Here we are, closing in on 365 days and the end of this year. And, what a year it has been.
So much has changed in my world, in this year, that I am dedicating a full day to each of my promises: head, heart, body and soul.
Because if I have learned anything this year, it is this: the magic is in reflection.
Part 3: body
What does it mean to take care of the body?
As my new friend Belleruth Naparstek reminds me in one of her amazing guided meditations, our body is our “oldest friend” and “steadiest companion.”
And I like that.
Because I never thought of my body in a confidant sort of way. At least not until this promise.
To the contrary, I spent too many years scrutinizing the shape of my hips, the size of my toes, the stubby-ness of my thumbs, the arc of my belly. After my cancer treatments I wished for my long thick locks to return, just like after I turned thirty I wished for my dimply cheeks to return to their twenty-something smoothness.
But this is a journey isn’t it, with the body in the lead.
Through the ups and downs of life’s heavy weights and other losses it seems my body has been with me all along. Right there alongside me, every step of the way.
And it wasn’t until this promise came along that I started to give my body its due. Seems almost silly to me now that I failed to invest in it.
It has indeed been a year of self-care.
Some of my adventures in self-care brought my body through totally new experiences, like bodywork, chakra massage, an Avyvedic cleanse and meditation.
Others have just reminded me how great it feels to give nourishment to the skin I’m in, like hot rock massages and pedicures.
More than anything I have relied on my night-time bath.
A nocturnal ritual that lifts my spirits and comforts my body no matter what the rest of the world may be contemplating. We may be at war, or in economic crisis or fiercely debating the next election — but it just doesn’t matter when I am in my bathwater.
One of the best pieces of advice I heard over this year-long promise to take care of my body was quite simply ironic — do nothing.
That’s right. DO. NOTHING.
It comes from traditional Chinese medicine and I have come to hear those words echo through my mind when cerebral buttons begin to be pushed and that other voice in my head starts telling my body to do more, be more, try more.
It’s almost too easy isn’t it?
Of course, it doesn’t mean eat bonbons and down six packs while watching television with Ben and Jerry.
It means, literally stop and do nothing but let your body breathe.
Sure, the massage and yoga and Pilates and hiking have all been invigorating, adventurous and new. But, all these exercises ended up bringing me back to a place of peace that opened up a space where I could do something extraordinary with my body — breathe.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: it’s ironic after all the searching, and the classes and the adventures that I am right back in the place where my body first started.
Taking one deep breath.
And then another.