Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Honouring the much-maligned body

Golden Tarot, US Games 2003
It's Wednesday and that can be a long day, but I think I'm a little better off than this poor chap in Four of Swords from the Golden Tarot (US Games 2003). To me he looks like he's taken to his sick bed! But maybe he's just having a rest.

The Four of Swords usually suggests we should take a break from thinking about whatever it is we've been thinking about. It's often interpreted to mean meditation, rest, relaxation, withdrawal. As a card of the day, it does seem to be a strong suggestion to continue my strategy of yesterday, to keep myself distant from grumblings and mutterings that have become a habit amongst staff at work. I also take it as a reminder to be very careful of overstriving in areas like my yoga practice. I simply must withdraw from 'effort' in this practice and LISTEN to the messages of my body. No matter what I want it to do, it can only do what it can do. Yoga is meant to be yoke or union between the soul and the universe, but I can see how it is also a union between the mind and the body. People say yoga is about control; I've heard people say yoga is about overcoming the limitations of the mind. I think they miss the point. For me, especially at this time of my life, it is about being inside my body, not fighting against my body, being aware that my body is my ally in this life and not my enemy, and that it is a vital part of me and can be a tremendously rewarding partner in the spiritual journey. But I don't think that is accomplished by ascetism or self-punishment, but through nurturing and loving and accepting the body, and feeling joy in its movement, rather than disappointment or even embarrassment at its limitations. Rest is as important to the care and maintenance of the body as work, and so perhaps this card reminds me that even though the striving part of my mind may think I'm not doing enough or working hard enough, I should also remember to honour the body by resting it as well.

Funny how a card about the mind has led to a post about the body, but I do believe, and yoga is helping me to learn, that we do ourselves a disservice when we say, 'I am not my body. I am not this crude matter.' That crude matter deserves every bit as much respect and care as your mind or your spirit.

9 comments:

  1. At the end of the day, the body is what the soul needs to exist in this dimension. We need it to breathe, move and act in the way we want to so we can experience the many beauties the world has got to offer us (and the ugliness too unfortunately). So we have to take care of our bodies.

    The soul is the most important part though, it is what makes us the special, individual, loving, dreaming, believing, creative beings that we can be. (Blimey, I can really rabbit on when I get started) x

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    1. You're right, but I'm not sure the soul really is the most important. I think they are equal partners. We have incarnated (literally 'taken on flesh') for a reason, surely. That reason cannot be to overcome the flesh. Surely we were not enslaved to flesh before incarnation, and took it on to learn to overcome it. That makes no sense. We must be here to learn WITH the flesh. :)

      NOW who's rabbiting? ;)

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  2. That's one of the things I love about paganism - the honouring of spirituality through nature, including our own bodies :) Good luck with nurturing and accepting your body today!

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    1. I was doing well until my evening practice, when I think I overdid it on my left shoulder again. I don't feel anything unusual while practising; it's after that I start to think...uh oh. We'll see how it feels tomorrow.

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    2. It's a tricky one, as you feel things differently when you're warmed up and in the zone...

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    3. I know! I'm not sure what to do about that! When I am warm, the deep stretching feels good. Then after, it goes all owie.

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  3. Don't think I would like to sleep with 3 swords hanging over me like that, what if the string broke. I would be a kebab :-/

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