By Alana Simler, LMP
I’m talking to me and your talking to you – whose listening? Well, ideally we all are! Our bodies are giving us constant feedback about all sorts of information, but unless we get to know the language it speaks we are missing out on the conversation.
I had a lady on my table the other day whose words stuck in my head swirling around causing me to contemplate our body/mind connection in a different way. Coming from someone who obviously communicates quite well with herself, she told me that her body called to her to have a conversation about her eating habits. She explained that she journals in a conversation style that allows her to ask questions and without over thinking or filtering she writes whatever flows from her. I get that this might sound a little out there to some, but don’t tell me you haven’t talked, scolded or asked questions of yourself before. You probably just didn’t wait for a reply…
Therein lies the problem, we could all do with a little more patience in waiting for the answers. The body has all kinds of things to say; the reply isn’t going to be a formed word, but more like a feeling, sensation, emotion or intuition.
I believe the first key to listening to our bodies is awareness. How can we hear what is being communicated to us if we have the volume turned down or we are shut off completely. You know that saying “we don’t know what we don’t know”. So true this statement is. I see it all the time on my massage table. Lifting an arm or a head for a passive range of motion only to be ‘helped’ by the client. “Just let your head feel heavy” or “let your elbow drop” are some of the nudges I coach my clients with. These are typically followed by professions from the person on the table that they were not aware they were helping. The next popular statement sounds something like “I didn’t even realize that spot was sore until you touched it.” Again, this comes back to awareness. It’s hard to relax if we aren’t conscious of the fact that we are tense.
Where do we begin, who teaches these language classes, is there a home-study course? Have I always been closed off or separated from myself, or did this gradually happen due to a trauma or chronic pain that caused a need to disassociate in order to survive the constant feedback my body was giving. Of course there are books and classes out there that can be incredibly insightful, but for starters just practice checking in.
Take a moment to close your eyes, breath slowly and do a scan through your body. Basically, that is a type of meditation. By doing this more often you are taking the time to get to know yourself and will more efficiently converse – as if with an old friend.
If you feel pain, consider what kind of pain it is. Pain can feel dull, sharp, nagging, intermittent, burny, etc. Each one is a detail in your body’s effort to chat with you. It isn’t always necessary to run screaming when you notice a pain sensation. A certain ‘someone’ was terrible about this for the longest time! It was incredibly frustrating to massage this person at times due to particular sensitive areas that I knew needed help yet they would jump around and retract if I tried. After literally years of persistence we were able to have break throughs that have led to a deeper understandings of how these sensations are interpreted. Try evaluating what pain sensations are conveying to you. Massage offers great lessons in getting to know your body’s lingo.
Have you thought about how you feel after eating particular foods? Blood racing through veins, bloated full stomach, surges of energy, lethargic or even contentment are all applauses or criticisms your body delivers about what you have ingested. Have you ever noticed that when you are regularly physically active you tend to eat/crave healthier foods?
Take a look at your emotions, talk about a large smoke signal sending a message! Whether happy, sad, glad or mad the way your feeling within your body harmonizes to match your mood. On the flip side, if you can stop for a moment and pay attention to how your body is feeling you might find it has effected your current state of mind. What if making a change in one could have a desired affect in the other.
Mind boggling? True, but very attainable when we tune in and pay attention. Other waysto get to know the messages are massage, yoga, pilates, meditiation – the list goes on. A relationship with ourselves is the best one we can develop!
By Alana Simler, LMP
Alana Simler is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Pilates Instructor. As well as owning and running a successful massage practice for 18 years, she has instructed massage therapy at Ashmead School of Massage and Whatcom Community