“When The Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection” by Gabor Mate, M.D. A Book Review

I am reading, for the second time, “When the Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection”.

The connection between the emotions and the physical body play a more important role than many people realize.  Dr. Mate recognizes and writes about this in very definite ways.

The first time I read this book I was looking to find my own symptoms and understand what is going on with me, and skimmed through most of the text.  Now I am reading for greater understanding of how emotions affect all our body systems.

According to Dr. Mate, many diseases these days are diagnosed through a process of elimination, when the physical cause cannot be determined.  Auto immune diseases, cancer, nerve pain, IBS, and fibromyalgia, to name a few.  The medical professionals are not sure what causes these diseases, but there is a connection to emotions according to Dr. Mate.  Why do some smokers get lung cancer and others don’t.  Emotions and stress play a role.

To seperate the treatment of a physical condition without taking into account the whole picture, including the emotions and levels of stress, is like looking at only a part of the picture.  What is not seen is often an integral piece of the puzzle in understanding the disease, and in prescribing treatment.

Like with me, to take medicine is not enough.  When I continued to live my life with the same stresses I had previously been experiencing, I was only getting worse each year.  To get better, I believe, I have to stop worrying.  In fact, I am not “allowed” to worry or stress any more; my brain scrambles when I do and I can’t think straight.  In order to think clearly, I must focus my attention on relaxing, appreciating each moment, and loving myself.  To do this, I relax into my center and stop living in my head.  I find I am not so concerned with doing, I am more aware of “being”.  In this state of “being” I still have desires, and act on them, but in a more centered and relaxed way . . . I guess I would say in a more Zen like way. Many of my old ideas, what I thought I should be doing, or needed to be doing, have fallen away.

I wonder what would happen if everyone in the world could only function in this way.  Would everything crumble or would we all begin to live better?  I wonder.

 

 

Is Someone Shoulding on you? Are You Shoulding on Yourself?

One of the words Patricia Evans talks about in her book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” is the word “should”.  To tell someone they “should” do this, or “should” do that, is a controlling way of communicating.  Shoulding is of the ways we abuse ourselves and others.  Shoulding suggests shame if you don’t do what you “should” do.  A less abusive way of communicating with others, or with yourself, is to say, “You might like to do this,” or “Have you considered doing that.”

This approach may sound mambsy pambsy, but in reality it is simply more respectful.  To tell someone they “should” do something is implying you know better than they do and have the authority to tell them what to do.

Changing the way we communicate can be challenging.  I should on myself all the time, and on other people too, and don’t realize it.  My daughter Melissa, the amateur psychologist in the family, catches me doing this and calls me on it.  She was visiting the other day and pointed out that not only was I shoulding on myself, I was shoulding on everyone else as well.  When Melissa pointed this out, repeatedly, I began to catch myself and correct myself before she could chime in with, “You’re shoulding on yourself again.”

Shoulding is a way of putting pressure, or putting power over on someone else, or on yourself.  Shoulding can kill happiness, making life a chore instead of a joy.  This nerve condition I have (see My Very Spoiled Nervous System) is teaching me the evils of shoulding.  I had a conversation with my husband last night and he was directing me by using sentences beginning with, “You need to . . . ” and, “You should . . . ” etc.  All the things he said were valid things I “should do”, but because he was shoulding on me, I began shoulding on myself and woke up with burning skin and scrambled brain.  I overloaded myself with shoulds.

Honestly, a person could think of so many things they “should” do, it would take them many lifetimes to do them.

The only cure for my burning skin and scrambled brain, aside from increasing my medication again, is to relax, stop shoulding myself, and ask myself, “What is most important to me today?  What would bring me joy?  What does my heart long for?”

This sounds idealistic, I know.  I have a difficult time letting myself do what I want to do and not what I think I should do.  It’s working for me though.  Even though there is a very angry dragon inside me (see The Dragon and Guardian of Memyselfandi), I am happier than I have ever been in my life because I am learning to follow my heart.

 

Alone in the Woods : Part 2

Little Girl followed a ways behind Coyote, following his trail of trodden grass and scattered seeds.  The trail led her on a wander, turning this way and that, criss crossing other trails and roads, without time or destination, until the trail ended at a border of tall pine trees.  Little Girl cautiously approached, not sure which way Grandfather Coyote had gone.  She entered the woods.

Tall pitch pines were scattered naturally.  Little scrub oaks and blackjack oaks between, trying to reach up and touch the knees of the pines.  Here and there were pretty leaves of red maples fluttering in the breeze, with blueberry bushes and tiny wintergreen plants covering the ground.  ‘This is beautiful!’ she thought.

As she continued along a vague trail, she heard voices.  The further she went the louder the voices sounded until she saw three young boys chattering away.  The boys looked at her, smiling, and asked, “Are you following the coyote?”

“Yes,” she answered, looking from one boy to the other, “How did you know?”

They laughed.  “You’re on the path of the coyote!” they answered, ” We’re following him too!”  The boys were flooded with excitement.  Little Girl felt safe and happy and her excitement flowed with theirs.  She liked them immediately.  One of the boys, Little Seal, was used to adventure and knew about being in the woods.  Another boy, Little Trader, had traveled the world.  The third, Good With Numbers,  was following Grandfather Coyote because he, like Little Girl, was looking for something, but didn’t know what.

Little Girl walked with them, swapping rumors about Grandfather Coyote, feeling grateful for companionship.

Eventually they came to a large opening in the pines where they saw a whole pack of coyotes.  There were other children there too, cautiously entering the place and looking for Grandfather Coyote, but none of the children saw him.  The day was growing old, and before dark the children each wandered into the nearby woods to set up tents.

Little girl walked down various trails looking for an empty space.  She found a vacant patch of ground quite a ways from the coyote clearing, set up the tent she brought, and returned to the main camp where the evening fire had been lit.  Greetings and introductions lasted into the night as all the children met the young coyotes.  By full dark a storm had set in and fat raindrops began to fall.  The wind picked up and Little Girl left the warm fire to go to bed.

The trail to her tent was dark.  The little light she carried cast jumping shadows through the wet blueberry bushes that pressed against her and snatched at her arms and legs, catching her coat and pants as she pushed through.  The wind began to howl and in the growing darkness she could make out the tall pines swaying and menacing, as if in warning.  Little Girl felt small and alone as she hurried along, trying to be brave.  As she searched the trail, Little Girl worried she would not find her tent in the darkness. She searched each little side trail.  Shadows continued to jump in jerky, spooky movements as her light played off the branches along the trail.  The twigs of the bushes continued to grab at her.  Panic rose in her heart.

Finally, she released a long breath.  There was her tent.  Little Girl climbed in, crawled into her sleeping bag, and pulled the covers over her head, but that didn’t stop her from hearing the rain pound on her leaking roof.  That sleepless night was one of tossing, and listening.  ‘Are there coyotes running around my tent, playing tricks on me?’ she wondered, ‘Or does the rain sound like running feet?’  Little Girl peeked out into the darkness, over and over, to make sure she was alone.  Even so, the sounds she heard fooled her still and she could have sworn coyotes were running around and around her tent all night long.

To be continued . . .

Medical Medium Diet : My New Favorite Recipe

This morning I weighed 163 pounds. This is down from my beginning weight of 175 by 12 pounds.  My goal is 145 pounds.  I’m almost half way there.

I created a new recipe this morning because all my favorite foods were all eaten up.

Avocado, Raisin, Coconut Mash:

  • One avocado
  • Handful of raisins
  • Handful of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Handful of ground hemp seeds
  • Sprinkles of turmeric
  • Sprinkles of “Dash” original seasoning

Mach these all up together and eat.  It is yummy and gives you a feeling of having eaten something substantial after the celery juice in the morning and the fresh fruit.

This may be an unusual combination for some people, but I really liked it.  One of the great things about this recipe is that it’s quick and easy.  You may like it too.  Or, you could create your  own avocado mash recipe with any combination of approved raw foods.  🙂

About Michele

At this point in my journey I believe the most important thing we gain in this life is our relationships. This means connecting with others. Not only with other people, but with everything that exists. I know this probably sounds a little “woo woo” but I guess I am a little woo woo. Lol!

To treat everything with respect, and to appreciate all things, can help to create relationships with everything. See my blog entitled “Alone In The Woods” (yet to come).

I created this blog and website to connect with other people through sharing my thoughts, lessons, and possible insights. I hope you glean a few things which will benefit you on your journey through life.

I was married, had 5 children, and was divorced. Devastation. I remarried and had 4 more children. I was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a wonderful family oriented and supportive Christ centered church which I still attend. What I blog about has less to do with my religion or my upbringing and more to do with lessons I have learned as an adult searching for happiness and peace. My church teaches “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Articles of Faith #13.

At different times in life I have experienced extreme joy and also extreme depression. In searching out help for depression I found many wonderful teachers and philosophies. I love that I was taught to seek after any praiseworthy thing. My journey to overcome depression led me to attend many classes. I started with survival classes (to survive life) and moved quickly into the more spiritual and philosophical classes (to find myself). I attended Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool (see Resources for more info) for 10 years as an avid student (some would say addict). I have also attended three years of Malcolm Ringwald’s Earth-Heart training classes, and three years of Niaszih healing system training with Karl Direske and other teachers at Wilderness Fusion.

My search for knowledge in the world of herbs and herbalism led me to take Roots of Herbalism and The Family Herbalist series with Emily Ruff at Florida School of Holistic Living.

At one point I attended a women’s retreat with Allyson Rice (she has a website now: Allyson-Wonderland), where I brought home new deep understanding about life, see blog about “We Are Universes” (yet to come).

I have read extensively, especially self help books, books on relationships, and spiritual awareness books. I have listed a few of my favorites in the Resources page on this website.

I value my family more than anything. I love colors and color combinations, they bring me joy. I love working with wool, it feels amazing to my fingers. I love nature. I love horses, when I touch them I am very present and not off in my head somewhere. I love making connections with people. I also love disconnecting from everything to be still and be with myself, quietly, deep in my core. But even in there, there is connection with The Great Everything.

I recently moved back to Oregon, with my two youngest children, to be near my extended family. My husband is still running his business in Florida and visits when he can. My health has deteriorated to the point that any thing that causes me stress or worry makes my body hurt (see blog entitled My “Very Spoiled” Nervous System). I work on things that bring me joy. I have limited energy, but I can do some things, even physical labor for short periods of time, and I am careful to rest when I need to. I am happy and content to focus on joy, and share the things I’ve learned on my personal journey.

I wish love and many blessings to all of you.

Michele

Source: About Michele

The Belly Brain: Exploring Emotions

I have noticed in the last couple of years that my belly thinks . . . or rather, I should say my belly feels.  When I want to know how I am feeling, my awareness falls into my belly to see.  When my awareness is in my brain in my head, I think, I don’t feel.

I took The Family Herbalist class from Emily Ruff, of The Florida School of Holistic Living, and she said she believes the belly is a brain.  She mentioned that the belly and all the nerves that go into the intestines and digestion are much larger and more complex than the brain in our heads and our spine and nervous system.

If that is true, the belly must be a brain!  As I have become more in touch with my feelings, and the energy in the belly, I find that I do a sort of “wide angle thinking” with my belly.  It is a type of thinking that is on a broader scope and includes feelings and emotions.  The belly is also a place to sense things.  I think the brain in our heads may be an augment to the belly brain, and not the other way around.  Maybe the belly is the center of intuition.  That’s why we get a “gut feeling” about things.  We are sensing things energetically that we can’t detect otherwise.

There is a point of awareness that can be moved around your body.  Notice what happens when you put your hand to your cheek and you want to know if your hand or your cheek is warmer.  To find out, you have to move that point of awareness to either your hand or cheek to see.  To be able to tell if your hand is warmer than your cheek, you have to move your awareness to your cheek and feel your hand.  To notice if your cheek is warmer than your hand, you have to move your awareness to your hand to see if the cheek feels warm or cold to your hand.  You can move your point of awareness to any part of your body to see how that part feels.  If you move your point of awareness to your belly, notice what you experience.

“How am I feeling, and why?” is a question that can help you explore your emotional state at any given time.  The question can be asked over and over to tease out the various emotional ingredients that make up the cookie dough mix of your emotional state at the time.  After asking each time, and surrendering to nothingness to see what emotion emerges, you can ask why you are feeling that emotion.  When you surrender and get the answer, you can say, “Great, that’s good to know.”  Then you set that emotion aside and ask, “Aside from that, how am I feeling?” and surrender to the answer.  Doing this over and over separates the emotions and reasons to make understanding yourself easier.  This is a technique I learned from Tom Brown Jr., and he mentioned that it is also described in a book called “Focusing”.

There are many layers to our emotions and when I do this exercise, I am often surprised that a buried emotion is often stronger than the emotions on the surface.  If you write down the emotions that come up for you, when you are done you can ask yourself, “Which of these emotions is most important right now?” Circle the one that stands out to you.  Then you can ask, “Aside from that one (the circled one), which one stands out the most?” and circle that one and put a little #2 by it.  Do this until none stand out to you as important.  By doing this you can see which emotions are the most important to be aware of at that time.

For me, all the emotions seem to emerge from the “belly brain” and not my head, which never feels like the belly.

If anyone tries this, I would love to hear how the exercise worked for you.

Conversation With Darkness

I sat on the wooden steps of my back porch.  Though the day was sunny and warm, the  feeling of darkness inside me was consuming.  The feeling was that of anger, fear, and hatred, but mostly hatred.  I wondered if the darkness was the influence of some evil spirit, or if it was a part of me, so I asked the darkness a sacred question, “Why are you here?”  Then I surrendered all thoughts and went to nothingness to see what would come to me as an answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here because I make you feel strong.”

‘That’s true,’ I thought, ‘I do feel strong when I am full of hatred.’  Again I asked the darkness, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered for the answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here to protect you.”

‘Hmmmm,’ I thought, ‘that’s interesting, I do feel safer.  When I feel this way, no one can get close to my heart.’  I asked the darkness, again, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered to see what would return.

The darkness said, “I make you feel powerful!”

‘Yes, yes,’ I thought, ‘you do.’   I asked again, “Why, are you here?” and surrendered for the answer.

I’m here to protect you because you won’t protect yourself!”  The answer was strong, emphatic, almost annoyed by my ignorance.

‘Yes, that’s true.’ I admitted, ‘ I don’t protect myself,’  I began to realize that this darkness was not such a bad thing after all.  It was keeping me safe.

Then I asked a different sacred question, “How can I heal this?”

When I surrendered for the answer, I saw pink flowers.  ‘OK, I thought, pink flowers . . . I like flowers.’

I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I saw an alligator.

‘An alligator?  Really?  That seems odd, but OK.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I heard the darkness say, “Understand me.”

‘OK,’ I thought, ‘I’m beginning to understand.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I surrendered and heard, “Love me.”

I thought that was an unusual answer.  Why would the darkness want to be loved.  That was new to me.

I was beginning to understand that the darkness that surrounded me was a buffer of anger to keep others away.  For the first time in my life, I began to understand that there was more to anger and hatred that I had ever imagined.  Things inside me shifted.  My perspective was changing.  I was growing.  I felt grateful for the the darkness that protected me, and in that gratitude I felt love and appreciation for the darkness and all the feelings that were within that shadow.  To feel anger, fear, and even hatred is not bad, it is a part of life and our experience here on earth.  I had no clue, before, that those feelings existed for important reasons.  I had always thought those feelings were bad and I should not feel them.

Then I had a new thought and I asked the darkness, “What if I do protect myself?”

Immediately, the darkness began to dissipate, leaving behind a clear energy surrounding me, just as powerful as the darkness but without the feeling of hatred.  I perceived that if I would protected myself I would not need anger or hatred to protect me.

The next day I went out and bought myself pink flowers, and a little plastic alligator to put on my mantel.  Those feelings, anger, fear and hatred, which were once very confusing, had become clear and beautiful to me.  My curiosity served me well that day.  Asking the sacred questions* and knowing how to listen, to go to nothingness and surrender to the answers, taught me to understand and love a very misunderstood part of myself.

————————————————————————–Is all darkness as wonderful as this “protector” darkness turned out to be?  Is there darkness that is really evil?  What is the source of negative emotions?  Why is hatred so destructive?  Is there a good time to feel hatred?  The questions about darkness, emotions, and mental health, are endless.  Learning to ask yourself “sacred questions” and surrender to the answers inside yourself, being still enough, going to a state of nothingness and letting the answers come to you without controlling what the answer will be, is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone.  I have to thank Tom Brown Jr. for this technique.

*Asking the sacred questions and surrendering for the answers is something I learned to do in a philosophy class at Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool (see resources).