I've just returned from spending the weekend at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA, where I had the pleasure of teaching with Dr. Joan Borysenko, author of several books including her most recent, "Saying Yes to Change," and Dr. Jonathan Ellerby, author of the new book, "Return to the Sacred." We held four gatherings throughout the weekend that focused on self care and spiritual well-being.
During one discussion, in particular, Joan and I talked about what happens to the body when we neglect to get our needs met. As I mentioned the importance of learning to sit with the discomfort that often comes from speaking our truth, Joan reminded the audience of the consequences of not doing so: "If we say yes to something while our bones are screaming "NO!", we need to be aware of what that does to the body. The tension this creates immediately releases stress hormones whether we are aware of it or not. These stress hormones engage the body's fight or flight system. If we do this continuously (override our needs), we wear down our adrenals which then compromises the immune system."
Joan's comments are an important reminder of why it's necessary to live your truth. In my experience, both personally and with clients, the body is often the last place for emotional distress to reveal itself. When problems are ignored or feelings are buried, they eventually show up as physical issues. The good news is that when we understand this vital communication system, we can use it to heal. We can ask our body for clues. For example, I remember when I suffered from chronic neck pain and finally figured out what was going on. By getting quiet and asking my neck to tell me what the problem was, my answer came in the form of an image. I saw my computer screen in my office. As I stayed with that image, I heard an inner voice tell me that I was spending too much time working and I needed to cut back. Within three days of limiting my time at the desk, the pain was gone.
Your body is a powerful antennae that transmits the truth when you learn to pay attention. Not sure? Think about this: Where do you experience chronic problems? What might your body be trying to tell you? If you suffer from back pain, for instance, maybe you don't feel supported in life. Your body might be asking you to speak up and get help. Or, if you keep getting a cold and feeling run down, your body might be alerting you to the fact that it's time to resign as General Manager of the Universe.
If you start to see your body as a messenger, you'll give yourself access to valuable life changes that may need to be made.
Start using your antennae. Check out our "Take Action Challenge" and learn to let your body speak to you. Then, when it does, be sure to do something about it.
Take Action Challenge
This week, be mindful of how your body feels. Where do you experience consistent tension, pain, pressure, or discomfort? Once you identify a specific physical area, set aside some time to investigate. Get quiet and ask your body:
What are you trying to tell me about myself? My life?
What changes are you challenging me to make?
What image best reflects the problem?
If you don't get an answer right away, be patient. Pay attention to that part of your body throughout the week and notice what it might be trying to tell you. Sometimes the answers come in the most unusual ways.