It’s funny how only in a crisis of health do we feel justified to focus on our body. Only then might we buy organic, eat whole foods, visit a naturopath and make smoothies with bee pollen, super greens, raw cacao and hemp powder. Only then might we feed our mind with meditation and gratitude to nourish our spirit. Only then might we get massages and do yoga.
I was not that person.
I did all of the above before.
And during too. For years!
I made the naturopath excited with my knowledge of nutrition.
But it was not enough. So I want to share with you one of my missing pieces in case you would like to listen more closely to your body’s messages too.
I’m not saying that I have turned my back on Kale either! I love helping my body as much as possible. Alkaline’s my middle name. I’m a total believer! I’m devout!
For some people their health crisis might be a wake up call to change what they’re putting into their bodies. For me it was that AND…
A CALL TO REASSESS
Did you know that we all have cancer cells and bacteria circulating within our system? Normally our immune system can deal with this but when we are in a state of stress, the healing system is turned off. Yes, stress! You know it, I know it – but do we really know it?
How many times a day do you feel stressed?
Does it start with the alarm and end with getting to bed too late?
Does it include a rushed breakfast and running for the bus?
Is it that sinking feeling going to the job you don’t want to do and knowing you’ll be there for the rest of the day?
Is it looking at your bank account? Or thinking about your to do list? Or trying to fit too many things into the day? Or having to meet up with somebody when you just want to go home? Or going home when you just want some company?
It is all that and also every negative thought you have. Dr Lisa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine, says that the body can’t tell the difference between the little and the big stressors. All stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and release cortisol that no amount of green juice can combat. In the stress response, you are literally feeding your body poison.
To heal ourselves or to grow good health we need to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the relaxation response. Rather than trying to avoid stress, it’s easier to add relaxation practices, like a minute of mindful breathing. Sometimes it may be as easy as a walk in the park, other times we must do the big thing we’ve been pushing down, to quit that job or leave that relationship. Patients of Dr Rankin (and elsewhere) have recovered from chronic diseases by addressing stressors and incorporating relaxation practices.
For me, an important step is awareness. So often my mind wanders off and I find myself perpetually busy, even when ‘relaxing’. In fact, since quitting my full-time job, I’ve never been busier! We even got a cleaner at one point! Likewise here in Oz. I don’t want to go into it all like pensioner at the bus-stop. Just know that I wasn’t made for this.
I’m also learning to put boundaries up around my time and energy and to say ‘yes’ only when I mean ‘yes’. Know what I mean?
And when I realise I am feeling stressed about all I have to do I have choices :
a) do the work
b) let the non-essentials go
c) let go
But my mind is often a hive of bees. Having some healing work done this week, I would focus on my breathing but the moment there was lapse in consciousness, in the thoughts would buzz. Nothing important. All minor details. It was kind of fascinating.
This is what we can feel when we are ‘trying to’ meditate. I’ve found guided meditations to be helpful, but still the mind will wander to the washing and the odd jobs. It is like having an overbearing mother living in my brain. But nevertheless, even a minute of perfect peace is helping. This stuff coming up is what we need to process and by focusing back on the breath we watch our thoughts float into the ethers without attachment (as you can see I have been listening to A LOT of guided meditations).
Anyway, it all comes back to the big M.
Mindfulness is just being present – sensing and experiencing what we are doing right now.
I’m practising it when I’m eating (trying to). Sit at the table, don’t read or watch anything, see, taste, chew and feel the food. Should be easy! Some years ago (10 in fact, when I was 24) at a buddhist meditation course we spent the whole day in silence and couldn’t even speak during the meal. So why is it so hard not to eat standing up at the cupboard??
This is only the beginning of the story.
A central misconception of today’s holistic culture is the belief that all illness results from personal negativity… Yet negativity is not the only source of illness: It can also emerge as the answer to a prayer. It can physically guide us onto a path of insight and learning upon which we would otherwise never have set foot. It may be a catalyst for expanding personal consciousness as well as for understanding the greater meaning of life.
- Carolyn Myss, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can
Our bodies are an opportunity for awakening.
I’m waking up. Are you?
And you? Do you consciously practise mindfulness? What have you realised about your mind and body this week? Any experience of mind medicine?
Please answer any or all of these questions in the comments below