I know why I was born an African-American female, why the fulfillment of my purpose in life needed these physical characteristics to make me strong, help me see, even support me in the special kind of leadership I was to undertake.
My root assumption, my overriding conscious core belief about our experience of physical reality, about being in a physical body, is that no individual is born without the capacity for fulfillment, however fulfillment is defined. I am also certain that no being is sent into the physical world without company: there is always someone to help, and some blueprint designed to explore purpose for each person born. There are also unconscious core beliefs at play too, however, some of which are in direct conflict with the conscious ones, and I don’t have a clue they are sabotaging my conscious goals. There’s the rub and the source of endless confusion for me, and I daresay for many others as well. My body shows those conflicts, even when my mind cannot fathom what is going on.
What are your conscious core beliefs, especially about your body? Make a short list based on your intellectual, cultural and unique personal experience. Now see if you can ferret out some unconscious core beliefs that may be at odds with your conscious ones. This second list may help explain why it is so difficult to change your circumstances or line up your expressed desires with an objective reality that seems to belie your stated beliefs when you look in the mirror.
Look at your body, not with the jaded eyes of one who feels inadequate, whose nose is too big, or hips too wide, or flesh too thin, or face pocked with acne, or limb missing. Ask yourself instead how this particular body serves your purpose. What is the gift in the form you have taken on, and what is the gift and purpose of events that have shaped your body through what could be called good fortune, accident, trauma, genetic lineage, or daily habits? What is the message your body sends to the world and to those in your immediate circles? What portion of your consciousness does your body express or conceal…or protect?!
If you are healthy, revel in your health and your ability to express your emotions and beliefs about health directly through your physical body. If you are healthy but not happy because you are obsessed with image for a variety of reasons, notice both the external health and internal turmoil. If your body is not healthy, revel in the mastery that allows your body to speak the unspeakable, witness the pain, protect the unprotected child, force life choices, make you pay attention, express rage, self-loathing, and especially notice the mastery that allows you to express your fulfilled or unfulfilled purpose.
Your body becomes the focus of your identity, your reason for being, and your gift to the world. Amputee veterans work with other veterans, cancer survivors work with other cancer patients, overweight people start exercise programs and 12-step programs, or create fashions for the overweight. Others become spokespersons for AIDS or Parkinson’s disease. The physical body, healthy or unhealthy, is language. This language is non-verbal, powerful, dramatic, and absolutely direct. It speaks for us when the voice cannot, when the heart is breaking, when physical mastery is at the center of one’s purpose.
This is what my body gives me, for example, as a black female with a long medical history and specific family traits: endurance, surprise, graceful aging, resonance, a deep love for music and dance, the capacity to do the unexpected, both limited and impossible external expectations, heart, humor, physical gateways to intuition, visibility, talking and thinking in circles and spirals rather than lines and squares, intimacy, vulnerability, and the ability to see without being seen.
My body also gives me prejudice, second-class citizenship, invisibility, joint and abdominal pain, fear of insanity, bad hair days, physical assault, assumptions of physical ugliness and stupidity, being dismissed, underestimated, and cheated.
In my 40’s I began to discover that the positive gifts derived from the first list far outweighed the pain of the second list, even though most of my attention had been focused on the second list because I was emphasizing my victim role and ignoring the considerable evidence of mastery in other areas of my life.
How many times have I used race and gender to make change, redefine boundaries, hide out, get my way, overturn hierarchy, feel a part of the underground, feel special and even superior? Often, however, those “successes” of the physical body go unnoticed and unacknowledged.
Take a look at your two lists and discover the hidden mastery you have been overlooking and failing to acknowledge in your “choice” of a physical body. The gap between these two lists offers you in microcosm an opportunity to understand and master the mechanics of creation, a chance to choose among the seen and unseen factors affecting your life and your experiences.
Being victimized in or because of the body cuts like a two-edged sword; both parties to the experience are not only imprisoned by the searing permanent images of horror and pain, but both also are unexpectedly and eventually renewed through this endless dance of humanity. Whether victimizer or victim, both experiences serve to further. This may indeed be one reason we always seem to have volunteers for both roles, no matter how horrific they might be. Each helps the other see and experience directly and deeply the implications of thought, intention, action, belief, and emotion through the body’s experience and memory. Ultimately we are here to understand and master the mechanics of creation and the implications of what we create visibly and invisibly, including the constant and ever changing creation of the physical body as we record our experience and invisible but palpable changing beliefs.
These mechanics are not neutral tools. There are implications, consequences and global effects splayed all over the place from the conscious and unconscious choices we make and the mastery we overlook, beginning with those our body speaks. The effects of those choices are not meant to be punishment but opportunity, and in our bodies in particular we experience choice in the most personal of contexts. Once we get a handle on our bodies – our most intimate workshop – maybe we can tackle some of the broader issues facing the entire world!