Imagine a messenger arriving on horseback from the frontline, with a message that the King’s troops are being overwhelmed and need to be sent relief. He arrives at the castle door and demands that the guards let him in.
The guards initially refuse and instead ask the King if he’d like to speak with him. The King says no, because he doesn’t want to hear the bad news.
The messenger bangs more and more loudly on the door refusing to leave due to the importance and urgency of his message. Eventually the guards concede and open the doors. The messenger bursts into the court room, drops down on one knee and delivers his message “My Lord, our men are under attack on all sides and needs urgent reinforcements.”
The King runs him through with a sword and asks the court jester to pour him a drink and do something funny.
What a foolish thing for the King to do! Ignoring the problem is only going to make matters worst, right?
Our body is also giving us messages all the time, but not in English. They might come in the form of, pain, tension, headaches, itching, irritation, restlessness, dry skin, back spasms or tiredness.
We often prefer to ignore these signals because we deem them unpleasant or inconvenient. Instead of asking the question “What is my body telling me it needs right now?” We prefer to take a pill, have a biscuit or a double gin and tonic to try to make the feeling go away. Unconsciously, we’re felling our body to F off.
When we ignore the notifications, the messenger knocks at the door more loudly. What start as gentle nudges can turn into severe pain or illness, which we then try to get rid of with medication.
With mindfulness, instead of doing battle with your body, you learn to befriend it. You learn to listen to its soft whispers and to treat it’s louder protestations with curiosity and kindness.
Instead of an inconvenient truth, it becomes a compass that guides you towards people, places, practices, food and pastimes that nourish rather than deplete you. You learn to trust your body to know what’s best for you, rather than continually over-ruling it with the mind.
When you feel tired, instead of more caffeine, you choose to rest. If your job makes you miserable, you do something to change it. When a relationship is stressful, you address it. Instead of reading what other people think you should eat, you adapt your diet according to how different kinds of food make you feel.
Ask yourself what your body is telling you right now. Chances are, it’s been complaining about something for a while, and you haven’t wanted to know. It might take some effort or courage, but you and I both know it’ll be worth it.
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