My household was hit with the plague this last week. Not the real plague, of course, but some apparently viral illness that left me in bed for the better part of a week and the other members of my family similarly waylaid. One of those members of my family is three years old and let's just say he's a curious lad. So we've talked at length about what and why a sickness is.
It was in answering his questions that I realized I had moved into a new understanding of the body and a new understanding of illness.
I used to see illness as a failure of the body, but in answering my son, I kept coming back to the fact that his (and my) sickness was the way our bodies were taking care of us. The fatigue, the decreased appetite, the cough, the fever, the mucous...these were the mechanisms by which our bodies were responding appropriately to the situation at hand.
This is a far cry from when I thought my body was failing me left and right. From when sickness and injury and crappy digestion and a poorly positioned baby en utero and headaches and YOU NAME IT were viewed as evidence of some failure on the part of my body.
I am deeply, humbly, profoundly grateful to be on a different side.
And so I offer you this:
Your body is doing the very best it can with what it has been given - genetically, environmentally, mechanically, chemically, socially - to take really, really good care of you.
I am not suggesting your body is doing what you want it to do, only what it understands to be best, to protect you (and to protect the future of the species), to respond to the signals you are giving it in the context of its genetic code and the context of it's environment. The wonderful thing about this is that SO very many of the signals you are giving your body and so much of its environment are available to change. You can use your body in a different way. You can provide it with a different experience. These can be simple things, like the way you sit or stand or how much movement and true rest you provide your body with.
As you embark into this New Year, I invite you to start with a blessing for your body. A few words of appreciation for having carried you thus far. For having responded appropriately to what it's been given. For the ways it's adapted and changed and been willing to work so hard to take care of itself.
With love from my body to yours, Happy New Year!