If you watched my last YouTube video, “The Limitations of Diagnosis”, you can probably tell that I’m on a little bit of a roll in the area of wellness. It’s something that I think about a lot. It’s one of the reasons I became a psychotherapist, and it’s something even more present in my life since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
The issue of health is something that nourishes me and frustrates me…depending which angle I look at it from.
The Outsourcing of Wellness
We are a mad society: We are constantly busy, we are exposed to harmful pollution in our air, pesticides in our food, and disruptive noises in our environments. We put our sweet bodies under so much pressure, and still they try their very best to balance us out.
We are absolutely neurotic when it comes to wellness. We treat our bodies like machines that don’t belong to us. We work them day and night. We run them until they are on their reserve energy levels. We beat them up for not working or looking the way we want them to. And we demand more. We are so so mean to these sweet, human vehicles.
The way most of us approach wellness nowadays, is to go to a doctor when things go wrong. When we start to feel sick or run-down, off we go to the miracle-man, hoping he can give us a magic pill to quiet down the fusses coming from our vessels. Usually, this approach satisfies us. The doctor gives us a quick diagnosis, some magic beans and before we know it, we are back to sitting in traffic, hunching at computer screens, and blissing out at the end of the day with some alcohol.
It’s amazing how easy that was, right?
How long can you cover this up for?
When our bodies have difficulty running at the pace we wish to run at, they are sending us a message, “Hey, sweet mind, slow down. I am tired.” Our smart phones and laptops run out of battery. They very clearly tell us, “That’s it, I’m done. You need to leave me alone so I can recharge. And don’t you dare try to send another email from me for the next hour.” And we obey. So why don’t we treat our bodies with the same respect?
Our bodies run on energy, and we have energy banks. We fill our energy banks by eating nourishing food, getting restorative sleep, engaging in warming activities with people who contribute to our growth. We deplete our energy banks when we run around too fast, get super stressed, run our bodies on junk food, try to meet everyone’s demands (including our own), spend time with people we don’t care for, and always expect more.
I hope your doctor’s got a good heart
If you keep ignoring your body’s signals, it will scream louder with more serious symptoms in the hope that you will pay attention. What will you do when your doctor cannot give you a pill to cover these symptoms up?
Please do not misunderstand me. There is a place for doctors, and I am so grateful for some doctors I have come across. What I am trying to say is that it is so important that your doctor encourage you to not be dependent on them. Prevention is more effective than repair, and you are the only one who can know your body best. This means you need to listen to your human home when it speaks to you.
How can I listen to my body?
Listening to our bodies means taking some quiet time to be with them. We need stillness, peace. We need to close our eyes and tune in. Without labelling any sensations, just be with them. Feel the soreness in your ankle, the clenching in your jaw, or the ache in your boob. There’s no need to try to guess what these sensations are – “stress”, “ulcer”, “cancer”? Go slow. Just be with your body in silence, guiding your consciousness from your feet to your legs, to your pelvic area and all the way up.
This is sounding like a snooze fest, right? I’m sorry guys, but going slow is the only way to tune in to yourself. If sitting still is something you really can’t do, then go for a walk and as you move, turn your attention inwards. Again, be with your body and feel it. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to sit, walk, do yoga or do the dishes, just give your body the time it deserves.
Work as a team with your health carers
Diagnosis needs to be a team effort. We cannot expect our doctors to tune into our symptoms if we haven’t taken the time to feel them ourselves. Our doctors then need to give time to understanding us. They must allow us to speak, they must guide us to the pain and encourage us to stay with it so that we can describe it to them. Using the information we give them and combining it with their knowledge, training and experience, they can make a diagnosis that can act as a guide for treatment.
A symptom (for ex. tummy pain) is different for everyone, and can come about for various reasons. Tummy pain could be the result of drinking too much soda, or feeling fear that you’re letting people down, or not allowing yourself to fart in front of your new partner. Is the tummy pain in your actual stomach, or in your uterus, or your small intestine? To simply prescribe a pill to cover up a pain that neither the patient nor the doctor has taken the time to understand is fast and (perhaps) efficient. But this method does not heal us. It does not treat us. And it does not serve us.
Be choiceful with your health
I believe that the medical profession needs some reshuffling. Since all evolutions take time, I would like to leave you with four suggestions:
- Go to doctors who listen more than they talk. Choose doctors who want to understand your experience holistically.
- If your doctor is not tuning in to your needs, try someone else, or consider a different kind of health professional, like a body-worker.
- Practice listening to your body. Even the best doctors cannot magically know what is happening within our bodies. We need to help them.
- Use a guided body scan to help you get used to being with your body. It takes practice, but you will get used to it. Don’t give up.