Understanding ourselves better through the body we live in
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Susanna Hoare UKCP Registered Psychotherapist
19th April, 20130 Comments
Many people want to understand themselves better and make sense of what is happening to them and maybe this applies to you. Making sense of our relationships and how we think and feel about ourselves requires a space in which to do that. Yet we live in a body but how often do we pay attention to how our bodies speak to us. Are we listening to it? Are we noticing the tightness in our shoulders, the compression in our chest, the holding in of our feelings? The ache in our heart? Are we noticing the way our body reacts to someone else’s anger to us? Are we noticing how we react to our own anger? Does our body shrink when criticised? Or maybe you don’t notice anything about your body, instead it seems trivial to pay attention to it.
Body and mind are connected through physiology and physical sensations. Our thoughts in our minds affect our feelings and create physical sensations which are felt in the body. Sensations might be in our muscles or noticed within our chest or stomach. Negative thoughts produce tightness and constriction and positive thoughts produce lighter, easier sensations. Our feelings whether they be joy, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, shame all are accompanied by physical sensations although sometimes we are not attuned to our feelings or to how feelings feel in our body. Instead we might feel numb and unable to recognise feelings.
The senses of touch, sight, sound, smell and hearing are also how we experience the world in which we live and our understanding of the world initially is formed through bodily sensations.
Mindfulness is a way of coming into contact with our body and paying attention in a particular way. This can be through our breath, noticing the rhythm of breath as it enters and leaves our body. Observing thoughts, watching the ones that catch us, and feeling the changes in our breath as more powerful thoughts distract or disturb us, observing sensations in our bodies and the feelings that accompany them. In this way we are becoming acquainted with our bodies in a different way. We are connecting and integrating our bodies and minds.
Tuning in to what are bodies are saying about our existence, and being able to say what we feel and feel what we say unlocks our relationship with ourselves and brings about a more connected way of being. Paying attention to our bodies and the connection with our minds helps us to recover our vitality. Listening to our bodies, taking care of what it is telling us can help to make our psychotherapy work better and be more connected. If we are connected and integrated with all parts of ourselves we are better placed to express ourselves more clearly and be heard.
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