An all too common story of the Modern, Western Human Body
~ a short and generalized story for understanding the current level of comfort and enjoyment in the physical body. By Christina Bouajila
In the womb we float in a small warm water place. Then, as we develop, we move within our own skin and within the womb; though curled-up we moved in an incredible range of motion. As we grow the space shrunk, yet we move more, we flex and lengthen muscles intuitively so that we are born with a fair amount of muscle tone (This is measured on the modern Apgar scale at birth). After we are born, (the birth experiences are a whole other story) we are able to unfurl beyond where we could in the womb because of the intuitive (instinctual) moving we did while confined. This unfurling continues so that within months our spine has straightened from that curved shape it was inside the womb, our arms and legs (which you have been moving and which have been growing) have more tone and strength. The muscles of our neck are stronger and we can lift our still heavy head. (The head being very large compared to later in life). We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually lifted our head. Our neck is very flexible, as are our hips, so we can move our arms and legs to grab our feet or toes, maybe even put toes in our mouth. We become an expert at lifting our head grabbing and moving and we are becoming stronger because we do these things many times a day, every day, until we are exhausted and we rest, rest relaxed, completely, peacefully. We learn to roll over. We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually roll over, and now we do this frequently with very little effort. We even roll over a few times and stay orientated in space (not dizzy or confused) We have fun doing this! Our spines are stronger and more flexible. We lift our head and upper body while laying on our tummy enough to look straight ahead! We are arching our spines. We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually arched our spine with the strength to lift our upper-self off the floor. Soon it gets very interesting and complicated because we scoot; coordinating head neck spine arms and legs to move- we have gone mobile! Now we go over, under and around things, and maybe bring an object along- every new movement we do is a result of moving the groups of muscles many, many times before actually lifting our heads, rolling or scooting. We move about until we are exhausted and we rest, rest relaxed completely. Then after a while we figured out how to get our knees under our hips and lift up our lower torso and push up to the forearms and eventually hands; We got on all fours! The first time maybe only for seconds, the next time we can’t quit get there, then it is for 3 seconds, then seconds longer…..then we can stay up there and we can rock back and forth! We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually got up on all fours. We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually rocked on all fours. We practice (do) this many times a day every day. Life is an adventure! Then we coordinate systems of muscles to crawl! We moved the muscles toward this many, many times before we actually crawled. We crawl and crawl and get so good and quick at this that our big people break a sweat to keep up with us! We move about until we are exhausted and we rest: rest very relaxed. Rest completely. Next we reach out to grab onto things higher and bring more of ourselves up, this continues in countless variations all day every day until we stand – we stand holding onto this, that and thems many times all day every day- and then we have become a master at standing holding onto something! Then we step holding onto this that and thems, we fall, we step again and fall, we learn and we take 2 steps, fall, 1 step, 2 steps, fall, 1 step, fall, maybe we stop for a day or week then we take steps and sit, more steps and fall into somebody’s arms. We stand without holding onto something! Maybe even surprising ourselves, but we have moved and moved towards this many, many times every day of our life. We move about until we are exhausted and we rest: rest very relaxed; we rest completely. And then, we stand without support, balance for a second then fall, 2 seconds then fall, 4 seconds over and over many times every day then one day we stand and step without holding on to anything! We fall, we stand, fall, stand, balance, fall, stand, fall to sit, stand and step. We do this many, many times until walking 2 steps, 3 steps, more steps and then all over the place so that the big people get tired keeping up with US! We move about until we are exhausted and we rest: rest very relaxed; we rest completely.
The story is going to be changing because we live in the modern western world and it gets a bit sad then sadder, we might feel angry about some of it too. Things outside of us begin to take over this process that up to now has been free and natural and fun- living in our bodies has been a mostly great adventure if we have been fortunate to avoid major trauma, injury, illness, abuse or neglect. If those things have happened the story is already very sad. Let these feelings pass through you, feeling is part of the process of growing.
In this modern world we have car seats and strollers which confine and restrict movement which are poorly designed for our spines, but we are in them and we spend some time there, we may already be sitting in chairs rather than on the floor so we aren’t moving the hips, knees and ankles in half of the range of motion we did sitting on the floor. Later, in Pre-School we sit at desks and in chairs for longer and longer periods of time. When we are active at recess and PE we are often playing games where the focus is on the ball, in the game with our team. We are rarely seeing and copying adults using good posture and body mechanics, as when generations ago children learned this through watching the physical work of adults in daily living. We learned by imitation, doing, feeling and seeing. We might not ever be guided to tune-in to our own body’s alignment which gets thrown-off by afore mentioned cultural restraints. Maybe by now we are forgetting how to move about with determination and curiosity. We might be seeing media stereotypes and unattainable examples that confuse us and make us think less of ourselves. People may say things that make us think we are awkward or worse. We might even have stopped dancing, and playing. We move with less frequency, within less range of motion and with much less awareness. We might get into sports or athletics and restore some of this, depending on the sport, the coaches and all. Yet more and more time is seated in chairs, on a device, riding in a car, sitting in front of a TV or movie. So much sedentariness that when we rest it is restless, we drop our body in front of a device and keep the mind going. If we are lucky we walk a good 45 minutes a day, say to school, but if by now we only walk from house to car, to store to this and that (even sports) we have probably begun to lose the great body mechanics we had gained when learning to, practicing and mastering walking, so that when we go on a long walk it is without a smooth and efficient stride; we are forgetting to walk well, and sadly we don’t even realize it. These trends continue, so that many kids in sports are up for knee and back surgeries while very young. Many other young people are rarely enjoying a long hike, or walk, or dancing or playing in any physical way. (In other cultures/times a wide variety of movement continues throughout life even the very elderly move throughout the day, walk, work, play, dance). Here we have pre-teens too inhibited to dance, or try something new, even when no-one is watching. A whole population lugging around their bodies like some kind of burden, harshly judging their physical self and storing tension and emotional residue throughout the tissues. This is very Sad, because moving is essential. As we get older in western modern society, we move less, think more and eat whatever, are restless and we may be forgetting how we once did rest; how we would rest very relaxed, rest completely, peacefully. Perhaps we begin to think sad thoughts about our body “I’m out of shape” “ I’m too fat” I’ll never be in shape” “I’m too old” “I can’t do this”, “I eat wrong” or “ this or that body part should be this or that way” For many this trend continues and gets worse through middle and high school, college and beyond. Maybe we medicate, numb, or sedate ourselves.
It does not have to be this way! It can be so much better, and the journey very satisfying! – Once started and made a habit, the progress back to harmony within the body happens fast, because it is natural! Let’s start with taking a deep breath and let ourselves grieve the loss of knowing and loving our body as our friend. This may be worthy of a good cry or several depending on your experience. Then, make friends with our body again, venture out for a walk or play music and dance. Henceforth, have compassion for the self, for the way things have been, but re-claiming our body completely. It is ours, it is Holy. Each time, for several weeks, when we look into any mirror, look right into our own eyes and say “I love you”. Notice every negative thing we catch ourselves saying and replace it with a compassionate affirmation. Imagine moving much more, and thoroughly enjoying it. Let’s move until we are exhausted and enjoy the best rest, completely relaxed; resting just as when we were a small child. When we dress, let’s be grateful for all of our body. When we wash our body, wash it in love. When we laugh let’s laugh more and louder. The truth is we are beautiful exactly as we are, and the more we love our body, as a best friend, the more healthy and vibrant and happy we will be. We are not here to be perfect; we are here to experience and learn. We are in a body to experience this world. Let’s love it, exactly as it is, completely, without judgment, and we will shine from within, and from this shining we will have more energy to give and share, even into old age. Inhabit your body as a home. Tenderly care for it, as a home. Enjoy, move and be relaxed in it, it is a home.
Welcome home Dear Ones!
Christina Bouajila 2014