We’ve all experienced how life shifted dramatically over the last months. There have been significant limitations placed on the ways we interact, touch, travel, work, and recreate, which in turn influence the way we think about the outside world. Walking towards another person on a sidewalk there is now often a mixture of both apprehension (“Will this person get too close?”) as well as longing for human encounter (“I miss connecting with people, can I give them a hug?”). Such a push and pull!
As a lot of things changed, fears came forward, too. Fears about staying home, fears about going out. Fears about not enough being done against the coronavirus, fears about things being overblown. Fears about not being able to trust _____ (you insert the right word). There has certainly been no shortage of things to worry about.
And yet, in the midst of all that fear and limitation, important seeds for future-looking change do come. Some are more personal realizations, such as, “I need to tell my friends now much I appreciate them, as soon as I see them again” or “I spend too much time looking at screens, I need to go outside and run!” There are also broader recognitions emerging, with affirmation that just going back to the way things were before is not good enough. That’s a pretty classic sign of a biographical change—when simply going back is not enough, but that there has to be something new. Insights and outrage about racial, economic, social, moral, human needs and rights are clearer, more acute. They are such important seeds.
Fear comes when we worry about loss—loss of safety, loss of security, of health, of control. Fear wants to pull us back towards what has been. But healing is about change. No one heals something without making a change, be it on a physical, functional, emotional or spiritual level. Imagine going to a doctor, and explaining about a bad pain or injury and having the doctor say “Well, I think you should just go back to the way things were”—that would be ludicrous! You would switch to another doctor! Many people experience that after a serious illness, even if you are told you are well and you should just go back to your life and live normally, that life is not the same. We are changed, or, more accurately, we ourselves have changed and transformed.
Fear connects to our belief that things are basically constant, even in terms of our health and physiology. That view, however, is possible only because we are aware of just a small part of what is really happening all the time. We may not consciously recognize it, but we are in fact beings of continuous change. Our body constantly grows, adapts, shifts, rebalances, regenerates and renews in anticipation of future activity. We are just so lovingly supported by these processes that they feel normal.
We are much more dynamic than we appreciate. Let’s look at a few examples:
- BONE. The bones of our skeleton are continuously being remodeled—broken down (by cells called osteoclasts) while new bone is being created (by osteoblasts)—so that all of our bones are completely changed every ten years. If you are forty-one years old that means you are actually creating the fifth skeleton of your life, your fifth backbone! We are not static, we change and recreate our basic foundations for life all the time.
- LIVER. The liver’s activity is usually quiet and stays in our unconscious. You may not even be sure where your liver is (hint: upper right abdomen, tucked under the ribs). But liver cells are quite dynamic, meeting, storing, and detoxifying all the nutritive substance that comes in through our digestion. We continually grow new liver cells so that we will be ready to meet what comes to us down the road. Our whole liver is replaced every 150-500 days. That means if you are 28 years-old then you are probably on your to 20th to your 68th liver! In anthroposophic medicine, we recognize the liver as an important organ for acting in the world. Through such exceptional regenerative powers we find the capacity to work differently in the world over and over—do something differently, act in a new way. We harbor tremendous capacities for resilience and regeneration within us all the time.
- KIDNEYS. Our kidneys are masters for sensing what can be given away. The fluid part of our blood, the plasma, is continuously filtered and then reabsorbed within the kidney tubules. The average person has about 3 liters of plasma in their body—and that plasma is completely filtered 60 times in 24 hours! What’s even more amazing is that of the 180 liters of fluid that go through the kidneys each day (3 liters times 60 cycles),178.5 liters is intentionally reabsorbed. We do an inventory of everything in the blood plasma, then reabsorb 99%, just so that we can know what is the 1.5 liters we no longer need and can excrete! We look at every bit of the plasma, a complete self-examination, 60 times in 24 hours. We have exquisite sensing capacities for looking inward to know what parts of our humanity we need and what we can, and should, let go of.
- HEART and CIRCULATION. The average person has about 5.6 liters of blood (this now includes all the blood cells). That total volume of blood circulates through the body three times every minute. “In one day, the blood travels a total of 19,000 km (12,000 miles)—that’s four times the distance across the US from coast to coast.” Our blood is exactly the opposite of static. It is defined by continuous movement. It is also the place where we carry our greatest warmth. In anthroposophic medicine, the activity of blood is connected to the will and to our moral sense for other human beings. This intensely alive and mobile activity of the blood is where we find our deepest humanity and our will to do the good.
We think, based mostly on what has already happened in the past,
We feel, guided by the experiences of the present moment,
We will, so that we can meet all that we long to encounter, in the future.
We can change, we can grow, we can renew, we can encounter, we can heal. We do it in our bodies all the time, every day and night, for the whole of our lifetime.
Wishing you good healing,
Click here to see two meditative verses that we’ve found to be particularly helpful in times of change and transition.
Physiologic facts gathered from science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/does-body-really-replace-seven-years2.htm, mcb.berkeley.edu/courses/mcb135e/kidneyprocess.html,