The body's intelligence

Jul 28, 2020

“There is more wisdom in your body than your deepest philosophy” Nietzsche 

How did we get to this point in history where we don’t trust our bodies? When did we decide someone else (a doctor, nurse, etc) would have more authority over how we feel inside? Isn’t it strange how little it takes for us to surrender our health to someone else.

Modern medicine has created miracles in technology and diagnosis and has saved millions of lives. But before modern medicine was established, we had to rely on our inherent, internal senses to help us decide what was best for ourselves. Why did we discard our more ancient wisdom along the way? It’s funny that often things like acupuncture, reflexology, Ayurveda, meditation, etc are referred to as “complementary medicine”. Weren’t they there first?

Historically we’ve had many means of holistic healing and it’s only now that modern society is starting to realise their benefits beyond “complementary”. Imagine if we were raised with an holistic approach to wellbeing, before sickness arrives, then we could call pharmaceuticals “complementary”. Pharmaceuticals as something we turn to when nothing else works or the system is already compromised and the body needs intervention.


Stress - the modern killer

I think the biggest problem facing us is that most bodies are already compromised. Stress is the number one killer in the Western world because it lowers the immune response. Not only do we become vulnerable to illness, short or long term, but we are also more likely to make mistakes. Sometimes, the kind of mistakes that can be life threatening. Stress reduces the brains’ ability to respond in a calm and thoughtful manner.

I often tell people that’s why yoga is so popular today. Despite all the commercialism of the practice, a majority of practitioners start their yoga journey in order to relieve the stress. Sadly, it’s usually a breaking point or burn out that comes first. This brings me back to the quote at the top of the page.

“There is more wisdom in your body than your deepest philosophy” Nietzsche

Learning to trust the body

We haven’t been taught to listen to the body. We haven’t been encouraged to slow down when the whispers of the nervous system say “I’m about to get overloaded”. No, we often wait for the scream.
This is why practices that involve mindful, and aware attention of our body and mind (embodiment) is so vital when it comes to wellbeing. Whether it’s yoga, dance, martial arts or any other movement form that is presented in an embodied manner. When you are encouraged to feel instead of putting attention on what ‘shapes’ you're making, you can begin to have a dialogue with the inner self. The part of you that created yourself from a split cell.

The magic of an embryo growing and becoming a human is enough for us to recognise, as Nietzsche says “there is more wisdom in your body….”. If we cut ourselves the wound will heal (if we take care of it). If we get a cold or a flu, with rest and fluids, we’ll be fine again in a few days or week. And we will have built up a stronger immune system in the process. As long as we look after the body, the body will look after us.


The body is always listening

The important thing to remember is that stress, whether it be because of a stressful job or an internal state of being, breaks down the system. We are always in dialogue with the body whether we are conscious of it or not. The body is always listening. It listens to every thought and every action, trying to assess the best strategy for survival. If we aren’t in tune with the signals arising we risk losing the ability to bounce back from colds and flu and perhaps become vulnerable to autoimmune disorders (which are on the rise now more than ever) or something more serious.

This is why we need to ensure we have something in our lives that brings us back to centre or homeostasis. We need practices that aren’t about athleticism but giving ourselves time to listen to the body. To be in conversation with the body. To discover a more intimate relationship with ourselves.


Are you in conversation with your body?

How often do you pause during the day and ask yourself “what does it feel like to be in this body right now?” Have you ever become tired and grumpy or unfocused and think you just need to push through it. But then eat something and realise that you feel much better. Or thinking you’re just really tired when you’re actually dehydrated? Or more commonly, that your body just needs more sleep.

When we are more aware of these moments we already start to sense the more subtle voice. You begin to sense energy. You notice that being around certain people or certain environments is draining. You realise that your body is craving time in nature or stillness. Sometimes it’s just asking to stop and breathe for 5 minutes. Our bodies are magical in that way and aren’t usually asking for too much, until it’s too late.

Look for practices that encourage you to connect to sensation. To be in conversation with the body and keep the ego and the mind on low volume. Other forms of movement are absolutely valid. But we need daily access to our inner being so make sure you have some kind of outlet that guides you towards that. This is how we can begin to trust ourselves again and from there we can find balance and know the voice that says “rest” is the one to listen to.

What do you do to stay in communication with your body?

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