It’s 5.30pm on a Thursday. I close my work laptop and go to the backyard to sit in the recliner for a few minutes, before I go for an evening walk. It was a long day. Besides the regular work, any free time in between was taken up by multiple tasks: calling the attorney, making multiple phone calls to the health insurance company to change insurance coverage, talking with the bank officers regarding details of a loan, having a zoom therapy session to get tips on how to continue my post-divorce healing journey, taking care of the multiple emotions that accompany a divorce and keep showing up unannounced in my mind…the list seems to keep growing.
By the end of the day, my mind’s exhausted and running in several directions at the same time, trying to problem-solve in advance. I know it’s doing that to protect myself and pull things away from the domain of uncertainty and bring them into a circle of ‘yes, we’ve got this figured out and under control’.
My mind, my beautiful mind. I feel grateful for all it does. I do my part to take care of it: meditating, listening to soothing music, going for hikes in forests and immersing myself in hobbies.
I was on a hike recently, walking amidst tall Douglas Fir trees on a trail that led to an alpine lake. I sat down on a log to rest a bit. I happened to place my hands on my thighs and for some reason, I started crying. I didn’t question why it happened; I just indulged myself in that experience.
I moved my hands over my legs and started crying even more. People were walking past me, but I didn’t care.
I had a realization that was long overdue: Even though I was taking care of my mind, there was one key thing that I wasn’t doing enough: acknowledging my body — the temple within which my mind resided — for all it was doing, and thanking it. Often, in the midst of challenging times — especially these past few months that had been hard for me — I had focused mostly on my mind and what I could do to ease its burden. But if I don’t acknowledge and thank the temple, how can I take care of the people who live in it?
The act of placing my hands on my thighs and legs, was the North star that guided me to that realization. My body wasn’t asking for a grand celebration; all it was requesting was something as simple as a touch-based gesture of gratitude: placing my hands over my legs and thanking them for taking me on hikes that healed my mind, for allowing me to stand in front of the computer as I journaled about my emotions; placing my hands over my heart for faithfully doing what it had been for forty-four years: circulating blood through my body and keeping it nourished; holding my hands together and bearing witness to the fact that they had been bearing witness to all that I had been going through these past few months; crossing my arms and reveling in the beauty of hugging myself.
That’s all it was asking for, and I had mostly denied it that acknowledgement, let alone given it a token of gratitude. In my daily morning meditation practice, I thank my mind, body and soul for supporting, nourishing and inspiring me, but what my body was asking for was something tactile, something more than words.
Saying “Thank you, my dear body”, is important and has its place, but what I found during my restful time sitting on the log, was that expressing gratitude physically, works on a different level: it bypasses logic and instead connects the mind to the body via a medium that’s more visceral and intuitive.
It builds a trail between the emotion of gratitude that lies in my mind, and my body. Once that trail is built — via touch — I can go for daily hikes on it as often as I want.
I look at the lake and the waves rippling across the water. The maple leaves are swaying silently in the soft breeze. It’s quiet and the sun is starting to peek out from behind the clouds. My face is still wet from the tears. I place my left palm in my right hand, its fingers wrapping themselves around my left hand. Instinctively, my left hand’s fingers wrap over the right ones as the hands rest on my thighs. ‘Thank you for holding me’, says my left hand to the right one. ‘Thank you for holding me,’ replies the right one. I’m crying, building my own little lake, full of tears of gratitude for my beautiful body.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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