Body’s Choice: The Key to Decision Making?By:
Should I eat Thai food for lunch or get sushi? Body’s choice.
Should I drink another cup of coffee or go for a walk? Body’s choice.
Should I stay with my partner or leave her? Body’s choice.
I first heard about the concept of body’s choice on a podcast called Call Your Girlfriend. The idea is that every decision we face, large or small, should be made according to the signals we gets from our bodies.
I find this idea fascinating, especially in a culture so driven by information and an overabundance of choice. What if we could slow down, tune in, and let our bodies guide us through this complex world? I especially like the idea of body’s choice around food: I imagine my microbiome—the healthy bacteria in my gut—gathering itself up to try to scream at me, APPLE! APPLE! APPLE!
We know that our minds get it wrong all the time. We make up stories about what’s happening around us and what people think, and we can miss certain subtle cues that our bodies are somehow able to intuit. Sometimes we get sick and miraculously recover only when we leave a certain job or relationship; our nervous systems respond to low level stress over time, thus weakening our immune defenses. What if we listened more closely to those signals and let our bodies make our choices?
The simplest way to practice the concept of body’s choice is with a small decision where you are considering two options. Close your eyes and imagine the first choice. See how your body responds to imagining that choice. Then imagine the second choice and see how your body responds. Then simply follow whatever felt better.
Of course, this process is complicated. Mind and body are not separate, but react to and with each other. The body’s wisdom is likely to have been collected from habit and experience rather than rational thought, so it’s unlikely to feel good about risk. The body may very much want us to reach for processed sugar because it’s so darn easy to get addicted to, and some of that gut bacteria wants it real bad. The body could also be resisting a healthy relationship because unhealthy relationships feel more familiar, feel more like home. Body’s choice isn’t guaranteed to come from a pure place.
Nevertheless, I think this is a really interesting way to approach our decisions. How often do we actually check in with our bodies when we consider a choice? When we get overwhelmed by indecision, do we pause to move it through our bodies or just think about it obsessively with no resolution? We may be missing useful guidance from the body, and if we can combine it with the wisdom of our minds, perhaps we can make more interesting decisions and feel more confident about them.
In a general sense, body-based mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation can help us to stay tuned in to how we feel day to day, and learn to respect the way our bodies respond to the world around us. Journaling can be a helpful way for us to decipher our mental wisdom, as can talking our feelings out with someone we trust. In my experience, one modality is not enough: we need ways to honor both the mind and the body. Adding body’s choice to our techniques for decision making could be a simple and highly satisfying way to get started.
Join yoga teacher Julie Peters on an exploration into the real life of yoga—how the philosophies and experiences of the practice can help us learn from our bodies, enrich our relationships, face our deepest shadows, and laugh at ourselves along the way. Julie is the author of the book Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (Turner Publishing). See www.jcpeters.ca for more details.