If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen this video I posted last week – me doing a back dive for the first time in 40 years.
The large number of comments it received would suggest that others were just as surprised as I was that I didn’t fall flat on my face—or back. I was full-out shocked, to be honest. My mind couldn’t remember a single thing that Dave, my adolescent swim instructor, said to me about back dives, or any other dives, for that matter. Heart racing, stomach in knots, I was determined to try because I truly believe that doing things that scare me has intrinsic value. As I stood, shaking, at the end of that board, contemplating my leap into the unknown, all that came to me was some vague memory of putting my arms out in front of me to begin. Once I did that the body took over. And this 53-year-old body led me into what I would gratefully describe as a relatively ‘successful’ back dive. Could it have been better? Of course. But what I find interesting is that my body knew how to do this very specific and somewhat technically-challenging move without my having attempted it even once for nearly FOUR decades.
What this experience tells me, among other things, is that I can trust my body. More than I do. It tells me to trust the deep wisdom that lives in these cells. It tells me to forget the mirror-initiated, mind-induced, judgment-heavy chatter that informs me mercilessly and tirelessly, “You’re old”, “You need to lose a few pounds” and put my energy and attention where it belongs — on the exquisite inner life that exists within my BODY.
My BODY tells me it feels good. My body tells me it feels strong. My body tells me it feels full of vitality. (Much of the time. It also tells me when it needs to rest.) My body tells me it loves to dance and stretch and swim and run (a little bit, anyway) and jump and move. It tells me I am valuable and beautiful and womanly and vibrant and alive. When I let it speak. Too often I neglect its wise words for the crazy “old lady mind blather.”
Enough. There may be a few more wrinkles, a few more spots, a few more bumps and bulges than there used to be, but my body carries the powerful wisdom of my whole life within it. This is a body that still carries the wisdom of “back dive”. And so much more. Every time I get in touch with my body — through yoga, through dance, through all the many ways it loves to move — I honor this body and I strengthen my trust in it.
So today, set aside the mirror, set aside the mind chatter, and listen to what the body has to say. You may be delighted to hear what words of wisdom it has to share.