In the Body We Trust

UntitledIn this country (the USA), our currency is printed with this motto: In God We Trust. There’s nothing wrong with this sentiment, but imagine if we adopted this one: In the Body We Trust.

It wouldn’t be a statement of faith as much as one of fact. Because whether we acknowledge it or not, we trust our bodies all the time. When we go to sleep, we trust the body to keep breathing. When we walk, we trust the body to maintain its gait and balance. When a woman is pregnant, she trusts her body to grow new life within her. We trust the heart to keep beating and we trust our immune systems to ward off infection and destroy cancer cells. We place tremendous trust in our bodies, even if we seldom think about it.

But what if we did think about it? How might that change the relationship between mind and body? As explained in another essay, the dysfunction in the mind’s relationship with the body is rooted in fear. So paying attention to how mind trusts the body—all the time—would be a good step toward easing that fear and improving the bond between the two.

Of course, this trust is implicit. We don’t fall asleep feeling like we’re placing our lives in the hands of a trusted being. But maybe we should. It can feel nice to thank the body for keeping us alive during the night. As we notice more and more how much we can trust the body, we begin to feel accompanied and supported in life rather than isolated and beleaguered.

Imagine you had a friend who protected you from illness, took care of most of your housekeeping, kept a fire burning in your hearth, and watched over you while you slept. Wouldn’t you feel safe trusting that person? Wouldn’t you feel more confident knowing you had such a watchful, supportive companion?

An important MindfulBiology practice involves making our implicit trust in the body more conscious. By staying aware of the faith we have in our bodies, we lessen fear and increase feelings of comfort and support. And as comfort and support grow, we begin to think of the body as a friend rather than a thing. We feel more supported, less stressed and isolated.

Research has shown that reducing stress and isolation improves health. Many body systems benefit. People who feel more relaxed and loved suffer fewer cardiovascular, immune, digestive, and mental health problems. They live longer, too.

But in my opinion, the best reason to trust the body isn’t the way it might help us live longer, healthier lives; it’s the way it helps us feel better in this moment. Like snuggling up to a lover or petting an adored dog or cat, trusting the body warms the heart.