I love my body. It has taken me years and years to be able to say that, so I'm going to say it again. I LOVE MY BODY!!! We have been through a hell of a lot together, and it's been the best friend I could ever have asked for. There have been times when I've abused and neglected it. It has been underfed, overworked, strained, cut, bruised, forced to stay awake when it most needed sleep, and fed donuts when it would have preferred a salad.
And yet, through it all, my body remains loyal to me. It heals itself when I injure it. It recovers when I push it too hard. It cleanses itself when I feed it shit. Don't get me wrong, I believe our bodies definitely have limitations and that if we push it's limits, it won't recover. (If you smoke, you'll likely get lung cancer. If you eat too much sugar, there's a risk of diabetes. If you do extreme sports without the proper safety gear, you could fall off a cliff and break your back resulting in a life of vegetable-hood, etc...) But our bodies are amazing. They know what's up. And if we can learn how to listen to them, we have access to one of the most powerful tools ever. It's a matter of getting your body and your mind on the same page, allowing them to listen to each other and work together. (There's a good article about this here).
A while back I did a certain type of therapy that was body-centered. I was taught how to listen to what my body was saying. We used this skill primarily to work through past issues and to prevent future ones and I was amazed at the power I was able to harvest simply by listening my body, by becoming aware of what I was feeling.
I wish I could say that I was perfect at this. I'm not. At all. I still mistreat and abuse my body, not paying attention when it's giving me signs that are blazingly obvious. Take this week for example. I have been going non stop, both physically and mentally, for a couple of weeks now. My mind has been busy. My body has been busy. I haven't taken the time to listen to my body, to check in and make sure it had what it needed. My body was politely saying, "Um...hey, Jo! I need a little attention. I'm tired. Could you maybe slow down a little? Ya know...take a break for just an hour or two? I would love a nap before work. And hey, if you could feed me more raw greens you wouldn't have to have a cup of coffee at work to make it through your shift. I have enough energy for everything you want to do...if only I could have a nap. Or a day off. What do you say?"
But I wasn't listening. I was too busy in every possible way. My body tried everyday to get my attention. I can see that now. And when I didn't listen and give it the rest and the nutrition that it needed, it stopped working for me. I hit a wall, throwing out my back and coming down with a nasty cold, sore throat and ear aches included. My body simply couldn't do it anymore, and it let me know. As a result I was forced to slow down, to give my body the rest and nutrition it was screaming for. That's not to say that if we listen to our bodies we will never get sick. Viruses happen. But if we are taking care of our bodies and really listening to them, they will be much better equipped when they need to heal themselves. I learned that (again) the hard way this week.
Our relationships with our bodies can be very much a "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" sort of deal. But really, it ends up being a "I scratch my back, you scratch mine" thing. Give your body what it's asking for, it will give you the energy and stamina you want. Maybe someday I'll be better at listening.