During the first week of Kindergarten last year, my youngest son reported back to me like an explorer returning from unknown territories: “Mama, did you know at school you can’t listen to your body?” I took a deep breath, trying to manage the anxiety I had about sending my spirited, constant-motion boy into public school. “Really,” I squeaked, “Tell me about it.” He smiled and said, “Well, my body needed to spin so I did in the middle of class but Mrs. A said I couldn’t spin right now and I needed to sit back down.” I felt a little relief at how curious he seemed about it, rather than traumatized. “I guess you can listen to your body and what it needs, but you can’t always do something about it right away?” He nodded and said, “I can save it for later!”
Our bodies always have clarity about exactly what they want and need. It is only our minds (and often our culture) that has confusion. Your body is perfectly designed to eat when it is hungry, rest when it is tired, make love when it is aroused and move when it feels energized. As Mary Oliver says in her poem Wild Geese, “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
This week, listen to your body a little more closely. For fun, you might even want to jot down some notes on what it wants and needs when you can’t actually do something about it right in the moment. Think of it as a promise to a dear friend, one you will keep as soon as you can!