We have all heard about treating the body as a temple. For most of my life I have appreciated this, but not in a very direct way. It was more of an abstract idea. As if my body was primarily a location in space where my life occurred.

My qigong teacher was showing our class an exercise which involved the kidneys. She described the energy movement associated with it as “I Serve You And You Serve Me”. As I placed my hands over my kidneys, I understood for the first time the deep reciprocal nature of physical care. “I Serve You And You Serve Me” is a two-way energy conversation, a loop, a circle.

“I Serve You And You Serve Me” is an and relationship. Like any personal relationship we might have with another human being, it’s not just about what we can get from it. It’s about taking and giving. With the body, what we give is food and movement and rest. What we receive is energy and balance and health—the opportunity to live well.

I am reminded of the care of shrines in eastern religions. People devote energy to these temples by sweeping and cleaning, placing flowers and incense, offering food. This kind of care is a type of loving prayer that benefits both the temple and the pray-er simultaneously.