How do you measure who you are, what makes you feel core-strong regardless of what else is going on, and how does this manifest in your physical health? Boy this feels like such a big post, too much in it to summarise so dive in if you are prepared to ask these questions with me.
For the past few months I have been engaged in an experiment - me, the middle-aged autistic woman with a whole bundle of chronic pain syndromes, dancing twice a day almost every day. The result is, I can't possibly summarise the incredible benefits I have reaped, specifically within the context of autism but also relating to reduction of chronic pain...there are just too many to abbreviate and some of them may very well surprise you, so you will just have to read this post...
As an autistic person, I find there is a definite link here between my particular wiring for high sensory processing, which can make me feel more overwhelmed than some other people might be in the same situation, along with a tendency to live in my thoughts way too much, plus also the need to actively process those senses though my body in such a way that the body fully registers them, but without overwhelm, on the way through…because, otherwise, I can tend to bypass the body altogether. Not least because of issues with chronic pain, learning to bypass the body can become a really big issue. Also gentle grounding activities, such as letting energy passively drain through me into Mother Earth, doesn’t feel quite enough.
Rather, I tend to need to actively participate in the processing part in order to remember what my body is there for…and that it is important and useful for me to have one (something I tend to forget…), which is where the power of dance comes in for me. Dancing, quite literally, puts me back in touch with my body and helps me to remain more grounded for a long time afterwards. Yet whilst this especially applies to someone like me, as in highly sensitive person with autistic wiring, I suspect it applies to anyone that lives in their head and has become detached from their body to a very high degree…which is more common that you might think; a typical modern phenomenon.
I plan to share much more about the proven benefit of dancing, for autistic people, soon in another post that I’m working on for Living Whole.
To start off this topic, here is a post I shared yesterday, in my other blog Spinning the Light, on the importance of GROUNDING joy into the physical body (an absolute essential for health and for navigating these times), whatever that happens to take in your particular case.
Cultivating joie de vivre
…has never been more important, or elusive-seeming, so how do we conjure up, specifically, grounded joy, rooted in the body, during such challenging times?
(As doing the research that led to my retrospective post the other day reminded me) a relentless sense of my own joy of life has always been one of my defining traits, as it were, rescuing me from some very hard times, even way back when as a child feeling quite helpless in situations that traumatised me. As an adult now dealing with chronic health challenges, I have come to regard it as an utterly essential ingredient of life, so much so that I cringe when I watch so many people loose their grip on it (not that I blame them in the circumstances) because of perceiving themselves as victims of those circumstance, knowing as I do that unless we take our own personal steps to…
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What have you gained from this year? Do you now find it easier to appreciate? On this final day of the year, if you can scrape through the sludge of a challenging year, dare you ask these very questions and be pleasantly surprised what you find under there? I did and, within moments of intuitively listing a few things, this is what I got.
If recovery from chronic illness is like a long-running detective story, with us as its protagonist, this year has felt like one of those chapters that make sense of quite a few things in a series of "a-ha" moments. And though what I have learned in quick succession may very-well have overwhelmed me, it has also enlightened me as in TO LIGHT ME UP with a new degree of self-appreciation and awareness, also clarity as to how certain root circumstances click together to make chronic illness what it is.
When you are an empath, you may tend to walk into a room and find yourself tracking the energy fields of everyone in there...do you relate? And in your relationships, dialling into people's energy over their personality? This comes with inevitable pitfalls...I speak from experience here, as well as playing with some reasons why we might do this in the first place and how we can bring the trait into more balance for far better health.
As an adjunct to clearing the body of old emotional memories in order to heal, it's important to start a blank canvas of creating positive NEW body memories that invite the body to take part in choosing what makes it feel good. Here's how I'm using that understanding to move into the later stages of recovery from chronic illness, shifting me into a new place when it comes to how resilient and good my body feels (yes, we all still have our off days)...
Adopting healthy habits is the thing that will get us all through this challenging phase and so here's the point I'm making here: The religious practice I speak of here is nothing to do with attending "church" (we need to reclaim that association back, to re-empower ourselves), its to do with devotion…to one's self, one's life…and the conscientious, faithful practice of observances that affirm one's existence as spirit in human form (a long way around of saying “health”); and on this topic I have much to say.
How do we know the difference between when our intuition is speaking to us or when our self-sabotaging fears are stopping us in our tracks? This is an essential lifeskill for self-care and guidance when we venture back into life's busy fray...
I am picking up on ways that spectrum types seem to connected to an earlier permeation of human being that lived much more closely amongst animals and in Nature, and even with animal themselves (since those early people did not feel the same disconnect with other species that modern humans do) rather than to the currently dominant neurotypical strain of human that has largely disconnected from Nature. In our extrasensory abilities, as in an ability to sense many things that we can’t "just" pick up with our conventional five senses (to the exactingly detailed standards we prefer...), our ability to preview how something will feel in advance by tuning into the experiences of others, plus our trends of mixing up and crossing over those senses, as in the way of synesthesia, and of using visual images as memory and information rather than “ideas”, I sense this link. In the way our bodies seem to connect with and respond to circadian and other natural cycles more than most people, I sense that link. In my case, the way I work, quite compulsively and intuitively, with symbology and complex metaphor feels as though it harks back to an earlier format of human that lived deeply immersed in Nature and took all sources of data, logical or otherwise, as clues leading towards a fuller sense of meaning. In our joined-up way of processing, and our deep frustration with systems built to serve social ideas of human behaviour, prescribed largely to serve ideas of lack, profit and control (but which make no sense in the broadest sense or supporting life for all and which fail to take care of the “bigger picture”of our world) I feel like some sort of honorary member of the animal kingdom shaking their head in dismay at the way the world has been turned over for personal gain. Yet, to seem more neuroptypical, in order to blend in and survive, as we saw it, we may have traded off our profound connection with the body and its senses to focus on our heads...