I’ve read a lot of stuff in social media about the importance of listening to our bodies and how important it is to tune in. As usual, I’d like to chime in with my own beliefs on listening to what are bodies are trying to say to us. I believe that there are 3 BIG MISTAKES people make when tuning in to what their bodies are telling them.
- LISTENING TO THE LIES – Just like our mind, our bodies lie sometimes. I know that you have times when your internal negative voice tells you stuff that isn’t true like “You’re rubbish at this” or “You’ll never be good enough.” To create true happiness, you need to be able to separate the truth from the BS. You need to know when your brain is exaggerating, creating universal statements (“It’s always going to be this way”), and deleting information (like all the stuff you really excel at). Don’t you think it’s the same with your body? How many times has your body told you to eat something that you later regretted? It’s called a craving and your body produces it (in conjunction with your brain). And what about when you’re hungry? Did you know that a lot of times our body sends “hunger” signals even though what it is really trying to say is that it needs water? Dehydration causes the body to crave any way that it can get water and food (specifically plant-based) contain the water it’s craving.
- MISINTERPRETING THE INFORMATION – Without diligent time and effort in listening to our bodies, we often misinterpret the signals. I used to do a 6-day detox twice a year. I fasted (I had about 8 oz of specific juices each day and 3 liters of water) for the entire time. The first time, I was miserable for the first 3-4 days. It was really hard with the headaches, the lethargic feeling and the inability to concentrate. Thankfully, the guide I had for my first detox made it very clear that I need to get over this hump to get to the other side. Day 5 and day 6 were bliss! I’ve never felt so good in my whole life. I had superman energy and crystal clear thinking. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about my body. I repeated this process every 6 months until I no longer had the bad feelings at the beginning. I had changed my diet so much that there wasn’t really anything left to detox and from the 1st day to the last day, I had the same amount of energy and vitality that I normally do. Now, take another person I know that recently did a detox. She didn’t make it through the hump to the other side. Instead, she “listened to what her body was telling her” and started eating again before she ever felt the positive effects of the detox. She got caught up in her body “telling her” to stop. What her body could have been telling her was that she was really sick and needed to get the toxins out of her system. That’s what she was doing the detox for, after all, to rid herself of disease. Instead, she “listened to her body” and the disease is still there. I don’t know for sure what would have happened if she would have remained on the detox. I do know, though, that several of the people at the same retreat had many more of the really bad days than she had had, and were encouraging her to stick it out. For me, I experienced this one type of situation (detox) several times to understand what my body was saying to me then based my conclusions on a whole set of information. For this lady, she set her decision on one experience and figured she knew what her body was saying, despite people telling her otherwise.
- THINKING THIS IS ALL YOUR BODY CAN DO – I took a trip to Kota Kinabalu one year and hiked for almost 18 hours straight. In the first section, my heart rate averaged 152bpm for 6 hours straight! If anyone had asked me to get on a Stairmaster and climb for 6 hours straight keeping an average heart rate of 152bpm, I would have laughed at them and said “IMPOSSIBLE!” And yet it was possible. And my body did it. Yes, I was massively sore the next day but my body continued to carrying on because I didn’t give it much choice. I was determined to get to the peak of this mountain and once I did, I had to get back down. Just like your mind, your body can be pushed passed your comfort zone and do things that you never believed. We hear courageous stories of people lifting cars off other people in accidents. How do they do it? Adrenaline fueled power! I know this happens because my husband picked a 600 pound motorcycle off me when we had a crash in New Zealand. His wrist was broken at the time and he managed to pick the bike up on a downward incline, fighting the weight of the bike and gravity, to free me from being pinned under it. He couldn’t reproduce this feat today if he tried. The same bike went down in Singapore and it took both of us to pick it up. The only difference – his wife wasn’t pinned under the bike screaming at him!
Just go ask an ultra-marathoner how many times they listen to their bodies when they run. You’ll find that at the beginning the body lies quite a bit and once you learn to push past the lies, you start understanding the signals your body is really telling you. Don’t get me wrong, pushing past the pain of an injury or mental and emotional stress isn’t good either. As I write this, I’m not feeling well at all, so I’ve taken a day off from my normal exercise schedule. I’m not really listening to my body, because I know my body can go run the 12.6km route I had scheduled. What I am doing is overriding my body and making sure that I don’t end up making this unwell feeling last any longer than it needs to.
When you take time to notice what is happening to your mind and body in different experiences and different circumstances, you begin to really know yourself and what you need. This happens without the BS of lying to yourself (you don’t really need a carton of ice-cream when you feel bad). It happens because of your conscientious efforts to pay attention in the past.