Our world today is plugged in 24/7. A person without a phone is like someone missing a limb. TV is on 24 hours straight. If you don’t like a show there are literally 1000s to watch at any time of the day. There is even news at the gas station – just in case, in the 10 minutes it takes to fill up, you might miss something really important like the low price of milk. Our world is filled and fast. Slow is seen as old fashioned and behind the times. We laugh about when it took minutes and not seconds to download something on a computer. We joke about “snail mail”. Beware, all that flash and bling can blind us from our true selves.
In the down time is where you find your own personal GPS. Your body gives you all kinds of feedback during the day - but you must listen to it. It will tell you if you are hungry or full, if you are tired or rested, if you are stressed out or happy. It may feel open and loose when you are being true to yourself and feel tight and closed when something is not right. Each person’s internal GPS will be slightly different and made just for you. You will be the only one who can figure out what the signs and signals mean. But to do so you must listen.
Our society loves brainpower. It emphasizes being smart and doing well in school. We teach our children math and science and computers. I want us to consider that we should also teach our children about their internal guidance systems. How they are each special and different and will get guidance from their body. And that to make good decisions takes listening to not only your mind but also your body and putting all of that information together helps you navigate through life.
But you can’t teach something you don’t know. And you can’t know if you don’t get quiet. I encourage you to unplug and start to listen in. Try finding 10 minutes in the day where you can just be quiet with yourself. Once you get the hang of it you can check in with yourself in just minutes. I call them body scans. I stop – take a slow relaxing breath and then ask myself how I am feeling at that very moment. First I check out how my body is feeling physically and then how my mind is feeling mentally. I don’t judge what I find. I just allow the information to show up.
If you haven’t learned how to listen to your own body it will feel like you are learning a foreign language. You may feel something but you aren’t sure if it is a feeling or perhaps gas. Are you hungry or did you just feel a muscle spasm? Are you full - how does that feel and where do you feel it? How does satisfied show up in your body? It takes experimenting and guessing at first. It is like you are your own personal mystery to be figured out. But once you start to figure yourself out it is awesome! You learn you are your own personal expert. You can use the information you learn to guide you towards self-care. It feels empowering.
I have learned that when I don’t want to deal with my issues I will start to not allow myself down time. I am basically telling myself to go away until I can listen better. The busier I am the more I want to completely avoid something. My body tells me I am stressed with tight muscles, shallow breathing, and poor sleep. Fortunately, I know this so I can stop myself from avoidance and make time to get quiet and face what I am avoiding.
I argue that having the skill to listen to your body is just as valuable or even more valuable than knowing computer science. For computers only compute the information that is imputed.
I am old enough to remember when TV stopped at night. When stores were closed on Sundays. When people wrote letters. When there was only one car in a family and people had to walk places. When it was a little easier to get to quiet time.
Unplug – it’s worth it
by Sarah Gold, MS, RD, LDN
Sarah Gold is an intuitive eater, dietitian, chocolate lover, and dog lover,