Shhh. Get quiet.
More quiet. Be still.
What is your body trying to say? Not your head, but your heart, your guts, your organs?
I’m doubling down on my commitment to a few physically and spiritually related intentions. You may call them resolutions if you wish. I prefer to think of them as my life’s work. I’ve already been focused on them, to some degree, but I feel a pull lately to be even more intentional and committed.
On top of the list is an increasing desire to listen even more closely to the whispers of my body, and, probably more importantly, acting on those quiet revelations.
Most of our days are spent living in our brains, aren’t they? Sometimes we forget there are bodies attached to our heads, that there are limbs, a chest, a belly. Our brains rule the schoolyard, much like a bully.
With all those thoughts stacked upon more thoughts — from what I’ve read, anywhere from 60,000 to 75,000 daily — it’s no wonder we can’t hear the much more subtle murmurs of what’s happening below the neck.
I’m no doctor, but after all these years living in this here body, I know her weak spots. The spots where my stress, anxiety, grief and anger take root and blossom into physical symptoms. For me, it’s my stomach, where we digest food and also, perhaps, our life’s experiences. When I’m gnawing at some emotions or experience in life, and can’t seem to digest it, my guts get discombobulated, too.
When my innards ache for days or weeks with no apparent physical cause, I know to look at my life, my relationships, my work, my thoughts. And if I’m honest with myself, I already know the issue and the possible solution. But not always. This is where getting quiet and listening comes in.
I think we each have our own Achilles’ heel, a weak spot in our body that’s vulnerable to stress. A friend of mine had low back pain around the time of the election, which has since dissipated. Another friend going through a rough patch in her marriage and life also is experiencing belly trouble. But perhaps it displays for you in excruciating headaches or achy shoulders. Possibly it’s manifesting in sleeplessness or too much sleep.
Yes, it could very well be something much more serious going on. Remember: I’m not a doctor. Get it checked out, please.
But you know what’s great for developing better awareness of your body? You’ll never guess. Yoga. Oh, you guessed? It’s helped me develop better proprioception, the sense that allows us to perceive the location, movement and action of our body parts.
Quick: Can you feel your big toe right now? Start doing yoga and I can almost guarantee you’ll have a better sense of what each part of your body is doing at all times. I’ve even heard some yogis say they can feel the inner workings of each organ. I’m not there yet, but maybe someday I’ll be able to chat with my pancreas.
Next on my list: choosing slowness and creating more blank space in my life when I can. Most things seem better to me when they’re done at a slower speed. Driving, eating, talking. Mindful movement. Mindful speech. And white space, as in quiet, to listen to whatever wants to bubble up to the surface and otherwise might not if you were immersed in yet another podcast, TV series or the constant blast of the radio. A space to explore the landscape of your mind.
Third intention: More weights, which might sound jarring, being as it comes tucked within all these more ethereal intentions. But it’s important to have a practice that grounds you, that returns you to your body if you get in your head and feel spacey, anxious or disconnected from the land of the living.
I’ve lifted weights on and off, often half-heartedly, since college. But over the past six months, I’ve become a bit addicted. It feels good and it’s so important as one ages. Muscle burns more calories than fat. Strength training is good for cardio health and also helps strengthen your bones, ligaments, tendons and other connective tissues. And then there’s the mental aspect.
“Feel-good endorphins and dopamine in the brain promote stress relief and have an anti-anxiety effect. And brain-derived neurotrophic factor encourages the growth of new brain cells and helps protect existing ones,” according to an article on the website Silver- Sneakers.com.
I have felt both those things surge during the last few months in a way I never have before. Plus, it’s motivating to watch yourself use heavier weights and do more reps. It’s quite uplifting, so to speak.
And my last intention for living: create a regular spiritual practice in a designated space around the same approximate time each day. While Mother Nature and Gaia are my two main squeeze gurus, I’m craving a tiny space in my home where I can sit, pray and listen. To meditate, ask for guidance and to allow those quiet whispers of my body to feel safe enough to emerge and make themselves heard.
I picture an altar of sorts, which, knowing myself, might be a cardboard box covered in a pretty blanket. That’s where the meaningful items go, such as photos, trinkets, candles and found items from nature.
Those are mine. What are yours? Either brand-new life intentions or the ones you’ve been working on for years. I’d love to hear: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact the writer: 636-0270