For years I had a mysterious pain under my shoulder blade. At its worst the pain was so bad my whole back was tense and cramping. I frequently went to different doctors and my osteopath for help, and also took muscle relaxants, but none of that really helped. Eventually the problem faded away on its own, only to return at a later date.
During that worst time I was looking for causes on the physical side only, not realizing that at the same time I was emotionally and mentally in a really difficult place.
The body is wiser than we realize. Our emotions and thoughts always manifest in the body one way or another.It’s easy to notice when you’re for example scared: Your heart starts speeding and suddenly you’re breaking out in cold sweat. Thoughts alone cause reactions in the body as well, just imagine biting into a lemon!
Listen to your body
Problems arise when your mind doesn’t notice the reactions in the body, or doesn’t understand them. What happens when your emotion gets overlooked? Well, it builds up – and can eventually manifest for example as a painful cramp under the shoulder blade.
When I started learning about body awareness and how to release built up emotions from the body, I also started understanding where my pain was coming from. Everything I was going through was so difficult that the muscles in my back were reacting to that without me realizing it. Still, at that time I wasn’t quite ready to understand which emotions and needs had originally caused the pain.
Years later, when I had learned to understand my body much better, my old pain returned after having been absent for a long while. At that time I was able to connect the sensations in my body to a specific situation where I hadn’t been defending myself. My body pointed out that my boundaries were crossed, and this time I knew how to listen.
I also figured out what exactly my body had been trying to tell me years ago, when the pain first started: Back then I also had been focused on understanding everyone else’s point of view and had overlooked my own needs.
Learning happens in small steps
Body awareness first and foremost helps you understand yourself better and recognize emotions and needs. Slowly you’ll start gaining more and more awareness and understanding.
If the concept is completely new to you, I advise starting very small. Learn to notice your breathing and paying attention to different parts of the body in turn. The goal is to notice how your body feels, especially the parts which you normally don’t really pay attention to.
Notice any feelings of tingling, temperature or pressure, if anything feels tense and how relaxed you are.
When you start getting the idea of being present with parts of your body, you can learn to notice how the sensations change in emotional situations. Remaining in your body in the middle of an emotion is not easy, but the more you practice, the more familiar your body and its reactions will get. Concentrating on your breathing helps to move your attention to your body.
How does nervousness feel in your body? How about anger? Where in your body each emotion is? Can you locate them?
After you’ve practiced enough, it’s easier to be aware of your body and listen to it – ask yourself what is happening and why.
If, for example, when you’re talking to someone you notice your shoulders tensing, it’s likely that there is something in the conversation that your body is unconsciously reacting to. What is your body telling you?
Often the answer both surprises you and on hindsight is completely obvious!
I can help you learn more
Developing better body awareness is also one of the first steps towards finding better confidence and getting your own voice heard, and it doesn’t need to take years like it did for me. With my coaching program I can help you learn ways to deeply listen to your body and yourself. You’re welcome to a free assessment to find out if it would work for you too!