My intention for this week is to focus on gratitude for my body’s ability.
I easily take my ability status for granted, especially at times when thoughts and feelings of insecurity are a bit louder for some reason or another. In the past when I’ve been stuck in my eating disorder, my attention has centered on aspects related to my body’s appearance and its alignment with the societal standard of beauty. I’ve viewed my body as something to be shaped and molded so that others would approve of it and hopefully like me more. Before recovery, I actually viewed my body as the only reason that someone would like me and thought very little of myself as a person.
I was not grateful for my body in the slightest sense and, consequently, I did not treat my body well. I put my body through hell. Starving it, stuffing it, pinching it, overexercising it to fatigue, fighting it, and weighing its worth on the scale. Its ability to sustain my life despite all my attempts to destroy its vitality still amazes me.
My body fought back over and over again and, at the time, I hated these efforts. It fought back through frequent binges, which I now see as attempts to nourish my depleted energy levels during my struggle with anorexia. My body significantly slowed down its metabolism to protect against the periods of starvation I put it through, which left me frigid and drained. My body attempted to eliminate my gag reflex to prevent my ability to self-induce vomit during periods of bulimia. It fought and fought and fought despite my attempts to break it down.
Through all my disordered behaviors and destructive actions, my body nonetheless persisted. And by some miracle, it came out the other side of a 7-year struggle with disordered eating with little to no consequences to my health.
Looking back on the torture I put my body through, I feel nothing but immense gratitude and tender love for its ability to sustain my living. I view my body in a different light now. I see its strength and perseverance through a lens of wonder, and I am constantly amazed by my body’s abilities and its will to survive.
Not only does my body allow me to engage in my life and interact with the world around me, but it automatically functions in a way that helps me live optimally. It knows to breathe in and how to carry oxygen to the millions of cells throughout my body. It recognizes the food I eat and somehow manages to digest and use this sustenance as fuel. It also knows how to get rid of the waste that my body no longer needs. My many organs function automatically without any conscious input from my mind. My eyes, ears, mouth, brain, and nerves somehow all work together allowing me to take in and sense the world around me. My muscles twitch in reflex to stimuli and potential danger to keep me safe.
When I decide to stand, my brain and legs (and I’m sure many other parts of my body) work together to make that decision happen. When I have the desire to pet my cat, not only am I able to do so, but I am also able to experience every sensation and feeling that arises during the activity. My body is able to become more flexible and stronger through activity and movement. I can decide that I want to learn to do a handstand, and I can work with my body toward this goal. Furthermore, my body intuitively knows its needs and signals them to me through sensations of hunger and fatigue. It directly guides me to care for and nourish it if I tune into these cues.
My body does so much for me and asks for so little in return. I often forget this. I also often fall ignorant to the fact that my body’s abilities are a privilege that some people do not have. It is easy for me to take for granted the basic functions my body performs for me, functions that some people’s bodies are unable to execute due to illness or disability. I easily overlook the way my body allows me to connect and engage with the world so that I may immerse more deeply into my life. I forget its role as a vehicle for my life and a vessel that allows me to engage with each moment.
So this week, and each week after, I wish to set the intention to practice gratitude and show love to my body for all that it does for me.