As a dancer, it's not hard to accept that your body is your most valuable tool as an artist. It is the medium that allows you to express yourself. It is how your emotions are transferred through movements to the audience.
But your body is so much more than that. It is your "vehicle" for experiencing life, for being in this world. Whatever spiritual or theological beliefs you have, all we can be sure of is that you only get this one life being in this one specific body. Sure, there is so much more to you underneath the skin in terms of your mental, emotional, and spiritual capacity. But your body is what allows you to connect with the world around you - to touch, smell, see, hear, taste, do. Without your physical body, these experiences, these privileges, these pleasures would be lost to you.
Thinking about this, I'm ashamed I wasted so many years hating and hurting my body. I share this not to solicit pity, but to wake you up, in case you are making similar mistakes. I'm furious at myself for disrespecting my health, for callously destroying my body, for being naive with the precious cargo I was dealing with. The regret is painful. I can't get those years back. I can't undo the damage that is already done. I can't atone for the years I may have shaved off my life from burdening my body with such extreme stress and unhealthy habits in my younger days.
But here's what I can do: wake up each day with the knowledge that this body is a gift. And, it is a gift that I have complete control and responsibility over to preserve and protect. And, it is a gift I can choose to nurture and enhance every single day.
Respect your body. Appreciate what it allows you to do. Value all the pleasure it allows you to experience. The better you take care of your "vehicle"...the farther you will be able to travel with it. Meaning you can take bigger risks without worrying it will break; you can explore unknown territory without fearing it will fail you; you can travel greater distances without it wearing down or running out of gas. So why not let your "vehicle" take you places?
But you have to take care of it. Tune it. Polish it. Upgrade it. Treat it like your most prized possession. Respect that it is not an immortal object but that it has an actual lifespan. And realize that the way you treat it affects that lifespan in a real way. Plus, the better condition your body is in, the more fine-tuned your health is, the more receptive you will be to the world around you. The way you interact with and experience life will be heightened:
Why wouldn't you want to heighten all of these pleasures?!!!
The next time you find yourself beating your body down or abusing or neglecting what you need for nourishment and health, remind yourself that this one body is all you get. This is your one "vehicle". Stop treating it like a replaceable loaner and start cherishing it like a *insert your favorite dream car here*.
I found my method for loving and enhancing my "vehicle":
Leave your comments below. I'd love to hear your secrets!
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