Movement Two: Health and Body
There are two stories told about our embodied selves. One is from the Hebrew scriptures, and says that after God had created the world and the plants and the animals God decided to create humans “in our own likeness”. Human beings were the crowning jewel of creation. The other story comes from science, and says that every atom that comes together to form our bodies was once the stuff of stars, that we are living star dust, the universe formed in such a way as to be aware of itself. Both stories make it clear that our being is a miracle, an unlikely but amazing creation.
We all have this miracle in our possession, a human body. How you take care of your body and relate to your body will have huge impacts on your ability to be resilient and sustainable, not to mention just everyday quality of life. And yet we live in a culture that gives us very mixed messages about our bodies, with entire industries devoted to feeding us things that are bad for us and other industries devoted to selling us solutions, often with advertising designed to make us insecure and unhappy with our bodies. So this movement is all about finding a happy relationship with the body you have, not the body society tells you that you should have.
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Jiddu Krishnamurti
The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind. Paracelsus
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. Mahatma Gandhi
Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. Fred Rogers
The first wealth is health. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The human body is the best work of art.― Jess C. Scott
Exercise One: Love Notes to Yourself
Do you know that you are a miracle? In fact, we all are miracles, the unlikely result of millions of years of life, and literally made of the same stuff as stars. Your body is a miracle of existence, flabby and creaky bits and all. So for this exercise, try writing your body a love note. Tell yourself how amazing you are, how beautiful, and all the things you are glad you can do with your body. Post your note somewhere you will see it regularly (a bathroom mirror or a closet doors is a good place). Celebrate the miracle you are.
Exercise Two: Earthing and Sunning
You exist in the space between earth and sun, and your body responds to both. Take some time to connect and soak up the goodness of these two elements. Find a good spot where you can have skin contact with the earth. Take off your shoes, wiggle your toes, lie down on the earth. Feel connected and held by gravity. And close your eyes and soak up some sun too. Feel nourished and fed by the sun’s rays. Take as much time here as you like, don’t be in a rush. How does it feel to be connected and grounded? Take that feeling in.
Exercise Three: A Body Blessing
Sit or stand comfortably. Breathe in and out deeply a few times.
Send your attention to your feet. Perhaps reach down and touch them, or give them a little massage. Thank your feet for all they do. Feel rooted down.
Now bring your attention to your legs. Perhaps bend your knees a bit, or wiggle your legs. Thank your legs and knees for all they do. Feel the strength there.
Next, bring your attention to your hips and pelvis. Perhaps swing your hips in a circle. Thank your hips and pelvis for all they do. Feel a bit sassy, a bit of a swing.
The core and the abs come next. Place your hands on your stomach and thank your center for all it does. Feel yourself balanced.
Go up to your heart, lungs, and chest. Place your hands on your chest and thank it for all it does. Feel your heart beat, steady.
Now your shoulders and arms. Perhaps shrug your shoulders, or give yourself a hug. Thank the arms and shoulders, and especially the hands, for all they do. Wiggle your fingers and feel powerful.
Bring your attention up to your neck. Perhaps give yourself a little neck roll. Thank it for all it does. Feel tall and erect.
Finally, bring your attention to your head and face. Perhaps touch your forehead, and smile a little. Thank your head for all it does. Feel embodied.
Say one final thank you to your whole body: “Thank you for being my body, thank you for all you do and all you are. May you know yourself to be a miracle, may you be well, may you be whole. Blessed Be.”
Exercise Four: Move that Body
Bodies are made for movement, and we are fortunate to have so many amazing ways to move. Perhaps you already have a favorite way to move, and that’s great. Do that. Run, dance, walk, climb. Whatever your preferred way to move, just do it. Perhaps you don’t have a favorite way to move. Start simple, then. Just stretch, or walk, or try chair yoga. Whatever your chosen movement, give yourself a challenge to do it on a regular basis. Set a goal, of steps or days or miles. Celebrate yourself when you accomplish the goal.
Exercise Five: Set Yourself Up for Better Sleep
A lack of good quality sleep will negatively effect your body and your health. So give yourself the gift of a good night’s sleep with some attention to your sleep hygiene. The Sleep Foundation has some good tips here: What is Sleep Hygiene? – Sleep Foundation
Set up your bedroom space for ideal sleep, disengage from electronics for 30 minutes before sleep, and try some relaxation or breathing techniques. Set a routine bedtime and wake up time. Getting good sleep is worth it.
Exercise Six: Be a Friend to Parks and Trails
We all need places to get outdoors and get some exercise, and parks and trails provide both. How does your community provide for these life-quality enhancing places? If you are lucky to live in a place with wonderful parks and trails, is there a way you can volunteer there? Many parks departments have volunteer clean up days, for instance.
And if you live somewhere that is lacking in parks and trails, or where your parks and trails need some love, reach out to your local government to advocate for the importance of those parks and trails!
What Americans Agree On When It Comes to Health
What Makes Us Sick? Look Upstream
Sleep is Your Superpower
The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
- What do you do to celebrate your body? What are you grateful to your body for? How do you build a healthy and loving relationship with your body?
- Do you struggle to feel positive about your body? How could you accept and love yourself more?
- How do you support your own health? What are your healthy habits? What healthy habits are you working on?
- Imagine a health care system that worked. What would we need to change?
- Imagine a healthy world. How would we transform our society if we focused on health? What can we do to promote a healthier world for everyone?
Next: Movement Three