I have this theory…that if you can imagine yourself back inside your youngest self, that is before you were age three or four, feeling yourself into all the preoccupations and perceptions that you were gathering about the world at that time of your life and the earliest impressions that people and situations were making upon you, then you will have in your hand the golden key to the door of all your most-stuck points in this life right now, including your health.
When I was that tender age, I was safely tucked away at home with my mother and much older siblings every single day, no exceptions. I never went to a pre-school or nursery, my earliest sojourns into the outside world were to supermarkets or the corner shop. The first time I met any of my age-peers at close proximity was when I was four years old and my mother, concerned that I might not know how to interact with other children when I started school on my fifth birthday, dropped me off at her friend’s house where children a year older than me were having a birthday party. It didn’t go well for me, I felt excluded and terrified then she was cross to find that I hadn’t been very happy there. She might just as well have thrown me in at the deep end with no prior experience of the water and then ordered me to “swim”!
My earliest challenges were with an older sister and two brothers who vacillated between being infuriated or thoroughly bored with having a much younger sibling; one brother was out-and-out jealous of the inevitable attention I drew from the adults, making my life a misery with kicks and other abuse that I learned to keep quiet because of all the escalation they generated if I said anything. That said, I didn’t draw much attention from my parents whatever was happening to me; my mother was already run-ragged with the other three and a sickly father in a house the size of a shoe-box so I was often left to the care of my elder sister or left to cry it out. My earliest memories of all are of being left all alone “to sleep” in a pram in a deserted kitchen or the fumey garage (I still love the smell of petrol…) listening to, yet excluded from, all the hullabaloo of noisy family life heard through the walls. My parents were lovely people, they just bit off more than they could easily chew by having an unexpected fourth child in an already over-crowded house with stretched finances. I don’t know if my mother ever knew just how irritable and often unapproachable she seemed when I was little and I had by-far the best relationship with her years later when my siblings had all left home.
These patterns say such a lot about the continuing patterns of my life; I still prefer my own company, still like best to be safely at home day-after day, still feel on the side-lines of life, quietly observing other people’s worlds from the edges, still feeling like I might be missing out on something yet hardly knowing how to take part. When I got to school, my life was made miserable by bullying that went on for several years and so, already, I was being made nostalgic for those earliest years of quiet detachment from it all. I realised quite recently that my happy times of early childhood were when I was allowed to stay at home because I was sick; on those days, my mother would have far more time for me than at any other (my siblings being at school, my father at work) and I would relish all the loving attention and feeling like I had slipped back into the comfort-zone of my earliest impressions of normality. This pattern of seeking solace in a state of “illness” was one I know my body drew on whenever life became too much for me as an adult; I would crave that slide back into the welcome arms of the sick-day sofa like the nurturance of the mother I longed for the attention of (even though that nurtance now came through me). I see now how that pattern fed into chronic illness as surely as did my perception of the “outside world” of other people as some sort of alien landscape to which I would never quite belong and where I was never truly wanted…
On my recent holiday, I really noticed that the mattress of our bed was (for all it was probably “luxury” by anybody’s standards) the most difficult thing for me to adapt to because I am so used to a memory foam mattress at home. The thing about memory foam is that it adapts to your body, allowing you to express your own most natural posture (the one that is most conducive to your health, creating no pressure points or short-falls in support) without forcing you contort your spine and hips to meet a surface that is, fundamentally, flat as most mattresses are. When a mattress is flat, it is saying “this is how I am and you have to meet me here in this non-negotiable way” (which is how life often presents itself).
The spine is not flat; our body’s natural posture is to curve and undulate and when we sleep in that most natural posture, the toils and strains of our day get to self-remedy and unwind during the repair-processes of our sleep. By morning, our body has let go of any distortions from the events of the day before and has returned to its own “factory-setting”, ready to start a brand new day.
When the body is stiff and aching from long walks in the wet and many hours of driving (as mine was on that holiday), the last thing it needs is to be contorted into even more unnatural positions during the night, leaving those unnatural postures as the starting pint of the next day’s worth of more driving and walking. I was so grateful we had bothered to pack the yoga mat for our trip; it became the saving grace of my week. By bothering to shift around some of the furniture and roll this mat out at the top of the stairs as a constant reminder of the great new habit I have formed of doing some gentle yoga every day, regardless of whether I am “on holiday”or “relaxing”, I was reminded to continue with this consciously adopted habit as a means of mitigating those other new trends that were trying to assert themselves as pain in my back!
Life is very-much like this too; and we either come to notice that we are “sleeping on the wrong mattress” year after year or we continue on with this habit, oblivious to all the layers of distortion that we are reinforcing because we just keep repeating, and starting out from, the same old unhelpful trends day after day.
When life itself is that mattress (that non-negotiable surface we push against…), it forces us to contort and to hold unnatural shapes that don’t serve us or enable us to find our way back to our own most natural “position”. A bad pattern held too long becomes the very pattern of our life; it sets us up to repeating the same distortions so very long that they become part of us; in fact we can’t even remember a time when we didn’t have them, they have quite literally become “who we are”…which is fine if we are happy with that, but when there is a glaring stuck-point that is holding us back, it might be time to start questioning what we are still “sleeping on” night after night.
When those unhelpful patterns can be traced all the way back to source, it is like spending a night on the right mattress, allowing healing to take place. Healing comes quickly once we have done this for even a small handful of times, unravelling old habit-patterns because we can identify those little vulnerabilities, the child-like perceptions of a “scary world”, that have informed some of our deepest, darkest fears and hesitations about this world. Its all part of healing that inner-child; recognising what alarmed it so much and then loving it back to fullest recognition and understanding of just where it has been coming from for all these years. Because – to this part of ourselves – these hesitations about the safety of life have been entirely justified and real; we can see that now and thank them for all their concern.
Recognising those earliest imprints upon myself as a little human taking in my first impressions of what this world was all about, its fear-factors, its safe-havens, helped me to recognise some of the most entrenched patterns of my adult behaviour and my trends towards withdrawal from life, perhaps even going as far as initiating health-issues that meant I could hide away from an all-too scary world when things got too much. Shedding light on these trends can be one of the most enlightening stages of any healing journey. It can be achieved by intending to take your memories back that far by yourself, though inviting answers to certain questions before sleep or meditation, or through the assistance of a practitioner skilled in timeline regression or hypnotherapy. Whatever your method, you might find that you turn up to the light the very beginnings of a deeper understanding of some of the most core yet previously hidden motivations behind your “stalling” recovery process that make all the difference when it comes to, finally, initiating the healing-process you really long for.