Learning to Listen to Your Body
When working with clients, I am curious as to what their body is communicating. Discomfort, pain, fatigue are some of the body’s ways of expressing itself. Through a series of simple movements and observations of the habitual ways in which we handle and present ourselves we can begin to see patterns.For a start, scan how you balance yourself when standing upright (eyes open or closed):
- Center of gravity - are you leaning your weight forward towards your toes, backwards towards you heel or are you close to center?
- Depth of breath - does your breath expand fully, pushing down into your abdomen? Or is it mainly in the chest?
- Loose / tight - are your shoulders and neck rigid, collapsed or at ease? Is one side is tighter than the other?
Each person has unique patterns of how they carry themselves. Using the above exercise, you may get a clearer sense of some of your patterns.
In a recent session, Mary (not actual name) a single mother of three teens, shared her discomfort: tightness in the shoulders, pressure in the chest and lower back pain. What prompted this tightness and what related areas were affected?
As we worked together the clues were showing up. I was noticing how her jaw was clenched and the neck was tight. Her back was rigidly upright. As a whole, her movement was restricted. When an experience is prolonged over an extended period, the information is imprinted in the muscle memory. It is like a bug in a computer programing. It is the body's way of sending a message that the flow of movement (energy) is restricted.
Mind and body are mere reflections of each other
While the focus was on the physical discomfort, Mary was simultaneously experiencing apprehension and stress at work. Her need for clear structure, and efficiency were repeatedly unmet and often she found herself in a state of panic and anxiety. Feeling unsafe, unclear and not knowing whether she could contain the pressure were impacting her body.
Whether it is the mind or the body that triggers the sequence of events, by addressing both we can restore balance and ease. For Mary, as the immediate physical discomfort subsided, we were able to work through her concerns, and create alternative strategies to meet her needs. She gained a renewed sense of harmony and excitement about her experience.
These tweaks in our programing: our habits and beliefs make the difference in our experience. The next time you receive a message from your mind or body you may consider staying tuned, curious and find out what is the hidden opportunity behind the challenge.
I'd love to hear about what you found out through this exercise. If you'd like feedback, we can schedule a free call to discuss how working together could benefit you.