What does it mean to check in with your body, mind and soul?
I woke up in the middle of the night to a realization that I wasn’t getting back to sleep any time soon. It happens pretty frequently to me. So I decided to a meditative practice where I check in on myself a little at a time. That’s really all it is when we ask ourselves what we need. It’s just a question and answer game. How are my ankles feeling? How are my calves?… How are my hips? How is my stomach? Etc… I like to work my way from toe to head, bringing each part of my body into focus a little bit at a time.
The same can be done for our minds. What kind of thoughts am I having? Is it easy for me to stay focused? Do I have a headache or feeling fuzzy at the edges of my thoughts? Asking our brain for these answers can give us a peak into how our mind is operating.
The soul is maybe the place where I lose a lot of the more pragmatic people reading this post. But please don’t write off your feelings and your core values so quickly. The soul can mean different things to different people. Whatever you’d like to think of it as – spiritual, functional, ethereal, separated – there are ways for you to ask questions that get to the bottom of the stirrings in your being.
I’ve described the way that I take stock of my body. I go muscle group by muscle group, almost like a body scan. Most of the time we get back the answer, “fine” (or hopefully we do). When we get back an answer that’s off, the exercise evolves into asking our body what it needs to repair. Here are my examples for you to think about.
My thighs and hip flexors are really tight – tomorrow I’ll stretch better before I go for my run.
My stomach feels heavy and uncomfortable – I’ve been eating a lot of complex carbs, sugars and dairy. Tomorrow I’ll give my body more nutrients and avoid the foods that cause inflammation for me. (These are different for everybody – don’t get stuck on “good or bad” foods).
My neck and spine feel immobile and uncomfortable – I have an appointment with my chiropractor tomorrow.
These are just examples to get you started on your own check in. I like to do this during meditation in corpse pose, just because it gives me a lot of freedom to wiggle and concentrate on each individual part of the body.
I’ve given some sample questions above, but what do we do about the answers when it comes to our mind? As helpless as it can feel, if there is anything I’ve learned in my own mental health journey it is that we have power over our brains. We can’t change the chemical imbalances through strength of will, but we can help our brain functions better. Here are some examples:
My thoughts feel cluttered and it’s hard to concentrate on one – tomorrow I’ll journal to help get some of them out on the page, and I’ll clean our room because it’s cluttered. (Other options include talking to someone to externally process or making a to-do list).
My head aches and feels a little fuzzy – tomorrow I’ll use a combination of essential oils and clearing my diet of inflammatory foods to help my brain function a little more clearly. I’ll also take my antidepressants to help boost the chemicals that fight sluggishness.
Clearly identifying what’s going on with our mind helps us understand how we can exercise control despite our limitations. To me, that’s really empowering.
Our soul, the place where our feelings and desires are generated (again, I reiterate that this can be envisioned in any way that makes sense for your world view), is another part of our life that dictates how well we function in the world. Identifying feelings that keep popping up like hopelessness, anxiety, contentment, anger, etc. is a way for us to check in with how well we are managing those feelings. Here are some examples for me:
I’ve been feeling restless – tomorrow I will edit pictures and follow a bit more of a routine to help me feel grounded in my life.
I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety – tomorow I will do as many things from my to-do list as I can so that I feel more control over my life.
These questions and solutions step past the hokey idea of our soul and give practical solutions for affecting our moods and feelings.
The Bottom Line
There will always be things in our life that we cannot control. Jobs, family emergencies and other outside influences shape our lives. These questions and this exercise just helps us to get a grip on the positive steps we can take to help our body, mind and soul find harmony with each other and function at our best. Check in with yourself and ask what you can do. Do these ideas help you start down a path to healing?