I invite you to recall a moment when you felt full of energy and like everything was working effortlessly.

Remember how you felt in your body. What did your lower body feel? Your upper body? Your face, neck, and head? Where do you feel the energy of this memory? Do you feel cold or warm? Constricted or open? Tense or relaxed?

Now, recall a time when you were frustrated, afraid, or resistant. How did you feel in your body? What did your lower body feel? Your upper body? Your face, neck, and head? Do you feel cold or warm? Constricted or open? Tense or relaxed?

Slowly return to the first memory, noticing the subtle internal shifts.

When you come to a fork in the road on the path through life, our bodies offer physical sensations and emotions that indicate which direction is a yes and which is a no.

Like a tuning fork, our bodies say, matter-of-factly, “Don’t go that way. Go this way. Turn that way. Yup. Nope. Yup.”

When moving in the direction of a yes, many of my coaching clients report may feel a sense of things lining up inside, losing track of time, experiencing a natural high, feeling energized and in the flow with life, or simply feeling a quiet warmth inside.

On the other hand, a no might feel irritable, tired, detached, bored, restless, uncertain, or just plain ugh.

One reason many people ignore their bodies is that it can be scary to acknowledge what we really need and turn our ship in the direction of the unknown. For example, perhaps you once loved your job, but now you dread it. You know you need to make a change, but the Voice of Doubt clamors, “What if you never find another job as good? Things may be bad, but is it really worth giving up your income and benefits?”

However, when we ignore our emotions, they don’t go away.

Emotion is an energy that wants to move through our bodies (think e-motion). Instead, when we ignore our emotions, they get stuck in our bodies, hearts, and minds, and their messages can begin to manifest as overwhelm, heartache, depression, anxiety, irritability, illness, pain, fatigue, burnout, and hopelessness.

When we pay attention to our body’s yeses and noes, we gain the information we need to make decisions that serve us and our communities, have an easier time staying focused on what’s most important, make more efficient progress toward our goals, and trust our ability to course-correct when new information arises. Although we must resist and dismantle systems of oppression, we also need to tune into the lifeforce energy that is calling us toward something new.

That said, you might be asking—How can I discern between a yes that arises from a deeper calling and a yes that arises from socialization or trauma?

It’s true. Feelings can arise from many place including:

  1. Habitual survival strategies
  2. Wounds that need healing
  3. Others’ feelings that you’re empathing or entwined with
  4. Stories about what you should or shouldn’t wan
  5. Intergenerational patterns
  6. Unmet needs
  7. Lifeforce energy: deep desires, longings, callings

A pull to do something can even arise from multiple places at once (which can feel especially confusing!). The first step to sensing a yes and a no is to practice listening to your body and asking the sensations and emotions you feel what they want to tell you. By practicing listening, over and over again, you will begin to trust yourself to discern the messages your body is trying to share.

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