Having lunch with a friend and wife of a physican, I shared with her the story about how deeply I was touched by the doctor who really listened to me. As she smiled, she said, “My husband has told me that patients give clear pictures about what is really going on with them. He realized a long time ago all he had to do was listen to them carefully.”

I have discovered, the same holds true for you and me when it comes to healing ourselves. Have you ever had that inner sense something was wrong with your body and just ignored it? Have you ever found yourself so busy you didn’t even slow down enough to really pay attention to how you are feeling? Have you ever waited until you were sick in bed to get help? I have–too many times.

How often do we just stop to pay attention to the symptoms we have been experiencing? How often do we pause to listen to the inner voice telling us to take our vitamins, get more sleep, or put in a few less hours at work? Do we schedule appointments with preventative health professionals like massage therapists or accupuncturists? It took me years to figure out I needed to stop and pay attention the minute my body started talking to me.

And what about the words we use? He is a pain in the neck. My job gives me a headache. My body isn’t keeping up with me. That thought makes me sick to my stomach. This is flu season, I always end up in bed for a week this time of the year. How often are we describing an illness or even creating the potential for one through our thoughts?

Getting still and quiet enough to notice, caring enough to seriously consider those intuitive notions, and even listening to our own words, can help us recognize what is going on with our bodies so that we can respond effectively.

Next: The art of intuitive listening and health