QUESTION: ‘How do I listen to my body?’

ANSWER: Gaining a greater understanding of how we can respond to and influence the well-being of our bodies begins with the awareness that we are not just what we see and currently feel. Realising that there is more, and that it is a two-way exchange of information and love – of supply and demand – begins the opening to a deeper understanding.

Our bodies are the most complex, most technical and yet most responsive systems on the planet. While we sleep they work silently and effectively to maintain and, where possible, improve the functions they need to perform to keep us alive – from heart-beat, mental stability, homeostatic temperature adjustment, to digestion, absorption and waste disposal. All done, unconditionally, at the request of us, the ‘I’ who benefits.

But we ask more of our bodies than mere functionality. We put ourselves through stresses and strains, and provide oftentimes near impossible working conditions. If our bodies were a workplace, most of us would be infringing human rights. But we keep going, ignoring the tell-tale signs of growing discomfort - thinking we know better than these wondrous machines of flesh and emotion; that we can override what we can’t comprehend.

For many of us it takes a significant illness for us to start listening – this was certainly the case for me. But even the smallest of niggles can offer so much insight.

Once we have acknowledged the presence of our bodies, as a ‘separate’ entity to ‘us’ the observer of our more expanded Self, we can begin the conversation of exchange. We can start tuning in to what our bodies need and might be telling us.

It is when we are able to notice, however subtly, the presence of the four bodies that greater awareness is possible. Within our physical body, and emanating slightly outside of it, we have the emotional body, with outside of this – like a glove might fit a hand – our mental body (we ‘think’ with our toes as much as our minds) all encased without our energy body**.  With this increased awareness, we can begin to make choices based on our different bodies. Am I eating this chocolate cake because I physically need it, or because I wish to feed myself, perhaps compassionately, emotionally? Or, am I exercising so much because I have so much energy flowing through me or is the driver a mental image I wish to honour? In short, am I helping myself, or harming my well-being?

The crucial element in learning to listen to our bodies is to do so non-judgementally, with an air of inquisitiveness: of noticing what is happening without admonishment or any need to change it. In the detachment of the self-observation, we allow the awareness to ‘soften’ the experience, and perhaps, through greater understanding, make a different choice next time…or not. As we learn to check in with what our body wants, we also learn how to ‘hold’ this information for our greater well-being. In the intention to hear, understand, learn, we by default enable the progress towards a deeper existence.

**There are many layers to our energy body but to consider it as one energy body suffices. We might think of this as our aura, personal energy field or as an egg-shaped protection surrounding all of our being. If we tune into ourselves and move up close to another, palms in front, we can usually feel the energy bodies of others – the distance they emanate and the comfort level of the colouration of their personal energy field.