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Caring for my body, the soft machine

Caring for my body, the soft machine

Baby Boomers who grew up Catholic undoubtedly remember the term Kyrie Eleison, which is Latin for “Lord Have Mercy”. It seemed to me that we chanted that phrase endlessly during Mass. As I recall, it was punctuated by mild chest-beating (a sign of contrition).

In 1985, the group, Mr. Mister, wrote and recorded a hit song by that title. The lyrics refer to the human body as “the soft machine.” I love that imagery.

I am constantly amazed and grateful for my body’s ability to heal itself, often without medical assistance. And when I consciously listen to the cues my body gives me, I am even more effective at maintaining my good health.

For instance, when I first become aware of a cold symptom coming on — e.g. thickness in my throat, watery eyes, etc. — if I stop, acknowledge and turn my attention to it as a signal from my body, rather than a fait acompli, the cold rarely develops into anything significant. In other words, instead of feeling the symptom and thinking, ‘oh, no, I’m getting sick,’ I address my body almost as if it were a separate person and say, ‘uh oh, have I been neglecting you? You don’t need to get sick in order to get my attention. I will stop what I’m doing and give you whatever you need to stay healthy.’

Then I do just that. I might take a nap, drink extra water, meditate, etc. Essentially, I turn my focus from “doing”, to “being”. I usually find that there is very little on my “to do” list that can’t be done tomorrow instead of today. Then I visualize my body fighting off any harmful intruders from the inside out. My favorite image is an army of little Pac-Man-like creatures traveling through my veins gobbling up any “bad guys.”

Finally, I smile (literally/physically), thank my body for communicating its needs to me, and feel the truth of the healing that has already begun.

If you are thinking, ‘I don’t have time to stop everything and pamper my body,’ ask yourself this. Would you rather spend 12-24 hours preventing a cold from developing, or 7-10 days recovering from one?

I’m not saying that I reject medical attention when I need it, or that doctors and medicine aren’t necessary, but I do think that many day-to-day viral (and possibly bacterial) infections can be avoided this way. I believe that sometimes we get sick because we need a break from stress, work, etc. and getting sick gives us an excuse and a reason to take care of ourselves.

To me, what makes the difference is concentrating on my body’s ability to heal itself, rather than focusing on the ways in which my health might be compromised. I see my body as my ally, rather than as an enemy or a traitor. I believe this has a lot to do with my constant good health.

Then again, I may just have good genes and a strong immune system 😉

I’d love to hear about your experience. How would you describe your relationship to your body?