Your body is talking to you all the time. Are you listening?
Last week I had a conversation with a good friend about how life makes us feel. Not just in the way that it makes us feel happy, annoyed, amused or frustrated in our brains, but in the way it makes us feel in our bodies. We are all familiar with the racing heartbeat and the shot of adrenaline that comes from a surprise driving event or a ringing phone in the night, and we all know the plastered-smile, big hearted exhilaration we feel when we see a loved one after a long absence or win a contest. But, throughout each day, our body is giving us subtle information as we experience the human condition through all the things that bring us joy, disappointment, confusion, gratitude and more.
In our busy, hectic lives, it is all too easy to forget to slow down for just a moment and really focus on how we are feeling in our body, but getting in touch with this aspect can be key in decision making, accomplishing goals and dealing with conflict. We can easily take a little inventory during our days that can raise our awareness, facilitate better decision making, and help us move forward into a more conscious space where we are more effectively living in our own joy. This is not a attempt to convince you to get kooky-Zen, to chant, hallucinate or participate in any kind of new age hocus-pocus. It is simply a call to raise awareness of what our body has to tell us in times of both positive and negative experiences.
How about three easy steps with small, open-ended questions you could ask yourself to begin to be more aware of your life-body connection? Use them in both times of frustration or confusion and in times of joy or satisfaction.
1. Breathe. It’s so simple and I’ve written about it before but it’s truly one of the very best ways to stop and connect with our minds and our bodies. Stop for just a moment. Close your eyes and take a deep, cleansing breath. Make it the big, beautiful kind of breath that fills the lungs so much that this big breath gets all the way down to your toes and all the way up into your brain. Do it again. Go for a third if it feels good! Ask yourself, “Can I give myself time to really feel my body right now in this moment?”
2. Feel. Start at the bottom, start at your feet and your toes, at the place where you touch the Earth, the place where you begin a journey, the place where you initiate motion in this world. Now, let your consciousness move up from your feet, through your legs, into your torso and out through your fingertips, all the way up into your head and your scalp. Reverse and let this consciousness wash back down over you like a waterfall. If you are doing this during a joyful moment, really feel where your body signals joy and fully bask in that feeling if you can. If you are doing this during a moment of frustration or anxiety, pay close attention to how our emotions lodge in our body and create a physical reaction that we can really target and feel when we choose to be more aware. Ask yourself, “What would it be like to know my body’s messages better?”
3. Contemplate. Awareness can lead to contemplation which can lead to changes in our habits that can improve our quality of life. Once we become aware of something, we can think about what it means to us and, more importantly, what we want it to mean for us as we move forward. Contemplate in whatever way feels comfortable to you. Ask yourself, “What message is my body sending me right now and how does this make me feel?”
As friends, colleagues, teachers, co-workers, brothers, sisters, and parents we all shoulder the responsibility of acquainting ourselves with the people we know and love. But, getting to know ourselves leads us to a place where we can truly live as our higher selves and be a better person not just to others but also a better person to us.
TRY THIS WEEK: Listen to your body language.