Can you hear it? Your essential self—genetic legacy, tastes and talents, the core you that makes decisions from a place of love—talks to you through your body. Our essential self goes beyond the language and logic of the social self.
Guess what? The verbal, logistical, analytical, numeric brain processes about 40 bits of information per second—very impressive! The non-verbal part is processing about 11 million bits of information per second. Yup, our essential self–heard through our body–has MORE information than our social self.
So why don’t we listen to that side of ourselves more often? Oh, we can list a whole range of influences:
The amygdala/lizard brain gets too loud
Social pressure to be more, do more, have more, impress more.
Fears that we’ll end up poor and living in a box on the street.
Overidentification with thoughts
Potentially, anxiety patterns that began in the womb
How to hear your Essential Self
I’ve always been dictated by my body. Deep and debilitating anxiety growing up—and especially as a teen—made it impossible for me to ignore the messaging my body was firing my way. I tried a lot of things: Talking my way out of it—in my own head. Therapy. Sitting on the floor with my hands feeling my belly expand and deflate as I breathed. Pilates. And then yoga. Once I began my trek down the mind-body-soul path to whole health (to borrow a phrase from www.myyogaonline.com), I finally found freedom. It was simple: I needed to listen to my body. It had been guiding me all along.
Less sugar, more protein and whole grains. Less stillness, more movement. Less planning, more being. Less making, more receiving. Less thinking, more breathing. Now I make every major decision in my life based not on what my language-based, analytical mind tells me but on what my non-verbal part tells me. I go with my gut—not my fear-based thoughts and reactions.
Life Coach Martha Beck has designed a comprehensive, effective tool to help EVERYONE learn how to hear the conclusions of their non-verbal self—based on that 11 milliion bits of information per second.
THE BODY COMPASS
Draw a line on a piece of paper
At one end, write + 10, at the other write – 10. IN the middle is 0.
Think of a negative experience that you’d consider a – 8 on the scale, something not totally terrible, but not something good.
Get right into that place, remember everything about it, get all your senses going.
Scan your body, from top to toes, noticing every sensation everywhere.
Name this group of sensations.
Then do some deep breathing, shake it out, and get yourself back to a neutral state.
After you’re back and neutral, get yourself into a positive + 8 situation: something not ecstatic, but pretty darn good.
Go through the same body scan, and come up with a name for that group of sensations.
Next up: next time you have a decision to make, imagine each variation of outcomes. Get right into each one, and then do the body scan. Which choice takes you closer to that + 8 feeling? That’s the one your essential self is telling you to take.
Here’s a list of decisions I’ve made using my body compass:
Quitting my former dream job. I told the Editor in Chief I “just want to help people live healthier, happier lives.”
Deciding to sign up for yoga teacher training.
Applying for a position with www.myyogaonline.com
Deciding to sign up for Life Coach training.
Saying “yes” to an invitation from a very handsome chiropractor to meet to “talk business.”
How have all these choices turned out? The best ones I’ve ever made.
Strengthen your compass. Practice with anything: apple or orange? Up at 6 or 7? Bus or walk? Just like willpower, your body compass gets stronger when you practice using it on little things.
Invitation: Listen to your body talk. Find your freedom.