How Can I Listen To My Body?Jan 09, 2023
Have you ever experienced someone saying to you that you need to “Be in your body” “Get back in your body” or even “Listen to your body”?
Don’t fret, because, in this post, I discuss:
- What is it?
- What does it mean?
- Why do we need to do that?
When we’re in this body struggle (honestly, even in life in general, but let's stick to the body struggle issue for this post) we're in our heads a lot. We are thinking, thinking, and thinking. How can we strategize? How can we plan to lose weight? How can we convince ourselves not to binge? How can we just think, think, think our way to a solution?
Logically, it seems to make sense. We have this notion that we can think our way to a solution, and it sounds great! But that mind space, that headspace where we spend so much of our time in, is fear-based.
It is very judgmental.
It's very critical.
And overall, it’s not the best place to be in a lot.
If we're thinking judgmentally of ourselves and just negatively and everything, we're thinking is very rooted in fear, then what are we going to get? Our reality is going to be dictated by actions that line up with those thoughts.
If you're thinking, oh my God, look at my thighs in the mirror, I've gotten fat in the last few weeks. It's just getting worse. What am I going to think? Like what am I going to look like in this bikini? Photos of what do I do? What do I do, what do you do? And you're not taking actions that aren't super empowering, like restricting yourself.
We don't want to be in this place too often, we want to be in our body, so that’s where the phrase “in our body” comes in.
What does “Be in the body” mean?
It means dropping out of that chaotic, scattered thought space that we're in a lot of time.
It means taking a breath.
Let's take one now.
- Inhale through the nose.
- Hold it for a second.
- Exhale through the mouth.
That one breath can bring you into your body, it can help you be more present and more in tune with what's going on in your body. That’s the beauty of listening to your body or being in your body; it's very wise, coming back to your intuition, what you truly know you want, what you truly know is good for you.
That's the place that we want to live in as much as we can. When you're in your body, you're able to listen to its needs. What it needs at this moment instead of going to that headspace where you’re thinking, ‘I’m hungry but I ate just an hour ago and I’ve already had over 1200 calories and I really need to lose weight so I’ll just ignore this feeling.’
Let's listen to our bodies and let's see.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself:
- Are you hungry?
- Where are you on the hunger scale?
- Are you starving?
- Are you a little bit hungry?
- Are you comfortably full?
- Are you stuffed?
- Painfully stuffed?
Let's listen to the answers our bodies give us instead of using random arbitrary calorie limits, “should and shouldn't”, and all those rules that dictate what we do to and for our bodies.
The body is very intuitive, it has evolved over millions of years to get to this amazing point of being like a bio-computer.
Our bodies are machines that know what they’re doing.
Our diet ideas/diet culture is 50 or so years old while our body’s evolution is hundreds of thousands of years old. Our body has super complex systems that know what it’s doing if you just listen to it and let it lead the way.
How can we hop into that space? How can we BE in our bodies?
Taking three deep breaths in and out as slowly as you possibly can be going to immediately get you much more in that body space. That brings us to the first way to be in our bodies and listen to them.
1. Meditation or stillness.
Your meditation doesn't have to be a 20-minute practice. It can look like a 30-second practice where you just stop what you're doing at the moment. Bring some stillness to yourself. Let those spinning thoughts (those thoughts that are constantly spinning around on repeat) let them simmer down a little bit while you get more in tune with your body.
- What is that saying?
- What emotions are going on?
- What can you track in your system?
- Even physical sensations?
- What can you notice?
- Is there hunger?
Just that small thing of coming back to the basics and a simple, yet beautiful way to come back to just the physical sensations or tracking the emotions is a body scan.
Spend one to three minutes going from head to toe and just noticing every single part of your body.
- What is it feeling?
- What physical sensations are going on?
- What emotions are swirling around?
- What energy is there?
And just narrate as you go through it.
In my mind, I'm feeling a little bit happy right now. It feels quite cluttered. In my mouth, it feels a bit tense, my jaw. And going down my throat feels okay, maybe a little bit clenched. And on my shoulders, they yeah, that feeling a little bit tense but pretty good, my heart, my heart feels quite like quite warm.
You can even put your hand on your heart and just notice for a few moments the beating of it, really getting in tune with the body itself and just follow that down your body. Just notice what's going on. That will get you in your body.
We're listening to our bodies in the stillness.
The movement and sound are great. That can look like going on a walk, doing some yoga, or anything that keeps you present. The focus is feeling the movement. That's why yoga is so amazing. It requires the mind-body connection. Every movement is a breath and you're being present in how it feels, nonjudgmental, and all that good stuff. That’s another way to get into our bodies.
The movement is amazing.
Something I do a lot with my wonderful clients is combining breath, movement, and sound to get in the body. Shaking off all the chaotic thoughts in your mind! It can feel silly when you first do it, but just as simple as raising your arms to the sky on the inhale, exhale, and sort of looking outwards down and just shaking your hands as you do it and just letting out a sigh or a groan or just whatever sound feels like good in your body. Like what does your body want to release?
Journalling is a handy tool as well if meditating doesn't feel like your thing. If you like more structure or just another beautiful way to interrupt that default setting of the constant chatter in your mind, sit down, open a journal, and slow down. Let everything out, whatever goes through your mind, and put it on the page. You can also ask yourself these questions:
- What am I feeling?
- What emotions are coming out today?
- How is my body feeling today?
- Where is my hunger?
That interruption of the “go, go, go” mindset and just slowing down to journal can be great.
This is most prevalent when you feel triggered or when you’re feeling activated.
For example, something pissed you off or something's making you feel anxious, stressed, or any of those big emotions that we usually deem as negative, the emotion that usually you might just distract or numb yourself from it by going to food, social media, Netflix, et cetera; instead of that, use that as an opportunity to practice getting into your body.
Put your hand on your heart and notice that emotion.
Notice it in your body. Instead of thinking, “I'm so annoyed at that girl at work because she said this thing and it pissed me off. What's her problem? Why would she say that to me? I don't like her.” notice that emotion in your body.
Take a breath in and out, and just start noticing. Where do you feel it in your body?
It can look like this:
“I can feel that anger in my chest. It's sort of a bit tight, and I also notice it sort of the more that I focus on it, I feel it sort of going up my throat a little bit as well, almost as if it's slightly harder to breathe. My throat feels constricted.”
Just notice and ask yourself “how can I continue to hang out in my body as I experience this emotion?”
You can breathe into it. Breathe into that chest area, that throat area.
With every inhale, bring in a feeling of safety and calmness, and with every exhale, imagine that you're releasing some of that anger.
You can always add that sound element with this! I use the sound to let out some of that anger. Keeping the emotion in the body can be detrimental to us, mentally and physically.
As you process the emotion, breathe through it, feel where it is in your body, and then notice.
That is an amazing way to be in your body and it’s also used in an effective way to get through difficult emotions.
Why would you want to do ‘be in the body’?
Since we spend a lot of time in our headspace, thinking, it can be a place where there’s a lot of fear, a lot of judgment, and a lot of criticizing ourselves when we don’t get to the reality that we want in life. It's a very negative and difficult place to be in. That’s why we want to be in our body more, which is wise, smart, and knows what it's doing. It's always coming from a loving place and it's very, very intuitive.
How can we do it?
- Meditation, breathing, a huge one-movement sound, listening to it.
- Asking your body and waiting for that intuitive answer. Asking your body things like:
- Am I hungry right now?
- Do I really need to eat this?
- Is it nourishing me?
- Is it numbing me?
- Noticing your physical sensations.
- Hand to your heart, feel the heart beating.
- Feel your lungs expanding as you inhale and closing up as you exhale.
Using it in those times when you're feeling difficult emotions.
How can you be more in your body while those difficult emotions come about? Instead of being in your mind and creating a story or meaning out of things that happen, and blaming and projecting, let's be in the body.
Let's notice where we feel the emotion physically for you, then notice how it shifts.
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