Realising that you don’t listen to your body is a massive thing, it’s a lightbulb moment that could be filled with dread as to where to start, what it’s going to bring up, and the biggest question of all why?
A simple act of not eating all day because you’re so engrossed in work is an act of not listening, being caught in the mind and relinquishing the bodies calls.
Having tight shoulders or back pain, taking a couple of pain killers and forgetting about it are all ways we numb our bodies voice and power on through.
Don’t get me wrong there are times in our lives where this is “the only way”, where if we didn’t we wouldn’t get what was necessary done, but it becomes a problem when this is our default mode, where the body becomes an annoying itch and we just don’t want to ”go there”.
I write this from deep experience, for most of my adult life I hated my body, actively self sabotaging it because I didn’t want to listen to it, I took every short cut in the book to avoid listening to it and I was definitely on the side of numbing was a much more successful route over feeling. The problem came when the body didn't stop speaking, until it had to literally shout so loud and throw the biggest tantrums for me to listen....que seizures....que fainting...que horrid illness...that was my body shouting because I refused to listen.
So when we recognise we spend more time ignoring the millions of signals our body sends us a day rather than listening how do we take that first step?
The simplest answer is start to tune in, but that can still feel daunting, so what I’d say is give yourself “moments”, points throughout your day where you take a moment to feel what’s going on.
If you sit at a desk all day, maybe even set a timer on your phone, and every so often pause and feel what’s happening in your body, are you hungry? Thirsty? Have you sat in the same position for an hour? Do you need to move? Does your neck ache? Basic questions that are the start to listening to the body rather than the mind.
If you stare at a screen for a lot of the day, have a minute gazing out the window, resting your eyes from short focus and taking in the outside world. As you do this ask your body what it needs? Does it need to have a stretch, are you holding tension anywhere?
Another way to take the step is when you come across tension, note it, and see if it travels anywhere else in your body, tension means your holding stress, you’re stressed, so then delve a little deeper what are you stressed or worried about? What is your body telling you.
The more you start to take these moments, delving deeper rather than running to the medical cabinet to numb with drugs (don’t get me wrong there are times when medicine is very much needed) but first tune in, then the type of medicine you give yourself is likely to be far more effective. For example, if you’ve got a headache because you’ve barely drunk anything all day and you’ve stared at a computer screen, downing some paracetamol probably isn’t going to help too much, downing a couple of pints of water and switching your gaze to the window for 10mins probably will.
Our bodies are fountains of knowledge, they tell us what’s really happening (which is sometimes hard to hear) but when we do take the first step suddenly a whole untapped world of “you” is uncovered.