Body Literacy: The Sound of Your Heart

Not long ago Katy Fox, an artist and yoga instructor in San Francisco, contacted me because she had found The New Rules of Posture useful in her work. She also wanted to share her own vision with me. Katy has a huge vision--nothing less than the re-embodiment of our culture. Sensibly, she’s starting small. The week following our conversation she launched her first embodied public space: Soundscape of the Human Heart. She was pretty jazzed about this when we spoke.

Museum of Body Literacy

The happening—Katy calls it an exhibit--took place at Mechanics Monument Plaza, at the busy intersection of Bush and Market at lunchtime two days in April. At each corner was a “performer” wearing a stethoscope mike that amplified their heartbeats so they could be shared with the public. Katy has told me since that bystanders were profoundly moved. Katy’s photos and message to her KickStarter supporters will give you a sense of it--here.

Katy talks about her vision in terms of body literacy. More than body awareness, body literacy is to become fully versed in your body’s sentience and responsive to the sentience of others. It is to understand all the workings of one’s body as expressions of self. What more central to the expression of self than the heart’s beating?

Although the heart has become a clichéd symbol, few of us have a sentient relationship with our hearts. We’d notice if it fibrillated, but we ignore the simple moment-by-moment pulse of living. What if we knew that more intimately? Though such a prospect may spark emotions that involve vulnerability, loneliness or fear—by moving through such feelings, can we not touch more deeply into community, inclusion and gratitude?

Flash Mobs and Heart Throbs

Evidently there are artists around the country creating projects like Katy’s. I think the flash mobs of dancers and huggers around the globe must be part of this same impulse. Given our increasingly sedentary and disconnected lifestyles, it’s healthy and sane for us to crave connection with the reality of human embodiment and the fullness of feelings it evokes.

I so admire the moxie of Katy, her collaborators and all others who have the impulse to bring body consciousness out of elite studios and into public spaces. Can you imagine how public discourse might shift if we could all be unabashedly embodied and present with one another?

© 2014 Mary Bond