A doorway into a truer way of being

Learning to listen to our bodies

- Photography by Alan Johnston

We can learn a lot about ourselves, and life, and how the way we choose to live affects us, if we listen to our bodies.

Our bodies are always speaking to us, if we are willing to listen. They speak to us in gentle ways, every single moment of the day. And if we are willing to heed and honour what they say, life can become so much more simple and joyful and vital.

Listening to our heads can get us into trouble

Listening to our heads can get us into trouble. Our heads – our ideals and beliefs – doing what we think we should do, or what we have been told we ought to do – can really hurt us, at times. Our heads can over-ride what our bodies are telling us, over-riding simplicity with complexity, over-riding truth with what is not true.

We can think we are superhuman, and can go without food, drink, toilet breaks, good quality sleep, healthy relationships and time to be with ourselves and our loved ones, but that is not the truth. Sooner or later, if we live like this, our bodies will show us the error of our ways by breaking down, in one way or another.

Our body is the marker of truth

We already know this, because we can feel the truth of it, in our bodies. They are the marker of whether the choices we are making are true for us, or not, and they carry the consequences of the choices that we make, every single day.

We used to know how to live by listening to our bodies, as we did it when we were children. We ate when we were hungry, drank when we were thirsty and rested when we were tired. But as we grew up and learned to make our minds more important than our bodies, this simple way of living became more complex, and more focused on the importance of what we do, than on caring for ourselves.

Studies are now showing that doctors who care for themselves are more able to care for others, and so science is telling us that it is time to start listening to our bodies again.

So, if we want to start living in a more loving, truthful way, learning to listen to our bodies, what steps can we take?

Just stop

The first thing we found is that we needed to stop. Stop whatever we were doing that was making us feel tired, sick, or uncomfortable in any way. Stop, simply to have time to feel into what our bodies were trying to tell us.

Stopping is not as easy as we think, because we are so used to running in constant motion. Most of us don’t even stop when we sleep – we just lie down exhausted, and wake up (often still exhausted) and get up and going again.

Stopping just takes a moment; a moment to be still with ourselves and allow ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling, to listen to our bodies. This is the simplest of medical sciences. It is impossible to truly still the human body or mind, but what we can do is bring our awareness to what we are doing, like the gentleness of our breathing, so that we are focused on just one thing, which can bring a sense of calm and ease, a feeling of settlement in the body.

Breathe gently

The simplest thing to focus on is our breath. We have to breathe, if we want to live, and the quality in which we breathe can make an enormous difference to how we feel, about ourselves and life.

If we stop, take a moment, and just breathe gently, it helps us to come back out of our heads and into our bodies and restores a sense of steadiness and spaciousness in us. From that space, life can look very different…less intense, less complex, more simple…and our way forward becomes clear…


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