Messages from the Body

In September of this year, I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago. The walk constituted part of my 80th birthday present to myself. One of the many things that filled me with joy was the feeling of connection with all the other pilgrims on the path. We really were all in this together.

One morning at breakfast, I visited with a father/daughter pair who were walking together. He was slightly younger than I and, of course, she was quite a bit younger and had been struggling a bit with the stamina needed every day. She commented that she hoped she could do this when she turns 80, since at 45, it was a challenge. I told her I could not have done this 10 or 15 years ago, and she was encouraged.

I had not realized the truth of what I said and walked with that truth for several miles. What became clear is that my ITP practice has so transformed my relationship with my body that whole new vistas have opened up for me. In the past, my body was simply the vehicle for carrying my head around. My life was pretty exclusively mind-based. I have been lucky to have good health, and I could count on my body to do what was asked of it, but I never paid attention to what embodiment felt like.

Slowly, through practicing the Kata (especially GRACE), I became more and more centered in this physical form. As I articulated each joint and stretched each muscle, I actually became closely acquainted with and deeply appreciative of this amazing body I’ve been blessed with. While I was slow to initiate exercise practice, when I did, I evolved into greater and greater strength, stamina, and flexibility.

Before I became conscious of all parts of my integral self, the idea of my walking for 10 or 15 miles every day was unthinkable (and unwise). This year those pilgrim days were an endless delight and deeply meaningful.