Our bodies are like our automobiles.
Let's say we have a Mercedes, just because it's a fun car to have! This Mercedes gets us from place to place. We drive it to the grocery store, work, out on our dates and family events, to the Crossfit gym or our yoga class, and to the farmer's market. We use it more than we walk. We've learned to count on it to get us around.
So if it's experiencing knocks and shakes, we investigate. Hopefully we'll do this sooner than later, so that we don't end up broken down on the side of the highway.
If we can't figure out what is causing the "symptoms," we take it to the mechanic to look over the whole car and give us a diagnosis and recommendation. They do a once over, typically, and let us know what parts in the system need upgrading, replacing, or fixing.
Suppose they say it's the fuel we're putting in our car that isn't working well enough. If you keep going to the gas station and putting in inappropriate fuel, or watering down the oil, and not giving your car the ingredients it needs, it’s going to keep running poorly even if the mechanic keeps diagnosing the symptoms, taking out and replacing parts, or prescribing additives in the gas and oil. It would be a lot more powerful for that Mercedes engine to have what it needs so it can do a good job and get us where we need to go.
Yet how many of us put inappropriate fuel into our bodies, which are our vehicles in life? We get the knocks and shakes, and have no idea how we created them.
Here's the rub. We expect our body to function well enough to get to our Mercedes, climb into and out of it, and to get us to the grocery store, work, out on our dates and family events, to the Crossfit gym or our yoga class, and to the farmer's market.
Yet how can that beautiful body of ours carry us from place to place if it's not working well?
If we look at our bodies the same way as that magnificent Mercedes, and we notice that they’re not running well, what do we do? Do we run to the doctors and get a pill to take away the symptom so that we can keep going from place to place, or do we think about what we’re putting into our bodies. What thoughts are we thinking to feed it each day? What kind of food are we are using for fuel? And liquids? What kind of stress are we expecting our bodies to handle? Are we constantly going uphill and stressing our engines without a rest and then wondering why our engine is struggling?
In general, our culture does not respect the human body. We don’t really listen to them. They’re considered to be something we have to deal with, but this very body we're in is the one we chose in this lifetime to transport us until we leave.
Why is there so much fear about our bodies and what they’re saying to us? We shake when we have a symptom. If we don’t know what to do and what causes it, we try to ignore it until it gets too big to ignore. Then we run to the doctor or the ER or the clinic, and ask them to fix it for us. Many times we get a pill, which can help us feel better. Or we have surgery to remove the "bad" part.
These are certainly alternatives to be explored. But is it really fixing the root cause of the problem we're experiencing?
I’m here voting for the body. If we want to feel well, look and do our best, and have a nice long ride without breaking down or shaking, we need to do a much bit better job at listening to our bodies and giving them what they need.
And if we happen to be highly sensitive and/or an empath, the listening and responding we're doing must be amplified so we're providing a superstructure of support. We sense and feel more, so we need to ramp up the support.
I’m writing this on a day when I feel pretty crappy. I’m usually pretty good about having whole foods, avoiding grains, taking my supplements, getting enough rest, getting my exercise, taking quiet time, taking a positive approach, and avoiding sugar and flour. This is a plan I've put in place with my health coach and other professionals over the years that works the best for me.
It's no surprise in the last week, as I’ve been feeling more stress and putting things into my body, that I am experiencing some knocks and shakes. I am bloated and feel like I put on 5 pounds, I feel more gaseous, my thyroid seems to be feeling a little tighter right now. I feel more anxious, my mood is lower, I’m not sleeping as well, I’m craving the bad stuff, and this is all because I chose fuel that is not optimal for my body.
I'd say it's time for a change in our culture. How can we begin to truly listen to our bodies, accept what they're saying, develop a personalized plan to amp up the fuel we're providing for ourselves? Then let's support each other, our differences, to keep choosing the good stuff, so that we keep our vehicle functioning the best it can until our ride is over?
A thought that keeps coming up for me is, why are we, as humans on the planet in this day and age - okay with feeling mediocre? Physically mediocre?
So many of us go through our days with aches and pains and just write if off as normal. We don’t have the energy we’d like to have, but we’ve been to the doctor and the test results came back within range. Or perhaps we received a diagnosis or two, and a prescription or two, to help whatever symptom we are experiencing. And maybe it’s helping, maybe it’s not.
But the bottom line is, we really don’t feel that well each day.
So, to make sense of it, we adopt attitudes like:
We are noticing our aches and pains and making excuses for them instead of taking control and feeling 100% strong. The bottom line is that we, as a culture, have normalized not feeling well.
I think the problem starts because we are so much into our heads. Our society admires being in our heads, pushing through, getting things done, staying focused on where we are going and what’s ahead.
So it’s no surprise that, when it comes to our bodies, we are focused on all the rules out there.
We hear that we need to eat this food to have a certain result. Kale. Broccoli. Eggs. Meat. No meat.
We hear that we need to exercise for so many minutes and with so much intensity to be healthy.
We need to meditate for so many minutes each day to be fully present in our lives. And we need to get a certain amount of sleep.
To top it off, there are lots of miracle fixes floating around out there in this age full of a lot of information everywhere we turn.
We have instant access to loads of information like never before - through our phones, the TV, our computers, and the magazine and newspaper stands. And information is power, right? Yes, it is. I think increased information has certainly been helpful, even necessary, but it has gotten too complicated, and something very important is missing.
The information we’re listening to is not the most powerful. The information on our phones is outside of ourselves. I believe the most powerful source of information is inside our own bodies.
We are all so different. What health looks like for me, doesn’t necessarily work for you. And what works for you, doesn't work for your husband. And what works for your husband, doesn’t work for your son. No two of us are alike. Health is not a cookie cutter solution with one size fits all.
What we feed ourselves - the foods, our thoughts, our environments, our beliefs, the stresses we encounter and the stories we attach to them, the very reasons we came onto this earth - all influence how our genes play out.
For instance, kale may be full of nutrients for a human body, but my human body has difficulty digesting it, so I better take that into consideration if I decide to have it. Eggs. Another one. I like the taste of eggs. Yet they are high in thiols (an organic sulfur compound), and my body can get backed up with thiols if I have too many.
So I believe the solution to health is simple. Get out of your head and into your body. Look inside of yourself for the answers you’re seeking. For your strength. Inside is where our real power lies, and where we have collectively lost our way.
Just how do we do this? The very first step is checking in with our physical bodies in a non-judgemental and non-fearful way. Noticing. Especially as empaths and highly sensitives, we most often disconnect from our bodies because the sensations are too intense or scary. Or we’ve had others judge us and we’ve shut off. We need to learn to feel safe in our bodies again.
Try this. Put your attention on our heart area right now. It may help to put your hand to this area. Take a few slow, deep breaths into your belly button. This moves our attention out of our mind and into our heart. If it takes you more than a few breaths to make this transition, it is worth the extra time. Do what intuitively feels right for you.
Next, put your attention to your physical body for a few minutes. You can do a body scan here, say from your toes to your head, to see what feels comfortable and good, and what feels out of whack. As you do this, just notice the information without getting too attached to it.
It may go something like this. My feet, they really don’t have any feeling. Wait, they feel cold and a little tired. Then move onto your legs. That left knee if feeling a little achy, other than that, my legs feel good. Oooh, my tummy feels like it didn’t like what I ate for lunch. Continue to travel up the body to your head, noting what feels good and what doesn’t. Gather the information, and let it be. Be curious about any discomfort. You can even ask your body what it needs.
If you don’t get immediate sensations or feedback, keep working at it. Practice non-judgement and listening. Gather information. This creates awareness of your body and where you are at this very moment. It’s a great place to start.
How can we use our intuition to stay strong and live long?
I like to look at our ancestors for some hints and tips.
I love all the work that Mark Sisson puts into his blogs. Let’s look at some research from the training I’ve had through his Primal Blueprint work.
“Fossil records show that primal humans who steered clear of fatal misfortune could routinely live six or seven decades in excellent health. These records also show a ‘maximum observed life span’ of an astonishing 94 years!”
Mark refers to his primal fictional characters as Grok and Grokette, well-rounded athletes living off the land with it’s seasonal variations in food and terrain. Grok and Grokette could call upon superhuman bursts of strength or speed to save their lives when they had to. They could track a tired animal for hours so that they could catch their protein to eat. They ate mostly greens and fruits from their local area. They could climb trees to harvest fruit, carry heavy things so they could have water at their camps, and generally exhibit a well-rounded level of fitness that provided preparedness for a variety of situations.
In fact, these abilities of nutrition, strength and longevity don’t go that far back. In the 1800’s, my maternal Great Great Grandfather lived to be 105, and his wife to 103, both dying within 1 week of each other. They lived off the land - picking fruit from the trees. They moved their bodies everyday - gathering sticks for kindling to create the warmth for their fires. They went to bed with the chickens - so they also had pasture-raised hens! They lived in their tribes, often children stayed in the same town as they had their families, so there was a strong sense of community.
My paternal Great Great Grandmother stayed active until the end. She had climbed a large beech tree, from which she was lopping branches. From these branches she would make a bundle which she then carried home on her head. She slipped from the tree and fell onto a large rock, which led to her death.
They went about their days, grabbing something to eat from the land when they got hungry. If they couldn’t find food, they didn’t eat. They gathered supplies for their homes (which they built by hand) which required strength and agility. They chilled at night by talking to each other and relaxing in the quiet. They went to bed early and got up with the sun. They learned to use their sensitivities and intuition to assist them in staying alive and sustaining themselves.
Their lifestyle, although more rugged and “stressful” in some ways than ours today, supported their bodies in better ways. They didn’t grab an apple from a tree and think “I probably shouldn’t be eating this.”
Today, we’ve created the ability to travel around the world very easily. We’ve learned how to harvest food for the masses and are getting closer to wiping out hunger and starvation. We’ve harnessed the power of electricity. Our ancestors would be in awe to see what we’ve created in a few hundred years.
So what can we learn from our ancestors?
Keep life simple.
In this day and age, unlike our ancestors, we must pay attention to what we eat, and make conscious choices about how we life. On the upside, we have a choice where our ancestors did not. On the downside, industrialized processing methods, the abundance of sugar and flour, and the addictiveness of grains have thwarted our food supply. Our sedentary lives have made us weak.
We can no longer just reach for what is in front of us, whether it’s the donut or the remote, and assume it will keep us strong and healthy. It won’t.
It’s time to wake up, get up, and get strong to live long. The key to making this change, is getting really close and intimate with our own physical body, so we know what works for us and what doesn’t. Are you listening?
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