I used to be a “mind over body” kind of person. It’s a common sentiment in Western culture – Cartesian “I think, therefore I am” kind of stuff. The body is secondary to the mind. Mantras of "no pain no gain".
As difficult as it is for my economist brain to admit, there is substantial wisdom in the body if we'd only pay attention.
An easy place to start is by paying attention to the little aches and pains that you have trained yourself to ignore. You think you’re ignoring them (with your brain) but your body is actually spending quite a bit of energy sending signals to your brain that something needs attention.
You can spend a lifetime exploring the research and practices related to the mind-body connection ... but you can also simply start with a quick 2 minute check in.
Notice How You’re Sitting
Describe your current posture.
Today, I'm sitting at my home office desk and writing on my laptop computer. I’m leaned back a bit in the chair. I feel some pressure under each of my wrists as I type. My feet are propped up on a foot rest. I'm fairly symmetric in my posture at the moment. That’s not always the case - earlier today I caught myself leaning on one elbow, biting my thumb as I was thinking.
Take a Mental Scan of Your Body
Starting from your toes and working your way up. How does each part of your body feel this very moment?
My feet are a little fatigued - I’m wearing boots I haven’t worn in a while. Calves seem a little restless. No signals from my knees, thighs, glutes. At my lower back I start to notice some tension. I feel some tension along my spine, too, especially on the right side. And I can feel the on-again-off-again knot in my right upper back. Hands are fine. Wrists are a little bit hot from taking the pressure of my arms. Arms are fine. My neck is a little tense. I notice I’m unconsciously clenching my jaw slightly.
Noticing is always the first step. After that, it’s up to you if you want to act on any of the intel you’ve gathered.
I feel drawn to sit up and lean forward. To do a few shoulder rolls. To stretch my arms out and to do a few wrist rolls. Maybe some neck rolls. I also feel like getting up and walking around for a little bit. I'll go get a glass of water.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Ahhh. That was so simple yet I feel so much better. It took just minutes and I feel quite different sitting here, even though I thought I felt fine before.
I encourage you to try this practice a few times a day (once an hour would be great!) to start tapping into the signals your body is sending you.