How to Listen to Your Body and Feel Whole Again
“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsch
When “Amber” came to see me, she was “overwhelmed with grief” and had lost her spark and joy for life. Her partner had passed away three years prior. She said, I’ve been “spilling my gut to others, but I still feel lost, spent and engulfed with heartache and misery.” I’d seen this situation before, so I explained, “the key to your healing is to listen to your body wisdom.”
Together we ventured into the body – the subtle story that lived in the tissue and fibers of her being; we listened deeply and witnessed together; we unfurled the subtle story. Something new started to emerge – a new story of how she could embrace the loss and still feel grateful and fully alive.
Most of us have been conditioned to ignore or override our bodies’ sensations. Thinking that our bodies are unreliable or dangerous, we’re conflicted between what our mind says and what our body says.That’s why Part of you wants to go to the gym and Part of you wants to stay in bed. By learning to listen to your body and honor its signals, you’ll find your true self and you’ll have the courage to live your life fully.
How to listen to your body
1. Honor and respect your body. How do you think of, speak of, and treat your body? Make a commitment to replace all negative thoughts and actions with gratitude for how well your body serves you every day. Don’t be embarrassed to say your gratitude out loud (perhaps in the shower) — “I am so grateful my legs are strong and carry me to where I want to go; I love my eyes that let me experience the beauty of a sunset and make me feel attractive; I marvel at how my skin knows how to heal; I honor my stomach for being an awesome factory that turns what I eat into energizing fuel.”
2. Make a strong connection between body and mind. Combine breath exercises with your fingers’ sensitive touch. Notice how your heart beats, your chest rises and falls, your muscles relax, your spine lengthens, your brain thinks more clearly. Now, listen to what else your body is telling you…
3. Ask your body what it needs. Tense shoulders? Your body is saying it needs to move, stretch and relax. Wanting a snack? Perhaps you need fuel or what you really need is to hydrate. Can’t concentrate? Maybe you’ve procrastinated about something important for too long. Or you need a short walk outside. Listen, then offer your body what it needs.
4. Inquire more deeply for your body’s wisdom. If your mind and body are at odds, (i.e., Monday night you tell yourself you’re getting up early to go for a run, but Tuesday morning your body wants to stay in bed) ask for a deeper truth. Give what your body feels a name — resistance, laziness, desire. Why is it feeling that way? What layers of emotions and stories are you experiencing? Are they really your stories or someone else’s? If you’re in a transformative phase, this process may take some time, so be patient. When you unearth your deepest truths, you’ll become unshakeable and unstoppable.
5. Patiently listen without judgment. When you converse with a shy or reserved person, it takes time to coax out their true feelings. The same can be true of your own body. It may have been stifled so long, it takes time to unravel what it’s really saying. Being present with your body sensations allows you to peel back the layers. As you do, you can adjust your dials to meet yourself where you are today.
6. Look out for the best interests of your body. Your body depends on you to make the best decisions on its behalf. Living in the moment is so different from being mindfully aware moment by moment. The first caters to instant gratification or doing what feels “good”. The latter urges you to take responsibility and make mature decisions based on your long-term health and well-being. You’re an adult. You know what your body needs to be healthy in 10, 20, 30 years. Practicing mindfulness daily will provide you with motivation to keep taking baby steps forward toward your ultimate well-being.
7. Tune out the noise from others. When you’re honest with yourself and learn to trust your body, you can acknowledge, and then discard, the “advice” of others. Allow your body to guide you. (If you’re sedentary and you hurt, move. If you’re strenuously exercising and you hurt, tone it down.) When you treat your body with love and respect, it will be good to you.
“Amber” continues to deepen her newfound relationship with her body, learning its subtle language and being a daily witness of her own experience. She’s honing her skills to do what Rumi advises, ”There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
Many women come to me after having a lot of experience with therapy or coaching, because they still feel sad, anxious, grieved or somewhat uneasy, and they don’t understand why. They feel more broken, thinking there’s something wrong with them.
However, through embodied work, they discover the key to healing. They learn to listen to and touch the story in their body — understanding the way the body carries their experience and keeps asking for holding, witnessing and release. Would you like to learn to listen to your body? I invite you to download my free report, 10 Steps to an Embodied Practice and apply the principles of embodiment in your life. Even though it’s written primarily for coaches, wouldn’t you say that coaching yourself is top priority?
Thank you for the use of the photo Marionel Luciano on Unsplash