It happens. We’re active. We enjoy moving around and getting things done. We might even take pride in all the things we accomplish on a daily basis. Then one day, we get hurt or sick. Maybe we pull or strain something. Maybe we get a diagnosis. We might even break something.

The human body is a strong and resilient organism, but it’s also subject to injury and illness. Even if we take the utmost care of it, we can still have accidents or succumb to disease. That’s life.

When we experience these crises, we can also experience all kinds of associated emotions and fears. What if I don’t heal? What if I can’t play my favorite sport or continue on with work or even move around on my own again. When we go through illness or injure the body, the body tends to guard itself. It is part of the necessary healing process. But when the mind enters the picture and locks us in fear, we start to armour ourselves. We hold back. We over-protect. Or maybe we just don’t want to feel the pain of moving through the entire process of being with what is…so we shut down emotionally instead.

Unfortunately, many people get caught in the pain cycle. They get sick or injured, so they stop moving. Unfortunately, lack of movement creates its own pain. That leads to even less movement leading to even more pain.

What’s a body to do?

It’s critical to understand that movement is life. The more we can move, the better. Even if we can’t move as we once did…or as much as we once did…movement must continue in some way, shape or form in order to break the pain cycle. Too many people make the mistake of forsaking a movement practice due to fatigue, injury or pain.

Of course there are times when we simply need to rest and heal, and until we do, there will be limits. That goes without saying. And yes, there may indeed be things that we simply have to accept we can no longer do, but there is always something we can do to keep everything else well-oiled and optimally functional. It might not be running marathons or power yoga, but it can be a gentle breathing practice or restorative yoga.

Movement is essential in our emotional and mental states as well. They need freedom to flow or we again experience pain or fatigue. We get stuck, frozen in habit. That too makes it harder to recover. Physical movement, even if it’s simply a breath practice, is a great way to process our feelings and shift our mental habits.

Maybe getting past that initial inertia is the hardest part, because once the link is made between how you feel and how much you move, and you begin to recognize and experience the rewards for yourself, you won’t dream of doing yourself the disservice of wallowing in stagnation again. I know it can be scary, but learning to listen to and honor your body is a huge part of any road to true healing. Be encouraged! Get to know that mysterious and magical meatsack you inhabit. Befriend it, just as it is, and let it lead you back to wellness.