We’re reading Jan Chozen Bays’s How to Train a Wild Elephant at the Tricycle Book Club. At the beginning of this week we posted one of the mindfulness practices from the book, “Gratitude for the Body,” and today we’re following-up with the “Deeper Lessons” to be learned from that exercise. If you have questions or comments for Jan Chozen Bays please join the discussion!

Deeper Lessons
Nothing can thrive under bombardment by negative energy, not children, pets, potted plants or our body. When our body’s appearance does not meet the standards of our inner perfectionist or inner critic, we may begin to feel subtly frustrated or angry toward our body. This can also happen when a body part is in trouble, with injury or disease. We begin to fear or resent our body. This is not a healthy environment for our body, and can even create disease.

Gratitude practice is a way to shift the emotional tone of our mind from negative to positive. We realize how hard our body parts are working for us, night and day. We realize that most of our body is working fine. The many tasks our body performs are very complicated—it is not a surprise when a few parts have difficulties. Gratitude creates a palpable force, a healing force. People often find that when they send it to their bodies, they feel better physically. Mental tension creates physical tension, which restricts blood flow and constricts muscles. As I age, my body objects to getting up early in the morning. When I do gratitude or loving kindness practice for my body at the start of morning meditation, it’s like taking two aspirin. If I do it before falling asleep, I can relax more deeply. And when I do it for my body when it’s tired or sick, it feels like a healing balm.

Final words
Express gratitude for your body at least once a day, every day. It’s the best kind of alternative medicine.