Tools for listening to your body and osteoporosis
One of the things I pride myself on is listening to my body, so you can imagine my horror when I discovered I had osteoporosis and two compression fractures. How had I missed the signs? In my defence, I was dealing with a pain in my ribs which I assumed was unconnected and the osteopath I was working with told me that my spine was ok. This is a big fat lesson in paying more attention to everything. Lesson learned!
What about you? Have you tried listening to your body? There is a lot of advice about how to hear what your body is saying. It’s all useful. However, you have to discover the way in which your body speaks to you. If you have tried numerous ways and they are not working, it is simply that you haven’t found the right way for listening to your body, you have given up too soon, and don’t trust what you are hearing.
Listening to your body is not difficult, more that we make it difficult by not having the faith that we can hear.
Take a moment now and scan your body in any way that feels right. What do you notice? Anything? Any words come into your head? Pain? Tingles? Tiredness? What?
Every day millions of signals are being sent around your amazing body. Think about this, how do you know when you need water or food or what time to go to bed? That is your body telling you ‘hey, I’m hungry or sleepy.’ What you do next with the signal is up to you. Even when your body says it’s hungry, you may punish it for speaking by feeding it a Mars bar instead of something nutritious. Then there are the signs that something more serious is happening, and if you do not heed these messages, then chances are you will get a communication that you do not enjoy.
Signs that something is wrong, and you are not listening to your body
No pain, no gain?
I used to train like a nutter, going for the burn and pushing myself further and further. It is no wonder that there were times that I didn’t want to get up at 5 am and head to the gym. However, I rarely listened, fearing that I would lose my fitness if I didn’t go. Afterwards, I’d tell myself that it was enjoyable.
It wasn’t until in my early 30’s did I slow up and then it was only because my body said no more. It put out signals that I had pernicious anaemia. As my great grandmother had died from it, somehow it made sense. One day not long after my 3rd B12 injection, I heard a small voice saying ‘you don’t have it, you’ve stressed your body, eat differently and try to relax.’ Being the curious and competitive type, I set out to prove that I did not have this illness. 12 months later and I was proven right.
This was not the first time that I was to prove the doctors wrong after I had not listened to my voice. It was also not to be the first time I changed my diet to find a solution. My problem was that although I learnt that nutrition was one of the keys I consistently waited until pain came.
These days I notice and journal about the pain and what I think it is saying and I act immediately.
Pain is a huge signal that you are not listening to your body
Pain can come from an immediate trauma (you fall over), from a hidden and neglected emotional issue, from a fracture from the silent dis-ease osteoporosis. When we choose to ignore emotional issues they find a way of screaming at you and no surprise that a body part starts to hurt. I do also wonder if accidents are a way of highlighting an emotional issue?
Think of this, if you are under constant stress your body releases cortisol constantly and this is not good for your bones. Often people who are stressed reach for the bottle or sugary snacks and guess what? Yeah, not great for your bones.
There are many books that you can refer to which will tell you what the underlying emotion for a presenting physical pain is. These as I have said before, are a good start, in that they get you exploring and thinking. However, you must find your answers and you can only do this when you get to know your body intimately.
Explore your body as you read this, is there a pain or niggle anywhere? Ask it (I know that might seem silly, but try) why it is hurting. Trust what comes back. I pulled a muscle in my back with a resulting stabbing pain and when I asked I was told that I had been stabbed. It wasn’t the first time that I had experienced this stabbing, nor been told that I had been stabbed in a past life; I had just forgotten.
When I went inside this time to explore. The words came back that this was related to a past life, which has come forward now as a wise counsel. I learned that I needed to slow down, and I had to stay away from needy, bullying people. Again this was not the first time my back has reacted to this kind of individuals. I had a pattern of attracting people that were not right for me.
Remember this, osteoporosis is a silent dis-ease and you may not have any pain, but you may have a niggle in your back or hip, get them looked at and have blood tests. Find out before it’s too late.
Not sleeping properly is a clear sign that something is amiss. Persistent insomnia is telling you that you have something to address. When I wasn’t sleeping in my perimenopausal years, it turned out to be because of an undiagnosed thyroid (overactive) issue. After not sleeping for two years, I radically changed my diet (again), and as I started to feel better, I was determined to find out why. I don’t know why, but I do know now that the doctor at the time had ignored my blood test results telling me that all was well. However, through changes I made, I sorted it out. Naturally, I wish that I had changed my diet immediately rather than after trying far too many other solutions.
When my spine fractured I figured out that I needed to make my bed as comfortable as possible to that my sleep could continue the healing process. I have good pillows, one of which is under my knees. The bedroom is dark and airy. I’m using a fit watch to monitor my sleep and delighted to find that I am getting good quality sleep.
“Learning to make space for the breath is fundamental to health. The mind and breath are intimately connected. Our practice should open the heart, calm the mind and expand the breath. If we can do that, we open the door to managing stress, reacting less and sleeping well” Anandi
Tired all the time
Being tired all the time seems to be an epidemic. So many people say that they are tired. Chances are they are eating a rubbish diet, not drinking enough water, not taking time out or getting any fresh air. Getting back to a fully topped up battery may seem like an uphill battle. Too weary to prepare nutritious food that your body wants, you may find yourself eating high sugar snacks. All these do is wreck your system. Even if your diet is good, it could be that you are not eating often enough and working all hours. Not only can this be through poor nutrition, but it can also be because you are failing to nourish your soul. Only you can know what is making you tired if you take the time to trust, listen with open eyes and ears.
As you heal osteoporosis you may feel tired. As you change your diet and focus your energy on healing you can feel fatigued. I have noticed that healing fractures has really taken it out of me.
Can’t be bothered to eat
I have been guilty of this. Busy with my nose in my writing or rushing to finish something I ignore the signs that I need watering and feeding. Later when I stop, I find that I can’t be bothered to prepare something good and go for crackers and cheese. After that doesn’t satisfy me, I reach for something else quick, only to wish that I had bothered to prepare a delicious meal. This laziness can become a not so good habit which in time depletes your body of its vitality and leads to feeling tired, not sleeping or any number of aches and pains. It’s way too easy to lose touch with your body’s signals about what it wants to eat. This is also a way of punishing yourself for something else – what might that be?
As soon as I found out that I had osteoporosis, I knocked this reaching for cheese and crackers on the head. These days every meal is carefully considered and prepared.
Heartburn or indigestion
If you experience these, it is your body telling you that you have eaten something it doesn’t like. Pretty obvious isn’t it? It is also your body telling you that there is something in your life that you are not digesting. Make a note of when this happens. Is it after certain foods or following interaction with someone or something or a combination of things. Just in case you are wondering, yes I have suffered from this and yes I did change my diet.
Gut health is vital to healing osteoporosis, find out what is causing this. It may be that you have low stomach acid and can address it with apple cider vinegar or a digestive enzyme. It may be something else, find out and heal it naturally.
Can’t think clearly
Lack of energy, not sleeping, and not nourishing yourself will ultimately lead to a fuzzy brain. Your stomach is your second brain and where you process food and life. If what you put in is not providing the right nutrients, or that you are not absorbing them then it is no wonder you cannot think. Your brain needs water and glucose. If you refuse it water, for example, it will send out distress signals, which invariably you will interpret as hunger. Fooled into thinking, you are hungry; typically you will reach for a sugary snack. Ouch, once again you have punished your body for talking to you and further fuelling your cloudy vision.
Water is essential to healthy bones and clear thinking. Start to drink water properly now and remember it can take a long time to get your body off dehydration alert.
Listening to your body can start right now
As you can see your body has many blunt ways of communicating with you. It starts off whispering and when you don’t listen, clobbers you quite violently. It says ‘tough you didn’t listen, so have this, bosh!’
Now is as good a time as any to start to communicate with your body. No matter where you find yourself, make a choice right now that no matter how hard this seems at first, you will get connected and stay connected.
Tools for listening to your body
Before you can hear anything you need to be in a relaxed state. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to have a bath. Other methods include massage, reflexology, walking, meditating and sitting quietly in a space that promotes calm. There is something quite powerful about the simple life.
I’ve learnt an incredible amount about breath from my amazing client and friend Anandi (aka The Sleep Guru). She has written called Breathe Better, Sleep Better.
It describes the five vayus (five parts of prana or breath) and how breath can promote wellbeing and sleep. What Anandi and my current yoga teacher, Maya, teach are ways to connect to the breath and how to send it to different parts of the body. In using the breath in a variety of ways, you create a space for communication to occur. Put your hands on your tummy and practice breathing into your hands. Keep it slow and steady and if rubbish comes into your head, count. As you find ways to connect to your breath, you will hear your body talking to you.
I am not quite sure how to describe this. What I do is connect to my third eye which is between my normal eyes and send it off around my body exploring what is going on. You can send it into all of your nooks and crannies. Have an open mind to what comes back. Like the breath, you’ll get all kinds of information coming back to you.
Place your hands on the spot that hurts and ask ‘what’s going on, what do you want to tell me, what else do I need to know?’ Your hands are fabulous communication transmitters. I often put one hand on my heart and one on my solar plexus and have a chat.
Voices in your head
Sitting quietly contemplating some of my aches and how I could support my body, I received a message ‘pea protein’. At this point in my life, I am quite used to getting odd words or pictures in my head, so as soon as I heard this, I went to explore it. As a veggie, it was my bodies way of say here is another source of protein that will be useful, please buy me some.
All kinds of messages can come in dreams. How you interpret the words and pictures are as individual as you are. Again, dream books are useful but more useful is asking yourself what the images mean to you. You dream in metaphors, and these are particular to you. I once dreamt of a thing called a yarrow pea; it was enormous. When I researched yarrow, I discovered that it was excellent for hot flushes.
Tingles in your tum
When I am planning something to eat, I ask my tum what it wants. Yeah, I know barking mad. However, as I start to pull a dish together, it gives me a signal of what to put with what. And who am I to argue with a tummy?
A tool that I was introduced to almost thirty years ago is a pendulum. Today I have many and use the one that I feel attracted to for the question I have. I will make a video to show you how I use it shortly. Your pendulum connects and communicates with your unconscious and responds with a yes or no to a question. I typically use it which foods to eat when. Again more on this in another blog.
Which tool is right for listening to your body?
The only advice I can give you is that you try things out and find out what works for you. My favourites are writing, musing, my hands and my pendulum. However, I am grateful for the words and pictures that come seemingly unbidden.
Stop ignoring your body
This human container which is made up of energy which is connected to and resonates with the Cosmos and therefore all wisdom. It has its own innate divine wisdom and as such is an incredible device for telling you what you need to know. Acknowledge it, love it, work with it and you will receive the knowledge about how to improve your well-being.
Begin today. Like anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Ultimately, only you can listen, and work out what your body is saying and which tools to use. Are you listening to your body?