The tides are changing in the world of health and wellness.
Where we once heard phrases like:
“No pain – no gain”
“Push through the resistance”
“Fake it ‘til you make it”
We’re now hearing phrases like these:
“Tune into you body”
“Listen to your hunger”
“What is your body saying to you?”
“What food does your body really need?”
“Tap into your body’s wisdom”
This attitude shift from push and ignore the body to respect and listen to the body is one worth celebrating!
Our fast paced, fast-food nation has trained so many of us to override our biology just to keep apace. We’re asking our human, flesh-and-bones body to run at high-tech speed. We’re chronically kicking our system into the fight or flight response, which over time, leaves us feeling ragged. It’s at such stressed moments that we usually can’t help but to listen to our body – simply because it’s screaming! Exhaustion, digestive issues, headaches, weight gain and more – that’s the body yelling at us to get our attention.
Being yelled at by your symptoms is the really hard way to learn the language of your body. As a society, we’re often blocking our ears like a child and singing “la, la, la, I can’t hear you!” until the messages are so loud, we can’t help but notice. But what if you didn’t have to wait for your body to start hollering. What if you actually knew your body’s language so well that you could understand and respond to it, even when it whispers.
Some people are forced to be “body whisperers.” Have you ever been with someone who has a severe allergy – and as soon as they smell or taste even the tiniest bit of an allergen – their body reacts? These people slow down and stop right away. They’re listening to the whispers of their body, because they know they can’t afford to wait until their body starts screaming.
The reality is that none of us can afford to wait until our body needs to dramatically raise it’s voice. We may not be faced with an immediate life-and-death issue like an extreme allergy, but every day we are facing the choice of living fully or going numb to our body’s needs.
So, how do you become a body whisperer?
How do you ‘tune into your body’ to hear what it has to say?
Here are 5 simple steps that can turn you into a body whisperer:
- Create a body-honoring mindset
That means that you’re coming to your body with the attitude that it has something valuable to say. It’s not your servant doing your bidding, but a partner in all that you do. Approaching your body with honor and respect, like a wonderful wise friend, will open the door to having a positive relationship with your body.
- Breathe Consciously
There’s nothing like paying attention to your breath as a way to turn your attention towards your body. When we breathe with awareness, we reorient ourselves to our inner world rather than staying locked in our external world. Whether you turn your attention to your breath during exercise or in meditation, during a meal or even sitting at a red light, taking a moment to keenly focus on breathing connects you to sensation – your body’s language.
- Pay attention to sensation.
All those dull aches, sharp pains, zany gurgles and waves of pleasure are exactly how your body talks. Each everyday run-of-the-mill body sensation is the constant whispering of your body. If the body came with an instruction booklet, sensation would be it.
- Make space
Some of those sensations you start tuning into will be uncomfortable, and it’s tempting to tune right back out. It’s human nature to move away from discomfort. However, to really be a body whisperer, you have to allow your body sensations to be felt fully. When you make space for your internal experience, then you can access the intelligence of your body’s whispers.
- Listen for the wisdom in the sensations
Within the sensations of our body is wisdom – meaning – a message of what we need or feel. All of us have access to that wisdom in different ways. Some of us experience our ‘knowing’ as images. Some perceive words, and for others, when they listen into their sensations, they experience an emotion. The way your body speaks is uniquely yours, but for sure it’s speaking. Just ask it what it wants to tell you, and then wait for the answer. It will come.
If you’ve been on the ‘outs’ with your body for a while, be patient while your re-establish good communication. The more you honor your body and listen for all that it’s saying, the more it can guide you to make choices that support you to live your best life.
Nina Manolson, MA, Certified Psychology of Eating Coach and Certified Health Coach, helps women over the age of 40 create a healthy and positive relationship with their food and body. She works with busy women who want to reclaim their body and end their war with food. Nina has over 20 years experience in the Health & Wellness field, and is the recipient of the prestigious Integrative Nutrition Health Leadership Award. She holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Nina is also the author of “Feed Your Kids Well In A World That Doesn’t: An everyday guide to make healthy food happen in your home and beyond. Nina offers individual sessions and group programs.