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judyprays's avatar

How do you listen to your body?

Asked by judyprays (1309points) March 8th, 2010

i’ve realised that my body will send me messages and i will ignore them. “I want to…” “I don’t want to…” “I’m hungry” “I’m full” “I’m tired”

i know there is a function for the ability to do this, but i’m afraid i’ve lost the ability to pay attention and honor my body! do you have any tips on how to do this?

also, on a more macro level, i told my boyfriend that i want to be better at listening to my body – and he said that i should be careful, because listening to my body is effectively what an animal does. i know society / civilization is founded on humans being different than animals – but it seems we focus so much on knowing when not to be an animal – but very little
on when it is good to be animal.


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29 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Meditation might help you :)

Jeremycw1's avatar

With a stethoscope :)

TooBlue's avatar

Your boyfriend sounds like an idiot. Since when is listening to your body animalistic?

Steve_A's avatar

We are an animal, so with that I say listen to your body.

I sometimes wonder if going with your “gut instinct” or “follow your heart” kind of feeling is not some kind of innate or true sub-conscious animal trait we humans have….just my thought on it. Because more times than not I wish I would have gone with my gut on it, unless logic and fact trumps it.

njnyjobs's avatar

It’s actually a good idea to keep in tune with your body. Anything that feels out of the ordinary should always be investigated. To start off, you need to establish a benchmark of yourself…take a good look at yourself in the mirror and make notes of what you see. Jot down pertinent information. Journal any sensations or feelings that you experience. Read-up on health information and compare those from your own data. Over time, you will be able to get to know yourself and be able to perceive the changes that may occur.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I stopped listening to my body years ago. Now I receive regular communications from Zebbel Kanoobie, a civilization that controls me from the center of the Andromeda Galaxy.

For some reason, I don’t know why, they love Sushi, often sending me on uncontrollable rampages for Fatty Tuna. When that isn’t available, they’ll sometimes settle for a Mars Bar.

It’s not my fault. I swear!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Have a seat near my cubicle after lunch someday and YOU can listen to my body, too.

ucme's avatar

Tummy rumbles, hungry,eat.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@judyprays said: ”...i told my boyfriend…and he said that i should be careful, because listening to my body is effectively what an animal does.”

WAIT! I thought boyfriends were supposed to encourage girlfriends to be wild and animalistic?

If you ever do happen to find your animal self, will you then start using capital “i’s” when referring to yourself?

CMaz's avatar

My body is always talking out my ass.

Cruiser's avatar

Set up a specific list of goals be it weight loss, fitness level, and or endurance and then write out a plan on how you will achieve this. Tape it to the bathroom mirror and just do it! Here is where the “listening” part will come into play. Anytime you change your routine or diet the body will “react” to this change and you will need to allow a period of time for your body to adjust. Must lifestyle changes should be relatively pain free and once you are more familiar with the “sound and feel” of your new you the better you be at “listening” to what your body is “telling” you.

Grisson's avatar

My choir director once told us we should listen to our inner parts. Turns out he was talking about the alto and tenor sections.

jfos's avatar

I second meditation.

I also second that we, as humans, are animals. I think that society only wants us to ignore our instincts when it comes to sexual desire, fitness, survival, territorialism, loyalty, and being tired.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Animals don’t meditate

Grisson's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Have you ever watched a cat contemplating a canary. Or a dog contemplating a treat?

jctennis123's avatar

your boyfriend sounds like a very smart man

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Sure, but the animal is not contemplating the object. They are fixating on how to get the object. The cat cannot contemplate on what it’s like to be a canary any more than a dog can contemplate how snausages are made.

That’s certainly not a form of meditation. Animals cannot clear their minds. But perhaps a monkey or dog can contemplate how to get a gate open, or a banana out of a tree. But that is not the same thing as meditation.

stump's avatar

Sit or lie down in a quiet, darkened room. Take a few minutes just breathing deeply. Then imagine a bright white light just above the top of your head. Imagine the light shining down through your skin and skull and illuminating your whole head. Imagine, item by item, the light filling each part; brain, left eye, right eye, sinus cavity, nose, tongue, teeth, jaw, throat, etc. Move down through your body part by part. If you review some basic anatomy before hand, you can get very specific, mentally examining each organ (when you good at it). After a little practice at this, you will be able to feel each muscle, bone, and organ. And aches and pains, cravings and whatnot that had been vague will become very specific. If you do this, it is better at the begining to start with large areas and cover the whole body than to be too detailed and not finish. If you don’t go though the whole body, you can cause tension to build up in the areas that you do not get to. And that can cause sore muscles and other problems over the long term. I would also recommend that you always start at the top and go down until you have a lot of practice. This process awakens and envigorates the organs, and if you start at the top, you will be stimulating your reason and imagination (brain) first. Your concentration will be better and you will be more likely to finish well. If you start at the bottom, you will be stimulating your lower (animal) instincts first (as your boyfriend warned you) and your concentration and will power will not be stimulated until the end, making it less likely that you will finish.

andrew's avatar

With all due respect to your boyfriend, that’s just silly. Listening to your body is the first part of getting out of your head, paying attention to the moment, and is a great way to open up creative and intuitive thought.

Yes, I know that sounds ooey-gooey, but part of my struggle in my mid-twenties was transitioning from the ultra-critical computer science university education to an approach that would allow me to be…creative. Artistic. Critical thought, while useful, isn’t the most conducive to success in an MFA.

I, too, treated my body like it was a separate entity. Like a lot of hackers, I viewed it as a machine that I could will into my bidding. Ultimately, you’re denying yourself a lot of resources—because ultimately what you’re doing is denying some impulse—be it for sleep, or hunger—and that’s a dangerous road for someone in a creative field.

So. What can you do? I’m just going to throw out a few things that helped me (unfortunately you’ll have to figure out what works for you). For me, what worked the best were approaches I picked up from Alexander Technique. Noting, (hopefully without judgement), when I noticed that my body was telling me something, and (even more importantly), noting when I noticed that I was ignoring something my body was telling me. Don’t focus so much on changing, but merely noting.

Other good (fairly obvious) things to help you get more in tune with your body—exercise.

Also, slow down. If just for a week. Just slow down for a week. Try noticing more how things taste. Give yourself permission (for a week) to lie down if you notice you’re tired. Notice your breathing.

You also may want to read Zen in the Art of Archery.

Above all, know that this is a good and worthy thing to focus on.

wundayatta's avatar

Oddly, “listening” to your body can start with observing it. Or rather, paying attention to it. Pat attention to what you eat, and what you have cravings for. Your body knows what it needs, and it’s desires tell you something about what is going on. You may have to study nutrition in order to know how to interpret your cravings, but the information is there.

Pay attention to how your body feels. You can sit quietly and do an inventory every once in a while. Focus on each part of your body, starting with your feet and working up. See if you can send your imaginary breath through that part of your body (it’s a metaphor that helps you focus).

Sometimes you’ll feel a tingling (Asians might call this Chi) in various parts—usually your extremities. Notice the other feelings—the little pains or places of discomfort. Rearrange yourself to make yourself more comfortable. Let your body tell you how it wants to be. Use pain and absence of pain to be your guide.

Sometimes you muscles may ache and you have no idea why. Sometimes it’s because you exercised; sometimes it’s because you haven’t exercised; and there could be many other reasons.

Your body and your mind are not separate. You have nerves running throughout your body, and some of your thinking occurs in your body. The body knows things that your normal consciousness does not know. The body has difficulty communicating these things, because it doesn’t have language, but it is thinking none-the-less. If you were to lose a limb, not only would there be things you couldn’t do, there would also be things you could no longer think.

There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll save it for another question or a book or something. Hopefully these tips will be helpful.

thriftymaid's avatar

Well, just tune in.

ModernEpicurian's avatar

I would read some philosophical texts, they may help you to realise what you believe and just what your opinions are. These are crucial to knowing ones self. Once you have made that distinction, you will find that you are more able to tune into your mind.
Have a go, have a contemplate. It’s worth it.

filmfann's avatar

I don’t think “I am hungry”. I think “I want a taco”, or fish, or steak, or whatever.
I try to stay in tune with what my body is telling me it wants.

Ltryptophan's avatar

eat alot of beans, then get ready, you’re body is about to make some music!

Just_Justine's avatar

I think it is a good idea to do that, not many of us do. Also to listen to our feelings that is important too. I wish I was not so tuned out of my body.

EverRose11's avatar

I am all for Mediation, keeps you in-tuned with your body.

bookish1's avatar

I don’t have the choice not to listen to my body. I would have croaked years ago if I didn’t make this a priority.

I found that mindfulness meditation had the side-effect of making me MUCH more aware of when my blood sugar was high or low. I can even now feel the exact moment when my blood sugar stops dropping and starts increasing after I have treated with sugar!

SecondHandStoke's avatar

This is a very good question but it’s not one I can answer to another.

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