“You don’t have a sole. You are a sole. You have a body.” ~ C.S. Lewis
I am 32 years old, and honestly, it just recently occurred to me (within the last 3 years), that my body is actually a thing that needs to be taken care of. Prior to this realization, I just expected my body to function optimally regardless of how I treated and maintained it. We make time and make an effort to care for our children, spouses, animals, plants and even the things we possess such as our cars and homes. But, how often do we think of our bodies as something that needs to be cared for and maintained?
This realization came to me when I finally understood that, I am not my body. The body is a vehicle that allows me to interact with the world. Think about all of the amazing things your body allows you to do. It allows you to walk, run, touch, and feel. To see and appreciate art, smell flowers, hear and enjoy music, and taste your favorite foods. It lets you interact with others, learn new things, communicate ideas, and to feel and express feelings. Much of this was learned through reading “Rituals for Transformation” by Briana and Dr. Peter Borten. It is a wonderful book/experience and I highly recommend it. http://ritualsfortransformation.com/
This human form- the body, is a gift, and it is the most precious gift you will ever receive. You are not your body. You have been given a body, and it is the only one you are going to get in this lifetime. You want it to last, and therefore the body needs to be cared for and maintained. No one has the ability to take care of your body they way you do. That is empowering, but it is also a lot of responsibility. So how do you do this? The following information includes 8 ways to take care of the body.
1. Express Gratitude and Journal
Become aware of how you think and talk about your body. Take time to express gratitude for your body and everything it allows you to do. Turn any negative self talk into positive. This may be challenging at times. You may not always feel wonderful in your body. Even then, try to focus on staying positive and grateful. The ache I feel in my foot, means I have the ability to feel, and therefore walk. Journaling puts your thoughts on paper and expressing gratitude for your body is a wonderful way to develop appreciation for it and everything it allows you to do. It also gives you a positive reminder to reference when you are having a bad day. Your body is beautiful and allows you to experience life!
2. Practice Yoga and Meditation
When you quiet the mind and become present, you develop your mind/body connection and a greater awareness and appreciation for your body and what it can do. Over time, this helps you to naturally want to take better care of your body because you see the value of doing so. You will naturally find yourself wanting to eat healthier, stay active, and allow yourself to rest when you need it.
3. Again, Practice Yoga and Stay Active
The movements practiced in yoga are one the best ways to care for the body. Yoga maintains and even enhances mobility, builds strength, and increases physical stability. The breathing exercises practiced in yoga enhance the capacity of the lungs and improve the respiratory and circulatory systems of the body. Yoga also enhances posture and reduces aches and pains associated with misalignments in the body. It is low impact and helps keep our joints healthy. So, find a yoga class near you and go regularly. If yoga is just not your thing, that is okay. Find a way to stay active. Don’t stop moving the body as you grow and age! The more you move, the more you will be able to move!
4. Be Mindful of What You Eat
When eating, be mindful and learn about what you are putting into your body. The cells in your body are built from the food you eat. Some people believe that around 95% of the cells in your body are replaced annually. Your body is literally created from the food you consume. There are many different ideas and trends related to healthy eating. You have to figure out which foods are going to agree with your body and which ones are not. Different things work for different people. Do research or seek the help of a licensed or holistic nutritionist. Learn how you need to eat to maintain a healthy body and then practice healthy eating. Also, drink lots of water!
5. Allow Your Body to Rest and Restore
Find constructive ways to rest and relax. Step away from social media, turn off the TV and find something that is truly healing for you and your body. Practice restorative yoga, which supports the body with props and allows you completely release all effort and relax the body for several minutes in each pose. Massage is also a wonderful way to relax and care for your body. Enjoy a facial or get an aromatherapy treatment. You could also enjoy a relaxing bath with soft music, epson salts, and essential oils. Again different things work for different people. Do what works for you.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Make sure you are getting enough sleep and allow yourself to nap if needed. Sleep is when our bodies repair themselves and is therefore extremely important. There are numerous reasons why you may not be sleeping well. I am not an expert in this field, but if this is a problem for you, do research or talk to a natural or medical doctor to try to resolve the issue. You could also try Yoga Nidra. The yogic sleep is also a wonderful way to rest the physical body. It is said that 1 hour of Yoga Nidra is equal to 4 hours of sleep. That takes power nap to a whole new level!
7. Make Time!
I am sure that many of you are thinking that you just don’t have time to do these things. MAKE TIME! Make, caring for yourself and your body a priority. We don’t expect our cars to run optimally without an oil change or without filling the gas tank. But we often expect our bodies to run on very little sleep and function on an unbalanced diet in a high stress environment. In the past, I have experienced this in my own body, and as a yoga teacher I often see it in others. When you take care of your body, you will feel better, have more energy, and have a more balanced state of mind. Taking care of your body MAKES taking care of everyone else and everything on your to-do list more manageable.
8. Prioritize and Look for Ways to Improve Your Life
Self-care is especially important when it is least convenient and most difficult to maintain. When life is extra stressful, when you are extra tired, and when you don’t have time….that is when you really need to make taking care of yourself and your body a priority. In these times, look at your duties and responsibilities to see if there is anything that you can let go, especially if it is no longer serving you. If self-care seems impossible, look at your life and see what may need to change. Personally, it took me two years, but I eventually quit my job and changed my career, because the one I was in was not allowing me to take care of myself, my body, or to live freely. It was not easy but it was definitely worth the time and effort.
You are not your body. You have been given the precious gift of a body. Love it! Appreciate it! Express gratitude for it and everything it allows you to do! And take care of it!
With lots of love and gratitude,