Saturday, November 6, 2010

Not a weight loss plan

Slowly, over the past year, I have undergone a fundamental shift in how I see my body.

More and more often, I find myself thinking of my body as bio machinery, with its own consciousness, similar to that of plants. My emotions are part of that consciousness, my mind part of that machinery, and my spirit is a kind of blind mind-pilot, trying to communicate with the innate consciousness of my body to make it do something besides seek out its own survival and pleasure.

I really could be in any body, and here I am in this one. When I evaluate her for the job I need to do (which is perpetually undefined), she's not a bad one. Well proportioned, strong, not unattractive relatively speaking, capable of doing most of what's required of her without breaking down.

From this perspective I list the things that are important to improve if I want this body to achieve longevity, consistent health, and maximum utility. Clearly, she needs to be stronger and more nimble, with better cardio-vascular health. There's no point blaming her for that, or feeling ashamed of it - that's just the starting point this body is at today. She is in about the condition one would expect for a person who's been trying her best in these particular sets of circumstances. I give her a pass. In fact, I say, "Good Job."

Bodies have a high need for love, seeking approval as an outward sign. That's the part we miss. My body needs me to love her and grant her compassion, so that when I tell her that we're going to work hard to be stronger and more nimble, she will trust me and not release panic chemicals that I'm judging her as inadequate.

Objectively speaking (if such a thing is possible), her appearance is not a top priority. It's fine. It's not impeding progress. In fact, an improvement in appearance has, in the past, sometimes proved detrimental to gaining the respect required to do my kind of work. So appearance can just get crossed off the list for now. When her emotions rise and she resists this, I remind her that anything we do to increase longevity, consistent health and maximum utility will inevitably improve her appearance.

With that core realization accepted, not just in my mind but in my cells, my body and mind agree more often to make a good choice. When I feel my muscles twinge from yesterday's workout addition, or a good stretch loosens my neck and relieves the pressure on my skull, my body starts to crave movement and exercise. It doesn't resist so much when other distractions could derail. My body starts to ask for more water, fresh food. It starts noticing the empty extremity of sugar and simple carbs, and decides against them, sometimes even resisting against my tired mind as it reaches for habit.

It's not all the time, mind you. Habits are ingrained, and food still satisfies. There are lots of times when my mind and body decide to give in to temporary comfort, take a break. But then, it's a decision, and I don't worry about it. If I give up too often in a short space of time, that's a moment I notice now, and I start to ask myself why. I generally don't need to dig too far to find a stress, something not quite right in the works of my mind, something jamming me with a lesson waiting. My mind is good at spotting them, but not very good at explaining them, so it's quite a process to go through. I find, now, I get to it sooner, and deal with it faster, purely through practice.

It's actually not that different from how I deal with my kids, come to think of it.

Ultimately, the separation of mind and body is so simple as to render itself ridiculous. It's like the line between the water and the sand. Yet, it's been an effective lens for me. This is not a weight loss plan. though I have lost weight. It's really about finding a way to look at myself that lets me treat myself with compassion. This is one that works for me, and I wanted to share it.

Thanks for reading.