The answer is yes…and no.
Like our automobiles, our bodies are a system of structure and function made up of many interconnected parts. I treat my body in similar ways to my car regarding maintenance and a developed awareness of “signs.” I have taken the time to familiarize myself with the basic mechanics of my motor vehicle along with a general schedule of required maintenance that I follow and anticipate in an attempt to avoid emergency repairs. I am happy to report that 25 years of this practice with the added good fortune of never having purchased a “lemon” has given me a track record of only one unexpected flat tire and never a roadside assistance necessity. If I ignored those new, “funny sounds” elicited from my car and didn’t review the scheduled maintenance—if I didn’t look at my tires regularly or keep an eye on the gas, the new noises, or the warning lights on the dashboard—if I didn’t get regular oil changes and check points on future repairs, this would not be the case.
My body also thrives on this attention. In the land of human beings, all “healths” are not created equal. We are each born with our particular genetic predispositions. We either add to or detract from those strengths and weaknesses depending on how we live for the rest of our lives. Unlike our cars, if we live in a “lemon” we can’t just take it back to the dealer and replace it with a better functioning vehicle. We must find ways to live in it.
When we need auto repairs or replacement parts in our car, it integrates them into the system with relatively little effort or adjustment. Not necessarily true with a body. If a surgery is required and especially if that surgery involves a replacement part, there is a long journey ahead for the patient that involves strengthening the system in order to receive the procedure that is followed by a period of recovery and a re-strengthening of the system. In addition to this, the effectiveness of the procedure will vary depending on your overall health, age, and the level of surgical difficulty. Your car will usually receive the new part and perform well immediately after the exchange. If only this were true for bodies!
Like our automobiles, our bodies require a fair amount of attention in order to be there for us when we need them. When we really look at all that our bodies do for us, all day, every day, they actually require very little in return. In addition to getting us from one place to the next, they think, digest, breathe, run, jump, stretch, focus, sleep…and dream for us. They do not do these things without complaining which is great because complaining is the body’s way of getting our attention for what it needs in return. We are actually in a constant state of negotiation with our bodies and with our health.
At the very least, a little education tells us that we need water, food, some level of exercise and a decent night’s sleep, but to experience what is optimal for each of us, a more developed relationship to our health support will be required. The cultivation of listening skills, paying attention instead of ignoring “signs” of distress, appropriate consulting with professionals and appropriate action will create and sustain the health that each of us is capable of living.
In a relationship, when things aren’t going well, the best thing to do is to look at your partner and ask, “What do you need? What do you want?” Regarding our health, this simple practice could serve us well in our lifetime relationship to our personal vehicles. We just might be surprised at what we hear in response.
Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 16+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture. 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299 http://www.CHAfrisco.com