Hi everyone, Joan here! Here is a long post for ya! 😉
Do you know how to listen to your body? Can you recognize when you need to stop what you’re doing, what particular food your body is needing, or what exactly is causing that neck pain?
For some years now, I’ve been learning to listen to my body. While I still don’t have it all figured out, here are some of my experiences that made me realize how important it is feel your body and do what it asks you.
When I started to play and study drums, learning the right posture, how to hold sticks, and how to move my legs and feet was pretty difficult. While different teachers had different ways to explain all this, ultimately, it came down to doing what my body wanted.
As I figured it out, I started teaching it to my students as well. These are some of the questions I remind them to ask themselves: Can I sit like this comfortably for an hour straight or longer? What can I do to relieve tension in my arms and shoulders? How can I adjust my fingers so that it feels effortless to play loud and fast? Are you breathing steadily the whole time? What can I do to make this feel as natural as possible?
When my students ask these questions, a lot of times, they develop great technique right away and I just guide them with adjustments if needed. I still ask myself the same questions! Sometimes when I practice, I’ll play a consistent groove for 30 minutes to an hour straight, and that really gets me to really listen to what I’m playing and pay attention to what my body is doing.
Another experience I had a few years ago was switching my drinking water. For most of my life, I drank tap water, filtered water and bottled water from conventional brands. But when I discovered reverse-osmosis water (which is basically dead water, but has no chemicals or additives) and natural spring water (which carries a lot of natural minerals and energy,) I noticed a huge difference in the taste and for some reason my body craved that water even more.
About three years ago, my husband and I made a conscious decision to only drink reverse-osmosis (we get our 5-gallon jugs filled from a local Co-Op store) and spring water if we ever are on the go. Since then, I’ve noticed that my mind has become much clearer, I feel like I am properly hydrated, AND I’ve been able to remember my dreams every single day (I’ll write another blog post on dreams!)
Now that I know what my body needs, if I drink anything other than reverse-osmosis or spring water, my body reacts. Sometimes I’ll go to a restaurant and drink their tap water and I’ll notice right away the chlorinated taste and I just don’t have the craving to keep drinking it. Certain bottled waters (like Lake Arrowhead, Dasani, Aquafina, etc.,) make my throat itch! Most bottled water brands have added ingredients such as magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and calcium chloride which are all inorganic salts. If you dig a little deeper, you might find that some of these ingredients may not be best for your body.
Now the big topic… is food! If I were to label my eating habits, I would say I am 90% vegan because about 10% of the time, I’ll have some dairy cheese. And to be honest, I have not craved meat at all and I don’t even miss it. I was surprised at how much flavors and nutrients you can get in just a plant based diet!
My husband and I went to Nova Scotia, Canada this past January to be with his family after the holidays. While the area was beautiful and cold AF, fresh produce was hard to come by and they bought A LOT of cheese. I found myself eating cheese practically everyday and started getting these sharp pains in my chest (the same feeling I had when I used to eat beef.) When I came back to LA, I cut out cheese and ate a clean plant based diet and lots of cold-pressed juice. After a few days, I never felt the pain again.
While I was already aware that cheese and I are not friends, I took a chance knowing I’d feel the side affects. This was a huge lesson to me on listening to my body.
And here’s a touchy subject: your thoughts and emotions. I’ll just go over this briefly as this requires a full on blog post on its own. But have you ever noticed how you body reacts when you are feeling a certain way or thinking certain thoughts? Maybe you’ll notice yourself tense up, have headaches or feel exhausted.
In the last few years, I really started to believe how much our thoughts and emotions can cause certain pains and dysfunctions to our physical body. I first realized this when I went to see a German holistic doctor and he put me in something he called the “Russian Machine.” In just a few moments, he was able to analyze specific thoughts and emotions I’ve been having, (YES thoughts) that caused my eczema and other skin issues. Because the “Russian Machine” was so accurate and it also told me to cut back on drinking whiskey, I CRIED. Since then, I was a believer.
I later found this book called “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. While this book is very controversial, especially when it comes to cancer, other diseases, diet, and external circumstances, I definitely found some truth in her work. I recommend checking it out and perhaps it can give you some insight on what you might have going on.
Here are a few random tips or reminders on what you can do that your body is probably already telling you:
- Don’t sleep on your stomach as it is not good for your spine and you’ll most likely wake up with a stiff neck.
- When looking at your phone or laptop, try to raise them up closer to eye level or don’t let your neck hang down. Looking down towards your lap for long periods of time causes the back of your neck muscles to pull which will also cause a stiff neck.
- Drink water throughout the day. I know I sometimes forget when I’m busy and then I’m always so surprised how thirsty I turned out to be!
- If you sit down for a long time for work, try to sit up every 30 minutes or so and stretch. Remember that asian squat picture at the top? It feels really good after sitting for a long time.
- Pay attention to your addictions (sweets, alcohol, empty carbs, junk food, etc.,) and instead of giving in, give it up for that moment. Your body will thank you later.
- Eat slowly and savor every bite of your meals. Your body does not need as much food volume as your eyes may think! ;P
- Get off of social media when you find yourself getting dizzy from scrolling for too long. (my problem really… lol)
I know this was a long one, but I’ve been wanting to share this for a while. Again, I am still learning and looking for new knowledge everyday. But when it comes to your body, I truly believe you can heal yourself. With every itch, pain, or discomfort, your body is speaking to you. You just have to start from within, and listen.
Hope you’re all doing well and staying healthy!