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The Pleasures and Pains of Being Embodied

I’ve been going over old journal entries, and one mentioned a church service about Embodiment. It caught my attention because I’ve been thinking about my physical self lately.


One reason is that I’ve been trying out a meditation app called Waking Up, and it’s encouraging me to try to be more mindful about what I’m sensing and experiencing, in my body as well as in the wider world.


The other reason is that I’ve been having a bit of knee trouble recently, so I’ve been paying close attention to what aggravates my knee, as well as doing some physical therapy for it. Things like that are always a good reminder of being embodied and how our bodies change with time.


What if?

This all got me thinking about how different things might be in other circumstances. What if I still didn’t like my body and ignored it as much as possible? I’m sure I would have noticed the knee pain, but would I have done anything about it? What if I ignored it for so long that I did irreparable damage to my knee or required surgery?


I don’t know. But even thinking about it makes me glad I’m not in that place right now.


And because of the meditation app, I’ve been thinking about how, even though pain isn’t fun, it’s important. It lets us know when something’s happened that has injured us, so we can stop and tend to it. But of course, that only works if you’re willing to pay attention to what your body is telling you.



The flip side of noticing pain is noticing when you start to feel better, and that leads to appreciation. Before my knee started acting up, I can’t say I was thinking much about my knees or legs, but now that things are improving, I’m feeling a great deal of appreciation for these parts of my body that give me mobility, especially knowing that a fall or accident could change that mobility.


But it goes beyond that. Even though I haven’t always liked my body, and even though it’s sometimes brought me pain, I so appreciate having this physical form and everything that comes with it.


Without my body, I would never have felt or experienced anything. The scent of lilacs or chocolate chip cookies. The stained-glass effect of sunlight streaming through tulip petals (the ones in this photo are at the nearby University of Southern Maine).

The sound of laughter or music that lifts my spirits. Warm hugs or soft cat fur or cool water. The taste of fresh-picked blueberries or the creaminess of ice cream. The joys of writing or reading, walking or dancing, and so much more.


Don’t take it for granted

It’s so, so easy to take all this for granted. But I’m trying to notice and appreciate more how grateful I am to have come into this world. And here’s to having many more years to celebrate and enjoy it.


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