Learning about body-informed trauma has changed my mental health game.
But as much as I am exploring my body and its memories, I don’t exist in a vaccum.
Over the past decades, through the age of industrialisation and the blooming of capitalism, the body too has become a commodity.
Especially since COVID the autonomy of our bodies has become politicised.
So which one is it? Am I my body, or does my body belong to the world?
“Body is nothing more than emptiness, emptiness is nothing more than body.”
– Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion
Buddhism taught me that nothing is truly as I perceive it to be.
My body might feel like an expansion of myself, but we exchange parts of it daily.
Be it while cells rejuvenate using the resources we offer it, to the air we breathe in the home we choose.
The medicine that is available in my country and my price range, the blood transfusion I require when needed, the donor kidney I will eventually need in the future.
It feels like I know where my body starts and ends, but when I look in the mirror, I see a collection of desirable and undesirable traits, and how they are perceived by others.
I look at my skin and the tattoo collection I have acquired. My hair and what I want it to say about me as a person, hoping it signals my queerhood and independent nature.
None of these are truly decided by me, but by my community as a whole.
“so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. “
– Pablo Neruda
I have an embodiment lecture in my Anthropology course where we discuss the implications of commodifying bodies in culture, but I would like to offer a different view point. Yes, we can take apart our bodies to discuss political and economic implications just like we do with other objects.
But we can also change the way we view objects – as not truly what they are.
An apple pie in the grocery store is much more than that: it is the labour of the workers who picked the apple, the bakers who cut them, the delivery and packaging crew, the memories we associate with the taste. It is a team effort to create an object, just as it is with our bodies.
My body does not truly start and end with skin, it breathes into the world and impacts and is impacted by all.
My understanding of its uses depends on my society’s understanding of it, but my loving of it does not.
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