Today has held a synchronous unfolding of events in relation to my increasing awareness that I’m a caretaker, protector, and guardian of my body. In this case, I am referring far more to my internal body than I am to it externally and visually – it’s organs, bones, veins, arteries, muscles, etc.
Much of my positive growth in relation to diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits is due to an increasing connection, relation, and feeling of responsibility for the health of my bodily systems. A couple years ago, I realized that I was completely disconnected from the internal reality of my body. I’d spent years concerned about the outward, visual appearance of my body, but had no regard for or relationship with my body as a biological machine, a miracle of mother nature, with components that moved, flexed, pumped. I saw my body as the shell, the visual appearance of the exterior, not as a living animal. I cared not whether my heart was healthy, whether my stomach, colon, and digestive tract were overloaded with work, whether my blood vessels had the proper nutrients to do their job.
Until a few years ago, I never really connected with the reality that this body is truly mine. Then, I started to relate with my body on the internal level by reminding myself of it.
I have a heart, and it is my heart.
I have lungs, and they are my lungs.
I have bones, and they are my bones.
Although I cannot see them, they look different than anyone elses. They are uniquely mine. Often I would try to imagine what they look like to create more of a connection. My body systems and organs work for me tirelessly. We put so much strain on them (I used to be a frequent fast food eater, rarely at vegetables or fruit, the whole gamut!) and don’t nourish them properly, but they always keep going… and going… and going. Until, of course, they can’t go anymore.
I am not alone, of course; a disconnect from our internal bodies is rampant in society. Many people do not know where their spleen is located, where their liver is located, what their pancreas does. And really, these are not medically intricate questions. They are basic, but many people cannot answer those questions. I wouldn’t have been able to point out where my spleen was until I began studying nutrition at age 18.
Today, a friend of mine posted a few videos on facebook, clips from a series of educational anatomy videos done by Gil Hedley, Ph.D., founder of Integral Anatomy Productions, LLC, and Somanautics Workshops, Inc. Gil has put together an extensive series of cadaver dissection videos which have been distributed to 30 countries. A few hours after these videos were posted, I learned that an traveling exhibit called Bodies: The Exhibit, which I’ve heard wonderful things about from friends, will be in Tucson next week.
Before you get grossed out, this is tying into a bigger picture, and I won’t get too graphic on you. In short, I watched these videos, one showing the anatomy of the heart, and the other an demonstration to show what lungs look like when they inflate, as in breathing. We are not regularly reminded of what our internal environments actually look like in their shapes, sizes, colors, and spacial relation, so watching it was an odd experience, almost alien.
However, what it instilled in me is a further marvel at the miracle and beauty of the human anatomy, and a softening and almost mothering feeling towards my own inner organs and systems that work all day, and all night, year after year, for me. I am consistently deepening my experience of my body as mine, taking ownership for it, and fully occupying it with my presence and consciousness. I am noticing an increasing feeling of fondness, care-taking, and even a sensation of mothering for my internal body, and a desire to protect, respect, and show impeccable love and care to it through my dietary practices, exercise, and other health and longevity giving lifestyle choices and habits.
Huge amounts of respect and appreciation for those who donated their bodies for education and understanding. And if you’re not a person who feels comfortable seeing organs and bodily systems as they look, I totally understand. I even get a little squeamish with more than a small dose, but it helps me and inspires me a great deal to be reminded. If that’s not the case for you, just do your best to continually remind yourself of your internal body mentally.
Additionally, all of us can benefit from bringing presence back into our body, and consciously occupying our bodies with our attention. Geneen Roth, one of my favorite authors, wrote in one of her books how most of us “hover” outside our bodies, “seeing” it almost aerially rather than being in our feet, legs, hands, arms, and feeling them touching the ground, or chair, feeling the sensations of breeze on our skin. Eckart Tolle encourages feeling into in the body as a vehicle to the Present Moment. I like to take it in another direction as well, practicing sensing into and out from my stomach, or heart, or lungs, and other areas and organs. These practices ground us in our bodies, our lives, in the Present Moment, and remind us we are its guardian, its keeper.