Musings: My Body Is My Friend
I still remember the words from a 1970’s Reader’s Digest “Drama In Real Life” story about a father and young son out on a Saturday hiking-trip-turned-trauma. Seemingly out of nowhere, a bear appeared on the path, grabbed the boy and began tearing at him as the terrified father wildly tried to fend the animal off. Fortunately, the bear retreated quickly, but not before inflicting serious wounds which gushed so profusely that the panicked father believed his son would bleed to death right before his eyes. Due to the nature and location of the gashes, a tourniquet could not be applied and no amount of pressure or swabbing could stop the flow. The boy was fading fast. Stranded, with no immediate medical assistance available, the stunned father found himself turning to the only medical option available to him at that moment: the body itself.
“Son,” he remembers telling his boy, “we’re going to stop this bleeding now. Say, ‘Stop, blood, now!’” Being an innocent child, trusting and obedient to his father, the boy did as he was told and commanded his body to stop bleeding by speaking the words out loud. Amazed that he would even make such an outlandish request to his son, the father was even more shocked that it worked! Immediately, the pumping blood stopped gushing, a clot was formed and the man was able to rush his boy to emergency medical care.
What truly miraculous creations our bodies are! Because they are organic, living vessels, they can grow and change and decay and heal in all sorts of unexpected ways throughout our lifetimes, both with and without our intervention. There is no end to the variety of conditions our bodies can experience including pain, pleasure, beauty, deformity, ease, dis-ease, death and life. In fact, there are so many variables and unknown factors influencing the state of our health at any given moment that it is simply impossible for human intelligence and technology to map or control them all, although we certainly do try.
One thing we can each know for sure is that “my body is my friend.” For better or for worse, your body is your vehicle, your personal chariot to carry you throughout this lifetime on Earth, and it’s the only body you will ever have. It possesses an intelligence all its own and readily invites you to share in its unique wisdom designed just for your benefit and growth. Although there is no direct evidence that we choose the make and model of the bodies we are born into, we are responsible for their maintenance once we are here. The more we choose to work towards understanding what our bodies are telling us, and to give them the individualized care they need, the healthier and happier our lives will be.
Just like a car, our bodies give us signals for what they need to work best — a wash, an oil change, more fuel, a brake job. Some cars need to be parked or garaged most of the time; some need to be raced. Some cars are heavy duty transport vehicles, while others are more fragile, requiring constant care. However, unlike cars, our bodies do not come with detailed owner’s manuals. We must pay close attention to the cues our bodies give us in order to understand their unique constitutions and needs, as well as to benefit from their natural healing abilities. Author and yoga teacher Pat Burke notes in this issue that each body has “a mind of its own,” and that accessing this intelligence is what puts us on the path to health and well-being.
Very often, a shift in thinking is required before we can accept the healing gifts the body offers. Young, energetic and thin is not necessarily the highest good for all people! Illness or physical disability often serve the purpose of slowing us down to pursue a more appropriate life path, discover new ways of thinking and healing, or to meet new people during our healing process. Even death can be the body’s gift of healing to us. When we come from a place of honoring the intelligence of the body first — my body is my friend — we are more able to recognize the condition or symptoms our body presents to us as valuable opportunities we need to move forward in life instead of being obstacles or misfortune. Just as easily as a tumor can grow, it can also dissolve, but only if this is in accordance with the wisdom of the body. The body knows when it is time to pack it up and leave this Earth, or when it must prolong dis-ease as a natural part of growth and learning for its “driver.” No amount of research or treatment or medication can alter the inevitable course that each body must follow. You cannot change its destiny or drive the body out of its mind, but you can tune in and listen to what your body has to teach you.
Practicing yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Reiki or mindfulness meditation are excellent tools for deepening your friendship with the body by becoming aware of its internal energy or “chi.” This is the life force that keeps the body healthy and strong. Acupuncture is an ancient healing science which directly consults the intelligence of the body to diagnose and correct energy imbalance, and can be applied to nearly any condition of disease to bring about a cure. Both as a preventative measure and for the onset of acute symptoms, acupuncture can provide immediate relief. Nourishing and supporting our bodies in this way bestows our most intimate and lifelong friend with the precious gift of healing.
Carol Bedrosian is publisher and editor of Spirit of Change.