Recently I woke from sleep naturally, without the usual ringing of the alarm to tell me to wake up and get ready for work. As I lay there on that gorgeous Saturday morning, all snuggled up in bed, I began to contemplate the rather enjoyable activities I had scheduled for the day – until such time that I noticed how tired my body actually was; clearly it was not interested in my plans for the day at all.
I continued to lay in bed and questioned what was going on for my body to be speaking to me so loudly about what it needed.
It made me consider how we plan our days with activities to be completed, appointments to attend, dates with friends and family and jobs to be done. I couldn’t remember the last time that I had nothing planned, where I could allow the day to unfold in the moment, attending to what my body felt at the time.
I lay in bed and decided to connect to my body purposefully to see what it was communicating with me. I felt a mild sickness in my stomach area and there was an uncomfortable pressure in the middle of my chest, although my feet and wrists were tingling like little stars emanating. I realised there is so much information about my body that I miss in my day-to-day life because I don’t tune in and see where it is at.
For many years I lived such a crazy life that I never heard my body’s wishes until I became ill. Illness is a big stop for many of us, where we can no longer override our body with our mind’s desires. But why let it get that far?
The next day I experimented with how my body would run my day should it be given a say… not my mind, which was already trying to take control and provide all the options of fun, as well as duty, that could fill the hours. My body was asking me to take my time; it still did not want to be pushed.
We (my body and I) went for a walk along a path that I always enjoy as there is farmland, trees and a bubbling creek. We purchased groceries, did some housework, some writing and cooking – all with both my body and mind in connection. It felt fabulous not to be overriding my body but going along with it as a guiding light.
So many years have been spent ignoring or detesting my body and here we are now, after years of developing self-care, the best of friends.
Just prior to this particular weekend I was being asked a number of favours from a friend. This was fine, but the last request did not sit well. My head was busily trying to accommodate the request, to put my own needs second, to find a way to make it work out and to comply, and yet when I connected to my body it was clearly saying ‘No’. This time I honoured the specific wishes of my body, and when I talked to my friend about my decision, it was not a problem at all – it was only my unfounded fear that there would be a problem that was holding me back from speaking up.
The next stage became – could I keep this connection with me during the working week where the reality of my employment requires me to attend to appointments, deadlines and the requirements of work? The answer is ‘Yes’, but there were more distractions for sure.
On the days where my body wanted to take it easy, where it was feeling more dense or fragile, I worked more tenderly and in a way that honoured that need. I realised I could renegotiate a deadline for work if it was needed, and didn’t need to force my body to work harder than it actually could. And funnily enough, that period passed and the body became more naturally energetic and able to perform tasks with ease, going from one matter to another. What wasn’t done on one day could be picked up on another day when there was the energy to do so. This felt like a very natural way of life for me and, perhaps, for all human beings.
We are not robots designed to perform each day as consistently as the day before. We can react to people and problems, we get illness, we become upset or frustrated in life – all of which needs to heal. So as we unfold through this healing process, we must attend to the needs of our physical body and support it to do what it must do, naturally so. Of course, this is not what the world demands, but it is what the body asks and it speaks loudly if we listen to its way of communicating.
If I could fast forward my life another 10 years and look in a crystal ball, if I had not learned by then to listen to my body with more astuteness, would I be nursing myself with breast cancer or chronic fatigue or some other illness, which would bring me to a stop? Maybe learning to listen to my body that weekend was the point in the road where I took another path, a path that did not lead to illness, but to true health or some other destination altogether. We will never know for sure, but the message to listen to my body has been heard loud and clear and, in fact, allows me to feel more lovely throughout the day, as I am responding to life as a ‘whole’ person – body and mind together.
Self-care is certainly about eating foods that support our bodies, enjoying regular exercise and limiting stress in our lives, but it is so much more. Self-care also includes listening to the needs of the body and learning to honour the wisdom that it has to share. It is the voice of the body that can be trusted to care for us, so much more than the jittering monkey mind that tells us all sorts of things. It perplexes me why we so often run with the monkey mind and override the body rather than honouring it, and instead, ignore the onslaught and messages of our many passing thoughts.
Recently I visited a friend and was talking through a problem; how to deal with it in a healthy way. He said, “How do you feel it should be dealt with?” I stopped, knowing he was not going to give me the answer, and connected to my body, feeling the delicateness of my hands and my feet on the floor. I immediately and calmly explained how the problem should be dealt with and then stopped, as I realised that I had known the truth all along: I had only needed to connect to the steadiness and the wisdom within, instead of allowing my mind the freedom to cause the complexity and complication that it was creating.
Connecting to the body is a deeper level of self-care that is necessary for us to live a true and harmonious life. And when we live in this way, there is no confusion or chaos, as life is so simple, all clearly known and understood.
“The body is the marker of ALL truth.“
By Maree Savins, Australia