Our bodies talk, but do we listen?
It’s so easy to ignore what seems to be whiny chatter, and just turn the channel to “more important” things. Because hearing your lower back complaining of tightness or your knee making a fuss about up-hills can sometimes sound like a child whining about a desired toy. How important is it, really, when you are focusing on more pressing things like “how will I manage taking my car to the shop?”, and “what do I need to do to prepare for that meeting tomorrow?”.
These questions often take precedence because they effect how we deal with our external world, one which runs on the man-made construct of time, has deadlines, and requires us to meet certain demands in order to survive. Like it or not, our life depends on this external world. And if that lower back tightness or patella tendonitis is not getting in the way of meeting what is externally demanded of us, it becomes easy to cast them aside.
But the truth is that our bodies are our only vehicles for functioning in this external world. Does taking your car into the shop really matter if you can’t physically drive? Forget about that meeting tomorrow if you are sick in bed. And though your ailments may not seem to be so limiting at first, letting them fester unaddressed can lead to more serious injuries or disease later on that will. And regardless, wouldn’t your overall quality of life be better if your body felt great? No one will argue with me that physical well-being makes for greater mental well-being. When our bodies feel good, so do we, and vise versa. If you treat your body like the life partner it is, allowing it the respect to express itself and be heard, (and then giving it what it needs), you may be amazed at the wonderful things you can achieve together. Listening to our bodies and cooperating with them to achieve well-being is actually (I believe) the foundation for successfully functioning in our external world.
And our bodies certainly hold a lot of intelligence about our well-being. That tightness in the lower back may be a sign poor posture, of trapped emotional energy from a recent breakup, or perhaps just a reminder of using better form when lifting heavy things. Regardless of the cause, each sensation holds a potential lesson for us to discover. Familiarizing ourselves with our bodies makes it easier to identify the clues to what ails us, and once we have the cause, we can determine a solution. Whether it be changing our posture, seeking out a form of emotional release, starting a strength program, or being more conscious when doing a certain activity, the outcome results in learning how to better care for ourselves.
So how does one listen, exactly? The first step is making our body’s health a priority, of making space for it in our life. Commit some time every day (or each week) to tuning into your body with undistracted focus. This could entail sitting quietly for five minutes and breathing deeply, going to a yoga class (after all, this is the point of yoga), or doing some form of enjoyable exercise. You may be surprised what thoughts or sensations start to arise when you peel away the thoughts of the external world and focus inward, acknowledging your body. It will talk, we just need to be willing to listen.