853rd Week: The Body as Community
As I thought about what to share as a practice this week, a recent webinar I offered for professionals came to mind. It focused on the wide variety of reciprocal relationships we have with everything we encounter in the course of our everyday lives. One of the subjects I didn’t spend a lot of time on in the webinar was to focus on the reciprocal relationships we have with our physical bodies.
Over the years, I have had a relationship of gratitude with my body—gratitude for the fact that it allows me to be here, gratitude for all the organs that make it possible for my body to function, gratitude that my body is healthy. For me, love—the frequency and energy of love—is the most powerful healing frequency we can access and I draw on it liberally in my life. One of the practices I’ve engaged over the years has been to send love to my body each day, as part of my gratitude practice.
I may have mentioned before that our bodies are actually comprised of many organisms that are non-human. Here’s a quote from the BBC News: “Human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count. The rest are microscopic colonists.” The American Museum of Natural History says that, “Your body is an ecosystem” and that, “An ecosystem is a community of living things.” Because of these facts, I seek to have a cooperative, collaborative, and loving relationship with the organisms that populate my body and that support my daily functioning. I include these organisms in my gratitude practice and regularly send them love.
For many people, what I’ve written above may generate conflicted feelings. So many people have experienced their body as a battleground, or as something about which to feel shame, or as a place where trauma happened. Finding a way to reconcile with our bodies is an important part of healing, so the practice I’d like to offer for this week invites you to explore what it’s like to spend a little time each day offering love and gratitude to your body. For some, gratitude may focus on the fact that you have survived intense challenges with your body. For some, gratitude may focus on that fact that you are able to move around, unencumbered by a condition that may have caused you pain and distress. For others, your body may still be a source of challenge, pain, conflict, or distress and your gratitude may focus on those places in their body that are feeling some degree of ease. For some, your gratitude will arise from the fact that you are healthy and free from pain. Whatever the circumstance you find yourself facing, notice what you can identify as an aspect of your body for which you are grateful. It doesn’t matter what you choose. In this practice, it’s not a matter of feeling gratitude for everything about your body. Choose whatever naturally comes to mind.
Also, as part of this week’s practice, take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate all the various microorganisms that live as part of the community, the ecosystem, that is your body. Without these microorganisms, your body couldn’t function. They are an essential aspect of your physical being.
An underlying foundation of this practice is to notice what it’s like to send love to your body and the organisms that comprise it. Notice, for example, if you have mixed feelings as you do this practice. Remember that mixed feelings are an aspect of our wholeness and, when sitting in awareness, there is room for whatever may arise. There’s nothing you have to do with whatever feelings come into your awareness. The key is to make room for your experience this time.
In terms of sending love, some people engage this aspect of the practice by imagining a light filling their body, a light that resonates at the frequency of love. Others imagine the emotion of love filling their body, or the felt-sense of being enfolded in love. What matters is that you offer love to the living ecosystem that is your body.
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything with or about them.