LISTENING TO YOUR BODY. What is it saying to you?
If there is one piece of advice I could give you to achieve optimum health, it would be to listen to your body. When I was in my early 20’s, I was deaf to the call. I was rocking and rolling in the financial world of New York City, trying to climb the corporate ladder and bust through that glass ceiling. When I felt sick, I took something to cover up the symptoms so I wouldn’t have to skip a beat. After a few years of this behavior, the colds, flus, allergies, were coming more frequently. What did I do? I took more silencers so I didn’t have to slow down my maddening pace. “I’m 24,” I thought. “I’m invincible.” Eventually, the symptoms were so jammed up, there was no band-aid big enough to cover up what ailed me.
Now, having walked this earth for half a century, I have learned to hear what my body is telling me. For we geezers, it may be wisdom that opens our ears. Or maybe its our body screaming louder and more frequently that makes us listen. Either way, the message is persistent.
The human body is a finely tuned machine that sometimes get mucked up by unhealthy lifestyle choices. As far as illness goes, there is ALWAYS a sign. It can be as subtle as a summer breeze, or as loud as a pissed off toddler. Either way, if you keep yourself open, you will hear it.
Here are some signs that you might be out of balance.
Change in temperature – feeling hotter or colder than usual
Hair loss or change of texture, luster
Mood swings or change
Excessive thirst or appetite
Aches or pains
Seem pretty obvious, right? How many times do you wake up tired, or poop out during the day, so you indulge in a stimulant like coffee or sugar? Then you forget about that feeling of malaise for the rest of the day. Or maybe every time you eat a certain food, you feel bloated. Reach for Pepto Bismol or tums and again, fuhgedabowdit. And that nagging feeling in your low back, what’s up with that? A little Advil. Then, amnesia.
Do you see what I’m getting at? If you start to see a pattern, there may be a problem. No need to break out the hazmat and call the surgeon, just listen more closely. Adjust your diet, get more sleep, practice mindfulness and use your natural medicine cabinet. You can change the pattern of the imbalances. Enlist the help of your acupuncturist and/or medical practitioner if the symptoms persist. Most importantly, listen to your body. And don’t forget to Q-tip your ears!
Need help checking in with your body? Try out this Body Scan Exercise and tune in.
BODY SCAN EXERCISE
THIS EXERCISE SHOULD TAKE ABOUT 5 MINUTES, TAKING 1 DEEP BREATH TO CHECK IN WITH EACH AREA MENTIONED. IT’S ALSO AN EFFECTIVE MEDITATION OR MINDFULNESS EXERCISE. IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY A LONGER VERSION, TAKE 3-5 DEEP BREATHS INTO EACH AREA.
FIND A COMFORTABLE POSITION EITHER LYING DOWN OR SITTING IN A CHAIR. PICK A PLACE WHERE YOU WILL NOT BE DISTURBED. CLOSE YOUR EYES AND TAKE 3 DEEP BREATHS, INHALING TO THE COUNT OF 3 AND EXHALING TO THE COUNT OF 3.
STARTING AT THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD, TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND CHECK IN WITH ANY SENSATIONS YOU MAY BE HAVING IN THIS AREA. IS YOU JAW TIGHT? DOES YOUR HEAD FEEL HEAVY OR FOGGY?
LET’S MOVE DOWN TO THE NECK. TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND BRING AWARENESS TO THIS AREA. TURN YOUR HEAD BACK AND FORTH LIKE YOU ARE SAYING “NO” AND THEN NOD YOUR HEAD FORWARD AND BACK, GIVING THE UNIVERSE A BIG “YES."
BREATH INTO YOUR SHOULDERS AND UPPER BACK, LETTING GO OF ANY TENSION YOU ARE HOLDING THERE. MANY PEOPLE HOLD THEIR STRESS IN THIS AREA, CARRYING THE WORLD ON THEIR SHOULDERS.
MOVING DOWN TO YOUR CHEST, DEEP EXPANSIVE BREATH THAT SPREADS THE RIBS AND MAKES ROOM FOR YOUR LUNGS. TAKE A MOMENT TO CHECK IN WITH WHAT YOU’RE FEELING IN YOUR HEART, ACKNOWLEDGING THAT WE ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN OUR PHYSICAL BODY.
BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO YOUR ABDOMEN. MANY OF US UNCONSCIOUSLY HOLD OUR STOMACHS IN, TENSING UP THOSE CORE MUSCLES. RELEASE THEM AND FEEL THEM MOVE AS YOU INHALE AND EXHALE.
MAKING YOUR WAY DOWN TO YOUR LOW BACK, DEEP BREATH, HIPS, DEEP BREATH, AND BUTTOCKS, DEEP BREATH. RELEASE THE LARGE MUSCLES IN THOSE AREAS.
SHIFT YOUR BREATH TO YOUR ARMS AND HANDS. AS YOU EXHALE, MAKE SURE YOUR LIMBS ARE LOOSE AND RELAXED.
LEGS ARE NEXT. TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND RELEASE YOUR LEG MUSCLES.
FINISH UP WITH YOUR FEET. TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND NOTICE ANY SENSATIONS IN YOUR HEELS TO THE TIPS OF YOUR TOES.
RETURN YOUR AWARENESS TO PARTS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN “TALKING” TO YOU. BREATH IN TO ANY SPOTS WITH DISCOMFORT OR DIFFERENT SENSATIONS. CHECK IN AND TAKE CARE OF THOSE AREAS THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.