The Body Electric

To say that I get blog ideas in a weird way is an understatement. For example, this week the theme song for the PBS fitness program “The Body Electric” popped into my head. When this happens towards the end of a month I know it’s often my guides steering me in a blog post direction, so I take the suggestion and google it. The results are usually quite fascinating.

In this case, the search results yielded three main sets of results. Each was interesting in its own way, and presented interrelated ideas which, after some contemplation, opened my eyes about the way I think about my body.

The first was the initial earworm – the theme song from The Body Electric, which, for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, with its debut in 1984, was the first television exercise show set to music. It was the beginning of the video fitness craze that lives on to this day. In this program, Margaret Richard (who, incidentally – or maybe not – still looks fabulous in her 70’s), leads her viewers through a warm up, exercise routine and cool down in about 25 minutes, ending with a “Food for Thought” commentary on the body and/or life. I’m not actually sure how I remembered the song, which leads with “I sing the body electric, I celebrate (something something something),” since I don’t really remember watching the show or doing the exercise routines. Most likely it was just ending before I switched on children’s programming for my kids, and I may have caught the tail end of the closing credits a few times. I do know that, in my present day life, I spend a lot of time thinking about (and usually fretting about) my physical body. Aside from (and partly due to) my genetic predisposition to various ailments which cause pain and limit my mobility – all a new and frustrating development over the past ten years or so – I’m in a seeming constant battle to keep fit and strong. I realize that part of my discomfort is due to unfair cultural and social pressures about how my body “should” look and how it “should” perform at this age, but so much is emotional, and wrapped up in the unrealistic expectations I had of being able to live vigorously for the rest of my life. I see others older than myself attaining what I can’t, and it is a source of anguish.

Shutting down emotionally and physically in sadness from the loss of those activities that formerly fed my soul – hiking, biking, swimming and the like – activities which to a large extent defined me, and the irrational feeling of being betrayed by my body leads to a vicious cycle. The shut down leads to a more rapid decline in physical abilities, which leads to deeper negative emotions, and depression, which causes inertia, and the cycle continues. I have recently begun to focus more on the development of my abilities to heal myself and others, and taking time to nurture and love the body I inhabit now. Acceptance and surrender is a huge part of healing, as is loving the me I am now as much as the me I was when I was younger and more able-bodied. Tuning out the observations, opinions and expectations of others helps, as well.

The second search result was the book, The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life by Robert O. Becker and Gary Selden. This was the surprising source I didn’t know I needed to round out this post. Although I haven’t read the book (it’s on order), I found the premise quite intriguing. Fair warning – Wikipedia characterizes the book’s subject as what could be described as a “fringe theory;” but, let’s face it, most of my blogs are discussions of fringe theories. In a serendipitous nod to my previous post about Nikola Tesla, this book explores how our bodies’ electromagnetic field may hold the key to regeneration after injury, may explain the efficacy of acupuncture and other non-allopathic healing techniques, and may be damaged by external electromagnetic pollution in our environment, causing chronic illness.

I am amazed by the ability of our bodies to heal themselves and others. As a Reiki practitioner, I feel the energy that flows through my body and into the body of another, who reports feeling their body receive it and their discomfort melt into relaxation. In fact, when I first lay my hands on my mother after being attuned, she was shocked and said – “I know it’s real, because your hands are always so cold, and now they’re HOT!” Some have postulated that Jesus was using a technique similar to Reiki when he lay his hands on people to heal them. The idea that we are a flowing source of energy, which may be the key to healing ourselves, and its extrapolation to Reiki and other hands-on energy healing techniques to heal others, is very intriguing to me. Although some of the reviews for Becker’s book mention the scanty science and limited research behind his findings, I look forward to learning more.

The last search result was that Spiritual connection that usually leads me to write a blog about a subject in the first place. I’ve been a fan of Walt Whitman since high school. There’s something about the way he writes – not only his honesty and “damn the critics, I’m gonna put it all out there” bravery, but his tone and cadence – that makes me feel he is a real kindred spirit. Leaves of Grass was one of my favorite books, at a time when books were everything to me. It still occupies a space on my nightstand, as well as my Kindle library.

“I Sing the Body Electric,” is Whitman at his most controversial. Knowledge of the potential of electricity was still in its infancy when the poem was written (1855, but one source says the line wasn’t added until 1867, as part of one of his many revisions of the text of the compilation), though it was known as a compelling and sometimes dangerous force. Within the verses, Whitman speaks openly about the usefulness and sensuality of the human body, exalting what many folks of that time period considered rude, crass and crude (even describing a “swimmer naked in the swimmingbath… seen as he swims through the salt transparent green-shine, or lies on his back and rolls silently with the heave of the water” – what an electrifying image!). At a period of time during which the sight of a woman’s ankle or wrist was shameful, he wrote of the “bosoms and heads of women… the folds of their dress…their style as we pass in the street… the contour of their shape downwards.” He wrote of the “wellmade man,” as appears not only in his face, but “in his limbs and joints also… it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists, it is in his walk… the carriage of his neck… the flex of his waist and knees…” He described the “sprawl and fulness of babes…” He wrote of farmers, workmen, housekeepers, laborers – everyday folk – as beautiful. “And in man or woman a clean strong firmfibred body is beautiful as the most beautiful face.” Whitman shared his love for people – body and soul.

There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them and in the contact and odor of them that pleases the soul well, All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

Moreover, he equated women and men’s bodies; and the bodies of slaves and immigrants with free white people, and extolled them as all on the same plane. This was indeed a scandalous juxtaposition in America during this time period.

But perhaps most sacrilegious of all is Whitman’s statement that “If life and the soul are sacred the human body is sacred…” At the time (and still to some extent today), some Christians considered the body base, a corrupting influence, a constant danger to the sanctity of the Spirit it housed. Whitman argued that the body and soul are inseparable, all part and one in the same Spirit. He also wrote “I see my soul reflected in nature… as I see through a mist one with inexpressible completeness and beauty…” Popular belief was that man (used purposely in this context) was meant to conquer and lord over nature, not embrace it as part of himself. Whitman’s musings were radical, indeed.

Perhaps I was drawn to Whitman’s writings because we tend to be attracted to things that reflect ourselves. His celebration of the wonders of the human body, and the interconnectedness of body and Spirit, mirrors what I have learned as a healer and Light worker. I truly believe that we have chosen our particular body purposefully and deliberately to accomplish our goals. We choose our sex, skin color, physical appearance, state of health, abilities, etc. before arriving on this planet, as teaching/learning tools.

The three pertinent results I got from my search were an intertwining ensemble of the intricate thoughts and feelings I carry about my body. I do indeed see it as inseparable from my Spirit – more than simply its vessel, but an integral part of my experience of this world while I’m here. Everything that has happened to my body thus far – the good and bad – has happened, and will continue to happen, to enhance the growth of my soul and advance my reason for being here at this time. I do know that my body can heal in every sense of the word – not only can it heal itself (every time I cut or burn myself while creating my art, I’m reminded of this ability!), but it can be used to heal others as well. And to make the best of my time here, I need not only to maintain, nourish and love my body, but to make peace with the changes that occur as my time draws closer and closer to its culmination and passing forward. My “electric” body, as long as I see it as a friend and ally, will give me all I need. The Power is always on.

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