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Connecting to the Miracle of Your FIFTY TRILLION Cells

A body-based gratitude practice inspired by Jill Bolte Taylor

"Thank you wrists and hands, for holding my soup and my spoon so that I could be fed!"

“In addition to spending a lot of time conversing with my brain cells, I’m having a big love-fest with the fifty trillion molecular geniuses making up my body. I am so grateful that they are alive and working together in perfect harmony that I implicitly trust them to bring me health. The first thing every morning and the last thing every night, I faithfully hug my pillow, wrap one hand in the other, and consciously thank my cells for another great day. I care enough to say it out loud. ‘Thank you girls. Thanks for another great day!,” and I say it with an intense feeling of gratitude in my heart. I then implore my cells, Please, heal me, and I visualize my immune cells responding.

I unconditionally love my cells with an open heart and a grateful mind. Spontaneously throughout the day, I acknowledge their existence and enthusiastically cheer them on.”

Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., My Stroke of Insight, page 156

This simple practice from Jill Bolte Taylor’s beautiful and engaging book about her recovery from a stroke (which as a neuroanatomist she actually understood from both the outside-in and the inside-out), inspired me to express gratitude towards my own body.

But thinking about 50 TRILLION cells working together all at once overwhelmed me a little. Our lives and bodies are so incredibly vast! It’s amazing that our bodies work at all, considering how much they do in order to coordinate and to care for us behind the scenes.

So instead of thanking all of my cells in one grand gesture, I decided, while lying in bed a few nights ago, to bring my attention to different parts of my body (as you might in a body scan) and thank individual parts of my body for their contribution to my day.

Thank you head and face for seeing the cherry blossoms, smelling the trash on the streets as I walked home today, detecting the heat, sensing the warmth on my skin.

Thank you shoulders, for carrying that heavy backpack today!

Thank you wrists and hands, for holding my soup and my spoon so that I could be fed!

….And so forth, as you say hello to each beautiful region of your physical form!

Our bodies contribute so much to our experience every single day! It’s easy to forget what a gift it is to be alive. On days when I surrender to the deep connection with everything, I even enjoy taking in the sights and the smells of trash on the street.

If you’re suffering or in pain, it can be difficult to even think about connecting to your body. If you can pause, and pull back from your judgment, try taking a few minutes and a few deep breaths to connect to the miracle, the sheer grace, of being alive.

Ask your body if there is anything that it needs to help you feel more engaged and alive in this moment. Ask your body if there is anything that you can do to bring it more support or more feelings of warmth and of love.

If you try out either of these exercises (connecting to your 50 TRILLION beautiful cells or saying thank you to each part of your body), I would love to hear how that experience feels for you. What you notice, and where you get stuck.

If you want to learn more about Jill Bolte Taylor and the vast oneness she experienced when the left side of her brain went temporarily offline, I can highly recommend her book, or her compelling and awe-inducing Ted Talk.

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