With the explosive popularity of social media, you likely have a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account and are hopelessly addicted to the omnipresent news feeds delivering up-to-the-minute updates on your friends. Each little update is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. As I mulled over this, a curious paradox emerged. By embracing the tools of digital intimacy, we have the ability to connect with hundreds of our friends, but what type of tools do we have (in this fast-paced world of ours) to connect with ourselves and our own body?
How about we start social networking with our own bodies? This is how it would work. Your body would send you short little updates about how it's doing, how it's feeling, what it needs, and what kind of food would make it perform at its peak. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
What if I told you that you already had free 24-hour access to the world's most sophisticated laboratory for testing how food affects your body and your health? Where is this lab? You're living in it. Your body is a sophisticated bio-computer that never makes mistakes. No matter how involved we are in the day-to-day madness of our lives, our hearts never skip a beat (even in the midst of a heart-breaking divorce) and our lungs diligently expand and contract to pump our life force. Your body is constantly sending you Twitter tweets and Facebook updates. But are you listening? Do you even know what language your body is speaking?
Converting monologues into dialogues
It’s speaking the language of symptoms and sensations. Each symptom, each ache and pain, each sniffle and sneeze is our body communicating with us. These every day run-of-the-mill body sensations are the constant whispers (or screams) to make us stop and listen to what our body is trying to say.
If your body is having a long monologue all day every day, you are not having a great relationship with your body. But the secret to feeling great in your body is to convert those boring monologues into trusted dialogues. You have to cultivate a two-way street where your body speaks to you, and you respond.
Many of us were taught to actually ignore our body's messages, even to override them. But I am proposing that it's time to deeply listen to your body’s messages. Like a mother trying to pacify a cranky baby or pet who cannot talk, you may have to go through a process of elimination until you figure out the root cause for the tears or tantrums. Is it teething, or not getting enough sleep, or is it gas? It's the same thing with your body. Your body can not talk, but it can send you messages through discomfort or strange cravings that need to be decoded. For example, if you have a headache, try to figure out what caused it before seeking instant gratification by popping an Advil. Did you burn the midnight oil at your computer? Did you hydrate yourself? Did you drink too much wine the night before? Did you sleep with the window closed and deprive yourself of oxygen? Are you having an allergy flare-up?
We can, and must, network with our bodies. They're talking to us all the time and their messages are too important to ignore. And remember, your body loves you. You can feed it processed crap and it will digest it for you and turn it into energy to fuel your life. You can deprive it of sleep and it will still get you up and running the next morning. Your body loves you unconditionally, but the real issue in this relationship is not whether your body loves you, but whether you love your body? In any relationship, if one partner is loving and supportive, it's easy for the other to take that person for granted. That's what most of us do with our bodies, and it's time to change!
A cornerstone of my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is to espouse an intuitive approach to supporting my clients in decoding their body's own innate intelligence. And I start each program by having my clients write a letter to their body. Below is an example taken from Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health & Happiness where Joshua Rosenthal eloquently verbalizes how we can start developing a more loving relationship with our body:
Dearest body of mine,
After careful thought and consideration, I hereby promise to:
Accept you and be grateful for you just the way you are,
Love and appreciate you for what you do,
Offer you healthy foods and drinks,
Overcome the addictions that hurt you,
Realize that laughter, play and rest help you feel good,
Exercise regularly and appropriately for my body type,
Adorn you with nice, comfortable clothes and shoes,
Understand that my unexpressed emotions and thoughts affect you,
Listen to the messages you are sending me when you are tired or sick,
Accept that I have the power to heal you,
Realize that you deserve to be healthy,
Honor you as the temple of my soul.
I love you so much,
Please Sign here
You can use the above sample to get you started, but be sure to make it personal to your body and your current health challenges. Write from your heart, not just from your mind.
Rupina Meer is a Board-Certified Health Coach who received her training from the acclaimed Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Rupina's mission is to help her clients get radically honest with the relationship between what they eat and how they feel so that they can look and feel great from the inside out without diets, deprivation or dogma. Visit http://zen-trition.com/ to get instant access to a free eReport and discover the Top 5 Health Myths That Are Keeping You Fat, Fatigued & in a Funk.
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