The Body’s Wisdom – Two Stories
In this age of “cookbook therapeutics” many subtle yet profound relationships often go unnoticed. Western culture in particular seems to have a tendency to get stuck in linear thought, where a “this fixes that” mentality prevails.
Most systems of healing have their “cookbooks” that offer “recipes” to deal with particular symptoms. There is nothing wrong with that – it can be a helpful starting point, and has its place. Natural home remedies are good examples of this.
However, most health challenges have at least two or three causative factors, and there could be more. Sometimes there’s a whole bundle of straws on the camel’s back!
The real challenge in health care and personal growth lies in determining what is actually causing our distress. There is usually much more to this than meets the eye. Looking beyond the obvious allows us to discover deeper levels of relationship and meaning that can be life-changing.
Most of the time, I find that our physical complaints are intimately related to our life issues. We literally carry these issues in our bodies and energy fields. They are energetically woven into the consciousness of every cell. Unfortunately, when something like this is causing distress, it is not detectable with the traditional physical exam.
Case 1 – Neck & Jaw Pain
A client came in for neck and jaw pain that had started about four weeks before and was getting worse, in spite of her self-treatments with acupressure.
I found that her cranial rhythm was shut down on her whole right side, a key cranial bone was stuck, and there were energy blocks in her right ovary and her kidney meridian.
As the session progressed, it emerged that the energy blocks related to her fear of giving notice to quit her job, though she knew she needed to in order to stay healthy. In Chinese medicine, anxiety and fear are often related to the water element: the kidney and bladder meridians.
After these blocks were released and she allowed herself to feel some of the emotions that were being stored in her tissues, her body was ready to receive the neck adjustments and hold the corrections. She felt 90% better.
On her second visit, there was only mild pain when chewing hard things and this cleared up easily. She was willing to listen to the messages her body was giving her. She gave her notice and felt good about it. She could just as easily have listened to her fear and kept her job, and probably would have kept her pain along with it.
The Wisdom Behind the Pain
In my own growth process and in working with clients, I often find it useful to view physical symptoms as a message from our inner wisdom. It might be our body’s way of getting our attention. Our body could be saying, “Hey! You’re not listening to me. If you don’t slow down and take a rest, I’m going to get sick and then you’ll really have to stop!”
Underlying energetic and emotional stresses are much more prevalent than commonly realized. I usually find some component of this with my clients. It seems that the imbalance first occurs on the energetic-emotional level, then filters down to the physical where it manifests as pain or some other symptom. If nothing is done to correct the underlying cause, the imbalance can eventually become a full-blown disease.
How does this work? Let’s say a person experienced a betrayal of some sort in their life. A friend or partner “did them wrong” and a few years have passed. They have tried to put it behind them, but still feel resentful and find it harder to trust people than before.
They might be carrying the issue and it’s accompanying emotional charge in their liver-gallbladder area. In Chinese medicine, blockage of the liver and gallbladder meridians often relate to anger and resentment. With part of their life energy going into maintaining the resentment, there is less energy to go around when it comes to running the organs effectively.
The negative emotional energy carried here is also likely to disrupt normal function of the other tissues in the area (abdomen, mid-back, or right shoulder). Gradually, they begin to notice a tight, congested feeling, or the appearance of mid back pain.
Issues such as digestive problems, fatigue, allergies, cholesterol imbalance, or gallstones could manifest. A more serious disease state could eventually result if the underlying issue is not addressed. In a case like this, forgiveness could be the best medicine.
Unresolved stresses have a profound effect on our acupuncture meridians, their associated organs, and our energy fields. When a person can relax into the healing process with an open mind and heart, wonderful changes can occur without struggle and effort.
Tools like Interactive Guided Imagery can offer clues as to what their body is trying to tell them, and offer an opportunity to let go. CranioSacral, Visceral and Lymphatic Therapies can usually help release the physical and energetic stress and bring things back into balance.
Case 2 – Dizziness with Neck & Shoulder Tension
Here’s a case example that illustrates this point nicely. A woman came in for help with dizziness from almost any head movements; it appeared to be a case of labrynthitis, or inflammation of the inner ear balance mechanism.
She had been experiencing significant stress and worry over her husband’s health problem, and had persistent tension in her neck and shoulders. Her ears showed no signs of infection or nerve problems. However, she had major energetic disruptions around her right kidney and third solar plexus area. I sensed deep grief (loss) in her kidney meridian (according to Chinese Medicine, the kidneys rule the ears). And her temporal bones (which house the inner ear balance mechanisms) were restricted and not moving correctly, along with a few vertebrae in her neck.
As we worked with this, fear of present day abandonment came to the surface, along with an image of a little girl that seemed to represent a past life experience of losing her parents in the Second World War. After connecting to a place of strength in her heart and meeting her angel, she was able to work with the little girl and began to heal the wound. As her energy shifted, we were able to clear and rebalance the kidney and solar plexus. Some cranial work completed the session and she felt much better.
During three subsequent visits I was able to focus more on improving physical function in her cranium, neck and spinal cord. We also cleared another layer of emotional and energetic imbalances relating to this pattern. Her dizziness was gone and her neck and shoulders were more relaxed. She was finding it easier to make decisions and reported her life being more centered and peaceful, with things in her life “falling into place.”
She was willing to view her physical symptoms as a possible message from her inner wisdom. She accepted the challenge of solving the mystery and engaged herself in the process. She faced part of her “unknown” and came away with a true gift: greater wholeness. What gifts can you discover in your own challenges?
The face of health care has been changing. More and more people are searching for things they can do themselves to help regain balance in their bodies and in their lives. Many found their way to practitioners who could support them in the quest for better health in more effective natural ways.
People were attracted to the philosophy common to alternative therapies around the world: “Remove the interference, give the body what it needs, and its inner wisdom will do the rest.” While the multitude of beliefs as to how this is best accomplished has created some confusion, this hasn’t slowed the tide of those seeking a better way. It’s simply an idea whose time has come.
The Old Model: Fixing People
The predominant theme in health care today is “fixing” patients . That is, doing something to them to fix what is “wrong.” This usually has a short-term focus, and does not consider the long-term consequences of the treatment.
The “fix-it” model is pervasive in most of the alternative therapies as well as the field of medicine. Ranging from blatant to subtle, it’s an easy model to fall into. This is true not only because the professional schools teach in this fashion, but we as a population want to get fixed!
I must admit that I “grew up” in this system, and I am very good at “fixing” my clients – using natural methods, of course. However, over the years, my interest has shifted from getting rid of unpleasant symptoms to supporting them in creating a lasting change.
Getting “fixed” has been very popular with health care consumers who, like doctors, continue to search for “magic bullets” to cure various conditions. Most of us would rather take a potion to make the problem go away than change our lives to eliminate the actual cause.
At least more people are now looking for natural, nontoxic remedies instead of drugs and surgery. Miracle stories abound about every conceivable therapy and many of them are probably true, for some people, at least.
Unfortunately, not everyone responds the same way because each one is unique. For example, while bioflavonoids will stop many cases of menopausal hot flashes, many women don’t notice any improvement. For them, the essence of their condition was not a bioflavonoid insufficiency, but something else. For those willing to delve deeper, other answers usually come to light.
Return to Essence
I saw a woman who was seeking help for severe menstrual cramps. As we discussed the history, I found that the pain usually flared up after phone conversations with her “ex.” She realized she was still giving him a lot of her energy, and feeling resentful about it. After clarifying her boundaries with him and letting go of the responsibility she had been feeling, her cramps all but disappeared. Her essence was being disrupted by her co-dependency, and nutritional supplements alone wouldn’t have touched the root of the problem.
What is this essence? Essence is that part of us that naturally expresses its aliveness, without effort or pretense, like the authenticity of a young child. It’s the Heart of Our Being, our Deepest Wisdom, our interconnection with all life.
For a variety of reasons, we humans tend to make choices that constrict or disrupt this spontaneous spark of life. When we do this consistently, things begin to show up in our lives to remind us. Whether they appear as physical symptoms or challenging life experiences, these “signs” are often simply our essence trying to communicate with our conscious awareness. This is especially true when a recurring pattern is apparent.
Rather than seeing our health or life challenges as enemies to be gotten rid of, the essence model views them as potential gateways to the adventure of growth and healing. The very things in life that drive us to frustration are usually blessings in disguise. They may offer us a metaphor for our inner conflicts, a story of how we have inadvertently locked away a part of ourselves that cries out for acceptance and expression.
There is no formula for developing the ability to live from essence. However, it occurs naturally when we allow our organic process to lead us back through the mystery, holding our intention to the principles of our inner wisdom.
The Organic Process of Change
Our healing process moves and expresses itself with its own timing and rhythm, and each person’s process is uniquely different. We each have different needs that must be met in order for healing to occur. Some of them are nutritional, some structural, and many are psychospiritual in nature. Having the flexibility to follow the organic process as it unfolds will eventually lead us to our essence, our natural magic.
This organic process is a mirror for our life’s journey. There is much more here than meets the eye. Mystery and natural wisdom lie in every challenge; gems awaiting discovery by those who have the courage to look beneath the surface. A brief story will help illustrate this important point.
“Cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me!”
A client with breast cancer sought help from my partner, Ariel. This woman had already had a lumpectomy and was considering radiation therapy. Understandably, she was afraid.
Over a year’s period of monthly visits, her organic process brought forward some key realizations. She was able to heal her unresolved losses in relation to the deaths of her father and a close friend. This was a turning point for her inner life, as her natural process led her to discover her own joy; her own essence.
In addition to dealing with her losses, she also worked to change her pattern of always putting the wants and needs of others first, and putting her own last. She feels that these two things were crucial to her recovery.
Once bound by feelings of loss, guilt, and incompletion, this passionate woman is now ever transforming her life into more of what she chooses it to be. Not only has her appearance changed to reflect her dynamic essence more accurately, but her relationships, lifestyle, work and play also mirror the many choices for aliveness she has made along her journey. She now says, with all her heart, “Cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me!” Her life and her buoyant presence are her gifts to herself and the world.
It has been a journey of being willing to courageously meet herself, to know her limits and stand by them, to push the edges when it felt right, even though it required commitment and tremendous heart. She has a new sense of herself, and a new life. Cancer was the prompt that brought her here. It was an ally in disguise, what shamans call a “good enemy.”
It is often said of life’s journey that it’s not the destination that’s important, but how we handle what happens along the way. If you are willing to engage your challenges and look for the gold hidden inside, they can lead you on a transformative adventure. Your essence awaits you!
Addendum, May 2000: It has now been 4.5 years since she was diagnosed and treated, with no recurrence. The medical treatment was a lumpectomy and radiation (which caused a rib fracture). She refused chemotherapy. She gradually shifted more to a whole foods diet, eliminated red meat, increased her nutritional supplementation, and honored her emotional and spiritual needs.
After the Cast Comes Off – Overcoming Obstacles to Recovery
© Dane Roubos, D.C. www.BodyMindPeace.com
This personal story describes three important factors in injury recovery, which are not well-known in the medical profession. I‘ve posted it in hopes that it will be helpful to others on their healing journey. There are several additional factors which I wasn’t aware of at the time, which I now consider crucial for most people recovering from injuries or chronic pain. These “hidden factors” often prevent full recovery from injuries, and from pain in general. Click here to learn about these Keys to Recovery.
It’s amazing what one cannot do with a cast on, and sometimes even after the cast comes off! I shattered both arm bones just above my right wrist in 1990 in a roller-blading injury, which resulted in four surgeries. The orthopedic surgeon had to put a steel plate on the radius (one of the two bones in the forearm) to hold it together so the fractured pieces could mend. Ten weeks and three surgeries later, I got the cast off – to my relief, and dismay.
I found my grip strength had dropped from 110 pounds down to barely 10. That was easily corrected with exercises, but there was another “side-effect” I hadn’t expected: my wrist motion was severely limited. I couldn’t bend it backwards at all, nor tilt the palm up past the “thumbs up” position. The inflammation from the injury, and probably the surgeries, had created a lot of scar tissue that was gluing everything together, including the ligaments around the joints.
I was referred to an occupational therapist reputed to be good with this sort of thing. Unfortunately, he had little training in mobilizing stuck joints, which is what it really needed. I had to go “outside the system” and look elsewhere. I dealt with this in three ways:
- Skilled mobilization of the restricted joints
- Deep infrared heat combined with sustained stretching
- Removal of the stainless steel plate
It wasn’t an immediate success, because there was a “hidden factor” preventing full recovery, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. Here’s how the story unfolded. I had another chiropractor mobilize the joints in my wrist and arm to get them moving again. This helped tremendously in the short term, but the joints kept getting stuck again.
I heated the area up in an infrared sauna, holding it a foot or two away from the heating element and turning frequently for about 10 minutes – kind of like a “slow broil.” After warming the tissues up, I stretched the wrist & forearm (using my other hand) in all directions, holding each position for about 2-3 minutes.
When connective tissues are effectively heated and stretched, they tend to retain some of the improvement in length – much better than stretching them cold. Each time you do it, they stretch a little further. This helped, too, but I couldn’t get beyond a certain level of improvement.
The Hidden Factor
It had always seemed a little tender and slightly reddish around the area where the plate was fastened to the bone. I began to suspect my body was reacting to the stainless steel plate and screws. I did a little research and found that allergy to nickel (one of the components of stainless steel) was a problem for some people. Fortunately, my surgeon was willing to remove the plate, which accounted for the fourth surgery. It turned out that this was a very good thing.
After the stainless steel plate was removed, the low-grade inflammation disappeared, and then the benefits of the mobilization and stretching steadily increased as I continued my program. Within a few months, my range of motion was nearly back to normal.
Shortly after that, I met two people who had experienced similar injuries many months before. They both still had serious restrictions in their range of motion. Neither one had received the therapies I had, and had been released from medical care with seemingly permanent losses in function. Having accepted their doctor’s pronouncements that there was nothing else to be done, neither one seemed interested in pursuing the matter any further. Sad!
This left me feeling very grateful for the treatments I had available to me, and that my training had given me enough knowledge to succeed. May you find your way through the “health care maze,” to those therapies which are best for you.
Other Healing Stories: