From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Respect your body through mindfulness

            My Father grew up in Miami, Florida at a time when it was possible, he says, to roller skate from one end of the city to the other. That’s how small it was back then. He also says that he had to skate really fast to keep up with the kids whose families could afford bicycles.

            Over the past century our world has grown in so many ways. Generations of humans have built and rebuilt the world.  Advances in technology have changed just about everything we do. Medicine has evolved to help prevent illness, mend and fix us when we break, and even help us live longer. But despite these changes and all of our progress, the one thing that hasn’t changed is our essential make-up as human beings.

·        We only get one body. While medical science has made enormous strides, we remain housed in amazing, but still fragile bodies. Our bodies themselves are by far the most miraculous computers of all time. Fortunately, we come equipped with a battery (which is recharged while we sleep) and physical capabilities which are designed to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, we often take for granted those things that happen automatically and effortlessly. But while it is possible to think outside of the box, it is not possible to live outside the body! We only have one body, how well we care for it is up to us!

·        Stress, depression and anxiety are painful. When we exceed the limitations of our bodies, it is like trying to drive a car without fuel. When we ignore the signs of our own distress, physical and psychological symptoms can begin to plague the way we think and feel. Despite our best efforts to meet the demands of the world in which we live, it is not always possible to force our bodies to comply with those demands.  When we chronically ignore our symptoms of stress we run the risk of a physical breakdown. When we chronically ignore our symptoms of strain we run the risk of an emotional breakdown. If left unchecked, long term stress and strain especially in the work place ends up costing everyone more in the long run.

·        Respect your body through mindfulness. As a child, I remember learning about the human heart. I was awestruck by its ability to function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year. The secret to this miraculous ability, I learned, was that the heart rests between beats. Fortunately, our subconscious mind is in charge of our autonomic nervous system. Without this help we would surely not live very long. But while we do not have to concern ourselves with the automatic functions of our bodies, we do need to respond to alarms when they go off. Our bodies communicate with us continuously. Our job is to pay attention to these important messages!

·        You’re only as pretty as you feel inside. Many of us struggle with unpleasant feelings about our outward appearance. Some people lacking self-esteem, go so far as to hate the way they look. But from the immortal lyrics sung by the Jefferson Airplane, “you’re only as pretty as you feel...” We must remind ourselves that there is more to beauty than mere outward appearance. According to this view, inner beauty is essential for true outer beauty. Some might even argue that beauty is a result of good thoughts, good deeds, and good health.

            I recently had the opportunity to visit New York City for the weekend. Anticipating all of the activities and long walks through the city, I had some concerns about the wear and tear on my body and my energy level. A weekend like this had potential for genuine exhaustion. This time, however, I decided to listen to my body from the inside out. For me, the message was loud and clear: Rest between activities. Following the example of my heart, I practiced resting between beats. The results were wonderful! I not only felt good all weekend, I felt rejuvenated on Monday and ready for the week ahead. By listening to my body from the inside out, I was able to keep my batteries charged and even returned from the trip with fewer bumps and bruises than usual.

©Copyright, 2008, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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