“No one can listen to your body for you….
To grow and heal, you have to take responsibility for listening to yourself”
-Jon Kabat Zinn
Have you made your body your friend yet?
Do you take the time to PAUSE and tune into your body?
Do you love and care for your body by attending to it’s needs?
Too many of us spend more time taking care of our possessions like cars, bags, clothes, phones etc than we do our own bodies- the only home that we will ever truly have.
Have you ever wondered why that is?
My intention in asking these questions of you is to make you aware of the fact that your body is communicating with you on a constant basis. Your body sends out messages and even SOS signals when required so that you stop what you are doing and pay attention and give your body what it needs.
Too many women today are living in survival mode with their bodies constantly stuck in a “fight or flight response”. They are chronically stressed, overwhelmed with a never ending list of things to do and responsibilities, and unable to take out any time for self care. Rather than switching in and out of survival mode as and when required, they remain stuck in this mode while their bodies become overwhelmed between dealing with chronic stress and other challenges.
Is it any wonder then that so many women are dealing with various health issues like low energy, fatigue, hair loss, weight gain or weight loss resistance, and even more serious health conditions?
It makes me really sad because I know that if women knew how to listen to the messages being sent out by their bodies and had a healthy relationship with their bodies, they could take better care of their health and become more resilient to deal with such challenges.
Your body’s message is unique
Unlike your mind, your body rarely lies and is always in the present moment. By having a healthy relationship with your body you can learn to heed the warning signals, understand how well you are taking care of yourself and where you can improve.
Also, in order to be healthy and whole, you need to have the courage to pay attention to your body’s needs even when it goes against conventional norms. You may need to give your body the right nutrients, rest, reduce stress and movement on a regular basis.
For eg. you may realise that dairy products do not suit you and contribute to weight loss resistance and poor health. In which case you may need to be firm but gentle with your family and friends about the fact that dairy (milk and milk products like cheese, yogurt) cannot be a part of your diet and stick to a dairy free diet at home and outside.
Depending on your body's requirements, rather than being on a “diet” and you will need to choose foods that nourish your body. This may be counterintuitive and controversial at times but necessary for you to sustain good health in the long run.
True healing starts with listening to yourself
When you value your body and actually honour it by listening to whatever messages it shares with you, you live a life that is fulfilling and even life saving. Many women when asked how they are feeling say that they feel “fine”. I think “fine” is a word that should not be in anyone's vocabulary when it relates to our health.
We should feel truly satisfied with our health and know in our hearts and minds and bodies are nourished and working optimally. Sadly for many of us, this is not the case. Many of us are overfed and undernourished at the same time, lead sedentary lifestyles most of the time and chronically stressed with limited time for self care. Ultimately, we pay a heavy price for this in the long run. By learning how to pay attention to the messages our body is trying to convey to us we can nourish ourselves in deep and meaningful ways.
I have shared with you 3 ways that you can start to pay attention to your body and it all starts by showing some compassion.
3 ways that you can make your body your friend
Embrace your body with self compassion
Self compassion is a powerful antidote to body dissatisfaction and research shows that just a brief period of practicing self compassion can help us accept our bodies with more love and appreciation. With self compassion you can embrace your body for what it does for you rather than just how it looks and appreciate the amazing gift that it is.
Use the following journal prompts as a way to treat your body with kindness, warmth and acceptance
- Appreciate all that your body can do.
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep
- Look at yourself as a whole person
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body
- Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.
Practice intuitive self care
By this I mean that you learn to take care of yourself by learning from trial and error and being kind to yourself when you make mistakes. It is about doing your best to honour your physical and emotional needs depending on the current circumstances. For eg. being able to stick to a consistent exercise routine would look very different when you are also not taking care of a sick child at the same time.
Trusting your intuition in giving your body what it needs is in some ways harder than listening to advice from an “expert” telling you what to eat, how to exercise etc. You have to actually take responsibility for figuring out what your unique body needs. This means you are willing to trust your ability to know what feels good for your unique body trusting this information and acting upon it.
Let Go of the Inner Critic
I recently came across the idea of “today’s body” and I loved it!
If you can give up identifying with your body as “I, me or mine” even if for a moment, it can be quite empowering. By not making your body your “fault” you can let go of the tendency to “fix it” for a while. By making it more impersonal and thinking in terms of “today’s body”, especially if you don't really love your body, you can finally stop feeling like a failure.
You can start taking care of “today’s body” with more tenderness and forgiveness. You know that you can practice taking care of your body today just the way it is right now. Tomorrow you may feel differently, but today is what counts right now and all that matters.
Whether you are a woman with a conflicted relationship with your body or someone who simply wants to love and accept your body as it is, in just 15 minutes a day for 7 days, this challenge is going to give you a taste of how it feels to truly connect and nourish your body.
This is important if you want to learn how to start moving from a "fix it" mindset with regards to your body to appreciating your body and approaching it with more kindness and acceptance so that you can enjoy vibrant health in the long run