Photo by Oksana Zub
We come into this world with a myriad of sensations calling our attention. Throughout our lives we will discover many bodily experiences, some pleasant….and some definitely not. Often the latter is where we dwell.
Yet underneath all of those sensations and experiences lies a miracle of finely tuned and interconnected systems that literally keep us alive and breathing every single moment.
Our vessels of clay are birthed from sparks of creative energy combined and woven together by a divine artist who has a unique form in mind for every living being. How astounding is that?!
Yet, I know I forget, when experiencing something in the body that is either concerning, painful or unpleasant, that there are “quiet miracles going on in every moment” as Kristi Nelson, the Executive Director of A Network For Grateful Living says in the post below.
Though I have found there can be great wisdom in diving down into the particular distressful bodily experience that one is experiencing and navigating the territory with full awareness instead of resisting, it is common to get lost there and identify ourselves by our current concerns.
The post below offers a mindful practice. A way to open into compassion, appreciation and gratitude in the midst of pain, changes and distress. At the end of the post is an inspirational video link for Nick Vujicic who, born without arms and legs, teaches from his experience with honesty, clarity and compassion.
This short practice attunes you to your body in its present state, shifts your attention to all of the quiet miracles taking place in your body in every moment, and invites you to express appreciation towards your body as it is.
Stop whatever you are doing and devote your full attention to being still or slowing down in this moment. Become conscious of your breath breathing itself. Follow a complete inhale-exhale cycle with your full awareness.
Allow your body to soften, wherever it is, exactly as it is. Open to the possibility of greater spaciousness, appreciation, and/or ease in relationship to your body. Commit to feeling everything gently.
You may want to take a few moments to sit or lie down, allowing your body to rest comfortably, feeling supported. You can experiment with putting your hand, or both hands, gently on your chest as you read. Let yourself notice – really notice – your heart beating and your lungs breathing.
No matter what may feel/be “wrong” with your body, there is an overwhelming amount that is perfectly right about your body at all times. Your body is, indeed, nothing short of an absolute miracle.
Look: Allow your attention to focus on how incredibly much is happening in your body every moment without your effort, without your having to try to make anything happen.
It can be difficult to take our attention off of physical pain, changes, or distress. The nature of distress is that it seems to want every last morsel of our attention. But it is important for us to experience the fact that with attention, challenging sensations and experiences in the body can be dwarfed by the larger context of all that is working.
No matter what may feel/be “wrong” with your body, there is an overwhelming amount that is perfectly right about your body at all times. Your body is, indeed, nothing short of an absolute miracle. Allow yourself to consider these extraordinary facts:
Is there one fact that stands out to you – that makes you really appreciate the gift of your body and how much it is offering you? Allow yourself to focus on this one thing about your body and practice holding it in your awareness.
Your body is the precious vessel for who you are. You are alive right now, and it is a gift.
Go: Move throughout the next moments carrying the idea that, no matter what else might feel true, your body is nothing short of miraculous. You are more than any part. You are even more than the sum of all your parts. Your body is the precious vessel for who you are. You are alive right now, and it is a gift.
Write down three things about your body that are working and for which you feel grateful. Whenever your mind slips into negative thoughts about your body, interrupt the pattern by reminding yourself of these three things, and/or saying to yourself, or writing, “I am grateful for my body.” Focus on what is working.
Feeling compassion for ourselves can open us to greater compassion for others who are suffering, and empathetic engagement with others can help us to re-frame our own experience.
Find a physical gesture of tenderness and care – such as placing your hand on your heart – that you can offer to yourself when you get stuck in judgments about your body. This type of gesture can be filled with meaning and association. When you find yourself getting caught in all that feels wrong, let this gesture be a healing reminder to your body that it is appreciated.
It can also offer us perspective to focus on others whose physical challenges are even greater than ours – no matter our situation. Feeling compassion for ourselves can open us to greater compassion for others who are suffering, and empathetic engagement with others can help us to re-frame our own experience. Other people need our compassion, understanding, and support – just as we need theirs.
Be inspired by Nick Vujicic who, born without arms and legs, teaches from his experience, and invites us to “be thankful, dream big and never give up.”
For more inspiration, explore the guiding Grateful Living practice of Stop.Look.Go.
Kristi Nelson is Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. Her life’s work in the non-profit sector has focused on leading, inspiring, and strengthening organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change. Being a long-time stage IV cancer survivor moves her every day to support others in living and loving with great fullness of heart. Learn more about Kristi here.
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Gaye Abbott, Wildly Free Elder, 01/27/23