Lately I’ve been reading a couple of books, one of them being Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La frontera: The New Mestiza. In short, the author discusses her experience being in the middle of the U.S. and Mexican culture. She touches on several different topics, such as Aztec history, spirituality, and language. It’s a great read if you’re interested in Chicana or Women’s Studies. However, me asking you to read her book isn’t the point of this post. I have been thinking about one of her ideas. She left me with so questions after reading this paragraph:
[Some] religions encourage fear and distrust of life and of the body; they encourage a spilt between the body and the spirit and totally ignore the soul; they encourage us to kill off parts of ourselves. We are taught that the body is an ignorant animal; intelligence dwells only in the head. But the body is smart. It does not discern between external stimuli and stimuli from the imagination. It reacts equally viscerally to events from the imagination as it does to ‘real’ events. (Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La frontera: The New Mestiza, pages 37-38)
All my life, I have been taught that my body is nothing more than a vessel that my spirit will leave once it can no longer hold me. This idea comforted me. I’ve always told myself to fear nothing because my body will be what’s damaged and not my soul. My body will be the part of me rotting in the ground while my spirit soars throughout space and time, interacting with other energies. Now that I am intrigued by this new possibility, the comfort I felt before is fading. If my body and my spirit are linked, and not as separate as I think…if my body is damaged, will my spirit be affected? If my spirit is low, will my body be?
I like the concept that Anzaldúa presents: the notion that the body is more than a vessel, that our bodies and spirits are joined in some way. Perhaps our bodies teach our souls a few things, and our souls teach our bodies a few others—an exchange of thought, feelings, realities. Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, it isn’t a bad thing that our bodies and souls are intertwined. If my body is healthy, my spirit would be too; if my body is hurting, my spirit would learn to heal; if my spirit is sad, my body would express it. This quote has described the importance of taking care of the two, seeing them as a team instead of being separate entities. I like it.
I also agree with Anzaldúa in that the body isn’t an uneducated, oblivious creature. It recognizes the realities we experience (from the common reality we all share to things that are otherworldly). Some of us feel a cold air, goosebumps, or our heart stops; it’s our body signaling a strange occurrence to our minds, our souls. Our souls and bodies work in conjunction. It is not only the spirit that experiences our lives, but our body as well, and vice versa.
This may all seem like common sense. But to me, it’s something I’ve just discovered a few days ago and it clicked. I love reading/hearing different perspectives regarding spirituality, and at the moment, I enjoy this idea that Anzaldúa introduces.