I’d Listen To My Body But I’m Not Sure It’s Talking
Every week, my yoga teacher says it. “Listen to your body.” Have you ever tuned in to your inner voice and wondered, “What in the world are you saying?” Learning to recognize the many messages sent from our own bodies can take some practice; but it actually starts when we’re tiny babies.
We feel pretty comfortable with the basic communications: hunger, cold or heat, sleepiness, potty time, and such. Yet, with time, it’s amazing how we humans can alter or “shut off” even these undeniable messages from our bodies. Never mind the more subtle messages: the headache that could signal that you’re not handling stress well, the pain in your wrist that’s telling you to stop using the keyboard for a while, the indigestion from that pizza you had for dinner, or your rising blood pressure and emotions as you become enraged at a crazy driver.
Our approach to all these messages can be a feeling of “over-load.” It can be a tendency to ignore the signals of pain or stress that might save us from imminent or eventual harm. We even learn to put off going to the bathroom, to our own detriment! I’ve had numerous clients reveal that they don’t have bowel movements anywhere near daily; and I’ve heard from doctors that they hear the same thing from many patients. In fact, they hear it so often that some medical professionals now consider weekly elimination “normal!”
When we ignore or cover up our body’s messages, the messages do not go away! They become more pronounced. Your body may have to resort to extreme measures if you don’t pay attention! We cover up signals with medications, like over-the-counter pain killers, medicated creams for rashes and skin conditions, and sleeping pills. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying there’s no place for these temporary solutions; only that we could and should exercise caution and understand what we’re doing.
If you react badly to a food,for example, you may experience abdominal pain and bloating, then loose stools. You take a medication for these symptoms. What really could be happening is a reaction to a food allergy. You may cover up these symptoms, only to find that the next time you eat this food, or a year later, you develop a severe rash, or later, joint pain. If you still don’t deal with the root of the problem, you could end up with long-term immune compromise or other serious or even life-threatening issues, even if at times you don’t notice any symptoms when you eat the food.
So what to do? Personally, the first thing I remember learning to hear was my body’s need for rest. When I had small children, I wanted to “get everything done!” Cleaning, cooking, creative projects, socializing, and, of course, mothering. I wanted to do it all well. But I wasn’t sleeping well at night, and I rarely rested during the day. Eventually, I had some pretty significant health challenges.
So, if this is “ringing a bell” with you, here’s my best suggestion. It’s something I used to tell my kids: “start with what you know.” You’re probably ignoring some pretty obvious signals for things like hunger or sleep. Start by paying attention to those. You can work up from there. I’ll be posting some tips for learning to listen to our bodies in the future. I wish you great results! (But do be patient.)
I’m going to debut a new (FREE!) webinar, “Optimize Your Energy'” with my Master Herbalist friend, Julie Formby. It’s coming right up on Thursday August 29 from 6-7 Mountain time. The link we created is temporarily unavailable, but I will post it ASAP!