“Our bodies are the texts that carry the memories and therefore remembering is no less than reincarnation.” —Katie Cannon
Your body matters because it’s with you all the time and it remembers what you do, how you are, and your way of being. There is a way in which every experience that you have impacts the body.
This is intuitive to some extent. We feel the ache after a long strenuous walk and we feel the moisture and that quenching when we drink.
It takes a long time to really notice the more subtle ways in which the body is impacted.
With a practice of mindfulness –attending to the present moment –we can begin to notice more and more how the body holds feeling.
We can become more attuned to the finer details. We can notice how our posture, tone of voice, and facial expression carry emotion. And we can notice patterns in our digestion, breathing, and level of arousal.
Even beyond the limits of our own perception, the body holds memories of our experience.
We know that trauma and stress can disturb heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygenation. The vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the lung, heart, and intestines, communicates information about our perceptions to our various organs and leaves an impression.
Research Shows That …
A large study of close to 20,000 people showed that abuse and distress can create up to three times greater risk for:
- Heart disease
- Chronic lung disease
- Skeletal fractures
- Liver disease
Stress also diverts resources that the body might have otherwise dedicated to processes like digestion, ridding the body of toxins, and quality sleep.
Just in the past decade, we have understood a great deal more about how mental health issues can lead to inflammation. And how infection, like what we’ve seen with covid, can exacerbate or lead to mental health problems.
Amazingly, we do have the ability to regulate our own physiology, though the effects of our practices are not always as immediate as we would like. Mind-body practices that involve the breath, movement, and touch have been shown to be incredibly helpful for mood and thinking patterns.
Relationships and community also help to regulate our basic body processes. With regular practice and dedication to what makes you feel fully engaged or at peace, you can reestablish a sense of home and safety in the body and allow for its full expression and spontaneity.
Here are 11 ways you can show your body that it matters:
- Give some attention to your breath. Just notice the breath. It can help to maintain focus to count to 5 for each inhale and exhale.
- Yoga. You can do this at a beginner or advanced level. Start by seeing how it feels to bend over, or twist, or stretch the arms over the head.
- Tai chi. This is a slow movement practice that necessitates a great deal of presence.
- Aikido or Capoeira. These are faster paced martial arts that can help with diffusing physical energy, especially if we feel angry or agitated.
- Dance. Turn on some music and see how it moves you.
- Hold hands. The easiest way to boost oxytocin, a hormone that affects your perception of pain.
- Hold yourself. Cross your arms to give yourself a hug.
- Massage yourself. Simply touch or rub areas of tension. Consider using massage oil or a tennis ball to reach the backside.
- Sing or hum. The vibration of your voice in your body can be grounding and centering.
- Eat mindfully. Name as many details as you can about your food before you eat.
- Take your vitamins, herbs, and medications. Work with someone you trust to enhance your body’s resilience with these supports
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About the Author
Zoe says, “I’m here as a guide in times of transition and want to support you to live the life you want and be in integrity. I will support you by listening to your story and sharing with you what I’ve learned.”