This year, 2022, I prioritize my body - my physical form and health, my bloodwork, physical fitness, physical comfort, enjoyable movement, restorative sleep. I make my body The Priority. I make Me the priority.
I have an incremental and simple plan for this year. It’s posted on the refrigerator. It outlines what I am doing to tend my body well. But, it doesn’t explain why I am doing this.
I am putting my body first because I am embodied. I am in physical form. I believe that embodiment, physicality, the physical world, is good. My body is good. I am also over the recommended weight for my height. My A1C and lipids profile raises doctors’ concerns. I can’t hike as far or high or fast as I’d prefer. I suffer from poor sleep. I haven’t tended me very well… ever. My body bears my senses, provides information, and delivers expressions of all kinds. My body, me, I deserve to be treated well and cultivated with nourishment, activity, and loving-kindness.
I grew up believing in a duality of the spirit versus the body. The spirit was valuable and worthy of attention. The body was an afterthought. It was a mere container for transporting the spirit through this life. For many years, emphasizing my spirit over my body served me in examining my society and culture critically. But it also failed me. This duality prevented me from perceiving and appreciating the worth, beauty, and good work performed by and in the physical realm. Most immediately, it stunted my understanding and appreciation of my own body.
It’s taken me years, honestly, to believe and function from a place of valuing the physical world. For example, it’s taken me years to go from hearing “God’s” voice when I am in nature to perceiving nature as sacred in and of itself. The natural world is not a medium for a more important supernatural Other. It possesses its own divinity, which is a blessing that is with us and in us from the beginning. Through that lens, I perceive myself as a sacred blessing. I have worth, as this form, at this time.
It’s hard to convey this in words. I reread what I just wrote and acknowledge that one could still take away a message that something special resides within the physical form. That’s not what I mean. I mean that my living, breathing, pulsing, cycling body is the specialness itself. I extend that and mean it for all living entities.
When I believe this way, I turn away from my old ways of living. I reject elevating spirit over matter. I repent treating my body as a basic husk for a mysterious kernel within it. I practice attending to my body, not out of duty nor to follow a doctor’s prescription nor yield to a culture that praises young-looking, fit, “beautiful” bodies - but to align my actions with my beliefs. I want to hear my own voice and express myself in my behavior.
I prioritize my body this year, in ways that I haven't before, as an expression of my faith in the sacredness of embodiment. I prioritize my body in order to live a coherent, authentic daily life. I prioritize my body as one small inkling of an expression of my respect and attention to the sacred in all lives.