Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Learn to Listen

With all the noise and stimulation surrounding us every day, it's no wonder we have a hard time listening to the subtle language of our bodies.  There seems to always be something to do, somewhere to go, whether it is carting the kids to an afterschool activity, working late to finish that big report, sending that email or text that just can't wait or watching the game on your smart TV.  How often do you just listen?  No, not listen to other people talk, or listen to music, but simply listen... to yourself, to your body, your intuition and inner wisdom? 

One thing I have learned to value more than any other is the power of intuition.  It can guide you through your life almost like a road map for your soul.  On the physical level we have a deep connection to our intuition as well.  Our bodies know exactly what they need at all times, and are communicating with us about those needs constantly.  The body isn't just a tool that we use to carry out our daily lives, it is intertwined into our mind and spirit in a way that can't exactly be described, but is undeniably recognizable in the way that our thoughts and feelings can express themselves in our physical bodies.  For example, when we smile and are happy, we feel healthy.  When we are stressed or upset, our bodies often react with headaches, muscle pain, stomach upset or fatigue.  It stands to reason that if the body is affected by our thoughts and feelings, then why wouldn't our thoughts and feelings be affected by our bodies?  The body can most certainly guide us to better health... if we listen and allow ourselves to hear!

If you've ever had a "gut feeling" about something, that was your intuition speaking to you.  If you've ever thought "Gee, I'm really tired, I should probably go to bed, but..." or "I really don't NEED that refill on my soda, but..." those thoughts were your body trying desperately to tell you how to nourish yourself.  Our bodies speak to us through our thoughts and feelings all the time.  You might "feel" like the stress at work is making you get headaches, or you might "think" that you should probably get more exercise, but have you ever stopped to consider that those thoughts and feelings could be coming from a deeper need?

We often don't listen to these cues until it is too late.  If the body doesn't succeed in communicating with us through the subtleties of our thoughts and feelings, it will resort to more drastic measures to be heard, such as symptoms of disease and distress.  Depression, fatigue, allergies, migraines and skin problems like acne and eczema are examples of some of the major warning signs that our bodies will send us to let us know that they need something more and different than what we are currently doing.  Even coming down with a particularly nasty cold or infection could be a sign from your body that your immune system needs a boost.  Western medicine tends to treat symptoms as though they were the problem, when in reality symptoms are the clues to what the problem really is!  If you have a headache, the headache isn't what your body is trying to tell you, and it's not what is really wrong.  The headache is a symptom of another problem that isn't as obvious, such as dehydration, excess tension and stress or lack of Magnesium and/or B vitamins.  If you haven't listened to your intuition when you felt like you should drink more water instead of coffee or pop, then your body will send you a headache to help you figure it out!  Or at least that is what it is trying to tell you, but you may not be listening.

Food cravings are another huge way that our body communicates with us.  If you are craving sweets, chances are what you actually need are healthy fats like nuts, coconut oil, butter or avocado.  Craving salty snacks is often a sign of mineral deficiency, such as a need for more Magnesium.  Do you crave food at a certain time of day, or in a particular situation?  Maybe you have an emotional need that you are "feeding" with food at those times but could be better met through companionship or self care.  Ask yourself, "What am I really craving?  What do I truly need?"  And be sure to take the time to listen!

I know what you are thinking - How?!  How do I learn to listen to my body, when I'm not sure what I'm listening for?  There are ways to increase your awareness of intuition, such as regular meditation, reflection, journal writing or breath awareness practices.  But really you don't need any of those things to begin to listen to your body.  The first step is to become aware of your thoughts and feelings.  Some people just move through life so quickly that they don't even really notice the way that they feel or the thoughts that come and go.  Be more present in the moment, quiet down the whirlwind in your mind and focus on becoming aware of everything around you.  Notice the way the sun shines on the grass or the way that your fingers feel on the steering wheel as you drive.  If a thought comes up, notice it!  That's not to say get caught up in thinking and forget to be present, but notice your thoughts and feelings and allow them to serve their purpose.  If you feel like taking a hot bath, take one!  If you are so upset you could cry, maybe you need to.  When you think that you should get out and enjoy some fresh air, it is most certain that is exactly what you need!

Take the time to listen to your body, and you will find that it feels much better when you do! 

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