When Monty Roberts "speaks" to a horse, the animal eventually walks up and places its head inches from his shoulder—a behavior called joining up. If you learn to value and calm your body, you will eventually experience what it's like to "join up" with your physical self. Psychologists who study human happiness have found that unity of mind and body occurs when we not only love our bodies but also challenge them. You wouldn't buy a racehorse and make it stand in its stall forever; it needs to run. Likewise, your body wants adventure, effort, striving. You can join up with it by pushing yourself to do physical things that intrigue and challenge you: learning martial arts, practicing the piano, making furniture, whatever. Find something your body loves to do, and coax yourself to the edge of your physical abilities. Somewhere between Too Easy and Way Too Hard, you'll find that your mind and your body unite, that the dancer becomes the dance. It's so enjoyable that you may forget to age.
These exercises will help you recognize that your body has been talking to you all along, in its vocabulary of pain and pleasure, anxiety and relaxation. You'll learn to stop when your body says no, and embrace new experiences that make it say yes, yes, yes! As your physical and mental selves begin to understand each other more completely, you may find (as I did) that the symptoms of chronic disease go into remission. Your body—no matter its age—will begin to feel the childlike exuberance that goes with being heard and loved. The body I ride through this life is mortal, changeable, and far from perfect. But when I stopped breaking it and learned to whisper, we became a team. Whatever the path we travel, I know in my bones that together, we'll get where we need to go.
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