tuning into body wisdom

Our Bodies are Amazing!

I was listening to another life coach a while back. Usually I love everything she teaches, but in this particular video, she said something to the effect of “I just can’t trust my body to tell me when I need to eat…”

Even though much of what she was teaching resonated with me, that statement really bothered me, and I have been rolling it over in my mind ever since.

Why would we not be able to trust our own bodies to tell us what we need?

That seems backwards.

It’s true that some aspects of our modern diet and lifestyle can seriously mess up our hunger and satiety cues, but with some guidance and practice, you can learn to really tune into what your body needs and wants — not just your cravings and urges, but what will truly be nourishing, filling, and satisfying.

Body Wisdom

The Body Has Its Own Wisdom

”The body has its own wisdom and ways of knowing, separate and distinct from that of the mind. The mind thinks while the body feels. From each of these ways of knowing we get valuable information. Just as seeing and hearing are two totally distinct senses which supply us with discrete sensations, so too the body gives us different feedback than the mind. Our bodies have a special and unique relationship with the vibrating matrix of our reality, one which we can learn to tap into and be informed from.” — John Kehoe

In our culture, we are not used to listening to this body wisdom. We treat our bodies as if they are something to be overcome with willpower. (“If I were stronger or better, then I wouldn’t eat like I do.”) We eat on a schedule, instead of according to our hunger and fullness. We force ourselves to eat whatever foods are part of the latest diet trend because we believe we “should” in order to be “healthy," rather than eating what would be truly nourishing and satisfying.

It can be a challenge to overcome this programming and tune into what is really going on inside. It is a process that starts with slowly building awareness and opening space for a new way of looking at food and its connection to our body and our wellbeing.

"Listening to the body is a practice that requires mindfulness and patience. It demands attention to detail, to subtle shifts in sensation. But as you listen more and more, you will learn to trust the body’s wisdom.” — Will Meacham, MD

Listen to Body

So Where Do We Start?

To begin, we can open our minds to possibility of a greater connection to our body’s wisdom. Even if we do not currently feel love for our body, we can start to cultivate a practice of honor and respect for our body — to see the body as a partner and friend, rather than something that needs to be conquered, dominated, or transcended.

As we start this process, we can lean into the full experience of being in a body and recognize the great blessing of being alive. Honor what your body does for you. Respect what your body needs and wants.

In many ways, this is separate from your conscious mind and thoughts. Your conscious mind may think “I really want to eat that chocolate cake.” But as you build awareness and connection, you may start to notice that your body knows that, in reality, you are anxious or tired (or even joyful) — and looking for a way to relieve (or enhance) that feeling!

"Listen. Listen to what your body is telling you. Each and every cell in your body is full of innate wisdom that is being communicated to you constantly. All you have to do is learn to listen. It is truly amazing what you can learn if you will just listen to what your body has to say!” — Paul Aurandt, MHt

Listen to what your body is telling you.

Begin by Creating Awareness

The next time you’re hungry, take a few seconds to give this exercise a try:

  • Take a few deep belly breaths. If it’s comfortable, put your hand on your belly, close your eyes, and breathe deeply until your belly moves your hand out.
  • Now breathe into your belly itself, right into that feeling of hunger. Try to sense the details of the feeling.
    • What are the sensations of hunger that you are feeling?
      Is it gnawing? Empty? Painful?
    • Where exactly do you feel these sensation of hunger in your body?
  • When you gently consider this sensation of hunger, do any emotions arise?
    • If you are physically hungry, you may simply think “I am lightheaded and I need a snack."
    • If the emotion is “I’m ____________” (fill in the blank: bored, angry, sad, scared, anxious), take a minute to sit with this emotion. Lean into it and feel it more fully in your body.
    • What sensations does the emotion create in your body?
    • How is that different from hunger?
    • Will eating something release this emotion or simply mask it?
    • What will happen if you simply sit with the emotion?

Don’t be in a hurry to “fix” anything. Just be aware. You may or may not decide to still eat after you realize whether you are experiencing physical or emotional hunger. Give yourself permission to eat, if that is what you consciously choose. Create some mental space where you just notice what is going on. Be curious about what is happening for you around food. Consciously choose to eat, regardless of your reason, not just on autopilot.

[Loosely based on an exercise by Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD.]

Plant the Seed: a 14-day body wisdom experiment, May 29 - June 11, 2018

Want To Practice This Body Wisdom Awareness With Others?

If this practice of increasing your body awareness sounds intriguing, then check out:

Plant the Seed:
a 14-day body wisdom experiment

I am testing out a new group program where we will practice these principles of tuning into our body wisdom together. As part of this special beta test group, you can join us for only $37.

The experiment begins on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 and runs for two weeks. Get all the details here.

Hope to see you there!