I like watching my toddler do things. Little kids are aware of their bodies more than we are, especially toddlers. They are curious, they are able to relate and they like to question each and everything. Sometimes to my surprise, my toddler makes me aware of things that I am not doing right. In the mayhem of life, we adults often lose the art of listening and questioning. We go on with our daily rut. This is because we think that questioning and listening will waste some of our precious time. Often, we do not question because we fear that we might be proved wrong. And if we are proved so, we will have to do everything again, thus resulting in a waste of time.
The Present Age and the Crunch of Time
The life of toddlers is easier than ours. They can speak and hence, they are able to express. They listen to their bodies and some toddlers even communicate to elders regarding this. Suppose, if they are hungry or tired or want to pee or even sleep, they will communicate freely. But, if you are thinking that you do the same thing, then you are wrong, especially in the present age. With a severe crunch of time, we are not able to prioritize accurately. At times, people give more importance to tasks at hand than lunch. Some people keep delaying the requirement of essential check-ups to save some time and utilize it for some other ‘important’ tasks. When a person is not able to prioritize his health, the health suffers and it costs much more time and money than it was being saved primarily.
The Art of Listening to the Body
To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness – Robert Morley
You might not be aware of the fact that your body talks to you. And if you are trying to make humor out of it saying that it talks through your mouth then you are wrong here. Your body speaks in ways that you will not be able to recognize if you are not in sync with it. Learning to listen to the body is an art. It is not a God’s gift, it can be, but it needs to be cultivated. People who wish to learn this art first need to learn patience. You need to love your body, every part of it, to be in one with it. You need to sync your thoughts with those of your body to be able to learn to listen to it.
Why Listen to your body?
Is it really necessary to listen to your body? Why is it important to listen to it? I mean that my mind is not separate from my body and I think my mind takes cautious decisions for the body.
You might be pondering over such questions. By listening to your body, I mean paying attention to little cues that your body gives to you. When you ignore these cues and go on with your present lifestyle, you might end up in a big mess. For instance, a friend of mine had begun a new set of exercises to flatten her belly. She had a slight pain here and there, but she ignored these signs and carried on, thinking that her body will ultimately adjust to them. After a week or so, she was not even able to move and ultimately got bedridden for a month. Now, if she had listened to her body, she might have understood the difference between the two pains – the first one which is felt when a person begins exercising for the first time and the second one which is a signal that the exercise that the person is doing is wrong for the body.
Similarly, hunger is a sign that your body gives you when it requires nutrition. Likewise, cravings are the way your body speaks to you to get specific nutrition. Further, aches and pains are also the way your body speaks to you. At a specific age, a woman’s body changes and gives signs for motherhood, menopause, and so on. When such signs are ignored, poor health becomes inevitable.
Listening to your body will benefit your health in many ways. There are several instances when we know that we are going to fall sick. These signs from the body signal us to stop doing whatever wrong that we are doing. Suppose, when you eat an ice cream bar even though your taste buds are not tingling for it, you might end up with a cold. Your taste buds had signaled you not to eat a bar right then because your body was not ready for it. When we listen to cues from our bodies, we can avoid many health-related issues. We can change our food habits, exercises, lifestyle and even some parts of our routine. For example, my husband stopped drinking tea on an empty stomach in the morning when he started feeling inflammation in his throat right after it. Such cues from the body need to be respected and followed through to keep the health intact.
Listening to the Bodies is a Lost Art
When I was young, I used to spend my free time majorly with my grandparents. They had a way of life which I found quite amusing at that time. However, all those acts made my grandparents live longer, without much medication. This is because that generation knew how to listen to their bodies. My grandfather used to demand certain foods on some days. While he told us that his body is demanding those foods, we used to think that he is bored of the usual fare. Once while basking in the sun during winters, my grandpa explained that concept to me. He told me that there are certain foods that our bodies demand, depending upon the weather.
If you are feeling cold, you should eat foods that are warm in nature – sesame seeds, mustard oil, edible gum, etc. These foods will keep you warm from inside. Likewise, sitting in the sun is also a requirement of the body, so is taking rest. This explained all the funny acts of my grandparents. They were not funny but they were different from ours. They listened to their bodies and demanded certain foods, slept in the sun, and even took a walk during the cold evenings. I was amazed by this explanation. Now, I can understand completely what he was trying to say. Listening to bodies is a lost art. While carrying out the daily activities in the present age, we have got into a rut. We often do not give heed to the signs by our body to stop and take a break. All this leads to stress, breakdown, anxiety, and even depression.
How to Listen to Your Body?
You do not need to join some classes to listen to your body nor need you to become deeply spiritual. Just a few alterations in your lifestyle will help you listen to your body. And when you master this art, do not take the cues lightly. When your body asks you to stop, you need to listen to it and act accordingly. Here are a few steps that will help you pay heed to what your body wants to say to keep you hale and hearty.
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1. Slow Down your Daily Routine
How many times have you thought that there should be more than 24 hours in a day? The very first step to start listening to your body is to slow it down. The present age has made us a busy bee – we do not have time to breathe and think about our own selves. While juggling several responsibilities and wearing multiple hats in a single day, we get caught up in our own web. Connecting to bodies seems to be the last thing on our minds. We desire to change our present routine and take out some time for our own selves, but it does not seem to be possible. To take things slowly, disconnect with the outer world by unplugging from gadgets. Appreciate your life and the nature around you. Do not watch television while eating or check social media updates before sleeping. If you think that you have missed the bus and you are late to get into this habit, then you are wrong here. You can start any time and change your routine, one step at a time.
2. Do Not Look for Easy Solution
This is true, especially for your health. Often, we try to resort to easy remedies to take care of our illnesses. Take, for instance, tackling hunger. Usually, when you are in a rush and your stomach starts grumbling, what will you do? You will open your pantry or the refrigerator, grab something that can be eaten instantly, and move on.
Many of us have the habit of spending less time eating. Taking care of our food and health is last on the list of our priorities. Snacking mindlessly only leads to a temporary hunger solution. This will not benefit your health in the long term. You need to slow down and listen to your body. What type of hunger is it? Will an apple satiate the hunger or will you need to eat a full-fledged healthy meal? Or is it not hunger at all – it is thirst or even boredom! Thinking in this manner will let you find effective solutions for the cues that your body gives. This also means not finding solutions in medications and resort to natural remedies first. Like, the headache does not always require medication; it might require a deeper analysis of this recurrent situation. I came to realize that my headaches were due to cold. By just wrapping a tight scarf around my head, I solved the problem.
3. Breathe Slowly and Deeply
You might not know that most of the problems that we face can be solved by breathing. If your boss just lectured you on that pending work, then instead of feeling bad instantly, take a pause. Start breathing deeply. Take one breath at a time and follow it from your nose to your belly. Think of solutions to taking care of that task. Do not feel anxious and take hold of your feelings. You will start feeling good. Listen to your body by sitting/standing in a quiet corner and breathing deeply. This will solve most of your problems.
4. Learn to Love Your Body
I have heard many people say that they just hate their body – while some do not like the fact that they are fat, others things that they are short or thin or have ugly legs and the list goes on. Instead of cribbing about different parts of the body, learn to embrace them. Love the way you look and love the feeling of it. Do not aim in losing weight, instead aim to become fit and healthy. When you wake up in the morning, see yourself in the mirror and say “I am Beautiful and Healthy”. Your body will follow suit and you will notice the differences in the way you look.
5. Practice Mindfulness
This seems to be deep but it is not that tough. For beginning practicing mindfulness, you need to make use of all your five senses. This helps you enhance the experience. You need not take out special or dedicated time for this. Just inculcate it in all the activities that you do in your routine life. When you sit down to eat, touch the food, and let the smell engulf your senses. Taste it and chew properly. Feel the food reaching every part of your body and giving you optimum nutrition. Another example is when you are in the park. Let nature talk to you. Listen to the birds and the wind swooshing. This will enhance your memory and let you remember incidents, not by the photographs that you took but the experiences that you had. This will help you listen to your body actively.
6. Try Alternate Therapies
Instead of resorting to medicines to cure illness, try simple therapies. There are several alternative therapies available these days that help you in finding out the reason for your illness and treating it thoroughly. Learn more about Ayurveda or Naturopathy. Practice Yoga and Pranayama. Delve deeper into the healing powers of Reiki. These therapies help you listen to your body and practice mindfulness. They help you take hold of the matters of your body and take cues from it. So, next time when you have a stomach ache, do not pop the pill but look for other things that can be done to treat the ailment.
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Your body is indeed like a temple. Believe in it. When you face illness, do not give up on it. Try to inculcate the habit of listening to your body. Your body loves you and you need to love it too. Your body listens to you and you need to listen to it too. Happy listening!
Any other tips you would like to share? Let’s discuss it in the comments section.