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Body Expression and Listening to our Body (Part III)

July 18, 2011

This week our theme is: Body expression and listening to our body, which is the third and last part of our series: Our Body: Our Human Experience.

dance

Very often, people ignore their body's messages or simply shut them off, because they don't want to deal with them, unfortunately, by doing that, they can create greater problems and more discomfort in their lives.

Our body has a voice, and it should never be ignored, as it carries important information.
Our body is directly in tune with the world around us and the world inside of us. If we learn to listen and respect our body's voice, it can give us clues on what is best for us.

Our bodies are much more reliable than our intellect because they work at a more "raw" level, they bypass all our mental programming and conditioning, in other words, before an experience can be processed by our mind (sometimes processed wrong), our body has already processed it, and usually accurately.

For starters, our emotions live in our bodies. We can easily associate emotions with bodily sensations, let's look at a few common examples: when we are angry, we may experience throbbing in our temples, a clenched jaw, a dry mouth, when we are sad: we may experience a narrowing of out throat or a lump in our throat, when we are scared, we may experience dizziness, shortness of breath, a ball in our stomach, and so on.

We have to beware of negative emotions because if they are too strong and last too long, they can create blockages in our body and break its natural harmony, thus becoming sources of pain and/or disease. So, it is important to help the body release the tension produced by negative emotions/feelings.

Aside from expressing our emotions, our bodies are also our allies in telling us when to stop, and helping us make decisions we can't make rationally. Lets see two examples:

  • If we are overworking, not sleeping well, running all over, our bodies need rest, and because we are not giving them that rest, they force it onto us by getting sick. (a no-brainer right?)

  • Equally, it is not a coincidence if we fall sick right before a trip we are dreading so much and deeply inside want to avoid but can't rationally explain why. By getting sick, we have the perfect excuse not to go.

Most of the time, these mechanisms work unconsciously, so we are not aware of them and we may even be mad at the fact our bodies are failing us, but our bodies know better than our intellect, that is why we need to listen.

Every time you suffer from pain, uncomfort or become ill, you have the opportunity to reflect, it is not plain "bad luck", there is always more to it. Most likely, our body is trying to tell us something, our body needs something from us, it can be anything from more rest, a change of diet, a change of thoughts, addressing a psychological wound, a change of attitude, etc.

Ask yourself why? - Is there something you are trying to avoid?, Is there a frustration you carry with you?, Are you living in a constant state of fear, anger, sadness?, What is going on in your life now?.

If we could only take the time to listen to our body and reflect on why it is acting up, we would be much better off, instead, most of us look for a magical pill that will make the pain go away, or trust our health blindly to medical practitioners. There is nothing wrong with seeking medical help, but we need to be actively involved in our own health too, the real healing happens when we are part of it. In that topic, I wanted to share an interesting article: Designed to Heal By Dr. Ben Kim.

Another interesting set of messages our body sends are sensations relevant to our intuition, YES, our intuition also originates in our body and it usually does not lie.

Intuition is a gift given to every human being at birth, unfortunately, western societies do not favor its development and more often than not, they dismiss it an block it right from the start. But the truth is, the more we are able to connect to our bodies and listen to its messages (sensations), the more we can awaken our intuition, and use it as an amazing tool to guide us through life. This is a vast subject to which I will devote a full issue in the future.

So, what can we do to start a communication with our bodies?

  • Respect your body! Give it some credit! (eat well, rest enough)

  • Allow your body to express freely, in order to better deal with emotional turmoil and physical strain

  • Try to be more sensitive to the sensations in your body, learn to "hear" them

We already talked about eating well and resting enough, in last week's issue. So, below are some tips for the next two points.

How to let our bodies express freely?
Doing any kind of physical activity is beneficial to our health, however, practicing a structured sport or art, does not really free our body as much. The idea is to LET our body be free to express from the inside out. When we take ballet classes or we play basketball, for instance, we are moving and exercising, but there is a rigid structure to the movement, a technique, and an expectation behind it, which in some cases can create more tension in the body.

Recently, when I was at Kripalu, for a retreat, I came across a wonderful concept of "free motion", called: Yoga Dance, in which dance was explored as a free expression of our bodies, unique for every individual and coming from the inside out. It was powerful!

The idea is that you can "live" the music and bring your own movement to it, expressing whatever it is you need to express at the time. Even though it seems like a lonely dance, it is incredibly powerful when done in a large group, because you suddenly realize that we are all dancing at our own beat, yet, there is an incredible harmony between all of us as a whole, it made me think about the principle of all being one, yet each being unique.

You do not need to be a dancer to do this, on the contrary, it is about getting back that relationship of ease, comfort and well being in our bodies, that we had as small children, it is about going back to our nature regardless of age, weight, sex, etc. It is an empowering and exhilarating practice, to say the least.

It is hard to really explain it, but if you want to look into it, here are some links you may want to check out:

Other wonderful ways to let our body express freely is through creative art, like painting, composing or writing, but it has to really come from the inside out and not the opposite, in order to have the "freeing" effect.

How to be more sensitive to our body's messages?
In order to be more aware of our body's voice, we need to quiet our minds' voice a little, therefore, any practice like meditation, yoga, contemplation, can be very helpful.

I will talk more about intuition and how to develop it in the next issue, for now, I hope you have enjoyed this series and remember to honor your body!

Have a great week!

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