Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: The Wild Flesh of the Body

Ever read something that lights you up and makes you think, 'Wow--exactly!'? Someone puts something in a certain way that inspires you or makes you feel they understand. In the next few blogs, I want to share some of the words and writers that have done that for me, especially in how they help us think about and relate to our bodies. 

Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a great Jungian analyst and lover of story, whose book Women Who Run With the Wolves was a ground-breaking exploration of the mythical stories surrounding women and power. Though I'd read some of it when it first came out in the 90's, her chapter on 'Joyous Body: The Wild Flesh' was so poetic and so apt a description of the body I just had to share it (my bolding):

"In the instinctive psyche, the body is considered a sensor, an informational network, a messenger with myriad communication systems--cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, autonomic, as well as emotive and intuitve. In the imaginal world, the body is a powerful vehicle, a spirit who lives with us, a prayer of life in its own right...

Like the Rosetta stone, for those who know how to read it, the body is a living record of life given, life taken, life hoped for, life healed. It is valued for its articulate ability to register immediate reaction, to feel profoundly, to sense ahead.

The body is a multilingual being. It speaks through its color and its temperature, the flush of recognition, the glow of love, the ash of pain, the heat of arousal, the coldness of nonconviction. It speaks through its constant tiny dance, sometimes swaying, sometimes a-jitter, sometimes trembling. It speaks through the leaping of the heart, the falling of the spirit, the pit at the center, and rising hope.

The body remembers, the bones remember, the joints remember, even the little finger remembers. Memory is lodges in pictures and feelings in the cells themselves. Like a sponge filled with water, anywhere the flesh is pressed, wrung, even touched lightly, a memory may flow out in a stream.

To confine the beauty and value of the body to anything less than this magnificence is to force the body to live without its rightful spirit, its rightful form, its right to exultation. To be thought ugly or unacceptable because one's beauty is outside the current fashion is deeply wounding to the natural joy that belongs to the wild nature.

Women have good reason to refute psychological and physical standards that are injurious to spirit and which sever relationship with the wild soul. It is clear that the instinctive nature of women values body and spirit far more for their ability to be vital, responsive and enduring than by any measure of appearance..."

I hope this quote resonates for you as much as it did for me--I welcome your thoughts and perspectives.