I am not the Body...
By: Randi Schiffman
I am currently living in community in Guatemala sharing transformational retreats and trainings at The Yoga Forest. After 7 years you get used to the scene here but for those of you who are unfamiliar with this town, you could literally pick it up and place it in the desert and call it Burning Man. I poke fun but this incredibly beautiful village on Lake Atitlan is named San Marcos. With that being said, there are many different walks of life here who are all either stepping on to a spiritual path exploring themselves or have been on one for a long time always continuing to deepen their understanding of Spirit.
Walking around town, I have many conversations with many different people usually about spirituality and the health and well being of ourselves and the planet. A big head spinner this season for me is commonly hearing the phrase “I am not the body” or “I am focusing my upper chakras”. Now, as a yoga practitioner and teacher, I understand the philosophy behind this phrase, but in my experience and here at the lake in San Marcos, they are not realizing also that….We are the body.
We are not the body and we are also the body. How can this be? I find the people living out this philosophy of identifying themselves as Spirit takes away from their experience of being human and having a body and a mind. There is too much on the emphasis of connecting to spirit that it’s causing an imbalance here on the earth. We as humans need to be aware and able to function in the body we were given. We know we are not the mind or the thoughts we think, but we still need to use our minds. So, what kind of relationship do we want to have with our bodies and minds? How can we live a meaningful spiritual life connected to the ethers while having 2 feet on the earth living in our human experience with a mind and a body.
My intention through my offerings of Yoga Teacher Trainings, Thai Massage Courses, and Transformational Retreats is to bring people back into their body and find more connection with the earth element. We must not lose our ability to put into action all the things that we dream up. We need a body for that. We are grateful for this body.
“It is through the body that you realize you are a spark of divinity”
~ BKS Iyengar
If you are not the body, then why when you’re fasting, do you feel the churning of the stomach and extremely low energy.
If you are not the body, then why when you break a bone do you feel immense physical pain.
If you are not the body, then why when you are ill do you feel so bad.
If you are not the body, then why do women experience birth; the gift of life through it.
Having a body is a beautiful thing; a sacred temple to house our spirits. We must nurture this temple and provide it with purity so it can experience divinity through us as individuals. We are a unique expression of spirit, separating and uniting as one. We must move the body to increase flexibility so that Spirit can more easily move through us. We must release physical blockages and holdings in the body through our practice so that Spirit can be flowing through this channel of divine Love that we are, Yoga Philosophy brings up the concept of duality for example in this case being the body and/or not being the body. Vedanta Philosophy on oneness states we are both the body and we are not the body.
So, let us start nourishing the body like we nourish our spirits by connecting to them. I have observed this with a lot of the Bhakti Yogis here in town. Beautiful people finding connection through chanting mantra (I’m singing right alongside them) but sometimes discount or even mock the asana practice and the manipulation of the body. There is a scientific reason why we put our bodies in these shapes. It signals responses in the brain and the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) switches on leaving you with the same experience and connection to spirit as singing mantra. They do say Bhakti Yoga is the easiest and most direct path to enlightenment and my experience backs that statement. Love to the Bhaktis, and at the same time I encourage people to hold movement and connection to the earth through the body in as high of a regard as the mantras or any other spiritual work that excludes movement. It is divinity as are you.
Whether you connect to spirit through plant medicine, meditation, asana, sound, or mantra, understand that these are all different avenues that lead us to the same destination. One is not holier than the other. They all allow you to experience connection to Spirit through the vessel that is you. All of the flesh and bones and body that is you because we are the body too. Hell yea, we are this body!
Randi’s open heart, affectionate manner and infectious laugh create an instant environment of friendship and authenticity. A true pollinator of people, her direct communication, sense of humor and energizing, activating manner allow for deep work to be done with a sense of playful acceptance for what is.
Randi ERYT 500 has taught over 50 yoga teacher trainings since 2010. Her expertise is in sharing Holistic Yoga, a well rounded practice including meditation, pranayama, mudra, bandha, mantra, theme weaving and intelligent sequencing. A certified Thai Massage Therapist, she is especially known for her firm and intuitive based hands on assists. She facilitates with a strong energy and passion for the practice which supports her compassionate, graceful and empathic nature. She has an innate ability to take in knowledge, experience it, and share wisdom in an authentic way.