Our bodies have an innate wisdom that has evolved over the ages. It has helped us survive as a species during extremely challenging conditions over millions of years. This was at a time when medicine and/or healthcare was almost non existent compared to what it is today. However, in many ways, even with all the amazing advances in both science and medicine, our society is much sicker than it ever was before. The reasons behind this are plenty and well beyond the scope of this post.
In this post, I have chosen to focus on the amazing resource that is available to each and every one of us only if we are open to it- our own body. I believe (and research shows) that in stressful times like this, it would do all of us a lot of good to learn to tune into ourselves.
By paying attention to what our bodies are trying to tell us (without judgement), we can learn much more than we can ever imagine- indeed, the messages and the mysteries that it holds can be life saving
Unfortunately, most modern societies do not really encourage this. As babies, we are completely tuned in to how we are feeling in our bodies. We express our emotions freely and often through laughter and tears. However, as we grow up, we often learn to ignore and even clamp down on the important messages that our body is trying to communicate with us. As a result, we can become completely disconnected from parts of ourselves that can often otherwise guide and empower us in challenging circumstances.
You may be able to relate to this at some level as navigate your way through the current crisis.
How often do you disregard the nagging feeling of discontent, that headache, your racing heart and the need to cry as you take care of others? You really do not need to know exactly WHY you feel like this, just to pause and allow your feeling to be present- without trying to change it. This is the first step.
Gut feeling or intuition
You would have definitely come across a time when you made a decision based on what felt "right" to you even when you did not have all the information. In other words, you trusted your "gut feeling" to decide whether you could trust another person or even go ahead with a new project. And you were right! Women tend to be more in tune with this kind of wisdom than men but we are taught not to trust it. As a result, you and I lose access to the rich inner wisdom that lies deep inside us.
The place in your stomach where you "feel" the gut reaction is called the "second brain". There is a whole body of research behind this and one of the most prominent scientist in this field of neurogastroenterology is Dr Michael Gershon. Infact, in his book "The second brain" is about the many ways that your gut "talks" to your brain and influences your behaviour and emotions.
Instead of ignoring your gut feelings, learn to trust their message and find ways to tune in to your body's needs. You can always start simple- when you feel tired, rest. When you feel restless, take a walk.
Step into the moment
Your body lives neither in the past nor in the future. Unlike your mind, it lives in this present moment. Your body is your gateway to presence- use it wisely. The flip side of ignoring this aspect of your life often comes at a steep price. As we continue to ignore the messages or the warnings signs, minor symptoms can often build up to major health issues. This is especially true for women as they tend to be natural caregivers and often put themselves last on their list.
However, you can learn to change all of this.
Practice bringing yourself to the present using moments that you experience every day. One of the most effective ways that you can do this is by grounding yourself by focusing on one area of your body. One practice that is most effective with my own coaching clients is "Finding your feet".
I invite you to practice this by listening to the guided audio meditation (link is shared below)
Trust your feelings
By tuning in to your body you have access to the inner guidance that is always there to support you, especially in difficult times. Unfortunately for many of us, we have been taught to live our lives in a constant state of emergency. As a result, we often end up ignoring the messages that our body is trying to convey to us since the messages often tend to be quite negative.
The other thing is that since negative emotions like sadness, frustration, disappointment are quite painful, we tend to ignore them. We are told that we should try to be happy and joyful at all times even though that is simply not sustainable. Negative emotions and pain are an integral part of life and shutting off access to these emotions mean shutting down parts of our lives which make us whole. Also, challenging situations and difficult emotions often serve as great teachers and help us to grow as a human being.
Expressing your emotions
Babies and young children are naturally good at expressing how they feel as they live mostly in the present. They use tears, movement, art and other ways to express how they are feeling. Adults, on the other hand, can struggle to do this since many of us were conditioned from childhood to bottle up our negative or difficult emotions. The good thing is, that as we start listening to what our body is telling us, we live a life that is far richer and fulfilling. While women are naturally more expressive than men, we too are taught to put a lid on our emotions lest we are seen to be too "emotional" or "sensitive".
The good thing is, that by connecting to those parts of yourself that are crying out for help, you can find the strength to deal with challenges as and when they arise. Since you are now able to trust your feelings, both good and bad, you find that you are able to give yourself what you need. And as you do that, you are present for your family in a more authentic and compassionate manner.
The healing power of touch
In moments of stress (like we are going through right now) we can use the wisdom of our bodies to return us to a state of ease and calm. Whether it is news about the spread of COVID19 in your area, economic recession, work related stress or worrying about your family's health, you can build resilience by tuning into your body. Infact, returning to your body can become the foundation for your practice of resilience. This kind of practice can help you weather any kind of storm in your life.
I share with you below a guided meditation which can help to bring calm and peace in your life during stressful and challenging times.