Rethinking Our Bodies

It takes little effort to look into most forms of mysticism and find something involving the body and the supernatural forces supposedly within. Energy channels and chakras, planetary correspondences and and vortices, many a form of mysticism treats the body as some supernatural system. Even if it’s not part of a given practice, someone has, is, or will add some spiritual-physical elements by shoehorning it in.

Now as any reader remotely familiar with me knows, as much as I find “blueprints” of such things useful, I’m also cautious about them. It’s too easy to turn a mystical practice into a checkbox of experiences one can merely hallucinate instead of experience. But when it comes to this “psychoanatomy” as I call it, I get the value and appeal even when it’s obvious bullshit.

Our bodies are part of our experience, part of reality, and they should be part of our spiritual practice. I mean you can kind of ignore them, but hunger, horniness, or a stubbed toe are going to bring you back to your body, like it or not.

A moment to look at your body quickly reveals how it reflects – and affects – your mental (dare I say even spiritual?) state. Tensions in your mind manifest in your body, emotional reactions are burned into your physical ones, and sense memories can flood you with recollections. It’s complicated,it’s complex, and not dealing with our bodies in spiritual practice just leaves out part of us.

Someone dealing with any form of psychoanatomy is at least being aware of our bodies and deconstructing and rethinking them. To think of the body as energy flows, or correspondences, or chakras can help see and even “take apart” old habits of thought, tension, and reaction. Sure, some of the techniques we use may be utter bullshit (and there’s plenty on the market) but rethinking your body is valuable.

It’s also something I think a lot of us really need to do. I get why people may buy some hack Quigong book or try to align their energy centers or use emotional support oil, or whatever. In my own meditative work I’ve become painfully aware of my tensions and how my body reflects deeper psychological processes. Sometimes you hurt, or feel uncomfortable, or suddenly have overwhelming musical reactions and you really want to deal with that.

It’s easy to fall into bullshit mysticism over the body. I’m sympathetic.

As spiritual practitioners, mystics, and the like, it’s also a reminder that people may have some real insights from their otherwise ill-informed practices. We shouldn’t just be sympathetic, but should help them out with healthier practices of bodily mysticism – or just recommendations for a good therapist. Even the crap may bring insights, and we can make sure those are channeled in a useful way.

– Xenofact