Date of the last update: 21.12.2021
It is said that your body is a temple, a place where you should feel good. Psychology also points out the inseparable connections between psyche and body. Cultural content, however, often contradicts it by saying that the body is evil and sinful. Critical comments about our appearance frequently passed from our environment aren’t very helpful, either. All this makes many of us cut ourselves off from our bodies and ignore many important signals coming from them. Yet, you can also establish a relationship with it and simply live more happily.
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Getting back to your body
That the psyche and the body are strongly connected seems obvious. But our Western civilization has been greatly influenced by “Cartesian dualism”, which assumes that the body and mind are separate. The famous maxim “I think, therefore I am” points to the importance of intellectual processes. The ability to control the body to endure pain and hunger, along with asceticism, has always been respected. No wonder people keep focusing on their thoughts instead of what their body really experiences.
But you can’t fool your body. You can try to deaden it and divert your attention from it. But it is an integral part of every human being. It stores your memories and traumas and various emotions; your experiences manifest themselves through it, too. Coming back to one’s own body is thus a return to oneself. By establishing this relationship, you will be able to read the signals coming from the body correctly, take better care of yourself and understand your own states and emotions. It is also the first step towards self-acceptance and freedom from other people’s opinions or cultural content.
How to establish a relationship with your own body?
Having a relationship with your own body should be a priority, especially for people striving for mental balance and a greater understanding of themselves. But how to do it? It certainly requires persistence and patience. The good news is, however, that there are many effective methods.
- Mindfulness of the body. To start with, it’s simply a good idea to bring attention to your body more often. Just do a simple exercise every day to do this. Take a moment to focus on stimuli reaching your body; for example, concentrate on the taste and texture of food during a meal. Notice how your tongue, palate and stomach perceive the meal, what it smells like: This will help to increase your bodies awareness.
- Stimulating senses. To feel your own body better, you need to interact with your senses. To do this, you can buy scented candles, hang paintings on the walls, turn on your favourite music more often or get yourself some nice, soft clothes.
- Focusing on breathing. There’s a reason why various relaxation or meditation techniques bring attention to the breath. To begin, think about your breathing pattern and observe it. Is it deep or shallow? Do you use your chest or diaphragm for breathing? After some time, you can bring into your life various breathing techniques that will allow you to better communicate with yourself and help you cope with stress or anxiety.
- Conscious body movement. Many people take up sports or exercise regularly. However, their motivation is generally to look attractive and get in shape. It’s a good idea to let go of any goals from time to time and just focus on your body during exercise. How does it respond to exercise? When does it get tired? Which parts of the body are weaker and which are doing better? The point is to get to know your body, its capabilities and limitations better.
- Methods of working with the body. There are many effective methods of working with your body, for example, autogenic training by Schulz or Jacobson’s progressive relaxation. Both techniques can be used alone at home. There are also various workshops and therapies that focus on working with the body. It may sometimes be noteworthy to think of this form of practice.
Relationship with your body is a very important topic, and fortunately, it is gaining increasing popularity. It is not true that that humans are defined only by their thoughts. Our emotions and experiences are equally important. But because they are sometimes difficult to comprehend, we often tend to deny or ignore them. And the point is to tune your mind with your body and experience your “self” more fully.
Gonsalves K., How To Love Your Body: 20 Small Ways To Start, Even When It’s Hard, [in:] Mindbodygreen [online]. Available online: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17640/10-things-to-stop-doing-if-you-want-to-love-your-body.html (02/02/2021).