Did you know that your taste buds renew themselves every 10 days, lungs every 2-3 weeks, skin every 2-4 weeks, liver every 5 years, bones every 7 years, and heart every 20 years (so long high school heartbreak!)? Isn’t that fascinating? The human body is such an incredible phenomena, in particular because it constantly renews itself.
Chronic pain or discomfort caused by bad posture may have creeped up on you. It may have started years ago when you began changing the way you walk or sit because of pain or injury. If this compensation continued without correction, it may have turned into an unconscious pattern in your body, which led to a postural habit that stiffened your muscles and tissues into this new shape. If this was the case for long enough, you may have begun to define yourself around this posture, falsely convincing yourself that you can’t change it, surrendering to live with chronic pain.
As a yoga and meditation teacher, I see this all the time, and if I’m not careful I too can fall into this unfortunate pattern. Often people believe that collecting an array of chronic pain is much like amassing memories – a normal result of aging. Not so, I say!
In my previous article, I wrote about how I’m constantly being blown away that the workings of the body are so closely intertwined with the teachings of the mind in Buddhism. Learning about the body’s renewing nature is no exception. In meditation, I was taught that we are reborn in each moment. If this sounds a little hokey or new age-y, all it means is that in each moment we have the opportunity to choose how we want to respond to what’s happening around us. For example, if you’re usually very hard on yourself and yearn to be more patient or caring, the next time you make a mistake or break something, you can start carving out new thought patterns by choosing to react in a compassionate way.
When I first learned that the body is always renewing itself, I felt a profound sense of freedom because I no longer needed to be a victim of my past bad postural habits. This realization also motivated me to wake up to each moment and can choose how I wanted my posture to be in the future. On a recent meditation retreat, my teacher said “The only control you have over the future is the quality of your mind right now.” If that applies to the subtle workings of the mind and heart, it surely applies to the physical body as well.
As I’ve discovered and continue to discover, changing any pattern – mental or physical – is not easy, yet always worth it. Come back on Friday to find out how you can start the journey to better posture!