We’ve all heard the phrase “listen to your body,” but most of us struggle to put it into practice. Sometimes, we hear our body, but we’re not interested in what it has to say. Other times, we can’t hear what our body is saying because our brain is hijacking the conversation. In order to hear our bodies, we have to lower the volume on our brain and turn up the volume on our body. It’s a little like simultaneously rubbing your belly and patting your head!
Have you ever skipped lunch in order to do another, more urgent task? If so, you’ve turned down the volume on your body. We all do this from time to time. But, when we continuously ignore uncomfortable feelings, we “mute” our body. Food, shopping, alcohol & drugs, TV, social media, video games, and work are some of the common ways we mute our body’s message.
In order to turn up the volume on your body, try to identify how you typically mute your body. Then, start to notice when you press mute. You might notice in the moment, or even several hours or days later. This sounds simple, but it’s harder than you think. Our society prefers that we ignore our body completely – how else are we supposed to work, maintain a social life, take care of our kids, nourish our relationships, etc.? Over time, without even noticing it, we begin to mute our bodies reflexively. As a result, we have to really concentrate in order to tune into our body.
When we are in the present moment, it’s easier to hear our body’s message. Try this exercise when you have a few minutes. Sit in a comfortable upright position with your eyes closed. We rely on sight more than any other sense, so closing your eyes will make it easier to listen to your body. Once your eyes are closed, silently and slowly identify three things you can hear in this moment. Then, three things you can smell, three things you can taste, and three things you can touch. The goal of this exercise is to simply experience the world around you – not to judge or evaluate what’s going on outside your body. Be patient with yourself as you try something new.
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