A yoga teacher I once had used to start the class with the chanting of “om shri gurave namah” which she translated as “awaken the teacher within”. I love this sentence and I wholly agree with this as a way of taking control of your life and working out what works for you.
I always tell my clients that I am someone who knows a bunch of things that work for different people but they are the expert on themselves. There are so many therapies/treatments/diets/exercise plans out there and it is not possible that any one of them will be the answer for everyone. So how do you know what is right for you? Well, you awaken the teacher within!
Becoming an expert on yourself is a matter of listening to your heart, to your body and trial and error. What is important is to become familiar to tuning into the signals that your body is sending you, the physical sensations that you experience within your body every minute of every day. If you have a history of trauma you may struggle with this. It is not uncommon for trauma survivors to completely cut themselves off from bodily sensations. This is understandable and has been necessary for survival at some point in your life and it is useful to seek professional help to learn to tolerate these sensations (yoga is an excellent way to make friends with your body too.. but another post on that later).
If you experience anxiety or panic you may be all too familiar with tuning into bodily sensations and may be oversensitive to small changes. Some basic information about the reasons for these physical symptoms can be a good start to overcoming this (you can read about that here). However, regardless of what is going on for you, tuning into your body can be a great way to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Try making some changes to the foods you eat. Pick some small changes that you feel you can manage (cut out harmful additives, remove gluten or dairy, give up caffeine or refined sugar). Give these changes a few weeks and during this time pay attention to your body – can you notice anything different? Does your body feel calmer, more energetic, do you fall asleep more easily, wake feeling more refreshed? Has your mood changed? Does the muscle tension that you usually carry in your jaw/shoulders/chest/stomach feel as if it has lessened? Have your thoughts stopped racing?
If the answer is yes then that is great, you have learned something about yourself. You decide how you want to continue. No noticeable difference? You make the decision about trying something different. Try adding healthy fats, probiotics and fermented foods, removing grains. Try some different forms of exercise, learn meditation, try different bedtimes, try some form of therapy (or a different one). Each step of the way, many times each day, check in with your body, listen to your thoughts, learn something more about yourself.
The point is that there is no way of telling which combination of the numerous options is going to work for you. It is easy to pin your hopes on the latest diet, the newest medication or therapy but each of these things will work for some people and not others. All of the ‘experts’ out there know what they have been trained in or researched about but they don’t know you.
Be your own expert. Use valuable advice, information and experiences of others to develop your own strategy. Trust yourself. Keep what works, leave what doesn’t and keep experimenting until you find your own path…. and if that path changes, remember, awaken the teacher within!