We all know the expression “listen to your gut.” We’ve heard it, read it, and (attempted to) practice it hundreds of times.
But listening to our gut is hard because we are not taught about our bodies’ signals and what they mean in conventional education and society. Therefore, dropping into our body for an answer is not only challenging, but it can also feel quite unnatural.
Sometimes, our bodies scream an answer at us that we couldn’t ignore if we tried. But I’m reflecting on the process of conscious decision making.
Oftentimes, our default is to use our minds, not our bodies, to guide us through life. But our minds are composed of a thousand and one conflicting voices that inevitably help us make fear-based decisions and cultivate confusion along the way.
In order to listen to our gut, we have to be able to hear what our gut is saying. In order to hear what it’s saying, we first have to connect from a space of openness and curiosity. It’s just like with a new friendship or a lover—it takes time, practice, openness, and curiosity to develop a deep connection. Once the connection is there, the person will share. This is the same process for connecting mind and body, and it will yield a similar result.
Below is my process for making aligned decisions that feel great.
This is my body-based alternative to a pro-con list. Use these four tools (in order) the next time you’re at a crossroads.
1. Write it all out.
Everything that feels heavy and sticky and scary, and everything that feels good and exciting. Allow yourself to get into this flow and let the stream of consciousness come.
Writing brings our subconscious mind forward so that we can see with fresh eyes what is really going on inside, what it means to us, and how we feel about that.
Our minds are inundated with thoughts, feelings, and information every day. Dump it all out and create some space.
2. Move your body.
The thoughts, feelings, and emotions that get stored in our minds find their way into the rest of our bodies and create energetic stagnation.
A teacher once told me, “If your mind is stuck, unstick your body.” Moving your body creates space and flow so that energy can move more freely throughout your being. It releases old energy and creates space for new.
Allow your emotions to move through you. This is how they will move out of you. Dance, stretch, run, walk—any type of movement will do. Movement activates your mind-body connection, which creates present awareness.
3. Activate your spirit-self and say it out loud.
I do this by taking a bath. I find water to be incredibly healing, so I draw a warm bath, sink in, and begin talking to myself. At this point, I’ve written through most of the fluff and can really get to the heart of what I’m feeling.
I begin talking through my feelings and becoming aware of blocks, resistance, fears, and truths that are coming forth.
I highly recommend finding your safe and sacred space to speak out loud to yourself. It is transformative to hear the thing come out of our own mouths, to hear it in our own words and voice rather than the voices inside our heads.
Our emotions inevitably seep into our words and demeanor, so when we speak to ourselves out loud, we’re opening our own portal to our sacred truth.
4. Get quiet and find stillness.
Once you’ve flushed out all the voices running rampant through your mind and allowed the emotions and energy to move through your body, it’s time to feel it physically.
Focus on your breath, drop into your body, allow yourself to fully relax. Then, bring forward whatever decision you are working with and begin by fully indulging in one path. Notice how it makes your body feel. Is it soft, warm, and expansive? Or is it tight, constrictive, and hard?
Move through to the alternative path using the same practice. You will know once you have an answer.
If you don’t know, you don’t know. The tricky part is learning to trust it when it comes through. This is how we can connect with our inner-knowing to make body-based decisions, or decisions from our gut.
It all begins with that deep, honest connection, an open heart, and a quiet mind.