Long before the internet’s neverending distractions and the constant communication of modern work culture, it was common to feel connected to your body. Intuition was strong because it had to be. There was no Dr. Google tell you something was wrong, or to ID a mystery plant and tell you if it was poisonous or not.
We listened to the signals from our bodies. More importantly, we actually understood them.
These days, there’s a strong mind-body disconnect. A lot of clients tell me they don’t feel “in tune” with themselves. They want to learn how to hear what their bodies are telling them. But how can they decipher a language they don’t recognize?
What does it mean to be in tune with yourself?
Being “in tune” with yourself means you understand the messages that your body is sending to you. This doesn’t have to be some supernatural thing (although it totally can be).
It’s a strong awareness of how your body feels (your baseline “normal” feeling), what affects it and how.
For example, I have new clients keep a food journal where they describe the food they ate and their mood. This gives them insight into how certain foods make them feel and how their feelings may have influenced their food choices.
Food isn’t the only thing that has an effect on your body. Emotions do as well, and being in tune with yourself means knowing how certain situations will impact you.
Both allow you to make informed and intentional choices throughout the day. Whether it’s deciding to eat a certain food knowing it won’t make you feel well, or entering a confrontation knowing it’ll cause some emotional upset, so you plan for some extra self-care.
When you have a better understanding of how your body feels, it’s easier to know when something’s off. This is your intuition talking — the knowing without knowing how you know, you just do!
Being in tune has its benefits, and some of you are more in tune than you think. Particularly if you’re someone who has gone to many doctors without any diagnosis — all the tests are fine so the doctor says it’s all in your head. But you KNOW it’s not! This is how many folks end up seeking holistic health practitioners. Some symptoms simply can’t be addressed with a test and a pill.
How we lose connection to our body’s messages
You are born knowing how to listen to your body. When you were a baby, you cried out for food when you were hungry and stopped eating when you were full. You didn’t care that there were three more bites left, you were done. You cried when you felt sick, when your tummy hurt, when you had a fever.
Now? Not so much. These days, we tend not to notice something’s wrong until the messages go from a quiet whisper to more of a frying pan to the face.
How does that happen?
Always-connected culture You work 40 hours and go home to work some more. You skip lunch to go to back-to-back meetings or eat while working on a project at your desk. You start the day with a small screen to go to a big screen then scroll forever on a small screen while watching a big screen and then back to the small screen before bed. You’re distracted, always “on”, and the more electronically connected you are the more you’re disconnected from your mind and body.
Diet culture: It’s insidious! It’s everywhere! The diet industry convinces you that you can’t trust your own body and your own instincts. That’s how they make their money, convincing you that everything you know is wrong.
So you stop listening to your body’s signals. You ignore the hunger pangs because diet culture says it’s not time to eat yet. Or you should be satisfied with the portion someone else decided on for you. You ignore the fact that you don’t actually like any of the food that you’re eating. You are convinced the Euro-centric cisgender model is the only way to look, start comparing yourself to every other person, and lose perspective on how your own body actually looks and feels.
Disordered eating, body dysmorphic disorder, gender dysphoria — trace it back to diet culture and…
The patriarchy: Oh, you knew I’d find a way to talk about this. Diet culture is a tool of the patriarchy to keep us small, contained, easily manipulated. Did you know that studies on diets like keto and intermittent fasting weren’t focused on people with menstrual cycles? And if they were included, they were postmenopausal and so their pesky hormones weren’t as much of an issue.
Many of us find that they simply don’t work or are too hard to keep up with. That’s because biohacking advice is all about men, though they don’t explicitly say that. So here we are, trying so hard to do something that wasn’t made for us, which impacts our hormones, causes further stress, and when the results don’t come, who do we blame? Ourselves. Then we move on to the next diet, following food rules that take us further away from what your body actually wants.
Tips for connecting to your intuition
Just because you’ve been focused on other things doesn’t mean your intuition has up and left the building. Luckily, it’s always there, and you can always invite it back in by doing some strength training with it. Intuition is a muscle like any other.
Yeah, yeah. You always hear this. But you should do it.
Giving yourself even five minutes of space can help you clear the clutter in your head and make way for intuitive messages to come through. If you need help making this a regular practice, I recommend the app Insight Timer. It tallies your total number of meditation minutes and consecutive days of meditation. So if you’re like me, keeping your streak going is all the motivation you need.
If you’re finding that meditation isn’t doing it for you, you might want to try clearing your energy. You could visualize a calm white light coming from above and enveloping your body in its warmth. Or do a salt scrub in the shower and imagine all of the stress, negativity, sadness, washing off your body and swirling down the drain.
Follow gut feelings
Despite all the distractions, we often have “gut feelings” that we still recognize. Instead of questioning, go with what you feel each time and record in a journal what it was, what action you took, and how it turned out. The more you practice honoring those feelings the stronger they will get.
Use your senses when you eat
Turn off the TV and put your phone in the other room. Give yourself some time and space to do this so you’re not rushing through before you have to run out the door. Sit down with your meal and use all of your senses. Go through them one by one.
- Sight: What does the food look like? Do you enjoy its presentation?
- Smell: What does your meal smell like? Can you pick out any particular aromas?
- Taste: What does it taste like? Can you articulate the different flavors?
- Hearing: Is it still sizzling? Does it make a loud crunch when you bite into it?
- Touch: What is the temperature like? How does the food feel on your tongue?
You could add a sixth sense in there, one of awareness of your body in space. So, how does the food feel inside your body? How does it make you feel?