I’ve noticed an interesting aspect of the culture in America. We are almost totally disassociated from our bodies. Really, we are almost totally disassociated from the nature.
Why is this?
We are heady. Literally, we feel as though problems are to be solved in our “heads”. Feelings are generally to be suspect. Rationality is god.
This is not how the East has related with the world. Meditation — focus on the breath and physical sensation. Yoga — letting the body unravel naturally. Even their spirituality — focused on acceptance and seeing the beauty of the full human experience — non-dualism.
It’s a West thing. We live in our heads with our bodies awkwardly following along.
Food. In the East, and Europe to some extent, food is a process. In France they say you’re finished eating when you’re “full”. In America, they say you’re finished eating when your plate is empty.
We treat food like it’s medication. It’s a dopamine hit. Our relationship with food is quite embarrassing at the worst and dysfunctional at best. Mine especially. I look forward to eating as the best part of the day. I hardly even notice what’s on the plate. I scarf it down and it relieves my dopamine urge.
We treat almost everything as if it needs medication. Something outside of itself to get better.
Western medicine is all about addition — adding something. You take ibuprofen to escape pain, ambien to escape sleep anxiety, so on and so forth. In the East, it’s more about wholistic understanding of how a natural process works. What if — gasp! — pain was a natural part of a process. What if that inflammation in your leg wasn’t supposed to be blown to bits with an anti-inflammatory? What if your body is a process and not a machine to be doctored-up?
Something interesting that Peter Attia (@PeterAttiaMD on Twitter & Instagram) and other doctors are exploring is the effect of fasting on illness. Miraculously, fasting is incredibly healing if you get cancer. Now, I’m no doctor nor do I relate to the immense pain that goes with cancer, but this is interesting to look at. I mean it makes sense — fasting leads to autophagy, your cells killing off the weaker, unneeded cells. Wouldn’t this help cancer — overgrowth of harmful cells (tumors)? You’d think.
Read more about the numerous benefits of autophagy here https://www.healthline.com/health/autophagy. It’s powerful stuff.
It’s only through bodily awareness and wholistic understanding that we arrive at insight such as this. We are 10x more likely to listen to our Twitter gurus than our own bodies! There’s something wrong with that.
What if we didn’t show up to a gym to beat our bodies up and force it to shed that pesky weight? What if we thought of it as movement — natural and spontaneous release of energy that our body is aching for?
What if we didn’t think of food as a supplement or component nutritional parts? What if we were mindful when eating? Noticing that inkling of excitement before a bite. Feeling when you’re body has been satiated. Likewise, feeling the experience of hunger when it comes. The stomach churning — waiting for food. Hunger is not bad. Hunger is not to be “treated” as we think of it in the West. Our body has genius adaptations to hunger that we hardly let it tap in to.
Embodiment is living inside the body. We are not heads on a stick figure. We are flesh, blood, organs that feel sensations from head to toe. We are whole creatures.