According to my photos I generated 25 pieces of waste yesterday, but I know it was more than that. I know because there was the breakfast bar wrapper that I forgot to photograph after I gobbled it down on my way to teach a class, and twice, as I was in a hurry to go from one place to the next I forgot to take pictures of the toilet paper from last minute bathroom visits. I was in a rush and just didn’t have the presence of mind to take the pictures.
Which is sort of a nice segue into the question, “Just what does this garbage thing that you are doing have to do with embodiment anyway? Isn’t that what you normally write about?”
Well, yes…it is.
I believe that our separation from our physical selves, our bodies, is directly related to our cultural separation from the natural world and our communities. We are raised to not value these things. We are taught to live in our heads, that the body and its urges and feelings are to be ignored or despised. In the case of women, we are taught that our bodies are not even our own to begin with; we do not have autonomy over them. We are also raised to believe the natural world is something apart from us or even something to be feared.
If we are so disconnected from ourselves, how can we possibly be fully connected to the world around us? How can we respect and value other people, and their bodies, if we do not value our own? By extension, how can we begin to feel connected to our communities and the natural world if we do not even have awareness of the space we occupy within it? Our separation from ourselves, our communities, and the natural world has resulted in a cultural trauma of disconnection. The first step in healing that trauma, is to come home to ourselves.
When we begin that process, to reconnect to ourselves, we begin to first recognize our own internal rhythms and processes. Slowly, with time we start to move outward and begin to understand how we move through the world around us. We start to develop an awareness of the living things, the people, animals, plants, that share space with us and, because we have developed that connection to ourselves, we recognize not only their autonomy, but also how we relate to them – what our response is to those we share this earth with (Note: This is very much related to the practice of witnessing in Authentic Movement and Contemplative Dance which I may write more on later). And so, finally, we are not longer separate from the world but in relationship with it.
And that brings me back to trash. The idea for this week of waste came out of some writing I began to do on the three pillars of sustainability (economics, society, and the environment) and how they relate to embodiment. I was exploring the idea of personal sustainability. When I began I was writing from the perspective of how to apply the ideas behind the three pillars to my own body. I was very much taking an outside to in approach; how do these things apply to me? But I quickly realized that while that might be a good beginning, eventually it had to turn outward. I had to not only look at how I might take a sustainable approach to my body, but also how I (and by extension my body) relates to the world in a sustainable manner. And after reading an article on the zero-waste movement, I came upon the idea that one way to explore that relationship in a very tangible way was to take a look at the waste I generate.
Yesterday, and my being in such a rush that I didn’t take photos of several things, is an example of how being disembodied – when I was rushing about I was very much in my head and not my body – can disconnect me from the world around me in a very immediate way. We move through our days tossing things out without thought. Many of us use disposable things because they are convenient and we don't consider how these actions are an expression of our disconnection from the world.