This morning I took a yoga class where the instructor offered an optional intention of extending unconditional friendliness, first to ourselves and our bodies, and then outwards towards others. I hopped on board right away, touched by the simplicity and power of this expression. In just two words, he summed up my approach to health and healing.
Let us approach our bodies with friendliness. No matter what. For me this meant backing off quite a bit during class as I was feeling tired and somewhat fragile. Rather than pushing through fatigue or forcing my body to hold poses it wasn’t really up to, I chose friendliness and rested frequently. I had planned to do a vigorous practice as I was feeling stiff and wanted to let go of accumulated tension. My body’s innate wisdom had a different plan for me, and because I was willing to listen, I benefited greatly.
This philosophy is also how I approach bodywork. So often we treat our bodies as the enemy; something to be conquered or beaten into submission, punished or ignored. Thousands of times I’ve seen pain melt away during a session in which I used friendliness as an intention rather than aggression or manipulation. To me it is intuitively obvious that we don’t lessen suffering by hurting one another or ourselves.
This newfound clarity has inspired me to behave differently. I’m decided to make friends with my body; to respect, honor, listen, cherish, and treat her with kindness. I will speak to her lovingly and give her the support she needs to thrive. It’s high time I make unconditional friendliness an internal priority rather than merely an external one. After all, my body will be with me for the rest of my life, we might as well be the best of friends!