Yet in all honesty the thing I am most grateful for is this: I have a physical body that manages to keep carrying me around.
In other words I am grateful to have a body that works.
I’m no angel….
It’s true I have done a lot to keep my body healthy. But I have also done some not-so-nice things to my body, like pushing mentally for some athletic acheivement that my body was not physically ready for (or just pushing for the sake of pushing!), working long hours in stressful environments, consuming crap that no living thing should be expected to use as fuel, and a few other things that might not have been legal in some states. Or maybe all states. But I digress.
Think about it: You sit in a car or on the train, then at a desk. You hunch over a computer for hours, talk on the cell phone, get tense and stressed, carry loads of stuff on your shoulders in briefcases and bags and purses. Some of you run on caffeine and martinis. Even the “healthy” among you eat things that shouldn’t really be called food (c’mon, we ALL do it!). You get to bed too late or get up too early for meetings or kids’ needs and wonder why you’re tired.
…but my body is
And somehow your body not only forgives you, it keeps working for you! It gets you out of bed, delivers you to work, gets you through another day of sitting or running after children, multitasking on electronic devices, maybe even a workout – not to mention whatever you consider fun on the weekends. It might have been fed or it might not. It might have been given substandard fuel (a triple-shot latte for breakfast perhaps?). Your body delivers, despite the fact that you might not have done your part to take the best care of it. (By the way, if it’s not “delivering” to your satisfaction, you might want to ask how YOU can help….)
Mine didn’t work so well for a while, and I spent a lot of time pushing it to work harder before I learned to listen and stop fighting. In the last few years, before my hip replacement, my body and I spent a lot of time struggling to get through a day. Movement was painful, and therefore tiring. Daily tasks became burdensome, and I had to meter them out to “save my body” for working with clients. It got so bad that I couldn’t even tolerate the gentle, healing forms of movement such as Tai Chi and yoga.
When the pain first started, I tried pushing my body through it, as if to say “C’mon, we have things to do! There’s no room for down time here!” Needless to say, that didn’t get me very far. I was fortunate to learn from others how to be nicer to my body and myself. (A brief pause to thank the first person to help me on this particular journey: the highly gifted Crossings practitioners, Barbara Glenfield and Greta McVey, who don’t even know what an important role they played.)
I see a lot of people disapproving of their bodies in one way or another: frustrated that they can’t do something in particular, disappointed that they look a certain way, even angry at them, as if their bodies are a separate “thing!” The only way to have a better relationship with your body is to honor it. Here’s the dirty little secret: It will always have the upper hand anyway, so you might as well join the team in a supportive, rather than combative way.
There are so many more things I should be doing for my body, like making coffee an occasional treat rather than my single most important support system. I should consume my last meal of the day earlier so my body has adequate digestion time and can therefore perform the repair and restoration that should take place while I sleep. I should get more bodywork, more rest and less time on computers and cell phones.
But guess what? My body keeps on ticking through my neglect. And so does yours.
Don’t you think it deserves a little thanks?