Thursday, April 25, 2013

Goalicious: using your body to set goals

How often do you listen to your body to help you set goals, make decisions, and maintain your health?

I just completed a major goal: receiving my master's degree and license to practice acupuncture. It's been 3 years and 3 months of heart-opening, brain-breaking work to get here. And my motivation all along was to live a life and a career in which I could move and breathe and work with ease in my body.

“Our bodies change our minds
Our minds change our behavior
Our behavior changes our outcomes.”
This quote is from a Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy. She speaks about how powerful and dynamic our bodies are, even when we’re not conscious of it.

Your body is incredible. It’s constantly picking up information through your senses and sending you messages. Here are some ways that paying attention to those messages can help you navigate daily life:
Setting goals
I’ve learned a new approach to setting goals: deciding how I want to feel rather than what I want to do. Setting a goal based on how I want to feel does two things: it clarifies my motives and allows room for several routes to achieve the goal. For example, I could set a goal of losing 10 pounds this spring. Or, I could examine why I want to lose 10 pounds. Will it make me feel lighter? Happier? If my motive is truly to feel lighter and happier, there are many ways I can work toward achieving that goal in addition to simply losing 10 pounds. I could check out a new class through Routeam. I could meditate. And I could seek out everyday experiences that bring me happiness.
A couple other people who are also talking about this concept: Danielle LaPorte and Samantha Dublin (aka Yogitastic).
Making decisions
I was recently talking with a friend who was torn between two job offers.
Through my training in acupuncture, I see first-hand how much of our mental and emotional turmoil shows up in the body. So I asked my friend, “How do you feel in your body when you think about each job?”
She called me the next morning to say that listening to her body helped her make the decision; thinking about one job made her feel sick while thinking about the other made her feel like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

Maintaining your health
By listening to your body you can auto-correct imbalances. For example, the flu doesn’t just come out of nowhere. Your immune system has to be struggling first in order to be susceptible to picking up the flu. When your immune system is flickering, you know your warning signs if you pay attention: feeling dehydrated, feeling exhausted, gnawing headaches. If you listen to these signs early and act on them (which is the hard part: clear your schedule, avoid junky food, fill up on water and go to bed), your body will thank you and can devote all of its energy to tackling the sick cells.
Here’s an exercise to check in with your body’s signals right now:
  • Collect the data: wiggle your toes, relax your belly, unfurrow your brows. Now go through each of your senses. Smell the air, see the colors in front of you, hear the nearest sound and the farthest sound that you can, taste what’s happening on your taste buds, feel your backside fully on your seat.
  • Analyze the data: Any areas in your body that are tight? Sore? Notice any senses that are heightened or dull?
  • Adjust: What can you adjust now to correct a symptom or simply relax?
I’m speaking from experience when I say that I believe you can use these steps all day, every day, to help you set new goals, to achieve existing ones, to make minor, mid-size, and major decisions, and to prevent or recover from illness.