It’s all very well to tell people to listen to their bodies (I’m discovering), when for many of us, trust in the body has been broken, and we therefore fear it will lead us astray.
- Are you scared to take an afternoon nap, because you think you will never get up again?
- Do you think that if you ask your body what it wants to eat, you won’t just eat one biscuit but inhale the whole pack?
- Do you avoid ‘asking’ your body about how much exercise to do, because you think you’d simply become one with the couch?
The idea that the ‘flesh is weak’ is alive and well in our culture.
But I can assure you, it is not the body that wants to over-eat or blob-out. Your body doesn’t enjoy processing your double cheese, late night pizza and it’s no fun for your liver, detoxifying that extra glass of alcohol. More likely it’s our wayward mind causing trouble (‘just one more won’t hurt’), or self-worth issues that get in the way of caring for our bodies as they deserve.
So it’s time we stopped blaming the body for any sloth or gluttony and remember that the body is the master of self-regulation. Homeostasis is what it does, every moment, in every body system.
To help you restore trust in your body, (and thereby raise your body intelligence) experiment with these 3 BQ challenges.
1. Build trust by doing what your body says. Look for opportunities to act from what your body tells you, rather than what our culture tells you, what your peers tell you, or what health experts say. Feel meal hungry at 11 am? Eat lunch now, rather than say ‘it’s not lunch time’. Feel depleted on the first day of your menstrual period? Try going gently and little more slowly during your day. Do you sense that 11 reps is enough today in the gym, even though your program says 12? Live life dangerously and stop at 11! Notice how your body responds to being trusted.
2. Consult your body to help you make decisions. The next time you have a decision to make that you are uncertain about: Come to stillness, pose your question to yourself, then choose one option. Notice what visceral response you feel in your body, to that choice. If you feel stressed or uneasy, what is that telling you? If you feel excited and expanded, what does that indicate? Learning to recognise ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in your body is a powerful life skill with many applications.
3. Use body awareness to build your emotional intelligence. The first skill of emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise what you are feeling. All emotions are accompanied by a sensation in the body, so the better you are at noticing what’s happening in your body, the better your EQ. Once a day stop and connect with your body. Ask what this indicates about your emotions in that moment. For example, if you feel heavy around your heart, could that be sadness? An elevated heart rate and butterflies in your stomach suggests anxiety or fear, and anger is often accompanied by tightening muscles and a tight jaw. If you feel light and expansive and open, that sounds like joy.