The simple practice that could save you $700 and hours of your precious time

Taming the Inner Fascist

Over the weekend Mike and I had planned to spend Saturday cleaning up our house.

Saturday afternoon came around. We’d been to the gym. We’d eaten. We’d put on our cleaning clothes. It was time.

I asked Mike where we should start (he’s far better at structure and sequential thinking than I am). But there were zero ounces of me that felt like tidying up the house.

I was tired. All I wanted to do was lie down on the floor. He was tired. Neither of us felt like doing it.

He suggested we go to a movie. I said, “No! This is the day we planned to clean up! If we don’t do it today we’re not going to do it!” (Sometimes I do such a great job of embodying a little fascist.)

“Why don’t you take a nap?” Mike suggested.

“No! We need to clean up!” I responded emphatically.

We went back and forth like this. Every time Mike proposed something other than cleaning up that sounded like more fun, my body said “Yes!” but my mind gave a hard “No!”… until my inner Mussolini finally cracked.

Mike suggested we go out and look for furniture, another project that had been on the list for weeks. I caved and said sure.

Saving Time, Money, And Energy

We found everything we needed at one store. It took about an hour; we saved over $700 because the people at the store were awesome and gave us a “newlywed discount”; and it was an altogether incredible afternoon.

But the kicker was, as we were shopping, I got super excited to get home and clean up the house so that we could get rid of stuff and organize everything else in our new armoires and cabinets.

My body had known something earlier that my mind wasn’t aware of:

Cleaning up would have taken way longer and been way more frustrating without the furniture to put everything away.

My earlier fatigue was my intuition telling me that I had things in the wrong order.

As soon as we had the furniture, the surge of enthusiasm for cleaning up came rushing in.

twitter_standingYour body has access to infinitely more information than your mind. Listen to her. (Tweet it.)

Her communications will come in the form of an urge to lie down and take a nap every time you start working on a certain project or uncontrollable yawning when you have tea with a certain friend.

You’ll get a tight little knot in your solar plexus in a meeting or a wave of nausea right as you’re supposed to be signing on the dotted line.

Your body’s signals are not random.

Yet we live in a culture that teaches us to overcome our body.

Push through.
No pain no gain.
Keep going.
Buckle down.

What if we actually listened to the signals our body was giving us?

And what if we actually acted on them?

On Saturday Mike and I listened to and acted on our impulses. We did what we felt like doing instead of what we’d planned on doing.

We were rewarded by efficiency (furnishing two rooms in under an hour!), saving money, and heaps of pleasure that come from spending a beautiful afternoon together having fun.

When the furniture arrives we’ll get everything picked up and put away in record time with smiles on our faces and energy left over.

These choices are what life is made of. It may not seem like the choice to go look for furniture rather than cleaning up a house is particularly earth-shattering, but it is.

When we choose to listen to ourselves and follow our impulses toward what feels good our lives become easier.

We step into a flow where we meet the right people at the right time.

We have the energy to do the things that we need to do instead of feeling like we’re paddling upstream all the time.

Things take less time and cost less money.

And, most importantly, we can take all the energy we were previously using to push through and use it to make art, to add value, to be of service, and to love our family, friends, the Earth, and ourselves.

Listening to your body, acting on her impulses, and choosing to move toward feeling good is serious business.

twitter_standingThe choice to feel good is a revolutionary act. (Tweet It.)

What would happen if you did what you felt like doing instead of what you’d planned on doing?

Try this – it will take less than a minute:

  1. Set an alarm to go off every hour or so during your day today.
  2. When it goes off close your eyes and take a single deep breath in and out.
  3. As you breath in and out simply feel what’s going on in your body.
  4. Ask whatever sensation you may feel (pain in your left knee, a tightness in your stomach, a tingling in your shoulder…) what message it has for you.
  5. Listen for the answer.
  6. Ask yourself, “What do I really feel like doing right now?”
  7. Listen for the answer.

Extra credit: Do the thing that your body told you it feels like doing!

When you first start you may not be able to feel or hear anything. That’s totally fine and totally normal. Just keep coming back to your body and feeling and listening. Over time she’ll get the memo that you’re available for communication and the messages will begin to come in loud and clear.

And then, of course, it’s up to you to heed them.

When you heed the messages from your body you not only change your world, but also change the world.

Over to you:

What do you do to tune into the messages of your body? How does she speak to you? I’d love to hear about your tools and practices in the comments below.

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19 comments

  • I hear what you’re saying with this blog, but the risk is you’re not differentiating between the gut feeling that made your furniture stuff all fun and the feeling you have when you want to eat cookies even though you’ve set out on a healthy regime. People will use what you said in areas that shouldn’t be ‘intuited’…as an excuse. And then they have a life they don’t want and are wondering why…?

    There’s the beautiful intuitive force and then there’s our lizard brain/resistance. Because it’s only cleaning your house and not you forsaking ‘doing the work’ perhaps that where we can differentiate. But let’s just be careful!

    • Kate

      Rosanna – great point. I actually did address this very thing in a post that’s going live next week. I agree – there’s a difference between resistance and intuition. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts when the post goes up!

  • Katie, Thank you for this post. I was just thinking about how I’ve been taught to ignore the messages from my body not 20 minutes before reading what you wrote. I’ve been practicing being present and philosopher Adam Miller suggests that listening to our body’s voice it brings us present. My current practice is when my body tells me that I’m hungry. I acknowledge it. Thank it for telling me. If I’m not able to eat right then (for whatever reason), I bring my mind & body into conversation with each other about when my body will be fed. I love that you are expending my view to really listen to my body when the I DON’T WANT TO!!! is really strong. Question: How do you suggest distinguishing between the body’s intuition and resistance? Because, sometimes you have to do it anyway – even if you don’t want to.

  • Shell

    Finally, when I was getting sick at the side of the road for the fourth time did I figure out it was only happening when I went to visit “that person at that place”. My mystery illness would always disappear during the one hour drive home.
    I now pay attention to my body.
    Its all there, if we would only listen.

  • Thank you so much for this post! So nice to have some affirmation this morning. It’s cloudy and misty on the Oregon coast this morning and I was feeling really sleepy. I got out of bed just so my fiance wouldn’t think I was lazy, and then I went back to bed when he went to work. Ha! Within an hour of rest and forgiving myself for being “lazy” I felt surges of my good natural energy rising. I feel much more productive now than I would have if I’d been up and working an hour or two earlier. It’s very difficult for me to listen to my body when other people are around but when I’m alone I find it much easier. I worry about being seen as inconsistent, lazy, unfocused, or changing my mind all the time… I also worry about actually being these things! Looking forward to next week’s post!

    • Kate

      That is beautiful Brooke! Sometimes an hour of rest nets us tons more hours of productivity than we would have gotten if we hadn’t stopped in the first place!

    • Kate

      Hey Brook,
      I just wanted to say that I am the same. I find it hard to pay attention to myself when other people are around (like not at all really), but it’s much easier when I’m alone. Thank you for enunciating this as it gave me permission to realise the same thing within myself.
      Thanks again,
      Kate

      (PS. I know that it’s got something to do with the brain scanning the environment for threat, as opposed to being able to focus more inwards (got that fresh from my doctor), just thought I’d add that just in case you were beating yourself up about it, like I have in the past :/)

  • Kimberly

    I use a grounding technique I learned years ago (along with stopping & breathing, of course). I consciously press my tongue up to the roof of my mouth & my top front teeth. Then, I relax my shoulders (because that’s where I often subconsciously carry my burden of stress). Lovely post. Thank you, Kate!

  • Joanna

    Kate – thank you for this great post. I know I need reminders to listen to my body, and I forget every day. I was in a surfing lesson recently where a friend who had always struggled with her weight and had spent years getting healthier and stronger talked about feeling like she trusted her body for the first time.

    I think it can take a long time to get to that point. I strive to get to to a place where I trust my body. Trust it to do what I want it to do, but also to tell me when what I am doing is not in my best interest, or dangerous, or as you mentioned – out of order.

    I think it takes practice. And the more we practice, the more we recognize the difference between giving in to cravings (as suggested in one of the earlier posts) and listening to your body. It can feel like a very subtle difference in the moment. And believe me, I am a master of rationalizing my way into and all the way through the cookie jar. But each time we practice listening to our bodies we will start to feel the difference between when it’s truly telling us something, and when it’s a trick. Because even as the trickster is saying “mmm. cookies. you need cookies,” there is another voice somewhere within you speaking the truth.

  • To tune into my body I practice yoga. If I’m feeling resistance to my practice it is because I don’t want to hear the truth that my body is telling me. She speaks to me in thoughts, images, and synchronicity that I notice in my day. I do my best to refine my receptivity to these messages by asking for guidance through prayer and spending regular time in quiet stillness to hear, feel, and notice the more subtle messages she provides.

  • Taralyn

    Hello Kate! Thanks so much for this post. I have to admit, I struggle with this all the time. I’m very goal oriented and have lists ready to go each day for work, but sometimes I just feel trapped by them. And that feeling often manifests throughout my body. But I am learning to pay attention to the signals my body sends me. Sometimes something stays on my list for days, or even weeks. That used to bug the mess of out of me, and in some cases, I think it’s avoidance. But in others, I’ve learned there was a missing piece- a person, an idea, helpful information- that I needed to really get motivated and get it done whatever “it” is. And now I regularly take time out of my day just to “goof of” because I’ve also realized that when I’m frustrated by something, I just need to walk away sometimes and when the time is right, I’ll return to it naturally. Thanks for all your wisdom! Keep it comin’!

  • I love this blog post. Such a good, true message. I’m a movement educator, who consistently wakes up early, full of energy- ready to go for a hike, to the beach to workout, etc etc. etc. And when I do get up and workout right away, I feel fantastic and have at least tripe the energy I would otherwise. But so often I don’t do it. I tell myself “I need to do the dishes first, or send these emails, or get in he car and drive to work…” While all those things DO need to be done, when I do them first, I am usually left without the sparkling energy I woke up with and don’t feel like taking care of own exercise needs anymore.
    Thank you, Kate, for this brilliant reminder.

  • This exact practice is part of my everyday. It is the moments I do not practice listening I lose it, feel overwhelmed and project in a big way. When I stick to my practice I simply stand, close my eyes, welcome my highest self and find the pain. It is amazing what it tells me and where it guides me. Of course when I listen (as you say) it leads me to exactly where spirit wants me – and it is always beautiful:) Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Pauleen

    Well said Kate – love your honesty & posts, keep them going, you go girl!

  • Absolutely loved this! Kate, you just inspired me to write a post about your post – sort of a reflection. I was writing blahs and couldn’t organize my thoughts when I finally said “Dear Universe, guide me.” and after feeling blocked I said “Oh what the heck!” then I read your newsletter. Now I’m almost done with my piece. Yey! Thank you!

    I usually say a prayer like the above, or a mantra like “God is the water and I am the faucet. Please flow through me. I’m open and willing to listen.” Inspired by Marianne Williamson. :)

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