Activity 2. Bodies of belief

Bodies of Belief

Compare and contrast the visual language used to describe the body in Chinese Acupuncture, Astrology and Kundalini Yoga . Which illustrations seems to be the most scientifically objective? Are your first impressions necessarily true, and whose science is it anyway? What do the symbols mean, and what do they tell you about the medical and physical body, spiritual beliefs or society and its culture?

Think about how you give meaning to a body that you do not (yet) fully understand. How do you rationalise why some become ill when others do not? How does the physical body alone account for feelings and emotions, and how does even an intimate knowledge of its complex composite parts add up to an explanation of the relationship between mind, body and being?

Symbolic Bodies

Invent your own symbolic images and signs to create an illustrated chart that describes who you are. You can focus on a particular physical ability or a uniquene quality; explain the cause and effect of an emotional experience or the reason behind a spiritual idea. As you work, think about how someone else may read your chart. Will your friend, an anatomist, a poet or an alien all see and understand the same things? Do you intend them to?

Test the success of your intentions, and the potentially unexpected meanings of your symbols, by sharing them with the rest of the group. In comparing your charts do similarities emerge which might reflect an accurate medical understanding, a shared ideology or a common culture?