The body knows and it has a language of its own, a language we often ignore or forget in the bustle of our daily lives, but listening to our bodies can be transformative. “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.” Bessel A. van der Kolk, writes in The Body Keeps the Score. The brain clocks what’s going on not only around us, but more importantly, inside of us. It’s a constant information exchange, a back and forth body to mind, mind to body. To figure out how to support this conversation in a way that is healthy and respectful would solve a great of our diet and health issues, and allow us to feel more at home in our own skin. All good things.
We’ve talked about how a gratitude practice has a measurable effect on the brain, training the mind to look for reasons to hope as an almost default method, but what about our bodies? Can gratitude make us feel better physically? And does physical movement help us adopt a more hopeful outlook? Fortunately, there’s tons of research and the results show that gratitude can reduce blood pressure, improve quality of sleep, motivate regular exercise, and improve overall general health. Gratitude has even been shown to help people recover from substance abuse, coronary health issues, and depression.
There’s plenty of scripture on the body mind connection too. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Finding reasons to hope can be a balm to the heart, but lacking hope can undermine our entire physical structure.
The good news? “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones,” says Proverbs 16:24, emphasizing the body mind connection with kindness and gratitude being sweet not only to the soul, but also healing to the body.
And of course there is the mandate from the Apostle Paul saying we can’t ignore our bodies and spend our lives on the couch eating frozen pizza (alas), “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 19:21)
We can honor God with our bodies by honoring our bodies for the life that God has breathed into us, vessels of clay, made into sons and daughters of the Most High. As we write the Book of Hope, let’s move, dance, sing, run through a field, follow a forest trail, stand on the edge of something bigger than we are. Feel the blood in our veins and give thanks for it.
Gratitude can become as natural as breathing when we are in alignment with ourselves. This week let’s give some extra time to our bodies. Let’s be still as we write in our Book of Hope and simply feel how we feel, physically, and note how those feelings might register into thoughts and emotions. Everything is connected, and allowing gratitude and hope to work its way throughout the body will help us fully embody these practices, whether dancing on a mountaintop or dozing in a hammock. All of it, a gift.
Writing the Book of Hope
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