HEALING FROM WITHIN
“Life is like an onion; you peel off one
layer at a time, and sometimes you weep”
After typing my last post, a magazine I’d taken off the shelf had flipped over to page 28 and here’s what I saw….
Immunity – too much of a good thing?
“According to Dr. Paul Ridker, a Harvard University medical professor, those of us who express a highly tuned immune system – and therefore a faster and more intense inflammatory response – may be at greater risk for a heart attack than those who have higher levels of cholesterol but lower levels of inflammation. This may answer the question: why do some people with advanced heart disease (i.e., badly blocked arteries) survive years, while others, whose levels of cholesterol and arterial congestion is relatively low, had heart attacks? Further it drives home how important it is to your health to control excess inflammation.”
Alive Magazine, February 2007, No. 292
Wow! I can remember discussing fibromyalgia with my doctor. He said nonchalantly, “Well no one has ever died from fibromyalgia.” And a quick thought entered my mind, “but I bet it’s an invitation for a host of other illnesses.” I didn’t actually say this however, I wish I had. Unfortunately, my visitation ‘time’ was up and I was ushered out into the waiting room where at least a dozen people were anxiously waiting to see the Doc. I hope all their questions were answered….mine sure weren’t!
Fibromyalgia IS an intense inflammatory response! And excessive, oh boy, most of us with FM can attest to that. The stress it puts on our bodies forces the adrenals to keep releasing more hormones. This in turn stops the production of our thymus gland, which, leaves us more susceptible to infection and illness. And, if I’m reading the above article right, heart disease!
The thymus gland is situated above the heart and is of great importance to the immune system. If you could look inside your bone marrow, everyday, it is creating billions of cells that will become different kinds of immune cells. One in particular that we are interested in, is a lymphocyte, a natural killer T-Cell, it’s the good guy. These powerful cells first go to the Thymus which comes from the Greek word thymos meaning soul or personality….it’s connection is to the immune system and our sense of Self. But if our adrenals are on a high, how do these cells get to the thymus. And if they don’t get to the thymus, where do they go?
It is the thymus that gives the T-Cells special instruction before they move into our bloodstream. But without instruction, would the immune system and its powerful chemicals attack anything in its path, including healthy cells? If that’s the case, the immune system would act as a gallant knight charging into battle, killing his men as well as his opponents. Or do the T-Cells with no where to go, just dissipate? Any doctors reading this care to comment?
And, if the thymus is about ‘a sense of Self’, if it’s not working properly would we class that as low self-esteem, a low sense of self, weak self preservation, self-limiting fixed concepts? If it does, then we may be onto something. I myself have an inferiority complex…..I’ve always admired others but never seen these same qualities in myself. I’ve turned down many opportunities because of an inner fear that I wasn’t good enough. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been working on myself to see my true potential. In the last few years, I’ve explored my creativity in all facets of the arts. And I think I’m actually narrowing down which ones I’m interested in bringing to fruition. But it has taken a long time!
So how do we work on calming and strengthening the adrenals, opening the thymus and recharging all the immune glands. With Awareness.
The goal of spiritual practice is full recovery, and the only thing you need to recover from is a fractured sense of self.
“People have a tendency to look at the things they want and say, “yes, I like that.” However they look at the things they don’t want and give them just as much energy, if not more, with the idea that they can stomp it out, they can eliminate it, obliterate it. In our society, we’ve become content with fighting against things. Fighting against cancer, fighting against poverty, fighting war, fighting drugs, terrorism, violence. We tend to fight everything we don’t want, which actually creates more of a fight.” Lisa Nicols, The Secret
It was Frederick Perls, who was one of the founders of gestalt therapy. He noticed that many people’s personalities lacked ‘oneness’ and in fact seemed fragmented. Carl Jung later called these fragments archetypes. Perls claimed we never look at ourselves as whole but in pieces.
When I studied astrology, my teacher said the same thing about reading astrology charts. He said we look at a chart in pieces instead of looking at the ‘whole’. How true!! When I first studied astrology, I looked at each aspect, each house, each sign independently. When there was a negative twist to an aspect, it would depress me. On the other side of the coin, a positive aspect would elate me. It was like a see-saw effect or a swinging pendulum. So how do we begin looking at the whole?
Awareness is listening to your body and letting it tell you where it needs help. Your body has an inner wisdom that tells you when to rest, what to eat, when to sleep, etc. It all begins with paying attention to the body and learning what it has to say. If you want to live more fully aware of yourself, more in touch with life and the body, you can learn to do it. But you have to commit yourself to a full exploration of what’s inside you. You have to learn how to work with the body. If you really want to develop this you also must be ready to Hear The Information it tells you. Many of us fear what the information will say, so we go on a large explanation of how we couldn’t do it because we felt blocked, or out of touch with our feelings. I truly don’t think this is it. You’re afraid of what your body is going to tell you. You’re being defensive, you’re resisting.
Awareness requires honesty and integrity. It is the ability to be in control of your thoughts and feelings. It’s about focusing your thoughts, feelings and attention on a particular subject. Awareness is intuitive, it’s knowledge and information that doesn’t judge, grudge, criticize or have an emotional charge to it. If it does, you’ve hit a live wire, an old memory of being hurt or criticized that has burrowed itself in your body. And you’re going to keep paying for that memory until you find a way to release it.
Awareness silences the inner chatter within our mind and calms our emotions. One of the best ways is studying and meditating on symbols that are meaningful to YOU. Symbols are created by your subconscious mind; we see them all the time in our dreams. Working with our own library of images we can begin changing what we don’t like or what we wish to improve in our lives. We can start removing obstacles from our paths, many of which were put there when we were children. There is a huge data bank we’ve created different experiences from and all these come from our unconscious.
How Awareness Works
Remember playing musical chairs when we were kids? The music played and played and we kept marching round and round, faster and faster until the music stopped. Now aren’t some of our days just like musical chairs? It’s a vicious circle that insults the mind and the body.
During a morning or afternoon, let the music stop, say STOP and notice what your thoughts and feelings are, notice the position of your body. What’s going on that you weren’t paying attention to? A nagging ache or pain may be obvious at this very moment. Your body is simply telling you where it needs your attention. A simple body check will tell you where you need to concentrate your energy. Maybe all you need is to stand up and stretch, take a walk. Pain is the body’s way of saying, pay attention to me.
Wherever you are, no matter what you are doing, you can develop awareness. And when you do, you will discover how you avoid, block, interfere and change your own thoughts and actions. You’ll become aware of how you unconsciously hold or move positions. Our bodies are sending SOS messages but our minds suppress them and by the end of the day, we beginning feeling our tense and abused muscles. Indeed, I have noticed many uncomfortable poses I’ve put my body in and how these poses have affected my body. My shoulders hunch over from the pain and it seems my neck gets shorter by the minute. After typing that rushed report, my neck and shoulders are a mass of knotted muscles.
“The symbol plucks all the strings of the human spirit at once……”. J.J. Bachofen
Symbols are powerful messengers. They are the expression of the soul and your inner wisdom.
The Second Initiation
Focused “mental/Spiritual” INTENTION and AWARENESS is the key into the power of REIKI
Reiki II, consists of learning the symbols which are the essence and have been called the “Formula” of Reiki. The power and effectiveness of the symbols come from the Reiki attunements that are given during a Reiki Class. Before the attunement the student is shown these symbols and given time to memorize them. During the attunement, the energies of each symbol come down and enter the student’s mind/body, linking themselves to the appropriate symbol in the student’s mind.
From My Reiki II Manual
Reiki is the flow of energy patterns and symbols, constantly mixing, exchanging and drifting apart in an endless dance with Universal Energies.
Reiki II is about increasing your power and becoming consciously aware of your relationship to life. The attunements awaken the “still-small-voice” with each of us, asking us to recognize the truth even when we don’t like what it says. It is a willingness to know yourself as you are, dropping pretenses and disguises. Reiki is about changing attitudes and patterns of behavior so that stress and illness can be understood and a sense of harmony and balance is maintained.
When I teach Reiki, my students learn, healing oneself is the catalyst to heal others. The purpose of healing is to become whole – to help us become aware of, admit to, reclaim and integrate our fragmented parts. Integration then becomes a support system within the Self. When we are comfortable with the self, we no long feel the need to use the title of our jobs, our spouse, our bank account, therapist, university degrees, etc., to hold us up. Integrated means we are able to stand on our own two feet.
Some methods of awareness are role playing and/or exaggerating the symptoms and behaviors. The principle awareness is to be in the ‘now’, to become aware of bodily senses and to ‘stay with our feelings’ until we start understanding their message and begin our own journey of healing.
There are so many ways to use guided imagery and meditation to improve our lives, reduce stress, enhance self-image, heal the body. The internet has millions of hits on these and other techniques. I’ve only touched a few that have helped others and also helped me.
Listen to your surroundings
“Nature speaks in symbols and in signs”
John Greenleaf Whittier
Look around the room you’re in at the moment and let each thing speak to you about itself. I definitely know the room I’m in right now, especially my desk is saying, “I’m messy and full of all the work you must do. Until you tidy me up, I’m going to irritate you and keep you from concentrating”. Eek! Okay, okay, I get the message, you’re point is very clear! Let me clean it up!
If we can really listen to our surroundings we will begin to see the effect they have upon us. And when we become more aware of our environment we can change our surroundings and make them more comfortable and less ‘agitating and distracting’.
Do you get the picture? How about that beautiful painting hanging in your room or that sculpture in the corner? What does it want to say to you? How about the hanging plant, the couch, the chair? If you can learn to ‘listen’ to your surroundings you can become aware of the ‘effect’ they are having on you emotionally as well as physically. And, all this eventually leads to a healthier body.
Try being aware of your stance when doing the dishes, reading, at the computer, brushing your teeth, bringing in the groceries, taking out the garbage, talking on the phone, etc. You’ll be quite amazed at how you may clench your jaw, and stiffen your muscles. Look in the mirror at those forehead wrinkles.
When we are in pain all we want is for it is to go away, disappear from our consciousness. Another form of awareness is Gestalt Therapy, this is expressing your symptom or pain more by exaggerating it.
Close your eyes and think of any pain you’re experiencing now or have experienced lately. Focus your attention on the pain and look at it in detail. What parts of your body are affected and what sensations do you feel in these body parts. Pay attention to feelings of pain and tension, see if you can really accept the discomfort you feel. See if you can increase this symptom and be aware of how you do this…..now see if you can reduce it by letting go in some way. Take more time to explore your illness and become more aware of it in detail.
Identifying a Symptom/Illness – The Power of Symbols
We are moving to a deeper region of the inner self, becoming aware of the symbolic messages of our body from within. The simple questions following should be answered from a relaxed and focused pace. Here, we are trying to understand what our illness looks and feels like, symbolically. We are listening to the messages of our body. This exercise can be used for all kinds of illnesses…..CFS, FM, Migraines, Bladder Infections, Multiple Sclerosis, Ulcers, etc.
I adapted this inner communication guide from a book by Laura Day, who has written many great books on intuition and awareness. There’s a link to her website below.
Take a deep breath and allow a few moments to center yourself. You will obtain a more accurate result if you respond to the questions without thinking, allowing your intuition to guide you. Do not judge, just listen.
Trust your first response.
Don’t go back to change your answer.
Let your first response BE the response.
This is not a pass or fail test, just simply notice what images come to mind.
If your illness were an animal, what type of animal would it be?
If your illness was a plant, what plant would it be?
If your illness was a landscape, how would it seem?
If your illness was a body of water, how would it be? Is it deep, clear, what’s the temperature, is there any movement
If your illness was a color, what color would it be? Is it bold or weak in color? How intense?
If you could pick a geometric shape for your illness, what would it be?
If this illness was a type of music, what would you hear?
If this illness was a tool, what would it be?
If this illness was a character from history, who would it be?
Whatever symbols or images appear at first, acknowledge them, write them down quickly and then go back and look at them. It could be quite revealing. The character in history could help you understand what character your illness seems to take on. Studying that character, their life, etc., could bring much meaning to your own symptoms.
A dear friend of mine, Lisa (not her real name) did this exercise in regard to her migraines that constantly haunt her life. Here are her answers to the above questions.
Janice, I want to answer the questions you asked regarding if a migraine was a …., what kind of ….would it be? These are what first came to mind for me.
animal: Fisher Cat; plant: Venus Fly Trap; place: Barren mountains, like out in the western US; body of water: Raging sea; deep as can be; freezing and so dark of color that one couldn’t see one’s hand in front of them; color: dirty maroon; geometric shape rhombus; music heavy metal; historical figure: Jack the Ripper
Will have to ponder over my answers myself! Wonderful excercise, Janice. Whatcha think about the answers I gave?
Lisa wrote back later and said….. “Oh, I picked Jack the Ripper as my historical figure representing my migraines…it’s because someone like that is an invader. He invaded lives and snuffed them out. When I have a migraine it’s as if I’m being robbed of life…even if it’s only for a few hours, but it’s obviously worse when I get a “three day sucker” type migraine that robs me of DAYS!
Curious, I googled Fisher Cat and discovered it is part of the weasel family.
As for those symbols…pretty apparent that my migraines remind me of gnashing teeth…ie. the ruthless teeth of a Fisher cat; the sharp tines of a Venus fly trap (the trap alone is significant ’cause that’s how I feel when I’ve got a migraine…trapped in my own head pain); the jagged mountain peaks; and the off-kilter look of a rhombus (out of sorts, like a flattened square). As for the raging sea…when I was a kid I was even afraid to LOOK at books that contained the fish that are so far down in the depths that they glow white and have horrendously, fiendish teeth. Raging, because that’s how a really bad migraine feels…it’s out of control. And then there’s the fact that I fear water and can’t swim…another out of control feeling. Now as for the dull maroon, we’ve discussed that before as being a color that bothers me. And regarding the Heavy Metal music…it also sounds out of control to me; relentless pounding like my head feels with a migraine.”
Now that we see how negative symbols can run amok in our life, how do we transform and evolve emotionally, spiritually and physically from them?. The only way to move through the pain is to fully experience it, understand it, and act upon that understanding.
Negative symbols have a positive side to them too, all we have to do is change our perception of them. We’ll explore this in the next section, Healing the Body/Mind with the Spirit. This section will explore the spiritual components to healing Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia, through the chakras, astrology, the meridians, and much, much more.
In the next section, I’d also like to address communicating and connecting with a supportive group. Many people with CFS and FM feel uncomfortable and vulnerable discussing this unfamiliar illness. Yet discussing how we feel could helps us overcome our resistance, anxiety and discomfort to it. It has been proven our attitudes, perceptions and emotions make a difference in how our immune system functions and also how the brain reacts to these emotions too. What do you think?
“We with our lives are like islands in the sea, like the trees in the forest. The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves…..but the trees also commingle their roots in the darkest underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean’s bottom.” William James
Some favorite links of mine…
Lots of info on healing, acupuncture, elements, etc.
More Healing Metaphors
Body is a map of Consciousness