Listening to the Body

January 20th, 2010

Normally I'll interview just one, maybe two folks per month, but I hope you've enjoyed my chats with creative folks on the topic of body this month!

It's so funny, usually I'm this ultra introverted girl who gets nervous on the phone, but this topic of body has had me wanting to talk to loads of people for the blog! There were many more people I thought about talking to as well, but there's only so much time in the day. Certainly a different kind of creativity than I usually partake in, but it's been so fun!

One thing that's been coming up in my conversations with these fabulous, creative women has been the concept of listening to your body. I think this is a big key to developing a healthy, happy relationship with body and yourself.

How do you tune in to your body and hear what it has to say? And when you do hear it, do you listen?

This is something that can be a challenge for me. At times my body is easy to hear. And sometimes I'm not a good listener. But I think so much of life is about practicing, not beating yourself up when things don't go the way we plan, and continuing to grow.

Some of the ways I listen to my body is through:

  • *Movement: Yoga, dance, long walks, and such are one of my favorite ways to connect with my body. Noticing where and how my body wants to move as I move, is a great way to connect and tune in to my individual body parts and my body as a whole. Plus, when I take good care of my body by moving it regularly, it's more likely to share information with me.
  • *Fabulous body-centered self-care: Getting a massage or taking a long soak in a tub is a wonderful way to connect to my body. Sometimes when I take a bath, I bring books or magazines to read, but I rarely touch them. Once I'm in the water, I just let go and feel so peaceful.
  • *Deep breath: One of the simplest ways to connect to your body is to breathe. We do it all day without thinking about it, but if we stop and notice one breath in and one breath out, something relaxes.
  • *Body Scan: When I was little, my mom taught me a simple way of relaxing, a visualization where, starting with your toes and going up to your head, you notice each part of your body, notice it relaxing, notice it tingling. And then you imagine yourself in a peaceful place, hearing, smelling, and feeling the space around you. There are all sorts of visualizations I've learned in the meantime, much like this one, and they're all a great way to let go of the inner chatter and get re-connected.

What about you? What are your favorite ways of tuning in to your body?

p.s. The little figure above is something I did up in a program called Illustrator. A lot of my creative output lately has been on some behind the scenes projects, including a project in Illustrator, so I was inspired to create this quick drawing with it. But more on that later!

19 Responses

Leah, your theme of “body” this month has inspired a poem for me. It’s posted on my blog today. Thank you!

Hey Leah,
Listening to the body is not something I do naturally so I find that a morning walk, no matter what the weather, is my time to “tune myself in.” Sometimes I take my Ipod along but more often than not, it’s just me and my dog and the silence all around me that encourages introspective thought that gets me in tune with how I am feeling both physically and mentally. If I’m aware, then I can act on the feed back that my body is giving me. Simple but it seems to work for me.

Lately, exercising puts me in close touch – back in my 20s I was a go-go dancer (60s you know) and I was very in touch – daughter sort of took over being the dancer in the house – but lately I’ve been putting music on and moving again. Dancing always gives me a direct line. That and feeling happy – when I’m happy and in tune I’m almost always out of my head and into my body – likely my hands creating something.

Execise used to do it for me but now I find I liv in my head during most of my exercise routines. For me Shivanata has been the gift of returning my awareness to my body. And it has come with a move toward appreciation of it as well. That is certainly new…

I’ve been practicing paying attention to sensation. I sense into my body and see if i can feel my ground–that sense of stability, support, solidity, then my aliveness–the pulsing, electrical, moving energy, then my connection–to myself and others and the world. it’s been a wonderful way to really be with my physical, embodied self. i inhabit my body more, i pay attention more, i care for myself more, i am more in touch with intuition, i am living more of who i am as a soul with a physical body.

one thing that is huge for me is being present with my feelings in my body and allowing them to flow freely. this opens up more space for energy to flow through my body which energizes my whole life.

i like to start my days being present in my body in meditation and in movement. this morning i meditated, then walked for 45 minutes and i feel very in tune with my body and my self and energized for my day.

and also – meditative dance workshops!!! i go to one each month and they are amazing powerful.

i am loving this prompt leah! it has encouraged me to reflect on art and the body in ways i haven’t considered before this!

Hi Leah –
So happy to have found your site. I’m one of those gym-a-holics and go 3-4 times a week. I take the toughest classes ie. boot camp, kickboxing. I feel that my body is talking more and more but it’s not til I get home, make a dinner and listen to Madonna that I’m listening because at that point, I can’t stop dancing!

A few years ago, when I turned 40, I wrote an “ode to my body”. I just revisited it and now I think perhaps I’ll do some kind of painting about it too.

Here it is…

Leah, a huge lesson for me over the past few years is that my intuition lives in my body. I’ve learned to trust physical sensations as a means of information about the truth of what’s happening in a situation or what action I need to take next. What’s difficult about learning this is that every body is different, so you have to form a loving and listening relationship with your own senses in order to know what one particular sensation might mean for you.

I’ve also learned that movement is a significant part of my art process. My most meaningful art pieces have happened when I allowed myself to make lots of room, spread out, get down on the floor and full-body-engage with the markmaking process. When I don’t do this, I find that my senses disengage and my intellect gets to be in charge, which robs the art (and me) of the full power of the experience.

This required some thinking on my part and has left me still pondering it.

This is such a good topic for me, as I contemplate my aging body. I began treating myself to monthly massages and a facial every 3 months. My body appreciates this extra bit of care and attention. I also began doing yoga about 6 months ago. The part I now like best is the beginning – when you simply stand and feel your feet connecting to the ground, and listen to your breath, and let yourself become aware of your body. It’s made a huge difference in my flexibility and awareness of my body and how wonderful it is even with its flaws.

I love to connect to the various energy centers of my body through daily chakra meditations. It a wonderful way to feel so integrated body, mind and spirit!

I’ve found yoga to be a channel into my creativity. I like what you said about the breathe…it is so critical to calming the mind and body. Thank you for the interesting inteviews that you’ve posted.

In the winter, my body really misses all of the exercise that it gets in the warmer months. I am a road cyclist, and being out on the bike is one the main ways that I connect with my body. But when it’s cold and rainy (like this week), getting out on the bike is difficult.
So, I’ve been looking for different ways to keep my body moving. I’m taking my dogs on longer walks, doing some high powered walking/jogging, and I’m just starting to do yoga again after many years away from a consistent practice.
Yes, my body speaks to me. Right now it’s saying: Hey! Where’s all of that wonderful flexibility that we used to have? We used to be able to do this yoga pose without any problem. Huddie, we need a lot more breathing and a lot more stretching.
I guess I can apply this last sentence to every area of my life.

Hi Leah,
Thanks for this post! It’s so easy to live in my head, weaving my own stories that ignites emotions, etc. Tuning into the body helps rescue me from the edge. When that happens, Spirit reminds me to stop and to take some “conscious breaths”…connecting me to my body. It’s a good release..and gives me relief. I look forward to trying some of the methods mentioned above. Thanks again!

Oh.. I have one more. Tuning into my body is also caused by an ache or pain…like now — so I’ll relax, be still, take some deep breaths with the intention of “listening to my body” I’ll put my attention on that body part that hurts, and speak to it…giving compassion, and asking it whats wrong, what it neeeds, etc.. whatever comes to me in the moment. This always leads me to another part of my life, or my emotions, or “issues” that I need to tend to and/or practice letting go of. I say “practice” because it’s a journey.. not an event; so it’ doesn’t happen (for me) at once…but in degrees. Body awareness and body talk, that’s another way I tune-in.

I love the little figure you created to go along with this. And thanks for all the suggestions for taking care and listening to our bodies. I think the only time I listen to my body is when I get really sick and have no choice but to listen. Most times I’m the one who is talking to my body and usually not saying very nice things. This Friday, I decided to declare it Nonjudgmental Fridays–sort of like Casual Fridays. My goal was not to make any judgments about my body, just let it be. That’s because I began to notice that I was looking at myself a lot in mirrors, but each time I did so, I had a negative thought. So Friday I focused on just looking and not thinking bad things. Very hard to do, but very good to attempt.

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