A few winters ago, I really really didn’t want to go to Edmonton and spend Christmas with my husband’s family. The only problem was that I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t tell them I’d rather stay home alone. I didn’t want to offend or hurt my in-laws, and I knew the long road trip over the Rockies would be easier for my husband if I went with him.
I didn’t know how to say no…but my body did.
In mid-November, I developed an alarming health issue. Now I can’t even remember what it was, but at the time it was painful enough to go to the doctor. After an X-ray and blood test that revealed nothing, my doctor recommended an MRI. A couple weeks later the hospital called to say the only opening they had was on Christmas Eve. December 24, 7 pm.
Of course I couldn’t say no to the hospital. It was a matter of life or death! I might die if I don’t get that test. And voila—I had the perfect excuse not to go to Edmonton.
I didn’t have the courage to tell the truth, but my body did. The MRI showed nothing wrong, and in January the health condition disappeared.
Now when I’m making decisions, I pay more attention to my body than my brain. I avoid mental gymnastics; instead, I tune into my body’s signals. I’ve even given her a name! Rosie.
Do You Trust Your Body?
When I’m making a decision—whether it’s to have soup for lunch or buy a condo in Saskatchewan—I listen to Rosie. She has my best interests at heart, and she doesn’t lie.
When it’s a “yes” I can feel Rosie expanding, rising and opening. Her heart lifts, her mouth smiles, her eyes light up. When it’s a “no” I can feel her withering, shriveling, tightening. Her stomach clenches, her shoulders round, her brow furrows. Sometimes she even physically pulls back, like a horse seeing a snake and rearing away.
Sometimes Rosie is subtle. I have to get still, go within and feel around. Like a doctor performing a physical examination, I prod and poke around. I ask questions about different scenarios.
For example, consider a difficult, painful or confusing decision about a relationship. I imagine interacting with the person. I picture myself in their company and wait for the sensations to arise.
Is Rosie energized and encouraged, grounded and peaceful? Physically, it feels like a gentle massage or a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Or perhaps it’s challenging in a healthy way, like a good long hike or a sweaty boxing class.
Some relationships leave Rosie feeling drained and demoralized, unnerved and jangly, exhausted and hopeless. She always tells the truth, and I’m learning how to follow her lead.
Caught Between Mind and Body
In Coping With Fear and Anxiety When You’re Scared to Fly Byron Katie talks to a man who loves traveling and meeting new people—his body is a yes! But his mind is a big fat no. He is tortured with fears about flying.
Katie has a way of reframing our ingrained, habitual, learned thoughts and beliefs. Her conversations have brought me more peace, freedom and joy than anything else I’ve experienced.
I also shared “He Made a Pass at Me at My Husband’s Funeral” – Byron Katie’s Conversation With a Widow.
Take good care of your body, because she is doing her best to take good care of you.
Thank you for this! I’ve had similar experiences and finally learned to listen to my body.