The body is considered to be a pivotal centre of the person, that is, a locus from which actions are taken (for instance, to provide for its own needs and adapt to the environment). It is a pivotal centre linked to the sensibility and in direct contact with a human environment and material realties. The body is perceived through its vital “space”, its clothing, the things which concern it, its defined lifestyle.
The body is a sexual reality which determines the identity of individuals and influences their choices, behaviour and relationships.
The body is a biological reality which has its specific laws of functioning, of development and of aging. It is a reality which has potential and limitations: resistance, longevity, energy, beauty, health, etc.
It is a “reservoir and producer of energy” and vitality of varying degrees, depending on the person. All individuals start out with physical assets which they can maintain throughout their existence or which they can dissipate, causing premature wear and tear of the organism.
It acts as the revealer of the truth of the person’s inner lived experience. Each bodily sensation (physical well-being, tension, hunger, warmth, etc.) contains a message which gives information bout the physical and/or psychological lived experience. This body language does not fall under the power of the “I”. Bodily manifestations can impose themselves without the “I” being able to control them (emotions, illnesses…). By the same token, the body can be considered as a realistic “old sage” that must be heeded.
The body offers a means for individuals to express themselves: their sensibility, their sentiments, their thoughts, their being… (through gestures, looks, attitudes, the voice, sexuality, but also through the choice of clothing, etc.).
It constitutes a privileged means of access to the being and the unity of the person. Muscular relaxation, breathing exercises and certain body positions promote interiorization and the experiencing of deep sensations coming from the being. Moreover, physical well-being is a roadway which opens onto the well-being of the overall person.
There is a constant interaction between the different pivotal centres of the person and the body. Principles, and ambitions of the “I”, its submission or intractability with regard to the deep conscience, all have repercussions on the body, stressing it, exhausting it or respecting it. The desires by which the sensibility is carried away, as well as the sufferings that it endures, take a lot of energy. Finally, between the two pivotal centres, being and body, there is an ontological unity. “We are being and body. The two are so inseparably one that we can call ourselves ‘embodied beings’”. Thus what touches the being reflects and expresses itself in the body. (For example, when a profound joy emanates from someone’s being, their face lights up, a deep motivation mobilizes them, the sensation of interior freedom provides a physical relaxation, etc.). The reverse is also true. The state of the body has an influence on the “I”, the sensibility, and the being. (Their efficiency is greatly diminished in the case of fatigue, for instance, or on the contrary, is reinforced when the body is in good shape). The growth of the being humanizes the body, allowing more and more of the radiance of the being to show through. This distinguishes the human being from the animal kingdom.
(Persons and their growth p.91-93)