When the Body Speaks, Listen
This piece was originally published on the ZGiRLS website on April 3rd, 2013.
As a professional athlete, I had the regular opportunity to explore the interplay between body and mind. The traditional mind-body relationship is familiar: my mind instructs my body parts where to go in space, and it commands the cadence of my breath. My mind governs my physical body, and my body usually obeys my mind.
In recent years, however, I’ve grown more and more fascinated with the subtle line of communication, not from brain-to-body, but from body-to-brain.
I’ve discovered that my body holds and expresses knowledge that my mind could never know. I’ve found that this sense of physical intelligence is always available, always wise, and that it is in constant communication—it’s just that sometimes I fail to heed or hear the signals.
Last June, after completing my second year of law school at UW, I officially committed to growing ZGiRLS. ZGiRLS is basically a marriage of everything I am passionate about: mentoring girls, sports, entrepreneurship, the promotion of wellness, psychology, empowering others to live their best life, leadership development, you name it… I recognize that getting ZGiRLS off the ground will not be an easy task, but for now, I can say without a doubt: this is exactly what I was meant to do.
I distinctly remember what it felt like last June when I finished my law school exams and had a summer of ZGiRLS work laying ahead of me. The energetic shift in my body was dramatic. I felt completely energized, free, and really excited. Physically, I felt like a new person. My body felt strong, solid, and capable. After a long and hard year of school, the sudden shift was palpable, and I trusted that the physical feelings were a dependable signal. My physical intelligence confirmed that I was on exactly the right path. My body spoke, and I listened—full speed ahead.
While I appreciated the positive confirmation last June, my physical intelligence has been instructive on the other end of the spectrum too. Because I’ve acted in discord with my physical intelligence in the past, and the outcomes have almost always been unfavorable, I now try to regularly tap into my body. Whenever I am in question about something—say, a big decision or a change—I inquire into what my physical and energetic body says. If I feel contracted, sluggish, or dull, it usually means there’s a physical dissonance, and that messaging needs to be factored into my course of action.
Sometimes my mind leads me astray. It likes to play boss and override the physical signals. My mind has pushed me through painful injuries, forced me to stay up late when I’m exhausted, and allowed me to take jobs that felt plain wrong in my bones. I definitely don’t get it right all of the time, but I’ve learned to listen to my physical body more and more. As I build trust in my physical intelligence, the more I learn that it really doesn’t lead me astray.