I have spent almost 15 years practising yoga asana (postures) and over that time have felt the benefits immensely in terms of strength, flexibility and a feeling of spaciousness in the body and mind. But perhaps the most distinctive gain felt has been the deep connection that has developed with every part of my body – a sense of being in my body rather than in my head (which is my natural tendency). Obviously the amount of time I dedicate to practice affects the overall advantages received week to week – that is why it is called “practice”, it’s a daily routine.
I have spent much of the last week living in my head – not in my body. Not grounded. Generally off centre. My practice not taking place as much as it should.
Donna Farhi says:
‘When we are not in our bodies, we are dissociated from our instincts, intuitions, feelings and insights.’
I have definitely found this to be true. Our profession demands many hours of thinking and reflecting each day and with ‘To Do’ lists that tend to get bigger rather than smaller we try to push through – spending too long on the computer (a major energy sapper), not making time every day for exercise, eating on the run and ignoring tiredness.
After a week of ignoring it, I finally decided to listen to my body which was giving me a warning in the form of some fairly intense back pain. As a result (I see now) I could not connect to my intuition nor have insight into the nature of my reactions to certain situations and people – something I had become particularly adept at. I was getting in a flap about ridiculous things. I needed a reminder of how deeply connected our body, mind and spirit are. We can’t ignore one without experiencing repercussions in the other two.
Listening to our bodies is a way of tapping into our inherent wisdom. The wisdom that tells us what we should do when we are confused. The wisdom that helps us make the right choice. The wisdom that assures us that everything is going to be okay. I know from experience that when my body is strong my mind and spirit are strong and nothing much can knock me off centre. When I neglect to prioritise my physical fitness everything else is weakened.
The more my meditation practice has deepened over the past 9 months I have prioritised this – getting up at 5:30am to meditate then doing my yoga practice before my daughter rises. As body, mind and spirit are connected the practices that strengthen and support each aspect of our being must be balanced in order that we don’t de-centre another part of our self. I’d forgotten that of late.
If we are detached from our feelings we cannot have clarity around issues – positive or negative – that are cropping up in our life and causing an emotional response. We will live in a way that finds us at the mercy of our environment rather than strong and centred in the inner stillness of our body and heart. Being at the mercy of a class full of students can be soul destroying, hence our greater need to stay connected to our body.
Donna explains further:
‘The insidious ways in which we become numb to our bodily experience and the feelings and perceptions that arise from them leave us powerless to know who we are, what we believe in and what kind of world we wish to create.’
When we look at our connection to our bodies as being so significant as to affect the kind of world we live in – prioritising exercise / movement that relieves the numbness and awakens our body is a matter of global urgency not just of personal health. Body awareness helps us to connect with who we are and what truly matters – inside and outside the classroom. When we reunite with our body we let it guide us in the only direction it knows – towards the truth.
Ways to reconnect to our body to let it guide us (a reminder for us all):
- Move your body everyday (first thing in the morning before excuses creep in).
- Sit in stillness every day to let your body speak.
- Connect to the Earth every day – which is where your body came from. This might be as simple as walking in bare feet on the grass, sinking your feet into the sand, sitting under a tree or taking a dip in the ocean.
- Nominate some device free days / nights and stick to them.
- Breathe deeply and consciously.
- Practice yoga postures and meditate (see my post on Inner Listening for a guided breathing meditation that will leave you grounded).
- Eat mostly food that comes from nature.
- Make small changes to your routine to prioritise any of the above.
It is through small changes such as these that gradually profound changes eventuate. Have you been listening to your body this term?
Related post: Inner Listening – Connect Back to Your Body Oct 23 2014