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Our relationships to our bodies are most essential. The way we treat our bodies reflects the way we treat the world because it is our first and most basic relationship into which we enter in our lives, and the only one which we have complete freedom to determine and to change – at least as adults in a free society.

Our relationships to our bodies are strongly influenced by our parents’ behavior patters and by the religious systems in which we grew up. No-one can force us to follow these systems further once we are ful-fledged adults, at least not if we live in a capitalist democracy in which we usually have the chance to live on our own and to supply our own needs.

Thousands of years ago, when, as the bible depicts it, mankind decided to become master of the world by eating the fruits of wisdom, the decision was made not only to explore but also to conquer the world. This attitude of conquering and subjugating necessarily affects our attitudes to our own bodies.

Instead of allowing our bodies to follow their natural needs and desires, our minds now decide what our bodies need and want, so that our bodies soon lose their own will and submit themselves to the ideas of our own minds – or to the minds of others. If we remain open to the voice of our bodies, to the love of our hearts, we will still find a way to fulfill the needs and desires of our bodies and thus to harmonize with nature. But if we build a wall around our hearts, we can no longer hear their voices, and may even lose contact with our bodies’ feelings altogether. We then believe that we know what our bodies need by listening to what our minds tell us.

If we cannot freely communicate with our own bodies, how can you we communicate with other bodies such as those of our lovers? Our minds dominate the encounter, leaving our bodies no room to experience its true nature. The result is often dissatisfying and frustrating. Instead of an open exchange with our lovers, we might feel that we have to act according to our role models’ demands, and our minds convince us that this is our reality. The belief that we feel something prevails against genuine emotion. Following beliefs is the way to follow our minds. This is not nature, but intention: this does not show the way to the truth and communication, but to pretence, desiring, and yearning.

Instead of experiencing real feelings, we go through a series of experiences determined by our minds which, instead of filling us with inner peace, fuel the desire for more: quantity instead of quality. This attitude uses up the world, everything gets exploited, and yet we need still more to feel satisfied and happy. Peaceful harmony with our own bodies is the basis for attaining a balance within our lives and with our environment. It is the central task for responsible living and learning.

[Text by Marion Schneider]