Updated: Apr 23, 2022
Our bodies talk to us all the time. Most of us know the basics of what it is saying.
Butterflies in the stomach mean, “I’m nervous.”
Sneezes are, “I’m allergic to that,” or maybe, “I’m getting sick.”
Headaches could be, “I’m really tired,” or, “The light is too dim,” or even, “I need coffee.”
Rumbling in the belly is, “I’m hungry.”
These signals are pretty universal and easy to interpret. Most of us can feel and respond to them without too much effort. Communicating just at this level, though, is like communicating with a toddler. The vocabulary is pretty basic. The information is bare-bones. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that your body is not a toddler and is actually able to communicate at a PHD level. If you spend your life talking toddler language to it, you are missing out on a whole lot of advice it could share. If you take the time to learn the body’s unique language, there is a wealth of information available to you.
In his fascinating book The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. examines how trauma and life experiences are encoded in the brain and body for a lifetime. Through extensive medical research and clinical practice, he explains why people who have suffered trauma find it hard to live within their own bodies. Whether or not an event is consciously remembered, the body keeps a record of all past events. Major and minor traumas can show up years later as pain, disease, depression, anger, and more. The author’s clinical work is focused on finding new ways to communicate with the body to understand the trauma and integrate it more harmoniously into the body and mind. Although he never mentions energy work, many of the therapies he discusses locate and release the emotional and physical energy of past events.
Research also supports the idea that all experiences are encoded in the brain. It has discovered that the limbic system is in charge of categorizing all past events and labeling them as “safe” or “unsafe” and storing the information for future reference. In addition, the hippocampus encodes the timing of each event. That means that everything you have experienced in your life along with the exact time of each experience is somewhere in your brain! Even events that you cannot consciously recall are still there.
This is important for energy work because it is the scientific basis for why your body knows what you need. Every event and its timestamp is encoded in your body as memory, emotions, smells, sensations, etc. Essentially, every event has associated energy signatures and each one, from the highly traumatic to fairly mundane, has the potential to create blocks in your energy system. The body can work around some small blocks, but the larger energy blocks (or many tiny blocks) build up over time creating disruptions in your ability to heal.
The body is always aware of what is going on and tries to send you signals that a present or past event and its associated energy need to be resolved. It might start with signals like being tired, a headache, sore muscles, or weakness in one area. It’s the body’s way of saying, “Hey, something is not OK here, I need your attention!” The problem is that most of us either ignore these signals (perhaps by taking a painkiller and moving on) or pay attention to them without having any idea what to do about them. The result is often that the body does not get the relief it needs. At this point two things can happen. First, the body can give up, find a way to work around that energy block, and continue functioning as well as it can. This creates deeper layers of energy issues that, eventually, just cause additional problems in the future (possibly leading you to the second option). The second option the body might take is to ramp up the signals it is sending you to get your attention. Now being tired becomes chronic exhaustion, headaches might turn into consistent migraines, or sore muscles become debilitating pain. This leads you down the path to surgeries, diseases, conditions, daily pills, and more.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to find out what your body is trying to tell you?
If you can learn to communicate with your body, you will have access to a wealth of information about what is going on inside. You can learn what energy block is keeping you from healing and what the body needs to clear it. There are an increasing number of “alternative” therapies and holistic practices out there that do this. I’ve tried quite a few of them, but personally I love energy work the most. By using energy work you can get in touch with your body again and start to learn its language. As you learn to communicate with your body, the more you are able to work backward in time, clearing out old blocks and opening your body up to healing again. This may look like doing emotional work to heal old wounds, dealing with past trauma, removing limiting beliefs about yourself, and much more.
I’ve learned never to accept that some physical illness or ailment is “just the way it is” and give up trying to heal it. I’m constantly amazed at what my body knows and what it is able to heal if I remove the energy blocking its path. It is fascinating to me to be able to communicate with my body and find out what is going on, why, and what I can do to heal. I have found that when I focus on a problem or symptom, 98% of the time, my body knows exactly what is happening and what to do about it. It’s pretty happy when I finally take the time to listen and work on the issue it was trying to get me to focus on!
I know many people who are very in tune with their bodies and still sometimes come up against obstacles they can’t figure out how to get around. In some cases, having an energy practitioner or professional therapist can help them figure out what the body is trying to communicate. There are many ways to do this type of work and I’ve just scratched the surface of the kinds of energy the body stores. Sometimes the energy is your body doesn't actually originate from you (here is an example of energy being passed through families). Sometimes the information the body holds is buried deep, but a practiced therapist or energy worker can help bring it to the surface to release it.
Also, as I have mentioned before, I believe that the body can heal much more than we realize, but that doesn’t always mean it will happen. I don’t know what this is the case, but the reality is that sometimes healing does not always mean a complete cure of a disease, condition, or issue. For more on this check out my blog post Self Healing With Energy Work for more on these topics.
Another thing to be clear about: energy work should not be used in place of appropriate medical care. If you are dealing with a serious condition or disease, don’t start going to your local Reiki practitioner and dump your next doctor’s visit or medication. You may want to consider adding an energy worker to your health care team. Energy work can only help your body’s healing and never works against traditional medical practices. It’s kind of like tackling a problem from two angles at once. Use medicine to deal with the problem directly and use energy work to remove any blocks that might make the medical work ineffective.
What most people don’t realize is that aches, pains, rashes, cavities, illnesses, diseases, depression, etc. aren’t just “old age” or “life” or sometimes even “chemical imbalances.” They are messages your body is sending you to tell you that energy needs to be released so that you can heal. Old emotions need to get out. Trauma has to be released. Relationships are causing strain. Physical substances are harming you. This stuff won’t just go away on its own. The underlying energy needs to be taken care of. As Pema Chödrön wrote in When Things Fall Apart, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” Your body wants to talk to you and it is an expert teacher. What it has to tell you can fill many volumes. You just have to be willing to learn.
As I mentioned, the body can communicate to you on a PHD level if you take the time to learn. It does take some work, though. You can’t expect to go from toddler talk to PHD talk in a few days. There is practice involved. You’ll probably need some training and professional advice along the way. You can do it, though. You can learn to read even the tiniest signals your body is sending you and act on that information.
Are you ready to get started today? If you have been ignoring your body for a while, it’s time to get back in touch. If you only know the toddler level basics, then it’s time to start learning some new language. Your body is ready and willing to teach you what you need to know. It’s probably been trying for years! Below are some suggestions to get you started.
Yoga: This is an excellent way to start getting in touch with your body. Even if you are horribly inflexible (I am) you can use the practice to learn the tight places, the sore places, the emotional places of your body. These areas hold energy that need to be released. If you can’t clear the energy with yoga, then you at least know where you need further work to find release. One time during yoga I was struggling with how tight my calves were. That day there was an extra resistance that was trying to get my attention. In my final resting pose I asked my calves why they were so tight. All I heard was, “I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna.” I kid you not, that was the message from my body! It took weeks to untangle the layers of “I don’t wanna” that I had been building up in that area, but that resistance did finally fade and go away. That day my body was ready to deal with that emotion. I was ready to listen and take the time to work on it. Yoga was the practice that made the issue noticeable to me. That’s your first step.
Break some rules: If you’ve been living with a strict routine (by choice), such as diet or exercise, and find it isn’t quite working for you, then it's time to get some expert advice. The expert here is your body. Sometimes all the rules just don’t work for you. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you despise getting up at 4 AM every morning to go to the gym before work, there is probably a reason for that. Trust that it knows what it is talking about and find a compromise. Read more about Breaking The Rules here. This is a good way to start noticing what your body is telling you and acting on its messages.
Writing: I actually don't like to write myself, but sometimes journaling is an extremely effective form of communication. Pick a topic of concern to you such as “why my knees hurt so much.” Write (or type), “Knees, I have noticed you have been hurting a lot lately. What are you trying to tell me?” Now focus your attention on your knees. Feel them from the inside. Put your hands on them. Act as if the pain is a message being sent to you over a really bad cell connection. Listen carefully and see if you can pick out the message coming through. Don’t make guesses or ask questions. Simply listen. When you feel inspired, start to write. Don’t edit or make it pretty. Just write what you are hearing (or seeing). It can be really shocking what comes through when you take the time to listen.
Meditate: If you hate to write, I created a 10-minute guided visualization that is similar to the exercise above. Pick a topic of concern to use as your intention for the meditation, put on your favorite Zen tunes (there is no music on the recording), and settle back to reconnect with your body. I’ve done this type of meditation more times than I can count, and I’m still amazed at the messages my body sends me.
Download the MP3 audio file here.
Download the PDF transcript here.
Try one of these things this week. Even if you think it is crazy, go out on a limb and see what happens. Start to learn the unique language of your body and discover what it has to say about healing. If you get stuck, or want to go deep fast, check out the coaching sessions and energy session I do. I teach all kinds of tools to help you learn to listen to your body and release that old energy. Check out my website and contact me if you want to talk about what you are going through.