After the trees fell and the lightning struck (did I tell you that our ac unit got hit by lightning, too?) and the tree needed to come down and all that, I just stopped. I didn’t work for a few days. I didn’t move for a few days. Because after getting us up, dressed, and fed after fitful nights of sleep because of the heat, because of the storms that left us laying paralyzed in our beds, because of the prep for the next day, after just getting ready for the day, the roofers, the tree guys, the insurance adjusters, and the AC repairmen were here doing their work, in and out and around and loud and so I just stopped. And beared witness to that tree coming down, to the pains our old house was experiencing, to the wonders of wind and electricity and water.
Until one morning, almost a week into the latest round of madness, I woke up and, though I wanted to stay in bed longer, I got up and raced outside and logged my workout, my muscles moving in sweet relief. Let us do some of the work for a minute, they were saying. My brain whispered a thank you. No, who am I kidding? It shouted its thanks.
And then I ate a thoughtful breakfast and took Happy to his morning preschool camp, and I came home and started to work- to dust the cobwebs off my computer and my work brain- but still my body was saying, “I need more” and so I did something I never allow myself to do. I went to a Pilates class while Happy was at preschool (usually I am so protective of those work hours that the only thing I allow myself to do during that time is workworkwork). And as we were lifting ourselves into Teaser with added arm movements, the instructor offered a proverb so casually that I am certain she didn’t know it would become my mantra for the rest of the day.
“Listen to your body,” she said. “It’s pretty smart”
She was telling us that in case we needed to back off a pose and rest. But I was hearing it not about the class but about everything. About how my body told me to get out of bed that morning and move. How my brain wanted that, too, but just couldn’t show its sense of relief until I had turned it off for a bit. How my body told me it needed just a bit more and how listening to that had brought me to this Pilates class.
Now, as I reached my Teaser pose, my body was saying something else. “This frickin’ hip flexor is WAY TOO tight,” it wailed. And so, giving myself a break from the pose, just as we’d been instructed, I asked myself, “What’s the least I can do for my hip?” Stretch it, I thought. And then I asked, “What’s the most I can do for my hip?” Have a massage, I thought.
“Can I afford- both financially and time-wise, to have a massage? Can I afford not to do it?” I continued. And just then the stretching seemed like such a drop in the bucket compared to the tightness, the massage seemed so necessary for my body, that I knew I’d soon be getting a massage.
Listen to your body; it’s pretty smart.
For the rest of that day, I thought, I was just going to let that mantra be the guide. We hear and talk about intuitive eating, I wanted to press myself even further into intuitive living. To take that question from my three small questions exercise: what do I need right now more than anything else and live it through every minute of the day. And so I got up from the computer and stood to read a few pleasure reading pages. I stretched instead of pounded out a few more sentences. I thought about this and that. I called a friend right when she flashed into my mind’s eye. And I liked every moment of living that way.
A lot of times, I listen to my mind. It’s tidy and neat and organizes things in ways that make sense. But it also is ever aware of the growing to do list and it feels an incredible responsibility to the doing, without as much awareness to how I am doing. Filtering my day through what my body can stand- another five minutes of sitting or no? another few minutes outside in this heat or not? – was a different way for me to trust my intrinsic intuition- the intuition that just courses through my body and knows, without my mind ever having to strong arm the situation. Like all things, a good mind-body balance is ideal but for a girl who can be pretty in her head it was nice to filter my actions through my body since it does so much of the heavy lifting my mind requires.
Do you tend to be in your head most of the time? If so, try a day of listening to your body first and see where it guides you.