3 Ways to Trust Your Body and Trust Yourself

“Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~Buddha

I trust that the body knows everything. It does. Absolutely.

Did you ever just get a feeling—maybe something in your body that tells you something is wrong or just not right? Or maybe it gives you hints of unfailing happiness, joy, and earth shattering love?

If we would stop giving so much power to the mind, the ego, and just sat still and tapped into our body’s wisdom, we’d experience a healing power so great that it could prevent or reverse illness, disease, hate, self-loathing, and perfectionism.

I’ve learned to listen closely to my lovely friend, my body. In the past I judged her, forced away any pain she tried to show me, and even shunned self-love. I used to beat her up with negativity, judgment, and ridicule.

I wish I could take back all that abuse. My body didn’t deserve all the mean words, hurtful thoughts, and even constant manipulation with unhealthy diets and exercise.

You see, I had an eating disorder.

It’s hard to talk about, but I’ve learned that it is just a part of me—it’s in my cells, and my body remembers.

I respect this and am able to let go and speak of my experience. This has taken a long time, however, but each time I bring up the truth, my body gives me a gentle squeeze and trust is deepened.

I’m not sure how my issues with food started, but I would bet it happened sometime in childhood.

When I was eight years old, someone I loved dearly told me that I was fat. I remember I was wearing my yellow cowgirl dance outfit (as I had a recital that day) when it happened. I was crushed.

I stopped eating.

I can remember writing down each item of food in a journal. I only allowed five things a day, such as one piece of toast or one stick of bubblegum.

Of course I was growing and I was constantly starving, therefore, I’d inevitably take a trip to McDonalds at the end of the day. I would feel defeated, then resentful of my body, telling her to listen and not eat so much. This went on for years.

When I got older, I tried every diet in the book, and after having my babies, things got worse. I constantly exercised, and I didn’t eat (or pretended to eat) in front of my kids. I avoided anything with sugar or carbs, so that means my lips didn’t even touch fruit.

I knew I had to get help. I didn’t want my daughter to see this. She was watching me. I didn’t want anyone to feel the pain I knew, especially my own child.

While my body kept trying to talk to me, giving me signs of exhaustion, my mind was taking over.

It wasn’t until I met with a counselor and joined a group when things started to click. I was the only one in the group who was anorexic. Everyone else was bulimic. I thought, “This doesn’t make sense…I don’t understand why they do what they do, and they don’t understand me. How can we help each other?”

We became a very close group. During our sessions, I realized we all had one thing in common: perfectionism. Our minds didn’t connect with our bodies. Our minds didn’t listen to our bodies. Our minds wanted to take charge, leading us toward the dark.

Over time I learned ways to tell my mind to “hush” and formed a bond with my body. I began to trust my body and let her take charge. My body led me toward the light. It was an awakening. I wasn’t fully living my life, and little by little, I started to breathe—to wake up.

I became more in tune with how food, meditation, and positive self-talk influenced my energetic being. I got closer to my body and let go. I let go of that perfectionism.

I let my body take care of me, keep me healthy, keep me dreaming of big wonderful things, and keep me on the road to healing. I’ve learned to love her and to listen very closely for guidance. She knows a lot. In fact, she knows everything about me.

Here are three ways to treat your body with care and to awaken your connection:

1. Listen to your body.

I mean really listen with your heart. If you are faced with making a choice, feel your body. Do you tense up? Or smile? Or feel at ease? So many times I fall into the unconscious trap and let my mind run the show of life. 

When I look back at times when I had to make decisions, I see my body was giving me the answers, guiding me. Practice being still, breathing, and taking note of what your body is trying to tell you.

2.  Replace the negative with the positive. 

This is the part where you develop trust. Many people (in fact, I bet every human on earth) think all sorts of not-so-nice things about their bodies, but there is a way to practice self-love and care by actually switching gears.

For example, if you say to yourself, “I can’t put on that bathing suit; my butt is too big,” the first thing to do is say (out loud), “Stop!”

Acknowledge the feeling, but say a thank you and replace the self-criticism with something gentle, loving, without judgment. This takes a lot of time, but slowly and surely your mind won’t take you to those dark places as often.

3.  Take action. 

Move your body by taking a walk, riding your bike, or even going surfing. Any way you can get out in nature and move will help you experience how magical your body is. It breathes for you, pumps blood without you knowing, just to keep you alive.

Use your five senses to take in your life—to connect to your body.

I woke up to my life. I now celebrate my body—her beauty, strength, and power. I look at her with compassion and gentleness. I am beautiful inside and out. I trust her.

My body, my trust. If I could pick only one thing in the world to trust, my body would win. Completely.

Treat your precious body with lots of care. Listen, connect, and trust.

Photo by Mike Baird

About Lisa Consiglio Ryan

Lisa Consiglio Ryan is the founder of Whole Health Designs. She provides detox programs and private coaching to help women embrace clean living. Join Lisa for her signature Renewal 10 Day Detox and check out her new program, Kickin’ It Clean virtual group and meal plans for plant lovers.

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  • lv2terp

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!!! 🙂

  • LisaConsiglioR

    Thank you so very much…thanks for letting me tell my story.

  • “Listen to your body’s wisdom. Become aware of the sensations in your body, and you will know the whole cosmos.”
    “Seek out that which makes you uncomfortable, for it is there that you will find opportunity for growth.”
    So, which one? :/ I really dislike these… spiritual dualities. Both are propagated. They confuse me much.
    For a thousand times I have done things which made me feel “uncomfortable” (tensed up, etc.), and my body was saying “No no no!” but then again I was often rewarded by feelings of peace, love, ecstasy, and all sorts of spiritual lessons (painful or not)… One cannot face fears if one listens to the body rehashing its ancient programming and yapping all the time. Wanna climb up a tall building and overcome that fear of heights? “NO!” the body would yell. “NO, DON’T YOU DARE, NO!” Wanna go out for a coffee, but your troublesome ex could be there? Again, the body would scream its “thousand NOs.” Having exams to prepare for, but the body says “Hey, relax man, let us finish this pinnacolada first…” Results of listening to body: still fearing heights, still fearing/disliking/reacting to ex, procrastinating with pretty much everything… etc.
    So, where do we draw the “uncomfortability” line?
    On the other hand, there were periods when I was absolutely going with what my body prescribed. The results? First, pleasure. Then, well-being, peace. Then? Utter boredom. My body seems to insist on not interacting with anyone, not going out (or seldomly so), retreating to read a book, etc. Now, where was this getting me? What did I learn, other than rest? What did I accomplish, despite pressing a “PAUSE” button on my life in general?
    So… I get very much confused by these spiritual advices: one says listen to the body and obey it, the other one says you are not the body but its master – disobey it (whenever you want to).
    So which advice is the more correct one? Or more useful? I find the contradiction most unhelpful – it produces dilemmas, which in turn the mind tries to untangle, but there seems to be no solution…?

  • MaryG

    “I mean really listen with your heart. If you are faced with making a
    choice, feel your body. Do you tense up? Or smile? Or feel at ease? So
    many times I fall into the unconscious trap and let my mind run the show
    of life. ”

    Much of this article is thoughtful and helpful. Although the above statement is a nice sentiment, it is really poor advice. We were given a brain for a reason and it is really about balancing the body/mind – not being guided around by your body. There are many times in life where we are faced with a body response of apprehension, anxiety and fear. An example is the many kinds of important life changes, life changes which can ultimately lead us to more satisfying and enriching life. If we were to ‘listen to our bodies’ the fear of change would surely keep us from ever reaching our full potential.

  • Liz

    Beautiful Lisa! Thanks for having the courage to share your story so openly so others can learn from you. We should definitely listen to our bodies more than we do!

  • I think this article introduces an interesting dialogue. I’m almost certain the author never intended militancy on any of the suggestions.
    Paying attention to the messages of the body is essential in self awareness and emotional health paying attention doesn’t mean blindly following physical impulses …
    The challenge with any spiritual guidance is that it’s never going to fit into a box and understanding that there are sometimes contradictions is part of the spiritual journey

  • S

    This has definitely sparked some interesting dialogue. But, this is absolutely beautiful.

    Everyone has their own way of finding balance between their body and mind. No spiritual journey is the same. Understand that if you’re seeking advice to find peace within yourself, seek with an open heart.

    Listening to her body has helped Lisa. It may not help others. The beauty of the spiritual journey is that there are no right or wrong. No good or poor advices. It is what suits the seeker best. Let it be.

    The reason there is a conflict between the body and mind is because we haven’t allowed them to because one. It is like a relationship, we need to let them learn how to compromise. If the body refuses what the mind wants, talk to it, compromise. Be gentle with the body. Vice versa. In a meditative state, you watch your thoughts as a third party. Do the same with the body and the mind. Let them learn to be one. Let it be.

    Seek advices with an open heart but never make other people’s journey a journey of your own. Find your own journey. Defining everything will only hold you back. Let it be.

    Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your story 🙂 Much love.

  • Finally someone wrote what the heck I’ve been thinking. Dushan you nailed it exactly. It does get confusing. My belief system says I was made in God’s image. Then I have fellow human beings telling me push through my fears and others telling me to find my zen. It does get confusing indeed. Not sure if there is a answer, I know when I read it I felt very calmed then got to your comment and agreed with it as well. I think as humans we’re just dual by nature and the universe. It just is what it is. I know finding a goal or purpose in life helps. When you have a goal/purpose that is bigger than you and gets you out of yourself the path to achieve that goal results in doing both the things you discussed. However, the goal allows you to stay focused on the longer.bigger picture while the exercises at places like tiny buddha can help you enjoy the journey a bit more. I firmly believe we are souls on Earth working on ourselves but I also believe we are created to be with one another and have a relationship with what you believe to be your God. I mean you can only become so zen to the point of nothing. I often wonder who God would want to spend more time with…A person who has obtained 100% zen and floats on a mountaintop or a classroom full of elementary kids who have just found out their dad’s coming home from the war. I’m sure God loves both but I guess my point is do what makes you happy and maybe achieve something outside of yourself also. Bill Gates is the richest man ever but he is far happier with who he is today because what he does for others. I think loving yourself and letting others including God love you is the most important thing a human can do/learn.experience. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

  • BlakeS

    For Derek and Dushan… I absolutely understand your conflict and your duality. I suffered from it myself, for years, and have come to the conclusion it’s a natural state we all pass through – although we probably all experience it in slightly different ways, as we go along our individual paths to self-fulfillment and meaning.

    Here, for what it’s worth, is what has helped me – and what, reading your posts, I feel may perhaps be missing for you. Connection. The sense of connection that arises when body, mind and spirit are in balance. That balance is hard to achieve and (for me, at least) impossible to maintain 24/7. However, with practises, such as meditation, yoga and affirmations, I’ve found a way to find that state of balance and be blessed with it in my life on more occasions than not. The practises I just listed, that I use, suit me – and suit many thousands of people – but everyone is different and you can only find the right practises for you by trying them, with an open heart.

    Once you find the right combination for you, you begin to surrender your ego and start to develop that state of balance. Then, with the balance, comes the sense of connection – and when one is connected, all conflicts and dualities quietly settle down. One learns that one can trust one’s body and follow its promptings as a daily, ongoing practise – but occasionally still take the sorts of risks (different for everyone) that open us up, as human beings, to new creativity and resources. Mind, body and spirit begin to work in partnership and trust of the whole develops.

    Lisa’s story tells us about her journey to balance and connection and is beautiful and eloquent – because it’s honest and comes directly from her heart. Anyone reading it with a similarly open heart can tell that and I want to thank Lisa for sharing her experience and wisdom. From what she says, her wisdom has been hard won – which isn’t surprising, because everyone’s always is. Balance and connection ain’t for wimps, because it’s always a challenging path to tread – surrendering the ego sounds simple enough, in theory, but in practise, the process always feels risky and usually feels frightening. It leaves us fragile – which can be an uncomfortable emotion to live with. And because everyone has a unique path, this journey through vulnerability is one we must all tread alone – no matter how much loving support one has, ultimately, no one else can tread the path for one. Lisa tells the story of how she treads the path – her story may not resonate with yours, because you must find your own way. But the advice she gives is wise and insightful, nonetheless, because it is a story of how she found her balance and connection… and every story of balance and connection – even if it isn’t entirely applicable to our own personal stage of the journey – shines a light for the rest of us.

    Wishing you both strength, peace, courage and insight for you own journeys. Namaste.

  • Olivia

    wow! best article i have ever read in a long time! thank you for this 🙂

  • Alyssa

    Thank you SOOO much for sharing your wisdom! Reading your story has warmed my heart! I don’t know you, but I have gratitude for you and your journey–for your lovely soul! I needed to read this today… and I am thankful for your bravery and for your sharing! 🙂 ~Much love!

  • Corinne Alford

    These entire set of feelings are so true. It’s a conundrum, but I have found my way out of it. And hope to help you (if you dare come back after 4 years or get this message). What I found was, your body/brain goes into relax vs. write your paper? Ultimately, we always give into the body because it is the vehicle screaming for maintenance. Even if your mind was screaming at you while you were at the bar, the body is ultimately choosing relaxation over getting a paper done because you have not relaxed! After running around all day, you then sit down to focus on writing the paper when you find you can’t focus on it. Why? What is going through your mind because that is what the body is screaming for you to handle. What does all of that mean? Your body is exhausted and your life is out of balance. You are doing too much. Therefore, your body FORCES you sleep or pick something that will take you there (alcohol).

    So what is the answer in that regard? You have to look into balancing your life.

    For example, I have been thinking about exercise. That lets me know that my brain is picking up signals from my body that it wants to MOVE! After observing my mind, I found myself saying, “Once you catch up with work, you can exercise afterward.” That equation does not make sense because I am finding my work is NEVER caught up. There is always more work to be done! So now I am realizing that I work way too much. I have let my brain take over and tell my body it will keep working. Meanwhile, my body is saying, “When can I go outside? Can we play now?” Now I have made a pact with myself. No more work once I leave the building. NONE. It will be there tomorrow. Now I feel free to go exercise and relax afterward. And my body has thanked me for it. I can actually focus better at work because I have listened to my body.

    I have found that our body sends signals to our brain which the mind translates to our spoken language. Once you hear the message, “Bathroom…potty…pee break…” You have the choice to accept the message or reject it. Very binary. Most of the time, we reject it. Which once the signals get rejected enough, messages start to jam and not make sense like a clingy nagging girlfriend. This is happening because you keep putting off accepting the message of ‘sleep’, of ‘exercise’, ‘eat this (craving)’. Learn to pay attention to those signals and acting on them. You will then be able to FOCUS on exams rather than your body saying, “You can’t focus when you’re hungry, sleepy, hating being indoors…”

    So take a moment and look at your life. First, start looking at the work you want to do. Why have you not been able to do it? What does your brain do when you try to do them? Observe mental self and see what dialogue is happening. Where did the dialogue start from? This will be your a-ha moment. I found that when I tried to do my work in the office, I was really sleepy. And I loaded up on caffeine to smothered that body signal. Once I realized I was staying up late to complete projects, I put the projects down. And I sleep more. And no longer crave coffee….and no longer crave sleep in the office.

  • melanie_sakowski

    Thank you so much, I’m overcoming an eating disorder and it’s become so prevalent through my space of clarity on my yoga mat just how disconnected I am from the pain in my body and my authentic self. Bless