Some thoughts from a book I bought years ago, in my early days as a yoga teacher in Cape Town. Deepak Chopra’s Perfect Health :
“We all tend to see our bodies as “frozen sculptures”- solid, fixed material objects- when in truth they are more like rivers, constantly changing, flowing patterns of intelligence.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared “You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are forever flowing in.”
The same is true of the body…. Your adipose tissues (fat cells) …is exchanged every three weeks. You acquire a new stomach lining every five days (the innermost layer of stomach cells is exchanged in a matter of minutes as you digest food). Your skin is new every five weeks. Your skeleton…is entirely new every three months….You appear to be the same outwardly, yet you are like a building whose bricks are constantly being replaced by new ones. Every year, fully 98% of the total number of atoms in your body are replaced- this has been confirmed by radioisotope studies at the Oak Ridge laboratories in California.
This constant stream of change is controlled at the quantum level of the mind body system.”
Peter Bevan-Baker makes the same point here:
“It is not simply a cute phrase to say we are what we eat: it is an absolute truism. Every cell in each of our bodies gets replaced on a regular basis — some within hours, some years. The bones that are my skeleton today were made of entirely different cells just a few years ago, and those new bone cells came from what I ate (and drank and breathed). We are of the Earth, and it is of us. The “environment” is not something out there, separate from us: it is a description of the continuum in which we exist.”
Deepak Chopra’s point about the quantum body is perhaps a conversation for another day. The quantum level is, according to physics, the level at which matter becomes energy, and in Ayurvedic treatment, it is at this level, including in our thoughts and attitudes, that potential for true change and healing exists.
The point for me is the wonder of the human body, the natural intelligence which maintains the cycles of little deaths and rebirths that we don’t think about and are not even aware of as we go about our daily business. The body knows what to do. We have an autonomic nervous system which regulates our vital activities such as breathing, heart beat and digestion, and we have an inner intelligence which knows how to create healing and how and where to replace cells in our bodies as needed.
And this wonder extends to the body’s ability to interact with our environment within which it lives and breathes. We have an enduring physical connection to our world, via the food from our land and seas, the oxygen and other elements in the air that we breathe, and from our dams and rivers, the water that sustains life in the body.
Let us not lose our sense of wonder, for small miracles are happening within and around us all the time. And perhaps take a moment to thank your inner intelligence (your God, or whatever you perceive that to be) and to thank the magnificent world which surrounds and sustains us.