Listening to Your Body: Unlocking the Power of Wellbeing
Have you ever felt like your body was sending you a message, but you weren't quite sure what it was? You're not alone. In today's modern world, many of us have lost touch with our bodies' signals. But if we learn how to listen and respond to our bodies, we can make changes that will lead to improved health and a better quality of life. Mark Nepo, author of Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, writes that “life is both calm and storm, and the challenge of living is to learn how to use the calm to endure the storm, not bypass it.”
What does it mean to listen to our body?
We often take the advice to “listen to our bodies” for granted, but what does it really mean? Listening to your body is about understanding how your body functions and tuning into its signals so that you can take steps to maintain or improve your health. It means understanding how your body feels and recognizing when something is out of balance. Unfortunately, many of us have lost touch with our bodies’ signals due to poor nutrition, stress, and lifestyle choices. Let’s take a look at some of the things that disrupt our natural ability to discern what is happening inside us.
What disrupts our natural ability to discern what is going on inside?
There are several factors that can disrupt our natural ability to decode the messages coming from within. Stressful modern lives, processed foods, modern-day agricultural practices, environmental toxins, fad diets, and other lifestyle factors can all play a role in impeding our body’s natural ability to communicate with us, and all play a role in disrupting the subtle signals sent by your body. These elements can interfere with biochemical pathways, impairing cellular communication and preventing you from recognizing an imbalance before it becomes more serious.
Early signs of an imbalance (often triggered by low-grade inflammation)
occasional bloating after meals and gas after eating certain foods;
discomfort in the stomach or occasional constipation;
feeling hungry all the time despite eating enough;
joint discomfort or mobility issues without any injury or infection;
mood swings without any obvious triggers or anxious feelings without any reason;
difficulty focusing on tasks without feeling overly stressed out;
restless sleep without being able to pinpoint why you are having trouble falling asleep;
decreased sex drive without any underlying medical conditions present,
unexplained skin breakouts or dull skin
– just to name a few!
Learning to pay attention to these signals and taking steps for deeper discovery is essential.
Listening to your body starts with making your health a priority and the desire to reconnect
We all have busy lives, and health can often fall to the bottom of our priorities list. But it shouldn’t be neglected! Our health should always be top priority, for without health, nothing else matters. The good news is that by listening to your body and its signals, you can cultivate a healthier lifestyle that works in harmony with your natural rhythms. The ability to listen to our bodies is one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to health, yet so many overlook this simple but effective practice.
Here are a few ways to get started:
Turn down the noise
In the midst of our chaotic lives, we have lost the art of stillness and struggle with our ability to cultivate silence and listen. Between social media, news apps, and email notifications, our minds are constantly inundated with chatter from every corner of the internet. Finding moments of reflection in this noisiness is fundamental for our ability to thrive, as it allows us to access new sources of wisdom and cultivate clarity in a turbulent world. Seeking out silence can be one of the most important gifts you bestow upon yourself each day. It allows you to access that most profound wisdom that resides within us all - your innate inner guidance.
Add a body scan to your daily regimen
Doing a mental body scan of your own physiology every day is an incredibly powerful self-check, one that can significantly build awareness of your body and its changes over time. Conceptually, body scanning is like a mini body check-in, where you take the time to assess how your body feels on any given day. You can even do it from your bed. By doing this, you can become more in tune with any new physical sensations, subtle disturbances, or changes that you may otherwise not have noticed and also open up pathways to a deeper understanding of how our bodies respond to the environment and daily activities. Through body scanning and deliberate attention, it's possible to uncover what your body has been silently trying to communicate to you over time.
Log, track and study your health
Taking agency of your health is the first important step towards feeling more empowered and improving your health. Keeping a health journal, health log, or using a health tracker can give you an invaluable sense of self-knowledge about your physical and mental health. When you track your daily health trends and actions, you can become more proactive in managing specific health issues and make changes that lead to positive health outcomes. It can help you recognize patterns and allow you to identify and personalize health solutions. By taking the time to document and reflect on how certain lifestyle changes affect your health, you have the power to identify what works best for you.
Learn how to support and restore your microbiome
We're now starting to understand the importance of our microbiome health – the trillions of bacteria living inside us – and its effect on our total body health. Research has shown how a disrupted or unbalanced microbiome may suggest other issues are contributing to your overall health, including fatigue, difficulty focusing, headaches, digestive issues, changes in appetite, skin problems, sudden weight gain/loss, and muscle tension or aches. Exploring a comprehensive test and discovering what your body needs to optimize microbial health activity is essential.
In summary, listening to your body’s signals is arguably one of the most important personal health management practices available. By learning how to interpret these signals on a daily basis you will be able to recognize imbalances and make a change in your diet or lifestyle. When you start paying attention to your body's signals, you will be amazed at how much information you receive every day. Listen closely and act accordingly - this is the key to cultivating health.