I found the idea of animated skeletons scary as a child. Later, I discovered I was one.
What type of animated skeleton I am is determined largely by my perception of what a skeleton is, and does. We were taught to view our skeletons as support structures. They were presented as frameworks, like the frame of a house. How many of us still envision them that way?
We can tell if people do…they slouch onto their skeletons, ask them to bear the weight of their bodies. That is a ‘natural’ result of that paradigm…one that results in dowagers humps, poor posture, and a number of physical ailments.
In reality, our bones are not support members; they are levers for action, for movement. If we see them this way, we tend to rise up from our skeletons, instead of slouching down on them. We create space…for ease, for movement, for growth.
Our thoughts translate into our realities. As we age, one paradigm calls us to sink into our bones, to lean on them like crutches. Another calls us to embrace them with muscle, to assist them in helping us rise up. In one paradigm, we surrender to gravity. In another, we use it as a support, a springboard to vault into the future. Which do you choose?
Yes, there’s a skeleton inside each of us. Which type do you perceive in there, the passive framework, or the active lever?
Our misperception about our skeletons goes even deeper, to the level of bones. We are taught to think of bones as relatively solid, fixed objects. We are taught to perceive them as relatively inanimate objects.
Nothing could be further from the actuality. Bones are living things, remarkably plastic and always growing and changing. They are busy blood factories, sources of critical immune system components. Bones know all about multi-tasking, all about efficiency and productivity.
We think of bones as the components that hold our shape. We imagine that if our bones were removed, we’d collapse into a shapeless sack of meat and gristle and guts. In reality, that function is performed by the ubiquitous and mostly unknown stuff known as ground substance – the basis of connective tissue, and the stuff that (along with fluids) fills our interstices.
Yes, bones are much misunderstood. So are skeletons. Instead of scary things, they are almost miraculous. They allow us bags of water to move through the world.
If we wish to truly honor these miraculous organs (yes, organs), then we will develop strength and flexibilty in our bodies, create an alliance of health and mindful awareness to help them in their critical jobs.
Now that I know more about my skeleton, have become more intimate with it on a physiological and somatic level, I am no longer scared of it. Come to think of it, I kind of like having a friendly and helpful skeleton inside of me – as an integral part of me.