The Body is a Garden

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The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

-Isaiah 58:11

When I took my certification exam for the American Council on Exercise in 1998, I was on crutches. I’d just torn my ACL (ligament at the knee joint) and had it surgically repaired. I signed up for the exam before the surgery, before the tear, before the skiing mishap that led to the whole endeavor.

As I’ve been working on the draft of my new book, “Garden in the East” that image comes back to me time and time again; hobbling into that exam, sitting for several hours with my swollen knee, focusing on the mechanics of the body as I tried to recollect all the hours of reading and study I’d done to pass.

My husband has done some medical filming in his long career in film production. He’d sit in the OR all gowned up shooting whatever procedure he’d been charged to document. Then he’d bring the footage home, download it and then edit it to fit the clients’ needs. I won’t lie, it’s pretty gross to the uninitiated viewer. Over time, though, the “gross” of it wears off, and I found it fascinating to see the inner workings there on the screen.

My injury, surgery and the subsequent hobbling on crutches hammer in the image of the body as mechanical but the truth is more evident on the videos that Dave would edit. The body is organic, living and breathing. It is beautiful in its design. The body is a garden, not a machine.

It was probably those videos mixed with learning the mechanics of the body then beginning work with clients who held a historically distant relationship with that body that shifted my thinking early in my fitness career. At some point in working with a client who had a negative view of her “earthen vessel” as it were that I blurted out, “Your body is a garden. It needs care.” She looked at me a little confused so I went on to tell her that while many of us want to think the body is more like a “house” or a “vehicle” for the spirit the reality is that it’s all intertwined here.

We’re living, breathing, organic creatures- mind and body and spirit. We have to live as though we believe it and act accordingly. I find that when we value the whole of us, when we see this body as living and growing and lovely, we do treat it more gently. We care for ourselves, the whole of ourselves, in the way we’re meant to- with respect, with care, with nurturing.

The body is a garden. Care for it well.

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