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Listening-in to what your symptoms are saying

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2017-01-19

At Replenish, one underlying theme of everything we do is what we call listening-in.

It’s not about listening-in to educational or informational materials (though I do highly recommend tuning in to the free Thyroid Secret docu-series produced by my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Izabella Wentz!).

What it is about is developing a clear line of communication with your body so that you can actually respond to its messages.

This is the symptom sensitivity I spoke about last week.

Listening-in is an art and a science. It’s a practice that I’ve developed for myself over many years and that I’m keen on teaching others because of the powerful benefits of this simple act.

To give you an example, I’d been waking up for several mornings with one of my hands feeling a bit swollen. I’d rise and it would be the first thing that grabbed my attention.

It certainly wasn’t painful, but it was noticeable.

Could the swelling be the deep scratch on one of my fingers that my cat gave me? (This would be inflammation of the acute sort, helping my body to heal a wound in a natural and manageable way.)

Or could the swelling be a sign of some internal inflammation expressing itself in my joints, a signal that I need to redirect my course of action dietarily or nutritionally? (This would be inflammation of the chronic sort, the underlying or silent type of inflammation that can express itself externally at the slightest provocation.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about narcissistic or paranoid navel gazing here. Those questions I posed run through my mind in a matter of seconds and don’t lead to any dark holes of thought or conversations with my therapist about my impending death because of the slight perception of swelling in my left hand.

Just last night I was reading an older New York Times article called ‘The Science and Art of Listening’. It was a piece about the brain, by the neuroscientist Seth Horowitz, and the different neurons that fire when we listen as opposed to when we hear.
Listening as opposed to hearing in effect is what happens when an event jumps out of the background enough to be perceived consciously rather than just being part of your auditory surroundings. The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is attention…
Hearing, in short, is easy. You and every other vertebrate…have been doing it for hundreds of millions of years. It’s your lifeline, your alarm system, your way to escape danger and pass on your genes. But listening, really listening, is hard when potential distractions are leaping into your ears every fifty-thousandth of a second…
Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of…distraction and information overload.

The New York Times piece made me think about the art and science of what I’m calling listening-in.

When we listen-in, we’re in tune, in harmony, in communication.

When we listen-in, we can respond as one who has truly paid attention.

In order to listen-in we need to develop our understanding of what we’re listening to, our awareness of what it means and the care with which we can respond. Listening is different than hearing in that it requires attention, yes, but also perception.

Symptoms don’t just become a blur that we hear if they’re loud or painful enough, but instead a crystal clear message begging a reply.

I share more about listening-in during my interview in The Thyroid Secret docu-series (it’s true, I was honored to be included on this A-list of Functional Medicine experts who are helping to share this important message.)

On the second day that I woke up with the slight swollen feeling in my left hand I increased my anti-inflammatory herbs and re-checked my recent food intake for some of the foods that might be more inflammatory to my particular system but which I still indulge in on occasion. (It’s this other practice I have called living.)

As someone managing Hashimoto’s I know that inflammation is a quick reaction in my body to any infliction. I also know how to hear its subtle cries and respond in turn.

Now that I think about it, when I woke up this morning with the sound of heavy rain out my window, there was no sensation of swelling at all. Thank goodness for my practice of listening-in.

Your action steps this week are easy!

1. Practice the art of listening-in

What messages is your body revealing through symptoms or pain? How can you listen-in and respond to what you’re hearing?
2. Listen-in (and watch!) the free 9-part docu-series, The Thyroid Secret

I’m extending a special invitation for early and free access to this ground-breaking series. It features interviews with over 100 of the top experts in integrative thyroid treatment (including me!) and 50 thyroid patients to unmask the dark veil surrounding thyroid issues and help you recover from them.

Reserve your free spot for this special premiere of The Thyroid Secret. (The first episode airs today!)



P.S. Hey, one more action step! We’re hiring. Learn more about our open position here and see if joining the Replenish team might be right for you.

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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