The Body Series: What Creates Body Awareness and Body Care?


Aware of her tail

Yesterday, I invited you to share any lingering thoughts or questions you have as we’ve been working our way through this body series, and one of the responses I received came from Valerie Hess. Valerie just so happens to be one of the co-authors of The Life of the Body: Physical Well-Being and Spiritual Formation, which I’ve recommended as a resource companion to this series, and she was also one of the instructors in my graduate degree program in spiritual formation. 

Valerie asked: 

Why do you think some people have such a disconnect from their body and others are hyper in tune with it? Temperament? Training?

I love this question! And I’ve been wondering it myself.

I know a number of people who have always been active and have taken care with the food they put in their bodies, and I’ve wondered, “How did that happen?” Was it their upbringing, that their parents taught them to care for their bodies the way they do? Is it preference, that they simply love healthy food and being active? 

I think about my sister, who was always active outdoors and rough-housed her way around the neighborhood while we were kids, while I stayed nestled inside with my books, and she grew up to play varsity softball in high school. We were raised by the same parents, yet our preferences and temperament were so very different in this regard. 

I think training has something to do with it, too. One family I knew while growing up loved to play tennis together on the weekends. With regular activity and body-mindfulness rooted at the center of their family life, the children couldn’t help but grow up used to keeping their bodies active as a natural part of life and daily routine. 

Sometimes I just want to conduct informal interviews with people who are active and ask them: How did that happen for you? 

What are your thoughts on this? 

And if you’ve always had a sense of body-mindfulness or active care for your body, would you care to share how that happened for you?