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Super Preferred Body Value Self Meditation Exercise

by Miguel Gutierrez

Hello and welcome.

Find a comfortable space on the floor. Somewhere with a rug or carpet. Or put down a thick blanket to lay on. Yoga mats are ok, too.

Let’s begin with you on your back. Legs long. Rest your arms to the side.

Notice the relationship between your body and the floor. Is it easeful? Notice the floor meeting your body. The points of contact. Are you cold? Does the padding between your body and the ground provide enough heat? If not, picture yourself somewhere warm. Somewhere where the sun is shining. It’s a clear blue sky. Mid day. An open field? Sure, that can work, but a field is... unreliable. Bugs, cow dung, hay fever producing flowers. A field can be, how else can I say this... cheap. Instead, picture a beach. Somewhere by clear, blue waters. Make it a resort. An all expenses paid resort. They have pest control. No cattle. You’re on the beach. No, not on the sand - you’re in a luxurious lounge chair, with a small table to the side where your mocktail sits with a tiny umbrella in it. There’s a soft, incredibly plush hotel towel between your body and the chair so that you don’t stick. Oh wait, you don’t like the towel spread out? No problem. It’s just your head resting on the towel then. Oh you changed your mind, you don’t like the stickiness? Fine. Spread it out again. It’s very big. Actually, the resort attendants do it for you. You barely move a muscle. You just float and then sink again into this special lounge chair that allows you to be tanned from all sides. It’s an imaginary place. A better place. The sands of the beach reach out infinitely to the left and right and behind you and the sound of the waves lulls you into deep relaxation.

Bring your attention to your breathing.

Observe the rise and fall of your chest. Then, of your belly. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly to feel the movement. Oh shit, you have a Cartier ring on. Where’d that come from? Ah, ok, you’re really leaning into the imaginary place idea. In any case, the ring might feel tight now that your finger is so relaxed and swollen from the heat. Go ahead and twist it off and place it next to your drink. Your bodyguard will keep an eye on it. He’s just off to the right, in a tight bathing suit. Yeah, I agree, he looks good. He’s wearing Aviators. He looks like Vin Diesel... mmm, no, he looks like The Rock. You’re safe.

Notice the cool, dry air you inhale and the warm, moist air you exhale. Don’t try to change anything about how you’re breathing. Just notice it. Yes, by noticing it, it changes. Isn’t that funny? You’re reminded of the time you were a teenager and brought your piggy bank to the movies. How nervous you were as you paid for your ticket in loose change at the only theater near you that played foreign films. How quickly your breath came under the gaze of the box office manager. You were there to see The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. You didn’t understand it but you liked it anyway. You were taken by the lavishness of the sets. All that food, the costumes, the accents. Your breath calmed down. You sat in the back, lonely and closeted and happy. You paid for it with dimes.

Back to your breathing. Feel how your breath moves down into your pelvis and up into your head. It’s an idea, go with it. Feel how your breath moves out to the side, and back into the lounge chair. My god, that towel is so plush. Maybe it’s for sale like how everything in the rooms at The W used to be for sale. Remember to ask the concierge. Make a note of it. Stay relaxed.

Now, as you lay there on the ground.... or on a plush towel in a magical lounge chair on an infinite beach next to the crystal clear blue ocean at an all expenses paid resort, consider the following question:

How much is your body worth?

Take some time to take the question in. What monetary value would you place on your body? This may feel like an abstract question. A question that almost immediately leads to other questions, such as - is your body as valuable as your life? Or is your life worth more than your body? We know you can’t have one without the other. Are they perhaps one and the same, a body-life?

Maybe it’s helpful to lean into some facts. According to calculations economists specializing in risk and uncertainty have made, the going rate for a life, or, in your case, a body-life, is around ten million dollars. It’s a long backstory so just trust me. Let’s work with that number. Let’s scan your body, placing value on its many parts so that you can sense and feel the worth of your body-life.

Start with your feet. How much money are your feet worth? Obviously they do a lot of work -support your entire weight when you’re upright, allow you to navigate actions like walking and running. You use them to kick the door open when you come home with your arms loaded with groceries. Your feet are incredibly valuable, wouldn’t you say? Let’s say $500,000 each. $1 million in total. While you sense and feel the worth of your feet, perhaps you notice a difference between them. Maybe there’s one that you use more. Ok let’s re-evaluate, $600,000 for the foot you use more and $400,000 for the lazy one.

Let your attention travel up your legs. How much are your legs worth? That feels like too much to sort out all at once, so let’s go piece by piece. Your lower legs - calves, shins. They don’t seem like they’re worth as much as your feet, right? You only really notice them when you stand on tippy-toe to get a replacement light bulb out of your kitchen cabinet only to find that you forgot to buy more. Let’s say $50,000 each. Now your knees. Well, they seem incredibly valuable. Your body-life would be a lot harder without knees, right? You’d be like those guys on the plane in the economy section who stick their legs out into the aisle blocking the beverage cart. Ok, let’s put them on the same price shelf as your feet - $500,000 each. Upper legs? At the beach they seem very valuable. Sky’s out thighs out, right? $100,000 per leg.

Bring your attention to your pelvis. I know, it always feels elusive to say that. Your “pelvis,” like, what the fuck. Let’s think of this in another way. The part of your body that houses your butt and your genitals. Where you bleed, piss, shit, fuck. Yeah we’re not going to take reproduction into account right now, that’s a different meditation. Breathe into your pelvis and consider how much it costs. The seat of all the chakras, which, in your beach vision, rests comfortably in your Gucci Bengal Print bathing suit. You can’t do much without your pelvis, right? Maybe it’s worth even more than your feet! Let’s say a cool $2 million.

You’re doing great.

Now notice your lower back. This challenging place. The place of so much tension and worry. It brings you a lot of anxiety, doesn’t it? Yes, it can be hard not to get caught up in that. All those times your back went out and you couldn’t afford to go to a physical therapist because you didn’t have insurance. Let’s re-direct. Notice your stomach instead. Remember, you’re in an imaginary place so your abs are super shredded. For once, your “core” is social media ready. And by the way, I know you don’t want to go back there but just so you know, in this meditation, the arc of your lower back where it meets your ass is perfect, smooth, and statue-like. Like a Greek sculpture at The Met. That changes things, a bit, doesn’t it? $1 million.

Let’s bring your body-life awareness to your middle back, the lower part of your ribcage. You don’t think about this part much, do you? Just because you don’t think about it, though, doesn’t mean we can’t put a value on it! Let’s linger here for a minute. Notice the expansion and contraction here as you breathe. Imagine that the ribs represent the oars of a crew rowing perfectly in sync as their shell glides stealthily on the river near an Ivy League school with a massive endowment. With each breath you get closer to a life of undeniable entitlement. Yes it makes the ribs seem so valuable all of a sudden, wouldn’t you say? Twelve ribs on each side, twenty-four total. Each “oar” worth a year of college at one of those schools - tuition, room, board, expenses. No we’re not going to talk about financial aid here, we’re thinking in terms of abundance. Yes, I agree, it doesn’t make sense that they charge tuition with that kind of endowment but we’re not going there right now. Stay with me. Okay, $75,000 per rib. So, $1,800,000 total.

Allow your attention to travel to your upper back. Notice your shoulders. Sense and feel each shoulder blade resting on the ground. Take a moment to consider its peculiar shape. It reminds you of a guitar pick, like the ones you used to carry when you busked in the subway for change. You sang well but your playing was shitty, which explains why you never made much. But here we can make it right. Let’s turn these guitar pick shoulders into gold, which encourages them to rest all the heavier on the lounge chair. Also, it raises their worth. We’re talking $1 million each.

Notice your hands and arms resting on either side of your torso. Yeah, they’re on your sides now - remember how you had to take them off your chest and belly because of the ring? It’s almost like the gold of your shoulders radiates outward into them, making them glisten. I mean, your hands were already pretty valuable, right? Think of them tap tap tapping away as you sit locked to your computer for upwards of eight or so hours a day. But now, look at them with that sheen! Amazing. I say we price them at $1.5 million each. The average cost of a house in San Francisco. Should we just throw in the arms as a package deal? Like, a “furnished” home, as it were? Ok fine. $3 million total includes your hands, forearms, elbows, upper arms.

Allow your attention to slowly return from your arms into your torso again. We’re moving through the neck, which, like your lower back, arcs away from the ground, er, the chair. Imagine your attention coasting over your neck as if in a Rolls Royce crossing a Calatrava bridge. Your neck is, of course, a critical part of your body. Think of everything that passes through here - your spine, your throat, your windpipe. Makes you a little hungry just thinking about it. Yeah, ok, we’ve been here a while, you can order some food. Oysters or something that goes down smoothly. We can’t have you sitting up. Just... charge it to the room, we need to focus. Put a price on your neck. Ok, $2 million dollars.

At last, we’ve arrived at your head. Yes, I know, we’ve been using your imagination so your head’s been part of it the whole time. Don’t quibble. It’s different now because we’re paying attention to it. “Paying” attention, get it? This isn’t some pro-bono, volunteer shtick. Everyone knows you take better care of anything when you put a price tag on it. Feel your head resting on your towel. So much happens here. Thought, breath, the first four of your five primary senses. Oh, I see you’ve added some jewelry here to match your ring. Clever. Yep, I get it, it completes the look. No we can’t factor that in, we’re only talking about anatomy. But it shouldn’t matter. We know this part of your body-life has an incredibly hefty price tag. Maybe the heftiest of all. $4 million?

Let your awareness wash over your whole body-life now. No longer compartmentalized... a global awareness. It’s like the gold of your shoulders seeps its way into the entirety of your skin. You shine, you glow there on the beach. As you breathe deep, meaningful, golden breaths you take in the sum total of your body-life’s worth and rest easily now that you’ve finally assigned value to yourself. You’re truly worth it.


You’re over budget.

Like, way over. Where did you miscalculate? Feet, legs, knees, pelvis, back, belly, ribs, chest, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, head... hmm. Shit. It’s a lot. No, I thought you were keeping track. Okay, return to your breath, don’t lose the breath. Maybe the ten million number is just an average? Meaning it’s ok you went over? Gimme a sec, I’m Googling. Um, no, it’s a fixed number. We have to go back and reassess. Yeah, we probably should have added as we went along. We should have hired a producer or something.

Where can we shrink the numbers? I guess since you spend so much time on your ass these days we can probably bring the feet value down. No I’m not trying to be shady, we just need to get honest here. We don’t want to incentivize your feet to do any more work than they should, right? Don’t delude them into thinking they’re the stars of the show. Shoulders... shoulders got out of hand. We’ll shift to just gold plated. Where else... Maybe we should divvy up the parts into smaller parts. We could be more specific. Less muscles or veins or something like that. You could probably get by with less, right? People get appendectomies, don’t they? I know, there’s so many things we haven’t taken into account, literally. Yes, I hear you, this feels ableist. But, c’mon, it kind of always was, right?

I don’t want to say the obvious... but... you know what I’m thinking here.... We could make you, um, not a.... um, yeah, you know... We could make you... different. Not like.... the way you are now. A different... identity. Someone just, um, a little less valuable. It’ll be fun. Like a video game avatar. We should probably also take you off the beach. Looks like that might have been where the trouble started.

Okay back to your breathing. Let’s just say we were able to proportionally lower all the values to hit the right number. You’re on sale... fifteen, twenty percent off as it were. Like a post holiday markdown. Your breath comes more easily now.

Again.. let the image of the resort go. No clinging, just release your grip. Be where you are. Gently open your eyes. Don’t be too disappointed in the difference between fantasy and reality. Look on the bright side, you’re still worth ten million dollars, whether you’re in Bermuda or Bed-Stuy.

Now start moving and put that body-life to work.

Miguel Gutierrez
He/ Him/ His
Brooklyn, NY

Miguel Gutierrez is a choreographer, music artist, writer, visual artist, educator, podcaster, community advocate/agitator, and Feldenkrais Method practitioner living on Lenape/Canarsie land in the area referred to as Brooklyn, NY. He has been presented internationally in venues such as at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Walker Art Center, Centre Pompidou, Festival Universitario de Colombia, Centre National du Danse, American Realness, and the 2014 Whitney Biennial. He has a Franky Award from the PRELUDE Festival, and he has received four New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards. He was a 2016 Doris Duke Artist. Gutierrez was the 2020-2021 Caroline Hearst Choreographer in Residence at Princeton University, where he currently teaches as a Visiting Lecturer in the dance program. Gutierrez received his B.A. with honors from Brown University in 2021 after a 27-year hiatus from college. He is currently an MFA candidate in Studio Art in the Low Residency program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


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