How do you know what your body needs in a moments notice? How can you learn to hear the signals your body is giving you if you have never done so before? It's hard to pay attention when we have many distractions to prevent us from tuning in. It can become easier to just ignore any signs of distress or discomfort because we believe there are a million other things to do or think of or accomplish that are much more important. We can get so good at ignoring signals that we start to lose touch with our body and we can't even hear the simple messages: I'm hungry, I'm full, I need to use the restroom, I'm tired, etc. We can become SO disconnected that we really just don't know the basics of ourselves anymore.
But let me reassure you - it's not that you never had it the knowledge. You just forget it. As babies and toddlers we knew what our needs were and we demanded that they be met on the most basic level. We cried when we were hungry, we tantrumed when we were tired and we didn't let up until our needs were met. Now it's our responsibility to make sure these needs are heard and met. But you get busy and think "Oh, I can wait another hour to eat, I can wait longer until I use the bathroom, I can stay up later, yeah I'm pretty full but I'll eat another piece of pizza." Because now we are adults and we think we can handle it or that those signals don't mean anything. I assure you, they do. Body awareness and physical intuition is important and it lives in everyone. Everyone has the ability to tune in but in today's go-go-go environment, we probably need to brush up our skills. Luckily It can be dusted, polished, and re-learned.
And why pray tell, is this such a big deal? If you learn to listen to your body not only will you get your needs met, you will learn how to take care of yourself.. This is critical to being an active participant in your health. We like to think that all responsibility lies on our doctors. But who has spent the last 20+, 30+, 40+ years living in your body? YOU! And you are responsible for how it is treated on a daily basis. Awareness of your body is a key to your health. Here are 3 methods to help you cultivate this skill.
#1. Run a body scan
Mental, that is. Whether you are sitting, standing, or laying down, close your eyes and bring awareness to the top of your head. Translation: close your eyes think about the top of your head for a few seconds.. You might (might) start to feel the top of your head tingle a little. Mentally make your way down to your face to your jaw, your tongue, your neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, torso, etc. Keep going until you get to your toes. Spend several seconds focusing on each area. As you pass over each section, notice whats going on. Are you clenching your teeth? Loosen up your jaw. Are you holding your shoulders scrunched to your ears? Bring them down. Weirdly flexing your calf for no reason? Let it go. Are your toes curled up? Relax them. Are there any aches bothering you that you meant to get checked out but haven't made the time? Make the appointment now. One of my favorite times to do this is lying in bed before I fall asleep but really, it can be done anytime.
#2. Ask yourself these 3 questions.
Set your alarm for twice a day. Grab a piece of paper or dedicated notebook, ask yourselves these questions and write down the answers every day for a week, or longer. 1. How do I feel right now 2. What do I need right now 3. What do I want right now. When was the last time you thought about this? You might start out with jokingly saying you need a million dollars so you can quit your job or hire a full-time baby sitter. But if you think in context of Right Now, maybe you just need to take a short break from what you are doing. Maybe you don't realize that you missed lunch and you are hungry, you need to use the restroom, you are thirsty for some water. Maybe you need to take a walk or stand up for a second. Find out what you need by asking, listening, and then answering.
#3. You have to move.
How much of your day is spent, thinking, strategizing, planning, and being completely and utterly CEREBRAL??. While these methods obviously helps move our projects, plans and life forward, this method only uses a fraction of the intelligence your body has. In order to get out of your head and in touch with your body, you have to MOVE. Finding a physical activity that works best for you is key. Some people enjoy, running and other strenuous forms of moving. But it doesn't have to be that hard. For example, I like to get up from my desk to take a stroll outside in the office parking lot. Weird yes, but some of my best solutions have come in this 15 minute break. Another great one is yoga which I myself love. Why? Well, when was the last time you thought about your left hip point? Or the direction your toes were pointing in? Or the exact location of your tongue inside your mouth? We usually only think of the small parts of our body when we accidentally injured them and can no longer use them for an extended period of time. Which is why yoga is so perfect. It forces you to practice thinking about and moving very tiny, specific parts of your body. Movement will clear out your head space and make room for a different type of thinking to move through you, less cerebral and more intuitive.
Sure, you might not be able to do all of these, every day for the rest of your life. But you can keep them in your back pocket as tools to have on hand. Our body's needs change so your answers will change as well. But if you keep practicing, the language barrier will slowly start to fade and you and le bod will be in frequent contact
Until next time!