A few weeks ago, after revelling in a post endorphin high following a beautiful trail run, I sat down intending to write about body appreciation. However, the days passed and although the words floated in my head, I did not write. It is only now, I realize why I was to wait to bring this post to life.
Over the years, my body has carried me through much. I have misused, honoured, abused, loved and disliked my body. My body grew and fiercely birthed babies, once on a steaming summer morning and another on a cold winter night, both naturally. My body has moved with me through tumultuous states of depression, grief and major sleep deprivation. And my body has healed from a debilitating herniated disc in my low back.
I’ve pushed the limits of my body many times, through long cycle tours, sometimes pedalling over two thousand kilometres, through weeks of trekking in the Himalayas, carrying a heavy pack to high altitudes where the oxygen level is considered extreme, through skiing steep chutes deep in the backcountry after a decade long hiatus from skiing, and through running over rooty, rocky terrain in the dark on mountain trails. I’ve fallen off my mountain bike too many times to count and I’ve been hit by a car and flung head first into the concrete.
Through all of the tears and traumas, exertions and expeditions, I realize I have not given my body due credit. Our body is the vehicle that transports us through this lifetime, it is the means through which we experience all that we do. Delicate like an hourglass holding time, it is the vessel that cradles our precious cargo. When we recognize it as such, and honour it for all it does for us, we can heal.
A couple of weeks ago my body was flying over superb single track trail along Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. The sun sparkled over clear blue waters, the mountains rose into the sky on this warm November afternoon. The feeling of freedom soared in my bones. I was doing what I loved. However, I ignored the weight of the poorly fitted backpack loaded on my back (I had forgotten my trail running pack) compressing my precious spine as my feet sprang over technical terrain.
I awoke the next day realizing I aggravated an old injury. In the days to follow I noticed myself being pulled down old patterns - anxiety as I questioned how long this was going to last - the first injury I endured a year of physiotherapy, to anger at my husband for not carrying the pack, to frustration for having to stop the activities I love. After letting go of feeling pity for myself, a little voice reminded me, “Janelle you have all your tools now that you did not have when you were first injured. You are not the same person than when you injured yourself. You know you can heal this.”
Allowing myself to feel the anxiety, anger and frustration, I moved into a space of acceptance. I met my body where it was. And from this space I realized I had been given a great opportunity. The opportunity to bring together all my tools in yoga therapy, meditation, restorative yoga and Shamanism to create my own healing program. To my utter surprise, having reframed my situation, I actually felt a small wave of excitement. I was going to be my own client. I was going to design my own program as though I were a client, and more importantly I was going to trust this teacher- my body, to be my guide.
Had I wrote this prior to aggravating an old injury, these words would have lacked the depth of understanding and acceptance . I see now I needed this experience to truly feel deep appreciation for my body, to accept my body wherever it is at, to love and care for my body and most importantly to let my body guide me in my own healing process. I am reminded of the body's infinite capacity for change and renewal. Deepak Chopra states we can “reinvent our body, transforming it from a material object to a dynamic, flowing process.”
As we move through this physical plane, it is important to know as Deepak states “our physical body is a fiction. Every cell is made up of two invisible ingredients: awareness and energy.” And so it is, I am creating with great reverence and respect a new blueprint - the best one yet for this keeper of time and experience, this vessel that feels, that breathes, and that loves, that we call the body.