Listen to your body
A lot of people simply and unthinkingly treat their bodies as if a car they had just rented from Europcar for which they hold no responsibility – it was simply inhabited to get them from A to B, from birth to death, but not something they genuinely care about understanding. Heavens, probably their own car gets better attention with annual checks and loving scans. But the personal body, nah, as long as we shower and clean our teeth that’s about it. Pain in the teeth prompt us to visit our dentist and we hand over our dental care to someone else. And that clinking, clanking sound from the car’s engine, we hand that over to the car repair shop.
So, you go get it looked at, you take remedial action. But the body? Only when you get around to it or there is an emergency do we give it the attention it now deserves.
Recently, on a trip to Austria, I found myself unable to walk but for two minutes at a time, and then great pain and stiffness would kick in. I’d had forewarning of this and had previously gone to my GP – but he just shrugged his shoulder and said he had no idea what it could be and, on the recommendation from the pain management clinic, whose staff equally did little in the way of attempting to find a cause for the constant pain, prescribed morphine, which did no good at all. So, on holiday, I decided to have a conversation with my body; what was it trying to tell me? More on this to follow!
For a moment, back to you.
Create some space, about fifteen minutes, where you can sit
or lie down comfortably without interruption.
(To do the following, read through and familiarise yourself
with the process or click here to be guided through.)
Take a few moments to centre yourself, perhaps close your eyes to cut out worldly distraction, and just place your attention on the rhythm of your breathing – not to change it in any way, just to notice it. Then after a few moments, perhaps allow each out breathe to be longer than the in breath.
Now you are ready to move on. You are going to scan your body. Do it slowly, best with your eyes closed when you are lying or sitting down, at peace, and not in a hurry
Slowly, from head to toe, toe to head, whichever you prefer, just notice your body – every nook and cranny. Just imagine you are a camera and it is SLOWLY recording every part of the body.
Notice where there is any pain, a sensation, a feeling that seems to stand out, just as an object on a landscape may call a camera’s attention.
Just notice it, and move on again with the scan. (Don’t be tempted to say, “I know where my pain is so why don’t I just go there?” Your body speaks as a whole.)
What comes in to your awareness? (A tingling in the head? Perhaps a warmth in your arm?) What are you experiencing? (Perhaps you are really drawn to areas of pain, of tightness, of tension.) What are you noticing? (It could be slight throbbing, pins and needles, or simply nothing.) Notice, are you experiencing any aches and pains? Any stiffness? Any heat? Palpitations? Lightness? Exhilaration?
Focus too on anything that feels positive or pleasurable.
Which area or sensation calls to you most? (You can do others afterwards.)
Ask if it has a message for you? (The message may come later). Give thanks. And learn to live life more from a state of .…for all in your life, the good and when you are lacking good.
Now focus on any area of pain or discomfort or dis-ease that particularly beckons you. (NB You can do a version of this where you just talk to your body as a whole but in this activity you will take each area in turn.
Work slowly and with compassion, offering yourself quality self-care in the process ie no beating the self up or indulging in guilt is allowed. Come back to your body.
Focus on the area of the moment and in your mind, ask it what message it is trying to get through to you, what is it communicating by its pain, its tingling, its fuzziness etc. Give it time and space. The communication may come later when you are preoccupied with something else in your more awake state.
If you feel so guided, ask again; perhaps you are being nudged to ask again as you need to be clearer in what you are asking? E”g “Pain in my right leg – you have been with me every day for several weeks. I notice you and try to ignore you and plough on regardless. Today I need to recognise you so I am stopping to have time with you, to learn any lessons you are trying to teach, hear any messages you are trying to give.”
Be patient – take your 15 to 20 minutes.
Know that your body won’t speak in sentences as a human voice does. It’s more likely in your early days of doing this it will communicate in symbols or phrases you hear as if someone was speaking inside your head. Learn to know how your body speaks to you. The symbols may be things you see as if on a screen behind your forehead – even if your eyes are open. Symbols need not necessarily be ancient squiggles and shapes, you may see objects – perhaps a packed suitcase (what could that symbolise – the need to be always ready, upcoming travel, a move?) a person speaking at a podium, writing materials, a garden – they can be anything. Keep talking if needs be, asking for clarity – and remember the clarity may come later when the work is finished.
You are, in a way, working with your intuition, your gut instinct, and so when a message comes it is likely to be short, sharp, and if you blink you may miss it! Be observant.
(Related to the previous paragraph I desperately need you to know that it is important not to do this scan and conversation expecting to be communicated with through only your five human senses - sight, sound, touch, taste, smell; you are now operating at the level of a multi-sensory being. Other senses may come to the fore. The key one will be your intuition. So do not intellectually try to understand the symbols – allow your intuition to speak to you.)
So focus – notice – ask – and – wait.
"As we explore the extraordinary interplay of energies between the many aspects of our personality -- our needs, unconscious reactions, repressed emotions, aspirations and fears -- with the functioning of our physical system and its capacity to maintain itself, we soon realise how very wise the body is. With its intricately detailed systems and operations it portrays infinite intelligence and compassion, constantly giving us the means to understand ourselves further, to confront issues we are not looking at, and to go beyond that which is holding us back."
Deb Shapiro – teacher of meditation and mindfulness.
So once more, what might your body be trying to tell you about the meaning of your pains, sensations and conditions, about how you are living your life, about what needs to change?
How does what you are experiencing in and on the body match or correlate with what is happening in your external life? Eg a stiffness in joints, especially the knees or legs, will have a conventional physical cause but it is also likely to be contributed to by your mental, emotional, spiritual life and so in this case if you are being prevent from being mobile or moving – then if we look beyond the physical, your intuition may be trying to get you to understand any or all of the following:-
The knee is the articulation point of the leg, responsible for mobility and flexibility. It carries the full weight of the body when standing, walking, running and bending; it plays a primary role in standing from a sitting position, going up and down stairs or simply lifting. Issues may be to do with joints, muscles, being overweight etc. Your intuition / your knee may be saying – it is time to give me attention, to get me sorted (on a physical level) to not give me so much stress so please lose some weight.
Metaphysical – beyond the physical meaning
Knees represent Pride. In spiritual practice, it is often said that one must go down before one can rise up, as Jesus did before John the Baptist, before taking up his own ministry. That’s used as an example, not as a means to get into religion. Pride or Ego keeps us stubbornly determined to have things our way, and that is hard, and makes us inflexible so no wonder a knee would say, “You’re keeping me from bending and being flexible and it’s difficult to move forward.” So hence the pain, hence difficulties in moving forward in life. At a deeper level, for those really getting in to metaphysics, pride prevents us from surrendering to the Will of God (not in any religious sense) or the Universe or to a more Loving way of being.
Every time we move forward in Life or approach change, we approach the unknown. We may feel vulnerable or unsure. So we may stand still, stiff kneed resisting the change. Your body, your knees in particular, may be trying to get you to look at where in your life do you know you need to make changes, get you to consider why you are resisting change, and simply saying, “You need to change because I, your knee, cannot go on like this.”
It is interesting to note that stiff, sore knees are also a symptom of Kidney deficiency, whose emotion is Fear. So your knee could be communicating to you issues around fear, perhaps issues that you find difficult to face or admit to, and you resist dealing with it and it becomes more and more overwhelming and blocks you, stops you.
I w often told as a young boy that pride goes before a fall but when a fall happens, the way through isnot stubborn prife, but deep humility which is the wisdom to be yielding in the face of change. And that may be the message that hits you when you talk to your knees – and hit you at the time, or later when you least expect it. That is how this works, how your body speaks, ow your intuition speaks – short, sharp, and often a shock as it is like an aha moment.
Briefly, knee problems may be said to indicate being stuck in the Ego, too proud to bend.
We carry with us thousands of thoughts every day. Most of these are unhelpful. Most of them we are unaware of.
But your body knows. With the knee example, it is providing a painful reminder that your thoughts are not as flexible as you perhaps think they are and you will stubbornly persist with comments like, “But I AM flexible.” When you’re not. Your body will warn you of things you are not conscious of. You may have a thought that if you bend to the will of others, you will lose control. But that belief is not necessarily true, but it will hold you back. So allow yourself the flexibility to at least see things from another perspective, and then decide. But do not, as a matter of habit, refuse to bend to the ideas of others. Address your limiting beliefs and your fears. Be willing to be more flexible, be open to ideas, and to help.
Emotionally your knees are probably communicating your fear or inflexibility in your perception of the future. You probably put up all sorts of fears and reasons why something cannot be done or why you cannot have something but it is simply ean ego belief that is holding you back. This kind of emotion occurs mostly in those with an arrogant or stubborn personality, who are unable to flow and compromise and bend with new ideas or to the ideas of others. An inflexible attitude keeps you stuck, it prevents you from finding easier ways to face your future and sets you up, if ignored, for dis-ease or conditions which prevent you moving forward physically and psychologically.
Hence the knee problem.
And if only you could really listen, to the pains and other sensations in the knees, imagine how much you could learn to help you heal.
"What is always speaking silently is the body."
Norman Brown, writer and social philosopher.
Now, remember above I mentioned that when in Austria I had a body conversation? I asked why it was so difficult and painful to walk and why, as a result, all my plans for the holiday had come tumbling down.
So I set out to talk mainly to the whole area from my hips, down both legs, to my feet.
Remember I said you need, over time, to learn how your particular body communicates with you? Well, here’s how my body, my intuition usually talks to me – through
visual images – usually clear in shape but faint, so I may see a distant landscape, people in an office, - images are often in grey and white, or blueish outlines, but usually faint
a soft, almost silent voice - off to the right inside my head, as if a whole sentence or paragraph has suddenly been downloaded into my inbox all at once
sometimes it feels like an instantaneous nudge or push on my side just above the right hip, with a “just knowing” of the message – again, a whole message downloaded all at once
sometimes it is indeed a just knowingness in my gut which somehow shoots up to my head
other - sometimes smells, sometimes sounds, even a piece of music
On this occasion in Austria
It showed me a remote, flat part of Scotland, it felt good – this said to me I needed space, I needed time out to reflect, to heal. This made so much sense. It’s exactly what I needed at this time.
The pain was stopping me from moving, from doing what I wanted to do – I was being made to take time out to reflect, to notice that it was no longer about pursuing careers which I in my ego mind had determined to do – it was time to focus on those that only served God (as I see God) and humanity (the bodies of God on earth.) Once I committed to God’s plan, not mine, I would become pain free and get back the mobility. It was also about the fact I already knew this at some level but had raised all sorts of fears and beliefs that kept me stuck, a fear of moving forward, a fear of doing great work. This all made sense and I have reprioritised things in my life.
A ”voice” off in the right hand side of my head “told” me I was stifling my creativity, I had loads of ideas but was afraid to give them expression. All the creativity was building up, making the body heavy, overweight, and painful to carry. This too made sense.
I knew, just knew in my gut, that I had to now make huge changes – that even included moving from my present home, from my present NHS area, from my GPs – as they were all keeping me stuck, not deliberately, but their system was not helping.
In short I summed it all up by concluding I had to get on with The Radical Healer website, get it launched, write a book to support it, and then get out into the world and promote it. Sub-consciously I knew this is what I had to do but had great fears about how I would be able to do it. I can now address those and move forward.
My wish for you – now that you know about metaphysics, do not simply accept the physical perspective on a chronic condition, illness, or dis-ease. Do take the time to discover the deeper meaning that your condition is trying to communicate to you.
There are many references these days so you do not need to make lack of information an excuse.
You Can Heal Your Life Louise Hay