Double Take: Our Bodies
NS: In our last dialogue – on masks – we touched on the importance (or not) of our physical appearance. It made me start thinking of our relationship with our own bodies. There is tremendous pressure on women – and also men – to conform to a certain concept of physical attractiveness. Are most people comfortable with their bodies? Or do they always want them to look better, perform better, last longer?
RJR: It is a great topic to discuss! Most people (men and women) talk to me in my practice about their bodies, and how they feel about them. Most are unhappy, dissatisfied, and want to change themselves in one way or another. Lose weight, gain height, have more hair, a different chin, a smaller nose, less lines. And then of course there are all the health issues – less pain, more energy, and so on. So yes, I don’t think people are generally happy with where they are at. Do you?
NS: No, I think what you’ve said sums it up. So do you think a lot of people see themselves as separate from their bodies?
RJR: Great question. I think a lot of people are antagonistic with their bodies; unkind… mean even. What do you think?
NS: I think it must be important that we listen to our bodies – rather than treat them unkindly. You know, as a homeopath, that it is by taking notice of what an unhealthy body is “asking for” that it becomes possible to find a way of restoring it to health. Do we sometimes concentrate too much on the exteriors of our bodies and forget about their amazing interiors?
RJR: For me it is much more about not connecting with our bodies, and I can speak from personal experience because for most of my life I did not feel connected to my body – and I wasn’t even conscious of it. I used homeopathy holistically for my health since I was in my twenties. I understood that my emotions and my body were connected, and I called on remedies that healed my physical ailments when taking into consideration what was going on for me in my mind and heart. But I really was not in touch with my body in many other ways. I would almost even say, I was not embodied – in touch with my body – unless I had symptoms that needed healing. I also gave myself a hard time for having ankles that were thicker than I would have liked and a thyroid that made me gain weight more readily than I wanted. I only truly woke up relatively recently (a couple of years ago), when my body started telling me it was in pain. My body woke me up!
NS: There is quite a conundrum here. On one level we can’t escape the fact that we and our body are as one. So why do you think there are times when we might not feel connected to our body?
RJR: Why would we want to escape the fact that we are at one with our body? I think it is because we are not taught that we are, and therefore unaware. We are not taught that our mind affects our body; our health system is based on the premise that we are a sum of many separate parts – and therefore all our bodily systems, including our mind, are not connected. But of course this is not true. We learn from our own experiences that this is not true. Luckily!
NS: Yes, this separation of everything is why we’ve ended up with a medical system in which different hospital departments treat different bits of us – and why many patients turn to holistic practitioners who take into account everything that is currently affecting the whole person. The words “whole” and “health” are derived from the same root… and it makes sense that we feel at our healthiest when we feel whole. If someone feels “disconnected” from their body, what can a holistic practitioner do to help them?
RJR: I don’t want to knock the amazing job that specialists do for their patients. They save lives every day, and I don’t want to project onto them that they see all our bodily systems as separate, just because they are specialising and supporting one particular area. I actually think it is not about what a holistic practitioner can do, but what we can do as individuals to connect more with our bodies and see ourselves as holistic whole beings. What can we do, what can you do, what can I do, what can our readers do?
NS: A very good answer! We are all different… so presumably it comes back down to us as individuals to look at ourselves, be aware of ourselves… mentally, emotionally, physically, holistically? The mind/body organism is a miraculous thing… literally a gift for life, isn’t it?
RJR: Absolutely. So what can we say to our bodies at the start of this new year to keep ourselves healthy, happy, safe and truly OK with ourselves? How about: I love and accept my body as it is. I am so grateful to my body. Without my body I would not be able to move or do much else. I appreciate my body so much. My hands, my feet, my arms, my legs, all my senses, all my bodily systems, each and every individual cell and my amazing ability to heal myself. I honour my needs, my ability to fall asleep and rest deeply. I am so grateful for being given this life and this precious moment. Anything you want to add? I guess I am also very grateful for every single breath I take, especially as we transition through this pandemic. I am also really grateful for my immune system. I could go on and on, but tell me, Nigel, what do you want to say to your body?
NS: I would say I’m increasingly happy with my physical body, but at the same time increasingly aware that it is ageing. The corollary of these two facts is the ever more pressing need to take care of it, use it wisely and – as you have intimated – never take it for granted.
RJR: Yes indeed. Let’s not wait for symptoms of our body not working well before we nurture and nourish ourselves. Our body is truly our best friend. Let’s treat it as such. Enjoy!
Rowena J Ronson (above) is a practitioner offering an holistic integration of functional medicine, homeopathy and transformational coaching and counselling: www.evolve2solve.co.uk. Under the banner of “Double Take”, Rowena and Nigel have been jointly writing columns and dialogues for health journals and websites for the past 15 years.