For a few days straight, I was sick and continued to get even more sick. It was pretty terrible as I had a million things to get done. I was forcing myself to be productive even though my body was asking me to rest. I distinctly remember being in the veterinarian’s bathroom puking … thinking to myself “Wow this is classy. This is so classy that it is klassy with a k”. I felt exhausted, sick, inadequate, and embarrassed. The vet techs were sweet and asked if I was okay, got me some water, and reassured me that it is no big deal. They both mentioned how they too had been recently sick, wished me well, and sent me on my way. I was mortified. Their kindness somehow made it worse. Didn’t they know that I was dreading their mockery and/or judgement? Instead their understanding reinforced my vulnerability. One of those moments where, you feel so raw that when someone is nice to you it makes you want to cry. Somehow it would be easier if they were distant or cold. Instead their kindness shines through and you realize that they understand how bad you feel even if you try to hide it.
It was not a good day physically or emotionally. And then things started to shift ever so slightly. I was able to keep water down. I could keep up with a conversation. I was able to say “Yes, I am feeling better, as I’m not puking multiple times a day.” I really meant it. It was just then that I realized that I had been taking my health for granted (something obviously the vet techs already knew). We all do it, but in that moment the clarity was apparent. I had been really sick, my body needed to rest, and finally after listening to it… I was getting better.
Sitting there being able to think clearly again was an achievement. I was excited by the possibility of going outside again. Being able to sweep up in the kitchen was possible and I was able to realize how much my body does for me on a minute to minute basis. It was sore still but it wasn’t fighting me (or perhaps better said — I wasn’t fighting it) anymore… it was on the mend.
We all know what it is like to feel sick and then to feel better. We are aware of how it ruins our plans, makes us grumpy, and feels terrible. However, there is something powerful that happens when for brief moment we can be mindful of how awesome our bodies are for keeping us going. There is a level of respect for our body that we don’t tend to grant because we are on autopilot. Our bodies just “do” and so there isn’t much thought.
However, when we can reflect on the strength and goodness that we experience on a regular basis, we are able to tap into something important. We don’t have to wait until our bodies are hurting to pay attention to how much they do for us. We have the ability and the choice to take conscious effort towards being aware of the mind-body integration.
You can start small by just taking a moment right now to breathe in and breathe out slowly. Think and feel how your breathing directly impacts your life, mood, and energy levels. It may seem little but this ability to honor your body is part of being aware of your whole system. You don’t have to wait till some part is struggling to pay attention. You can shift the perspective to a positive, healthy, strength based approach. This way all parts of you get a chance to have the focus they deserve.