The Body as a Vessel for Living

by Leo Babauta

Something I’ve noticed is that we spend a lot of our lives wrapping our identity in our bodies. If our body is something we’re proud of, we feel really good about ourselves … but much more often, it’s a sense that something is wrong with us because our bodies don’t hit some ideal. That’s been written about a lot before, so I won’t dive too much into that.

I do this too, btw, so I’m not immune — when there’s a part of my body that I like, I feel good about myself, but more often I see the “flaws” and feel bad about myself.

What strikes me is that this is a lot like wrapping our identity in the coffee mug we drink from. It’s putting our self worth in the vehicle of experience.

Our bodies are a vehicle for living. They have nothing to do with our worth or goodness as a person.

Another good metaphor is driving a car — we could spend so much time polishing the car, putting stickers on it, painting it, modifying it, trying to get it to be perfect. And this is fine, even fun. But also … it’s a vehicle for getting us somewhere, a vehicle for experiencing a journey. The car itself is not the journey.

Our bodies are not us, nor are they the experience. They’re a part of the experience, but it’s like putting our attention on the car instead of the scenery we’re driving through, or the song that’s playing, or the sunlight that’s shining on us.

What would it be like to think of the body not as who we are or some kind of indicator of our worth or our identity … but simply as a vehicle for living? A vessel for experience?

This might relax our worrying about how we look, but can also inspire us to take care of the vessel or get it stronger and healthier, just enough so that we can enjoy the journey of life, instead of having the vehicle break down.

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