We all inhabit our bodies but have you noticed how we pay little attention to it when it speaks, whispers or gives us a nudge about that nth cup of coffee we’re drinking, that pack of cigarettes we have consumed, or the 4-hour sleep we just had?
Are we simply too busy to take care of ourselves?
Do you listen to your body when it aches or do you get annoyed instead and make sure that any pain you feel is immediately quelled by medication, food, an entertaining distraction or even by a relationship?
When a pang of emotional pain comes up, do you feel into it or do you brush it away for maybe another day or two or more until you conveniently forget there was a twinge of feeling in the first place?
Or maybe you literally hurtle on and pretend that you haven’t felt or aren’t feeling anything at all?
I did all these and more. The end result was not a pretty sight or experience – though it was tremendously a learning one.
I finally listened to my body when I had no choice. When I did, it gave me all I needed to know about my choices, my life and my Self. All the answers to the questions I ever had were literally right under my nose, I just didn’t pay attention.
I had to learn the below lessons the hard way enough for me to know the following statements as truths:
1 Our body knows more than our head ever could
“We have to give our bodies credit for their innate wisdom. We also don’t need to know exactly why something is happening in our bodies in order to respond to it. You don’t need to know why your heart is racing or why you feel like crying. Understanding comes after you have allowed yourself to experience what you’re feeling.
Healing is an organic process that happens in the body as well as in the intellect. So if you are feeling “out of sorts” or “off balance,” just be with that feeling; allow it to come up. After you have allowed yourself to experience it, take a moment and go back over the events yourself to experience it, take a moment and go back over the events of the last few hours or days. If you are feeling ill or having symptoms, reflecting on recent events may give you a clue about what preceded the symptoms.”
Dr. Christiane Northrup, Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom p. 53
For years I dismissed, denied the messages my body was telling me. I didn’t pay attention to my gut feelings even when it was shouting at me to do so.
My head was blissfully unaware that my body was already showing signs of sadness, unexpressed anger, anxiety and misery that it gave me an ultimatum: deny to death the reality staring right in front of me OR live in the lightness of truth and freedom. I chose the former. As a result, I experienced a slew of physical problems that I shrugged off as inconveniences.
For instance, during the last three years of my being in a pseudolove relationship, my red blood cell count was below the normal; I had gastroesophageal reflux disease; I felt weak, fatigued and heavy during the afternoons; I was obese; I found it difficult to deeply inhale and exhale; I was always catching my breath; I had idiopathic urticaria which kept me up at night; I had insomnia; the entire left part of my body – from my head down to my feet – was in pain; I had TMJ dysfunction.
Psychologically, I felt fearful, anxious, I was constantly doubting myself. I had no energy for work.
I felt so unsure about my decisions and I was constantly questioning my choices. I snapped at anyone and everyone for trivial reasons. I’d cry for no reason. I was constantly afraid.
Little did I know that all these were signs my body was giving off. My body was forcing me to pay attention to the abuse and lies I was receiving from my narc-ex as well as the lies and denials I was telling myself.
When I finally faced and paid attention to my emotional issues, the physical symptoms I experienced dissolved.
My gastroesophageal reflux disease cleared when I did the healing work that helped me let go of my fears and admit my denials.
I was able to sleep soundly at night when I was able to name the dysfunction my narc-ex had as well as acknowledge my being codependent.
Acknowledging and accepting my flaws and mistakes were painful but doing so literally lightened my emotional and physical load.
The pain on the entire left side of my body literally lifted and dissolved when I cried my guts out. I was able to do deep, deep, deep breathing when I faced, acknowledged, experienced and went into my sadness and grief.
Doing all these helped me realize that my body was aching to get all these emotional toxins of abuse out of my system, it was only waiting for me to pay attention to it.
2 My head could stay in denial but my body couldn’t, no matter how hard I try.
“We deny because we’re built to see what we want to see.”
Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear
I was in denial about being in denial that it was impossible for me to see something that was right in front of me.
To be fair to my body, it was extremely patient. It tried its best to work with what I was giving it – or more appropriately what I was denying it. But the truth was simply too powerful to be disregarded.
Essentially, my convictions were simply too flimsy when held to the light of honesty. And my body made sure it let me know it wasn’t happy with my decisions.
Ultimately, living the truth saved my life, my heart and my soul. I was sincerely renewed by it. But the process was not easy. I was dismissing the truth for a long time because I was afraid it would be painful.
I was afraid I’d lose everything I held dear.
I was afraid I’d have nothing and I’d be back to square one.
I was afraid that I’d struggle, be unhappy and miserable.
I was also afraid of what everyone would think of me. I was terrified that all I worked hard for will be destroyed.
Guess what, all these things happened anyway BECAUSE I dismissed the truth; BECAUSE I didn’t follow my gut feelings.
I was actually already sad and miserable before I realized I was. Everything I was afraid to lose were everything I never had in the first place. I lost all the illusions my head was working overtime to build and maintain.
I also realized I was simply propping up the illusions I wanted to believe.
There are simple and easy ways to listen and heed what your body is telling you.
All you have to do is be open to its mutterings and pay attention. You don’t need to do anything big or dramatic.
Start from where you are right now.
What are you doing?
What are you feeling?
Is there something in this post or this site that resonates with you?
Notice how you’re breathing.
Are any thoughts coming up right now? If there are, observe them. Watch them.
Be aware of your whole body right now.
Be aware of your eyes looking at the computer screen or while reading these words.
Be aware of your hands. Where are they? What are they doing?
Be aware of your fingers.
Be aware of your feet. Feel where they are stepping on.
Be aware of your toes.
These are simple, fast and easy ways to connect with your body.
Another way is to stand in front of the mirror and look at your face.
Look at your eyes and say, “I love you.”
Look at your nose and say, “I love you.”
Look at your lips and say, “I love you.”
Look at the space between your nose and lips then say, “I love you.”
Look at your chin and say, “I love you.”
Look at your cheeks and say, “I love you.”
Look at your forehead and say, “I love you.”
Look at the space between your eyes and eyebrow and say, “I love you.”
Now, what do you feel? Sure, these may be cheesy or corny but what have you got to lose by not doing these? All you need to do is be aware.
Let your feelings out if you need to. Simply allow it and be with it.
Your head may lie and deny, but your body can’t.
“The body never lies.”
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
3 The body has a mind of its own, and it’s not in the brain, it’s in the gut.
Some call this intuition. Some call this gut feel.
In the medical field, the gut is referred to as the second brain. It is `equipped with its own reflexes and senses. Its behavior is independent from the brain.’
“The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon,” says Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.). For example, scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around.
The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. “A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,” Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response..”
Japanese Samurais call the space two inches below the navel as Hara. Samurais are taught early on to focus on this space before they go to a fight. Putting attention on the Hara allows them to fight intuitively and be aware of things they couldn’t wrap their head around.
“They say that when you are fighting there is no time. Mind needs time to function; it calculates. If you are attacked and your mind thinks about how to protect, you have missed the point already, you have lost.
…Below the navel there is a center, the hara, which functions timelessly. If the focusing is at the hara and the fighter is fighting, then this fight is intuitive, not intellectual. Before you attack him, he knows. It is a subtle feeling in the hara, not in the head. It is not an inference…Before you attack him, before you think of attacking him, the thought has reached him. His hara is hit and he is ready to protect himself. Even before you have attacked, he is in defense, he has protected himself.”
For years I had doubts and misgivings about my narc-ex. The first time I saw him – without knowing anything about him or even talking to him – the word that instantly popped in my head was the word “gigolo.” Of course I had to dismiss this as I had no proof.
I also thought, “How mean of me to judge someone I don’t even know!” Fourteen years later, my gut feelings proved me right.
I also had goose bumps when, a mere week after we met, he presented to me a 20+ page story of a psychologically-troubled man who had a wife named “Jen” – which he later carelessly and obviously altered to “Jem” when he saw my discomfort. He blamed me later on for not appreciating his effort to place my name on the story.
I made sure my doubts were dismissed and rationalized away. Looking back now, the “doubts” and “misgivings” I felt were actually REAL yet I focused on things that will distract me from these. I didn’t want these doubts to be real. I wanted them to go away.
Little did I know, my body was already aware of the truth and it was doing its best to help me pay attention. It wanted me to be aware of feelings, danger signals I didn’t want to look at or acknowledge. Now I know I should have. Now that you know, make sure you do.
“I am where I am now because I followed my gut.”
4 Don’t under estimate the power of the body.
The body is a different entity in itself. I now know better to treat it the way I would treat a friend, family or person I respect, love and care for.
Essentially, my body is the first and foremost partner I need to know about and be in love with – not someone else.
I also now know that the least we could do is value and appreciate every cell in our body. These cells understand what our mind can’t grasp. Nothing escapes their attention.
“..whereas the mind can deceive, be deceived, get confused, or misinterpret, the body cannot lie. Its response to past trauma or present danger is infallible. The body is the messenger of our intuition. Its job is to wake us up – to alert us to a present or pending threat or correctly interpret past trauma.”
If you can listen to your iPod, radio or iTunes, you can easily listen to your body. If you have the time and energy to wear headphones and listen to music, there is no reason for you to not listen to the messages your body is giving off.
All you need to do is be aware of the fact that your body is always looking out for your best interest.
For ways on how to listen and heed what your body is telling you – I will be giving away a free ebook: ‘Tools I Used to Leave, Heal and Recover from a Pseudo-Love Relationship” very soon.