One of the roadblocks we run into while working towards creating a healthier life is the inability to decipher what the body is actually trying to tell us. The body loves to nag at us, to try to get our attention, but far too often we end up tuning it out.
Today we’re going to learn how to listen to the body, decode her language, and give her what she wants through mind-body integration.
Hello my friend, I hope you’re doing well, and if you’re not then I hope you find this post helpful.
So, raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced any one of these things: Insomnia, anxiety, muscle tension, chronic pain, low energy, poor digestion, frustration, headaches, the inability to focus, poor decision making, high blood pressure, overwhelm…Okay, let’s stop there.
This list is just a handful of symptoms the body might exhibit when there’s an imbalance. (I know, shocker, right) But these symptoms are actually the body’s way of trying to communicate with you that something is up.
But, because humans are such silly creatures, we have a tendency to ignore the body’s invitation for a conversation. You know, we’d rather pop a pill, throw back a cocktail or two, or curl up with our electronics and pretend we can’t hear the body’s cry for attention. And this, my friend, is how we become disconnected from our bodies and live with a host of issues.
So let’s get reconnected, shall we?
So, in order to get more bang for our buck when it comes to translating the body’s language, I feel it’s important to first understand a little bit about the brain.
The first thing I want to say about the brain is that it’s in control of EVERYTHING in your body. And if you take away anything from this episode, let it be this: Your brain is the ruler your world, but you are the ruler of your brain.
Alright. Let’s get to it.
So, the nervous system is kind of like Target, right? While it’s one big store, there’s a bunch of different departments, clothing, electronics, toys, food, furniture. But within each department there are even smaller categories. Like, within the clothing department you’ve got pants, t-shirts, dresses, undies, socks, you get the point. The brain is kinda set up in the same way.
There’s a bunch of different departments, and within each, there are mini departments. And each one serves a specific function. And today we’re gonna browse through the the cerebrum and limbic system.
The limbic system is responsible for emotional and behavioral responses. And within the limbic system there are other smaller departments that have specific jobs, like the hypothalamus, which manages your hormones, body temperature, and sexual arousal. The hippocampus stores and retrieves memories. The amygdala is in control of your triggers and emotional responses. And the limbic cortex is in charge of mood, motivation and judgement.
By the way, I don’t expect you to remember any of this. But having a bit of insight is super helpful. When we’re introduced to the science and mechanics of how we actually work, it’s easier for the ego to take our “malfunctions” less personally. When we approach the challenges of self care from a scientific standpoint, our feelings are less likely to get hurt.
Knowledge is power, my friend. So stick with me.
Okay… So, back to the limbic system, if you’re in a stressful, fearful, or otherwise high-energy situation, the brain makes your body do a bunch of stuff. We won’t get into the deep science of it all. We’ll stick to the basics. But essentially the first thing that happens is the amygdala picks up on the triggers that are happening. Then the hypothalamus tells your endocrine system to release the adrenaline and cortisol dogs. And when these stress hormones are released, your heart rate increases, your blood sugars rise, and a bunch of other things happen to create what we all lovingly know as the fight or flight response.
But, here’s the bitch, so many of us are actually living with a low under-current of chronic stress or unchecked trauma that keeps triggering these bits of our brain. And the longer we allow these currents to flow through our system, not only do our triggers become more habitual, but the more detrimental these hormones become to our overall wellness.
Chronic stress and unchecked trauma affect learning and memory, and inhibits the functionality of the nervous system due to a decreased number of neurons. Neurons, by the way, are how the brain communicates within itself and with the rest of the body. And it does this by transmitting electrical impulses. So when I refer to the body’s energy in future episodes, this is what I’m actually talkin’bout, Okay?
So anyway, chronic stress can damage the nervous tissue and give the systems in your body mixed signals. And that’s when things go wrong.
Remember the list we went through at the beginning of this episode? Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.
Okay, so, that’s the bad news. Chronic stress and unchecked trauma might be hanging out in in the body and fucking things up.
The good news is you have a big beautiful juicy cerebrum.
The cerebrum is where your consciousness lives. And consciousness is how you are able to create deliberate thoughts and actions. It’s the place where you can think rationally, creatively, and problem solve. It’s the part your brain that you are in control of. And no matter how powerful and fucked up you think your stress cycle is, you ALWAYS have the power to create deliberate thoughts and actions.
But, what does this really mean?
It means that you get to interrupt the show. You get to hijack your stress response. And ultimately, it means you get to be an active participant in your wellbeing. Hooray!
You get to reconnect your mind and body and bring about harmony between the two. You get to make your brain healthier. Which means you get to make yourself healthier.
That’s pretty empowering, right?
But here’s the thing, you cannnot do it by avoiding what your body is trying to tell you. You can’t do it by numbing out your pain and ignoring your symptoms.
The anxiety, the overwhelm, the headaches, the digestive issues, the insomnia, the muscle tension, they’re all trying to tell you something. And it’s up to you to listen. It’s up to you to decipher what your body is trying to say. And it’s up to you to do something about it.
Is it hard? Yes, especially if you’ve been ignoring your body’s cry for help, and rolling on stress hormones for a long-ass time. But, my friend, it’s possible.
So, that brings us to the big question, how do we do it?
How do we reconnect with the body?
Well, we start by simply showing up.
We find a few minutes throughout the day to tune out the distractions and tune into how we’re feeling. We start connecting with the the body by allowing ourselves to notice (just notice) and eventually fully experience the events and sensations within the body. We identify what we feel like, literally and figuratively. physically and emotionally. Because, how we feel physically will affect how we feel emotionally (and vice versa). BUT, big but here, we need to make sure we don’t label any of these feelings or circumstances we’re in as either good or bad. We just get to know them as they are.
So, we’ve identified the sensations in the body. NOW what do we do?
Well, now we get to know them better.
Having compassionate and curious conversations with ourselves will help us to better understand what the body is asking of us. And we can do this in all sorts of ways like through journaling, meditating, creating art, going for a walk with our thoughts. There really isn’t a wrong way, though I would probably avoid watching tv or scrolling through social media while you’re trying to have a conversation with your body. I mean, it’s pretty hard to be fully present if you’re distracted, right?
So, the last thing we do is practice consciously connecting physically with the body. That means we’re gonna take deliberate action to make a mind-body connection.
And trust me, it sounds a lot crazier than it actually is.
Creating a mind-body connection literally means using the power of your conscious brain (thank you, cerebrum) to physically engage with specific, focused, activites that are connected to the parts you’re exploring. Right?
So, let’s say you’re dealing with digestive issues. You’re very aware of how your guts are feeling. You have an idea WHEN these symptoms show up. You understand HOW these issues are affecting you emotionally, and in other areas of your physical wellbeing. Knowing how, when, and why are very cerebral actions. Now you have to make intentional, PHYSICAL connection.
Breath work, massage, active relaxation, yoga, or any other yummy routine that uses the conscious mind to tune into and touch base with the meat suit will reacquaint the two.
By the way, there’s something I really need to tell you before you dive into reconnecting your mind and body; and that is you MUST practice being patient with yourself and the process. Reconnecting with the body takes time, focus and compassion.
The truth is, it’s possible you’ll feel compelled to rush through the process, and you’ll likely find yourself a little resistant, hesitant or even judgmental. You might get frustrated that it’s not “working” as fast as you’d like. It might feel weird and foreign if self love is something new for you. And that’s what reconnecting with your body is, it’s an act of self love.
But as we practice, and as these connections grow stronger, so many incredible things can start to happen. You could become more self aware and familiar with your body. You could regain trust in your magical meat suit, which consequently would make you feel more confident. You could become a stronger advocate for your wellness and recognize your needs more quickly.
But even if none of these things happen for you, the coolest thing will.
You’ll be calming your central nervous system. You’ll train your brain to shift from fight-or-flight mode to rest-and-repair. The more we can tap into rest-and-repair mode, the easier it is for the body to heal itself. And that’s what the body is designed to do. It’s supposed to be (pretty much) a self-regulating thing.
Like, you’ve got to keep it clean, feed it nutritious food, keep it hydrated and move it around every now and then, but otherwise, it’s pretty good at taking care of itself. But because life isn’t perfect, and things can (and will) go wrong, making sure we stay connected with the body will help us notice when things ARE going wrong.
And I don’t want to give you the impression that you have to ALWAYS be checking in. We’re actually designed to instinctually disconnect in order to stay safe or to preserve our energy. But our society, communities, families, and lives, play a huge role in amplifying the disconnection. So, know this: it’s actually okay, and, honestly, healthy, to check out from time to time. It’s when we stay disconnected for too long, and don’t EVER address the warning signals, we create bigger problems. So please, enjoy your Netflix or Candy Crush or whatever zone-out activity you enjoy.
Getting reacquainted with your body, being proactive, and compassionate, and patient is going to empower you and possibly heal you, and strengthen your self love. And I can’t think of anything better than that.
Remember, your brain is the ruler your world, but you are the ruler of your brain.
You are incredible, and capable, and totally worthy of creating a healthier life for yourself.
I REALLY, really wanted to have some guided tutorials and a digital download ready for you when I launched this episode, but, I felt it was important to get these words out there as soon as I could.
That said, I’m buzzing along here at CMC headquarters creating some super yummy activities that will help you reconnect with your body, and calm your central nervous system. So, if you’d like to know when these goodies are available you can sign up for my weekly newsletter, or if you want to snag them and ALL of my guides, kits, and courses for FREE you can you can sign up for a Patreon Membership. And because I believe self care solutions should be affordable, memberships start at just $5/month.
If you’re interested in either the newsletter or membership, I’ll leave links below in my show notes.
I love you.
I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for being here.
I’ll see you soon.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking to start your own podcast, check out Buzzsprout, they’re awesome.