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"You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves."

—Mary Oliver

Embodiment Practice

Orbit meditation for sensual awareness
Tending the soft animal

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The Soft Animal of the Body

If I were to ask you,
what is the body?

What would be your first thought?

Please take a moment to ponder on this before reading further.

Is it muscles around bones? Is it organs and tissues? Is it breathing, pulsating, life force? Is it a vessel? Is it a cocoon? Something we leave behind?

Is it nature? Empty space?

Perhaps, someone, at some point in our life told us that the body
is a machine, and it kind of stuck with us. A machine that we feed on fuel in the hopes it will last us for a while longer. A highly caffeinated machine that we maintain through exercise, good diet, basic hygiene. A breathing sculpture that we forcefully try to mold and remold. The one part of ourselves that we inspect daily, hoping it was different, wishing it aligns with what is being asked of us, with what is considered beautiful, proper, acceptable. A mean for us to give, perform, work, do, attain, give, give, give…

Or,

Someone told us that the body, in all its dimension, with all its capability to feel, intuit, with all its wild wisdom is something that we must transcend, ignore, or pacify in order to attain higher states of consciousness, in order to truly meet the sacred.

 

But what if,
 

The body is the seat of our awareness. What if this is it? What if the spirit is not something that lives underneath the shell but instead, the shell itself?

What if there are other ways to relate to the body,
ones that don’t limit it to a vessel, but instead an instrument of being, the one that creates the music and the one that dances to it. What if the body and the spirit are one and the same, what if instead of saying the body, we start to say, I, I, I.

The word human carries so much beauty with it, but it also carries a sense of being ‘more than’ and it also tends to separate us from the whole interconnected web of nature.  

I’d like to invite you to consider the possibility, that the body might be a soft animal. And this would mean it needs, long periods of grace and joy, that it relates to the whole, gathering information of its surroundings not intellectually, but through sensing. Not logically, but intuitively. That it thrives immersed in nature, following the cycles of the seasons, of the moon.
 

Would you relate differently to yourself, if this was so?
 

Take your journal and reflect on this:

How would I treat myself, if I was nothing more than a soft animal?

 

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