Every time I teach a class, somewhere I utter the phrase, “listen to your body”.
This morning I woke up with the following churning in my brain:
Why is it so difficult to connect to our bodies and do it OUR way?
From the time we were born, our mothers said to us, “listen to me”.
When you would sit on the ground, your mother might have said, “don’t sit there, you’re going to get wet”. Did she ever say, “listen to your body, it will keep you from getting hurt”?
Did our mothers ever say that?
Mine didn’t. No mention of a body of any sort.
After our mothers, it was,
“Listen to your father”, then
“Listen to your teacher”, then
“Listen to your coach” and
“Listen to your doctor”
“Listen to your boss”
“Listen to your financial advisor”
“Listen to that woman hawking weight loss medication”
“Listen to your friends”
“Listen to that politician”
Some are beginning to say things like “listen to your intuition, but without a connection to body, what does that mean? And when “intuition” has such a negative connotation – tied up in “women’s over emotional/hysterical state” – where is the value? What do they mean?
When does anyone say “listen to your body”. Intuition is not about what you think, it’s what you know in a different way – what you sense in your body.
When others ask “how do you feel about that?” what they often mean is “what do you think?”
Interestingly when we stop listening to our parents, we start listening to our friends and anyone with the appropriate “coolness factor”. So now we’re being told what to wear, when to wear it, how to wear it, how it should look on our body and the most challenging – how our bodies should look. Still looking outwardly – still listening to others.
Our entire lives, we’re told to listen to sources outside of ourselves. We’re told early by people we trust implicitly, so we must do it and it must be what’s best for us.
If no one tells us to listen to our body, it must be b/c listening to our bodies has no value.
Now, as Mind-Body guides, we tell our students to listen to their bodies. When they look back at us with a blank or “deer in the headlights” expression, we’re surprised and even frustrated.
I tell my students that they know their bodies better than anyone. Sadly, I’m not sure that’s actually true.
What we have come around to is this:
- adults do not know what it means to listen to their bodies
- adults do not know how to listen
- if adults cannot listen, they cannot hear
We hear the body loud and clear and we tend to act when it hurts. Even that can be situational. If we believe we have to be at the job, or that pain equals weakness or that to get through we must endure pain, we may choose to stuff down the pain, suppress. “Suck it up”, “be a man” (although interesting to contemplate the levels of pain women endure during childbirth…) – the belief seems to be that pain is of itself. In other words that there will be no repercussions to what we expect our bodies to endure.
It has been made clear that the value is in listening to sources outside of ourselves. This mentioned (several times) I realize that there is no trust in this process – there can be no trust.
Without putting too fine a point to it, distracting us from listening and responding appropriately to our bodies is in the best interest of those around us who are in positions of “power”.
In order to exert control, we must have another’s attention and we must keep it. If they start thinking for themselves, we risk losing control. This does not speak exclusively to malicious or dangerous situations. We may be referring to a mother crossing a busy street with her small children. She must be in control of some element of the situation; she cannot control the traffic so she must control her children.
It’s vital to our quality of life that we learn how to listen to what our bodies tell us. The next step is then to respond with self-care. Self-love is a goal. Not only for ourselves; we have to share this with others. We have to share this information with our children, our friends, with our lovers, spouses and anyone else in our lives.
In order to create the ever-elusive Balance in our lives, we must first experience Balance in our bodies.
We are more than a mind in a bag of bones. We are a body inspired by a mind.
BODY, Mind, Spirit and Emotions.