by May Bleeker, 13 March 2009
<--previous: Body Image
Part 1 - Discovering the Metaphorical Body
Part 2 - The Metaphorical Body Speaking
Part 3 - Conversations with my toes and stomach
Part 4 - Conversation with my knees
I am still in the process of learning about this way of understanding the body. As a result, some of what I'm writing here might be revised in future, should my understanding deepen.
This is how I see it at the moment: The metaphorical meaning of the stomach is "the place in which the environment is digested and processed".
The external world, in the form of food and drink, is digested and absorbed via the stomach.
The food that we eat (plants and animals) and the water that we drink, come from the earth. Water, directly, and plants and animals indirectly.
Plants and animals process parts of the earth (in the form of whatever they eat or take up) to make up their physical structures (bodies). In turn, we eat these physical structures and what we eat becomes part of our bodies.
In this way information flows from the environment (in the form of particles, vitamins, minerals etc) into the bodies of plants and animals, and when we eat those plants and animals, move into us. Our stomachs are the parts of our bodies that process all of this incoming 'information'.
Whatever the plants and animals are made up of (whatever nutrition they have had) reflects the environment they are living in, and becomes part of our own bodies and our own inner knowledge.
Although I am explaining this in terms of physical information, it is not just physical information I am talking about here. In the process of digesting, broader information is also obtained. Perhaps we could call it metaphysical information.
The 'metaphorical body' I spoke about earlier is a way of accessing this inner knowledge. In viewing my body in terms of symbols and metaphors, I am able to access the information my body holds within this 'metaphorical body image' or 'physical snapshot' of the world.
We experience the world through our senses, yes. But also, via our stomachs. Besides what you see, feel, taste, hear and smell, your body gets in-depth information about the condition of your environment from the physical make-up of foods and the content and quality of water you drink.
You might not be able to tell, from your usual five senses, that the soil in your part of the world is lacking a mineral, but your stomach will know. Because it is absent from the food it processes.
Not only this, but my sense is that everything is deeply interconnected. So it is not just your immediate environment that you gain information about, but also the system as a whole. One apple is as much a part of the world as you are, regardless of where it comes from. It came into existence out of the conditions of the world and you 'eat' this information when you eat the apple.
Our senses also process information from the outside environment, but each sense works via the switchboard of the brain. The stomach digests directly into the body without first filtering information through the brain. In fact, it’s the brain that gets the information second-hand from the stomach, in the form of nutrients.
This is a good system, if you think about it. If there's anything bad in the environment (toxins), the stomach gets wind of it first, excuse the pun :-). It tries to protect the body and brain by ejecting it (throwing up) and if anything gets through, your body's other defence mechanisms come into play.
Strictly speaking, your senses do play a role in deciding what you choose to eat. Colours, smells, tastes and other factors draw us to particular foods. This is just to say that your system works as a whole. I'm only singling out the stomach for the sake of telling you what I've learnt about it.
When it comes to the senses, the skin, the mouth, and other entry points of the body resemble the stomach somewhat in that they are able to absorb (to some degree) substances from the environment. But only the stomach has the ability to digest and assimilate physical matter on a large scale. That is its job, and it does it beautifully. The senses digest more subtle information (colour, light, sound, taste, smell).
In my view, the stomach acts as a go-between between the body system and the world outside. And together with your other senses, is a protector of the body's interests - very much like an ambassador of a country. And ambassadors are usually well informed and well-spoken.:-)
This, it seems, is why my stomach is more articulate than my big toe. :-) It has access to a greater and more immediate pool of resources and information. It is more sophisticated in its dealings with the world than the big toe is, and this is reflected in the information it holds and can convey.
If you want to discover whether you can interact with your own metaphorical body image, the stomach might be a good place to start. (Go to Part 6).
This page is Part 5