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Knowing Your Body

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About six months ago, I did something to my shoulder. Assuming it was a muscle, I treated it as I do most "physical things" -- with yoga, bodywork and stretching.

While it hasn't gotten worse, it certainly hasn't gotten better. Thankfully, a new massage therapist (the previous three were unable to fix it) enlightened me: "Muscles don't stay static like this for six months. Something else is going on. Go see a specialist."

I did, and started physical therapy last week. And I learned something very important: that I haven't been in touch with my body. Or at least, not all of it.

Being a singer and a voice coach have given me the opportunity of being intimately aware of my body in ways that many people aren't. The breath, the chest, the throat, the back... I've spent endless amounts of time in the worlds of my own and others' voices, including all of the related physiology.

Yet as the therapist manipulated my arms, hips and legs in an effort to "hear" what was going on, I realized how intricate -- how amazing -- the rest of me is as well. And how much of myself I've been neglecting... I may stretch and get massages, but I don't take ownership of the processes. I haven't taken the time to understand the workings of my entire body and by extension, don't appreciate all that it does for me.

I never really stop to consider the miracles that it performs each and every day, until it stops performing.

Now, I find myself wondering... What does that cramp in my foot mean? What is my hamstring trying to tell me? That pinch in my lower back -- where is it coming from and what does it want me to let go of so that it, too, can release?

Over the years, I've seen the incredible benefits of placing awareness and positive attention on the vocal mechanism. What we mentally attend to -- even in the physical realm -- responds. Is the same not true for the rest of my body? For yours?

My tremendous thanks go out to Chris Shelley, as well as to Richa Doshi and Allen Wilkins at Manhattan Physical Medicine for their wonderful care and the incredible learning opportunity. From now on, I'll be taking care of not only my voice, but of the rest of my marvelous "instrument" as well.

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