Messages like these are really clear when we slow down to listen. Noticing how we feel in our bodies as we embark on a task or set an agenda is valuable information. For example, last week I was asked to begin researching properties as I will be moving in the next couple of months. At first I was excited as evidenced by a slight increase in energy when I approached my computer. Then, I felt a bit of a dip as I scrolled and clicked and scrolled some more. When I imagined myself driving to these addresses to physically view them my energy spiked again…I was excited. These bodily cues are with us all the time, but they are useless if we are not clued in and evaluating their presence. For me, I need plenty of downtime away from electronics and have found taking my laptop outdoors is a great solution for getting work done. Perhaps you love being online and have no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s totally cool! The point is that we have to know ourselves well if we are to take care of ourselves in ways that help us feel the most satisfied and authentic. Knowing ourselves in this way means listening to our bodies without judgment.
The following are several ways to begin getting more familiar with yourself and your body in order to identify stress and/or what you really need:
Breathing: Surprisingly many people catch themselves holding their breath under stress. In fact I have caught myself doing this when using electronics (I told you! I really don’t love them.) It is important to use slow, even breaths. There are numerous breathing techniques, but I find counting to 8 is the most effective way to achieve balance that allows me to feel grounded, present, and trusting. Biofeedback is also a terrific tool for strengthening this practice and they even have portable devices now. Let me know if you need details!
Draw or paint your experience: Expressing what your body is feeling through nonverbal communication can provide invaluable insights as well as help regulate your central nervous system. I often provide a body template to clients to use following guided imagery/body scan to document their experience but you can use plain white paper or draw a circle (known as a mandala). Once you have completed it describing what you see can be very helpful in learning what is being communicated.
Do you struggle to hear your body’s messages or are you a natural intuit that trusts her instincts and knows when to slow down and listen? Either way I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a message and let me know what strategies help you in this area. You may also use the comments below to request any of the tools I’ve mentioned such as a guided recording or body scan. It’s not always easy to listen but practice makes progress. May you breathe slowly, often, and mindfully as you practice listening in!