‘TIL DEATH DO US PART: THE JOURNEY OF BODY AND MIND
Our bodies must last a lifetime. We only get one. Without it, life ends. Done. Fini.
Then why don’t we treat our bodies lovingly? Like prized possessions? Wouldn’t you think I’d appreciate my body’s nonstop efforts to function smoothly?
My body asks for so little. Rest when I’m tired or sick. Food for nutrients, energy and strong bones. Water to keep hydrated. And play to lift my spirit.
Its ability to forgive past indiscretions and respond resiliently to good care is impressive.
Not only do I take the minimal demands for granted, but I’m annoyed when a physical constraint, like a cold or injury, keeps me from doing what I want.
Tough to Live With
Until recently, I abused my body with excesses of all kinds. Moreover, I was harshly critical when it failed to conform to standards of beauty in magazines and on television.
Evidently many of us, myself included, struggle to develop positive relationships with our bodies. At one extreme, I’ve painfully observed acquaintances and family members who are systematically destroying their bodies through drugs, overeating, alcoholism or workaholism.
Although I never started that low on the ladder, I certainly hung out on the next rung.
My overeating, sedentary lifestyle and excessive work wasn’t fatal, but it had a negative impact on the quality of my life. Increased medical expenses and injuries were on the rise. Premature death was likely. Although I had good intentions to change, I didn’t follow through.
I moved up a rung on the ladder when I started reclaiming my body. Once I was clear it was in my self-interest to take care of myself, I made more constructive choices.
Not What I Want but What I Need
Instead of asking the question, “What do I want?” I ask the question, “What does my body need?” Then I respond accordingly. Surprising even myself, I’ve continued to climb the “body care” ladder.
Positive actions—exercising, eating carefully, getting enough rest and water, limiting my work hours, and scheduling recreation—are becoming regular habits rather than disciplined efforts.
Beginning the day with 45 minutes of yoga/stretching is now as necessary as brushing my teeth. Lying on the floor with my feet in the air reminds me of the simple joy I felt in my body as a child. In these meditative moments, mind and body are united. Besides giving thanks for getting this far and for my daughter’s continuing progress, I ask for guidance.
If during the day I am tempted to indulge, I stop and stretch. Simply adopting a pose for 10–15 seconds reminds me of my stewardship responsibility. The “bad” impulse—to munch a candy bar, for example—is replaced with one more consistent with my self-interests, e.g., taking care of my body.
I’d like to reach yet a higher rung. At this height, I imagine the mind and body are joyfully and continuously integrated. Miraculous in its conception and functioning, the body is considered a holy temple and treated with awe and respect. A deep sense of well-being is constantly present.
Knowing this ladder exists—and that, if you’re reading this, you’re alive and on it with me—is reassuring. Knowing it’s part of the learning process to take one step up, a couple back, or even fall off, is also comforting.
I also accept the fact that when we climb to a higher rung, friends and family members may pull us down. My writing is intended to do the opposite—to help us move up a step.
At death, my body and I will part. Until then, I hope I have the good sense to honor it and be faithful to its needs. I applaud those of you who do the same.
In Carole's new book, "From Fat to Fit", she tells how she reinvented herself and became an accidental catalyst for the Nevada County Meltdown. Over 1,000 people lost over 4 tons in 2 months. She is a columnist for the Union newspaper and was featured on NBC's Today show, CBS's Early Show, and MSNBC's Countdown. For more information about Carole, her endeavors, and the Meltdown Contest go to www.CommunityMeltdown.com