It has started already. Magazines and newspapers are featuring the latest detox or diet plan, thereby encouraging us, i.e. women, to make a New Years resolution and lose weight. If you’ve read any research, you will know that a lot of diets don’t work. If you diet and lose weight, there’s a high chance that you’ll put the weight that you lost back on, plus a little more.
The University of Scranton performed some research on New Years resolutions and the number 1 resolution is to lose weight. Yet only eight per cent of people are successful at achieving their goal.
As a young girl, my mother had a problem with my developing body. In turn I ended up having a problem with my body too. I took diet pills, would starve for two weeks, take laxatives, and exercise like a demon – all in the pursuit of having a better body so I would feel good about myself. But it was a two-pronged outcome. The better my body became, the better I would feel, but then the more attention it generated and that would make me feel very uncomfortable. It got to the stage where I used to wear baggy clothes to hide my lovely, young body.
It’s taken me years to learn to come home to my body and treat it with respect and kindness and to give up the silly diets and no eating. I sincerely thought I had developed a better relationship with my body and that I was deeply connected to it. I did yoga, exercised well, drank a green juice every morning, was vegetarian, and took many great supplements. Yet in truth, my body was still a stranger to me.
It was a huge shock to discover that I very disconnected to my body to the point of not listening to it or really trusting it. One process that helped me become aware of this disconnect was a particular mindfulness meditation called the Body Scan. 45 minutes of focusing on one aspect of your body and just noticing any sensations that arise in that moment. I was shocked to observe that I couldn’t feel any sensations in my body – nada – especially on my left hand side. And yet, here I was, this yoga devotee who loved being healthy and fit. Was there something wrong with me?
And so began the ongoing process of relearning to trust my body and treating it with deep kindness and love. This discovery felt like one of those light bulb moments. The wisdom of the body. We think it all begins and ends with our brain. Yet we’ve got that all wrong. Sure, the brain is important, or rather the power of the particular thoughts we choose. But even if we focus just on changing our thoughts, we’re still missing one vital ingredient. The body. We can’t train our brain if we discount the body. The brain, after all, lives in the body. They are connected.
Our body is infinitely intelligent and very, very wise. Just look at the mechanics for a start. You don’t tell your body to digest your food and to absorb nutrients and discard the rest. You don’t tell your heart to pump blood around the body. Our body just knows what to do without any interference from ourselves. But it’s the wisdom and knowledge that the body possesses that I’m particularly interested in.
When you have had a decision to make, have you ever thought of asking your body? Strange isn’t it. Asking your body a question. But go on. Ask. You might just find that your body will give you the right answer. And intuition. While there is no definitive answer where intuition comes from, we can all acknowledge that it’s a knowing and is often felt, not thought. Intuition often arises in the body with a feeling, a hunch, a knowing or even a ‘gut’ feel and happens before we have consciously engaged our logical mind.
It’s crazy when you think how often we discount our body when it’s such a part of who we are. Thankfully doctors are starting to believe in the connection of the mind and body given the latest research in neuroscience. Yet we still have a long way to go where our body is revered as much as our brain.
Which brings me to the relationship we have with our body. Can you honestly say that you treat your body with love and respect? Can you honestly say that you honor your body and trust the subtle signals it gives you? Can you honestly say that you give your body attention? Do you talk to it? Ask it what it wants? Check out what food it wants?
Building a relationship with your body is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself. I am not saying that I am ‘there’ yet – but I do know that New Year resolutions around weight loss are pointless and doomed to fail. It has to start with getting intimate with your body and knowing (and thereby trusting) what your body wants and needs.
You know you best and having an intimate relationship with your body puts YOU in the control seat. I happen to believe that the body is where it is all at, not the brain. Being connected and in your body. Trusting your body. Being grounded. Being in your heart. Now, that sounds like a great New Years resolution to me.