In a recent conversation with a friend, I outlined some of my possibilities for the upcoming year and described how one of them made me feel like gagging. That option, I explained, immediately got crossed off my list of possibilities.
Paying attention—or, in other words, practicing mindfulness—allows me to notice physiological signals, the cues my body uses to help communicate with my decision-making mind.
The following short exercise is similar to what life coach Martha Beck teaches in her book Finding Your Own North Star, which helped me learn to recognize my body's messages to me. Give it a try right now:
- List five foods you cannot stand to smell or put in your mouth.
- As you read the list, notice how your body feels. What physical sensations arise?
- Write down words to describe your body's reaction to these foods. If you can summarize your description in just one key word, write it down.
- Now list five foods you love and savor without compare.
- Read your list of favorite foods and, again, notice the physical sensations that come up.
- Make a list describing your body's reaction to these foods; summarize with one key word if you can.
If, for example, my key negative word is "yukky," then I can practice noticing situations when I sense that "yukky" feeling. That same feeling might arise when I'm considering possible activities in which to participate, not just foods to eat. This sensation tends to signal: "Avoid this!"
Let's say my positive word is "glowing." I can practice noticing times when I get a glowing sensation, which can simply mean: "Yes!"
What does your body say to you? Do you have key sensations for "avoid" and "yes"? You're invited to share your experience in a comment below or at the community facebook page.
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