As I think back over the years, both before and after developing autoimmune issues, I realize how little I listened to my body. It actually makes me cringe when I think about it now.
It took chronic, debilitating pain screaming at me to finally get me to listen.
In the early years, probably starting at least as far back as college, my body started to give me signals – such as anxiety for seemingly no reason, or putting on weight despite eating a low fat diet and exercising a lot. (I really wish I had known then about the dangers of a low fat diet and how vegetarianism was affecting my health.)
I eventually lost weight without even trying, but the anxiety got worse, and I started experiencing fatigue. (By this point I had two small children, though, and thought that fatigue was expected.)
Eventually, while pregnant with my third child, I was routinely tested for thyroid problems, and I found out I had hypothyroidism. I took the prescribed drugs for a couple years, but then got fed up with the doctors and had little time for my own health, busy as I was with my youngest daughter’s health issues. So I stopped taking the thyroid meds, reasoning that I had never felt any different whether on or off medication.
At that point, I just ignored my body and my health and devoted all my time to my children’s wellbeing. I didn’t even research my own health issues, which is shocking, considering my normal inclination to learn as much as possible about any subject that concerned or interested me. Instead I turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to my poor, struggling body.
I’m certain that if I had taken the time to listen to my body and learn more about what I was experiencing, I may have been able to reverse my hypothyroidism and, moreover, might have avoided developing Rheumatoid Arthritis (Rheumatoid Disease).
This is probably why it drives me crazy and breaks my heart that my two older children, now teenagers with early symptoms of health issues and autoimmune disease, don’t take my pleas to take better care of themselves through diet and lifestyle seriously.
I suppose we all have to follow our own journey, but as a parent, of course I want to help them avoid pain and the worsening cascade of symptoms that I have endured.
(And I wish the same for you!)
As a yoga teacher and student of my body, I have learned countless lessons about how everything in our bodies – and THE MIND-BODY – is connected. By actively seeking to deepen that connection with our mind-body, we can truly tap into our body’s deepest wisdom.
So how do you do it?
Get quiet. Stop distracting yourself or deliberately keeping yourself too busy.
ASK your body what it wants you to know.
Scan your body looking for areas of pain or tension or fatigue or any symptom for that matter, whether it is a rash or numbness or bloating.
Keep a journal of your experiences.
Start meditating regularly.
Practice a form of movement like yoga that really teaches you to tune in and pay attention.
Give yourself massages with Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls and question what arises when you roll certain parts of your body – how does it affect you physically, mentally, or emotionally? WHERE does it affect you? (Hint: It isn’t always where you’d expect.)
Pay attention to your breathing. The breath is the channel that connects your mind and your body!
The more you pay attention, the better you will get at reading your body’s signals.
Trust yourself and your intuition.
Your body is more than just your temple. It is how we get to experience this life. So embrace it. Learn from it. Respect it. Nurture it. And love it.
With much love,