Engaging the Work: My Next Frontier

Atheopaganism is about increasing our capacity for happiness and engaging our responsibilities to the Earth and to our fellow humans. As such, it requires us to look at ourselves and the world with both curiosity and compassion; to see where there is work to be done.

For me personally, after years of resistance I am coming to confront that a large portion of my work now relates to inhabiting my body.

I was raised only to celebrate the accomplishments of the mind. In my family, I saw no modeling of physical recreation or exercise, and as a result, I was always the kid who was reading a book during recess. I did not learn to be comfortable in my body as many or most children do, through physical play.

As a result, I’m stiff, and somewhat clumsy. Physical disciplines come hard to me, and I have felt so shy about them that I didn’t begin even free form dancing until I was in my late 20s. I have related to my body largely as a robot that carries my brain around, rather than as an integrated part of me.

Uncoincidentally, the far precincts of my body have problems—my feet, farthest from the head where I live, have struggled with chronic pain since my late teens.

Now in middle age, I am fortunate that my health is generally good, but I need to live in my body more. I need to move, and I don’t. Most of my life is still intellectual, mediated through screens and words. Even the expressed experience of my Limbic system—my heart—occurs mostly through writing; through language.

I’m not sure how I will do this, but I know it is work I must do: my next frontier.

How about you? Where is your growing edge? It’s a valuable question to ask; a means to continue to deepen and flourish as a human being.

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3 thoughts on “Engaging the Work: My Next Frontier

  1. I’ve had great results with flow arts. I started with hoop dancing but there are many variations with poi, staff, or fans. It is like having a dance partner who gives you immediate feedback. I suggest you look into Hooppath.com I have taken several of Baxter’s workshops and they are great. I feel more connected and present with my body and my community afterwards. There are also lots of open jams wherever you live! This is a great goal!

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  2. I think the method you choose to engage with your body (yoga, rock climbing, dancing, etc.) is up to you and your comfort level. But I think that at the root of it, the mind must be in a good place, or at least, a place of awareness and self-compassion. For me, living in my body began with learning to be mindful of my body in new ways. Thich Naht Hahn has some wonderful meditations that address this in his book, “Reconciliation.” As a teenager especially, I always approached any kind of exercise as a way to change a body that I disliked, so that I could become attractive–I thought to myself, “when I become attractive, THEN I will like my body!” Now I realize that physical practices are much more sustainable if I approach my body with compassion first: I don’t dislike my body, I don’t want to change it–I do [insert exercise here] because I have compassion for my body, because I want to nurture its health, because I love it–and it blesses me in return.

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