who try to hold onto it will lose it, he said, and those who willingly let it go will actually find it (Matthew 10:39). This is a great spiritual paradox, and harder to grasp for those more vested in the body. If you only see yourself as a body, with a mind and heart, it will warp everything you see and do in the world. You will live as if you are dying. You will live a kind of life that is already dead. All your choices in life will be centered around the false idea that you must protect and preserve yourself at all costs, even at the cost of hurting or hindering others. You cannot live life well this way. You will live in the shadow of death; always afraid, always running, always fighting to push away what you know you never can. But it is not true, and your soul and spirit know this. You, the real you, will never die. If you understand this, you will also treat the body better.

When life is fleeting, we end up trying to grab everything we can on the way out. We live reckless and selfish. We try to get all we can for ourselves while we can. We are desperate and afraid, and that fear drives us away from what would bring us life. Life is found, not in taking, but in giving. When you understand that you are a being with an inexhaustible source of all that really matters, you will be freed up to give it all away. All that makes life good is found in love, and love can never be taken. It can only be given away.

When we are in tune with our whole self – body, soul, and spirit – then we can begin to manage the messaging coming to us from all these sources. So, when the body or the physical world speaks to us of limitation and lack, the soul and spirit can answer with a message of transcendent permeance. In this way we can come to terms with the bodies limitations. Even the illusion of death itself can begin to lose its oppressive grip on us. Then we can understand it not as an end, but a transition out of the temporal and back to a more eternal state. When we come to terms with the life and limitations of the body, we can see it as it is, for what it is, and learn to let it be what it is. We can let it go, and then actually be centered in it as we should. And we can give so much less importance to the body. When we put the body in its proper place, we will treat our body, others bodies, and the body of the universe with much more respect, dignity, and grace. Then we will be better centered in our Body Center of Being.

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