How to Start Listening to Your Body

Woman meditating next to water
Image by Shahariar Lenin from Pixabay

We all have a sense called interoception. It’s the perception of the internal state of the body. 

Our bodies send information to the brain and our brains process that information and sense what’s going on in the body. It’s how we can tell our bladder is full or we’re hungry. 

When you feel your heartbeat speed up or you feel butterflies in your stomach, you know your’re nervous. Your body is always talking to you. These body-produced sensations are its way of getting your attention.

And we can then manage how we feel by taking action on these body signals. We feel hungry, so we eat. Easy, right?

Many times, the problem can be that we spend so much time in our heads thinking about everything we need to get done today and reliving all the tiny mistakes we’ve made in the past that we forget we even have a body. 

So we don’t recognize these messages or we just downright ignore them. And when we don’t respond to these messages, it leads to pain, stress, and frustration.

Awareness is the first step. You can practice a simple Body Scan to flex that muscle of noticing the signals your body is sending:

  • Find a quite place to sit or lie down.
  • Close your eyes, and starting at your feet, bring your awareness to each area of your body.
  • For each area, without judgement, notice what you feel: cold or warm, tightness or ease. Notice whatever is present in that area of the body. No need to change anything. Just notice.
  • When you’re ready, move your attention to the next area. And repeat until you’ve scanned your whole body.

Listening to your body is a skill you can develop over time. To start building that muscle, you might commit to this practice every day for a week. Then at the end of the week, evaluate. 

Have you noticed any changes? Are you more aware of how you’re feeling moment-to-moment?