Practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re doing it wrong. – Frank Sonnenberg
Today everyone seems to be talking about the mind-body connection, but I am fairly sure that we aren’t all talking about the same thing. In my case, this week I had a glimpse of how the mind-body connection should work, but the journey to get here took me over 15 years.
I spent the majority of my life oblivious to the fact that our bodies don’t automatically replenish themselves. At age 45, with three kids at home under the age of ten and a high-pressure job, I received a loud wake up call. My body rebelled, and as it screamed in pain I responded by running to various doctors to get it fixed.
Here’s what lulled me into my unconscious state about my mind-body connection.
- I ate a lot of junk, I didn’t exercise and yet I remained thin. I thought my special “high metabolism” would last forever.
- I didn’t suffer from physical pain, so I thought I had immunity.
- In order to correct a severe deformity of my left foot at birth my legs were set in casts, leaving one of my legs longer than the other, but I didn’t think it mattered.
- Uncorrected scoliosis of the spine, though minor, affected my body form and balance.
- Twenty plus years of a job which consisted of mostly sitting behind a desk or through long meetings, had never bothered my back, so I assumed it never would.
- And let me repeat, I never exercised.
The doctors weren’t brilliant and they didn’t offer any miracle cures. Their diagnosis revealed that my back pain resulted from osteoarthritis of the spine. My secondary complaint, of foot and heel pain resulted from my early life in braces and improper posture. One doc prescribed high doses of Aleve, which became my constant companion.
Another doc took a different approach. He issued an insensitive pronouncement; “You are obese and you need to lose weight. It’s like carrying a 10-pound sack of flour around on each leg. Get rid of 20 pounds and your pains will vanish.”
So in addition to medication, for the next ten years I focused on diet, weight loss and exercise to try alleviate the pain, but only experienced minor temporary relief. Amazingly, I never thought to connect my body to my mind. Consciously or not, I thought of my mind as separate from my body, as if it just hung out there by itself. I rationalized that after all, a body is just a shell to house my spirit.
At age 58, I tried acupuncture treatment for my back and broke the cycle of pain that wore me down and sapped my energy. Released, I enthusiastically embraced various forms of exercise including ZUMBA, walking and swimming. All with their own benefits, but they brought new strains and pains to various parts of my body.
Part Two, Tuesday, March 8, 2016. What Finally Made the Difference.