I want to paint for you a picture of the complex and intelligent energy field we simply think of as our body. About eleven years ago, I decided to spend a week at a health and detox spa in the California desert. I was fighting burnout at work and coping with the recent death of my mother. Little did I know that I would meet someone who would forever change the way I thought about my health. Susana Belen, the founder of We Care Spa (https://wecarespa.com/), was the most energetic sixty-something-year-old I had ever met. Her petite frame, personal warmth, and flaming red hair made her a standout among the staff whenever she taught yoga and nutrition classes.

During one of her sessions, she shared a powerful metaphor. Susana asked us to visualize the trillions of cells in our bodies, each of which faithfully performs a very specific function necessary for our health. Each of these tiny, microscopic entities exists for no other reason than to promote our well-being according to its functional “intelligence.” She spoke with a quiet passion about their unconditional love for and devotion to us in a way that made me believe I could feel that love.

That night in my small cabin, after my evening meditation, I started to sob and could not stop. The stresses of my work and the loss of my mother had weighed heavily on me for months, and I realized that coming to this place and meeting Susana was part of my healing process.

Because I am now aware of this wondrous intelligence within me and in every one of us—in every living creature, and Earth itself—I want to return this love each and every day.

I now feel a sense of responsibility and teamwork with the cells that make up my physical body. I know that if I eat poorly, expose my body to toxins (environmental or ingested), deprive it of rest, and subject it to high stress levels, my cells struggle to protect me. At some point they try to get my attention—a mild headache, upset stomach, or low energy, perhaps so slight that I hardly notice. Before I became aware that this was their way to communicate with me, whenever these mild distress signals appeared, my first thought was simply to stop the discomfort. Like the commercials tell us, I would take a painkiller or whatever over-the-counter remedy was available. Usually the symptoms would go away, and I’d return to my normal activities again without giving the matter much thought. By not taking the time to listen more closely to my body’s messages, I missed many opportunities to understand how my choices and actions were undercutting my health. I also missed opportunities to make early changes to practice better self-care. My cells worked harder to keep me well, and with the symptoms gone, it was easy for me to continue making the same food and lifestyle choices that compromised them in the first place. The behavior of our cells is the very definition of unconditional love!

If only we would listen and act out of love in return…

Excerpt from Joyful Delicious Vegan: Life Without Heart Disease (May 2021, She Writes Press) by Sherra Aguirre.

Sherra Aguirre is an entrepreneur, health enthusiast and food justice advocate, passionate about empowering others (especially African American women and other communities who are at high risk for diabetes and heart disease), to maintain vibrancy and good health throughout their lifetimes. She improved her own overall heart health and eliminated symptoms of hypertension despite a significant family history of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure, by adopting a whole plant-based diet. Sherra’s upcoming book, Joyful, Delicious, Vegan: Life Without Heart Disease (May 2021, She Writes Press) will empower readers with the simplest, most effective way to prevent or even reverse the nation’s number one killer, heart disease, despite family history.