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Marc B. Levin

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Shift Your Awareness of Your Body for Wellness

Posted: 12/09/11 03:40 PM ET

You have the power to impact your own health, wellness and well-being. There are shifts you can make in how you think and act that will affect your health and wellness.

Our bodies are innately wise and have much to teach us about restoring and preserving our health if we are willing to listen. A symptom is more than an isolated event. It is a messenger from our body giving us a "heads up." Our symptoms can alert us to an underlying problem that needs attention. We can learn to be better at paying attention and understanding the message that we're being sent. Making a shift to view symptoms as our body's teaching assistants can be an awakening that creates an opening for implementing changes.

Your body is the most brilliant, insightful, caring, nurturing, intuitive, persistent, honest, knowledgeable teacher you have ever encountered. There is much to be learned if you pay attention to it.

Imagine that you're on a beach walking barefoot in the sand and you step on a shell with a jagged edge that cuts your heel. Your foot sends a message to your brain that something has happened, and you feel pain in the foot. You didn't see your foot land on the shell, but because of the pain you're now feeling, you know something happened. You are now in a position to assess the situation and choose what action to take. Perhaps you put a bandage on the cut if you happen to have one with you, perhaps you hop so as not to put pressure on the foot, perhaps you walk with the weight on your toes to reduce the pressure on your heel. Or perhaps you choose to walk normally and just endure the pain from each new step. Because your observer -- your mind -- was alerted to the injury to your foot, you had the opportunity to choose how to respond to it. If your observer didn't notice the pain, you wouldn't have been aware that you had a cut and would have taken no action. If you took no action, the cut might have become infected and progressed to a major medical condition that would have been avoided by treating the cut when it occurred.

Your body has just functioned as your teacher. It presented you with a situation in which you were free to ignore the pain and suffer the consequences or take appropriate action. You choose what you learn from the lesson.

Your body and mind are interconnected, and they impact each other. When you hurt your foot, your body shares this information with your mind, and you feel pain. When you're worried about something, there is a physical response in your body. When you're excited and happy, your body has a different physiological response.

Some people get sweaty palms when they're nervous. Some get a sharp pain in their shoulders and neck when they feel like they have "the weight of the world" on their shoulders. Some people get headaches when they haven't eaten properly. Some breathe shallowly and quickly when they're anxious about something. These are all examples of your body being a wise teacher and providing you with information that allows you to take appropriate action.

If your observer is alert and you notice the physical phenomena present in your body, you will obtain valuable information that you can use to impact your health and wellness. A pain that you're feeling may be the result of an external incident, such as banging your shoulder or cutting your foot; however, if there was not such an event, a physical ailment or change in your body's status could be caused by some internal condition. If you pay attention to your body and address early signs suggesting that something may be wrong, you may be able to prevent larger problems from developing. Addressing these larger, more serious problems may be more painful and costly and may require more invasive interventions.