This is a post about relationships, but not the one you might think. It’s about you and your relationship with your body.
Yeah, the meat suit you have been wearing since birth. It’s a pretty dope piece of equipment, right? It keeps you alive, keeps you moving, gives you orgasms + laughter + hugs. (Also gives you PMS + frustration + paper cuts, but that’s just part of the deal. A little of this, a little of that.)
I think our bodies are amazing. Knowing how the body works is why I got my first degree in Health Education. I am a Type 1 diabetic (for those who didn’t know) and I really appreciate that my body mostly works. I love knowing how different parts work, I love pushing it to new goals, I love that it does all this amazing stuff without me thinking about it. I have a pretty good relationship with it. But now that peri-menopause is setting in and I’m having some different health concerns, I have a few more ‘wtf?!’ moments about my body and my relationship with her than I used to.
But I still believe that listening to my body, trying to understand her and what she needs, is one of the best practices I have.
I believe our body is always trying to tell us something. She’s always trying to get us to listen to not only what’s going on inside her (the physical part), but also inside us (the total system). I believe the body tells the truth even when our mind cannot (or even when our mind cannot handle the truth). But it’s our job to listen. And really, that’s all she wants anyhow.
Our body can tell us some pretty helpful stuff just in how she functions. Your poo should be a certain color and shape, for instance. If it’s not, you might be having digestive or absorption issues. A great little article and helpful image about that here. The same goes for your potty (of course!). You can read about shades of yellow (and what’s healthy and what’s not) in this article.
Our body is also talking to us by various signals and feelings throughout the day and throughout our cycle. Long ago, when this was still just a ‘holistic health’ website, I wrote about the importance of taking yourself to the bathroom when you need to go. I know it’s an issue; we get stuck in a shift or in a meeting, it’s hard to get out. But you need to go when your body asks- it’s one simple way of listening and responding with kindness.
As with bathroom breaks, I think it’s important to listen to the signals our body gives us. This morning in the shower, I felt really tired and wanted to just sink into the bottom of the bathtub and sit there for 20 minutes. I didn’t have time to do that, but I accepted the message my body gave me (“you’re tired!”) – I listened. Even if we can’t give our body everything it asks for, exactly in the moment it is asking for it, we can at least listen and accept. We can say, “Hey, body, I heard you. I can’t do that right now, but I did hear you. Thank you for telling me what’s going on.”
I think it is also vitally important that we listen when our body (our whole system) gives us little nudges about something. Whether that is “Don’t go to lunch with that guy” (even though he looks fine), or “Go home this way instead,” or “Call the doctor about that funny twitch in my pelvis”. I believe that is our body communicating with us at a deeper level.
There is one caveat to this practice. Don’t indulge the communications immediately. I mean, if you gotta pee, you gotta pee (do that!). But for other communications, we sometimes need to take a step back, maybe get some advice, or use our wisdom before we act on what our body is telling us. This applies pretty clearly to the Sex Surge: take a moment to breathe, center, and recall your wisdom before you dive into what your body is communicating to you. (Because, you know, otherwise we’d all be having sex with whoever is pretty today, right? [joke, but also not.])
Our body has a lot to tell us about ourselves. Everything from whether we have food intolerances, or aren’t getting enough sleep, to where we should sit in the movie theater, to how we should best process our grief. By simply noticing and listening to your body – her urges, her needs, her desires, her requests – you are building and important relationship with your body. Just like any relationship, listening and kindness go a long way. And since we will be in relationship with our body for our whole life, it’s probably helpful to be good friends with her.