Our Bodies Are Pathways to Wisdom

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Our Bodies Are Pathways to Wisdom

What I love about the evolution of On Being is how it is growing from a single voice to a more embodied media project. A big part of my strategic focus these past three years has been to make a multi-channel space (a brand, if you will) of many voices and perspectives. It has to be in order to thrive. And this week’s assemblage is representative of this progression. I hope you agree.

The 15th international competition of sambo wrestling in Armenia. (PAN Photo / Sedrak Mkrtchyan / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“The body possesses an intelligence that science barely grasps and that most of us fail to honor in our daily lives.”

We place a great deal of focus on thinking, but many of us, especially adults, fail to engage our physical bodies. And, as Sarah Smarsh argues, we ignore them at our own peril — as our bodies become carriers of old fights and open wounds.

The author completing the Kauai Marathon in Kauai, Hawaii. (Christina Torres / Instagram © All Rights Reserved.)

The point is: our bodies can do things, as Christina Torres says in this week’s edition of Creating Our Own Lives (subscribe on iTunes). Listen to our latest episode in which she shares how running helps her deal with anxiety, body image, and understanding her deepest sense of self:

“Once I started running it was really hard to be angry at my body in the same way.”

Sylvia Boorstein and her husband take a pause in a bike ride. (Sylvia Boorstein)

“Sometimes the pain of the world seems incomprehensible. And if there’s anything that balances it, it’s wonder at the world, the amazingness of people.”

Sylvia Boorstein is the latest mensch to grace the Becoming Wise podcast. She gives counsel on finding joy and spiritual practice embedded in the rhythms of everyday life. I know I fold my laundry differently because of her!

(Omid Safi / On Being.)

“I wonder what it would be like to look at river of life as a gushing torrent of mercy that smoothens out our rough edges.”

Inspired by a hike in the Swiss mountains, Omid Safi offers a beautiful meditation on the jaggedness of our hearts’ stones, then and now. And he even took some stellar photos to illustrate his points.

(Eva Blue / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“The distinction between the beautiful and the sublime is the distinction between the intimate and the transcendent. This sort of distinction doesn’t just happen in aesthetics, but in life in general. We have big and little loves.”

David Brooks’ column in defense of big love is a worthwhile read for those in despair about the state of our country — but who desire big things and have the willingness to love again.

(Pedro Ribeiro Simões / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

Jane Gross has witnessed first-hand the gender inequities depicted in shows like Mad Men. In “A World Our Mothers Only Dreamed Of,” she sees only a subtle shift in our collective progress in the workplace and in the larger culture:

“Does the young woman foreman at the high-rise building make a fair wage? I haven’t a clue. Does she overhear sexist murmurings when her back is turned? Probably. Does she fire back in kind? Rarely. She would rather shame her hostile employees with homemade cookies. If that doesn’t work, she has the power to hire and fire.”

Andi Zeisler, co-founder of Bitch Media and author of “We Were Feminists Once.” (Christopher Onstott / Cosmopolitan  © All Rights Reserved.)

Has feminism lost its way? Andi Zeisler seems to think so. Courtney Martin has a Q&A with the author of We Were Feminists Once:

“The problem is — the problem has always been — that feminism is not fun. It’s not supposed to be fun. It’s complex and hard and it pisses people off. It’s serious because it is about people demanding that their humanity be recognized as valuable.”

(Ben Raynal / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

On the other hand, our culture celebrates masculine gruffness and aggression, but what about masculine affection? In the poetry of Emily Dickinson, guest contributor Ben Bagocius finds strength to love freely, and flex a new kind of masculinity, one with texture and tenderness:

“We all know that increased reps of weights build stronger, more resilient, and flexible bodies. So do increased reps of poetry. Men who train under Dickinson learn that tenderness is no soft and squishy practice. It takes grit, brute strength, and stamina to venture into sensitivity.”

(Foam / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“Our deepest stories are our best teachers. Take back the permission to succeed. Make it yours.”

Elissa Altman, author of Treyf and Poor Man’s Feast, sent us this marvelous reflection on the intersection of art and shame, the vulnerability of baring your soul to the world, and how important it is to reject shame in the act of writing.

Thanks so much for reading. Until next week, please feel free to contact me with any advice, criticism, feedback at trentgilliss@onbeing.org, or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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