1 August 2023
As a child, you are connected with your body and experience it with joy. As you become adult, you can get so caught up in your fast-paced life that you lose your body awareness without realising.
It’s so common to live your life so much in your head, and lose track of what is happening in your body. You often spend more time being aware of the weather, the time of day or what other people expect from you, than the sensations in your own body.
You can learn to become aware of your body again by understanding the difference between your external and internal awareness.
External awareness includes all the stimulation you receive to your senses from the outside world.
Internal awareness is any physical sensation, feeling, emotional comfort or discomfort inside the body.
You often don’t notice what’s going on in the body, because most of your awareness is focused outside of it.
As you become more aware of your body and its’ sensations, you become more likely to notice stress, anxiety and tension. The body registers stress much sooner than the mind. When muscles start to tense, it’s the body’s way of letting you know that you’re stressed.
For more on how the body reacts to stress read Fight or Flight – understanding how your body reacts to stress.
Your body has inbuilt signals to tell you when you’re hungry, and need to eat; or tired, and need to sleep. Without body awareness, you can often ignore these important signals from your body. Neglecting tour basic need for rest, food, and digestion, can affect your physical and mental health. As your body awareness improves, you can better respond to your own needs.
For more on how signals to eat can get disturbed, and what you can do to reset your body’s hunger function check out When food rules your life – disordered eating explained
Body awareness can help improve emotions too. Most emotions are felt in the body as well as the mind. So, when you’re nervous, you may feel it in your stomach. When you’re angry, you may flush red and feel your heart beat faster.
The physical form of emotions often begin before you even register the feelings. By improving body awareness, it becomes easier to identify and understand your feelings based on small changes in the body.
Take Jeff, for instance, a 58 year old finance professional and married dad of three. Jeff was totally cut off from his inner experience. He was drinking in secret and using alcohol to help him to get through the day at work. The more challenging work became, the more he was drinking. It was affecting his performance at work and his relationship with his family.
As Jeff drank, his thoughts would start to spiral out of control and he would dwell on how he had let others down. As a result, he felt he had no energy and motivation and felt bad about himself. He was avoiding his friends and family and was no longer enjoying life.
We worked together to help Jeff notice his body sensations and how they led to his drinking. By learning to recognise and allow his body’s feelings he began to find other ways of dealing with them. He began to understand the situations that led to his feelings and what he could do differently. Jeff became skilled at tuning into his inner awareness and viewing his sensations as early warning systems. When he started to notice them, he would recognise them as urges that come and go. This allowed him to choose to allow them to pass or to do something effective.
By learning to tune into his body, Jeff improved his understanding of himself and was able to pause and take action. By taking control of his drinking, he managed to improve his motivation, focus and relationships. He is now finding life much easier and more rewarding.
In Jeff’s’ words,
I’m so grateful to Celia, this has been a fantastic experience.Celia has helped me massively,. I was struggling with drinking secretly, being distant from my family, and I was worried about the impact on my health. Celia is excellent at getting you to ask yourself difficult questions and address issues.With her help I’ve now got the tools to manage my drinking, I’m taking a few minutes to relax, meditate and reflect introspectively, and breathing. I’m feeling healthier than I have for years and I’ve learned how to enjoy my life again and I’ve a better quality of life as a result.I cannot rate her highly enough and recommend her service to anyone.
It’s possible for you to become more aware of your body. When I work with you, whatever the issue, I support you to become more in touch with what is going on inside your body. As you begin to find it easier to tune into you body, you become able to start making changes at a pace that is right for you. Improving body awareness takes time and effort, but it can be a very rewarding experience. By paying attention to your body and learning to listen to its signals, you can improve your overall health and well-being.
Here are my top five ways to help you improve your body awareness and develop your understanding of your body and how it responds. Improving body awareness can take time. Each step can be learnt and built upon. By taking these steps one by one, you can start to live your life on your own terms.
Begin by focusing your attention on the outside world. Become aware of what you are noticing. You could use the words “I am aware of …” to help you focus. For instance, “I am aware of the cars driving past”, “I am aware of the colour of the carpet”, “I am aware of the smell of cooking”, etc.
Once you have become aware of what is going on around you, move your focus to your body and its physical sensations. This is what we call the internal world. Still use the words “I am aware of …to help you. For instance “I am aware of feeling warm”, “I am aware of stiffness in my shoulders”, “I am aware of my stomach making noises”, etc.
Now shuttle between the internal and external awareness. This might be something like “I am aware of the chair against my leg”, “I am aware of the light coming from outside the window”, “I am aware my back is rounded”, “I am aware of the birds singing” etc.
This exercise only takes a few moments to practice and can be done throughout the day, whenever you have a spare minute. It helps to separate and appreciate the difference between your internal and external worlds.
Close your eyes. Start with your toes and gradually moving up your body ask yourself “Where am I tense?” Whenever you discover a tense area exaggerate it slightly so you can become more aware of it. Be aware of the muscles in your body that are tense, but don’t try and do anything about it. Next say to yourself “I am tensing my neck muscles…I am creating tension in my body…It is me who is doing it.” You are producing your own muscular tension. Now, become aware of anything that is going on in your life that may be causing the tension in your body and think about what you could do to change it.
Developing body awareness involves passively observing your body and its actions without thinking in terms of “good,” “bad,” “attractive” or “unattractive.” You can think of it like being a scientist investigating yourself. The aim is to detach yourself from personal criticism, and just be interested in perceiving, understanding, and accepting your body exactly as it is.
This nonjudgmental awareness toward your body helps you to notice internal sensations.
For more have a look at five practical ways to improve your body image
Take a moment to notice how your body feels when you are sitting, standing, walking, and moving. Pay attention to your breath, your heartbeat, and any other sensations you may be feeling. You can do this by simply bringing your awareness to your body and noticing what you feel.Pay attention to the signals your body is sending you, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain. Learning to listen to your body can help you to make better choices for your health and well-being. If you are feeling hungry, eat. When you’re feeling thirsty, drink. If you are feeling tired, rest. When you’re in pain, take care of it.
Being in nature can help you to feel more connected to your body and to the world around you. When you are in nature, take some time to notice how your body feels. Pay attention to the sensations of the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair, and the ground beneath your feet.
Would you like to make living life easier, right now? Get your free Live Life on Your Terms recording here and begin to live your life with confidence.
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