Like most kids, I took the ability to move around for granted when I was young. My body was a “thing” to be used to achieve the goals I had set and I was pretty hard on myself when it didn’t live up to my expectations.
At age twenty I began to experience the stressors of repetitive motion injuries from being a musician as well as chronic tiredness from studying and working 2 part-time jobs. It seemed my body was beginning to “betray” me. I became exhausted and developed a “mysterious” auto-immune condition that left me barely able to function.
Around this time I heard a radio interview with a young man who had been paralyzed and “miraculously” regained use of his legs. He described how he used his imagination to feel as if he was moving one leg and then the other while lying in bed. And then one day he actually DID move one of his legs a slight amount! Motivated by that accomplishment, he continued imagining that he was walking in his mind day after day until he gradually found himself taking tiny steps with support and then, finally, walking on his own. This young man had discovered the amazing ability of using his mind to rejuvenate his body. By focusing on the joy of moving his body he began to create new neural pathways that eventually allowed him to regain movement in his legs.
Before this I had been feeling frustrated and helpless about my health, but this interview inspired me to focus on imagining myself feeling healthy again. I decided to be kinder and more patient with my body. Although I still rested most of the day, I began to visualize myself resuming the activities I enjoyed at school and with my friends. Within a week there was a definite shift in my energy and soon I had the energy to move around and was feeling much healthier.
What I know now that I did not know then, is that the brain is designed to use the input from the mind to continually create and direct the flow of energy in the body. Whether it’s conscious of it or not, my body responds to my “mind-moves” (an Eckhart Tolle phrase) and because of this I have a choice in every single moment of both how and where I move.
Over the years I’ve discovered that If my mind says “it’s too much effort to do that/go there” then my body responds with effortful action. And if my mind asks “This is going to be so fun and easy!” then my body responds by organizing itself into the most optimal community of relationships to support me moving in an effortless manner. It is this amazing capacity for neuroplasticity that allowed the paralyzed young man to overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle of severe nerve damage.
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