Our bodies are always trying to communicate with us. So why is it that we usually only listen when we have intense pain or an illness? The body has its own language. Your body has its own language. If you’ll listen, it will tell you many things. But how do you go about getting information from your body? And what do you do with that information once you have it?
When you’re sick, your body communicates to you that your immune system is fighting something, that you’re run down, and that you need rest. You get symptoms like fever, achiness, sore throat, etc. This is the language of a body that’s ill. You usually listen (sometimes you don’t) and get some rest. You know that if you want to heal, you’ll need to slow down, take care of yourself, and recover.
When your back hurts it is communicating with you. It’s telling you that perhaps an old injury is acting up, or maybe you’ve been standing too long. Maybe you’ve pulled a muscle. The pain tells you that something is wrong. The cause may require a bit of detective work on your part, but nonetheless, your back is communicating with you. Generally, if you don’t listen it gets worse.
These are obvious examples of body “talk”. But your body is always giving subtle clues to your state of being. With a simple exercise you can gain knowledge about what your body needs at any given time, even when it’s not obvious. This then allows you to give yourself the TLC required. It’s an excellent tool to use when determining self-care needs.
What is a Body Map?
A body map is an exercise you can do to tune in to individual parts of your body and observe the state of your health–physical, emotional, energetic, etc. You acknowledge what you observe with color and words. This not only builds self-awareness and greater connection with your body, it also gives you a chance to take action toward greater self-care.
For example, if you have a dull tension in your neck and you actually acknowledge it, you now have the opportunity to do something about it. Perhaps a massage, yoga, or deep breathing are in order. Or maybe you just need time out in nature, or time to read. Perhaps exercise would help. You get to decide! Instead of ignoring it until it turns into something you can’t ignore, you can address it. The issue could be physical, or it could be emotional or energetic manifesting in your physical body. The great thing is when we take care of our physical body it pays dividends in the emotional and energetic bodies as well.
You don’t need to do something for every area of your body on the map. Sometimes simply acknowledging that you’ve “heard” your body “speak” is enough. If you see recurrent themes, you may want to take action and address those, or seek medical or professional help if the symptom is severe or troubling. But generally, don’t feel like you need to solve, understand, or act on all the information that comes up. Just let your body express itself and be heard.
This Week’s Challenge–Fill Out a Body Map
Never done a body map before? No problem! Download the free printable body map, print it out and grab some colored pencils, gel pens, markers, chalk, paint, whatever you’re feeling–and let’s begin.
Let’s start with the head. Check in with your head and see how it feels. On this particular day, mine felt neutral (which word I actually spelled wrong, so yes, clearly very neutral and not functioning at capacity!). I grabbed whatever color felt neutral to me (don’t overthink this step) and colored inside the head area of the outline. Then I labeled that part of my body, off to the side, and the feeling associated with it (don’t overthink this step either, go with what comes up, even if it doesn’t make sense). So, again, I scribbled my color on the head part of the outline, and beside it put “Head—neutral”.
Move on to the next body part and repeat the process until you’re done. You don’t need to do every body part. You can do the front of your body, the back of your body, or a combination of both. You could even print out two body shapes, label one “front” and one “back” and do each side of your body separately. You could also do general areas or get very specific.
Note on Body Map Words
The words you attach to each part of the body after coloring them can be very revealing. Perhaps you’re not feeling pain or tension. Maybe instead, when thinking of your hands, they feel “sluggish”. If that’s the word that comes up, write it down. Down second guess it.
When you’re done with your body map and look back at this word you can ask yourself questions if you want to better understand why that particular word came up. Questions like:
- What is going on in my life that would make my hands feel sluggish? Anything physical? Anything emotional?
- What do hands symbolize to me? So then, what would sluggish hands symbolize?
- What do I associate with the word sluggish?
- How would I like my hands to feel like? Do I need a hand massage? Do I need to use my hands to write? Build? Serve? Create?
The words, the colors, the observations that occur in your body map are powerful tools to help you connect to your body and show it a little TLC. And in this web-obsessed and distraction-addicted culture, we could all use a little more self-connection and self-love!
Got your free printable body map?