Listening to your body may sound a bit like a mantra uttered in a yoga class or something you're told to pay attention to when starting an exercise routine. Not many people think about it in their every day lives. However, I want to challenge you on that front.
You know those pesky little salt or sugar cravings you experience, the mid-day need for sugar or caffeine or feeling bloated after you've eaten? You know that rash that seems to never completely go away or the joint pain you feel when you start your day? What about the frequent headaches you experience or those persistent allergies? Although most people would look at those events as "normal" and part of life, I want to ask you to think differently about them. Could it be that those occurences are your body's way of telling you that something is out of balance?
You see, your body is an amazing creation, a super computer pre-programmed at conception. The average heart beats 72 beats per minute, the average person breathes 15-20 breaths per minute, there are thousands of miles of nerve endings, veins and blood vessels operating without our conscious awareness. No one has to tell their lungs to take in air and release it, or their hearts to beat or their nerves to react to pain or pleasure. The body does this automatically because of it's brilliant design.
So, doesn't it make sense that your body would know how to signal you when something has gone awry? The answer is a resounding YES! However, as a society, we have lost the ability to discern the signals our bodies give us and we tend to ignore them until they become bigger problems.
The body has a built in ability to heal itself but with most people won't give their body half the chance to do so. With stressful lifestyles and poor eating habits, eventually the body breaks down and manifests symptoms that many write off as "normal".
Newton's Law of Physics states "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction". Although this relates to objects at rest and in motion, I think you could apply it to the way you treat your physical body as well. When you give your body what it needs, or in terms of Newton's Law there is "no net force on it", your body will stay constant, or in other words, well and healthy. However, when you treat your body disrespectfully with the foods you eat and the stress you allow, it will respond in a negative way.
To this point, many times the body will indicate of some type of deficiency through cravings. For example, sugar cravings are often a result of too much or too little protein in the diet. Salty cravings generally indicate a mineral deficiency that, in many cases, can be attributed to eating highly processed and chemicalized foods.
At a deeper level, some issues send you to the doctor's office, often spending hours in the waiting room only to occupy minutes with a doctor who is seeing numerous patients at the same time. It is difficult at best, given the 6 to 7 minutes the doctor allots for each patient, to actually communicate enough information and for them to listen well enough in order to figure out what the root of the problem is and where it originated. Oftentimes, a prescription is written for a medication to treat the symptom without determining what the actual cause of the problem is.
A medicine, although sometimes necessary, frequently serves only as a band-aid to an otherwise acute underlying concern. It treats the symptoms, not the causes and many times will create other problems that never existed in the first place. In addition, they can be dangerous. Does your jaw ever drop when the disclaimers are disclosed in certain ads for prescriptions? Statements like: "May cause suicidal thoughts or death" - hmmmm. Isn't it worth digging beneath the surface to find out what's keeping your super computer (your body) from being the well-oiled machine it was created to be?
What I encourage my clients to do is to slow down and observe the body's signals to try and understand what's actually going on and I'd incite you to do the same. Many times a simple solution is at hand: more water, greens or sleep and less carbohydrates, sugar or caffeine. Once you start considering the circumstances around your health issues and ask the right questions, your body will respond in kind and reveal what it needs.
Of course, not all disease or illness will be obvious but there are many clues the body gives which indicate something isn't right. It's extremely important to pay close attention, address the issue and make changes that will promote good health.
Have you ever heard "The Waiting", a song written and sung by Tom Petty? The chorus goes like this:
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
You may be asking - "What in the world does this have to do with my health?" The answer: Waiting for the body to heal itself can be a very difficult thing for most people. In this microwave, gotta have it now society we live in, we have been trained to go for the quick fix instead of intuitively listening to what the real "need" is at hand. I've heard it said before and I will repeat, "Given half the chance, the body can heal itself by itself" And, in the words of Dr. Anne Wigmore "The food you eat can be either the safest, most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison."
I'm not saying that there is not a place for doctors and medicines, they have saved countless lives. But what I am saying is this: Your health is your responsibility. You have the power to make changes that can alter the course of your health and your body has the ability to heal, given the right tools. I'm simply encouraging you right now to take your health into your own hands.