We certainly feel our bodies when having pain or a headache. But many of us are ‘out of touch’ with our bodies, with our real selves. Moreover, we only notice the body when it gets sore, sick or can’t keep up with what we want it to do. Many people look after their cars better than their bodies.
When you think about your car, it is rare to run out of fuel in your vehicle. We know we have to fill up the tank. However, we let our bodies get so depleted that we turn to sugar and caffeine to sustain us. Food and drink is our fuel yet how often do we go out of our way to make sure we have the best or is near good enough, and in some cases, whatever is available will do? Moreover, this is especially true when we are stressed and allow our lives to run on auto-pilot. Be honest, how often have you let yourself get so hungry that you will eat anything? I know I have.
Amazingly our bodies can put up with this level of strain for quite a while. However, at some point, it does catch up, in the form of exhaustion, fatigue or some other type of illness and disease, making us stop and assess how we are taking care of our bodies.
Moreover, what about how we drive? We wouldn’t drive our cars till they overheated, we take steps to make sure this does not happen. Many of us run our bodies without making sure we are appropriately hydrated and rested?
Yes, we may sleep, but when we are anxious or stressed our bodies do not fully surrender to the sleep process. How many times have you had woken up more tired than when you went to sleep? Hit that snooze button and wished you didn’t have to get out of bed. That merely is us running our bodies 24/7, exhausting ourselves to the point that, if we were a car, we would trade it in for a new vehicle altogether.
There is no escaping our bodies. Moreover, the truth is the way we treat our body, is a reflection of the way we see ourselves. So, we munch on chocolate to make us feel better, use coffee or wine to deal with our exhaustion. Social media to keep us distracted from the signals that the body is sending us.
We live this way, making these choices because we do not love ourselves as we should. Therefore, self-compassion is the bridge that leads us back to knowing our real value. It is through self-compassion that we begin to understand how precious we are. It leads us to take more care, and as we make more time for self-care, it starts to become a mindful choice to live that like that – aware, kind, caring, gentle and compassionate.
Getting in touch with our body, how it feels, can make a significant difference to both our physical and emotional well-being. We develop a deeper level of body awareness, just by exploring and listening to the body. This is a crucial element that allows us to develop a higher level of self-compassion.
Our body is like a true best friend, one that tells us the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. We often don’t want to hear or feel what our body has to say, but it will continue to speak to us, to remind us to care for ourselves genuinely.
So, how can body awareness help us to develop self-compassion and start practice self-care?
We often forget that our bodies are incredibly responsive and sensitive to everything that is happening within and around it. All we need to do is listen. Our body feels everything. Thoughts, words, and actions in every moment of our day and most importantly it registers the impact of what it has perceived. The body lets us know if it feels tension or ease, hardness or openness, exhaustion or vitality. This can empower us, as we listen to our body, we know exactly how to care for ourselves.
I guide many of my clients through self-compassion exercises centered around affectionate breathing and compassionate body scans. These meditative approaches help us to cultivate greater awareness of the body but to do this with care and compassion. I recommend exploring the fantastic work of Kristin Neff, many of these resources are free to download http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/
We can take responsibility for our health and wellbeing back into our hands by becoming more connected to our bodies and treating them better than we do our cars – with Mindfulness, Compassion, and Care.
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