The Importance of Listening to our Bodies

By Eileen Kim

I am a dancer. One of the greatest gifts that dance has given me that I apply to my everyday life is awareness of my physical body.  Dance has given me the time and space to be fully aware of all of the possibilities my body holds. It has given me an understanding of what I can only corporeally know, creating space for me to listen to my body. For me, there is no separation between life and dance because we are constantly in motion even when we are still. There is choreography in our everyday life, whether we are continuing patterns or creating new ones. Therefore I find that listening to our bodies and being aware of our physical bodies should become a daily practice, especially in the difficult circumstances of the present time. 

Photo of Eileen dancing

Our bodies are hyper-intelligent vessels that have the ability to hold and absorb an incredible amount of information. The body often understands things that are happening to us before we are consciously able to understand them. For example, as infants we enter into stages of crawling and walking through the intelligence of our bodies. Most of us can’t remember when we first started crawling or walking, but our bodies remember even when our memories forget. Before we learn how to speak or read, we first understand the world through our physical bodies. The intelligence of our bodies is limitless and when we allow our bodies to take over and find time to listen to our bodies, I believe we will be surprised by how much our bodies have to say. 

Eileen expressing movement through dance

So how do we go about listening to our bodies? Connecting to our bodies can happen in multiple ways. For me, I find time to connect through my daily practice in dance. However, I believe that listening to the body can happen whenever we consciously choose to do so. Physical activity might be a gateway to understanding how to listen to our bodies because we are constantly sending signals between our brain and body when we are moving. However, this connection can be lost if we are not conscious of how we move. Being distracted while moving is a significant problem of our generation. Treadmills and ellipticals in gyms have TV’s, we text and walk, or check our emails while commuting.  These distractions, while engaging in any type of movement, make us skim through the process of listening to the body.  Therefore, it’s important to understand that even in stillness, we have the ability to tune in to our bodies. A quick body scan at the beginning or end of the day can make a huge difference in our wellbeing. Try asking yourself the following questions:

Is your body hungry? Is your body dehydrated? Does your body ache? Does your body need to stretch? Do you feel any discomfort in your body? Does your body need more rest? Is your body holding tension? Where is your body holding tension? Why do you think your body is holding tension? How can you release this tension? Does your body need more sunlight? Does your body need to breathe in more fresh air? 

The body has a lot to say if we take the time to listen.  Listening to the body encourages an evaluation of what our bodies are holding and gives us clarity concerning what our bodies need. It encourages an evaluation of what physically manifests from the emotional, mental, and physical experiences of our everyday lives. Taking the time to listen to our bodies, even if only for a few minutes, can make a huge difference in our quality of life, health, and wellbeing.

Featured Image by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

Eileen is a sophomore, born and raised in the suburbs near Chicago, Illinois. She was living in Seoul, South Korea, and dancing professionally with a ballet company there before coming to USC. She is currently working towards her BFA in Dance and is hoping to minor in Communications Design. Her dance career has taken her to many different parts of the world, allowing her to make an international community of friends and artists which she greatly appreciates and values. She enjoys nature, long walks, running, yoga, reading, writing, art, music, cooking, traveling, photography, and editing among other things. Eileen is excited to be in conversation, community, and growth with all those who wish to join her and is ready to support whatever needs you may have!