The Body Is Selfless
“If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.” — Unknown
When was the last time you listened to your body speak? I don’t mean literally, but through sensations, impulses, or intuitive guidance. For example, are you aware of the subtle changes in your body from time to time? How do you treat your body in general? With compassion, nurturing, or with contempt? I do not intend to make you feel guilty, but help you identify your predominant relationship with your body.
Our body is constantly providing for us through the breath and the beating of our heart. These processes occur tirelessly and effortlessly, receiving no instructions from outside of us. They are precise and function as intended, regardless of whether we’re asleep or awake. The body gives so much of itself, asking nothing in return. Our gift to our body is to love and nurture it in the same way we would a child or a loved one. It involves treating it with kindness to show how much we care for our body.
For instance, have you ever considered the complexity of your body’s innate wisdom? Next time you meditate, I invite you to tune into your breath and notice it is constant without ever stopping to rest. It doesn’t stop when you’re asleep, nor when you’re showering or walking. Your breath provides you with rich oxygen to nourish every cell in your body all the time. It happens with no effort on your part. Sometimes, the body may work irregularly, but even then, it is still trying to correct itself and provide for your needs. Therefore, the body is selfless and gives of itself unconditionally.
Listen To Your Body
“No one can listen to your body for you … To grow and heal, you have to take responsibility for listening to it yourself.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
Here’s an idea to consider: your body speaks to you in quiet whispers, which requires learning the language it communicates in. For this reason, we must develop a strong relationship with our body and not dismiss the signals we receive. I admit, it’s difficult to know what our body is saying sometimes, especially if we are living a fast-paced life. But this can be a call to slow down and connect with our body more often; to listen to the quiet intuitive impulses. It requires perceiving the sensations and messages the body is sending and listening to them with openness. For example, if you’re in a crowded place and surrounded by unfamiliar people, you might experience a headache. Rather than dismiss it or blame your body for being sensitive, listen to what the headache is trying to tell you. Perhaps it is a sign your body is uncomfortable being in an unfamiliar setting? Is it alerting you to anxiety, discomfort, or something else? Listen and tune in without judgement.
There’s a saying: “If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.” The underlying meaning here is that the body communicates in quiet undertones. If we dismiss the messages, the body will do what is necessary to get our attention, which may result in pain, illness, or disease. Similarly, many people nowadays use wearable devices that relay data on how their body is performing. However, they are limited insofar as they cannot tell what the body is feeling. This is because the body perceives emotions well before the brain has time to register them. It has an energy field, which can pick up subtle changes in our environment and communicate it to us.
How do you feel about this so far? Can you see that tuning in to your body is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself? It fosters a two-way relationship because you are giving it what it needs. For example, you might feel tired, but decide to push through your work until you are exhausted. However, by tuning in to the wisdom of your body, you take a small nap and come back to your work feeling rested. Yes, I agree, sometimes we are inundated with the pressures to get things done. But I’m inviting you to notice whether you are creating time to listen to your body’s needs.
Your Body Knows The Truth
“But the body tells the truth. If we turn to the body with curiosity and kindness, it will gradually show us how we feel. When that happens, we can begin to meet those truths with compassion.” — Willa Baker, The Wakeful Body
Practise the art of listening to your body. Speak to it often and let it know you are grateful for the tireless work it performs. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. For example, I know people who talk to their plants, which grow and flourish. I have no evidence whether talking to plants actually works. However, thanking your body for the constant work it performs is one of the best things to develop a stronger connection. After all, your body is a vessel for your experience of life. It holds all your emotions, wounds, and trauma. Therefore, we must listen to the body when it speaks, because there could be important messages it wishes to convey.
To put it another way: the body holds the truth because if we are attentive, it will show us how we’re really feeling. This is where mindful meditation can help us go deeper into the practice. It involves sitting in silence, tuning in to our breath and bringing our awareness to areas of our body. This is a practice I recommend when working with coaching clients for the first time. I invite them to create a ritual, starting with three minutes of meditation and extending the time progressively. It needn’t become a chore, but something they will come to enjoy. After all, we spend so much time maintaining, cleaning and fixing our bodies through grooming. So, it makes sense to add 5 or 10 minutes to our day to be in silence. We simply notice the breath and the sensations occurring in the body. We tune in to any emotional disturbances and welcome them without trying to control or push them away. Then, we invite them to be present and listen to any messages they are trying to convey.
In mindfulness circles, it is known the body is always in the present moment, yet our minds are stuck in the past or worrying about the future. When we are engaged with our breath and meeting the sensations of the body, we are anchored to the present moment. We are in harmony with our mind and body and become one in awareness. So, your practice over the coming weeks is to tune in to the wisdom of your body. See if you can recognise the impulses occurring throughout the day. Use a journal or diary to record your experiences and see if you can make sense of them. Look for a pattern or theme with the sensations. For example, you might notice more tension and anxiety throughout the working week and less so on the weekends. Note it in your journal and create more space for your body to be calm. After all, if our body is always talking to us and we are not listening, eventually we will hear it scream and by then it may be too late.