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.

SaveSave

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…

 

Related posts

On Living Whole:

Absolute healing

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

Similar artilces elsewhere:

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

Itching to get there

Watching the birds at the feeder in my garden, the busy sparrows with their young family waiting in the nest, I got to pondering whether this was a good thing that we humans provide such easy food for them. Their lives have got so much easier since the need to forage for food has become less of a necessity to survive and thrive into the next generation. How far are we influencing them, their numbers and longevity? Or is it only right, as we thrive, that we share the vibe around; perhaps this is their time.

Whatever the aggravations and even irritants of modern life may be, I never cease being grateful for the advantages of living in a time when food is readily available and in which I have choices, endless choices, about what to eat and how to live my life. I see a long winding road ahead of me when, I know, many of my ancestors would have already left by this time of my life. As a soul, I feel this opportunity most profoundly too.

I awe myself with just thinking of the countless lifetimes that I amassed great wisdom, increasingly ripe for my senior years, only to succumb to disease, poverty or worse. So many lives cut short in our prime…we women are feeling that rising up in our DNA in these times. There is an itch that happens at menopause and it is all about wanting to take hold of the opportunity we have been waiting for across many lifetimes cut short or when circumstances were less ideal to be all we wanted to be. We are ripe once again to claim all that a mature woman is about; shedding responsibility and unnecessary ties in order to focus on her great gifts, all the accumulated wisdom of ages, which opens like a treasure trove as she lays down family responsibility to become her most empowered self.

Only the itch is real….very real; and it can drive you crazy. Not only do I become systemically dry as though all the moisture has been sucked out of me by a giant drinking straw but I HURT during the second halves of my cycle these days. Yes, I still have a cycle but it feels like it is running on empty. Of  course, this happens just as the increased sensitivity of those forthcoming “wisdom years” switch on and I feel more than ever, especially in those second two weeks of my month building to the full moon. The combination of subtle sensitivities that  seem to feel literally everything (and then some) with a nervous system that feels ragged and frayed is profound for me and, I suspect, many other women too. It can present as heat and flame, as irritation (internal…external, it’s all the same), as burning skin, as dryness, as itchy scalp, as straw-like hair, as inflammation, as all over pain, as joint aches and weakness, as electric nerves, as intercostal tightness, as back and neck pain, as spongy or spasming ligaments, as stomach soreness, as migraines, as optic nerves that make vision blurred and achy, as chronic dehydration and fizzing tongue, as over-reaction to environmental smells and noises, as constipation, as neuropathy, as dizziness and flashes of multi-dimensional insight that confuse, as bizarre food cravings or no appetite at all…these are just some of some of what I know from personal experience.

These are all versions of this metaphorical (you could even say, metaphysical) “itch” which – in physicality – presents as the chronic dryness that is generated when hormones are in transition. Really, its transformation underway…a metamophosis…and in making it mundane, by denying it or even making it seem like a problem, a curse, we fight back against what is really like a spreading of wings from the chrysalis; bewilderingly, disorientingly beautiful. Our culture has done terrible things to downplay the stage of her life that is all about female empowerment and there is a minefield of superstitious beliefs and misinformation around it; no wonder we hurt and struggle our way through it.

In its depths, it has sometimes made me wonder whether this dried-out, over-sensitivity and pain is what lies in stall every day for my body post-menopause but I don’t think that it is. I suspect that the body finds a new equilibrium once it stops trying to run an old cycle, all about reproduction, that is now a learned pattern but for which it no longer has the resources or the use. While reproductive organs continue to act as though there is an egg, it’s as though they dredge the bottom of the barrel each month to prepare “a nest” that is no longer needed in the womb. Once they catch up and realise that those days are over, I suspect they won’t have to work so hard at this monthly whip-around to gather resources that my body can’t provide any more, leaving cells and organs depleted of what they most need to run optimally. I won’t need to supplement so hard or to brace myself for two weeks of dipping into pain. In other words it will get easier once the decision has been made that menopause is here now…since, like any decision, it is the making of it that comes as relief, the hesitating that creates anxiety and friction.

Really, its nothing; just a phase we go through; all consuming though it can feel, like a mini-death to some. Just think what a caterpillar goes through as it digests itself inside the chrysalis, before emerging…with wings. To do this, it has to “imagine” itself on the other side, forming so-called imaginal cells in the soup of its own disintegration, which (as far as we can describe it) seem to hold the intention of the new butterfly-shape it is taking before it is even created and use the “food” of its old life to grow; and we do this every time we imagine all the good stuff that lies ahead of us in our lives, building upon all the experiences we have gathered.

ben-white-147268.jpgSo, as ever, I’m left knowing somehow that the more we embrace menopause, inviting and celebrating it, the easier it gets. When we cheer it in and are grateful for the forthcoming years that we always wanted, so that we can put concerns of the body on the shelf along with all those nurturing skills required of us during the child-rearing years, we can concentrate on ourselves and our own soul’s growth, for self-empowerment. Really, we make such a big deal about self-empowerment like we have to brace ourselves to conquer the world or go on a course to learn about it when, really, it’s all just about becoming our true selves, drawing to us all of the wisdom we have gathered from life and using it to spread our wings fully, in our own beautiful way (whatever that happens to be), guided by joy. We can get down to the business of stepping into ourselves like never before with no apologies, no compromises, no other demands on our free time than this. Quite literally, this is our time, the one we have been waiting for (both the culmination of this lifetime and many others…the combined wisdom of which we tune into more and more during these years) so the sooner we take hold of it with both hands, the easier the transition gets. When we really welcome in those years that lie ahead of us, without fear or the concerns of the past, the temporary discomfort of the transition feels incidental, almost worth it as a rite of passage through to another side, remembering that there is another side of our life to now claim.