Listen to your body??? What the bleep does that mean?!

Last month I wrote about ‘body wisdom’ and a few people asked me ‘but how do you really listen to the body?’  I recently worked with a client who’s suffering from fibromyalgia and her frustration was that she simply doesn’t know how to listen to her body as she’s spent a lifetime not doing it. 

This morning, with this in mind I dragged myself out for a little run along the river – I looked out of the window at the cold, wet, greyness and felt the goose bumps rising up all over my body.   Is this really what I want to be doing?

I have a long standing history with running.  Running used to mean pushing myself relentlessly – 7 marathons and more than 30 triathlons – I’ve put in a bit of mileage over the years. 

While I no longer feel the desire to push myself so hard, running still occupies a special place in my life in a way that even yoga and climbing don’t.  There’s something about running that really makes me listen to my body.  So this morning, procrastination over and I head out of the door.    Dodging the midges and puddles, I began noticing…

I noticed that my shoulders were right up by my ears and that they’d got so used to being there that they were almost comfortable with it.  Hours of sitting, thinking, living in my head and my body had started to make its own distorted adjustments.

I noticed that my breathing too had somehow become comfortable with living in my chest.  I talk all the time about suboptimal breathing so how is it that my own breathing pattern had habituated to this unhelpful rhythm?

I noticed that as my shoulders began to descend so did my breathing and I noticed how gratefully my body responded to the full quota of oxygen it deserved.

I noticed that the fatigue I’d felt before my run was not from lack of energy but simply stored potential energy needing to be converted to the kinetic energy of movement.

I noticed just how much space trivial irrelevances seemed to occupy in my mind.  Why were they there?  And how had I become so used to them that I almost didn’t notice their constant shadow?  As I ran, I felt them drop off.  I left them, with no trace of guilt, strewn on the towpath.

Finally, I noticed the gifts as I smelt the air, felt cool rain against my heated skin and as ideas and creativity percolated up through my consciousness making their way from heart to working memory. I felt my pace quicken with anticipation.

At this stage in my life, this is what I talk about when I talk about running.   

So what is it that helps you to listen and notice?  Because we all have something – we just have to find it and do it regularly.  Something that helps you to climb out of your head and back into your body.  Something that helps you to notice and make those subtle adjustments that are vital to restoring balance, replenishing your energy and nourishing your spirit.  It might be gardening and getting your hands into the soil, walking the dog or cooking and playing with textures, flavours and colours, or singing along, with abandon, to your favourite music tracks.  It might even be walking up your usual flight of stairs and noticing the tightness in your joints.

Whatever it is, do it and do it regularly.  When we disconnect from the body, we accumulate imbalance, we become numb and stop feeling.   We create dis-ease.

As I said last month…

The body is wise.  Listen to its whispers.  It will tell you what it needs.

Yours in amazing health and energy.

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