Dear Trail Sisters,
When I began writing this post, I had an entirely different picture and goals in mind. But, as I began to write, something felt off. My chest and shoulders were speaking to me, communicating that I was fighting and trying to force something so vital and natural into black and white. Listening to and honoring our bodies is a living experience. It is not static. Our bodies are an abundant source of information. They are constantly speaking to us, alerting us to essential cues, and helping to guide us through our lives. Just as my body did when writing this post. Just as our bodies do when we are in danger. Just as they do when we are happy and content. To honor the wisdom of our bodies, we will go on a journey together. A journey of exploration.
Before beginning your journey through the below exercise, make sure you read the directions from start to finish.
Find a comfortable, quiet spot where you feel safe. You can stand, sit, or lie down. Your choice! Here is where you begin listening to your body. Stop for a moment before you make your decision. What is your body telling you that it needs? This all may sound silly or boring at this point. Understandable. Many of us are out of practice at stopping and checking in with our bodies in moments like these. However, they are foundational moments. Learning to listen in moments of choice and calm is how we can transfer the skill to times of challenge. So, dear reader, take the time to turn inside. What is your body asking for in this moment? Does it need the support of the floor? Does it need the feeling of your feet connecting to the earth? Yes, these choices matter. Promise!
Once you have found your comfortable, safe space and have settled in, your next moment of choice arrives. Do you take an internal focus or an external focus? Sounds simple enough? Maybe not. For those who have experienced trauma, the body may respond with different cues, such as bodily sensations of fear or anxiety of having to focus inwards. For others focusing inwards is a joyous space that beckons with earnestness. The point, my dear trail sisters, is that the body will communicate to let you know what it needs. You must listen and then honor the messages that the body sends. If you take an internal focus, begin by focusing on the sensation of your breath. If you take an external focus, begin by listening to the sounds in the room. Your eyes may either be open with a gentle gaze or closed. Spend a few moments tracking the sounds in the room or your breath.
Depending on your needs, this may be far enough. You may have reached your limit, which is totally fine. You are honoring the wisdom of your body. If you wholeheartedly and with the support of your body decide to continue, just listen. Listen to your body and see what it has to say and share.
In gentle whispers, your body speaks…
In mighty roars, your body speaks…
In images or colors, your body speaks…
In sensations, your body speaks…
Consider saying to your body that you welcome anything it has to say and that you are ready to listen with non-judgment. Then spend as long as you like simply being present with your body. When you are ready, slowly come back to the space you are in and say thank you to your body for sharing its wisdom.
Thank you, dear trail sisters, for engaging in the above journey. I hope that you found it helpful and that it allowed you a few moments to explore and honor the wisdom that your body holds. Honestly, it is easy to forget to tune into our bodies when surrounded by messages and experiences that push us toward our heads or don’t allow for time and space.
As runners, maybe we have an advantage and an even deeper reason to honor the wisdom and communications from our bodies. Our advantage is that when we run on the trails, we are connected to our bodies. We feel our breathing, the dirt beneath our shoes, the subtle shifts in our weight as we navigate rocks and roots, and the joy and soreness after the run. While these are our advantages, these also give us even more reason to devote more attention to the sensations and communications of our bodies on the trail and in life. The more awareness we give to our bodies on the trails, the better chances we have of preventing injury and finding a depth of courage and strength. Our minds are funny. They can tell us that we can’t go further or that we are not capable. Yes, there are situations where we need to be mindful, but there are also many where our bodies are capable and prepared to help us fly. Not just on the trails but in life as well.
As you are out there on the trail, take your inspiration from nature. The natural world reminds us of the importance of listening and cultivating space for the beauty of what our bodies bring. And, maybe take a moment to say thank you to your body before and/or after your run.
See you out there on the trails!
With Love and Passion,