In this hustle, bustle society, we often are going from one thing to the other with little time to sit down while eating, never mind slowing down enough to listen to our body. What does that even mean you might ask? I’m not talking about hearing voices, but about really tuning into that quiet inner wisdom that has so much to offer.
Have you ever heard yourself think or say things such as “I don’t feel well, but I need to go to work,” “my back is bothering me, but I have to finish raking up these leaves” or my personal favorite “I was just bending over to pick up a blueberry that fell off my cereal and I herniated my disc.” These are all real comments from clients in my practice. To me, they represent various stages right before “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” How do we know when to slow down, take a break or stop for the day? That is a million dollar question, but you can start right now with some simple steps that you can incorporate right into your day.
Your body can and does give you signs when it is not feeling well or operating efficiently. By slowing down enough to hear your body, you can prevent many injuries and I believe some illnesses. In our busy lives we shut down (or put on the back burner) this natural communication with our bodies by avoiding or procrastinating when we feel a body sensation.
How do we do this?
Great question! On the surface it can seem very simple but, in reality, it takes commitment and consistency to make a difference. If you can commit to 10 minutes every day, you can be on your way to a healthier, happier you. For those of you in the twitter world where 10 minutes is an eternity, you might feel like you are chomping at the bit after the first 30 seconds – be patient – it IS really worth it. The following are a few tips to help get you started.
Step 1 – Slow down
You’ve heard this a hundred times, “Ya, Ya, I know this” you say. You know it, but don’t do it. Try this for 5 minutes in a quiet space. Turn off your cell phone, unplug yourself from the electronic grid (don’t worry you will survive being off grid for a few minutes). Sit down with in a comfortable chair with a straight back, feet on the floor, eyes closed, arms resting in your lap and feel your buttocks on the chair. There… now just sit and feel your breath, not changing anything. Only feel your breath. If any thoughts come in, just let them out. It is amazing how a little detail can become so important while trying to focus on your breath. Get to know your breath. If this is all you do for 10 minutes, this is a great use of your time once a day (twice would even be better). This is your foundation practice – the more you practice, the better you get!
Step 2 – Breathe During Your Day
I know you are already breathing all day every day. This is a bit different: try to allow a long, slow and deep breath in frequently throughout the day. Try it before you open any door, before leaving your home in the morning, at stop lights, before each bite of food you take…You get the idea, make it a frequent habit associated with a particular action (like brushing your teeth or putting your seatbelt on). Let the breath come into you – no need to “take a deep breath.” And yes, there is a difference – just try it.
Step 3 – Listen
Once you’ve done the “Slow Down” and “Breathe During Your Day” for a few days to a week, you might want to start the “listening” part of these tips. Simply, when you are doing the 10 minutes of sitting, try after 5 minutes (really the longer the better) start to scan your body – asking silently what it is trying to tell you. Then listen, I mean really listen. See where your attention gets drawn and follow it to the place in your body. Make no judgments about what you are feeling, just feel. Let the body show you its wisdom, listen and listen. Soon you will be seeing and feeling changes (without even trying).
Step 4 – Good luck and good health!