Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Take Your Body On A Honeymoon

It's not every day, sadly, that we feel like we can really and truly listen to our bodies. Sure, we'd love to eat a lighter, healthier meal but instead we choose that thing we can microwave at work. And yeah, we'd love to get more sleep but we're burning the candle at both ends as it is and our kids, dog, or partner is going to wake us up before our body is really ready, long before eight hours of deep dreaming have soothed our senses.

I'm not letting anyone off the hook. But I know how it is. It doesn't do us much good to punish ourselves for this state of existence. The problem is when it becomes a permanent one. So permanent that before we realize it we have utterly, deeply forgotten how to check in with our bodies at all. How do we know when we're tired, hungry, ready for a breath of fresh air?

I want to suggest a kind of body get-away. Last week we wrote about the body relationship that's caught in a rut, that's gotten boring and stuck. This week I want you to consider what it would be like if you went on a bit of a body honeymoon. I mean it.

Maybe it's not possible every day, or even for one whole day. But I invite you to consider framing a chunk of time out of your weekend or taking a few hours away from the fray with one clear intention: to pay complete and undivided attention to your body and its needs. I'm talking total romance, the kind you get on a first date: gazing into your body's eyes and saying 'What do you need? I'm here. I want you.'

If you're tired, you let yourself sleep. Before you grab for whatever it is that's lying around the house, you ask yourself what your body actually wants to eat. And before you check out on the couch for the afternoon, maybe you ask your body if it feels like doing anything different.

For one day, one hour, one afternoon your body gets to rule your life. How often does it get this chance and how do you think it feels about being ignored day after day while you and your mind run the show? Can you give it one bit of time to be the center of your attention?

I'll tell you what happens when I do this. First, I realize how deeply, deeply tired I am. Most of us are running on fumes and if we stopped for half a second and asked our bodies what they wanted, really wanted, our eyes would probably roll back in our heads and we'd be out cold. So usually this kind of time means letting myself just plain get some sleep. Even if my mind thinks I'm being lazy or unproductive, if it has some other 'idea' of what I think I should be doing. My body rules. And boy does it choose sleep.

Then of course, after getting lots of sleep I start to realize how much of my random grabbing at food has been fueled by exhaustion or the need for distraction. When I'm getting enough rest and I'm actually being kind to my body, I'm a little less interested in potato chips. Seriously.

Your body feels different when it's being paid attention to, as do we all. If you romanced it for a day, let alone a weekend, and really listened to it moment-to-moment it might just surprise you. It might feel like more of a partner. It might hum in quiet bliss to the bottoms of your toes. You might be fighting it less and wanting to feel it more.

I dare you to try. Even for an hour or two. Where would your body guide you if you listened? And would you order room service or a bouquet of flowers?

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