Originally published in Change Your Mind
In my years as a massage therapist, there is a consistent theme I notice among clients: People tend to live in their heads, not in their bodies.
This lesson became more apparent to me over time as I realized I, too, lived in my head. I tore my body up as a young 20-something ski bum, working on the mountain by day and bartending at night, partying like a rockstar, and never sleeping on a consistent schedule. (I’m sure the regular 3 am mac-and-cheese didn’t really help, either.)
But, I barreled through, because it’s what I “had to do.”
When I started massage school, I realized just how torn to shreds my body was...
I had scar tissue built up in my quads. I’d had one knee surgery, and the fascia on that side of my knee and hip was in bunches. My back was weak and my pectoralis muscles and hip flexors were tight as heck. The knee surgery probably happened because of muscle imbalances that I wasn’t even aware of. I didn’t even know I’d torn my meniscus until months after the fact…
It was an essential point in human evolution when we really started to use our brains.
It helped fuel philosophy and art and the industrial revolution. We measured and analyzed the world. We innovated. Technological advances exploded.
We’ve evolved far faster in the last hundred years than we had in the thousands before that. We did that all with the natural supercomputers that live in our heads called our brains.
But throughout that evolution, we ended up living in our heads while abandoning our bodies. It didn’t help that some religious practices through time preached the evils of the body.
Today, we work ourselves passed the points that our bodies tell us to stop. We take on stress and repress it to achieve just a little bit more. We stay up into the night working on projects that need to be just right, even when all the hormones in our bodies are telling us that it’s time for sleep. We betray our health and wellbeing because our ego-driven minds tell us it’s what we need to do, and our bodies suffer the consequences.
We aren’t connected with our own bodies anymore. An ache or a pain comes up, and we have no idea. A little turquoise pill will make it go away, for now. We go to work out and can’t comprehend where our limbs are in space and time as we do more than we are ready for because the ego says to just do it. Everything falls out of alignment.
When you learn to live in your body, it’s a game-changer.
You can learn your limits, and just how much farther you can go to build that strength.
Something hurts, and you know what caused it as well as what can fix it.
You get a stomach ache, and you don’t need to run to a medical professional every single time to find out what it is. Subsequently, you know when something is actually in need of a medical professional’s attention.
You grow stronger. Your flexibility increases. Your awareness grows. You begin to feel better, physically and mentally. You begin to love your body more, and your body begins to love you back.
It doesn’t take away from our capacities to use our brains. We still have those supercomputers in our heads that can help us navigate the world and evolve to better it.
When our bodies are in great shape, our mind reaps the benefits, as well.
We can live both in our heads and our bodies.
How to reconnect your body and mind.
There are two methods I use and preach to reconnect body and mind: Meditation and movement.
Start with meditation.
Close your eyes, quiet your mind. Begin to bring awareness to the sensations in your physical body. Don’t judge them. If something hurts, just send your awareness there without labeling it. See what comes up.
Try a body/mind exercise program like yoga or Pilates.
Yoga and pilates are great because they connect breath, body, and mind. You focus on doing the poses or exercises in perfect alignment, bringing awareness to all the different parts of your body that are working. A bridge pose isn’t just about your butt and hamstrings, but where your neck is in alignment with your shoulders and spine and the rest of you.
Our bodies were built to move, not sit around day in and day out. When we don’t move, our circulatory system actually causes blood to stagnate in our legs, not pumping it back up to the heart with as much vigor as it needs. The systems of our bodies actually rely on movement in order to function properly.
Movement doesn’t have to be a fancy dynamic workout in the gym. Go on a walk, ride your bike, swim, stretch, shake it all out. Go out dancing. Park in the back of the parking lot and up that non-exercise activity thermogenesis factor.
Both your body and your mind will thank you.
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