AS A MASSAGE practitioner and energy healer, people come to me with all sorts of complaints, from muscle spasms to autoimmune syndromes to high anxiety. While there are thousands of different conditions, it seems that no matter what the complaint is, the way it is described is the same: my body is betraying me, I need new parts, fix me.
I am often struck by the mentality of therapy as equivalent to visiting a mechanic. I’ve also noticed how the suffering I have experienced in my own life reflects the suffering I see in others. I have begun to think that at the core of it, we suffer from the same condition.
That condition is a frame of mind that views the body as an inferior mechanical device we steer through the journey of life. As a society, we focus on the mind, ideas, mechanization, and specialization of technology. More and more of our lives are lived from a cerebral head space as we lose touch with the visceral experience. We are wandering around in our heads in a constant state of distraction, multi-tasking, over-achieving, thinking in digital — unable to discern the analog messages behind our illnesses.
Put another way, many of us are in denial about the consequences of our actions. The way we live our lives and the affect it has on our bodies is often couched in terms of body image and weight loss. Obesity is viewed as the new plague. As we focus more and more on the external image of ourselves, more and more people are suffering from increased intolerance to certain foods, irritable bowel, liver and gallstones, heart burn, inflammation, cancer, morbid obesity and general dysfunction. Often by the time someone has reached my table, they know something is wrong but are at their wits end about how to fix it.
But with the way we neglect and abuse our body, is it any wonder why it suddenly turns on us, betrays our trust, or refuses to perform in the way we want it to? It rebels or breaks, it corrodes and fades. It develops diseases and wears its condition on our faces. In this way our bodies do become our worst enemy.
I would like to propose that because we have placed the body in an inferior category to the mind, we view its messages as an attack on our lifestyles rather than an honest attempt at communication. Getting angry at your body for its pain is the equivalent of beating your dog for barking at an intruder. The irony is that we understand more about the language of dogs than we do of our own internal process.
I firmly believe that before we can embark on a true journey towards better health, we must first confront our own negative projections towards our body and learn how to befriend it. The body is not an enemy that we must beat into submission. In reality, it’s our greatest supporter and ally. It speaks to us in the way of dreams, feelings and gut reactions. Sickness and disease are not an attack, but a cry for help and healing. It is an entity equal to the mind that you exist in a symbiotic relationship with, complete with its own consciousness and wisdom.
What do you think would happen if we looked at exercise, nutrition, meditation and self-care as acts of bodily respect rather than abstract chores designed to control or punish? What if we looked at our hedonistic behaviors of over-indulgence as a sideways attempt to be nurtured rather than bad habits we need to overcome? What if we made choices based on how good something will make us feel instead of how good it will make us look?
The language of the body is simple. That which is good for it makes it stronger, that which is not good makes it weaker. The more you pay attention to its signals, and make choices based on doing what makes you feel healthy, the more you can rely on the friend you didn’t know you had.