“The body is always talking to us, if we will only take the time to listen.” — Louise L. Hay
Today’s blog post is a short one. It’s about the wisdom contained in our body and a quick tip I learned for tapping into that wisdom.
Listening to our bodies and tapping into our intuition are not skills that we were taught as children. If anything, we were strongly encouraged to rely on our brains and logic to guide our behavior and decision-making. Unfortunately, by doing that, we’re missing out on an equally valuable source of information and guidance.
When I was going through a challenging time in my first marriage, I developed recurrent migraines, as well as chronic neck and back pain. Both kinds of pain were debilitating. I went to several doctors who didn’t find anything wrong with either my spine or my head. To help cope with my symptoms, they prescribed physiotherapy, which I did, dutifully—and for a while, it helped. But the problems kept coming back. My body was talking, but I wasn’t listening to what it was telling me. So it kept talking with increasing intensity until I did.
Have you been in a similar position? You know, when things are fine on the surface, but something inside you feels off?
- Maybe you’ve gone through a difficult transition—moved home or country, changed jobs—and although you’re settled now, you still feel a weight on your chest or a constriction in your throat when you think about what you’ve left behind.
- Perhaps you feel enormous gratitude for the comfortable life you lead with your partner and family, the beautiful home, and lots of support…but there’s a pit in your stomach every time you think that you don’t have a bank account or credit card to your name because you don’t earn an income and are financially dependent on your spouse.
- Or possibly your work environment is so toxic and the pressure so high, that every Monday morning you wake up with a massive headache and pain in your neck. But the money is good so you stay.
There’s a large body of research on the way emotions show up in our bodies. The problem is, we’re not very good at recognizing them.
Gay Hendricks, in his book The Ten-Second Miracle (which I just read and loved), writes about the three feeling zones of the body, each one representing a different emotion: the upper back and neck (anger); throat and chest (sadness, longing); and belly (fear). Perhaps for you, there’s a different connection between specific emotions and physical sensations. That’s fine, as long as you’re aware what that is. Hendricks’ Ten-Second solution is to rest your attention (or consciousness) on the zone that feels most tense or blocked and to let it rest there for a few seconds until the blocked sensation starts to shift—which it will. The reason: the flowing sensation has always been there, but it’s been overshadowed by the tension.
I tried this a few times recently when I felt the first signs of an approaching headache and it worked. I didn’t get one.
Next time something in your life feels ‘off’—whether it’s a relationship, an incident at work, or a conversation with a friend—take a short pause, sit somewhere quiet, and close your eyes. Notice where you feel ‘off’ in your body. Is your throat constricted? Is your chest heavy? Is there a knot in your stomach? Do you feel exhausted? Can you put your attention there and breathe into that? Also, reflect on what that sensation means and what you want to do about it. Maybe it’s having a difficult conversation, setting a boundary, dropping out of a commitment, or offering an apology to someone you care about.
ALL our emotions are processed through our bodies. And while I’m not advocating here that we should only be guided by our feelings, let’s learn to add them to the mix. Our lives will be richer and more meaningful for it.
Are you willing to try this? Will you let me know how it goes?
If you want to learn more about the mind-body connection, here are a couple of my go-to resources:
- The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk
- When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection, by Gabor Maté, M.D.
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