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Bodies Listening

Our Amazing Bodies

Photograph of the highest point on the walk I went on testing my endurance. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Above Abergwyngregan taken by myself 22nd March 2022

I am always amazed at my body when I listen to it. At the point when this photo was taken my heart was pumping and my breath was ragged. But that is to be expected.

I had chosen this path on a whim, though had had a bit of a look at the map the day beforehand, and I had walked the opposite way with my husband many years ago. But as I was going down the path from this point I noticed the pylons and I was very high above them. I could see the popular path to the waterfalls way below me but things seemed all wrong. So I sat down, got out my phone and tried to work out where I was. I couldn’t get a good signal and started to panic. I was on the top of this mountain surrounded by sheep and thought the path I was on could be wrong. My heart started racing and my stomach cramped and then my legs started to ache. I was at a point where I could convince myself that I could not go on. So I remembered my QEC work, got my autonomic nervous system [ANS] away from fight/flight mode, listened to my heart, put my phone away and continued along the path. This was about 45 minutes into my walk. The path curved left in a while and I went under the pylons and along to the waterfalls and back to my car.. I had been on the right path all along.

But what surprised me most of all was that as soon as I got my ANS calmed and started walking again my legs stopped aching and I did the next 75 minutes of my walk with not an ache. The pain in my legs was due to my fears. Interestingly my sister-in-law says she knows when she is nearing the end of a walk, no matter how long, because her legs start to ache. I know it is often seen as a form of encouragement to say “nearly there” but maybe that makes our bodies start to ache thinking we are nearly there.

I remember years ago when some famous politician’s car was blown up in the tunnel under the Houses of Parliament. One thing he said after was that even though he could not feel his legs he believed that no major blood vessels had been damaged and that he would survive. He said he had seen many young men on the battle field die because they had believed the injuries were fatal when they weren’t. Ok so different to my aching legs from fear that I was on the wrong path but also similar.

Another interesting thing with my body is that from Thursday or Friday I felt short of breath and it stayed with me till Monday. I even did a covid test to check I was negative. As you know from the My Sister post it was 10 years ago that my sister died. Well also 10 years ago a really close friend committed suicide. Eight years ago this same time period my son broke his collar bone playing rugby. Six years ago the same weekend my daughter had a major break up with a boyfriend and I helped her move from London to Cardiff. And then of course 2 years ago this self same time we went into lockdown. It was only when I was catching my breath at the top of yesterday’s climb that I realised over that whole period of last weekend I was holding my breath waiting for something bad to happen. Nothing did so now I can breath again. Again fascinating how my body remembered those incidents and was preparing itself.

I do think too often we are too busy and don’t listen to our bodies. Or we have so many other things piled around us that our heads are making too much noise to be able to really listen. Listening to our bodies takes time. Listening to our bodies means slowing down. Listening to our bodies takes understanding. Listening to our bodies means not judging them. Listening to our bodies means having a sense of awareness. It also means not being afraid to look back and ask “what happened then?”

I know this is a question I keep asking but – are we willing to slow down and really listen? to ourselves and also to the world around us?