It’s pet peeve time. I cringe every time I see someone use this word. In all, I suppose it’s not a whole lot worse than when I refer to “dirtside,” except that with a degree in horticulture, I actually have a lot of respect for dirt.
To me, the word “meatsuit” shows a lack of respect for our highly complex and hard working bodies. I know where the sentiment comes from. The body isn’t always a match for the spirit inside. I know the feeling well. I am both otherkin and transgendered, or gender fluid, well, everything fluid. My spirit is a shifty one. The face I see in the mirror doesn’t look like me at all. Even so, this body plays a real part in who I am today. It does the best it can, and I am responsible for helping it in that cause. It is alive, an entire ecosystem within itself, and it deserves respect. If you don’t make it your ally, then it will become your enemy. If it already feels like the enemy, then it’s not too late to try to repair the relationship. It builds character, as my old Aikido sensei used to say. (I was tempted to tell him that I had plenty of character already, but then he would have made me uke. No, not in the anime sense of the word, nice try.)
I’ve always been just a little bit overweight. I never wanted these lumps on my chest that appeared when I was twelve, and where the heck are my wings? I wore baggy t-shirts in high school because I just wanted to hide it all. Now when I wear baggy t-shirts, it’s simply because they’re comfortable. In college, I took Aikido and archery. I began to appreciate the things I could make my body do. I could fluidly roll across the floor, or fall unharmed with a loud BANG against the mat. I could relax, focus, and hit a target with my arrow, except for that one odd day when I’d switched dominant eyes without realizing it. I told you I was fluid. I realized that the “meatsuit” wasn’t half bad, and that I could learn to have fun with it. (Not in the anime sense of the…oh never mind.) I remember going to the bar with my friends and dancing to any song that wasn’t country. There wasn’t anything else to do in that town. Dance is still a big part of my spiritual life. It’s a nice easy conduit for trance and energywork. It’s fun and it’s exercise. Years of tai chi training makes it even more fun.
In tai chi, we learn about three major energy centers, the lower, middle, and upper tan tiens. We focus mainly on the lower one, the one relating to the physical. The middle is said to relate to the emotional, and the upper, to mental and psychic things. We’re always told to work with the lower one first. Like a pyramid, you need a strong foundation before moving up or the whole thing may become unstable. The physical work you do first will give you the strength needed to endure the ups and downs of the emotional, or the surreal abstract nature of the mental. I’m sure we’ve all met people who have skipped straight to the upper work and have suffered for it. In that category, you’ll find those who are too empathic for their own good, and also those who sound like they’re on drugs when they tell you about enlightenment. Tai chi is all about improving the interface between mind, body and chi. You do that with hours and hours of grunt work and repetition. I think everyone should do tai chi, but I’m definitely biased. The truth is, any exercise that is suited to your ability and interest helps in building that connection.
After all that, I don’t have a meat suit. I have a body glove. I have a highly complex and capable tool that actually helps with my spiritual practices. If I treat it well, I can channel more energy without crashing afterward. I can dance and trance longer. I can think more clearly. I can meditate without falling asleep a few minutes into it. If I slack off and forget, don’t exercise, don’t sleep enough, don’t take my vitamins, all of that comes back to bite me in the butt. I can’t afford to pretend that my body isn’t an important part of my spiritual life.