Isn’t that an obscure title for a piece? What do I mean by that?
A number of you may have formed an answer to the question; others may think that it’s a trick question; whilst some may wonder why ask the question in the first place, it’s obvious?
For a long time now, I’ve been exploring the boundaries of my own body, working with other bodies in different contexts; clinical practice, healing work, and somatic facilitation. Over time, I not only experience my own body differently, but have understood through scholarly, creative and spiritual readings, that the view of the body hasn’t a universal consensus.
Viewing the body through different lenses, means its representation and meaning shifts. It’s made complicated by theories, history, ideologies, lived experience and the dynamics of power, from the margins to the centre and beyond.
I’ve longed to understand the concept of the body more fully, transcending the biomedical model constraints of what my physiotherapy degree taught me. From its beginnings over a hundred years ago, the profession has somewhat moved on from these rigid models of materialism. It has embraced ‘biopsychosocial models’ particularly in clinical areas that are concerned with longstanding medical conditions and persistent pain. Physiotherapy is also showing positive orientations towards an integrated understanding and consideration of the impact of sociocultural influences on our bodies and health more generally. A welcome step in the right direction, given there’s a large body of research that demonstrates the social determinants of health cannot be ignored.
Our human condition vis-à-vis our body and by inference our health, is in constant demand; from our relationships, interactions, work, the environment and least not ourselves. The conversation around our multifaceted experience and the impact that has on our bodies and thus our wellbeing is well overdue.
I’m nervous having said that. I’m nervous because it’s a big undertaking. There is SO much to think about when one considers our sociocultural legacies, histories and contemporary life. I’m not an historian, sociologist, cultural critic or psychologist, so don’t expect complete analyses. I am however interested to tease out a more relevant and inclusive perspective. My hope is that in these musings I can grapple with ideas, unpick my own thinking, widen my understanding not only of my own experience, but be in a more informed place to meet the needs of people I work with.
I appreciate you staying on to read this.