Is it really the hellish journey we think, or can we truly heal and thrive and enjoy our lives as we were destined to?
Whatever your theory on creation, you can’t deny that the human body is a fabulously designed and intricate system of which we are yet to fully understand. It performs all manner of miracles for us on a daily basis, often without any conscious intervention. Joshua Rosenthal from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition often cites that ‘the body will heal itself by itself, given half a chance’ and we can clearly see this when we cut ourselves - it automatically goes to work on our behalf to heal and protect the body. If it’s small, we generally leave it alone, knowing that it will heal, and it does. So if we have this inherent trust in our body to heal, why do we not leave it alone to do so? Why do we fail to support it in this crucial role? And why do we bombard it physically and emotionally on a daily basis with more than it can handle?
Some years ago, I began using the ‘premium’ fuel for my car as I was informed by my mechanic that this was much more efficient. What I noticed immediately after refuelling was that my car ran much more smoothly and I actually found that I now had more miles to the gallon than I ever had previously. This was a simple switch for me. Pay a little extra and give my car what it really wants and needs and I will be rewarded with smooth sailing and longevity. The body is really no different, yet the mind tricks us into believing that we really ‘need’ the sugar, alcohol, buckwheat... (ie: insert whatever is your poison - these are mine) and the marketing campaigns for all of these ‘Franken-foods’ help to corroborate this. We believe that we ‘deserve’ this treat (a word that I really dislike for foods that do our body a disservice) or that “surely one more can’t hurt” or “all in moderation”, but all we’re doing is providing our body with sub-standard fuel, and we know it, and then our body has to work even harder to process any toxins that will not benefit the 50 trillion cells that need efficient fuel to run smoothly. Of course, every now and again is manageable, but consistent and ever increasing ‘treats’ (because the brain always needs a bigger hit than the last time to feel the same glorious dopamine effect) begin to clog and slow the system, until finally the body becomes exhausted and the signs begin to show: premature ageing, pain or inflammation in the joints, acne/rashes/skin complaints as the body tries to eliminate toxins through the pores, digestive and gut issues from bloating right through to severe illness, memory loss, fatigue, poor sleep, excess weight... the list is long and in no way exhaustive. But, this is only One aspect to our health...
The word health originates from the word ‘whole’ and the World Health Organisation define it as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. I have found this to be true for me. I have always been in general good ‘health’ with no major illness or disease, and I always ate in a relatively ‘healthy’ way, but I know I was not healthy. I had poor immunity so always caught the latest ‘bug’ doing the rounds, I began to suffer from aches and pains, a bad back with slipping discs, acute stress, mild depression, feeling lonely/alone (although I was always surrounded by people) and worsening acne (I mean horrendous) through my 20s and 30s. I was also constantly questioning my existence and felt lost. I finally reached a point in life where I could no longer sustain my current lifestyle - the point of no return - and this was when the emotional turmoil took it’s toll. I had spent my life feeling “fine” and burying my emotions, but this was causing me more physical pain than any amount of champagne and chocolate ever could. It was like my head, my body and my heart were three separate and unconnected entities. I was not ‘Whole’.
After sustained maternal insistence, I began the slow and painful process of emotional therapy. I had already changed my diet at this point. That had been the easy bit - the fuel I added to my body made me feel so much better that it was a no-brainer! The emotional exploration, however, was much more challenging, but I trusted my therapist implicitly (and still do) and with each session, I began to release old ways of being, to explore who I really was (not just who I’d told myself to be all these years) and to grow exponentially as a human being. This emotional and spiritual opening was so necessary and monumental for me that it changed the entire trajectory of my life! I began to realise the toxic and negative environment that I had been living in - not only in the physical world around me, but also inside my own head! I was my own worst critic and whilst I had become frightfully judgemental of others, I was most judgemental of myself. I could never ‘get it right’ so what was the point in trying? I think my point of no return was literally a place where I had given up, so nothing really mattered, and the system was beginning to collapse.
My separation from my body, my emotions and my true self meant that I could no longer ‘feel’ myself. I was numb - inside and out. What difference would this cake make? Why bother moving my body? Who are you to think any differently? This separation is what kept me in ill health. From the outside, I appeared slim, happy, ‘healthy’ and totally together. But inside, I was lost and I knew it. The exploration of my emotions, the re-connecting to my true self, this is what saved me. This is what allowed me to then take better physical care of myself and slowly I began to return to myself - to become whole again.
For me, this idea of ‘Health’ is a process. The word is a verb, not a noun. A never-ending journey of exploration. I have been on it since birth when I arrived whole and complete, but as I grew, so did the separation with myself and the lack of education on how to deal with my internal world. If we truly love and accept ourselves wholeheartedly, then we will nurture and care for our physical body as we would do for another who we truly love. The journey to get back on track when we’ve lost our way can indeed be hell, but it is beyond worth it when we do, as we then begin to truly live and thrive and find reason for our existence. For me, this is the secret to life.