The Wisdom of the Body

Photo by Julia Komarova

Two or three times a week, I wake up at dawn and head out for a 35 to 45 mile bike ride with one of my good friends. Just about every one of those mornings is an exercise in futility. It starts with forcing myself out of bed when my mind is screaming that I am too tired. Then it moves to pushing myself to keep pace when my mind tells me I should take it easy today. At some point in the ride, there is always a steep hill that I must go up. Throughout the climb, my mind yells at me to just stop and walk the rest. It’s too hard. You’re not ready.

But each time I ignore the ravings of my mind, and overcome the challenges of the ride, I am always better off for it. When it’s done and I am showered and changed, I am suddenly overcome by the most profound calmness and peace. This seems to be true of all exercise and pretty much anything worth working hard for.

When I look back on those rides, it becomes clear why I decided to push past all the chaos. I simply let the body lead the way. It knows what the mind can’t seem to figure out.

The mind is weighted down by all the burdens of the past and worries of the future, while the body is free to live in the freedom of the present.

The body feels each move you make. It reads how much energy is coursing through you. It knows when you are in fact too tired and when you actually have more energy then you “think.” This is why it tells me to get up when my mind tells me I’m too exhausted. Why it sends a burst of energy during the climbing of a hill when my mind is pleading with me to just quit. And why it urges me to try just one more time on a dream when my mind thinks I might as well give it up.

All my life, I have been in my head. Trying to think things through. Understanding the good and the bad so that I might be able to make sense of it. Basically thinking myself into corner after corner and ultimately to the brink of death. It was only when I decided to listen to my body and also my heart, that I started to dig my way out of the hole I was in.

The mind can be a trusted ally or your worst enemy depending on the way you make use of it.

These days I filter the endless mutterings of my mind through what my heart desires and what my body feels. If they all seem to line up with each other, then I know the mind is acting as a compass. If it, however, seems to be in conflict with the other two, I refocus my mind on the present and let it find its way back to the heart and body.

If you take some time today and pay attention to exactly how you navigate the world, I think you will find that most of us spend too much time inside our heads.

I challenge you as I did, to listen to your body. Let it guide you in the present and push you past the daily obstacles of living. Doing so will also help break down the walls of your heart and direct you to the things you desire and a weightless life.

In time, you will see as I have, that balancing out your dependence on all three will ultimately lead to a more friendly, encouraging, loving and peaceful mind.