Dr. Lori Monaco
My life transformation didn’t happen over-night and that’s because it never does for anyone. It’s a process, a continuous process of learning about one’s self and one’s capabilities and I will tell you…it’s an amazing process. Imagine learning the most incredible things about yourself…for the rest of your life?! Simply fabulous!
The first step in the process is self-awareness. Not a shock that this step is also a huge element in mindfulness. The reality is that transforming your life inevitably makes you more mindful. So, let’s talk about self-awareness. The definition is not complicated, it’s about becoming aware of oneself. And how hard can that be right?! I mean, come on, you know certain things about yourself like “I am a parent”, “I am a son/daughter”, “I am thin”, “I am in shape”, “I am overweight”, “I am out of shape”. But let’s go deeper than that…it’s about knowing your truth, and this can be the challenging part. Being truthful to oneself requires you to face things that you might not be comfortable with about yourself or even what you hate about yourself. Interestingly, for some people, the harder part is facing the things you like or love about yourself. Imagine that? Seems counterintuitive really. Wouldn’t it make more sense that we can face things we like about ourselves easier than the things we don’t, but for some people, they have made it their life’s mission, mostly on the subconscious level, to wallow in self-hatred and self-sabotage because their opinion of themselves is so low that they can’t even comprehend the amazing qualities they have. All these things, good or bad that we feel about ourselves are beliefs and once you become aware of who you are right now and about your habits and beliefs, you will start your path to self-awareness.
So what about the title of this blog? Is this a story about changing habits and beliefs or a story about healing thy self and creating a lifetime of optimal health? Well…it’s all of the above! You see, once you become self-aware, you reconnect with yourself. You reconnect with your thoughts, your feelings, your habits and beliefs, your mind and spirit and you also reconnect with your body. When you reconnect with your body, you feel things inside you haven’t felt before and for some…have never felt before! You become aware of sensations, movements, the space you occupy, and your interactions with your environment. You create a conversation within yourself and not just in your mind but in your body. You are finally listening to what it’s been telling you all along and you become attuned to understanding what your body wants and needs and what it can handle and what it can’t handle. I have not had the best relationship with my body for most of my adult life, and with my personal transformation which started three years ago, I finally listened. My body was definitely not happy with the fact that I did not attend to it as diligently as I should have. We understand this in terms of self-care. Caring for one’s self is caring for mind and body on a regular basis. It’s the most respectful thing you can do for yourself. I was overweight and out of shape. It took a while to get this way which means it would take a while to reverse the process and I’m still working on that to this day, but I’ve come along way. The great thing about being self-aware is understanding clearly, what you are capable of and knowing when you are not quite at the level you want to be. You also know that you will be! So as I committed to exercising on a regular basis, I opted to take it up a notch and do cross-training. This is some serious exercise! Every muscle in your body is worked. The first time I did it I thought I was going to drop and found that I couldn’t keep up with others in the class, but I knew my limits…I knew they were temporary…because this was a process that I needed to build up to…and I knew enough to take it easy and push myself to what I knew I could handle. I understood this because I knew my body. If I pushed too hard, I could injure myself. Then what would be the point? I’d have to stop working out, lose what I had worked hard to achieve, and then have to deal with a problem that didn’t exist before…an injury. The first two weeks of cross-training I found my recovery to be slower than I had anticipated. I was doing yoga in between and by end of week two, my thighs and hips hurt so much I actually couldn’t sleep through the night. I knew I had to take care of myself. I began taking baths, stretching more, and while all this helped, it only helped a little. I knew I had to take it up a notch so I got a massage from my friend Christine, just to those regions, and she also did passive ROM and stretching. By the next day…what a difference! My stamina was better from then on and my recovery was as well. I made it a routine to do follow-up self-care after my workouts and have included meditating for a few minutes a day to look within to see which areas of my body needed special attention.
Self-awareness allows you to take a moment to self-reflect. Take some quiet time and have a conversation with yourself to see what you need. You’ll find that as you really pay attention to your body, you’ll find areas that need attention and you also notice the areas that are doing just fine. And if you find areas that need your attention, reflect upon why they might need your attention. What is going on with them and what you can do to create balance in that region of your body. Because in the end, that’s what is happening when your body is in need, it’s out of balance and it’s telling you things need to be addressed. When you become self-aware and listen to your body, you can prevent issues from getting worse because you catch them right away. If you go to the doctor, you can be precise in your description of what you are feeling because you become so acutely aware of it. Or perhaps, you respond so rapidly that it doesn’t get to the point that it requires the doctor’s visit in the first place! In addition, the conversation you have with yourself doesn’t just need to be about what the body wants, it can also include encouragement. Everyone needs encouragement, why not your own body? I make it a habit to thank my body on a daily basis for its healing abilities and its amazing resilience. Listen…I’m 48. I’m working to get to my optimal weight and physical performance, but other than that…I’m in great health! I don’t take any medications and have no health issues. I practice gratitude every day, so of course, I would include my body. You can too. Let your body know that you understand how strong it is and how capable it is. That it’s doing an amazing job at keeping you healthy. That you will commit to supporting it by practicing self-care. And even if you are not currently in the best health, let your body know that you appreciate it even still.
Becoming self-aware creates optimum mental and physical health. It supports balance in your body. Start the conversation today with your inner voice. Ask your body what it needs and begin to reestablish the most important relationship in your life…the one with yourself! Your body, mind, and spirit have missed you and are anxiously awaiting your return. 😊