As I progressed with my morning yoga and stretching routine this morning, ribs and clavicle sore from a fall nearly two weeks ago, it occurred to me how often the decisions our brain makes directly impact the well-being of our body. My sweet body had no say in my decision to step from one countertop across to the other as I cleaned the cabinet tops of my daughter’s “new” vintage apartment. Mom wanted to be sure the kitchen was pristine for Natalie and her roommate. Natalie had no time to stop me as I said, “Spot me.” Misjudging the spread between counters, I went straight to the floor. Crash!
While VERY fortunate to not have had worse consequences, my brain’s poor decision put my body in jeopardy. My sweet body had no say in the matter until its voice spoke up in resulting discomfort and the process of healing over time.
How often do our brains put our bodies in predicaments, decisions resulting in compromised well-being? Be it a movement that results in injury or a poor food choice that leaves our stomach churning in misery, a decision that came from the brain leaves our body to bear the consequences.
These can be snap decisions or ongoing decisions (think excessive eating, smoking, over exercising). How do we give our body a voice? How do we let our body speak up BEFORE it gets jolted, pained or harmed? Remember, we get one body to experience this lifetime. It deserves respect and honor. And whether you see your body as a temple or not, it is THE primary home in which we live. So, how do we give it a voice in the decisions our brain subjects it to? Repeated discomfort from its decisions often don’t do the trick. Think eating the same food over and over that leaves us miserable, but we can’t resist because it’s so yummy.
Maybe some perspective is a pathway to bodily comfort and health. We have our body, mind, emotions and Spirit, a “quadrinity” of sorts that represents our wholeness. Does your quadrinity work as a team? Does your brain often step back and let your body, emotions and Spirit speak? How do we train our brain to give the others a voice that is heard?
For starters, being more CONSCIOUS of our body, habituating our brain to listen to the body is one substantive step. What did I feel when I was about to cross the kitchen in the air? I recall thinking, “It will be less work than getting down to the floor and climbing back up on the other side.” Did I hesitate? Not beyond the thought. But that very thought was a cue that that their was a consideration to heed, and a possible risk in following through. Otherwise, I would not have had that thought of an alternative.
Listening to our INNER voice, instead of the brain’s overpowering “just do it” is a skill that takes dedication to cultivate, be it through mindfulness or meditation training or another method that works for you.
An article I recently read about Ayurveda gave me profound perspective, a catalyst to listening more to my body, albeit I have a ways to go or I would not have attempted my kitchen counter leap. Our BODY is always in the PRESENT. It never lies. It speaks truth. Yet, our BRAIN is often in the PAST or the FUTURE. Putting our body first, giving it the opportunity to alert us to what it needs, or not, brings us present to the decisions we make can serve us better for the future and help us learn from the past. It is here that I come full circle to yoga, which in essence is about connecting the body and the mind through your breath.
So, when making that decision, when that soft voice yearns to be heard, take a DEEP breath. LISTEN. What is that voice saying? Whose voice beckons to be heard? Was my body’s voice trying to speak to say, “DON’T DO IT! I WILL GET HURT!” I need to be more conscious when my body’s voice is trying to keep my brain’s powerful voice at bay, protecting my body from yet another consequence that might leave me injured, sore, or wondering how to cure my upset stomach.
We have the tools. We just need to give our body its voice. As for our emotions and spirit, let’s take one smart step at a time. The segments of our quadrinity can all learn from one another.