Why We Are Physical

On Monday, I woke up feeling gross. In physical pain, emotionally drained, tired, and just generally cranky. I wished more than anything that I wasn’t in a physical body. Being a spirit, or angel, or something without form, sounded great. No pain! Just bliss! Alas, that’s not true.

Many years ago, a good friend told me there are only two positions for the feelings switch: on or off. That means either I’m numbed out to everything – joy, sorrow, anger, pain – or I have to feel everything. I can’t pick and choose which emotions I may feel. And that means some days I want to be over as quickly as possible.

If we're not physical, we can't enjoy things like skateboarding.

If we’re not physical, we can’t enjoy things like skateboarding.

The idea of being a free-floating spirit is so tantalizing though! Would I be in bliss all day long? Would it be a non-stop pleasure fest? No, no it would not because a body is necessary to feel anything at all. And when I’m having a terrible day where I’m in physical pain and everything sucks, of course I don’t want to feel anything. But as my friend reminds me, feeling nothing means I also shut out the good things. The exhilaration of a roller coaster. The joy of spending time with a good friend. The peace of a gorgeous sunset. Without nerve fibers, there is . . . nothing so I must be physical.

I want to be happy all the time. I want to feel good all the time. We live in a society where we’re told if we’re not happy, something is wrong and we need to fix it. Start using affirmations or keep a gratitude journal, or quit a job, dump that boyfriend, go on that vacation. Most people are selling the five keys to happiness, but what if there’s nothing wrong with feeling icky? What if that’s what it means to be human?

We are caught in a pleasure/pain cycle but that’s normal. My spiritual teacher says over and over again that a human body is necessary for meditation and to achieve the ultimate union I seek. That to me means being physical is essential. There are no shortcuts. I don’t get to dance with the divine unless I’m inhabiting a human form. That means feeling sad and angry and disheartened. It also means feeling happy and peaceful and inspired. I don’t get to have some but not others.

I dream of a world where we remember being human means feeling pleasure and pain. A world where we remember we can’t feel good all of the time. A world where we realize while the idea of being non-physical sounds appealing, to experience what we’re really after, a human body is required.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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2 comments… add one
  • Beth Feb 9, 2016, 1:37 pm

    I like the practice of redefining “good”. Am I feeling alive? Am I able to feel the gift of sensations? Am I able to find the tiniest bit of approval for what is going on? Meditation helps me by increasing the discipline of what I can sit still with.

    • Rebekah Feb 9, 2016, 3:22 pm

      Hmmm. Yes. Love that Beth.

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