3 Ways to Balance Your Body

For some people, staying mindful of what their body needs is a natural extension of their being in the world. Haven’t been active for a few days? The body tells them to go for a run before the head can talk them out of it. Haven’t gotten in enough leafy greens? They’ll reach for the kale next time they open the fridge. And then there are those that reach for the cheesecake.

 

We all have different points of reference through which we relate to the world. Some people are orientated through their bodies, others through their minds, and others through their hearts. For head- and heart-based people, physical habitation can sometimes be difficult, or easily forgotten.  This leads to states of imbalance where one simply doesn’t feel present in their skin, and might manifest as oscillations in weight or rapidly changing moods and mental states. When it’s difficult to feel an innate connection to the body, we most often look to generalist advice (cue the diet experts), when in actual fact the only sustainable way to maintain balance in the body is learn to understand what our bodies (not everyone else’s bodies) really need. Easier said than done? Here are three ways to begin getting to know your body better.

 

Breathe

Cultivating awareness of the breath is a natural way to cultivate awareness of the body. Because breath awareness is as much a mental activity as physical one, it is acts as a bridge between the two. As you count your breaths, you engage the mind fully in a physical activity. The breath acts as a double mirror for mental and physical states. If your breath is short and erratic, chances are you’re irritable or upset. This awareness helps us begin to appreciate our being as a whole, and not to separate the body from our other forms of functioning. Nurturing this awareness over time will make it easier to access the body’s needs. Start by simply observing your breath for a few minutes a day. By becoming aware of shallow or uneven breathing patterns, your breath will naturally begin to regulate itself and become deeper and more evenly paced.

 

Move

For people who are not easily in touch with their bodies, it is important to perform some form of movement every day. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Grounding yourself in your body’s movement every day helps remove mental and emotional pressure. Go for a walk around your block or put your favorite music on and dance around your room. Allow yourself to be in your skin and experience your body. You will eventually figure out what makes your body feel good (and when you enjoy a physical activity, you will be more inclined to repeat it).

 

Eat

Often we think that achieving balance in the body means undertaking an absurdly proscriptive diet. Although this might work in the short-term, not only is deprivation ultimately bad for the body but it is unlikely to be sustainable and distances you even further from learning what your body really needs. Try doing the opposite. Feed yourself with whole, nutritious and delicious foods, and give yourself permission to eat. And then, very simply, observe. Just as observing the breath automatically leads to healthier breathing patterns, observing how your body feels after eating certain foods will lead to healthier eating. If you really start to notice what makes your body feel good, you will naturally be drawn to those foods on a more regular basis, leading to longer periods of balance in the body. It’s your body. Get to know it.

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