Last week I was in Hawaii, and while I spent a fair bit of time sitting by the ocean and reading, I also swam, hiked, and played with yoga. It felt fantastic, and I kept coming back to this idea:
The body wants to move.
It was such a pleasure to be out in fresh air and sunlight. I loved feeling the sand between my toes, and floating in the ocean. I felt more attuned to the fact that even when laying on the grass in the shade of a palm tree and reading book, there is a symphony of movement happening under the skin.
The heart beats, and circulates blood throughout the entire body. It generates a pulse. It produces an electromagnetic field. Heart rate speeds up and slows down, depending on the activity, thoughts, and emotions we experience.
Our respiratory system has its own rhythm. The diaphragm contracts, expanding the rib cage and lungs, and we take in new air. The rate at which we breathe also changes depending on our activity, thoughts, and emotions.
Movement is healing.
I’m not just thinking of exercise in a fitness context — although given the number of stories I’ve seen recently about obesity in America it is certainly important. But in a more fundamental way, beyond the issue of weight management, movement heals the body and supports our well-being.
Last year my brother was riding his bike when a guy driving a stolen car hit him and drove off, leaving him on the pavement with a broken knee cap and a broken and dislocated hip. My brother was 34 then, and in excellent health. The doctors were delighted to operate on him because he was so lean — just skin and muscle and bone, no fat to get in the way. I remember his physical therapist coming to his bedside in the hospital, and helping him to sit up, and then stand, just days after his surgeries. It was hard to watch, because my brother was in so much pain.
“I know this is hard, but movement is the most important thing. The sooner we get you up and moving, the faster you’ll heal. If you just stay in bed you’ll get weaker.” This is what the PT told us. A year later, my brother isn’t running much but he is back to walking, swimming, and biking again. He’s still healing, and has come a long way after the accident, surgeries, and about 5 months of not using his right leg at all.
The body wants to heal itself.
The body functions better when it gets to move. It has an inherent and incredible power to heal itself. And the body wants to move. It feels so good to stretch upon waking, or getting out of the cramped quarters of an airplane.
I teach three willPower & grace® classes a week, yet that’s not enough movement. My body wants more. And it wants variety. It wants more walking, and more dance. It wants to move to music. It wants to move to music with other people. I know this because last weekend I went blues dancing for the first time in years, and it felt glorious. Like a cool sip of lemonade on hot day.
Your body wants to move, too. You might need to practice listening to that desire, but I assure you it is there. And I encourage you to listen, and indulge.