6 March 2009

The body doesn't lie

Saturday 8th March 2009

Walking
I do a lot of walking in nature to escape the city life. During the week I walk my dog along the Torrens Linear park and on most weekends I try to get out further from the city for an extended walk up hills and through bushland.
The image on teh left is a view of the city of Adelaide from the uphill climb on my favourite local walking trail at Horsnell Gully.

While googling for new bushwalking trails yesterday I stumbled across a blog written by another Adelaide walker. He takes beautiful photographs of local trails that I also love to walk along.
Have a look here.


The Wisdom of the Body

If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.—Hippocrates

Every physical problem, disease or injury has its cause deep in our psyche. Everything we think and every belief we hold ripples through our sea of e-motion (energy in motion) and then through our physical being, firstly through the subtle energetic layer, and if it is a strong recurring thought, belief pattern or emotion it will upset the energetic balance and manifest more prominently on the physical level. When in manifests in the physical body as an injury or a temporary affliction you know it wants to be noticed. It is showing us where we are out of balance.

Yoga and meditation practices are designed to gradually purify our senses so that we begin to notice and listen to these messages. We become more sensitive to and in tune with the interplay between mind, body and spirit.

Think about this: our entire belief system (the mental framework that governs every decision we make) is made up of a group of thoughts that we have constructed and then play over and over in our subconscious. They wear deep grooves in our psyche and all subsequent new thoughts get caught up in these grooves and are tarnished by them.

Ingrained patterns of thinking (such as “Im not a morning person” or “if I openly show my love I’ll be weakened” or “I'm too old to do that”) are actually neural pathways we've created which get strengthened and thickened each time they are reinforced by yet another thought along the same line.

So where am I heading with this?

To my lower back of course.

I am sure that some block in my thinking is causing my lower back and hip problems.

According to Lise Bourbeau, the psychological cause of lower back problems is a fear of losing our freedom if we help others. Apparently this fear prevents me from giving which in turn prevents me from receiving and I must acknkowledge that it is alright to need to feel supported and to seek that support instead of being so stubbornly independent.

Could my back problem be connected to my OBSESSION WITH SOLITUDE? Hmmmm….food for thought….

Lise lists 20 common problems and their metaphysical causes here:
http://www.ecoutetoncorps.com/ressources_en_ligne/definition_20_maladies_e.php
And some more are listed here:
http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/Emotions/Metaphysical_causes_of_disease_and_how_to_deal_with_them32004.asp
I think Louise Hay was an early pioneer of this kind of mind/body connection work. I remember turning my nose up at her book ‘Heal Your Life” for years as it was such a wonder book for the lavender scented new-age movement. To this day I still haven't read it.

Penelope Quest has written a book called "Reiki For Life". This extract explains the interplay and connection between our various mind/body/spirit layers (or koshas as we call them in yoga: see http://www.swamij.com/koshas.htm ):

“Our physical body has its own conscious energy system, or body wisdom, which is always working for our greatest and highest good, and because of this it tries to tell us when something is going wrong, either with our thinking or in our lives generally. Its messages take the form of symptoms or illness or disease, so when we have a headache, catch a cold or flu, have toothache or become more seriously ill, our body is trying to tell us something, trying to get us to understand the signal and do something about it. But that is the difficulty, because we don’t always understand this kind of “body language”, and some people are completely unaware of it, so its significance is lost.

Most people react to illness or disease by trying to get rid of the symptoms as quickly as possible, usually by seeking medical advice or intervention.
A recent advertisement on television caught my attention, because it was extolling the virtues of a popular analgesic as something “for people who don’t have time to have headaches”. I found this quite alarming, because whilst there is nothing wrong in seeking relief for symptoms, if you want your body to be healed, you also need to understand the illness at the causative level, and if you have constant headaches, “masking” them with medication and carrying on as if nothing was wrong isn’t a long term solution. You’re not listening to what your body is trying to tell you, so although the symptoms might abate briefly they will return because you are not taking your body’s advice and acting upon it.

Your first priority is to ask yourself "WHY am I ill?". Because from this metaphysical perspective, illness or disease is created by the body – albeit as a helpful message - and as the body is simply a part of our consciousness, this means that we actually create our own ill health.

Again, this may be a very challenging concept, but as I pointed out earlier, the metaphysical viewpoint is really very empowering, because if we have the power to create ill-health, then we also have the power to create good health!

However this is definitely NOT a “blame theory”. Although you may ultimately be responsible at a deep spiritual level for having created an illness, this isn’t being done at a conscious level so there is no blame attached, and you therefore should not harshly judge yourself – or anyone else – for being ill. You don’t suddenly wake up one morning and say “Oh, I think I’ll break my leg/slip a disc/sprain my ankle today, that’ll stop me rushing around doing too much and I can have a good rest and some time to think about my direction in life”. Of course not. From a human perspective that would be utter madness! But from a Soul/Higher Self/Sub-conscious Self level the pain of the broken leg or slipped disc or sprained ankle is simply an experience on your journey through this physical life, and it does what it’s supposed to do. It stops you in your tracks, ie it stops you making further progress down the wrong path. If you heed the messages, all well and good, and you can heal and move on, but if you don’t then they will lead to different life experiences, but from the soul perspective even that is still OK.

All experience – good, bad or indifferent - is good experience for the growth and development of the soul, but not necessarily pleasant as a human being living through it!

Now I understand that these metaphysical theories can be very difficult to come to terms with if you haven’t heard them before, and they may well challenge your belief system or your concept of how the world works, and of course you are free to take them on board or ignore them, the choice is yours. But if reading about them has sparked at least an interest in finding out more then there are some recommended books : "Your Body Speaks Your Mind" by Debbie Shapiro; "The Healing Power of Illness" by Thorwald Dethlefsen;.

Anyway, to summarise this metaphysical viewpoint:

Every illness or disease, accident or injury has a message for you, and the more serious the illness or injury, the more serious and urgent the message. Nothing is accidental or coincidental. Every experience is useful and valid and contains some valuable information for you, even some of the minor things – such as cutting your finger with a knife while chopping vegetables. Why were you distracted? What were you thinking about at the time? What are you feeling “sore” about?

Understanding Your Body’s “Language”

Your body sends you messages every day: to highlight that something isn't right in your life, or to nudge you into noticing that you are going in the wrong direction, or to bring to your attention that there are lessons to be learned which you are ignoring. The trouble is we’re not speaking the same language, especially if we think every “accident” is accidental, every pain is just something to be got rid of, and every illness is just an inconvenience and something to be suffered until it is over.If you are frequently unwell, could the underlying reason (or "dis-ease") be that you are unhappy or too stressed at work, but the only way you will give yourself permission to take time off is to be ill?

Is being sick perhaps a way of getting more attention or affectionate responses from your family or partner? Do you "need" an illness to slow you down because you have reached a stage in your spiritual life when you need lots of time by yourself for inner reflection?

These are just a few examples of the possible messages offered by the body for you to examine, learn from and then take action, making the necessary changes in your life to bring about harmony and good health. Of course there isn’t room in this book to give anything other than a very short outline of some suggested metaphysical causes of illness and disease, so I have recommended some books in the Resources section that deal with this issue if you want to explore it further.

However, the list below shows just a few of the possible relationships between parts of the body or specific illnesses and facets of our inner selves, as a very rough guide. Of course, this list is only a brief example of a complex issue, and is not meant to be regarded as the “truth” in every case. See if they “feel” right to you, because obviously they are generalisations and each case is individual, so you may need to explore the issue in more depth. In the meantime, however, it may sound simplistic to say that if you've got a sore throat you may be having problems expressing yourself, but just be prepared to look at that, honestly, to see if it has any relevance for you. If not, that’s fine, but please remember that most of us are very good at hiding our motivations from ourselves, so probing our deeper reasoning can be an uncomfortable and disturbing experience. Therefore even if at first you want to deny it outright, it could be worth having another look!”

Causative Issues Linked With Body Parts
LEFT SIDE OF BODY Represents our feminine side and our inner journey, as well as creativity, imagination, spiritual and psychic issues
RIGHT SIDE OF BODY Represents our masculine side and our outer journey, as well as money or job issues, or other practical, physical and material concerns
EYES Show how we "see" the world. What are you not prepared to see? Are you looking at things from an unhelpful perspective?
EARS What is it you are unwilling to hear? Are you avoiding listening to your inner guidance?
THROAT Communication issues. Have you swallowed your anger and hurt? Are you expressing your feelings? Are you telling the truth?
SHOULDERS Are you carrying too many burdens? Do you always put yourself last in your list of priorities? Is your life too stressful?
ARMS Who or what are you holding on to? Are you afraid to let go? Who or what would you like to embrace?
HANDS Associated with giving (right hand) and receiving (left hand), and the details of life. What issues or situation can't you handle?
BACK Associated with stored anger and resentment, feeling unsupported, and trying to be perfect, as well as money issues and indefinable fears
CHEST (Heart/Lungs) Relationship issues, self esteem and feelings of worthlessness, suppressed emotions, feeling smothered or controlled by others.
LEGS Associated with progress through life, fear of change, fear of the future, and family or parental issues. Who/what is holding you back?
KNEES Linked with stubbornness, inflexibility and indecision. What decision are you afraid to make? Are you being obstinate over something?
ANKLES Do you need to change direction? Is your life unbalanced?
FEET Associated with security and survival, reaching our goals or completing tasks, fear of taking the next step, being "grounded"

Reflecting
This particular question rung true as soon as I read it in the excerpt above:
"Do you "need" an illness to slow you down because you have reached a stage in your spiritual life when you need lots of time by yourself for inner reflection? "

Going back in time a couple of years, I was working six days a week plus teaching a few yoga classes and somehow maintaining a morning Mysore practice, on top of all the other commitments that go with having a family and a budding relationship.
Then during the two months of March/April 2007, I sprained my ankle three times and had an accident with a pressure cooker which burned my arms, the right one quite badly.

Within a few weeks of the accident I'd given up teaching yoga classes, and that marked the start of a gradual cut and burn in many areas of my life. Only in hindsight can I see that an internal phase of prolonged solitude was awaiting me; the injuries had to occur to initiate the withdrawal from society into a period of quieter reflection.

So listen to your body, dig around to find out the meaning behind its messages, and take notice of them.

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