Some amazing words about from our close friend Pamela Holtzman. We have been so inspired, impressed and invigorated by her beautiful philosophies. She’s also published a great new book, “Healthy Lifestyle: Path of Wellness”, check it out here
Stop right here. Take a deep breath and bring awareness in to your body. As you breathe notice any sensations in your head, your face, neck, shoulders, feel the energy in your chest, your belly, pelvic area and hips, be aware of your spinal column, your hips, your legs, breathe all the way in to your toes. As you exhale slowly release tension, discomfort, anxiety, soften around any pain and relax.
Welcome to your Body
There. Welcome to your body. Our body is our ally, our guide, a built-in divining rod to the internal wisdom of what is needed to be healthy, happy, whole. So many people pay absolutely NO attention to the feedback from the body. Let’s start with food. Recently a friend said to me, “I drink these healthy green drinks all the time, and my stomach cramps.” Hello? Don’t drink those! Even though they are “health drinks” your body may not need or want them. If attention is paid by eating slowly and mindfully – there is immediate feedback about the foods eaten from our body. Some examples of feedback that certain foods are not good for us are: a feeling of fullness, bloating, gas, pain, nausea, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), or excess mucous. Feeding our body whole, unprocessed and unrefined foods, generally feels good. Some can eat a little red meat, dairy, or flour products without any stress in the body. Listen to how you feel.
Physical Pain or Illness
What about physical pain or illness? Stress can increase cortisol and adrenaline (which puts the body at risk for infection, inflammation, and chronic illness). The body often voices the effects of chronic stress. There is a “sickness syndrome” of lowered energy, foggy brain, physical complaints and illness. Some of the stress created in our body comes from food, medicine, or being exposed to toxins in the environment; which creates free radicals (those unstable electrons that are a by-product of oxidation, and break off from our healthy cells when exposed to toxins and allergens).
Listen to your Body
I have to listen to my body when after swimming, during certain seasons; I would begin to sneeze violently throughout the day. I love to swim, and hate missing it. But if I don’t take a sabbatical during those allergic seasons, I just end up getting sick with a cold. If I stop swimming the first day my body reacts, do something instead – like walk for a few weeks. My body will recover and I’m back in the pool again. I listen. It’s like the old doctor joke when the patient asks, “doctor when I push here on my elbow it hurts. What should I do?” And the doctor says, “don’t push there.”
What about emotional pain? Feeling overwhelmed, impatient, irritable, panicky, angry, helpless, anxious, bored, or unable to cope, are all symptoms or cues of distress from your body. We’ve all been there. Ask your self, “What am I thinking?” The body doesn’t know the difference between what you believe and what is real. If we believe that we are trapped, the world is going to end, only bad things ever happen to us, everyone is against us or any other negative bleief, the brain is sending out warning messages to the organs of the body. The body releases “fear” hormones that influence digestion, heart rate and immune function, which responds by sending stress chemicals back to the brain. Our amygdala (the “fire fighter” of the brain) goes on hyperalert. Obsession with thoughts that precipitatied all the negative emotions become prominent, and we go circling back to the overwhelming pessimistic, self-defeating loop we started with.
AND we keep thinking, thinking, thinking that we might be able to find the “answer” to feel better. Thinking, anxiety and worry, means something bad will happen versus a need to learn patience and trust how things will unfold. Intrepreting angry feelings and projecting blame to others rather than recognizing that some painful wounded part within us may have been triggered, and allowing in some compassion for that part. Feeling helpless and defeated rather than using our voice and actions to defend against any injustice being done. These are some differences between mind and body. When looking through the windows of our mind and seeing only negativity, pain, and suffering, it is easy to interpret that life is not safe, feel like a victim, and helpless to change. By being unwilling to be uncomfortable in our body, we learn to self-medicate with any addictive, distracting behaviors we can find, use drugs or alcohol, or shut down completely. So there is no benefit from any of the messages in our body that is signaling the need to change something.
Instead see life as an opportunity, and challenges and hardships as lessons to grow. You’ll find energy, resilience, hope, and positive feelings of being in control of your world. Imagine believing such things as: “ I have transcended all patterns of illness. I love and accept my body completely. I am energetic and full of vitality.” You are what you think! Think positively! If you are not there yet – “fake it till you make it.”
Use Your Brain
Using our brain to connect consciously with the body in order to manage stress, can self-regulate the destructive stress hormones, neurotransmitters and free radicals that are produced. Do this through daily meditation, working with negative self-defeating thoughts, rest and sleep, and confronting the beliefs that are perpetrating inner peace, calm, self-love and well-being.
Don’t be a victim of your mind. Breathe. Say hello your body. Listen to the wisdom you carry inside. Confront your fears. Take charge of your reactivity. Understand your vulnerabilities and claim a more peaceful life and healthy