Stop, Look and Listen

Though your  body holds valuable information you need to function at your best, if you are like many, you have developed a habit of ignoring its messages and plowing ahead. The noise of competing external demands can become so overwhelming that you become deaf to the essential, subtler whispers from your body that something is amiss and merits attention.

You take aspirin rather than investigate what’s causing your head to ache. You power up by doubling caffeine or sugar intake, rather than getting more rest—or recognizing your fatigue as an early symptom of burnout you’d do well to heed.

When asked to take on yet another commitment, what insight can you glean from the thousands of messages embedded in how your body responds?

  • Is your mouth pinched, tight or frowning?
  • Are your shoulders up around our ears?
  • Is there a knot of tension in your stomach?

If any or all of these symptoms are present, it may well be your body’s way of screaming “no” because you are already over-extended.

For years I demonstrated extraordinary ability to put professional deadlines and everyone else’s needs ahead of my aching bones, burgeoning fat stores, full bladder and weary soul. (Does anyone else see the irony in calling them DEADlines?) I had mastered the hamster wheel approach to life. I kept going—no matter what—thanks to working vacations and loading doses of junk food, caffeine and sugar.

Until one day I woke up 80 pounds heavier in body and soul—no good to myself or anyone else. Despite the fancy titles, fortune and fame, I had become a poster child for baby boomer burnout. How could the American dream have become such a nightmare?

Stop, Look and Listen

On the journey to finally learning to take care of the one person I’d always neglected—MYSELF—I discovered a variety of tools and techniques to help me become more attentive and attuned to my body’s frequency. For those of you eager to do the same, here are some simple steps to help you support your own long term well-being physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually by becoming a better somatic listener.

Start with the breath. Mindful breathing is a major part of body awareness. Turn off thoughts and just let yourself experience the inflow and outflow of breath. Note how and where you are breathing or failing to, clear signs something important is going on.

Allow yourself quiet time. Sit for ten minutes just observing yourself, even (especially) in the middle of a busy day. Meditate. Take a walk or a nap. Soak in a warm tub rather than taking a quick shower. Practice the long-lost art of doing nothing.

Get a massage. It’s not self-indulgence; it wakes up the whole nervous system, releases toxins and helps you tune in to what your body is trying to express.

Use your journal to dialogue with your body. Ask your body how it’s feeling, what it wants, what’s going on. Give that sore wrist or stiff lower back a voice by inviting it to share its message.

Eat when hungry, sleep when tired. Take a week and really pay attention to your body’s most basic needs. Do your real rhythms and needs (quality, quantity and frequency) of eating and sleeping conform to the habits you’ve established? If they don’t, experiment with changes that might better align with greater well-being.

Do a relaxation body inventory. Start with your toes and work upwards. Scan your body from the inside. Try tensing each part slightly, then relaxing it to release residual tension.

Practice mindfulness. Get used to tuning in to your physical self, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. A big bonus: getting to enjoy the insights your physical self can yield concerning your mental, emotional and spiritual selves.

Whatever you do, remain playful in your approach. We sometimes have a tendency to mistakenly believe that nothing valuable is accomplished unless we are deadly serious and suffering. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! If your body suggests rolling down a grassy hillside, taking flight on a playground swing, flying a kite, skipping down a winding path or laughing giddily for no reason, don’t resist.

Your intuitive impulses hold the key to your well-being.

Author’s content adapted under license, © 2008 Claire Communications


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What clients say about
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“I knew Deborah before she became a Professional Life Coach. I’ve been amazed at how she has changed her life. When I decided it was time to begin making decisions about the next phase of my life, I knew immediately that Deborah was the person I wanted to work with. Her personal and professional experiences help her guide clients through coaching in a way that is individualized and delightfully eye-opening. Her warmth and sensitivity are immediately apparent, even over the phone. With gentle encouragement and permission, she will guide you through an examination of your life, including difficult experiences. She will help you gain insight from your past choices and then explore possibilities for moving forward in less encumbered ways. When you work with Deborah, your life will take on new meaning and your potential will be limitless!” Chris

“The work I did with Deborah continues to change my life. While I have learned many valuable lessons from her, the greatest was the deep insight that is available to me when I listen to and learn from my own inner wisdom. Her intuition, discernment and encouragement have taught me to trust my own intuition—creating new paths and possibilities for my life. One of Deborah’s great gifts is helping others respect and connect with their inner guidance and through that connection, to form a deeper, more meaningful bond with the collective wisdom and energy of all.” Ryan

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“With the same energy and determination she applied in the professional world, Deborah has taken her considerable expertise in human potential and has now set her sights on the largest co-op in the world, humanity. ‘Choose Your Energy, Change Your Life!’ tackles what I believe are the most important questions we each must ask: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, and what’s love got to do with it (cue Tina Turner)? These are not trivial or philosophical questions for the answers change what we do, why we do it, who and what we love. I am grateful for the opportunity to walk with Deborah on this critical journey.” JD Messenger, Award Winning Author of “11 Days in May: The Conversation That Will Change Your Life”

“To me the great thing about Deborah’s book is how ‘accessible’ she makes the ideas. The Oxygen Mask is probably the single best example. As with so many of the ideas in the book, she explains the principle in such a simple way that it’s got universal application to virtually any reader. I can imagine people having multiple moments of ‘Oh….I get it!’ throughout the book. The stories from her own life as well as stories of her clients’ experiences become stories about all of us—stories about which the reader will think, ‘I am living my own version of this.’ Well done—bravo!” Joe Calloway, Author of “Be The Best At What Matters Most”

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About djwlifecoach

As a retired board-certified coach, author and Reiki master teacher, I continue to share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose sharing hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog and radio episodes help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. Learn more and access FREE resources at For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting, golfing and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee and Maisy Jane.
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