Listen to Your Body: Your Guide to Physical and Mental Health

by Percival J. Meris on June 13, 2010

Listening to the Body

Image by amminopurr via stock.xchng

A S I WAS ABOUT TO START WRITING THIS ARTICLE, I was feeling a vague sense of heaviness that seemed to be dragging my body down. I chose to stop working, allowed my body to do what it wanted – lie down on the couch – and entertain myself with my favorite pastime, the crossword puzzle.

Unknowingly, I fell asleep after a few minutes. I woke up feeling refreshed and invigorated, and proceeded to my writing task with a clearer mind and renewed enthusiasm.

By losing time, I gained more. What I thought was mere laziness was actually my body’s response to a cry from within.

Listen to and Obey Body Signals

There are signs and signals that your body uses to communicate with every time something goes, or is about to go, wrong. Many simply ignore, and dismiss them as having no consequences at all.

Ignored signals are cries for your attention, but usually are too subtle to mind at all. Louder ones are likewise ignored, until they become too bothersome to motivate people to act. By that time, it will have been too late.

The body, a product of millions of years of biological evolution, has grown far wiser than our modern-day conscious mind that tells us not to pay attention to these signals. Pay attention, or pay the consequences. What we consider trivial may be the onset of a dreadful disease.

One Body Signal to Listen to: Sensations

The first of these signs and signals are sensations. These are perceptions brought to your awareness by your five senses. Anything unusual that you sense in your body could be a deviation from a health standard. They cause varying degree of uneasiness: from simple discomfort to aches and pains.

If not deviations, they are calls to maintain balance. A body at ease enjoys a sense of balance. In a state of imbalance, it experiences deficiency or excessiveness. Imbalance causes some form of discomfort: hunger, thirst, sleepiness, overstimulation, overweight.

These are common distresses that alert you to restore balance. If you are hungry, eat. If you are thirsty, drink. If you are sleepy, take a nap. When you feel satiated, stop eating. When your eyes hurt, stop reading. If aches or pains linger for a week or two, consult a physician. Just do not ignore these signals.

Another Body Signal to Listen to: Emotions

The other signals you need to pay attention to are emotions. Emotions are mental in origin, but physical in experience. That is why we listen to them from the body.

Mental in Origin

A negative emotion is indicative of negative thinking. Many of us have the habit of living and tolerating this condition. Sometimes, we are not aware of it; sometimes we are, but accept it as normal.

Normal, indeed, but not natural. All of us were born to be happy. We all pursue happiness. By sheer ignorance of this principle and the techniques of maintaining happiness, people believe that this negative condition is something they have to live with.

Physical in Experience

Emotions are physiological reactions to thought, and impact physical health in certain ways. The body will pay heavy toll, if you do not put them under control.

Hypertension and heart attacks can result from too much emotional excitement. Extreme depression can lead to a decision to commit suicide. Anger repression can contribute to unrelenting feelings of exhaustion, respiratory disorders, stomach ulcers, bowel problems, skin flare-ups, lowered immunity to colds, and cancer.

When under negative emotional states, examine your thoughts and attitudes. A change of attitude will usually do the trick. If you want to feel good, think good thoughts. It is that simple, and yet difficult for the untrained mind. Meditation can train a person to put his mind under control.

Listen to Positive Body Signals, Too

Not all body messages are negative. Signals of comfort and pleasure need to be heeded, too. They are indicative of good practice that merit continuance. They give you an idea of how healthy body and mind feel. They set standard against which to evaluate your sensational and emotional experiences. They are feelings to aim for. A vague sense of malaise is not usually recognized, unless a person knows how it feels to be healthy.

However, do not be deceived by every pleasurable sensation. Find out what comes after. If displeasure follows pleasure like a shadow, then the action should be avoided. Drugs, tobacco, alcohol bring pleasure at first but produces undesirable effects later.

Healthful habits, such as eating and sleeping, when taken in excess produce similar effects. Too much of a good thing is poison. To avoid this, listen to the body. It has a natural tendency to proclaim that treatment is going beyond sufficient limits.

Recommendation

Many people do not live in the present moment. Their minds are too preoccupied with the memories of the past or concerns of the future. And so, they miss the joys of the present. They also miss the body signals that warn them of impending health dangers.

Being mindful of the present moment can help you in recognizing what is happening to you. The Japanese practice of Zen Meditation, practiced for a few minutes a day, can help you develop this present mindfulness. It trains you to focus your mind at the present moment. Everything about the “here and now” are paid attention to.

A good program to learn Zen by is Living By Zen by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna. It teaches you the secrets of feeling calm, balanced, and positive no matter what is going on in your life.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ali (Soulful Body & Mind) June 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Percival,

I appreciate this article. A lot of people do not listen to their bodies. This is obvious because, here in America, we have an overweight pandemic! As you mentioned, when you are satisfied stop eating. I know this is just one example but I agree with you on most of what you wrote.

As far as meditation goes, I recommend that everyone does it. In this time of chaos, we need to slow down and live in the NOW.

Thanks for sharing!
– Ali (Soulful Body & Mind)

sirpercy June 16, 2010 at 4:40 am

Thanks, Ali, for your comment. I find comments from bloggers like you who have similar theme to my blog very valuable. Whether they are in agreement or not, such comments enrich the points of the articles. They enhance the reading experience of the blog visitors.

Percival

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