‘listen to the body’ vs. ‘honor the body’

our life experience changes day to day, giving rise to ranges in clarity and engagement. to different extents, we all have ‘off days’ where things don’t feel right — mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. sometimes we can trace the feelings back to a singular point, reason, or series of choices, other times not.

in yoga, we begin to cultivate an intimate awareness of our current state. in shifting our focus to the present moment, we let go of the excess baggage (past thought/future anxiety) that clouds the mind and keeps it from seeing and discerning all that really is, now. one way to direct that heightened sense of awareness is to observe the sensations of the body (in the sense as it exists at the level where we interact with the physical world). this is sometimes verbalized as ‘listening to the body’. our bodies have wisdom beyond what we often credit them for — so turning our intuitive ‘ears’ to them, so to speak, can be a great lesson.

the idea of ‘listening’ to the body implies a sense of passivity — opening our ears and our minds to whatever the body dictates as a current state or need. however, when we choose to act based on the information gathered from the body, we have the ability to step back and view what the body has told us and accept or reject it. we can weigh whether to perform an action that will help us or harm us. when we act in a way that is beneficial to us, we are ‘honoring’ our bodies.

this ability to act contrary to what we’ve been told can be used or misused. also, sometimes it is not easy to tell what actions harm us versus help us.

when the body is tired, for example, it can mean we have overworked ourselves and need rest. it is also possible that the tiredness has come from an extended state of inactivity, where a more healthy response is getting the body moving. in each case, we are honoring the body by working to bring it closer to a state of energetic balance.

the more practice we have with listening to the body and gathering feedback about how our actions impact our experience, the better we become at honoring our bodies and ourselves.

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