By Kris Kile
It seems that out of our three internal intelligence sources, the mind, emotions and body, the one most ignored—by far—is our body.
In our culture, when our body intelligence is signaling pain, stress, or anxiety—our tendency is to medicate it to disconnect from the discomfort. While this can often be helpful in many cases, it is interesting to consider that this is almost always our first and only instinct.
Another option, when you feel stress, discomfort, anxiety, reactivity or tension, is to be present in it and curious as to what is feeding it. What “internal conversations” might you be having in your unconscious or subconscious that are contributing? I have heard it often said that emotions are thoughts trapped in the body. Additionally, physical sensations—body intelligence–can also point to both thoughts and emotions that you are currently not aware of.
One form of body intelligence involves noticing physical sensations. In a future blog post we will cover another form of body intelligence—gut instinct.
The first step to discovering any form of intelligence and how it is impacting you and your relationships—whether it be mental, emotional or body based—is to become aware of it. That is why practicing presence through meditation and contemplation is so critical. Normally, we are just on automatic. We simply do what we do at some level of mindlessness.
For the next two months, I have a personal commitment to eat food and drink beverages mindfully. That means actually think about what I am doing while I am eating. Take time to taste the various flavors of the food, chew it and pay attention to its texture, pay attention to the entire experience. Savor it, be patient with it. Notice it in all the detail possible.
I just had watermelon for breakfast this morning, and realized–after the fact–that while I did taste it (it was delicious), I was still at a level of automatic mindlessness through the entire process. I was reading while I ate. I took no time to savor or be fully present in the eating. I left a lot of awareness behind.
And, I never once thought about upping my presence as I was eating until after I was done. Welcome to my life. I figure actually realizing after the fact that I was mindlessly eating was a win—a step in the direction I am committed to. (Normally I don’t think about this for weeks on end.)
For me, it is analogous to noticing your mind wandering when you are meditating. You just non-judgmentally bring it back. The game is about noticing and shifting—not doing it perfectly. If you notice, you shift your focus and go again. If you beat yourself up about, you still are tied to the miss opportunity rather than the present moment.
In the entire realm of paying attention to the present moment, I don’t think there is any area of my life that I suck at more than eating mindfully. So, this is a big frontier for me. If I can make some progress in that, I think it could literally be life changing.
Eating is a body intelligence enterprise. An entire book could be written on this reality. It is one single element of the vast expanse of body intelligence we normally don’t pay attention to.
So, my challenge to you is this….
Spend at least five minutes per day, for five days paying attention to what your body is telling you.
- Clear your mind, pay attention to your deep breathing as a mechanism to hone your focus, and then simply notice what you notice in your body….the physical sensations, tension, your heart beating, any discomfort, any pleasant feelings….whatever is there.
- If you don’t notice anything, then simply notice that. Practice honing your inner observer to start recognizing body intelligence.
This is a practice. The more you practice—over time—the more you will notice. Body intelligence often has to do with our base survival drives. It is an amazingly rich source of intelligence.
What do you notice when you meditate and contemplate what your body is telling you through your felt sensations? Tell us what you notice on Facebook.