Our body is our most reliable guide to happiness. Whereas the mind lives in the past and the future, the body resides in the now and never doubts itself. It knows the truth and will guide you toward the most evolutionary choices. As modern dance pioneer Martha Graham once said, “The body never lies . . . it says what words cannot.”
By listening to your body’s signals, you can gather valuable clues that will guide you to greater happiness. Developing awareness is key because so many of us were taught to ignore our body as we were growing up. We may have received the message that our mind was the most valuable part of ourselves. If you have been living “from the neck up,” rediscovering the wisdom of the body will be particularly rich and rewarding.
Exercise: Get Grounded
One powerful way to expand your awareness is to ground yourself in your body. Whenever you feel distracted or triggered by a situation or event, tune into the feelings in your body. For instance, if you receive an unexpected bill and your normal reaction would be to feel angry or anxious, try this simple yoga pose known as Tadasana or Standing Mountain.
1. Begin by standing* with your feet hips width apart, the big toes slightly turned in. Engage your thigh muscles and lift the knee caps.
2. Align your body by having the knees above the ankles, the hips above the knees, the shoulders above the hips, the ears above the shoulders. The crown of your head is reaching up toward the sky.
3. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Lift your ribs up from the waist. Your feet are firmly rooted on the ground. As you feel your connection to the earth beneath you, you become as steady as a mountain. Slowly lower your hands to your sides.
4. Now take a deep breath, close your eyes, and let yourself feel the sensations in your body. Focus your attention on the waves of sensation until they disappear.
By pausing and becoming aware of your body and the present moment, you’re breaking a conditioned pattern of stimulus-response. As you breathe, your body is reminded of its natural state of harmony and self-regulation, and this grounds you.
*Note: If a standing position isn’t available to you, you can receive the same grounding benefits of mountain pose by performing a modified version of it in a chair. Root your feet on the ground and stretch your arms upwards and then lower them to your sides. Close your eyes and follow the rest of the instructions for focusing on feeling the sensations in your body.
Cultivating Your Intentions
An intention is a choice to move in a particular direction. This week we’ll focus on three practical intentions for creating increased awareness of your body.
1. I make choices to maximize the energy in my body.
Your body is your connection to the infinite supply of energy in the universe. If you’re feeling any kind of lack, it is because you’re resisting the flow of this infinite supply. Ask your body what it needs and follow its guidance.
2. Before I act on any emotion, I will consult my heart.
Your heart is the seat of emotional intelligence and it is a reliable guide when you trust it. Tune into your heart throughout the day, particularly when you have a decision to make. Put your hand on your heart and pay attention to any subtle sensations or feelings that signal a “yes” or a “no.”
3. Lightness of being in my body will be my indicator of happiness.
This week, begin to pay attention to the sensations in your body. If you feel heavy or dull, make shifts, no matter how small, to let go of old patterns so that you can open to the freshness and pure potential each moment holds. Give your body what it needs the most, whether that is more restful sleep, life-giving nourishment, the joy of movement, or communion with nature.
This week at the beginning and end of each day, read these intentions and let the words sink deep into your consciousness. As you move throughout your day, pay attention to your body and, as best you can, tune into its messages and act on its guidance.
The Mind-Body Connection
In today’s guided meditation Deepak Chopra shares how the process of meditation can help you return to your baseline status, releasing toxic emotions and thoughts, and moving your body into a state of self-repair and greater wellbeing.
Consciousness in Motion
Move Your Body Every Day
Physical activity is one of the most powerful, natural ways to connect to your body, elevate your mood, and release stress. The body loves to move and experience the release of endorphins and other chemical messengers that create feelings of well-being throughout our entire physiology.
This week, have the intention to enjoy some kind of physical exercise each day – ideally for at least twenty minutes. If you loathe the thought of getting on a treadmill, don’t do it! Choose activities that appeal to your sense of fun and adventure. Here are a few ideas:
- Practice yoga.
- Jump on a trampoline.
- Hula hoop to your favorite music.
- Learn how to belly dance.
- Try kayaking or paddle boarding.
- Run in the sand along the ocean.
- Rollerblade in a park.
- Play tag with your kids.
- Take a brisk walk in nature.
- Take a class you’ve never tried before, such as kickboxing, spinning, or Zumba.
- Go salsa dancing.
- Join an adult softball, baseball, or soccer league.
We invite you to explore and share your ideas for physical activities that fill you with joy on the Chopra Center’s Facebook community >>