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 Inhabit Your Body and Love It 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Simply Well by . View all columns in series

What Inhabiting Your Body Does for You
Inhabiting your body tunes you in to the twenty-four-hour-a-day feedback system through which your body offers valuable information on what it needs. You learn to listen to the body’s reactions to different foods, different environments, different people. You discover your weak and vulnerable areas. These are the places where disease first shows up. For some people it is the throat. Others can literally feel the approach of a cold in their back and shoulders. Developing this kind of sensitivity to your built-in early warning system can often help you intervene (with extra rest and liquids, for example) and prevent an illness from taking hold.

When you inhabit your body, you can’t help but develop a greater sense of awe and gratitude about it. The abilities and adaptabilities of the human organism are incredible! Unfortunately most people don’t appreciate their body until something goes wrong with it. With heightened awareness, however, you may be inspired to study your body’s processes more thoroughly in order to better interpret its signs. You may want to take better care of yourself and practice commonsense safety measures. You may learn to accept yourself as you are—strong, weak, healthy, in need, out of balance at times—a glorious series of contradictions. Your body is your home. Honoring your body builds self-esteem. You are remarkable!

If you want to know the secret of good health, set up home in your own body, and start loving yourself when there.

Grace of movement is another advantage of inhabiting your body. You develop a more acute sense of where you begin, where you end, and how far you stretch in any direction. You understand the relationships between head and feet and legs and arms as you walk and move around. You don’t move unconsciously as often, or walk ahead of yourself, so to speak. Rather you move from the inside out, conscious of what you are doing.

This sense of attunement to your body encourages you to live in the present moment, to feel whatever is going on within you, both physically and emotionally, whether pleasant or painful. You taste your food and experience your tears more fully. When you are stimulated by your natural environment, you require less stimulation from unhealthy sources. You don’t need drugs or alcohol for excitement or excessive amounts of food to fill you up.

Meet Your Body
Take a moment to meet your feet again. Go ahead, kick off your shoes and lift one foot onto your lap and massage it, vigorously. Bring some energy into your foot. Now work on the other one. Remember that your feet have carried you, supported you for how many years of your life? They deserve some attention, some thanks. Try this: Stand up while you pay attention to your feet, without looking at them. Become aware of how your feet still work when you stand motionless, how they move as you walk, what they do as you sit down again. Come home to your feet!

Practice increased awareness of your whole body, as you’ve done for your feet. To start, place your hands gently on one area of your body. Bring your consciousness there. Sensitize yourself to what this area feels like under your hands, whether it is tight or relaxed, warm or cool; become aware of any fears or judgments or opinions you may have about this area of your body. Continue doing this for all of your body—internal organs as well as external parts.

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 About The Author
John W. Travis, MD, MPH, is the creator of the Wellness Inventory and its parent, the Wellness Index. He is the founder and co-director of ...moreJohn Travis MD, MPH
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