Our bodies are pretty freaking amazing.
The Human Body is Freaking Amazing.
After a long hiatus, I'm up and running again, literally!
About 20 years ago I ran a marathon. It was during a time in my life when running was a primary go-to stress reliever. I relished the feeling of physical exertion, the feel-good endorphins that kicked in, the way I felt and looked in my body. So much of my activities and relationships revolved around using my body to do physical things that I loved: hiking, backpacking, running, biking, yoga.
Well, a great deal has happened in the past 20 years, and much of it included NOT using my body in the ways mentioned above. I sat a LOT. Meditation became an important and time-consuming habit that eeked into my running, yoga, biking and hiking time. So did working full time, moving, maintaining a house, a yard, other community and family obligations. Oh, and I became a parent, which if you didn’t know takes a boat load of time! I spent years lifting and carrying around a very pudgy baby (who became a portly toddler and preschooler). I carried a lot of heavy things to and from here and there. My body exerted a lot and also weakened in response to my more sedentary lifestyle. I ignored the rejuvenating effects of physical exercise, and really had no desire to exert. Much of the time I was exhausted and found nourishment and restoration mostly in stillness and silence and fresh air.
But too much stillness and inactivity took its toll. Five years ago I found myself in intense pain and unable to walk (slipped discs). I judged how I let myself go and grieved the able body I no longer had.
From Toko-pa Turner's Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home:
"Collectively speaking, the prevailing relationship we have with our body is much like the one we have with cars: we treat them like mechanical robots to drive on automatic and expect them to always be at our service, no matter how little we attend to their needs. We use them as a garbage dump and push them beyond their limits, then are mystified and frustrated when they mysteriously break down. Sometimes injury or discomfort is the only thing that will bring us back into relationship with our bodies."
Like learning any new skill, there was initially a painstaking process of trial and error in figuring out how to manage pain and live comfortably in my wounded body. I wanted so desperately to heal and move freely and yet I was forced to be in my current situation. In my quest for healing I tried many things: physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, cupping, hanging upside down, osteopathic manipulation, yoga, rest, planking. I REALLY listened to my body, and attended to what it wanted and needed. I learned to meet it where it was.
And here I am now. After five years and an incredible process of discernment, out of the blue I had a real desire to run again after a looooooooong time period of not feeling ready. And now I'm running! Once again, it feels like learning a new skill. It feels hard, and yet, this is what my body wants now. It WANTS to move. As I pant and gasp to breathe in my hilly neighborhood, I feel my pumping heart doing it's job to accommodate the exertion. My lungs are working harder than they have in a while. I'm slowly feeling into a more natural rhythm. Still ultra-aware, I continue to listen to my body's wants and needs. And I'm in awe that I find myself here.
A few weeks ago I completed a neighborhood 5k. Even six months ago I couldn't imagine that would be possible again. The human body is really quite extraordinary! It strengthens to adapt to its demand and weakens to accommodate its lack of demand.
If we listen to it and follow its lead, it can do wonders.
What does your body want right now? Stop, tune in and feel. Feel free to share.
Tuning and feeling in along with you,
The body is the first gate in belonging.
- Toko-pa Turner