The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Student’s hobbies express spirituality

Photo credit: Kristin Hugo, Contributing Reporter

Where many may see a dualism, one student sees a deep connectivity between body and spirit.

Mike Bunch, a 23-year-old senior anthropology major, runs, rock climbs, shoots, practices martial arts and does body art to enhance and express his inner spirituality.

“I’ve had some of my best ideas about life and existence as a whole while running,” Bunch said. “The endorphins and the adrenaline and all those types of biological factors, in a way unlock certain parts of your mind that you may suppress during your day-to-day bustle.”

Bunch started at CSUN as a computer science major, but after looking into anthropology he decided that he was so interested in trying to figure out people, he changed majors.

“When I was younger I was a lot more misanthropic than I am now, mostly because I didn’t understand people, but now I’m starting to get interested in people,” Bunch said. “I eventually wanted to figure out if some understanding of humanity could be approached.”

In trying that approach, Bunch learned a lot about humanity and formed a new self. He picked up books on anthropology and studied different religions and beliefs to form his own spirituality.

He learned about visual social signifiers, like the way people dress, and he adopted some into his own personal look. He learned about the gods Thor, Odin and Beelzebub and got tattoos in honor of them. He observed that many cultures, opposing Western ideals, embrace (or, historically, embraced) the connection between the physical and spiritual realms, an idea to which Bunch subscribes enthusiastically.

“Ultimately what you do with your body relates to your mind and the way that you think, and the way that you think will ultimately influence how you understand your own spirituality,” Bunch said. “What you put into one will ultimately affect the other, and without balance either one will become negatively balanced.”

Whether he is running in the hills, climbing mountains, taking careful aim or practicing martial arts, Bunch said he uses his physical endeavors and talents to achieve a balanced life and elevated spirit.

Free running, which is similar to parkour, is one of the things that Bunch enjoys doing. Free running is a type of urban acrobatics in which the participants use jumps, tricks, and alternative forms of movement to get from one place to another. Bunch applies this to his own life because it’s a very dynamic way of problem solving and he tries to solve problems, whether they be in movement or in other dynamic ways.

Bunch is as interesting outside as in, and is instantly recognizable when seen on campus. His hair and beard are brown and grizzly, and there are piercings through his ears and septum. He often wears a Mayan pendant around his neck and has many tattoos on his arms, legs and chest, each with a deep personal meaning.

“I wanted to make my outside look more like my inside,” he said of his complex and arresting exterior. “It also has the benefit of either shunning people away from me because they’re too afraid or discouraged to come talk to me, or they’ll become totally fascinated by how I look that they’ll want to talk to me.”

Tattoos include a Celtic knot in honor of his Germanic heritage and a Brainiac symbol for the comic book character in the Superman series.

One of his most interesting and complex tattoos involves a Mayan dialect writing for a phrase about the god Beelzebub.

He said the septum piercing in his nose is supposed to be a social marker indicating royalty. Bunch’s unique appearance may seem off-putting, but he’s definitely worth talking to. He’s so knowledgeable about his subject of study and how it applies to life and the mind, that he says he always has something to teach.

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