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How to Listen to Your Body and Find Hidden Symptoms

If you've recently been sick, you might remember wondering, "What is happening to me?" You know something is off, but can't quite describe it. You wish you could find some relief, but struggle even to find the words to explain how you are feeling. Experiences in your body often don't translate easily into words. You wish your body would just communicate in plain English, but instead it talks to you in muddled feelings, symptoms, and emotions that you must discover and sort out. Sometimes you might wish your body wasn't so confusing.

Fortunately, Ayurveda is an entire system of medicine designed to make your body less confusing. With Ayurveda, you'll feel more confident that you know what is happening in your body. To begin, you start by listening to your body. Your emotions, aches, and pains are your body's way of 'talking' to you, and it behooves you to hear the message.

There's an art form to figuring out how you are feeling. Many important symptoms are hard to feel, almost as if they are hidden in a blind spot. It could be butterflies in your belly, a heavy, droopy feeling your chest, or maybe an ache in your upper sinuses. It could be feelings that are even more subtle than this. You might feel 'overwhelmed' or 'under pressure', for example. You may have had the feeling for so long that you've forgotten it's there - it has become a part of you and your awareness of it seems to fade into the background. You become blind to it.

These mysterious feelings and emotions - the things you feel even though you aren't aware yet that you feel them - are often the roots of true disease. In Ayurveda, the job of the physician is to help you find your blind spots, to expose feelings you forgot existed. Ayurveda helps you notice, feel, and articulate what is happening in these blind spots so that they don't progress into full-blown diseases.

Most people forget to address these roots and instead concentrate on symptoms that are more visible or obvious, like weight gain, auto-immune disorders, or hypothyroid, instead of noticing how they are feeling underneath it all or how their body is communicating with them from moment to moment. It is vitally important that you know what is going on in your body before starting therapy. Usually, therapy is the easy part. The more you know your body, the more you will naturally start to discover solutions. So what is really important isn't the therapy you've chosen, but making the choice to discover these subtle signs and symptoms in your body. That is why I focus less on therapy and more on self-discovery in my clinic.

So next time you feel a little under the weather and catch yourself wondering, "What is happening to me?" find a nice place to sit down, close your eyes, and feel your feelings. Notice each and every physical and emotional sensation. Grab a pencil and your journal and put your feelings down into words. You will find this practice enormously useful to discover insight into your body and your illnesses.

If "feel your feelings" seems a bit ambiguous, begin by checking your body and noticing any sensations you have. Scan your body from head to toe. Find any spot in your body with sensation, no matter how strong or weak. Completely immerse yourself in the sensation; get lost in it. If it's a spot in your body or an organ, consider lightly palpating (massaging) the area without creating "bad" pain and see how the sensation changes. Now try to write down the sensation. Here are some examples:

  • A persistent tightness between your shoulder blades
  • A searing pain in your calf
  • A noisy gurgling in the pit of your tummy
  • Pressure around your heart
  • A heaviness in the chest
  • Anxiety in your gut
  • A dull ache in your sinuses

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.

John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.

Forgive Your Body
How to Make Peace with Your Diseases
Know Your Body: Ayurvedic Body Scanning
Rename Your Disease as a Feeling
Introduction to an Ayurvedic Diet
What is Ayurveda?
How to Make Good Food Choices
10 month online program starts Oct 10th
Starts Oct 2017

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This article is so eye opening and hope-filled. I agree that our physical body is a gateway or GPS to the mental , spiritual , and emotional aspects of who we are and vice-versa! Thank you for this reminder and tool for further discovery!

- Marita Aicher Swartz, Bristol, TN, 09-21-14 (Reply)

What is Joyful Belly?

Browse recipes and hundreds of other ingredients on this extensive educational website. Joyful Belly helps people confidently choose food that restores their healthy glow, using the ancient technique of Ayurveda. Our extensive collection of online recipes, ingredients, and articles makes health easy. To get started, take the free dosha quiz to find your Ayurvedic body type.

What is Ayurveda?

Learn about Ayurveda from the author of this article and founder of Joyful Belly,
John Immel.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information and products on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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