When I was an adolescent I discovered what is still called “reason” and, in my innocence, I made the mind all powerful; I enthroned Reason as my God and commanded it to lead me to understanding and wisdom and a good life. I came to worship the mind and the mind drove me crazy. I had believed the lie that I was the intellect, that I was that voice in my head that told me, incessantly, the story of my life. I had identified with the “I” the mind created and, henceforth, the I-mind -as cruel and selfish and frightened as a five year old child- had become my torture chamber.
I had moved into the mind as one moves into an enchanted palace with dreams of happiness and love, success and recognition only to find that behind the gold trimmings and beautiful hallways lay unimaginable torture chambers, dark and sadistic beyond my worst nightmares.
By the time I was 25 –married and a mother of two- I began longing for a way to shut the I-mind up, to medicate it, meditate it, drug it or drink it into silence. Nothing seemed to work. I strapped it into religión, drank it into oblivion, lay it on Freudian couches and picked it apart to see if finally it could find the way to happiness; I put it through Gestalt and Fischer-Hoffman and Family Constellations and uncountable therapies so as to change its hell-bent intention to torture me to death. But the I-mind couldn’t do that: it couldn’t be silent, it couldn’t be happy, for it truly believed that then its worst fears would surely come to pass. The I-mind had been born in fear and arrogance, wrapped in powerlessness and the desperate need for control, nourished in anguish and want and the sense of never-enough, contorted with nightmarish scenes: it was a horror movie. When it didn’t get what it wanted it attacked everything and everybody including itself; when it got what it wanted, it was terrified of losing it or found it lacking still. Enough was never enough.
It took me years and years and more years to realize that in the process of identifying with the mind, I had forgotten the body; I had pushed it aside, denied its feelings, scared it to death with my thoughts, tortured it with my supposed needs, satiated it beyond belief with my insatiable wants. I had judged it, stuffed it, dieted it, exercised it, operated on it, dressed it, undressed it, but I had never really seen it, sat with it, listened to it or held its hand. I had never inhabited it.
Yet as the I-mind raced painfully towards the past lamenting what had happened or missing what had gone before, and projected itself fearfully towards a terrifying or hopeful future, the body sat in the present and waited for me to come home. When I finally did, I found that the body is truthful: it cannot lie. It is constant: it cannot leave me. It is obedient: it has no opinion, it doesn’t care. It will live or die, whatever, without complaint; it doesn’t worry about anything. The body just is, as it waits for us to come home, always present, never judging, patient beyond all measure as it inhabits the IS.
Today I know that both are gifts and that I am neither. But I had misused the gift of the mind and abused the gift of the body forgetting that I was but their joyous receiver.
Today I am home where I want to be, living the privilege of this incredible body that has waited so long for me to descend from the frightening nether regions, from the flights and fights of the empowered I-mind and live in it. It is a brave body –this one I have been given- and a sturdy one that stood up under so many onslaughts of thought-produced horror. Its heart fills me with love as mind settles in the present and observes, becoming a loving instrument too, that serves me when -for instance- I want to write about my beloved body.
This morning as I walked home after coffee I felt my body wholly and, realizing that nothing hurt, took an extra turn around the block rejoicing in the pleasure of an effortless stroll. Neither a twinge in the ankle that is badly formed nor an ache in the hip that sometimes acts up interrupted my stream of pleasure. My body felt so light it seemed to glide over the earth and I walked in gratitude for its patience, its fortitude, its faithfulness; for the joy it gives me to finally sink down and feel it living and vibrant and innocent.