Your body, your friend
We in the Western civilization have an attitude towards our own body that, given closer consideration, appears extremely strange: we do not treat our own body in a friendly manner, but rather we exploit it. This becomes apparent above all during our everyday working lives. In our exploitative relationship with our own body, we alternate between two extremes: we either neglect our body through our lifestyle, or we use it like a high-performance machine that we are constantly over-revving.
The body as a tiresome evil
In the early morning coffee to get ourselves going, during the meeting yet more caffeine together with conference cookies and sugar for short-term concentration, then finally in the evening – as a reward – the juicy steak accompanied by red wine, until our limbs are so heavy that it is only a matter of time before we fall asleep. In this scenario our own body seems like an unwelcome “evil” Something that is just there and somehow has to be filled in order to function. This is a hostile attitude towards the own body; even the apparent “rewards” are not a good deed but rather a further ordeal for it.
The body as a machine
The other extreme: you spend the whole day running from meeting to meeting and after work you carry on running: training for the marathon, working out until you drop, excessive body shaping. Higher, faster, further is your mantra, and you demand everything from your body in this quest, irrespective of whether this does it good or whether you have long since driven it into the red zone.
The hotel in which you live
The madness of shaping the body according to one’s own preferences frequently stems from misguided identification solely via physical aspects: I am my body, therefore it must represent me adequately. This is an error, an understandable error but an error nevertheless. The body is the medium through which we experience our environment the strongest. It is through the body that we sense what is around us and interact with life. But we are not our bodies, just as we are not our thoughts (more on this in the next blog).
At the same time we should treat the body in a friendly manner as part of our self and handle it with care: your body is the hotel that you have moved into for this life. And you should not be satisfied with less than a five-star hotel. Feeling good is only possible in a well cared for body. Only in a healthy body can you achieve the performance that you yourself and others expect from you.
Listen and if necessary stop
The formula for a healthy body is healthy moderation. Neither the regular red wine after work – no matter how good the quality – nor the toughest training program lead to an efficient and healthy body. Instead, choose the middle way: training as long at it does you good and is not undertaken just for the sake of it, a diet that replenishes your body’s store of nutrients. Even a reward is then acceptable – for example in the form of recuperating sleep if your body asks for it. Listen and empathize This is the decisive prerequisite for this middle way when dealing with your body: you must feel it. Be present in your body and feel how it is, what it needs. Things will then be like in a good friendship: you and your body are there for one another, support each other reciprocally, do each other good. Give it a try, it is worthwhile.
And next week I will reveal how you can also make friends with your mind, as well as with your body.