Wellness Wednesday: Intuition in the Body
by Rebekah Elkerton
The human experience is beautifully imperfect and at times confusing. The journey toward finding one’s own path and sifting through new experiences and relationships challenges us to listen to and honour ourselves. As children we are taught in school to analyze facts using our minds and implement rational problem solving techniques with which we weigh the pros and cons. While these tools are necessary and helpful, they cannot stand alone. Our bodies play an essential part in providing us information about the people, places, and situations we experience throughout our lives. Our bodies are highly intuitive and intelligent and they’re constantly trying to inform us of what our minds have not yet uncovered. Sometimes we can’t fully explain why we feel cautious about something, but we know deep down that our feelings hold true. When we act and live in accordance with the direction in which our body is steering us we have a better chance at ending up on the correct path.
Throughout elementary school, we are taught to ask an authority figure for permission to go to the bathroom. We are raised to ask others for permission to care for ourselves and time our immediate needs in a structured way, even though it may be uncomfortable or unhealthy. Society teaches us to pay more attention to some of the feelings in our bodies than others. Often we address our body’s needs when it speaks to us through extremes. We ignore small discomforts until they become larger issues than they ever would have been had we paid better attention to our bodies. We weigh our discomfort and maybe even judge ourselves in accordance with how the people around us will receive and perceive our expressions of our limits and concerns. We become so conditioned to make decisions based on what others think that we fail to learn our body’s subtle cues that have the potential to liberate us from damaging or risky behaviour.
Every thought and feeling has a correlating physical experience. We’ve all heard the phrase “listen to your gut.” This directive reminds us to connect with the body. Does a situation, or even the thought of a situation, make me feel better, worse, or neutral? Does my body feel expanded or contracted when I do this particular activity or see that person? Am I tense? Am I slouching and tucking my energy back into myself? When we ask ourselves these questions we can better understand how our bodies reflect our intuitive knowledge to us.
Once we’ve connected with our bodily intuition we must trust ourselves enough to act in accordance. We may hear the echo of naysayers refuting our internal knowledge. We might identify these echos as being indicative of the rational mind (which we’ve placed higher on the scale of validity), but when the mind and the body aren’t in alignment about something it must be explored. Our bodies are valid sources of knowledge about what is right for us on an individual level and accepting this often requires some undoing of what we’ve been otherwise taught. We may have to form an entirely new relationship with the self before we’re comfortable with accepting our complex avenues of knowing.
When we start consistently following intuitive wisdom, life unfolds and blooms to reveal amazing things. When we take a moment to quiet the noise and listen to our bodies we create new patterns of self-love that lead us to better places and deeper enjoyment of the human experience. When we trust ourselves we’re led to experiences and interactions that feel more rewarding and healthy. Often a good indicator that you’ve made the best decision in listening to your intuition is the feeling of relief. The relief you’ll experience will be lasting.
It can be scary to move outside of the familiar and release people or situations that don’t make us feel good especially when they’ve become part of our daily lives. We may feel obligated to stay in harmful dynamics for one reason or another. We can spend years of our lives making ourselves small or living with frustration, upset, or fear because of unhealthy relationships. When we listen to our bodies we reclaim our power and the importance of the relationship we hold with ourselves. Nobody has the relationship with your body that you do, you are the only person who can know and care for it inside and out. Nobody else can hear the voice through which your body speaks to you. When we honour our bodies by paying attention to them and living gratefully for the many gifts they offer we can find alignment and begin to heal.
I can think of more than a few instances throughout my life when my body warned me about a person, place or situation. I’m thankful for the times I listened to my body’s cues, even when they seemed out of place to myself and others. Of course, we’ve all had to learn the hard way more than once what happens when we ignore these cues, but we have the power to actively connect with the intuitive wisdom our bodies are continually processing and offering up to us. We can ask ourselves- “Do I feel emotionally and whole-heartedly in acceptance of this moment, idea or person? Am I inclined to distance myself from the situation at hand?” The answers to these questions prompt deeper understanding of the self and act to steer us into the healthiest direction possible. The practice of self-check-ins may feel disruptive to what we’re used to, however it’s a beautiful gift to be able to find the answers within. There’s power in acknowledging intuition and honouring the language of the body.
cover image by Caique Silva