One of the most common things I see as I am coaching people into physical and mental health is how unaware we are of what our bodies are telling us. We repeatedly ignore the signs and signals that our bodies send and we do lots of things to override our natural tendencies. Our bodies are wise and they know what they need, but we, so often thinking that we know better than our bodies, ignore, distract, numb, and push through. And this leads to more problems down the road.
Our society trains us into listening to the brain over the body, allowing the ego to be in charge. This means that we are more concerned with what other people might think or what we might look like than doing what our bodies need for us to do. Our bodies are amazingly smart and are designed not only to survive, but to adapt into thrive. We must learn to meet our bodies half way. Many times the issues that we become frustrated about in our bodies or that we feel like popped up “all of a sudden” were actually warned about through previous signs that we overlooked or overrode.
Here are a few steps that may help you to tune in and move into more ease in your body.
- Notice. Awareness is key; if we are not aware, we cannot change anything. Whether we are beginning to notice how our bodies feel after we eat certain foods, how we feel during a stressful situation, or how we feel in our bodies after staying up too late at night, we must begin to tune in and listen. If we are not aware of what we are being told by our bodies, we cannot adjust what we are doing to either gain a different outcome or to continue to do the same thing on purpose. In yoga, we teach about becoming “the witness”. This is a way to start to notice what we are experiencing without labeling it as good or bad and without placing expectations on how it “should” be. It is simply noticing, drawing our awareness to what is going on, and becoming purposefully aware with our full attention.
- Allow. Once we notice what is happening in our bodies and what we are experiencing in the moment, the next step is to allow it to happen. It is already happening, we are already here, so we may as well allow ourselves to be here. It sounds simple, however, this is where we often switch to numbing, distracting, replacing, and ignoring. Our brain may say something like, “The last time we felt that, it wasn’t comfortable, so no thanks. I will just do something else in order to not feel that again.” However, by not feeling it, we are simply putting off having to feel it at some point and the longer we put it off, the more severe the experience of feeling it can be. The body may make us notice with an illness or disease, an injury, or a mental health imbalance. When we take a few breaths and allow what is happening in our bodies in the moment to happen, we can process it and prevent it from sticking or growing in the body. So, in this step, we breathe and we draw our attention what we are feeling physically and/or emotionally while recognizing that in that moment, we are okay. Yes, this may be very difficult and the opposite of what we actually want to do. But, this is where the healing begins.
- Transition. After we have noticed and allowed ourselves to feel what is going on, then we can move forward. Maybe we transition into responding to the situation in a new way or maybe we aren’t quite there yet, but we move forward with more awareness about how we are handling what we are experiencing. This is where we have the opportunity to start to change our patterns and work on our daily habits. What we do over and over every day is shaping who we are becoming. Once we notice and allow, we can transition to an action, no matter how big or small, that supports who we want to become. No, it won’t go perfectly every time, but if we have gone through steps 1 and 2, then we are already successful and we are much more likely to be able to transition in the direction in which we want to go.
So, for the next week, give it a try. Start to notice what your body is telling you and how you are responding to it. Become aware and see if you can allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. And then, you can make a choice in how to transition from there. Ask for help when you need to. Talk to a friend. See your doctor or a therapist. What the world and our bodies need are for us to be more aware. And if you forget, just try again the next time. We all need reminders until it becomes a habit.
I am proud of you for trying. You can do it.
I will be trying right along with you.
Talk again soon,