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Listening to Your Body                                                                 

by Helen Selenati

Our body is in constant communication with us – we just need to pay

 better attention to its messages that steer us towards joy and aliveness. The non-verbal communication of our Inner Self can appear as an intuitive hunch that might urge us to take an overdue vacation or spend some time outdoors.  Sometimes a dream can catch our attention leaving us wondering how it relates to our waking life. Other times the Inner Self communicates through a tension headache, chronic back pain or an upset stomach.

None of these non-verbal messages occur by chance. They are messages from our Inner Self helping us to arrive at the insight or experience that we need to regain balance and wholeness. By listening closely to these hunches, feelings, dreams, pains, and other body signals we learn to understand these messages. Valuing these messages allows us to build a loving and trusting relationship with our Inner Self.

Unfortunately we don’t know how to listen to our bodies, our hearts, or our spirits. In our western culture we have been conditioned by our parents, teachers and authority figures to deny our feelings, medicate our symptoms, and discount the importance of our dreams and intuition. Since we have been so consistently trained to look outside ourselves for logical answers from authority figures, the Inner Self is ignored. If we ignore these subtle messages we receive continually from our bodies, in the long run we may end up getting sick or developing chronic pain without a clinical explanation.

The process of listening to our Inner Self can be simple once we know how and if we value the signals we receive. It can also be frightening at first to open up to feelings we have avoided for years, but reconnecting to our Inner Self is worth any effort. As with any meaningful relationship, it takes time and consistent effort to build the relationship with our Inner Self and to learn to trust the feedback. 

Some of the things we can do to tap into the wisdom of our Inner Self:

-         Create moments of quiet time either during a morning meditation, a solitary walk in nature, or just before falling asleep at night, and ask your Inner Self: “What is my body saying to me?”

-         Ask your dreams at night, “What might I need to see clearly now?”  or “What in my life am I not paying attention to right now?”

-         Keep a dream journal and write down your dreams when you awake.  Use the dream images to do some drawing or sculpting and see what emotions arise. Ask the images what messages they have for you.

-         If you have chronic pain, sit quietly and relax into a meditative state and ask your Inner Self ”What might my body be saying to me through this pain?”. Focus on your breathing and listen for a word, a feeling sense, or an image to come to mind.

-         At times it might also be helpful to merely focus on the pain. Rather than avoiding, resisting, or denying it, try to befriend it instead. By letting your attention rest directly on the pain in a soft, non-judgmental way, you can begin to notice its inner qualities. What sensations are there? Is it throbbing, pinching, pulling, dull aching, or burning? Often if we have the courage to get to know all aspects of our pain it diminishes its grip and decreases in intensity.

Focusing directly on our symptoms and pain is the opposite of how most of us respond to illness, which is to avoid it. By changing the way we view our illness or pain, we can begin to see our symptoms as a potential ally. Opening to the negative feelings and painful sensations by simply accepting what is true in the body, allows healing to occur within the Inner Self. This permission to feel whatever is present creates a sense of freedom inside, and allows us to look at feelings of justified anger or repressed shame and grief that are carried in the body from past experiences. The body remembers and the Inner Self guides us to the areas that need healing.

 

Learning to listen to your Inner Self and its messages is a gift not a distraction that needs to be medicated away. This relationship with your Inner Self is potentially the most loving relationship you will ever experience.

Helen Selenati is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Coach. She has a private practice in Redwood City and can be reached at helen@selenati.com or by calling 650-596-0807. Also visit www.selenati.com

 

                             

Copyright © 2004 Helen Selenati & Associates