The Importance of Understanding Your Body In Order To Stay Healthy
And I said to my body, softly:
“I want to be your friend.”
It took a long breath and replied:
“I have been waiting my whole life for this.
– Nayyirah Waheed
If you want to be mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy start by befriending your body.
As author Geneen Roth says:
Your body is the piece of the Universe you’ve been given.
Your body is your home; it’s your temple.
It deserves to be treated with kindness, appreciation, and awareness.
YOU deserve your own kindness, appreciation, and awareness.
When was the last time you stopped and asked what your body needs?
When was the last time you really felt into your whole body?
Really thanked all your body parts and listened intently to your own heart beat?
Most of us, especially if we identify as female, have a complicated relationship with our bodies no matter our body mass or body type.
More often than not we engage in a full out war with it – the weapons being judgment, criticism, and even hate.
Some of us constantly wish our bodies were different, no matter our body weight or if we’re already at a healthy weight.
Or we live in a perpetual state of disconnection from our own bodies, and this creates a chronic state of tension and dis-ease within us.
We cannot live a fully present and aware life if we’re at war with who we are.
We cannot experience a wholly strong and healthy body and excellent overall health if we’re internally beating ourselves up.
And, unfortunately, the world we live in programs us for this constant inner war from very early on.
Society is rigged to constantly assault our self-esteem.
We’re taught to obsess about weight loss, body fat, and body mass index.
If you identify as a female you’re likely upping physical activity, dieting, and consuming fewer calories to avoid weight gain and lower fat mass.
If you identify as a male you’re likely focused on weight training to gain muscle mass and achieve lean muscles.
The overall message we’re fed through ads, media, and TV is:
If you don’t look a certain way you’re not enough.
But we can fight this programming and wake up to realize that it’s all BS and meant to keep us disempowered so we keep consuming and spending money in an effort to “be enough.”
The Gift of Dis-ease:
We’ve been given an extraordinary gift.
Out of all the places in the universe that we have explored, we have never come across anything more magnificent than a human body;
nothing more wondrous than the human brain within that body,
and nothing more glorious than the human energy or spirit animating that brain and body.
– Dr. John Demartini, Researcher, Author, & Educator
When we honor and listen to our bodies we increase our chances for sustained health and well-being.
If we don’t pay attention to our bodies and we don’t learn to listen to its feedback we may end up manifesting dis-ease and sickness as a way to get our attention.
I was disconnected from my body for a long time.
I spent most of my life taking its capabilities for granted until my symptoms began.
That was a wake-up call that shook me awake and forced me to re-establish a deep, mindful connection with the trillions of cells that make up me.
It often takes some sort of challenge or health scare to shake us conscious and awake.
That’s one of the gifts that dis-ease brings into our lives.
Anxiety can also create a divide that keeps us from really feeling our bodies, really being in our bodies.
The incessant mental noise and the worrying and the dread keeps us stuck in a loop where we might disassociate with our own vessel.
But how can we experience real health, wellness, and vitality if we don’t treat our body with the respect and love it deserves?
How can we expect our body to be there for us and function properly if we do not understand how it works and what it needs to not only function well but to thrive and help us thrive in turn?
We cannot do great things in a weak, sick body.
We cannot be everything we desire to be in a body that’s struggling to keep up.
What if, instead of perceiving your symptoms of both anxiety and gut issues as punishment, you viewed them as protection?
It is through our bodily symptoms and lack of wellness that our body, in all its wisdom, speaks to us and communicates with us, guides us.
But do we listen?
Are we kind to ourselves, body included?
- The body is an intelligent information processing machine that can function beautifully on its own accord.
- The body follows the Laws of Nature and is always seeking balance or homeostasis.
- The body is wired for resilience and can renew and regenerate itself under adequate and optimal conditions.
- The body is a reflection of our inner world – our thoughts, emotions, and unprocessed fears/guilts/traumas.
How Functional & Holistic Medicine Strives To Understand The Body:
Herein lies the difference between functional medicine and traditional (allopathic) medicine.
Functional medicine understands these underlying principles and views the body as an integrated system instead of separated parts.
It looks to understand the core underlying cause(s) of symptoms and address those so symptoms clear and the body resumes normal function.
The status quo in traditional medicine has become to ‘take the pill first, ask questions later,’ and in this way, the symptoms only get masked with band-aids.
I love how Harvard educated physician and gynecologist Sara Gottfried, MD explains this difference with an example:
“Sydney Baker MD, one of the early practitioners of functional medicine, used to say that if you’re sitting on a tack, the solution is to find and remove the tack, not treat the pain.
In conventional medicine, the tendency is to throw prescriptions at problems to try to mask symptoms rather than to treat the root cause.
In functional medicine, the goal is root cause analysis so that you remove the tack and feel better.”
If we can learn to understand our body and how it functions across its main systems, we can learn to give it what it needs.
We can also become wiser and attuned to its messages, promptings, and demands.
Like with any relationship, the relationship with your own sacred body requires clear communication and support between you and it.
Remember that you are the sum of the trillions of intelligent cells and molecules that create the tissues that create your vital organs, that, like an orchestra or a symphony, play together to create each of your body’s systems.
Layer by layer, you’re a beautiful, magnificent manifestation of the utmost intelligence in Nature.
You cannot go wrong when you follow Nature and its flow.
To follow Nature is to learn to listen to your body and to understand how your body works.