The other day at the end of my yoga class, the teacher suggested we take a minute and ask ourselves: "What is it that I need right now?" In context, she meant simply: do whatever pose you want, if you want, before you collapse into corpse pose. She continued: "Your body is your true teacher. What is it calling out for right now: a twist, a forward bend, an energizing back bend? Something else entirely? Only you know what you need today, in this moment."
As a result, I got to thinking -- how often do we, in the course of our often hectic daily lives, pause to really listen to ourselves; our bodies, our heart, our inner selves, and give it what it's calling out for? We hear, loud and clear, the obvious cues of hunger, exhaustion, pain, and general malaise, all signs that our bodies are screaming in protest to whatever it is that we are currently doing, or have neglected to do. And yet we often blithely persist in doing what we're doing, or not doing. We unconsciously, or consciously, ignore these cues, often choosing to deaden them with alternative substances (caffeine? sugar? alcohol? painkillers?), rather than listen, stop, and address the real root of the problem. It's a known fact that by the time we feel thirsty our body is already dehydrated. People also often mistake thirst for hunger and eat something, usually salty or sweet, instead, which only heightens the true problem. How often do we simply grab whatever is quickest and easiest to eat by the time we notice we're ravenous? How many other times do we find ourselves mindlessly snacking away for other non-hunger related reasons... out of boredom, anxiety, stress, exhaustion, habit, fatigue, socializing, or peer pressure?
What other needs in our lives do we suppress in lieu of other pressures, expectations, and routine? How many times do we say "yes" to things we have neither the desire nor time for?How did this "no problem" habit become so pervasive, such that hearing (and giving) an affirmative answer is expected, regardless of the consequences? Saying yes to opportunities and upholding responsibilities is one thing, but at what cost: to one's relationships, one's quality of life, one's health?
In mulling over the many contexts this simple question, What Do I Need?, can be applied to, I think it's something we should be asking ourselves on a moment-by-moment, daily basis from the most minute level (am I really craving fries? Or do I need to drink more water?) to much deeper and meaningful contexts pertaining to relationships, life, love, career and aspirational goals. Only by learning to listen to our one true guide - our inner selves - can we find a starting point from which to truly address, rather than palliate, our needs.
I initially started this blog with the idea of exploring the relationship between mind/body and our environment through the constant choices we make. Many life choices we are careful and deliberate about, but most simple daily decisions we make are subconscious, spontaneous, or all too often, habitual. Life is complicated enough; the very least we can do for ourselves is to pay attention to our true needs, and satisfy them. I suspect life would become simpler, and more satisfying, as a result.