Caring for the body vs the cult of the body
Understanding human existence, starting from the theory of complexity, is enriching. It is worth noting that we are complex beings, endowed with a convergence of countless factors, material, biological, energized, spiritual, earthly and cosmic. We possess an outward appearance with which we make others aware we are one of them and that we belong to the universe of the bodies. And we have an interior inhabited by vigorous positive and negative energies that form our psychic individuality. We are carriers of the dimension of the profound where the most important questions exist about the meaning of our journey through this world. These dimensions constantly coexist and interact, influencing each other and molding that which we call the human being.
We must care for everything in us. Otherwise, we lose the equilibrium among the forces of which we are constructed and dehumanize ourselves. In dealing with the topic of caring for the body, we must consciously oppose the dualism that the culture persists in maintaining: on one side, the «body», detached from the spirit, and on the other, the disembodied «spirit». In this way, we lose the unity of human life.
Commercial propaganda exploits this duality, presenting the body not as the totality of the human, but breaking it up; muscles, hands, feet, etc., into its different parts. The principal victims of this fragmentation are women, because the machista vision found refuge in the media world of marketing, using parts of the woman, her breasts, her gender, and other aspects to continue making woman an «object» of consumption by the machista men. We should firmly oppose this cultural distortion.
It is also important to reject the «cult of the body» promoted by the plethora of gymnasiums and other ways of working on the physical person, as if the man/woman-body were a machine stripped of its spirit, that seeks to constantly enlarge the muscles. With this we do not want to detract from the merit of the different types physical exercise, in function of good health and a better integration of mind-body; the massages that renew the body’s vigor and make the vital energies flow, particularly the oriental disciplines such as yoga, that favor a meditative posture of life, or the incentive to maintain a balanced diet, including fasting, either as voluntary asceticism or as a way of better harmonizing the vital energies.
Clothing deserves special consideration. Not only does it have a utilitarian function, to protect us from inclement weather, it also relates to caring for the body, because clothes represent a language, a form of presenting oneself on the stage of life. It is important to take care that clothing expresses a form of being, and that it shows the human and aesthetic profile of a person. This is especially meaningful for a woman, because she has a more intimate relationship with her body and its appearance.
There is nothing more ridiculous and revealing of an anemic spirit than beauty constructed with unnecessary botox and plastic surgeries. From this artificial embellishment has grown a whole industry of cosmetics and slimming practices in clinics and spas that are hardly in service of a more integrated dimension of the body. This is not to say that we must invalidate massages and cosmetics that are important for the skin and for proper embellishment. But there is a beauty appropriate for each age, the enchantment born of the life’s work and the spirit in the physical expression of the human being. No photoshop can displace the rugged beauty of a laborer’s face, sculpted by the harshness of life, the lines etched by suffering. The struggles of so many women who work in the fields, in the city and in the factories have left in their bodies another form of beauty, frequently with an expression of great strength and energy. They speak of real life and not of an artificial and made-up existence. To the contrary, the touched-up photographs of the icons of conventional beauty, almost all shaped by current beauty fashions, barely conceal the artificiality of the figure and the frivolous vanity there revealed.
Everyone is a victim of a culture which does not cultivate the caring appropriate to each phase of life, with its beauty and luminosity, and also with the tell-tale marks of a life lived, that imprinted in the face and body the struggles, the sufferings, the overcoming. Such marks create a singular beauty and a specific luminosity, instead of fixing the persons in the profile of an outdated past.
We care for the body in a positive manner, by returning, with an attitude of synergy and communion with all things, to nature and the Earth, whence we had exiled ourselves centuries ago. This means establishing a biophilic relationship, of love and sensitivity towards the animals, flowers, plants, climates, sceneries and the Earth. When they show her to us from outer space – those beautiful images of the terrestrial globe transmitted by telescopes or space craft — we burst with feelings of reverence, respect and love for our Great Mother, from whose womb we all come. She is small, cosmologically already old, but radiant and full of life.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for the human being-body consists of achieving an equilibrium of self affirmation, without falling into arrogance and rejection of others, and the integration of a major whole, of family, community, the work team and society, without allowing one’s self to be overcrowded and fall into uncritical adhesion. The search for this type of equilibrium is not resolved at once, it must be worked on daily, because it is demanded from us at every moment. An adequate balance must be found between the two forces that could either tear us apart or integrate us.
Caring for our being-in-the-world also includes our diet: what we eat and drink. It is to make of eating more than an act of nourishment, but a rite of celebration and communion with our fellow diners and with the fruits of the Earth’s generosity. It is to know how to select organic products or those least filled with chemicals. A healthy life results from that, a life that assumes a posture of caution against the eventual diseases that may befall us as a result of the degraded environment.
In this manner the human being-body makes its inner and exterior harmony transparent, as a member of the great community of life.
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, email@example.com,
done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.