Listening to Your Body
by Gail Raborn

You know that familiar scratchy, achy feeling in your throat and the heavy tiredness that pervades your body? It’s a cold coming on. Unfortunately, you have no time to rest and recover. You might even feel angry at your body for conking out on you. Maybe you pop an antihistamine and take an aspirin so you can go back to work; after all, you’re not going to let a little cold stop you, are you? The last thing you want to do is admit that this bout of illness is your body’s way of telling you your life is out of balance and that you need to make some changes in your lifestyle, your relationships, or even your job.

I learned years ago to listen to the message an illness can send when I had a problem with laryngitis. My episodes always seemed to occur just before a workshop I was scheduled to lead. So without guilt I’d cancel the workshop, lie abed with cayenne tea and my favorite novel, and keep my mouth shut until I healed.

Several canceled workshops later, I began to see a pattern and recognized a darker reason for my lost voice than a simple infection. For behind laryngitis lurked the terror of failing, of inadequacy as a workshop leader! Resolution of those fears has prevented any further loss of voice. For fear, like all negative emotions, weakens the immune system.

Then there was the client who couldn’t get pregnant. Yet fertility tests showed that she and her husband were both normal. Regression work to reveal the source of this problem revealed a tragic story of grief and remorse over the accidental drowning death of her two-year old son several years before. Amidst sobs, she listened to her body tell her that her undeserved grief for the accident had made her sterile, and that it was time to forgive herself since she could have done nothing to prevent the accident. With forgiveness, came renewed fertility. When I saw her a year later, she was holding her newborn child in her arms.

Sickness and injury can be symbolic of feelings you just can’t verbalize, like developing neck pain when you’ve got a boss or wife who’s “a pain in the neck” or getting an ulcer when there’s a situation you just can’t stomach. Sometimes illness is just your body’s message to stop and rest, nurture yourself, stop pushing so hard. Or your body may be telling you your life is devoid of meaning. A woman I knew healed her second bout of breast cancer when she realized she needed radical change to find the joy and meaning her life lacked. Instead of more surgery, she cut out of her life her unhappy marriage and her hated job. She then jumped with both feet into her lifelong fantasy of writing a book while living on a Greek island. Twenty years later, she’s healthily and happily writing away while listening to the pounding surf.

Of course, understanding the message for change that might lie behind your illness or injury does not guarantee physical healing. But the probability is dramatically increased once you bring your life back into balance. In any case, the emotional and spiritual healing that results is its own reward.

How do you listen to your body, you ask?

Guided imagery is one of my favorite techniques. Start with a relaxation exercise, then allow an image to come to mind that represents your symptom or body part. Don’t worry if the image isn’t totally clear. Talk with it to find the message behind your illness or injury and discover what changes in your life are necessary to speed healing. The change might be minor, like getting better walking shoes, or major, like changing your job. Later you can muse over the information you received during the imaging and decide if it seemed valid and vital to implement. If you get stuck, find a hypnotherapist, Interactive Guided Imagery Practitioner, or therapist who knows how to guide you through the process.

An excellent book for learning guided imagery is Dr. Martin Rossman’s “Healing Yourself.” So the next time you feel a cold coming on, get a headache, or injure your back, talk to your body. Bodies don’t lie. Listen to yours and you’ll find your health improving and life healing in amazing ways.

Gail Raborn CHT, is a Transformational Therapist/Clinical Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and Interactive Imagery Therapist. She works with adults, teens and couples in her office and by phone.

For a free introductory session, call: (00 - 1)- 505 - 751-7310.

Please visit her website:

Copyright by Gail Raborn 9/01/01


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