It never ceases to amaze me how interconnected the body is. For years I have had to have massages for pain management, and many times I show up for a massage with one particular body part under stress and in pain.
So I go into the massage pointing out the area that needs work. In the days and weeks leading up to the massage I’m very gentle with that area, I stretch it, self-massage it, and take care of it. In Belize we would say l ‘baby it’, meaning, I handle it with kids’ gloves.
But then I go into the massage and as the masseuse pays attention to that area, she also works on other parts of the body. The first time I noticed this phenomenon was with my cousin Karissa, a masseuse. My right leg had been causing a lot of pain and discomfort when I showed up for my massage. But when she worked on the left leg I realize that there was more pain there than on the right side that I had been doing so much to take care of in the weeks before. It made me realize that the entire body is interconnected, and that while I had been focusing on the right side, stress was building up on the left side. It had gone undetected, unmanaged, so there was more work that needed to be done on the left side than on the right side.
Unbelievable! Last Friday as I lay on the massage table, this insight surprised me again. It made me think of the story of Jacob and Esau and how there was favoritism on both sides. The father sided with one son, the mother with another. The favoritism shown by both parents led to serious division within the family unit. This is the same thing that happens within the body. When we favor one part of the body because it is in pain and is acting up, but we don’t look at the whole body, and how to improve it so that the pain is lessened in the one area that is standing out, we put the entire body at risk of failing.
We know that when we go to the doctor with a symptom, the doctor doesn’t look at just that symptom. The results of tests and other things that are going on in the body are taken into consideration. A good doctor comes up with not only a solution targeting the problem area, but also a solution for the health of the entire body. This is (1) so that stress isn’t built up in other areas while trying to fix the part that isn’t working well, and (2) because the healthier the rest of the body is, the more it can help with making the affected body part better.
Nowhere is this interconnectedness more evident than during a massage. It is a mind- blowing truth that is reflective of the entire world and how it works. The Bible talks about how the body is made up of so many different parts and how each body part is important, and that they all need to act as a unit to make the body work. (1 Cor 12). If there is any part of the body that is given more importance, more focus, more attention, the entire body will eventually fail. This is true of ecosystems, families, the work environment, and even churches.
When one part of the body is favored, protected, ‘babied’, the rest of the body is unprotected, and left to fend for itself. It takes on stress, and adapts to what is happening. This is because of the truth of interconnectedness that we live under.
After a massage there are body parts that are hurting, and I need to drink water, and get some rest. But the release of toxins is what is needed to put all of of the body onto an even keel. So it is with whatever you need to do to bring equilibrium back to things. The process isn’t devoid of pain or discomfort, but the end result will be worth it.
I encourage you to take a look at the systems in your life. To take a look at your body. Is your focus on one part more than the other? Is it possible that stress is being built up in the parts that you’re not focusing on? That you’re ignoring? That you’re not paying attention to?
And is there something you can do about that? Are there more holistic ways that you can better take care of your body and the systems you are in charge of?
The key is interconnectedness, whether it’s your physical body, or something else. Don’t allow stress to build up in other areas because your focus is singular. Instead, pay attention to the entire body – family, work, or church. It is quite possible that in choosing to pay attention to other parts and to other people, that you will see health come back to something you may have given up hope on.
© Debbie Mendoza May 2021