Your body’s wisdom

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves   from  Wild Geese , by Mary Oliver

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves

from Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver

I’m having a bit of time off teaching as I recently had surgery (from which I’m recovering very nicely). When I returned home from hospital, keen to heal as fast as possible, I Googled something like ‘best foods to eat after surgery.’ Vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, protein were apparently what I needed. Easy. Or so I thought. These were all foods I enjoyed and which formed the basis of my usual diet. Except, in the aftermath of an anaesthetic (plus painkillers and antibiotics), I couldn’t even look at the kale or the salmon sitting virtuously in my fridge, let alone eat them. Briefly, I guilt-tripped myself for being so resistant to doing what I apparently ‘ought’ to, and worried I wouldn’t be supporting my body in its recovery. But luckily it didn’t take me long to surrender the ‘oughts’ and instead to listen within and let my body’s wisdom guide me. What it was longing for in those first few tender days after surgery was the comforting simplicity of white pasta, buttered toast, a baked potato.
And sure enough, after several days without eating a single vegetable or even, to my surprise, being able to face my beloved daily dose of dark chocolate, my tastebuds changed and I found myself easing back towards my normal eating patterns.
This experience was yet another reminder of the importance of listening within for guidance. Too often we only turn outwards, listening to all the voices around us (whether they be the advice of friends, loved ones, or articles and books we’ve read), and to the perceived oughts and shoulds. Yet all along, the precious, albeit quiet, voice of our body is right beside us, yearning to be heard. And usually it knows more than anyone or anything else can know about what we truly need in this moment.
I’m finding myself ever-increasingly taking the time to attune to the voice of my body, and am using the responses I’m getting to help me make decisions (including pretty major ones) across all aspects of my life. This doesn’t mean I don’t also do plenty of research and fact-finding to help guide me. But ultimately I will turn within to unearth my answer.
To access this inner knowing it’s important to first get relaxed and quiet. I find after meditation is ideal. If there’s something I’m trying to decide about, I’ll silently state to myself, in the present tense, whatever choice it is I’m contemplating making.  And then observe how my body resonates with it. For me, a Yes feels bright and effervescent. While a No feels more dull and heavy, and is often accompanied by a deflation in my heart area.
What is the ‘soft animal' of your body calling for in this moment?