Getting to know your dosha

What do you do when, at the age of nearly 50, finding “the right food to sustain you” defeats you nearly as much as at ever did? When this happened to me, what hit me the hardest of all was a sense of not feeling welcome in my own body or, indeed, my own life…as though there was nothing left in the cupboards of life that could even pretend to want to feed me anymore; it was looking me straight in the eye and shaking its head. No exaggeration to say it felt like a version of abandonment all over again (chronic illness can repeatedly feel like an abandonment scenario; as though the same ordinary life that supports everyone else leaves you left out or lacking in some way). After all my hard work striving to improve my lifestyle to heal, it felt like yet another slap in the face.

This happened to me after receiving the blood test results (refered to in my last blog) that told me I had 24 food intolerances planted right on top of some of my core foods as an organic, “clean” eating vegetarian. Really, I had been doing everything I could to heal myself through diet and here, now, was this.

There had to be a gift in it…and there was; and it was that it got me to stop and look again at Ayurveda. Ayurvedic healing is something I had danced around with an interested eyebrow raised many times before on my journey through alternate modalities and as a yogi seeking a more yogic lifestyle yet something had kept me from going deeper; and that thing? Oh yes, me. Maybe the time just wasn’t right yet.

Now feels right. You know when you’re onto something; synchroncities line up to flag this one thing up from every corner of your experience and this happened to me about Ayurveda. Even my husband, who was deep into reading books about Ayurveda as a lifestyle in connection with yoga, kept reading anecdotes out over breakfast and then flagged up for me, in the most timely way, that we have a local practitioner (Angela Hope-Murray) of some renowned that I could seek access to so maybe I should consider it. Straight from the Chopra Centre’s website in answer to what is Ayurveda: “Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential”. These titbits I kept hearing whet my appetite again so I allowed myself to go in deeper this time; googling Ayurvedic diet for healing as a starting point. Then I purchase Angela’s most accessible book, “Ayurveda for Dummies” and that completely opened the door since it gave me an accessible (and relatable) overview of the whole “system” in one easy to read source.

Straightaway, I remembered doing those familiar Ayurvedic tests to “see what dosha you are?” in the past. They have a habit of popping up on Facebook and, again, on the Chopra Centre website which I knew I had completed at some point. Yet I was vague about what I had come up with…something about being a vata-pitta…and had certainly never acted on it in any coherent way (how many of us do these quizzes and think “oh, how interesting; sounds just like me” and then flutter on past?). There are numerous quizes out there and I recommend you type “dosha quiz” into google and try at least three as the results can vary depending on the depth of their questions Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 14.46.05.png(there’s also a very thorough one in Angela’s book). You will soon start to get a feel for what is your type and then you can start to play around with getting to know the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – (there’s plenty of information about that online) and doing what it takes to tweak your own lifestyle to bring it back into balance. Most people are a mixture of at least two. Some of us, unsurprisingly, tilt precariously into one dosha and the healing process involves working to rebalance that by pursing a diet and lifestyle that no longer provokes that dosha into its prevailing dominance. In fact, the system is remarkably simple and intuitive once you get the feel for it; you will probably start to feel the “truth” of some of the characteristics that come up and notice how the suggest adjustments work closer with you innate preferences than some of the things you have been doing with your life.

So I will leave you to explore as its a personal process; but what I really wanted to share here was my growing theory that, where chronic health conditions of the fibromyalgia kind are concerned (you know, those health conditions where we are almost too sensitive for this world; we feel too much) our vata is probably well out of balance. This brings with it a particular set of dietary and lifestyle requirements which, if we are following any kind of conventional healing path, might not be being met or could be being plain ignored in the name of pursuing better health. Often, we do this through eating fresh or even raw foods like it is going out of fashion, even avoiding too much sweetness whenever we suspect it is being used as a source of comfort (as I’ve been doing for some time) to our own detriment. Let me explain:

The qualities of vata are (and this is just a summary) lightness, dryness, mobility, subtleness, coolness, roughness, clarity and inconsistency (description taken verbatim from Ayurveda for Dummies by Angela Hope Murray). It is all about nerves and hyper-sensitivity (things I talk about such a lot); about feeling things and receiving energetic messages at their most subtle. As a quality, it is quick, agile, exploratory, flighty, playful, sensitive, light, creative, in fact quite astonishing in its high-frequency approach to everything and capacity to expand viewpoints or uplift the mundane. Out of balance, it presents as muscle cramping, nerve pains, paralysis, hopeless indecisiveness, feeling far too much, ungroundedness, anxiety, feelings of abject overwhelm. When I hear vata out-of-balance  (and how this manifests as illness in the body) being described, it sounds such a lot like the endemic Epstein Barr symptoms that Anthony Williams’ (The Medical Medium) talks about being the basis of most modern chronic health complaints; for, indeed, I suspect they are much the same thing, impacting the nervous system at a very profound level that becomes autoimmunity (to ourselves and the world that we live in). In other words, we feel like we can’t stay in our own bodies, or our environments, anymore…like we are no longer welcome here and must move on to somewhere beyond the physical; a long slow departure. Healing our relationship with our bodies, via food, plays a crucial part in returning ourselves to these bodies under a brand new set of terms that makes us feel more than welcome, and valued, once again (so, an end to all those abandoned feelings) in order to thrive like never before. And its time this became a  much more readily available healing path for all those vast numbers of people burdened with wearisome chronic illnesses; which, I am beginning to suspect, Ayurveda may supply if we start to use it to get to know ourselves better. One of the best things about it is that it is a process that we can do ourselves, simply by familiarising ourselves with the doshas and the ways that these get out of balance. And if you think you know yourself really well already, consider this; so did I…but I have been forced to completely reconsider my diet since opening this box of knowledge, and am already reaping the benefits.

To do this, we quite literally need to befriend our most pitta-like qualities since they govern proper digestion (of ideas too!), temperature regulation and hormones plus the release and appropriate use of all those enzymes that keep us in balance, those all-important engines of the metabolism that are so key to health and energy. The good news is that, I suspect, for those of us who started out as mainly chronically fatigued but who now notice a real fire in our engines…yes, maybe one that, for the moment, seems to make us feel even more depleted and, well, burnt-out, this is actually a sign that our doshas are trying to get into balance. But…here’s a catch that we need to be aware of and it can actually feel like a setback in our recovery process if we misinterpret the signs…

Based on my own experiences, where inflammation and extreme pain co-exist with that super-sensitivity and ungroundedness I’ve already referred to, I suspect rising pitta is creating this issue and, like I said, it can feel like things getting worse as it starts to rise. This happened very markedly to me, two and half years ago, when I was really starting to feel like I was gaining traction in my recovery, then suddenly I was burning up inside and out, I developed electro-sensitivity and all sorts of new environmental triggers around heat and my pain levels and intolerances became worse than ever. This only made my strongly vata tendencies entrench more; I felt more anxious, flighty, ungrounded and out of sync with the world I live in, like I had to hide away just to survive it all. I felt toxic all over again…and this build up of ama (toxins) is exactly what happens when vata is off-kilter since it this dosha is the most crucial to our nervous system and its proper function, delivering messages that direct all those other processes involving digestion and elimination etc. When it is out of balance, digestive processes, cell regeneration and all kinds of subtle processes impacting our thyroid, our pituitary and so on suffer for it in a downwardly cascading process; and we can then feel too weak to cope with devising the next steps we need to take to recover ourselves (I think a lot of people reading this will know that feeling all too well).

In other words, we need our life-force back; a bit of jet-propulsion beneath our rocket in order to recover…so we need some pitta to rise up in us. But then we are not exactly on the best of terms with pitta since we are still smarting from being “burned” the last time we became inflammed (isn’t that what started off this whole process of illness?) so we are distrustful of it in the extreme.

It’s as though the relationship between pitta and vata (the two most dominant doshas in a person with such a play-off) are suddenly competing for attention and the feeling between them is suspicious and strained. They are like the odd couple who fell out a long-long time ago; no one remembers why but it has left an old scar that has never been forgotten or forgiven though they still live together. So occasionally they bicker and sulk but they  largely ignore each other, muddling by, falling into a strangely distorted (and silent) relationship for a very long time…until, one day, the balance of power starts to change and the one that always kept very quiet decides to have their say…loudly. Even though what they have to say is just what is needed to break the painful stalemate, the other person reacts like they have been hit.

Likewise, many of us have become used to our vata-dominant way of life for years; we learn to adapt and lead oddly self-protective lives in order to survive the world and, in time, the extreme imbalance between doshas lessens through a lack of aggravants (since we have virtually eliminated them all with our careful lives)…which can feel like we are getting somewhat better. So our life-force fires up, our pitta is on the rise again; and we push our own boundaries, daring to make new commitments and plan to do more “normal” things. In other words, we step back into a more grounded existence; one that is more involved with the world. When this happens, vata recoils in shock at all the heat that is suddenly released inside of us and, voila – our recovery is set right back again (or so we assume). This certainly feels like what happens to me at these times. When pitta comes up in me too strongly, too fast; especially early in the day or when I am least expecting it, it can set me back further than I was to start with and it makes me loathe to try new things. So what do we do next? We vata-pitta types tend not to want to mess with our kaptha (the third dosha) at all since excess kaptha, to us, can feel like depression, laziness or complete loss of purpose; in fact, our moderate but reliable and steady kaptha qualities are probably the very thing that have kept us level and pragmatic, continuously plodding us onwards like the donkey that never tires through all the endless years aof recovery and setback without losing heart and when other people might have gven up; but we dont want to become any more accepting, more stolid than that. Really, we know we need to work with the energy of fiery pitta (which can feel like the very essential life force that we lack) to recover the good health in our bodies…but how, without getting burned?

In other words, this plays out something like the off-kilter relationship between yin and yang (or, feminine and masculine aspects) in this out-of-whack world of ours; we know we need to fix it but don’t know how to go about it without giving ourselves away to another dominant force that will potentially “hurt us”.

Yet, as I talk about endlessly, we have reached a point where the feminine is rising AND where the yin and yang must (crucially) learn to get on with each other…to work as a trusting partnership…so that we can get ourselves into balance and know “perfect health” both as a planet and as individuals. See how they correspond, these two healing opportunities; our bodies and the whole rest of the world? When we crack one of these conundrums, we play our part in the other and they are a remarkably similar process.

In my own case, I thought that to heal, the very best thing  I could do was to pursue the most direct-sounding and popular healing-diet modality that is out there and eat the most turbo-charged fresh, often raw and preferably young and vigorous (think sprouts and micro herbs) organic veg and fruit I could; to neck green juices around the clock and crunch my way through endless nuts, seeds, beans and crackers smeared with homus…all great stuff…keeping it all in as natural a state as possible rather than cooking or heating too much (in fact, I had all-but convinced myself I no longer like my food warm at all). But this turned out to be completely wrong for my vata constitution and, when I saw this for the first time, it was so obvious I could have laughed. My ideal diet has a lot more in common with the food I ate as a child, as it turns out, than the meals I had been so lovingly preparing for myself these last few months, especially since my intolerance tests took dairy out of the equation against my will (the extreme-vegan angle that forced me to admit I wasn’t thriving at all on these cold-raw foods). I had honestly felt like I was quietly dying; unsustained, lacking in vitality, crashed-out and unenthusiastic about meals, doggedly washing salad leaves (again) and telling myself it was all good stuff. Well it was; but not quite right for me.

Vata is already physically fragile, ungrounded, not quite as embodied as it needs to be as a fully functioning human being. Vata struggles somewhat with the physical processes of mulching down food to extract the nutrition since it is far more used to pure energy of the kind that comes straight from the star system and all this physical-human shove and grind to extract energy from substance can feel way too much for its delicate constitution to have to deal with. To stuff its constitution full of cold, raw and dry foods, unsoftened fibres, hard little nuts and sharp little seeds without doing at least part of the work first is to do it a terrible disservice; like feeding a whole tree from the roots to the seeds hanging on its branches into the most delicately calibrated food-processor imaginable and expecting it to extract the pure life-force in one attempt. I see now, oh-so clearly, where I was going wrong putting all this extra strain on an already delicate and exhausted system; which is where I began to realise how intuitive Ayurveda is, like coming home to the healing modality that feels most natural of anything I have played with before.

Dhal.jpgVata craves warm, comforting, sweet and flavoursome (so, yes, also salty and sour) nutrition that is grounding and quick to release its fuel. It likes smooth, light, moist and slightly oily dishes; but also food with good life force (so, not processed foods or two-day-old leftovers). Its cravings are grounding, nourishing, stabilizing; basically, it favours the opposite qualities to itself…to keep itself in check. When out of balance, it doesn’t like hot spices (preferring gentle warmth…not full-on fire, for obvious reasons) so is it any wonder that chilli came up as one of my prime food intolerances. It favours sweet bananas, not green; cooked broccoli and greens, not raw – you get the picture. When I made up some lists of what I should and shouldn’t eat if I want to pacify my vata, I was astonished to find how many of the foods in the “avoid” list were already on my confirmed intolerance list (from my recent blood test) and also amongst my personal dislikes, going back many years, some of which I had been trying to ignore (rather than admiting against trend that I only like dark greens when they are cooked and strongly disliking raw apples whatever the doctor says about one a day, nor do I enjoy dried fruits at all…unless they have been soaked before I eat them). I can now openly admit without excommunication that I really do love sweet and comforting foods (yum, rice pudding!) – and these are not only “allowed” but necessary for survival when your constitution is vata (preferably achieved through through natural means such as beets and honey etc). My intuition, it seems, was on the right track all along; and I suspect those few intolerances that I have (such as dairy) may only be temporary until I can heal my gut from all the damage I have done throughout years of bending to dietary habits that didn’t suit me at all.

The proof, as ever, is in the pudding and though it is very early days with this (less than a week since I took some Ayurvedic advice from the books that I am reading), I am noticing some positive effects. Since adhering to these guidelines and replacing cold granola, toast or raw veg and humus for breakfast with warm (not hot!) porridge made with almond milk, sprinkled with cinnamon and sweetened by raw honey and a few other allowed extras such as bee pollen and arctic blueberries (I buy these freeze-dried), I have been feeling far more balanced and sustained. The chronic sugar crash and/or nausea half an hour after eating breakfast has dramatically softened (nor has it worsened as it did when I ate very hot porridge in the old days). Certainly there are no starving hunger pangs mid-morning or desperation for lunch; in fact I sometimes have to remind myself its lunchtime. My eyesight and my head feel somewhat sharper and my breathing less erratic, my pulse less flighty, my thoughts more calm; you could just say, I feel more grounded on this warm start to the day. Once I’ve grounded this way, I can allow some “fire” qualities (a little edginess, courage, go-get attitude and lets-get-things-done mentality) into my day, facing most kinds of music without needing my metaphorical smelling salts; which is big news indeed as this means I can start to enjoy a more “normal’, productive and predictable routine without hiding from the world.

Then, for lunch…instead of those mountains of crunchy-crunch-crunch on a bed of leaves…I’m making up a warm quinoa bowl with a variety of vegetables and some gentle herbs, maybe the tiniest teaspoon-handle-tip pinch of paprika…and finding this does the same job of sustaining me in the afternoon as the porridge does in the morning. Kicheree (an Ayurvedic staple made from yellow split mung beans) will do the same thing from what I read and is on the menu for today’s lunch. By way of a test, yesterday I was forced to resort to the crunchy-salad option once again as I was out in town and my favourite cafe had run out of their veggie soup; nothing left for me but some cold grains topped with raw brocoli and nuts. I felt awful afterwards, like my stomach was digesting razor-blades; I also felt irritable and depleted and could have chewed my own arm off for food by the time I had to gather all my energy for the fifty minutes drive home with very tired eyes, having had nothing more than a fruit and nut health bar (more cold-dry food) to tide me over. Even after I had managed to eat a home-cooked meal, my energy felt “off” for the rest of the day and I went to bed feeling hungry and irritable (by the way, vata likes its main meal in the middle of the day and to eat several sustaining portions throughout the day to avoid that long-fasting feeling). This, I can’t help feeling, is because my stomach has already got used to its warming (not hot or spicy) quinoa bowl or similar for its midday fuel and that “other healthy stuff” made from raw things doesn’t cut the mustard for me any more; I wonder if it ever did. Perhaps not while I am in a healing phase; and I am prepared to be the dedicated healer of myself for as long as it takes to stabilise my health, even if it is sometimes challenging or an inconvenience to do what is necessary or make certain changes in routine (including cooking food on a stove twice a day). I suspect it will be worth it and look forward to noticing any differences in how I feel come September this year, having eaten a more sustaining diet for some weeks by then.

Of course, there is a seasonal element to all this and I am prepared to concede that my body actively craved those crunchy raw salads and plentiful juices in the spring. This, I suspect, is because our kundalini rises in sync with the rising sun towards summer solstice…as do creative urges, our very life force…between March and June in the northern hemisphere. However, once past that midsummer point, my body actively seeks the warmer, more stabilising food and (until now) has had to beg in vain for it until, maybe, the end of September or October when I usually “allow” more substantial food onto the menu. No wonder September has always been a month of such chronic fatigue, dullness and pain for me; the worst month of my year for as long as I can recall (Ayurveda also tells me that September is a key transition month). I have been running my tank out of fuel before I even get there because of months of summer salads and inappropriate snacking on cold, dry foods. The key is to listen to your body and its seasonal requirements and not make anything an engrained habit, not even because the sun is shining or someone’s blog (even mine!) suggests you eat a particular way.

I mentioned already that I suspect that rising pitta also comes into this for me and, perhaps, for many others who have the chronic fatigue and super-sensitivity type illness but also the long-running issue with unresolved inflammation and pain. For me, I notice a pattern that each time I start to feel more “well” following a success in my healing process, or when the seasons, my female cycles, my rising kundalini (mid-life really activates this for a woman!), exposure to high levels of electro-magnetic pollution and even solar flares, conspire to inject more fire into my system, this has been all-too-much for my vata in its current dominant state. What this feels like, in my mind’s eye, is that I am a house made of paper and that pitta rising in that can feel like a struck match at its core…it burns me down in my current state. So, if this is the case, there is a need to have methods at hand to keep pitta in check (allowing it to rise on your own terms, for your best wellbeing) but also to bring the vata aspect down somewhat to meet the pitta that, after all, is your very own life-force energy working to ground you and bring you into better alignment with the physical processes that you rely upon to enjoy a healthy human existence. Just like the yin and yang balancing act that I have made my own particular fascination (across all aspects of life), here is an opportunity to bring vata down and encourage pitta up so that they meet in the middle on the level. And, yes, once this starts to occur, kapha elements can then be encouraged (without fear of developing complacency or depression – the deepest dread of someone with chronic illness) since it is a balance of all three doshas that is the aim of the game; but when healing from a chronic condition, reconciling the two primary doshas should be the initial focus of your efforts and the rest will, I suspect, fall into place of its own accord.

Perhaps it is a too-simplistic description to describe kapha as an “excessively grounded” state, vata as “not grounded at all” and pitta as the bridge or the conduit that connects the two; yet this might be a helpful visualisation. Therefore, for someone who exists fully on the physical plane (extremely kapha dominant), encouraging pitta could be the means by which they get their wheel pulled out of the mud and awaken their spiritual sensibilities or most vibrant life-force, not to mention their metabolism, bringing them into a broader sense of themselves in the universe and a more vital way of experiencing life. But for those of us who have already lived most of our lives feeling ungrounded and not entirely, or convincingly, “in” our physical bodies, our primary aim is to make it so we really want to come back into our bodies at this juncture; to bring ourselves back into our humanness so that we can start to really thrive as physical beings and know what that feels like in all its glory. You know what I mean; a body that doesn’t feel clapped-out in exhaustion or pain all the time (what a nice idea).

There can be a reluctance here and I know it all too well. Hard to articulate it but there is a subtle but present fear for many of us that if we bring our most expansive spiritual selves fully back into the body, we will lose everything we have gained as an enlightened spiritual entity; that we will forget or have to forfeit what is so precious to us. If I’m honest, some of my most bliss-filled moments have occurred when I have been feeling least grounded in my body for those are the times when I have fully let go of my physical preoccupations, surrendering to (what can feel like) an alternate reality outside of that to allow me to cope. Yet the true reality or, you could say, whole reality –  where it is not a case of “either”/”or” (perhaps this is the brand new reality, since we are going through a transitional phase in our evolution) – is that we can now ground fully into our physicality and bring all that spiritual stuff with us, without losing a thing.  How do we know that? We just need to trust it is so…but I find that, with ever more conviction when I tune into highest wisdom, I know it to be so and I take the time to remind myself of that every day. In other words, we can literally have all of it and, after all, that is the whole point of what we have been striving towards for the longest time.

I feel sure I will be sharing more about my experiences with Ayurvedic healing as I deep dive into more reading and go for my first appointment with a practioner in a couple of weeks but, in the meantime, I encourage anyone who has found this intriguing to take a deeper look for themselves, perhaps via Angela’s book which is a wonderfully accessible introduction to the doshas and the right diet to suit yours to get you started.

Useful references:

Ayurveda for Dummies – Angela Hope-Murray

The Chopra Centre

Several books by Dr David Frawley (available on Amazon)

Vata-Pacifying Foods – article on Banyan Botanicals

Get down to business with healing the gut

Yesterday I received back the results of some lab tests I had done for food intolerance. The fact was, and I knew it, I wasn’t getting any better in a sustained way. Yes, I have plateaux where I feel so much better than I think I’ve felt for a very long time…but then the crashes come and this last couple of weeks has been a big one; I’ve been in such a lot of pain and exhaustion. The gut is so-often a starting point for what is going on in the body; I knew…and had been postponing the fact that…I had to go much deeper with uncovering any food intolerance that might be triggering me off. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done massive work with my diet (as I’ve written about before). I’ve been fully vegetarian for almost five years and, even before that, ate grass-fed and free range without compromise. Since then, I’ve been unremittingly organic, farm-fresh wherever possible, almost nothing packaged or processed apart from healthy snack bars and the occassional organic sauce. I know my “good oils” and had embraced coconut as my substitute of choice for spreads and food prep (apart from when I drizzle organic extra olive oil on my salads). I drastically reduced gluten and wheat 2 or 3 years ago and then became fully “free” of both just over a year ago. I gave up alcohol 19 months ago and never looked back. I gave up milk as a drink half a decade ago, though I kept cheese in my diet for balance (and because I love it and its such a vegetarian staple). I eat seeds and nuts, plenty of fruit, green juices, superfoods galore…what could I possibly still be doing “wrong?” Yet I knew something was as I wasn’t really healing.

It was my myofasical therapist who first suggested I get my own lab tests done. I’d danced around the possibility of hiring a nutritionist many times but an email dialogue with just one of these was enough to put me off as he had fixed opinions that were very different to mine and seemed to want to throw all my own intuitions and know-how in the bin. But my therapist said “why do you need to see a person; why not go straight to the lab…you’re knowlegeable enough” (and then recommended Yorktest Labs in the UK who, I admit, I had not come across before). Everything about my body in that last session seemed to indicate to her very-sharp intuition that my current issues started in the gut. I didn’t need it suggesting twice…two hours later I had spoken to York and arranged for their Modern Living test (distinct from their more general Food & Drink scan test, based on the fact I already eat a less than mainstream diet) and I was on my way.

This process of taking the leap to seek “scientific” answers for myself felt like I was blasting through a long-standing obstruction to my own healing. Though I had done so much research based on symptoms, had gone deeply into “self-love” and doing all it takes to nurture and support myself to a firmer footing in my health, there was still a sense of fumbling around in the dark when it came to  healing. It was like there was a giant “stop” sign when it came to seeking medical intervention beyond the home-knitted variety.  This is largely because I parted ways with my GP surgery years ago as all they seemed to want to do was push pain killers or antidepressants my way and hurry me out the door. Lab tests for thyroid and diabetes etc consistently came back “normal”, though we all know that is typical of chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia which defy standard margins or behaviours when it comes to testing to “prove” their existence. Doctors I saw didn’t seem to have the know-how, the desire or the time, to probe any deeper. So I pulled myself back from conventional medical care whilst wishing, at some level, that I lived in the States or Canada; somewhere that, because you are paying, you are still treated like the client and not pooh-poohed for your theories before being shown the door once your five minutes is up. I’d done with being on the end of that disdainful look over half-moon glasses as soon as I mentioned I had “read something” and formed a theory…so I’d been going it alone for all these years; a stance which had become like a “never back down” brick wall between me and some of the help I was really needing. Yet in a world where doctors have become to medical science what priests try to make themselves in organised religion, I was left with no intermediary…stranded, with no access to the information that could allow this final layer of healing to really happen. I clearly needed to go direct but, for some reason, had never got very far with that ambition until now.

Perhaps “arrange it yourself” lab tests weren’t so readily accessible last time I looked; I certainly don’t remember anything as glossy and easy to navigate as Yorktest Labs are. Two “live chats” in and my kit was on its way for me to carry out the finger-prick test and send it back. In my heart-of-hearts (though a negative result would have been almost as galling to someone desperately seeking answers…) I knew something “big” would come up; something inconvenient and difficult to navigate around in an already complicated way of life. But I also knew I needed to be prepared for that and to take it seriously, to do what it takes to get better using their advice, no compromises…or what was the point of even going there?

Yorktest.jpgWhen the package arrived a week later, my heart did a thud and I resolved to open it slowly over a cup of something soothing in the garden. However, out of its wrapper, my eye zoned in on the top line of the accompanying letter before I had even sat down and my stomach turned to liquid. Gulp! The words said “You will notice that you have a high number (24) of REACTION & BORDERLINE ingredients. Please do not be alarmed by this, we are here to help you manage changes to your diet…”

So this was it then! Before I went any deeper into what the results pack was about to tell me, I texted my husband to tell him I had it. “Take it steady” he said, “breathe…keep a clear mind and remember, whatever it says, we’ll get through it and its information to help make you well”.

Yes. Though I suppose I had certain likely “culprits” in mind and what came up was part of the shock of what I was digesting here (excuse the pun) since they were some of my very “core” foods out of an already simplistic diet by supermarket standards. To pull them out would mean my whole diet pyramid falling down.

In fact, my red and orange-zone intolerances (most were in the red!) include eggs, all kinds of animal milk, coconut (a pivotal food-type for me), chilly, coriander, cumin and GARLIC! (all of which I use liberally in my vegetarian diet), wheat (no surprise), yeast (goodbye alternative bread, pizza bases, pitta), a couple of really common seeds found in just about every health food known to man, peanuts, hazelnuts, kale… it read like the contents of a healthfood store.

It was a roller-coaster afternoon after that; my emotions didn’t know whether to guffaw outloud at the irony and ridiculousness of the situation or whether to weep quietly at the pathos (in the end, I did both in equal proportion). A trip to the fridge to see what there was for lunch delivered up the dregs of a week’s supplies and I was non-plussed at what I managed to throw together…but took heart from the fact it was shopping day. Then I sat there – for over 3 hours! – attempting to place my weekly shopping order from the two main suppliers that I use and was fluxmoxed by how many “no longer allowed” products there were on my typical list. I fired off questions to makers of one or two of them: “what do you mean by ‘spices’; can you be more specific?” and awaited their consistently disappointing answers as there were those spices, yeast and garlic tucked away in nearly everything. They were in my organic pesto sauce, my favourite organic baked beans, my paleo snack bars (with only 3 or 4 ingredients in them…but one of them was always “wrong” for me), most non-gluten sugar-free cereals, the gluten-free pita breads I love to stuff with healthy goodies for an easy lunch, my favourite sweet potato falafel, the mayonnaise I use to make my homemade coleslaws, the frozen coconut icecream we have as a treat at the weekends…I took one body blow after another.

When my husband got home, my gun-ho attitude dissolved into girlie tears and, while part of me felt pathetic (its only food), I just had to surrender to it for an hour or so…it felt like a kind of mourning for the death of a lifestyle I had grown attached to and with no ready alternative presenting itself (yet) to fill its shoes. I felt lonely in my weirdness. I watched my daughter prepare a “normal” meal and felt envious. I felt hungry…in advance…and “rabit-in-the-headlights” about preparing that evening’s meal. I felt alarmed at how to keep my energy levels up eating what my husband tried to joke was the “no-food food diet”; given I am already struggling with chronic fatigue on a grand scale (no joke to say even taking a shower or keeping upright has been too much for me some days this week). I tried to google articles and blogs for meal ideas but most people avoiding one food type compensate with at least one or two others off my “do not eat” list. I felt utterly dejected as I set about making a garlic-less tomato, onion and carrot sauce to spoon over some mushrooms, sans the cheese topping that would have made it the meal I would have relished. No delicious Booja-Booja chocolates (made from cacao and coconut oil) after dinner tonight; the only sweet treat I tend to have and now it was gone (my inner child stamped her feet).  In the end, I felt done-in by my own inner protestations, which seemed to come at me from ever cell and fibre of a being in resistance to “what is” laid out on a lab report. What could I do about it but accept it? This was what it looked like I and had to deal with the words on the page if I wanted to feel better. End of story.

matthias-heil-156834So we went for an evening walk to watch the sunset and I started to pull myself together; after all, no one had been maimed or died. I knew,  via some higher aspect of me that is party to the “bigger picture” and which was knocking at the door of me to come in, that out of this new challenge a new level of healing and personal growth was about ready to be birthed. Some of the changes might only be temporary until my body gets it together again; others…well…but what if they are necessary so I can start to enjoy the radiant health I have been keeping at bay for so long. After all, I knew I was quite capable of registering  subtleties in my diet at a level way beyond the rational mind. Two of the most “modern” things on my intolerance list were ones that I already knew didn’t agree with me – kale, for instance – which I tried so diligently  to incorporate, akin to most other health-food aficionados, only to find it didn’t make me feel very good at all. In light of this very strong intuition (which had clearly told me what I needed to know the moment I consumed it) I began to suspect the part played by learned behaviour and nostalgia when it came to ignoring the adverse effects of those other foods on my list. Part of me, I knew, had stuck it heels in and refused to give them up, even when I had (long) suspected that, say, cheese may not be making me feel all-that rosy. If this was the shake-up call I needed and it was the only thing stood between me and vastly increased energy, far less inflammation and pain, no more brain fog or unexplained nerve pain, no more crashing, unpredictable health…etc., then I was in for the ride.

That’s not to say that the timing, in the summer heat, right before several trips away (always a food-challenge anyway) is ideal…yet when is? Doing this in the autumn or winter months when I feel generally lousier would be even harder. For me, there was no looking back, not even a “last super” once I opened those results even, though I had no idea whether how long I was giving them up for or I would ever get to eat some of these foods again. I was uncompromising as a way of setting the pace of how diligently I was prepared to work at this, no short-cuts or cheats. I am now working on spinning my new diet in the most positive light I can, the one that sees me gain the foothold on recovery that I have so-long been seeking. See it as a opportunity for even greater innovation in the kitchen than I already demonstrate on a daily basis, I told myself; and hopefully, once it starts to have an effect, I should have the energy back with which to tackle the new challenge that cooking might (temporarily) bring. Perhaps one day I will look back and applaud the time I made the changes that altered my life, resoundingly, for the better as I already do about some of the earlier shifts I have made along the path. In truth, I find I know this already…so now to get on with it and to look forward to the steady progress I expect to make in the coming weeks.


As part of the package with York there are a couple of half hour consultations with a nutritionist and I have just had my first one. It was explained how the intolerances are ranged in order of reaction and that this can be used as a guide to how much to work at eliminating a particular food trigger, at least while the body heals. I was told that my results were a clear indication that I have leaky gut (long suspected; though the first time its been confirmed). The program is aimed at a 12 week period of total elimination of the red zone foods, with a slightly more relaxed approach to those on the orange/borderline list (phew, I can eat some garlic) though I intend to take both lists seriously in an effort to heal my gut. Some supplements were suggested to help me to do this, one of which I am already taking (curcumin) but an increased dose was recommended. Two or three other solutions were suggested to get around foods that I am needing to “tweak” or replace, both of which I was unaware of before so I found the session pretty punchy, given the relatively short time, but very useful. The key thing is that if you pursue your own test, a personalised set of recommendations can be provided for you, to help you get your own gut healing underway. Resources such a handbook and daily diary for tracking progress are included in the kit.

As a result of this doorway swinging open in my mind, suggesting to me that I can go after the results I need to heal, with or without a doctor’s say-so, I have ordered two addtional blood tests with another entity called Medicheck. There is (sorry to keep harping on about this but it feels so relevant when your aim is to achieve balance…) the sense of yin and yang components coming together on new terms about a person who has been at sea, seeking to self-heal from chronic illness using primarily intuition and natural methods, now agreeing to seek out the assistance of the scientific community that may well afford them the completion that they are after. In other words, I feel my left and right brained approaches to healing have just come together and met in the middle; which makes for a powerful team. Sometimes you reach a point when you could use that “get down to business” approach to healing that comes from an unremitting scientific stance and I seem to have reached the point where I want to add that to my mix; which taps into an aspect of me that relishes “geeking-out”, crossing and ticking all the boxes. When you block your own access to information that could benefit you, you only delay your own facility to come into balance and harmony and this cannot fail to impact on your state of health. I have no regrets – at all – about self-managing my own healing process to the extent that I have thus far and I have delved very deep into the processes of my own biology in ways that have been utterly life-changing but there is no doubting that I need to reach my hand out towards method that could now help me make further headway by producing some data. This is nothing like the feeling of surrendering that going to the GP’s surgery, to be belittled or persuaded into all manner of prescription medications without getting to the root causes, would have given me if I had agreed to it all those years ago; this is all on my terms and retains full respect for everything I have come to know about my own body and my particular state of health. By ending my own stand-off with the more mainstream aspects of twenty-first century medicine, I have made a personal shift into the centre of my own healing process and I can feel that as a tangible turbo boost to the headway I am now making.

In particular, there are questions I want answering regarding my thyroid, the function tests relating to which are set at a ridiculously high margin in the UK (somewhat lower in the US but still higher than the threshold necessary to detect some auto-immunity presentations of thyroid issues such as Hashimoto’s…and yes there is still a good chance that my lab results may demonstrate nothing “on paper” since there is such a thing as a subclinical thyroid issue, which can still throw your health into serious disarray, especially combined with other auto-immune conditions, as I clearly have. But its a big start to at least investigate this (whilst seeking to heal the auto-immune component through a more personally appropriate diet as I am now doing…) and the very fact of feeling I deserve these answers, at last, feels like another major healing step at the psychological level. There is a giant declaration of “I’m worth it ” underwritten into the very fact I have financially invested in myself, through these tests, giving them priority out of all the things I could spend my limited means on right now (and I am lucky enough to have the full support and encouragement of my husband, whatever the outcome). It’s no coincidence that many more women than men have thyroid issues. Thyroid function, being to do with that butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, has a great deal to do with a woman’s feeling of power, worthiness and safety to “speak her truth” (the return of the “yin”) and I am actively giving my butterfly flight by exploring new data (made available via the most scientific means  at my disposal – “yang”) in order to take whatever next steps are called for in order for me to heal completely. There is already a post on thyroid in the pipeline (coming soon) and I will report back on that next stage of my exploration, and how I am coping with the new diet, in the coming weeks.

Getting to grips with OCD

A new article about OCD popped into my emails this morning and it was so compelling that I felt I had to share it with my readership here.

I willingly admit that OCD has woven in and out of my health journey since I was a very young child experiencing bullying at school and as something that reappeared, to varying extents, during my adulthood at times of particular stress. I have also encountered it in a family member and in the life of a close friend, not to mention comparing notes with other friends and acquaintances over the years (its one of those conversations that can prove strangely ice-breaking  in a way that forms a close bond built on vulnerability and deep-understanding when you identify others who have been through it).

Often it seems to indicate a person who is particularly sensitive or who has survived some  very profound emotional “stuff” (or both). Often very highly intelligent and prone to arranging what they know into categories, I have long noticed how this seems to be a way of keeping their emotions in check. After all, in my own case, diligent pattern forming and shape-sorting are the methods by which I draw the conclusions that feed into my writing and research (so they can be skills that serve me well) yet it can be such a bugbear when the trait extends to personal behaviours and the endless creation of little rituals that become the prison cell of your own existence.

This certainly crosses over with my favourite topic of how the left and right brain hemispheres co-exist and (ideally) agree to collaborate together and what the best relationship between them looks like once they do. When I imagine my own OCD traits, it feels like my left-brain chasing around my right hemisphere with a butterfly net, trying to box up what feels most unruly and out of control; yet a situation where we allow them to work together (some flux, some structure) feels like a place where OCD no longer runs rife. I had also long suspected that it went much deeper than a learned response to emotional trauma; into the very wiring of the brain and possibly some of the chemical influences that we get exposed to. This detailed article goes deeper into the “whys” of OCD than anything I have come across and in a way that makes perfect sense to me; of which this is just a snippet.

To highlight how OCD can begin to emerge in an individual, imagine the example of being bullied in school. The first time you are bullied, electrical charges in a certain part of the emotional area of the brain will heat up. This heat subsides once the bullying episode ceases, although you may suffer from mild post-traumatic stress disorder. A few days later you are bullied once again. Immediately, electrical charges heat up that same area of the brain. Fortunately, this area again cools down once the bullying ceases. Perhaps bullying occurs a third, fourth or fifth time, and the same part of the brain experiences intense heat during each episode. Continuous, intense heat to this area without ample time for the body to heal can lead to calloused brain tissue for adults and children alike. Medical science and medical research have not yet discovered this widespread phenomenon. Have you heard the term hotheaded? Well, it may actually be an accurate description in certain instances. Bullying is not the only situation that creates this intense heat. The physical burnout that occurs can arise from a number of emotionally heavy events and result in a small area of calloused brain tissue.

I’m glad to say there is life beyond OCD and I hardly notice it at all in my behaviour these days to the point I can say that it has pretty-much gone. It remains there fairly unobtrusively as the tendency to over-think or research (without respite) when I am hooked onto a project, checking the house (repeatedly) before I go out and having certain comfort-zones that I stubbornly refuse to step out of (even when I want to outgrow them); though I am getting better at identifying and tackling those when they come up. ocdThis is a long way from the OCD rituals that I used to play-out in my early days, adding to all the complication of an already over-complicated life. I suspect this success story has a lot to do with how far I have opened up my emotion-box, rewired my neurones through new positive behaviours and healed my body through diet and other means; which shows this is entirely possible and can have great results. In fact (I suddenly realise) its absence is one of the reasons I feel I have transformed my life to the degree that I have in spite of some remaining physical symptoms; as though a breath of fresh air was injected into my life once I released these compulsive patterns of behaviour and took back control for myself. This article offers hope to anyone still wrestling with OCD and who is looking for a foothold on how to go about it (the first step of which is understanding why it occurred in the first place).

It’s a complex area and as the article says “there is not just one type of OCD”; it is extremely diverse and can be so subtle that it is not even acknowledged. To read the whole cutting-edge article and access the audio, here is the link to Anthony Williams’ Medical Medium website and the feature on OCD.

Deepest relief

There’s a feeling that keeps sweeping over me this week and its like a ghost of a memory and a healing balm, all in one. Its been happening since the hot weather turned back to June’s usual cloud and rain yet the days are still comfortably mild; enough to keep fresh air moving freely through the house in a way that is distinctly “summer”, not least because of the tinge of honeysuckle on the air. With doors flung wide open, the dampness is like a welcome coolant on frayed nerves and I find I can only hold gaze with softened eyes, as though the whiteness of the sky is almost brighter than the constant sunshine they replace. Recently fledged birds chirrup in unison from trees where they take shelter between excitable reconnaissance dives upon the bird feeder yet there’s, otherwise, such a stillness in the air as though the thick cloud cover is made of cotton wool. I find I just want to surrender into cushions, to curl up wrapped around my own torso, to seek out books to read yet to fidget between options, to not fully pay attention, to close eyes, to drift-off, to just be. There is a sense of deep release, of profoundest relief like when a great weight has been suddenly lifted. Even though there are still various things trying to agitate me;  family things, life things, mini-dramas that irritate and make inevitable demands, my driving impulse is to keep finding this place and to lose myself to it whenever I can, for as long as I can….and the rest can wait.

It struck me as I returned to it this morning (family gone, doors flung open, house quiet…) that this place in time that I am “remembering” with all my senses is the summer when I was sixteen and had just finished my exams. These were probably the most demanding set of exams I ever undertook, from the sheer breadth of the dozen subjects I had been expected to know in such depth, my life taken up by piles of notes in every corner of my room for months. Crammed – don’t we use that expression; I was crammed full of “stuff” to the point of almost bursting and now…nothing, it was all over. The feeling, I recall, was quite sublime. No set books, no timetable, not even a school anymore, having left ready to move on to college and many of the people I had known for years said goodbye to once and for all (in some cases, another relief). No point in worrying, no need to plan. The soft wave coming in to carry me on its shoulders was one of, yes, sweet relief and I found myself suspended in the kind of void I don’t think I remember ever experiencing before that and have probably never got back to, not fully, since becoming an adult. Really, had it been 33 years since I was last there?

Honeysuckle.jpgSo, I recall in fleeting glimpses, like old sepia photos in my mind (though the feelings coming through are much stronger than the images) how I surrendered to just such a summer as I am being reminded of now. Warm and damp after the intense heat wave that (of course) had burned its way through all my exams; white skies were now the blank-canvas backdrop to a summer-verdant garden. The scent of moist honeysuckle growing up the wall beneath my bedroom window perfumed the air day and night, as though to remind me I had now entered the sacred garden of my own deepest tranquility. The overwhelming contrast of “nothing to be done”, no demands upon my time must have been stark against the weeks of relentless pressure, like nectar to the senses. The jar I had been held-captive in had smashed and I was free to enter the garden of life; that’s what it felt like, and all I wanted to do was to examine each moment like I was breathing in the scent of a flower. I gave myself over to a long summer of reading many novels (deep diving deep into DH Lawrence and Brontës – is that why my recent craving…?), of alternate sleeping – reading  – dozing again. I was waking at dawn, eating breakfast long before anyone else got up, going back to my bed, staying up past midnight, lying down on the grass, contemplating abstract thoughts, pursuing transitory ambitions that often “popped” before they developed, letting them go without a care. The scent of sweet rain and hot buttered toast and the ceaseless bird chirrup being enough, being everything, that stimulated the senses.

It’s not the event but the feeling of such a time that is wanting to rise up in me again; to remind me so that it can be experienced anew. For when do we ever let ourselves be like this once we become adults; do we ever? I mean, really surrendering into it, giving up the rhythms of time and allowing that now is all there is? Giving ourselves to it just as it is – void – without seeking to fill it up.

Tuning into your own most-treasured time of “void”, of a feeling you once stored-up for such a day as this, a distant memory of what it truly feels like to have nothing to do and nowhere to go can be such a gift to yourself. Especially if you can allow yourself to accept it as it is, on behalf of who you are right now, not making it about nostalgia as though you are trying to recapture some long-lost essence of your past when “life was better” or “you were more deserving of it”. The biggest challenge is to allow it, to really give yourself over to it and not seek to make it into another project by orchestrating it or making it conditional. How easy do we find it to be in void and not allow the mind to seek something to do, to worry about or a way to make the time more “useful” or “constructive” (as we tend to regard it when we constantly keep ourselves busy)? Yet empty space is anything but lacking in use; and it might be the very thing we are needing most, the refinding of which will be the missing jigsaw piece that makes all else suddenly fit together. Like the hidden portal  we couldn’t see for looking, it might be the doorway to exactly where we were trying so hard to get to with our minds…and there it was, all the time. For most of us, memories from childhood are like the eager guides waiting to take us there and I urge you to take whatever opportunity arises when you ask “when did I ever feel like that?” and just see where it takes you. Then, once you have it back, make an honoured place for this state of being in your life and watch it take on a new state of harmony; which is just an outward reflection of a far deeper state of harmony that has just found its space in you.

Absolute healing

The body, as we probably all know by now, stores emotions and memory and that process doesn’t ever stop. In effect, our cells “are” the stories we embody; each one of them began life as a particular story that they took on as their guiding aspect in the womb and they have continued repeating that same story time and time again (our liver has a story that it is a liver, our eye that it is an eye), which is how we remain here in human form. As I recently explored in a post on my other blog, the countless stories we are the  composite of are not “bad” and it is a nonsense to think we must fight them or drop them by the wayside to live a spiritual life beyond having a story (that would mean surrendering our human form entirely – and the word for that is death); yet we need to be selective about which ones we keep and which ones are calling for release so that we get to choose patterns that serve us and reflect who we truly are in this moment, not at some time in the past.

Even though I have undergone some monumental releases of old emotions and memories from my own body (I give you my most recent post Love Letter to Myself as point in case), I still keep on creating more emotions which take up residence in my human body…and we all do, that’s called being human. My mental visual is that the body’s cellular structures, its finest most cobwebby strings of enzymes and fluids, its fascia in particular and then the groups of cells that make up entire muscles (perhaps especially the psoas), organs and skin serve like washing lines on which we “peg” our most emotive memories, intending to deal with them “another day”; particularly when they hold a charge that we are not quite ready to deal with in the moment when they occur. Typically, something happens to generate an emotional response in our day and we are busy doing other things, or it touches upon an old nerve, or we haven’t quite got the tools yet with which to clean up the out-of-resonance feeling that it triggers, and so we peg it there for later…and it can remain there attached to that cellular washing line (and then remain there and remain there and remain there…) for a very long time, snowballing into something that gets bigger and, often, more distorted. In time, like attracts to like and so emotions around a particular theme form crystalline structures in the part of the body that we have selected to become “its” storage area. This instigate restrictions in flow, then hard nodules of pain, then wholesale breakdowns in function…and all because we allowed emotions to build up without checking back in to to see what was calling for our attention.

So, as far as I’m concerned, there is no breakthrough moment when this process ceases to happen…not while we are in a human body. We do get quicker and somewhat more skillful at not allowing the unattended emotions to require deep storage in the first place, true (I like to imagine that I now have a temporary holding space for stuff requiring my attention rather than a heavy vault where I try to hide things)…but we can only process so much “as it happens” and we are always likely to store at least some of our stuff “for later” as long as we are in physicality. So it pays to get shipshape and organised about this by instigating the mechanisms that mean you regularly check out and work through what you are holding in those cellular storage zones  – whether that be meditation, some sort of talking process or physical/energetic therapy that gives you a regular springclean before anything has the time to become chronic. A rule of thumb for me (learned the hard way…) is that the better I feel, the more crucial it is to remember to book myself a regular appointment for the kind of treatment session that helps me to process emotions out of the body while they are still held subtle patterns and not yet the ingrained kind of distortions that lead to more lasting problems. It’s that old adage that prevention is better than cure!

For me, that audit is a trip to see my wonderful myofascial therapist, who offers so much more than just a mechanical approach to bringing about relief in my body. Whether I have a particular problem or not, I try to see her once every two to three months as I have (repeatedly) found that this pays dividends versus trying to leave this to an annual or six-monthly visit where it only becomes more messy to tackle all the things going on. This week, I scheduled a session for the day of the summer solstice which, as you will know if you have read that Love Letter post, presented a powerful conscious opportunity for me to release a great many emotional memories out of the cellular structures of my body once and for all and so I went in there charged up with the intention to play my part while she played hers (the most powerful scenario of all in any healing session). Without even needing to tell her what I was working on internally, we somehow met in the middle and this presented one of the most powerful healing opportunities I have every undergone. In fact, I scheduled that post to get published ten minutes into my session with her, by which time I knew I would be lying on her treatment table – now that is a powerfully conscious process of release!

True to form, her skillful manipulations of myofascia and energy releases being mirrored by all the inner work that I was already doing, the session turned out to be a particularly powerful yet incredibly serene one, from which I walked feeling so calm and brimful with wellbeing that I almost floated out of the door. It felt like a real milestone and a great deal was covered, functionally speaking, providing me with a startling amount of tangible relief in the physical body. In particular, a painful knee that I have been experiencing for quite some time felt markedly better and, that evening, I was to be found striding out with my husband and dog to watch the solstice sunset feeling more lithe and lissom that I had for quite some time.

That left knee, I feel I want to point out, had all the traits of a functional issue and yet (when I first presented with it some months ago) she strongly suspected it related to an emotional issue about my daughter. I immediately felt the affirmative of that and knew it had taken form many years ago when I was consumed with so many fears, doubts and, yes, guilt, about how well I was parenting during the years of marriage breakdown and single-parenthood (“could I support her” = knee; you get the picture).  The problem I have with my knee has been emerging for a couple of years and, every time I had an emotion release around issues of self-doubt, the knee itself felt spongy and over-extended…which has felt like a functional “problem” though, really, it was signifying a release of defunct old emotions, making the knee feel lighter, less rigid. That is because, for literally years, I had been creating all the cells around the knee bone and ligaments to a pattern of self-doubt and a need to try harder at being rigid, supportive…so, take that away and, suddenly the knee felt like it was a knee no longer (literally, it didn’t know how to exist anymore without those old-defunct structures that it had been modelling itself to, making it feel artificially strong). In other words, what was a very necessary emotional release, as I learned to accept that I had not let anyone down, presented as a further “problem” that felt like the strength had suddenly gone out of it (though it had actually relaxed). Then, as the knee panicked at the void of all the familiar emotions it had been using to structure itself and grasped for any kind of  replacement it could from the kind of emotional debris that it was most familiar with, it had managed to rebuild itself upon some of the somewhat different yet equally potent ideas around parenthood and self-doubt from my current circumstances (as my daughter becomes an adult and flies the nest)…which had led to the knee feeling less spongy lately yet, suddenly, being in all-out pain which now affected my leg all the way to the hip (in other words, “the problem” now seemed bigger than ever, came back “stronger” or “escalated”). All of this understanding came to me because I was able to relate the therapist’s intuition to what I had been experiencing at the subtlest levels of my awareness and thus let go of the idea that the softening knee was a problem (so, I now know to allow it as a necessary passing phase) as well as shining a light on all the self-doubts I have been putting myself through and working on them, rather than storing them in the body.

By the next day, after my myofascial session (in which the knee issue was only one of many that she worked upon), I was sore yet was still able to manage some gentle yoga. By the afternoon, I was tearing-up at almost anything that rocked my emotions for so-much of a nano second and began to feel a little unhinged, not to mention restricted to the sofa. By this morning, I felt like I had been in some sort of road traffic accident (more accurately, like I had gone through one of those car crushers at the landfill) as every inch of me was in pain and restriction; which is where I am now…except…I’m not.

Now to the most important bit I want to share with you, which is how I have already turned around how I felt on waking this morning. When this happens (whatever the release modality is that brought you some respite but may then have made you feel worse straight afterwards), the body’s dominant impulse is to take you back into more pain or restriction and this is so important to know. And it’s not because your body hates you or is working against you; it is really out of learned behaviour patterns and fear and the sooner we understand this and work with it, the sooner recovery comes; in fact, we can look at this kind of “low point” as the most powerful kind of opportunity, a darkest before the dawn moment.

This is because the cellular structure of the body is a “yang” impulse and is all about creating and maintaining structures and routine, predictability, order, staying well within the boundaries of “what it knows” from prior experience and repetition and making sure that form is maintained on the basis that form is equated with life. “Void” is a state that it fears like death itself….it must have substance to feel like it is thriving and so it races to fill up the space…any space that it detects…with more of what it knows. Even if all it knows (from prior experience) is pain and restriction, those are regarded as preferable to emptiness, a void; and so it races to fill that space with more more more, which is the yang impulse to a tee. To this aspect, void is nothingness and this triggers all its fears; it would rather have distortion than nothing at all. If you’ve ever created for yourself a day when you have absolutely nothing to do and thought you would really enjoy that and yet, when it arrives, you find you can’t sit still, you get horrendously fidgety as though some part of you feels it must fill the space with something, anything, even if that “thing” is to worry or create artificial problems to solve…that is what goes on when we first introduce the idea of spaciousness to some part of the body that has been constricted for a very long time. It is not a destructive impulse but, rather, a creative impulse…one that allowed us to become form in the first place; yet it can run amok when not in balance with an opposite impulse to allow spaciousness to coexist with it. You could say, one keeps the other in check and, together, they form the ideal state.

Fortunately, this is only one side of the story as there is a yin aspect to the cellular structure of the body too; an aspect that is more about space than structure. If this sounds like the yin doesn’t play a very significant part in the body, being all about an absence of structure, think again. More of our physical body consists of space than it does of matter…the 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms that make up our body consist mostly of space (the nucleus part comparable to “a fly in a cathedral”) and if all that space was to be compressed out of us, our body would fit into a cube less than 1/500th of a centimetre on each side (from one of many articles quoting these details). You could say, space its our defining feature (if we allow it to be…) so why are we so afraid of this? Rather, when we work with it, we get to have our say about the kind of patterns we store as the arrangement of cells in our body, which can only lead to feeling better than ever before; you could say, more aligned with our true self, our highest Self beyond the limitations of the physical body, and not all the distortions triggered by emotions we have found too challenging to deal with in the past along with all their incumbent belief systems relating to fear, lack and survival.

This space is where consciousness resides, flowing in like water through a newly cleared channel, levelling the many stories of the cellular body by finding things in common and bringing them into alignment with your highest aspect. There are no distortions here; this is so important to know and we have access to this levelling aspect any time we invite it in consciously; this is also big news when we are healing our body.

When we allow ourselves to notice how we are already conscious in all of our cells, we tap into this aspect. This is what gives us the sensation of having a physical bdy in the first place. Just lie there and allow yourself to notice two different parts of your physical body simultaneously and you will realise how this aspect can be in more than one place at a time; how awareness of relativity between those different parts and how differently they feel offers the sense of “body” that we take largely for granted. That aspect, you could say the third point in the triangle, is your awareness. Try doing this with multiple parts of your body, holding awarenss in all of them at once. Now expand this outwards to acknowledge how this awareness is who you are…and that it is not contained by the physical body but that the body resides within it. In other words, you are really a vast sea of awareness and the body is but an aspect of that…the slowest moving, lower vibrational aspect of it (which is why we are able to exist as form, to touch and to see ourselves) but, by no means, the whole picture of what is going on.

Our body arises out of that sea of awareness; just more of the same fabric, only slowed down to where it manifests into the physical dimension. I like to think of my physical self as a patch of sparkling ripples or intersecting currents on the surface of an otherwise glass-like expanse of water; mere undulations in an otherwise seamless energy field. Regarding myself like this for the last few years has enabled me to drop the “hard outer shell” perspective that tends to keep our human experience feeling so non-negotiable. Holding the perspective that my body has a far stronger relationship with that broader field of energy than it does with the learned patterns of behaviour perpetuated by my cells has been one of my most powerful healing modalities.

That vast sea of awareness is available to us in every moment, for creating and repairing our bodies (in fact, we owe our existence to it), yet we modulate the access we give ourselves to it though the learned mechanisms, the repeat patterns, of the yang impulse that is our cellular body; like a tap that we seldom turn on more than just a fraction in case we get flooded. In other words, the one aspect has been rationing our access to the other thus far. We have been so guarded about it and allowed what we think we know about the body to direct our experiences much more so than taking that deep-dive or even a gentle swim into the considerably broader waters of all potential. So, what would happen if we started to trust that sea of awareness and allow it to come flooding in? Is this the largely unexplored territory of our next great leap in evolution?

When we allow that awareness into our cells, the physical body starts to register itself as an energetic field exactly like those other energy bodies some of us now talk about having, rather than as a solid mass of cells (if somewhat more slowly vibrating). As such, we start to allow that we can influence this field of experience in exactly the same ways; through intention, thought, belief and what we assume based on past experience. As such, we can start to choose our intentions, give them form through our thoughts and leave beliefs that no longer serve us plus assumptions based on the past by the wayside. After all, where we are headed, there can be no assumptions made since we are forging all-new territory. At the energetic level, our instructions are very quickly read and carried out, so understanding where those instructions derive from (are they arising out of the vast field of awareness, or some tight little nodule of emotional pain we are holding onto) makes such a lot of difference to our experiences. Emotions and thoughts are wonderful things; we’re not trying to turn them off here. But allowing them to be more flux, to be like passing colours that come in, morph into a kaleidoscope of experience that leaves an impression on our consciousness, then pass though to be replaced by something else, allows the energy body that we know as our physical state to remain what it is designed to be – an energetic and vibrant extension of the universe – not stagnant and anchored into a non-thriving state with no room to grow.

When we find the place where the energetic field of the body seamlessly meets the vaster field, we can notice the similarities and allow the boundary to soften significantly. This welcomes the vast sea of awareness that you truly are into the physical body and begins an uninterupted tidal flow of feedback and receiving that dissolves any further blockages, like unhindered breathing clears any blockage on the lungs. Indeed, it is like receiving the breath of life fully into yourself for the first time when you start to make this your normality; renewing and creating cells from this place of non-distortion and broadest perspective. Passing through the layers of energy bodies of which we are made in varying frequencies of vibration (all the unseen layers such as emotional, mental and so forth), this energy flow starts to, as it were, cleanse the processing of these aspects before they have a need to be stored as unresolved cellular debris in the body and we become, quite literally, lighter.

felix-russell-saw-102513.jpgThis marks another homecoming, a reunion of sorts, as we reclaim the lighter aspects we have been estranged from for quite some time. The body celebrates its new status as an energetic phenomenon rather than this idea of a fixed structure we have tended to hang around its neck for so very long; and you can feel that celebration in the way that you feel, which can register as such profound relief and a lifting of immense burden without having to leave the body behind. The body no-longer has to suffer the wound that it is, at some level, regarded as a hindrance to wellbeing or achieving a spiritual state; a label you can’t blame it for trying to live-up to sometimes, given how often it is unfairly bestowed. It can shed the injustice of that stigma once and for all and bask in all the gratitude we experience for the beautiful experience of physicality that it makes so abundantly possible (again, I explore this in Love Letter to Myself).

We realise also that the body is in perpetual flux, not this fixed state we tend to assume it has locked itself into. Every thought, every moment of attention, influences its energetic field. We can notice how the sensations we are having very subtly change even as we watch them with our consciousness; try applying this to some area you would really notice, say a migraine you are having, and prepare to be in awe. Notice how the energy in that area of your body seems to expand, become more spacious, releases pressure and relaxes the very hard boundaries that were creating resistance and pain just moments before. The energetic component of our physical experience becomes more acknowledged and integrated and this utterly transforms the experience we are having of the body. Fear seems to dissipate, relaxation can be summoned at a moment’s notice, learned postures soften all the way down to the least seen aspects of our organs and all the intricate processes they carry out day by day. It’s as though your body is under new management and everyone is happier, more relaxed and diligent, laughing a little as they get their tasks done. I remember the part in the book “Eat, Pray, Love” where Elizabeth Gilbert is told by the Balinese healer to smile with her face, with her mind, even with her liver and I know now what that means. This is not some trite one-liner straight from a bumper sticker; it is how we tune our cells to the frequency of the universe (all the better to receive what it never ceases offering to us).

As these higher frequencies are allowed to flood into our body via the pathway we have just created through our conscious perception of them, and the physical body reintegrates with the vast sea of awareness that it is really “just” an expression of, absolute healing is allowed to happen, is made possible…no further hindrances. Just allow it time; no stop-watches, no marks out of ten, no impatience, no expectations, no applying logic to how we assess its performance, no self-judgement…none of that since these will flip you back over onto your back with your legs kicking in the air like an upturned beetle until you get back to that simple state of allowing without all that blasted mental interference!

Some of us are holding the patterns of multiple lifetimes, more experiences and stories and repeat traumas than we can even imagine, in our bodies this time around…for a very good reason since we are playing a key part in clearing these old patterns out of humanity at large. For those of us that this applies to, we may feel just so stuck to these old patterns at the cellular level, in spite of all our best efforts to let them go, that we feel somehow like failures or victims of circumstance, unsupported by the universe or just too weary to keep believing that a state of healing really awaits us up ahead. The degree to which we feel this is fair indication of the super-powerful healing potential that we are modelling for the world at large; the intensity of our pain serving like a run-up or a turbo-boost to what lies up ahead. We took this enormous task on so that, when we finally get out of our own way, on all the multi-layers of numerous held wounds and beliefs and traumas and learned behaviours and fears…etc, at just the right moment for them all to line up (similar to how a powerful planetary alignment might arrange itself in the skies), which could happen at any time, the release of this will reverberate across the sea of awareness and be made available to countless other beings all at once. In fact we may have experienced powerful releases like these many times and hardly known what to make of them, having tried to understand them by applying the logic of the mind; and we will have integrated those breakthrough moments yet, in some cases, flipped ourselves back to some of the learned behaviours that were ready to be released. All the more important for us to continue believing that what we seek lies in spaciousness, not in the hard definition of what we think might be going on with our bodies; and never underestimate the enormity of what we have taken on and are really doing so spectacularly here (however it might look at ground level; not loosing faith in spite of this, as it is all part of the challenge we have taken on so courageously). Doing this is the true essence of  what we mean when we say we are “holding space” for something to happen and we are becoming world experts at that.

To do this all the more effectively, I am dropping (but not disowning) the stories of how I got to here and this has been my big gear shift since the summer solstice. There is a subtle but important difference between these two approaches. I am not throwing away my story and nothing (no tired-old belief system!) could induce me to do so; it is far too valuable and to seek to erase it as though it never happened would be to dishonour and fragment from the aspect of self that has so bravely processed through that whole set of experiences (for very good reason; again, I refer you to my post Don’t Feel You Have To Ditch Your Story (Unless You Really Want To)). Rather, I will allow my story to come up of its own accord, carried on the flow, whenever it deems this to be useful as a point of reference; this is so important and is like leaving the door open with a welcome mat at the threshold. However, I choose to lay-off the habit of seeking it out or the frequent repetition of what I have been through in my own mind since it might not always be relevant and, when led by the mind, these habits can become hard structures that pin us down. Instead, I am allowing a sense of void to step in through the doorway of me in equal part with the “story” aspect; like yin and yang in equal partnership. Again, my task is simply to hold space. Having honoured my story so thoroughly in my Love Letter to Myself, I am better positioned to do this than ever and this “write it all down” method might be one that you could use to consciously clear your own way to allow more spaciousness to arise in your experience, going forwards. In essence, I have pumped every experience I have ever had full of love and then dropped it into the creative void  where I will leave it all to cook without my interference, neither disowned nor beaten onwards like a marching drumbeat. This approach is a yin-yang balancing act and can serve as the very vortex out of which you manifest your next great experience of being in a human body; which is, after all, what healing is all about.

Back to my day; recognizing the patterns reinstating in my body, I took myself into meditation and I focussed on the profound and seamless relationship between my body and the sea of awareness, as above, whist holding feelings of love (light), kindness (expansion) and compassion (harmony) towards my body. Just noticing how these particulars that we know so well from our human experience match up with the energetic expressions that relate to the out-of-body experience helps ease the seamless flow between the physical and non-physical aspects of awareness, bridging the seeming gap, and I felt at once how the edges of physicality softened and my pain levels dropped down to the bare minimum. The cells readily take on the energetic interpretation of these experiences once a match is made…and, literally, I felt more expansion where, before, there had been constriction whilst light and harmonious experience seemed to flood me where, before, there had been discord and lack of flow. I have remained in that state all morning and what felt like extreme pain is like a subtle sub-plot that I can leave to its own devices whilst I have concentrated on other, more uplifting, things. All we need do is turn that flow on; our bodies will always default to the higher state, as do all things given the choice and, once those barriers to experiencing them dissolve away, we are allowed to float out into the calm waters of an experience that, at once, supports us without defining us in any way. Defunct patterns have no place here; they do not gain the repetition or the physical traction to make themselves solid enough to be sustained. The longer I remain here, in this void of conscious creation (directed by intention and thought), the more supported my new patterns – my chosen patterns – become and it only gets easier from here…

I see my cells flooded with love, kindness and compassion…and this is my only task. Not such a bad one to place my focus on, really; knowing that all the most joyful pursuits I allow myself further support this, along with all the kindnesses, the slowing down, the relaxing, the letting go, the careful focus upon what is most uplifting, the positive thoughts. Listening to my body’s signaled responses to whatever I choose and responding in that moment, without added drama. Meeting the body in its relative slowness whilst allowing it to taste the higher frequencies passing through without alarm. Why should it be alarmed to welcome in what is here to support it? Both physical and non-physical have their place in our humanness; its time to allow this and we get to experience so much, across such a broad spectrum, when we do. Fast and slow moving streams of energy, met as form; it is all…just…so…beautiful so why not make it our default. I suspect this is the opportunity we have always been waiting for.


The term “sea of awareness” that I use here was coined by Jeddah Mali, whose wonderful three-part series of meditations Seeds of Enlightenment, Embracing Freedom and Infinite Grace I completed about six years ago and served as one of the foundation stones of my conscious expansion. I’ve lost count of how many times I have now listened to these invaluable audios, so much so that their vernacular is inseparable from my own. They are still my go-to when I want to be led through a guided meditation and I have never found a term more fitting to describe that which lies beyond the physical experience than “sea of awareness”. I very highly recommend her work as a way of encouraging the process of integrating the higher aspects of experience with those associated with living in a human body.


Love letter to myself

Summer Solstice, 2017

My body, my physical expression, all that I am as a complex, emotional, thinking and feeling human being, I love you so much. I know I haven’t said it nearly enough. I relied on it being “obvious”, as we tend to do; did I really have to spell it out? All those little gestures when I directed you at the cross-roads, helped you to intuit what  best served you, dropped clues of synchronicity, showed you all those sunsets, flooded your heart with inexplicable joy, inspired you over and over and over again; these all spoke of love without the need for words. But if you still need me to say it, to point out all the ways that I love you, then I’m saying it now.

When did we drift apart; why was it that you stopped listening? Or, more like, became suspicious of me like we had different agendas. We used to sing to the same tune and then you started to believe all those ideas being flung at you; thought that you hated the shape you are, the way you looked, that you were odd and didn’t fit in. Oh my body, those were just a reflection of how you were being taught to think about yourself; none of it was real except that you made it so by believing in it. If you’d only listened to me…but, that wasn’t what we had planned was it? You needed to learn these things all for yourself. And so you turned to your intellect, you put so much effort into that; you could say, you made your mind up, you were always so determined, stubborn even. But how exhausting, to have to feel you were the one driving everything with your decisions. Life became so complicated when it could have been far easier with me by your side in equal partnership; you became a control freak, you felt responsible for absolutely everything and with responsibility came blame, so much blame if things didn’t go your way. It drove you nearly mad with over-thinking and you weren’t even an adult yet; so you loaded your plate so high with those rocks you insisted on carrying. I watched you do it and I tried to drop you clues (sometimes, if you thought they were your own idea, you would cautiously pick them up…) but I had to allow you your freedom and, after all, it was all still an experience for me, either way. But it could have been so much easier for you. I had to admire you for the challenge you took on, to grow yourself and others by taking the harder route, the long winding road. That took such courage; do you know how courageous you are?

Really, you always knew I was there; but you didn’t always want to know about it. There are times when I vibe so high it frightens you, even now. It used to excite you, when you were little; it would make you pirouette around and be into everything, to touch things in nature and feel so much joy from everything life had to offer; simple things without strings. But then it alarmed you because it made you feel different to be like this, so exuberant and uncool, so you hid me away deep inside. Once you learned about the world, some of its scary stuff, the excitement of feeling me switched-on in you sometimes felt too much like fear…all that energy, pouring through you; like it would burn you, destroy you, take you closer to the edge than you wanted. Or you felt like the calm I gave you made you into a horrible person, in denial about all the fear people kept telling you that you should be feeling; like you were cold and lacked feeling. So you tried to suppress me away with alcohol, all that rubbish that you ate, those people you used to hang out with who told you were nothing because that was what they believed about themselves. You tried to bring the feelings I gave you crashing back down to earth with all those layers of toxic experience but I wouldn’t let you. So we played tug of war for a very long time but I kept coming back. In your darkest moments, I would always do that and you would lean your head on me, knowing where you stood with me when all else failed. You would never have relinquished me back then, not really; I was your safeguard, your hidden truth.

We maintained such a bizarre partnership, like terribly different twins joined at the heart; the outgoing one and the one who was increasingly afraid of her own shadow. We cared so very deeply for each other and yet it was like we didn’t know how to talk to each other at all any more; we lost our easy parlance when you moved away from home, from the safety of the nest. You could say, we got out of touch like once close friends who had drifted…which was only possible because you made life feel conditional and I no longer fit with that. You made it all feel like that; life all one giant trade-off, tit for tat. You had to turn down all your own dials to believe in all that nonsense, to be like other people, which you thought you had to do to survive. When your father died on the Summer Solstice, just as you turned twenty (still a child pretending to be adult), half way through studying for the degree that he had thought was too much for you…being a girl, you didn’t know how to react to your first close brush with death so you pushed it inside, denying so many uncomfortable feelings. You really thought at some level that it was your fault somehow; another trade off you had accidentally set in motion because of all the hurt thoughts you harboured about him and your guilt that you and he had drifted apart. It was like you still understood your immense power but you had forgotten about love and that you can do no harm to anyone from this place. It unnerved you about the nature of misplaced thoughts and intentions, about unruly sadness turned to venom, and it made you pull inside even more as though you were too dangerous to let out. You felt horribly unsure of yourself and you looked for your father in unlikely people, seeking answers from “men”; ones who only let you down.

Then four years later, along came that time when you almost let me in again; this time you were flying so high on the midsummer vibe, feeling me switched on and remembering how good it felt when we are partners. You became so excited to feel me lifting you from beneath your wings that you just wanted to come with me again, to forget about everything else and we spiralled higher and higher that night…but then you had come to equate that feeling with alcohol and you also drank too much, thinking it was all the same feeling of exuberance but it wasn’t and you fell crashing back down to earth, into a deep sleep. When you woke up, everything had changed because something had happened, a liberty had been taken when you were off-guard and it was something you wouldn’t forgive yourself for; though really you wouldn’t forgive me. You felt that you had trusted me and that I was the one who had led you out of your body on a spiral of joy and left it lying there, vulnerable and exposed so you pummelled your fists on me though really you blamed yourself. Really, you didn’t know who to blame (perhaps both of us), though I didn’t think blame came into it. This was what made things worse in your mind; you knew that, at some level, I didn’t really care what had happened, I knew it was unimportant since nothing could sully what you are, not really (I tried to show you that but you weren’t ready to hear it). I already saw the much bigger picture, where this was a wake-up call of sorts, and I just wanted you to know it was out there (this other way of looking at things) but you slammed it in my face, felt such guilt for even acknowledging for a brief second that you were not damaged by what had happened. So you play-acted the deep deep crashing hurt to perfection, strapping the rock of it to your back since it was what was expected in such circumstances.

Then I provoked the same conflict of perspective when your mother died almost exactly four years later (how the summer solstice took such a beating). You didn’t know how to handle the grief of another lost parent, on the back of all this, yet when you came to me, I didn’t take you into the abject fear or deep mourning that you thought was appropriate. I showed you, didn’t I, that it was all perfect at some level; that it was by design and that you would survive, stronger and wiser for it and that your mother had even agreed to this but you weren’t ready for that; to hear and feel that death could be strangely unemotive, exciting even, for all parties seen from this higher perspective. You hated yourself for feeling these higher vibes even fleetingly, as you could for a mother with whom you had such a profound connection that you were able to sense that, where she was, she was more than alright, was already in a state of profound bliss and that she only wanted the same feeling for you too. She even came to you to tell you that; you felt her there in the unfamiliar dark room where you lay the night she died and you heard it straight from her but you didn’t want to know it yet; it made you feel too weird. So you kicked and pounded against this thrilling secret, you picked up your heavy rock of mourning and placed it deep in your heart and you slammed the door in my face, even more firmly than before, for even briefly allowing you to see this alternate perspective…so I gracefully withdrew. Your flame, that inner torch, really flickered around then….it felt like such a dark time for you but I could only come to you if I was welcome.

So you began to distrust heightened feelings more than ever before; they felt like the gateway to all your problems, your deepest guilt and self-abhorence, instead of the gateway to greater understanding and bliss. And, of course, you began to think I was cold-hearted, aloof and superior, a heartless know-it-all but, don’t you see, that’s what everything looks like where I reside. I don’t get drawn into all the emotions and learned behaviours, that’s the point – you do that for me, which is fascinating to watch, but I don’t have to. I have already reached my nirvana where there is no good or bad, no cycle of loss; in fact, I never left and I have brought you here with me, so many times but you began to pretend you had never seen it, this place where it is all perfectly fine and nothing is out-of-joint or a “mistake”. You’ve had access to this place all your life because I’ve always wanted you to know that, to cut to the chase, to ride high on its wave and feel its relief and its solace; it got you through so many experiences when you were bullied so relentlessly at school (when you were small and still prepared to listen to alternate realities without picking things apart) and, ever since, I’ve dropped you so many clues to get you back here…But then I see how it was in conflict with what you saw down there on the ground. It simply didn’t fit with how fear, possession, conflict and loss count for so much that is considered relatable in your world so you suppressed what you knew and hid it away like a guilty secret that you denied with all of your human effort.

On the back of all those big hurts, one after another (and there were more around relationships that you formed believing you were so worthless), we stopped talking to each other around then, which is when you were nearly 30 and life seemed so stuck in this groove. You were so despairing and lost and, even if you remembered anything I had shown you, you didn’t know how to integrate this with what the world seemed to count as important for survival (and you were all about that in those years). It was a parting of the ways, of sorts…for a time. Until you got my attention back again with all those health problems cascading around your ears (it was a summons of sorts); since, without me, you really didn’t thrive, as though your inner light had almost gone out. Perhaps you were testing me…or did you think you were giving me what I really wanted; an opportunity to leave you behind, to drop the millstone of a human body and go back to where things are always lighter, less complicated than you seemed to make them. Well, I didn’t leave you, did I? I was straight by your side, tentatively at first (then one day, six years ago, I dared to stop tip-toeing and came back to take residence, like a golden ball of love light beneath your heart space) and we stuck it out together. Already (and you acknowledged it at last), I had stood by you through thick and thin, through the birth of a daughter, through the loss of almost everything material that you had amassed, through the loss of your health. Don’t you see yet, my love was always unconditional; not about how “good” an experience you were giving me but about having any experience at all. Perhaps its time to talk about all the things you have given me; to redress this one-sidedness you have always kidded yourself exists here. This has not all been all about me trying to give something to you (and you, out of stubbornness and hurt, refusing to accept it)…You have always given me so much in return, never stopping for a moment.

You see, without you, I wouldn’t get to feel a thing….not one thing. You allow me to feel the breeze on my skin, to hear bird song as more than what I register it as (a frequency but not a beautiful sound through the ears). To feel warmth and cold, laughter and longing. To hold a paintbrush, to create with my hands, to touch someone’s skin. To know food fresh from the plant, sand in toes, exhilaration and, yes, great stirrings of emotion, embraces, tears, deep sorrow. I wanted all of this and more; and there was no other way than through you. I chose you because you feel all the minutiae, you colour every feeling, you seem to know how to express all the nuances and make even more of them than they were before through the medium of yourself. All your senses cross over in great fluid waves creating a rich tapestry of almost indescribable experience and I get to ride that magic carpet with you, every single day. The super-sensitive that you are, that you think is all about pain, gives me the ride of many lifetimes; so I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else but you, my partner and my beloved. I long for you to keep going, to prolong this particular ride, to keep putting coins in the slot to keep it turning. I want to have it go on for many moments, years, decades. Everything in me is focussed upon you thriving to make that wish possible and all I ask if that you focus that intention upon every cell and then switch it on like the elixir of love that wants only for you to heal from anything that risks compromising the time we have left together. Don’t you feel that? Its true; and its all yours, anytime you want it.

It’s not so very hard for us to come together now; to get to know what it feels like to walk as one. You already know me as your inspiration; that is how I was allowed back in the door…and then I was there for you in all your quiet moments of profound healing. We began to meet up again in designated places; when painting, in meditation, on the yoga mat, walking in nature…but really, you began to see, I am everywhere and we have become fast friends again, you and I. Like in childhood, only better. Yet there is still some part of you that denies me from coming all the way in and its time to let go of any reasons why that hesitation is necessary. You have come such a long way; there is no more fear left around those things that seemed to take you down and then allowed you to come fountaining back up into a new way of experiencing life. You have forgiven and sent compassion to everyone, accepted everything as the gifts that they really were, including yourself. How do you think you were able to do this, to heal on such a profound scale, if I was so absent? See, I never abandoned you; we were always right on track, guided by the message of love that I never allowed you to forget the feeling of, calling you home like a warm embrace. This is what wholeness feels like; outstretched arms and your essence filling them – you hold me and I hold you.

I AM love and you have held me inside of you and in a high-vibrating field all around you for as long as you have walked this earth. If you are honest now, you already know that, don’t you? So, step into me, allow this union, drop this idea that we are out of sync or want different things and we can do this thing. You see now, don’t you, that I was always on your side; not for a single moment did I ever leave you or work against you. It could only feel “off” for us to come together if we were vibrating at completely different frequencies; speaking, as it were, a completely different language but we don’t…at all. You know as much about love as I do; you have learned unconditionality through the very experiences of your life, the hard way (and I bow to you, for you have added so much more to what I understand about this, realised – as you have – where it is so much harder to achieve, from within the human field). You have shown me unconditionality and awe and wonder and joy and immense love and so many other things from within that complicated and messy field of experience, which is where these things truly hold sway. You think you have reverence for me, as though I am some sort of perfect version of you, a so-called “Higher” self who never gets anything wrong. Well, let me tell you, I have such reverence for you!

You have anchored love to this planet and everything about you mirrors love to everyone you meet. And I want you to know and acknowledge something else about yourself, one thing you have always denied – you are kind! You are kindness personified and yet, for one reason or another, you have judged yourself as unkind, emotionless (no, that was just me showing you that all was always well…), even selfish when really you were focussing on the area of your expertise, your own recovery. You have modelled this for all those who seek permission to do this for themselves. I see kindness in everything you do, the way you selflessly share your experiences from the heart, give of your time, reach out to others, take such care with how they are doing though they may be virtual strangers you have never met. Nearer home, you think you have been a terrible mother; I see the very opposite (what you confuse for this is your uniqueness as you model alternate ways of being a parent, allowing the child to feel and explore their own sovereignty, just as you got to play with yours all those years ago; in the end, it served you well). All this time, you see yourself as broken, as a let down, as not doing so well, but really you are being love in every moment; like a child riding a bicycle all on their own thinking they are still being held on to but they’re really not. You are doing it all without my help; all it takes is owning it to let the flood gates down and allow the tide of sameness to come rushing in across the breach of this commonality we share, the place where we both match through speaking the language of love. It won’t burn or destroy you; we are not so out of sync that anything I am would harm you in any way and, in any case, love could never destroy you (don’t you know that yet). Who knows, as one we might get to experience something neither of us has ever got to experience before. It could mark the completion of us both…


suresh-kumar-155029.jpgTwenty-five years ago this solstice dawn, I woke up on my own floor to face a circumstance that had come about while I was asleep and which rocked my world. It was not the definitive event of anything that I ever lived through (externally, I picked up and carried on the same and, as mentioned, there were several other “key events” that played a part) but it was certainly the one that sent the camel’s back buckling and dropping all its cargo in the slow-motion emotional and physical collapse of the following decade. It marked a parting of the ways of sorts, an estrangement between two equally important aspects of self; so that I was forced to either come back together in a whole new way or not be here at all. Like watching a dummy lurch forwards against a windscreen in one of those car crash videos, the rest is, as they say, (my) story and I own that story, consciously, as the very making of myself. In effect, I get to wake up all over again…this time on my own terms.

The last decade has been a self-righting, a sort of rescue operation and a slow-steady reunion of two aspects of myself that had become exaggeratedly fragmented (I know now) expressly so I could learn how to put myself back together again!

This powerful time of planetary poise, summer solstice (a time that was such a favourite in my childhood, when more light meant even more playtime and joy) became attached, through association, with a hurt which, in turn, became the very pivot-point of all my efforts to “return home” to myself this last quarter century. Perhaps this period of maximum light has made it all the more painful for me to see more of myself yet not like what I saw across all these years of the wound that I was harbouring being, as it were, spotlit by this anniversary. A stark contrast was set up and the rub of it became my very growing point; a navigation aid as I brought myself into better alignment with what truly felt like me, year-on-year. At the higher level, its as though I have been working with the summer solstice…and my task, now, to work powerfully with it in my favour as such a life-affirming time of the year, unconditional upon any associations I have ever formed around it. I see now how I have been working to redress an alleged moment of self-abandonment (although I never really did fragment or separate…not for one moment, though it may have seemed to be so); to both offer and receive the love that was never, in the first place, either refused or denied.

Last year, I surrendered the story of it by writing what had remained so hidden and putting it “out there” in my other blog Spinning the Light; this year, I claim the pure white glistening pearl that it always was as I lay it all to rest as my own profoundest healing potential. The story of it is no longer required since it has served its highest purpose, along with all those other stories about myself to date; neither discarded nor crystallised through further repeating but, actually, left there tenderly, suspended in a whole new place between substance and nothingness. This is what the meeting place of self and Highest Self feels like to me; like a quantum void out of which all potential births…we get to choose. I never felt more unconditional love fountaining and overflowing from within every cell and with love comes wholeness. So much love…so many tears…so much love…a sea of pain washing out of me, almost overwhelming me like a surprise wave that almost knocks me over, but I am sturdier than that and I won’t need to engage with it again…so much love…so much release…I AM the wave. Such moments are how we heal ourselves to heal the world.

Writing this letter to myself has been such a powerful instrument of healing. I hope to inspire others to do likewise; to let such a letter pretty-much write itself and see what comes out for you. You may well get to hear the words that you always longed to hear…


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Don’t feel you have to ditch your story (unless you really want to)

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Could talking to your body be the answer to all your health complaints?

You can write your way out of an emotional funk. (Here’s how).

Modelling a new relationship with pain

I’ve had a couple of weeks of pretty devastating levels of pain followed by crashing, jelly legged exhaustion and I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t demoralised me just a little. When you’ve done everything to make steady and, most of the time, pretty consistent headway with your health and suddenly…for no apparent reason…you’re deep in the mire again, its nearly impossible to it shrug off with a cheery smile. Watching other people go through health challenges then recovery to come out the other side while yours is still going strong months, even years, later can feel like a long-running trial by endurance. Your mind tries to lure you into learned responses, including self-criticism at the fact “its” still here, like you must be doing something wrong; perhaps you made it come back by thinking about it too much, or in the wrong way (that law of attraction stuff is a minefield of judgemental beliefs). You know you look perfectly fine; other people really have no idea what you’re going through, which can be one of the most hurtful things to contend with. So, whether they do or they don’t, you think you hear them thinking “you must be making this happen by being too self-absorbed; why don’t you get on with your life, think about something more positive, don’t think about health matters at all”. Yet when you are “in” these episodes, the intensity is extreme and, for me, there is such an overwhelming feeling that something wants to express itself through me; to be heard, so I tend to want to purge through my writing, mostly done for my own benefit. These days, I’m far better at letting that mud settle before sharing what surfaces with an audience and then what comes up tends to feel more insightful, less emotive. Out of the latest deep dive, this is it:

What I know, if I’m honest, is that chronic illness is a “thing” of our times that is something like a purge of cellular memories from the collective memory bank of the planet. Therefore, there’s a level where it’s not uniquely ours as the individual experiencing it but is actually everyone’s stuff and it really wants to be “outed”; we are those vehicles and, at some level, we volunteered for this. Like acupuncture needles placed in key meridians of the Earth, we are bringing stored-up energy out from the vaults of the global mind and it can feel remarkably intense. In fact, one of our challenges is to not identify with it so much as to think it is uniquely ours, which has a tendency to make it hang around for longer. If there is a match in our energy field then this can be harder to do and we may have some work to do healing this area of cellular memory but we can allow so much of what comes up through our bodies to be handled beneath the headings of umbrella themes (operating at personal and global levels) that we start to become so adept at recognising through synchronicity and so the process does get quicker, less messy. This links in with a post I shared about memory on my other blog just a few days ago (The Point of it All: Memory Shared) and it feels “true” to me at the level where I have been getting to know this phenomenon for over ten years now.

As a result of the time its taken, which brings a true intimacy with pain, it’s as though a strange camaraderie has formed with the very thing that has, in a sense, taken me hostage for so long. I know something of what it is about and won’t let it step outside with its hands on its head without speaking up for it first…hence the relentless urge to give voice to what is coming up through me…and yet I don’t want to stay its hostage either. Yet the time never feels quite right to let it go…not while the world is still in so much judgement about what is right and what is so-called wrong, including (perhaps especially) when it comes to pain. Is this the unfinished business aspect that puts the word “chronic” in front of the word illness for so many of us these days? Are we here to set the record straight on a gross misunderstanding about what pain is; one which has outlawed it for so very long?

In our culture, I’ve discovered that there is a hierarchy of pain; a sort of currency attached to whether or not we are experiencing it.  Due to the belief system that says experiencing no pain is the pinnacle, it is still heralded as the greatest success to have no pain at all thus, conversely, being in pain is considered a flaw, a weakness, a major fault in the system. Just look at how quickly our culture races to turn pain off through any means at its disposal, from drugs to alcohol and you will see what I mean. Most people are not prepared to pause for even a moment to consider what pain might be trying to tell them about something that needs attention before obliterating it (the same could be said of how we deal with  many things “going wrong” on our planet…) People simply don’t want to feel it; they scatter in terror running away from it and thus this avoidance holds them prisoner in their own lives. I experience regular bouts of pretty extreme pain and yet I am the only person I know who is not taking any kind of prescribed medication or drinking alcohol, which is astonishing. So that is where those with chronic pain stand in that hierarchy of success; considered weak and faulty by our society and sometimes particularly by those who measure spiritual success by the ability to manifest what you want in life, law of attraction style. Of course, no one wants pain…so, if we are drowning in it, we must be doing something “terribly wrong” by those standards. Yet I fervently believe that this perspective is missing something huge about what pain is here to do whilst remaining locked in a dualistic perspective that prevents the next evolutionary leap from happening. When we miss out the pain stage, it tends to come back in another form…and another form…on and on…pushed down deep it only pops back up again…since it is a voice that is increasingly having to shout to be heard; I give you our present-day world as an example.

There’s also that other factor to do with our rapidly increasing evolutionary process to take into consideration which is, as evolution happens, we become ever more sensitive since that is a big part of the process. As we wake up, our senses tune-up and the scales fall off; the combined effect of which is that we feel oh-so much more than we ever did before and probably a whole lot more than the person standing right next to us who hasn’t got there yet. With this comes…guess what…more pain, at least initially. As we learn how to work with that pain differently (including not labelling it “bad” and making it the next thing to become fearful about), we not only evolve ourselves but we help to evolve the whole planet – now isn’t that a turned around perspective?

Let’s get something else straight here. I’m not depressed, not in fear, not out of my joy, not in need of a hobby and certainly not weeping over the past. I LOVE my life and then some, and spend my days noticing and appreciating all kinds of seriously gorgeous examples of everyday loveliness in my world that other people seem to walk straight past (and which I try to help point out through my art, my photography and my writing). Life for me is golden…plus I happen to have a lot of pain and bouts of debilitating exhaustion, which switch on at will, often at the most inconvenient moments, which (you could see this as a major plus-point) prevents me from over-structuring my life. It doesn’t detract from who I am or the perspectives I have of how beautiful life is and how perfectly everything has always unfolded for me, nor does it take away any of the armfuls of gifts I continue to gather from every situation imaginable, or my desire to continue living and loving and experiencing life to the best of my ability for a very long time into the future. That being said, I wish I could do all those things – going forwards – without so much pain and exhaustion since, of course, that would feel more expansive and liberated. I just want to know I can put it down now, to step into an easier phase, whilst never having to insult my experiences by pretending to anyone that I hated my illness, that I conquered or defeated it or, indeed, any of that typical “fighting” vernacular which suggests it was wrong or undesirable. How could I ever say that when it has fuelled some of the most momentous soul-growth I have ever achieved? Yet hanging around to defend it and sift out its positives, so others can hear about them, feels like it could potentially keep me focussed on pain, bringing it back each time I feel I have to correct their perspectives of what I’ve been through…time and time again. I guess you could say that is where I feel I am stuck right now; wanting to speak out for what I have been through (and on behalf of others going through it) yet let it go, simultaneously.

To help do that, I want to talk a bit about what it has given me in terms of, you could say, spiritual growth; which is priceless and without which I would not be the person I am today. I also want to demonstrate how pain is quite different from fear (which people tend to assume is what perpetuates chronic illness…I don’t believe that) and how the one has enabled me to work most effectively with the other.

When your health starts to “go wrong” you are suddenly forced to work with fear, almost like an unlikely partner, at least for a time; getting to know each other intimately, awkwardly (you could say, looking fear straight in the eyes) in a way that you might have been able to avoid before, but not any more. By bringing hidden fear up to the surface, you start to know what you are dealing with and this is important as a starting point. However, sooner or later, you start to notice what fear does for us, which is to summon even more fear since it attracts more of the same when you focus on it. In other words, you make no headway in your recovery while you are still in it. So, you get to a point when you realise that as long as you have taken the necessary actions (precautions, remedies, whatever works to improve or progress your situation) there is nothing else to do but get on with other things; fear is not helpful and is best kept away. You do this by slowing yourself right down and distracting yourself with beautiful things which, all of a sudden, you are noticing and feeling grateful for…and the more you do this, the more resilient the habit becomes. For me, this stage utterly transformed my life. I left a miserable job, started to paint, began to notice beauty everywhere, spent much more time with my family and out in nature, became a writer, got to know myself beyond all the habits and demands of materialism, to drop the learned behaviours and ditch the long-running addiction to over-stumulus of every kind (all of which fell by the wayside)…the list goes on and on.

What happens, eventually, is that the light you switch on inside through doing all this stays on, regardless of what is happening externally (and that includes pain, which – being of the body – is external to this feeling of lightness in your soul). In other words, it becomes unconditional, reliable. You trust it and sense how it will always take you beyond any pain you happen to be in. It resides in the “now” and so you are no longer fixated on the past or the future since now is where your existence bursts into life. Since your life is no longer this super-predictable thing, each moment comes as a surprise gift and you keep looking for that lighter feeling – the light that never goes out – within each moment (not just every once in a while, at weekends, when you can fit it in…but all the time). This, again, becomes the most resilient habit, over and above paying attention to the pain. Repeatedly, you head for the better feeling…the better feeling…the better feeling…and this guides your thoughts which, in turn, impacts how your whole energy field feels to you (in other words, you increase your vibration…up up up). Even in the depths of incredible pain, you still know to head for the better feeling (it could be a thought, a choicepoint or simply something you decide to focus your eyes upon) and you just keep doing it, navigating by it, and it gets you there. You learn to mitigate pain and to even avoid it developing by using these skills; no drugs required. With pain always looking over your shoulder, you are in fast-track training and you are honing this navigation skill that serves you in ALL aspects of your life. Just imagine what all those years of training have done for you when more than half the rest of the world seems to be drowning in a sea of pain and yet so anesthetized by their lifestyle choices that they don’t even register the half of it or what it is doing to them.

stacey-leech-163584.jpgIn this place, you know there is nothing to distrust so safety becomes a way of life. Even in the midst of weird and wonderful symptoms that would have a less experienced person cascading into terror and running to the hospital, you remain calm and centred. Should a real emergency occur, you know you would detect this since panic isn’t your default and you have all your highly-developed senses on board; in fact, holding this calm state of being keeps many body reactions from tripping that emergency wire since the body pays attention and takes its cues from these core responses. Having learned to keep our thoughts out of catastrophe, we are probably one of the calmest people we know and this serves us so well in all kinds of situations; people notice we have a calming energy and an innate wisdom about us, they seek us out when they feel flustered and need grounding. We hold a state of deep serenity that sometimes looks like chronic fatigue; mostly, it’s a recovery mechanism that allows the nervous system to go into a state of hiatus in which to heal and we learn to allow those phases to happen, however long they need to last. We know from experience that the sooner we listen to requests to pull back from life’s overwhelm, the quicker we repair and recover. Our body trusts us since our track record of letting it down or forcing into anything that doesn’t feel good is receding into the distant past compared to this whole new way of living life, which may look a lot slower than everyone else’s but this too is evolution.

And we have developed courage in spadefuls; a quiet, gentle courage that sees us through some incredibly challenging phases with new symptoms that might otherwise send us back into fear. “This too will pass” becomes a way of living; we develop faith in ourselves, faith in life, faith in the support systems of life. We develop the life skill of transforming fear into “all is well” even when we don’t have any proof that it is. Faith becomes incredibly strong and proof becomes this thing we no longer rely upon, which takes us through a portal into a whole new way of living our lives; somewhere we are all heading as left and right hemispheres come together in our world. I have watched this transformation occur many times and, once learned, how it extends into every area of your life, helping to create this new reality.

Repeatedly, with every new so-called “crash” back into pain or limitation compared to what you normally spend time doing, you are faced with fresh opportunities to surrender that which is holding you back – fear, doubt, belief systems, old stories, imaginary boundaries, outmoded preferences…knowing how they lead to outcomes that you don’t choose. You let go of what doesn’t serve, over and over, until what you are left with looks very different to the life you had before; and, in too many ways to count, preferable. You witness once rock-solid beliefs simply dissolve away as now utterly defunct, ready to be swept by the tide of the new. You learn not to add energy to pain; not to drama-it up, to form too many theories or hang old stories around it, all of which encourage it to become more solid than is necessary to fulfil why it is here. These are such important life skills; they lighten and speed things up considerably, keeping you out of loops and cul-de-sacs and allowing the spiral of evolution.

In the midst of health crisis, you develop confidence in who you are; more confidence than you have ever had in your life before. You move into greater flow, clarity and understanding. Everything seems to come together. Synchronicities orchestrate your life with such perfection. Experience expands even as (you know) others look at your life and see it as smaller than it once was. In time…just give it time as the body is the slowest vibrating part of you…all of this feeds straight back into the body’s cells and starts to inform a whole new reality at the physical level. If your physical crashes feel as intense as they always were (perhaps more so), maybe it is because of the contrast with how rapidly you are now vibrating in the nonphysical dimensions; perhaps you can allow that there is a perfection, not a problem, going on and you are having to integrate a massive change into your physical vehicle, which might take just a little practice before it becomes smooth and seamless.

Meanwhile there’s this misunderstanding about pain and it still bothers you, even lowers your vibration when you remember how it is so misunderstood by the vast majority. It can fuel this need to talk about it, to almost whine or bang a drum about it, because you want to set this thing straight. I know I do; I know it bugs the hell out of me to be regarded as faulty in any way. I want to be regarded as whole, not broken – which is my truth – and yet this benchmark still exists “out there” and it makes me want to avoid the outside world where I have to explain myself endlessly and where others see me as compromised when I sometimes feel far less compromised than they are. I want them not to feel awkward around me; to care how I feel, to check in and show an interest in how I’m doing but not regard me as broken. I don’t want to feel chastised by their silences or the way they step around me or “the subject” of my health, which can sit like an elephant in the room. I want it to be acknowledged like we would acknowledge anything else going on in our lives; not with voices loaded with pity but so there is no implied criticism along the lines of “its best not to talk about it” because it would only encourage me in something I’m “doing wrong”. I keep coming back around to it and I know this feeling  of being a misfit amongst other people with their opinions is anchoring me to pain and exhaustion far longer than I need to be, which is what happens when you are in a tug of war between how you are perceived and who you really are. Its not all of why I am still in pain but it is part of it along with this feeling that I want to put them straight (and, I know, its not my job).

Yet I also know none of my power comes from when I look at myself backwards; in other words, if I am already ahead of this defunct benchmark then that is where I now need to be focussing; not trying to shepherd other people along with my endless explanations. I consider this post to be it a turning point in my need to explain anything about my health using outmoded belief systems and terminology around being broken or behind. Those of us in this position are on a particular evolutionary trajectory, just like the rest of the planet (who may be working on different themes), and what we are contributing as we take this particular route is not insignificant to the evolution of the whole since we are sampling and modelling the skills of a new way of being…a FUTURE way of being…in the now. If taking pride in what we are doing is what it takes to flip this coin from feeling like failures to owning how we are major players in the evolutionary game then this is the stance I am choosing from now on.

It feels like the infrastructure for a completely new world full of brand new responses, new choices, new levels of living in love, joy and peace are already there in our world…however, many of us just don’t seem to know how to take it and make it our own quite yet. We mistrust these newnesses for being so different; almost, a little too easy-feeling compared to how hard we have been making things until now. We are standing on the very threshold of a portal looking straight at these new possibilities and yet we hesitate, questioning whether we even see them or if it is a mirage; being far better at seeing what we expect to see than what is so new that it is almost invisible to eyes unaccustomed to such lightness. So we put one foot in and one out again and we often turn back to responses that feel much more familiar, more solid (if heavier; it comes with the territory). Once backward looking, we read the news, get drawn into negative conversation, get tugged back into fear, we assume the worst and alow our morale to be stolen from us by all those many arbitrary things that seem to grab our attention far more effectively than our own tender shoot of optimism, which gets so quickly trodden underfoot. For some reason, we *think* we feel better doing things as we have always done them and that genuinely new options are so terribly hard to come by. We hardly believe that such new ways of being could already be standing right there in front of us in every moment; its like we can’t see for looking. Sometimes it takes a crisis, an illness for instance (anything that shakes you out of the learned way of seeing and gets you using the full spectrum of your observational skills), to notice what is already there.

Recognising that there are new possibilities just a hair’s breadth away is the start point to our own transformation. It’s enough to get you going on that new trajectory and the recognition is as subtle as a ribbon of fresh air through a newly opened window…which happens as soon as you consider, does this choice feel light or leaden, am I invested in it in some heavy-old contractual way or does it flutter freely like a butterfly on the summer breeze? Does it release a fizz in the stomach or drop concrete in my heart? After making the choice, did I feel relief cascading in my body? Did my shoulders relax, all my tension drain away like free-flowing water poured from head to toes? Do I feel invigorated, excited or, suddenly, chronically exhausted by this action set in motion? Some of us that have been through years of pain have become acutely sensitive to such very subtle variances in our nervous system and really so adept at interpreting them that this kind of navigation is second-nature to us. So now is our time to make use of these highly developed sensibilities as a means to navigating our lives forwards towards a new kind of human experience.

Learning to take our next steps like this, using subtle data gathered by our super-sensitive nervous system as our lead, can break us out of some of the very “old” stuck patterns that we’ve been caught up in like a kitten in a ball of wool, releasing us from being the hostage of our own life while making none of our experiences of pain “the villain of the piece”. Keeping “fault” (or “fault-y”) out of the vernacular of this stage in our evolution is hugely important. Speaking our truth is cathartic, yes; but we need to consider, at what price do we add the weight of further words and do these words feel liberating or burdensome; do they come with more strings rather than wings? Are we truly expressing from the perspective of the present moment, not from an idea we had some time ago; does what we say fit the infrastructure of a brand-new potential that is starting to take form on the winds or is it a rehash of old ideas that are already feeling outmoded and throughly well dug-over?

When we tune up our subtle observation skills, we start to observe that many ideas that once felt worthy and of substance are becoming unsure of themselves, dissolving into nothing and seeming to want to be let go of now. What we thought about something yesterday might not hold any water today and we need to keep on our toes with this; staying flexible and alert, always prepared to dissolve our own best-laid plans rather than progress what no longer feels higher-vibrational. Then of course, used mindfully, expression is one of the great gifts of the feminine aspect, the “yin”; which, having been out of balance for so long, can use the leveling effect of the kind of communication that reaches into all the corners to expose what has been hidden, to bring transparency and rebalance what has been tilted. Yet there is a fine balance between this and saying so much that we add more substance to what is ready to be completely washed away in the flow. In other words, if we keep banging the same drums, disappearing up the same gullies (tempting as it can be), we will remain stuck in the same old version of reality. It’s a responsibility we have that we need to be able to discern those widely varying potentials derived from remarkably similar actions, leading to very different outcomes, then choose wisely for our brand-new future (and I think I am getting somewhat better at it). Again, those of us that have travelled the long-persistent route to health-stasis have become adept at noticing the broadly different outcomes that are possible from subtly different choicepoints; and we know how recognising feelings in our body gets us to where we really want to be.

It really all comes down to focusing on our own personal journey of evolution (healing, by the way, is a very fast-track version of evolution in action, in case you were still wondering); we can’t shepherd anyone else, we can only demonstrate through our living example. Our own super-intense journey towards increased wellbeing (we all have one) is all that really matters; this is how we impact the whole. You could say, this is where we really make a difference; by refining the relationship we have with our feelings (which is where pain sometimes comes into it). What we learn, the whole  of humanity learns (whether we talk about it or not); we can be sure of that. When we keep hesitating in our own forward momentum to check how the rest of humanity is coming along, we stall our own progress by looking backwards for longer than was necessary and, sometimes, throw ourselves back in the mire. Its been a foible of mine to keep doing this in the name of “helping others” and I know I need to become more selfish, in a sense; even if that means not sharing every single leap of progress I make. When we make those leaps, we need to do what it takes to let them settle in, holding that new space until they have grounded into the three-dimensional for long enough to develop resilience; not dashing around telling lots of people how we did it or spinning around to see if anyone else has noticed (I’m all too aware how ego can come into this). Our own longterm wellbeing needs to be our primary purpose and the focus of all our attention; that’s it, nothing else is so powerful or sustained as that singularity of focus (and perhaps those of us who have been through long illness know this better than most). As other motivations drop away, this makes room for healing to take place since the cells of the body receive a clear signal that we are ready to move past all the old stuck points and diversions; to pull away the blocks from the aircraft wheels ready to take off and fly.

This whole process really is – and has to be – unconditional. It matters not that I go back into episodes of pain and limitation when those circumstances are approached from this perspective. Instead of feeling like episodes of failure, of backtracking or relapse, they prick my interest as periods of massive personal growth and I always come away bearing armfuls of gifts (this last week has been especially challenging and, yes, especially rich in what it has given me). They feel much more like upgrades than crashes and, in my home vernacular, this is the word I tend to use; so perhaps its time I used the word more broadly, and unapologetically, across the board (our words hold such a powerful energetic charge). When upgrades are underway, I calmly step back from my life to wonder what will come of this latest burst of deeper understanding; knowing also that the phase will be relatively short in the big picture of things and there will come a day when I’m back to my busy life again (it certainly never gets dull). Many things get stirred up during those phases yet I’ve learned to let that mud settle, to not share every word that I write (immediately or even later), or to try and write down every thrilling epiphany that floats through the new expansion of my mind and to allow what wants to come up to the surface to do so in its own good time. Always…and I mean always…I find that slowing down in this way allows a vast newness to flow into the void that is created once the first attempt at interpretation (which tends to charge in somewhere near the beginning…) has subsided because I refrained from giving it energy. This can make me seem quiet – very quiet – during these times but, really, all is very well. When I slow life down like this, I find (amongst the many true gifts of my journey) that I have learned how to be patient, trusting and aware enough to receive far more than I ever thought was possible.

In the same week that I was starting to compose this post, a two-part article on the subject of living with chronic illness came out on Facebook, written by Julie Ditmar of True Divine Nature, who has been on a similar journey to my own. These installments felt so timely and really resonated with me, being relevant to the perspective I have shared above. I was left sensing that pain and long-running illness have reached their time for seeking the new light that they deserve; it is their moment to come out of the closet and be received somewhat differently than how we have tended to handle them.

In them, Julie acknowledges illness as the master teacher that guides you towards achieving greater courage and a deeper relationship with self than you might otherwise have realised, a chance to intimately connect with the “inner shaman” whilst showing you how to live a life of profoundly unconditional joy. She lists so many ways in which pain can be reconciled and approached in a way that does not detract from life. Indeed, from my own experience, I would say that its biggest gift is to show you how to reach a place where nothing can compromise your thrill and enthusiasm for life, from which point you can release the condition that says “one day, when it has gone, I will feel much better” in order to receive the profound joy of living here, today.


Also useful – this video from Abraham Hicks