Body + Spirit = Having it all

July 13, 2015

by Phil Porter
an excerpt from his book The Slightly Mad Rantings of a Body Intellectual Part One

Someone in the past, long since dead, or maybe a committee of the faithful, also long since dead, decided that body and spirit were mortal enemies that could never get along.
That crowd may have just been having a bad hair day, but years of culture and language have propped up this point of view. We have even been led to believe that one mind-body-spirit-festivalis good and the other is suspect. (And you and I know which one is which.)
Where did this all go wrong?

Somewhere back there, human experience began to be divided up into neat little categories. I’m sure it was a good idea at the time. But we have mastered separation and categorization. What we need right now is to pull it all back together, to see how richly intertwined all of our experience is, to have it all together

The term “bodyspirit” reunites body and spirit—back where they belong. It helps us name the basic reality that all of our experience is physical— that we can’t have spirit without body. How would we recognize a spiritual experience unless it were a something-or-other going on in our bodies? For that matter, how would we know we were having feelings or thoughts if there weren’t some sort of experience—body stuff that we can recognize and notice (even if it is difficult to articulate)?

Thoughts, feelings, and those glimpses of a bigger reality that we call “spirit” are all physical experiences, much like any other physical sensation we experience in our bodies.


What’s your 90/10 body relationship?

July 6, 2015

by Phil Porter
an excerpt from his book The Slightly Mad Rantings of a Body Intellectual Part One

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My crackpot theory is that when thinking of our bodies we spend 90% of the time plotting ways to fix ourselves. We’ll go to the gym, stop eating cake, apply exotic creams, dye our hair, get new clothes, meditate more, get a tan. Unfortunately, much of it never passes the planning stage. We may never do the things we intend. Is that a good way to spend our time and energy? The other ten percent of the time we work with our limitations, even celebrate them, we build on our strengths, we seize the moment, we revel in our ability to live and love. We learn from our mistakes and turn them into triumphs, we see opportunity in chaos, we sing in the shower, we reach out and zap others with compassion and concern. Sounds like more fun doesn’t it? So here is what I suggest: reverse the percentages.

Let’s spend 90% of our time having the glorious wonder of our bodyspirits and 10% of the time trying to fix ourselves up. You don’t have to give up your self-improvement schemes entirely. There is little harm in those desires and sometimes they even pay off. But meanwhile, you can have so much more than you can imagine. Within any of our perceived limitation resides and infinite range of possibilities. They may not be the same set of options that you had 10 years ago, but they are still endless. Even if you are seriously limited by some sort of big body deal there is so much potential waiting to burst forth. How do you do it?

  • Look for the good. Celebrate your gifts, your accomplishments, your relationships, your small and large triumphs. Notice them in others if you find it difficult to name them for yourself.
  • Notice what creates energy and grace in your life. Have more of it. Put yourself in the settings that give you a sense of liveliness, peace, ecstasy or whatever it is you desire.
  • Open your circle of concern. Look past your own body spirit. Pay attention to the wonderful gifts around you. So much of the joy of living has to do with relationship. And when we can include others in our circle it immediately widens our own possibilities.

This would be a good beginning in the process of percentage reversal.


Is it time to bathe in grace?

June 29, 2015

Excerpted from: Slightly Mad Rantings of a Body Intellectual, By Phil Porter  

If you knew what stress felt like in your body, you could probably name the physical experiences that signal this charming, here-it-comes-again-all-too-soon experience. But you don’t experience stress, now do you?

Shimmering-shores-of-Vaadhoo-Maldives-768x512What if we imagined another state that was the opposite of stress–a shimmering-water, skin-tingling, open-hearted, melted-chocolate-on-figs sort of experience. What would that feel like in your body? What if we were to snatch a word that is as happy in the world of dance as it is in the world of spirit and call that experience “grace.” A bit presumptuous, yes indeedy, to pull this oft-used, sometimes misunderstood noun and slather it on the body of our physical experience.

Presumptuous yes, but surprisingly easy.

You have it already in your life, I’m sure. You may have slightly different words to describe it—peaceful, calm, centered, energized, easy, amused—but you have it. What would happen if you were to pay more attention to that experience, to notice where you were, what you were up to, who else was nearby. What if you were to do those things, be with those people, go to those places more often?

I’ll tell you what—you would be happier, healthier, more whole.

Stress can do some interesting things to us. It can rev us up, get us going, spark new ideas. But it is hard on our bodies
and fails as a long-term strategy unless you want to be exhausted, shaky, and frazzled. IT’S A BEAR! That’s when stress is really helpful. Run like crazy! But our lives today are more like this: IT’S A BEAR! IT’S A BEAR! IT’S A BEAR! IT’S A BEAR! Way too much stress. It can really wear you down.

Grace builds up the body. Not to mention making us easier to live with.