Recently, I was in Florida for a family wedding over a long weekend. It was fantastic! But that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because I was reminded of something very important during my trip, and I wanted to share it.
Our bodies have innate wisdom.
All too often we have a tendency to ignore the messages from our bodies. I know I have. Throughout my life, I have always been able to “push through” almost anything. We’ve even championed the ability to rally when fatigued by giving it a name: a second wind. Instead of heeding the warning signs (the messages) we carry on and ask more of our vessels than they should willingly give. Like good soldiers, however, our bodies often comply, even to their detriment.
Over the weekend, Florida was hot. Hot and very very sunny. There was little reprieve in the shade unless there was a nice ocean breeze. I was fine for the first two days, knowingly keeping myself outside in the earlier hours and inside during the heat of the day. The fact that we had a scheduled event also helped, as it required more inside time.
The Sunday after the wedding, however, was not really scheduled. It included a late family brunch, which pushed the outside time into the middle of the afternoon heat. I thought I could “rally” and that I could ask my body to show up for me without concern for how hot and bright it was. I went to a Farmer’s Market during the peak hours.
My body raised a little warning flag. I didn’t listen. I asked it for a little longer, to wander the market with my mom and see some interesting things. As we walked, my body raised the flag even higher. I found myself uttering phrases like “Wow, is it hot,” “This sun is crazy,” and “I can’t believe these people sitting out in the sun like this.” The last sentence came up several times in different versions.
I wasn’t “sitting in the sun” therefore it was easier to externalize the wisdom shouting at me from inside my body: “GET OUT OF THE HEAT, you crazy girl!”
I finally heeded my body’s warning and stood in the shade wherever I could find it. It was too late. The heat and sun had already started to take their toll on me, and I now had to walk back to the hotel.
It was a short walk, with no shade along the way. I asked my body to step up and push through, promising it rest and AC ahead. Alas, rest was available, but no AC. Inside the little pool house at my uncle’s apartment complex there were ceiling fans, which helped, but weren’t enough to cool me down. My bathing suit was in the hotel a little further away, so no jumping into the pool either.
I sat for almost an hour, willing my body to cool itself down. All the while, getting sicker and sicker. I drank water, put my feet up, and rested. Nothing helped. All I could hear inside my head was the sound of my own body whimpering in a corner, as I tried to engage in conversation with my family while I rested inside the pool house, pretending everything was alright. Once more, I was asking more of my body than it could give, ignoring its pleas.
Eventually, I went back to my hotel, collapsed on the bed in the AC, and there I lay for about an hour allowing my core temperature to lower. I’m sure if I had had a thermometer with me, it would have been off the charts. Heat stroke? Perhaps a mild case. I googled it as I was lying there, begging forgiveness of my vessel. By that time, my body simply ignored me as it had more important things to focus on.
The point of this entire story is to illustrate how often we ignore the warnings signs and wisdom of our bodies. We ask a lot of them on a daily basis, and they usually comply without a lot of argument or issue. In this instance, I asked too much, and my body let me know. Had I listened to it sooner, none of this would have happened. Had I adhered to the wisdom I already knew (that I don’t do well in heat or strong sun), I never would have gone for a walk to begin with. But I didn’t, and I got sick.
It occurred to me then, that if my body were my child, I would never have asked the same of it. And it made me wonder how many of us do the same. In many ways, our bodies are like our children. They are entirely dependent on us for their well-being. We (our minds) are the parents providing sustenance, protection, and opportunity for our bodies to be and do their best. How would things change if we started to look at our vessels in this new way? Would we still eat junk food? Drink tons of caffeine and sugar?
In my opinion, we do those things in order to ask more of our bodies than we should, or than they should be willing to give. We silence them through substances, rather than listening to the innate wisdom within.
As for me, I was much better within a few hours and back to normal in less than a day, with no lasting side effects… other than a newfound respect for the relationship I have with my body and a desire to listen more and demand less.