Anyone living with pain (whether physical or emotional) can tell you that it takes over your whole life. You become somewhat isolated from everything and everyone, including your own body. Having a strong relationship with your body is important because it is the gateway to awareness, and it is from awareness that change can begin.
“What kind of relationship do I have with my body? What is my body to me?”
In the past, I didn’t have a very good relationship with my body. My life at the time was all about eating and YOLO-ing, and I could not have given a rat’s behind about what my body had to say regarding my lifestyle choices. If my knees hurt, I would just bandage them. If my back hurt, I’d pop a few pills. Basically, anytime my body screamed, I would plug my ears and sing “La La La.”
Then, one day, my body said, with a decade load of pain: “Stop! You listen to me, you beautiful person! I won’t let you do anything you love until you pay attention to me!” And so the binging stopped, my heart slowed down and I began to listen (reluctantly still, to be fully honest). For the first time I wondered, “What does my body need? What do I need?” And that’s when yoga showed up at my front door and took me on my crazy inner-journey.
“The most profound pilgrimage I can ever make is within my own body.” – Saraha
Yoga has taught me to honor my body just as it is, in the moment, in the flesh, the current, the now. It showed me that, if I really take the time to listen, all I need to know about my body and my self is available to me. While my mind shoots out an insane amount of unrealistic advice, my body has simple and practical solutions for me to apply in my daily life. By listening to it, I stay present and open not only to what’s happening for me physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
Today my body and I are like old friends. We know each other very intimately, we piss each other off periodically and we love each other regardless. Thank you old body, old mate. You’ve brought me joy and wisdom in the most unexpected ways.
What has been my most significant lesson through all these years of practice? Less is more and consistency is the key. A short, simple practice every day with the intention of getting acquainted with my body has helped me feel so much more anchored in my life. My mindfulness practice has been yoga and meditation, but for you it might be walking your dog or gardening. Whatever keeps you present in your body, the present moment and yourself.
Furthermore, I do yoga because it mentally (apart from physically, of course) relaxes me. I pop some relaxing music – be it Indian music or just the sound of birds chirping and the wind whistling – roll out my overused yoga mat and just do my thing. You don’t have to be flexible or stick-thin to do it. Yoga is for all shapes and sizes. You can just sit in the butterfly pose (the easiest of them all AND helps with back pain, so it’s a bonus!) and meditate for ten minutes and you’re set.
Which is the beauty of yoga.
“My old friend. My dear faithful body. How you’ve stood by me my whole life! Supporting my movements and strength, providing a solid structure with which I walk the earth. You have been with me through heaven and hell, ceaselessly serving me well. My dear old friend. My body.
How may I now serve you?” – Source unknown