One of the greatest things I’ve rediscovered as I’ve gotten older, is how to tune into my body to determine what I’m needing.
If you stop to think about it, your body talks to you all day long. It’s constantly guiding you towards things that make you feel happy and healthy. These messages may show up as tightening of your shoulders, butterflies in your stomach, a rush of heat to your cheeks … pretty much any physical sensation you have, is a message waiting to be heard.
Simply stopping to check in and ask ‘What is this sensation trying to tell me?’ has a profound impact on your life.
However, learning to listen to your body can feel confronting, as growing up we’re taught to place more emphasis and value on our minds. We’re constantly told that the best way to solve uncertainty or discomfort is by being analytical and strategic – think your way through it! Yet when you operate from your analytical and systematic side (left hemisphere of the brain) you fall into thinking about all the shoulds, musts, have tos, and can’ts in life, which often leads to you making decisions based off expectation rather than what you intuitively know is best for you.
So, my invitation for you is to start playing with listening to your body throughout the week. Below are two of my favourite exercises to help with this:
1. Speak to your body as though you’re speaking to a loved one.
Your body does a hell of a lot for you, every single day. It’s your unwavering ally, and does everything in its power to help you survive. Regardless of how you choose to treat it. Yet if you focused on the words you use on a daily basis when speaking and thinking about your body, you’d probably be shocked. You’d most likely see that you criticise it, belittle it, and take it for granted. And as the age old saying goes, ‘every cell in your body listens in on your thoughts’, so if you continually speak about/towards your body in a negative light, it will in turn embody it.
Therefore, the first step towards developing a healthier relationship with your body, is to start speaking to it and thinking about it, in a loving way.
Reflect on the following –
- What words do you commonly use to describe your body?
- When do you tend to speak negatively to/about your body?
- How can you shift your language towards words of encouragement and love?
- How can you remind yourself of these throughout the week?
If you find this difficult to begin with, here are some phrases you can start playing with:
- Thank you for all the things you’ve done for me throughout my life.
- You’re beautiful just as you are, and I love you.
- I respect you for everything you do for me.
- I honour the wisdom you have to share with me.
2. Tune into your sensations
Your body is extremely sensitive to even the smallest flickering of thoughts and emotions. In fact, your body picks up on changes to your internal landscape well before your mind is even aware of what’s going on. This creates a feedback loop called the mind-body connection. If listened to, your body can become a highly attuned warning system that alerts you to any dangers, stresses, unhappiness, or anxiety well before it arises, in turn giving you time to respond in healthier and more empowering ways versus feeling reactive.
Yet to learn how to read and understand your body, you first have to learn how to pay attention to where in your body these signals are located, and what this feels like.
You can do this by bringing a simple body scan into your daily routine –
- Find yourself a comfortable position, seated or lying down, close your eyes and turn your attention inwards. You may even want to place your hands over your heart space to help with this sense of connection. When you’re ready, start to focus on your breathing. In and out of your nose.
- As you continue to breathe deeply, start bringing your attention to your body. Notice how it feels in this moment. Are you tense? Relaxed? Tired? Anxious? Is there any pain, or discomfort coming up for you? Simply allow your body to guide you here without any judgement or need to ‘fix’ it.
- Now let’s explore these sensations a little deeper. Where are these sensations located in your body? Direct your attention to this space and ask ‘What message are you trying to tell me here? What am I needing right now?’ Again simply listen to what comes up for you.
- When you’re ready open your eyes and pick one thing you want to take forward, and consider what small steps you can take from today that will help you commit to this.
The more you start to show your body love, and take the time to truly listen to it’s needs, the more you’ll start to see correlations between events and symptoms, and the faster you’ll get at meeting your needs in a healthier more self-serving way.