(Photo: Me and a friend, celebrating our first post-quarantine reunion, with maskless glee)
As we tip toe (or perhaps, eagerly leap) into a new reality of maskless options, I thought this was an appropriate topic to reflect on. Some of us are charging forward, bare-skinned, face-first into the new experiences and social engagements, ready for whatever comes next. Others, may still be processing the sensations of another's unfamiliar gaze in the grocery store, and uncertain how to breathe at the same time. Maybe you're somewhere in between...It's ok.
While I do mean to bring a bit of humor to the process, I don't want you to think that I am in any way belittling or making light of the COVID-19 risks still present in many people's realities. For many, who are caring for others, or live with folks still very vulnerable to the virus, moving forward is not yet an option. I intend for my practice to remain a safe and healing space, even as we open up to new maskless realities.
In the field of Biotensegrity, we are offered a more hopeful approach to interact with these moments of shifting than can often involve increased tension and compression. Biotensegrity, essentially views the body as a system of struts (skeletal system) and tension cords (muscles/tendons) which relate to each other in a more dynamic way than the traditional biomechanics model. The tension sources act as both spacers (opening, lifting, expanding) for the body, and tension lines (pulling inward, retracting, compressing to withdraw from danger) in attempt to re-distribute load/forces and move efficiently. Meanwhile, the more dense quality of skeletal tissues create structure and integrity to lift us away from gravity, and keep from compressing inward on ourselves! It's an incredible system which lends to more fluid and adaptable movement, when maintained well. According to this way of understanding the human body, combined with the fascial matrix, we can actually re-organize our tissues, adjusting our postures and movement patterns according to what is most needed at a given time.
Despite this incredible potential, the process of shifting and transitioning from one way of being to another, can sometimes feel uncomfortable and clunky.
What does this mean for you?
We can actively have an affect on the tensions and spacers in our bodies, simply by taking a moment to pause and breathe (blog post on this coming soon!). Where do you notice holding that tension between feeling "ok" and "not ok"? Can you find space that allows your body to soften, even just for a moment, to release the tension that this new terrain has presented you with? Where in your body can you still access "ease" in this transition that, perhaps, at this moment, feels flooded with "dis-ease?"
Transitions can be clunky, and we're figuring this out together. Mask or no-mask, take care of yourself, continue to take care of each other, and find ease where you can.
. . . . . . .
The following written excerpt and photos tell the story of a dear friend, and their experiences of post-quarantine existence. Sam Guilbeaux is a queer artist, photographer, painter, activist, and introvert who lives with their wife, and cat, in New York. You can follow more of Sam's artwork on IG @samguilbeaux.
Some of these pieces of art and writing share memories, moments and descriptions of explicit content such as human anatomy, adult relations, child labor, emotional or psychological distress, and physical pain. The following content is not intended as erotica, or to promote sexual arousal, nor to activate any psychological harm to others. If any of the above content feels unsafe or you feel sensitive to any of the above topics, I truly hope you will take care of yourself and not take on unnecessary pressure to read on. We are all processing a lot, and it’s ok to not have the energy or bandwidth to deal with how you currently feel.
Let's learn more about our bodies and healing through art and language!
on being in my body
By Sam Guilbeaux
a year after the pandemic
new york city sirens still ring in my ears
though i’m far from there now.
the sight of freezer trucks,
burned into my memory,
their contents not shown, but felt.
memories have embedded themselves
into the sinewy tenderness of my neck.
i feel the stress, pure silver-
solidified between my shoulder blades.
grief in my lungs- for what was possible just a year ago,
for what no longer feels important.
my words come out with great effort.
my thoughts are sluggish.
i’m surprised to find myself able to sing along with a song-
shocked that my mouth remembers words,
that my body can feel rhythm.
i am strong.
like a man.
i am soft, like a boy.
both are easier for me to call to mind than comparisons to a woman,
though this body, with its curves
and birth-giving abilities- should one choose to utilize them-
is neither boy nor man
—definitely not woman.
like a pendulum,
rarely landing on an easily definable word
and yet here i am
at the intersection of
is this gender dysphoria?
or is this hatred, this skepticism
for this blessed gift of a body
a consequence of societal brainwashing
of how i should be?
What does it feel like in my body right now?
The Body Mapping Project is a blog series curating art, poems, songs, and writings from individuals in our community who lovingly, and vulnerably bring you accounts of their bodies. Each person has responded in their own way, to the question: "What does it feel like in my body right now?" I hope you will find inspiration, self acceptance, and hope through these individuals’ incredible works. Enjoy!
**If you would like to contribute your own piece, you can submit your art or writing to Meredith at email@example.com.
*Please respect the creators! Keep all responses/comments to the works respectful in language and intent. It is an act of vulnerability and courage to share such personal experiences with others, and this space is meant to cultivate healing, love, and acceptance of ourselves and others. Some individuals have requested to remain anonymous, and others, share their identities openly.