AN EDGY QUESTION
Make some time for yourself today.
While you're at it, give your body a compliment, too. I'm sure you can find a couple of favorable words to say. What have you got to lose?
I know, I know. Your body isn't the way it used to be. The force of gravity is weighing on you like a ton of bricks.
Just do something kind for your body. Get a massage, dunk in the ocean, or take a warm bath.
So you can be still and listen to your heart speak to you -- to reconnect with the life inside your body that's yours alone.
Lately, I've been working on being nicer to my body, to love and respect it. I filled my body with toxins, starved it, overfed it, and took it for granted. I've fought the imperfections, infections, and illnesses. For decades I ignored it, turning a deaf ear to the messages it was sending me. I've berated my body's frailty and was mad when it was weak, let me down, or didn't look the way I'd prefer. It's cries for help went unheeded.
My body, my enemy.
Just consider that for a moment. What if our bodies, rather than being our fiercest foe, are actually our closest ally?
What if the physical symptoms that trouble us -- the aches, pains, illnesses, infections and infirmities -- aren't obstacles, but a call to heal ourselves? Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually?
It's an edgy question, isn't it? Makes me think about how most of us may outsource our responsibility for healing our bodies, ourselves, to trusted doctors with fancy medical degrees from highfalutin' universities who write the prized prescriptions for the newest wonder drugs.
But what happens when those same doctors tell you they can offer no explanation for your symptoms? Or, there's nothing more they can do to help you?
"Accept what is and move on," the doctor says.
Yet, we're frustrated and desperate to make sense of why our body is behaving the way it is. We want answers and a conventional fix.
Despite that, some medical professionals might summon us to a deeper internal inquiry. "Look inward," they say. "You figure out why you're sick!"
Profound counsel or mumbo jumbo?
Look at it this way -- if you believe you can make yourself sick (of course you do!), then do you also believe you can heal yourself?
I was in my late thirties when I paid my internist a visit because of recurring sicknesses. He ordered
x-rays and scans, took swabs and samples, and finally, after not coming up with a clear diagnosis, asked me the following question: "Why are you sick all the time?"
"What do you mean, 'Why am I sick?' You're the doctor, you're supposed to tell me that!"
"I don't have all the answers," he continued. "Your body belongs to you. Maybe it's time you did some in-depth exploration of your own. Get a small shovel and start digging."
"What?" I didn't pay a bit of attention to him.
Several years later, I went back complaining of frequent mouth sores. He performed all the required tests. There was no infection, virus, or abscess -- nothing that could explain why those painful sores kept returning.
"I can't find anything that would explain why you have this problem," he declared. "However, I suggest you consider that there may be something you don't want to talk about. Maybe it's time to give voice to the words you've been holding inside."
This time I didn't ignore him. I was intrigued by his suggestion. I got out my shovel and opened myself to a path of self-discovery which led me to begin talking about what I believed I could never talk about: the innumerable times in my life when I failed to speak the unspeakable, vent my frustrations, defend myself against attacks, say "No," set limits, and advocate on my own behalf.
The mouth sores disappeared and never returned. Not once. Ever.
Naturally, this was not an overnight undertaking, but rather a long struggle to learn to speak up and express myself in new ways. After all, I had been raised believing that children (and you were always considered a child, no matter how old) were to be seen and not heard.
What began as a mission to find my voice became a journey of facing unspoken truths and breaking the silences that kept me trapped in the past. An arduous task, hardest of all was learning how, amidst all the external noise, to listen to my inner voice, trust myself, and experience the quiet joys in the stillness of me.
In the process, I discovered the powerful connection between the body, mind, and soul.
Is it possible, then, that it could be true? That every illness is a call for us to heal something within?
You remember Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, don't you? Most of his writings make perfect sense today, hundreds of years later. Rather than a coldly scientific approach to medicine, he observed people, not diseases.
He believed that patients had a natural ability to overcome illnesses. Medical treatments were meant to support the natural healing processes. "Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease," he wrote. "It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has." But, "If you heal the body it will not last unless the person has stopped doing what they did to make the body ill."
Wow! That's pretty weighty. And wise.
How ironic that centuries later we are re-discovering and proving, through the science of neuroimmunology, that a patient's emotional and spiritual well-being, frame of mind, and perception of their disease predict their treatment success more than the technical details of their condition or its treatment.
How compelling the idea . . . that by stimulating the immune system to a healthful balance physically, emotionally, and spiritually, we may overcome disease. Or, at the very least, prolong life.
If that's true, then we have the power to heal ourselves! That doesn't mean turning our backs on all that modern medicine has to offer. Rather, it means medicine working in concert with the forces of mind, spirit, and soul.
So -- if every illness is a call for us to heal something within, what is the most curative commodity out there?
Us. You. Me.
We hold the power to make the physical, emotional, spiritual, and lifestyle changes that will influence and support our beloved body to work together with modern medicine to support wellness.
Are you heeding the call?