by Kate Greenaway BAppSc (Physiotherapy), Australia
Recently I had a fascinating experience that highlighted to me the difference between moving and exercising in a gentle flowing way, or pounding and pushing the body. I was packing my car after a lovely time exercising in the local pool – two middle-aged men were running down a steep cement driveway near me – they were literally pounding and jarring their bodies. They were red and puffy in their faces and they looked miserable. I was feeling really fluid and content in my body from the gentle moving and swimming that I had just done, and then to feel what these men were doing to their bodies almost made me wince as they slammed their bodies with each step. From my work in physiotherapy over the last 28 years I know this sort of activity to be extremely damaging to the joints of the legs and spine, and to the deep soft tissue that supports them.
This gave me pause; I remembered it was only a few years ago that I myself was pelting up and down the local pools to do my ’40 laps’, or pushing myself up the gazillion steps to the Byron Bay Lighthouse to feel good about doing something ‘healthy’ and ‘good’ for my body. Part of my drive came from that ‘I should have a healthy body’ as I was a physiotherapist, and ‘how could I tell my clients to look after their bodies and exercise, if I wasn’t?’
That drive was behind years of dabbling in all sorts of exercise. You name it – I tried it … from gym and weight workouts to twisting myself into all sorts of shapes with all styles of yoga – to a slow series of movements in Tai Chi and Chi Gung. I even studied Tai Chi in the UK under a ‘master’, and diligently practised even though my knees were giving me clear messages that this wasn’t a natural way to move and exercise. I realise now that all I did was make my body hard, and like these middle-aged men pelting past me I, was punishing my body rather than supporting it.
I had made moving and exercise, as with other things in my life, complex and outcome based, rather than a simple enjoyment of my body’s natural way of moving.
I remember as a little girl loving the lightness and spring in my body and being fascinated with how there was a flow in my body and in animals’ bodies and in nature too – especially in the trees and in water. I also loved the feeling of that gentle rippling through the body when I floated in water – it was a bonus having friends with pools growing up in Australia!!! Somewhere along the line I lost that love of my body and replaced it with what my body ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t do’.
When I was in my 30’s I was considered very healthy by the standard medical parameters, but I had low vitality, was moody – especially in the early mornings, and each day was just a job to get done.
When I was 35 a physio friend introduced me to Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine – that was a pivotal point in my life. I had the same love for the body and its biomechanics as he did from his sporting background, but he had a deeper awareness and knowing of the body’s natural healing than anyone I had met. This challenged me initially, as I equated knowledge of the body with some sort of traditional medical training, yet here was a man without that but with a far greater understanding of the body than all the health professionals I had known over the past 15 years. He just always made sense, and I could see that he lived what he presented – that your body’s vitality gradually comes back as you live more gently in it. It took me years to understand what being gentle and more self loving with my body meant, and I am still learning. As I became aware that the way I exercised and how I chose to exercise had made my body hard, I stopped most of what I used to do. But that didn’t work either as my body became weak and less toned.
Over the last 12 years I have been to most of the Universal Medicine presentations, and Serge Benhayon has never told anyone what exercise to do or not do – he has just shared what has supported his body. So over the last few years I have rekindled my appreciation of the natural flowing movement in my body when I walk, swim or do my light weights. As soon as I go back into the old way with ‘I must do three more bicep curls’, it’s as if another 5 kg is loaded on my arm and my body goes hard. When I come back to enjoying the natural flow of the movement and am open to learning from my body, that same movement with that same weight is easy and light. It’s still a work in progress – or really a ‘love in progress’. That old program of ‘exercise must do’s’ is so strong that I can slip into the ‘doing’ of it pretty easily. This is slowly changing as I catch these moments – enjoy my flowing movement again and just keep it simple as to how and what my body wants to do at that time. When I do this it’s like my body sighs with relief; over time the hardness continues to melt.
I have shared this with many clients over these recent years, and they have learnt to appreciate and even love their bodies again.
One of the best things to all of this is that exercise and movement have become fun and way more playful. It has made a big difference to my life. I am more confident in who I am and have re-discovered how lovely it feels being me. I am now in my late 40’s and I have way more vitality and joy in my body than I had in my late 20’s!!!