Ending the War with Your Body

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Here is another article just posted on Maria Shriver’s blog!

I remember sitting in a doctor’s office with tears streaming down my face before the doctor even walked in. I dreaded the words I knew would be coming.

“Well, this test came back negative.” Or “We still don’t know what’s wrong with you.” Or “We’d like to try another test.”

I had developed a strange disorder with my digestion, one that no one could figure out. It piled on top of a thyroid condition diagnosed at age 18. Add in a handful of repeating knee surgeries and I felt like my body and I were at war.

IT would not get better. IT would not do what I wanted. IT had let me down.

Now I could add doctors to the list. THEY could not help me. THEY did not care. THEY had let me down, too.

My frustration fueled the fire. Forget the doctors: I would get better in spite of them!

I started seeking alternative healers. I started juicing, doing cleanses, meditation, every kind of diet, became a yoga junkie, even started gazing at the sun (don’t ask). Each new thing I found I made the bible to health. Each new person might have the answer.

And they did…until a new symptom flared up and their answer let me down, yet again.

Then one day, while out in the world fervently seeking answers, my path took an unexpected turn. I quite mistakenly bumped into some intriguing new questions.

What if you are the only one who knows what your body requires?

What if your body can actually tell you what it needs?

What if nothing is WRONG with you and your body is actually attempting to communicate?

I found these questions irritating. What was I supposed to do first? What should I eat? How should I sit? This person wasn’t telling me anything!

Yet the questions gnawed at me. Was my body actually talking to me? Had I been ignoring it all these years? Could I trust this thing called my body that had betrayed me for so long? Could I trust myself enough to listen?

Having exhausted what I saw as the alternatives — and hungry from 14 days of drinking nothing more substantial than kale and cucumber juice — I chose to surrender.

Questions, not answers, ended up being my journey to health. And it is those very same questions I bring to you today.

Would you be willing to stop trying to give your health and body over to someone else to fix?

Would you be willing to learn to communicate with your body?

Would you be willing to follow what you know?

Here are 10 new tools and questions that got me on the road to taking back my health and healing my own body.

1. Start Asking your Body Questions

You mean talk to your body like another person? Yes! Your body has awareness that is different than yours. Think of it like a friend. Before you eat something, ask “body do you desire this?” Before your exercise routine at the gym ask, “Body, how would you like to move today?” You may not get answers back right away; however, just getting in the habit of considering that your body may have its own point of view will begin the process of the two of you communicating.

2. Learn Your Body’s Lingo

You may try asking your body to help you understand it. Try standing with your feet together and saying, “Body, show me yes” and then “Body, show me no.” Most people will consistently lean in one direction for yes and another for no. Once you understand the language your body speaks you can start asking it “Would you like to eat this cheese?” or “Would you like to go on a walk?” Don’t make it significant what you do and don’t hear. Just play with it!

3. Follow the Light

Different things are true for each of us. What is true for you is light. What is heavy is a lie. If you are reading something and it makes you smile or makes your eyes light up, it may be true for you. Why not ask another question? If your body contracts or your stomach turns over, chances are it is something that is not true or won’t create what you desire. Where else can you look?

4. Stop Forcing Change

How often do you see people running at the gym who look absolutely miserable? How many diets have you been on where your body wants to spit out the food? If you are going to increase the communion between you and your body, you will have to stop forcing it to do things it doesn’t wish to do and start playing on the same team. Does your body hate running? It may have the awareness that your knees will blow out if you choose to keep running. So what movement WOULD your body enjoy?

5. Cut the Labels

Our society loves labels and diagnosis. Yet how often is a diagnosis really just permission to stop asking questions? I have acid reflux. Do you? Or does your body give you information that it didn’t appreciate what you just ate with a symptom that we often call acid reflux. Is it true you can’t EVER eat tomatoes or are there times when your body would be just fine with them? If you didn’t have a diagnosis to fall back on, would you have to be aware in every moment of what your body desired at that time?

6. Give Up the “Healthy” Game

Yes you heard me. The nutritionists will hate me for this one but we have compiled so many points of view about what is healthy and not healthy that we start judging food before we get a chance to see if our body might like it or not. Kale is healthy right? Well not if you have a low thyroid. Tomatoes are healthy right? Not if you have acid reflux. Sugar is unhealthy. Is it really? Always?

You can either carefully create the list of all the food you are good and bad for you or you can erase everything you were ever told about food and ask your body what it desire each moment. You will be surprised how much your body knows and how it is actually not trying to work against you. It would like to feel great too!

7. Appreciate the Feedback

How often do you get frustrated by a headache? Or upset when your back hurts? What if pain in your body wasn’t always a bad thing? What if it was your bodies last resort to communicating with you? When you get pain or intensity in your body, do you best to be grateful and ask, “Body, what are you trying to show me here?” Does it not appreciate something you ate? Is it rebelling from a toxic conversation? What is it trying to tell you?

8. Allow Yourself to Change

What is true for you one day may not be true for you the next. People love us to be consistent but the truth is you are different every day. There is different weather, you are in a different mood, you have different needs. Rather than trying to figure out what you should always eat or your workout plan for the whole summer, try just deal with this moment. What does your body desire today? What if you didn’t have to be consistent? Your body sure isn’t!

9. Stop the Judgment

How many judgments do you impel on your body every day? If you treated your dog the way most people treat their body it would run away! Is it any surprise body is not working with you with ease. Start noticing every time you judge your body and each time you do say to yourself, “That’s an interesting point of view.” Once you realize your judgments are not the truth of you, they will stop controlling you. From there you’re on the road to freedom!

10. Ramp Up the Gratitude

Rather than dwelling on the things you would like to change, start being grateful for the things that are working. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for about your body and remind yourself daily. Not grateful for much? How about that you can see? Feel the breeze on your skin? There is always more to be grateful for than you think!

It is much easier to change something from a space of gratitude than from a space of judgment. Try it!

The questions I discovered didn’t exclude the doctors or research or book. Nor should they for you. Today, I use all the information available to me.

Yet when it comes to making choices about my body I get really quiet and ask myself. “What do I know?” I am no longer blaming anyone else for how I feel. I can be grateful for the knowledge the doctors bring to the table, but ultimately I know that no one is responsible for me feeling great other than me.

By coming into communion with my own body, my “digestion disorder” has disappeared, my thyroid levels have returned to normal (not supposed to be possible) and overall I get to enjoy having a body again!

What a gift to no longer be at war. Is it time to end the war with your body? If so, what questions can you ask?

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