Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Body as Machine vs Garden

The body as a machine is a popular way for Eastern medicine practitioners to describe the Western viewpoint of the body.  Individual parts making up a whole and like a machine if something goes wrong with one part it can affect the whole but all you need to do is repair or replace the broken part and like magic the machine is new again.  The garden perspective is a little different as it focuses on the delicate balance between the external and internal, how change to one part of the ecosystem will impact the whole, as well as the concept of health being more than the absence of illness.

I never really had to think about my body before.  I could always rely on it.  If I wanted to go on an 11 day trek in the Himalyas I didn't train I just did it.  Snowboard all day, no problem.  Ride, walk, swim, hike I could always depend on my body.  As a machine it was reliable, if there was ever a problem it was usually because I upset the delicate garden through overindulgence, under activity, poor stress management or pushing the limits in general.

Now as I near the end of my first pregnancy I feel slightly betrayed.  My body is not quite what it used to be a brief 7 months ago and I'm not just talking about "the bump".

Things started off so well, no morning sickness or extreme tiredness in fact most days I had to remind myself I was pregnant.  I continued with my regular activities dance class, biking, power yoga until I started to notice small changes.  At first shortness of breath with activities that weren't very challenging.  Discomfort while doing floor work in dance class, carrying groceries, riding my bike.  My balance was off in handstand and even in standing poses like tree or warrior.  Slowly I've had to alter or completely give up my favourite activities.  Even the most mundane tasks of daily life can be a challenge, arms fall asleep while working on the computer or eating breakfast, hips feel unstable after sitting for awhile.  It's a struggle to bend over to pick up something off the floor, to stand up once seated not to mention rolling over in bed, never mind falling asleep.  

All these discomforts have given me pause.  I reflect on the clients I see on a daily basis, many of whom struggle with long term chronic illnesses far more debilitating than a wobbly hip.  I have a greater understanding of what it feels like to carry a few extra pounds (in my case it's around the 35 mark).  Although this "condition" is temporary I do wonder when my machine began to break down and whether I could have done something different along the way to help keep everything running smoothly or is it inevitable that the garden would be disrupted by this rather large invasion.  

Pregnancy has always been a natural process to me something a woman's body was designed to do therefore a relatively easy and enjoyable process.  For the most part is has been easy when I hear other stories and although the balance in my body has been disrupted it is fascinating to take a step back to observe how the machine has adapted to the changes.  I look forward to the next stage of change watching how the machine performs it's final task in the process of creating a new life and the subsequent return of balance to the garden.  

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