Listening to your body sounds simple, but it actually takes a lot of patience and practice. We all notice any aches and pains that are screaming at us, but what about the rest of your body? What about the tension, the fatigue, or even the feel good parts? Do you pay attention to your body when it says “Yes! I feel great!” or only when it says “Help! I am in pain!”? Learning to listen to your body before it gets to the screaming level will help prevent and avoid potential health issues and injuries.
- Sit or lay down in a comfortable position that you can stay in for several minutes. Once you are in that position, close your eyes. Start to focus on your breathing. Big inhales in, slow exhales out, until you find a nice steady rhythm. Once you have found your breathe start to focus on various body parts that are touching the ground. Maybe that is your sit bones, maybe it is your head on the ground. What do you notice? What do you feel? Is your weight evenly distributed? Does that particular body part feel cold or warm? Do you feel tension or does it feel heavy or relaxed? Just simply noting what you notice (not to confuse with what you think) will help you begin to listen to your body. After you note to yourself what you notice, move onward to another body part and acknowledge and notice what you feel in the next body part. I recommend you move in an up or down motion, aka starting with head and moving down toward your feet or vice versa.
- Go for a walk. Seriously. If you can, walk around barefooted to help heighten your sensory. Start with just standing in your natural stance. What do you notice? How are your feet? Are they evenly distributing your weight? Are they comfortable, do they ache, or they warm or cold? Make note of how your feet feel on the ground. What about your ankles? Are they rolling in or out? Do they wobble or rock back and forth as you stand there? Is your entire body moving slightly? How is your posture? What placement is your neck and head? Acknowledge your body in this simple standing state. Once you recognize your body when standing, begin walking. Go through each body part again. Notice what you feel, what has changed, what is the same?
- Too busy or have kids or pets that will jump all over you and distract you from doing either of the first two options? How about when you are in the car? Pay attention to how you are sitting. Are you hunched over the steering wheel? Is your head pushed forward? Is your back resting against the back of the seat? Is your head touching the head rest? Are you sitting up straight or slouching? Are your shoulders tense? Are your jaws tense? Once you make a mental note of your body position and how it feels in that position, change your position. If you were slouched and shoulders hunched forward, sit back and press the back of your head to the head rest, and pull your shoulders back and down against the back of the seat. Or vice versa. Hold that new position for a minute or two. What do you notice now?
After you have learned to listen to the physical and muscular parts of your body, take the next big step and start to focus on your internal feelings and emotions. How do certain foods, behaviors, moods, environments, affect you and your body? You will not become a pro at listening to your body overnight. It will take time, patience, and a lot of practice. You will have days that your feel completely in-tune with yourself, and days that you feel clueless. Do not get overwhelmed. The body is a complex and very complicated structure. It comprises muscles, bones, nerves, and emotions to name a few things that are all very unique and individualized to each person. Your body has a lot to say. It can help you prevent injuries, stress, allergies, and even illnesses. You just have to learn to listen so that you can allow it to heal itself and remain happy and healthy.