“There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it” – Elizabeth A. Behnke
Friedrich Nietzsche was correct in his assessment when he declared, “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophies”.
We often take for granted how well our body serves us and eventually it no longer does. Motor racing analogies abound when referring to the human structure: a well-oiled and finely-tuned machine are common phrases used.
Your body communicates to you, albeit in silent whispers echoed through: aches, pains, emotions and gut feelings. Many of us drown out the connection with habitual thoughts occupying space in our minds.
From our teenage years onwards, we move from an exciting discovery of our body’s innate wisdom to treating it like an instrument during adulthood. Stress, toxic foods and alcohol predominate one’s adult years which correspond to the most important social period of maturity.
The notion of illness is baulked at by many during this time, accompanied by a sense of invincibility. Countless young adults are quick to proclaim, “This won’t happen to me,” when counselled to curb destructive lifestyle choices.
Yet disease and illness do not discriminate because you think you are immune to it. Nature is not so forgiving when you lose the genetic lottery. Just as striking a match makes fire, illness can pervade the body overnight. When the light goes out, there’s little we can do to reignite it.
Though it need not be this way. We have the ability to create empowered health by paying attention to our body’s innate wisdom through attentive discipline.
Robert Augustus Masters, psychotherapist and healing professional, states, “There is a wisdom in the body, a wisdom in feeling, that when accessed and allowed to operate in conjunction with our cognitive capacities, leads to a deeper, wiser, more integrated life”.
We must pay attention to the signs the body communicates since those signals can turn into loud roars if we’re unaware. However unjust, sometimes it’s too late to reverse the progressive stages of chronic illness.
“So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health,” states A. J. Reb Materi.
In our quest to attain material possessions, we conceal the body’s cry for help while we satisfy our cravings. Yet we can never fulfil our desires if we are not in harmony with our inner world.
You are no doubt aware that tiredness does not mean reaching for more caffeine, instead it’s a call to slow down and rest. Whilst it is simple advice, many people neglect these signals to plough ahead. Deadlines must be met, the children need to be fed and dropped off at school and we must please our boss, wife or husband’s needs. Yet, before long the energy we long for has disappeared from our life and we’re addicted to stimulants to keep the flame alive.
Coffee and alcohol are ways in which we numb ourselves from the strain of the day, much to the discontent of a wearied body. Whilst I do not intend to paint a grim picture, my experience spanning the past decade suggests some people are prepared to trade their health for work commitments.
It is neither my place nor duty to cast judgement on how one organises their life. Yet when I am called upon to guide people to rebalance their work-life commitments, it is viewed as heresy when I recommend more rest periods throughout their week.
So how can we be more attentive to the body’s innate wisdom?
“Everything you need to know is within you. Listen. Feel. Trust the body’s wisdom” – Dan Millman
To begin with, you cannot race through the week at 100 km/h and expect to stop on a drop of a hat. It is unwise to throttle your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system since it will eventually wear down.
We must allow proper time to rest and digest, otherwise the body becomes trapped in a vicious cycle of stress, much to the detriment of our physical wellbeing.
In his book, The Genie In Your Genes, author Dawson Church affirms, “Meditation produces significant rises in a variety of antibodies and blood cells – all associated with increased immune function. It measurably improves the body’s ability to resist disease and the effects of stress”.
He further states, “Sustainable exercise – exercise done with somatic awareness – may be the most powerful discipline for conducting spirit energy. It literally saturates our body with regenerating life force, from our muscles and bones to our very cells.”
In light of this, your priority to evoke these states of wellbeing should include:
Be attentive to your mental and emotional constitution. You need not watch every thought, yet notice the primary mental drivers and their associated emotional partners.
Are you prone to high levels of stress due to your work-life commitments? If so, reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol consumption by replacing it with a contemplative routine. This offers immediate and enhanced physiological benefits.
Make it a point to tune in to your body’s signals known as interoception. Learn to communicate in the body’s language by attending to its needs.
“Even quiet, contemplative thinking will be accompanied by minute muscular changes and a string of observable effects in the body. Thinking is a process that is saturated with feelings,” affirm authors Darian Leader & David Corfield in their book, Why People Get Sick.
The Blue Zones refer to five geographic areas of the world where people live the longest. Each group thrives on nutritional requirements specific to the region, which vary to other locations. Some subsist on a semi-vegetarian diet while others consume meat on special occasions. As a result, the human body is adaptable so long as we honour its primary biological processes.
As a final point, avoid buying into popular opinion that espouses looking a certain way. Primitive cultures of the past knew how to nourish their bodies without having to contend with marketing hype. They did not have access to media advising them whether the Paleo or 5:2 diet is the regime of choice this month.
Refuse to treat your body like a machine while expecting it to deliver boundless health and wellbeing.
While mechanical gadgets are prone to wear out, the wisdom of the body lingers on.