While working with a sacro cranial massage therapist to address the soft-tissue trauma resulting from my recent bicycle accident, I’ve once more become aware of the separation between mind and body. That is, whatever I consider as “me” resides in what I’ll call my mind (a.k.a. brain, thoughts, imagination). My body is something else altogether: it’s there, something to schlep around, a precarious construction of skin and bones and arteries and nerves, etc. Over the years this sense of separateness has grown to the point that “I don’t like” my physical me, that I prefer not to feel (or own) certain parts of me.
Digging a little deeper, I meet that old nemesis, the Inner Critic. They say that it’s merely a voice, but a powerful one! It informs me in its uppity ways of my shortcomings, ineptitude, lack of grace, etc. I rarely question its opinions. And certainly don’t stand up to, instead taking its pronouncements as fact. Take for instance the change in my body shape. Over the last ten years I’ve gained weight and added inches to my waist line. Looking at myself in a mirror (or a passing store window) is no longer a pleasant experience. Aarrgghhh! says the Critic, you’re overweight, old, unattractive. I roll over and agree–even suck in my belly when meeting someone female, but not when seeing a male. What’s with that?
The interesting things is that when I think of people I admire, the last thing I’m concerned with is their body shape. If, for instance, you’d ask me to describe Ram Dass (who I admire deeply), I’d mention direct eye contact, white fluffy hair, a big heart, lack of pretence, easily shows his emotions, huge smile, takes his time to answer questions, admits when he doesn’t know. Those are some of the qualities I admire in him … and wish to posses myself. It never even occurs to me to criticise Ram Dass for his body, the lines in his face, the shake of his hands, the stuttering caused by a stroke.
In short: I tend to judge my own worth on appearance and that of others on their humanity. Digging deeper yet, I confess that I don’t “care” for myself the way I aim to care for others. Others deserve my caring attention “as they are,” while I’m flawed and “need work” to fix what’s wrong.