As I process, express, move through and heal from all of the trapped emotional pain that has resided within this body for many years it makes sense to me that I would have physical reactions. I learned a lot about the connection between my mind and body while studying Yoga at Yasodhara Ashram for nearly two years and that was actually the theme of my 30 book reports that accompanied the trainings that I took while living there. So last night when I was met with powerful stomach cramps and diarrhea that continued into today I reflected and was able to easily make the connection between what I have been writing about and processing about for the last week or so and my symptoms. This is a common releasing mechanism of my body but because I am in Africa and there is always concern about contaminated water and food I had to assess it a little differently then when I live in a place where I am tuned into my body 24/7 with very limited distractions.
As a child I remember being constipated and it became something that was normal for me in my life, especially my early 20’s. When I was in Nursing school, we were learning about healthy bowel patterns and I realized that I didn’t fit into any of the healthy categories, not even close. I had no idea that is was not normal or healthy to have a bowel movement once every 3 or 4 days, sometimes even up to a week+. So when I did have one it was often very painful and I learned to fear the act itself, which only compounded the issue.
At 25, I began seeing a Naturalpathic Physician in Edmonton, AB. It was with her that I began to see the need to really work on this issue because helped me see the body is a new way. It became a goal of mine to have a bowel movement everyday and it took months, actually even years for that to happen. It wasn’t until I went on stress leave the first time that I was able to make that a priority. The difference it made in my life was HUGE and I was very very proud of myself for accomplishing this. Being constantly constipated not only held toxins in my body that had an effect on me but it is also incredibly uncomfortable, which makes me really irritable, easily angered and unhappy. I went on a trip to Ireland with a boyfriend once and didn’t poop for nearly 10 days. We have a running joke about the castle that I finally did go at, so if you are ever at Bunratty Castle you can think of me as you use the loo! But seriously, this had a huge impact on my personality, my choices, my freedom, my openness, and many other parts of my life. I know it sounds strange to talk about feces in a symbolic way but everything to me means something and is a symbol of something that helps guide me. So to know that I had been holding in all that waste material for all those years makes perfect sense to why I felt so “crappy” most of the time. I needed to let go in many ways in my life and my bowels were telling me that loud and clear.
To me my bowels represent letting go, my ability to digest matters, my emotional core, releasing the past and processing life. I can see how tightly I held onto certain things like concepts, ideas, material possessions, people and so it makes perfect sense that if I was not able to deal with things in my life and felt out of control, I would find something that I could control. So I would literally hold myself back from allowing my body to do what it was naturally meant to do. My body shows me many ways in which I do this, like my jaw clenching and fists tight as I stood in front of the blank canvas the other day at the art studio. I see how the emotions really want to come out, they want to be released because that is what our bodies are for and when I don’t just let them out my body responds. I believe that my body is a spiritual tool designed, kind of like a tuning fork, to pick up vibrations from the Divine, God, Cosmic Energy, Mother Earth – whatever you want to call it, and that energy is then meant to travel through us in order to be expressed. I don’t believe that any emotion, feeling or vibration is good or bad, I believe it is all neutral and it is our minds that then create the labels which ultimately prevent us from being in tune with our spiritual nature.
So when we are in a situation that evokes an emotional response (which really is everything, every event, every day) and we don’t express it the energy has no where to go so it finds a space and settles in until you are ready to release it. I believe that this build up emotional residue connected directly to emotions and events that we do not want acknowledge, which inevitably leads to pain, disease, cancer, accidents, etc. anything to draw our attention to that area, the event, the emotion in order to get that energy free. Energy is not ours to keep and yet we store it up, just like fat in our bodies because we don’t see the cosmic instrument for the Divine that we really are. I feel this comes from a disconnect to the spiritual element of life and the overuse of our rational minds that is praised so highly in society today. This is why going to a place like Yasodhara Ashram where things run on an irrational (feminine) level and in balance with the rational (male) level. One is not superior to the other, they need to work together in balance and harmony. So for me as a Nurse, which is a very rational job, and someone with two older brothers who grew up in very male dominate household coming to the Ashram felt unfamiliar, frustrating, disorganized, even kaotic at times, and yet so familiar. It was the beginning of letting go of the concept I had been implanted with that life has only one way to be lived. It challenged everything I held onto for a sense of security and safety and it is the reason I was able to begin to unwrap the tightly wound ideas that kept me living in pain and fear.
I see the pain that I have had and do have in my body as a message, like a conversation between me and my Higher Self. My knees hurting are one of the most common pains I am experiencing this year, kind of like there is no cartilage in the joint and it feels as if I am 90 years old at times, but there is nothing wrong with my knees. The cartilage is fine. What I learned about myself is that this pain is a signal to deal with something and if I look at my body symbolically as well I can begin to understand the language and help my body speak to me. So I write to my knees in my journal, asking them questions, giving them my attention and energy to which they are happy to reply. I have had many a dialogue with my body parts and the insights that come from this Yogic Practice have lead to amazing healing. To me this is why, especially with Fibromyalgia, a person can have all kinds of symptoms that cannot be medically explained and yet they are very real. But if one person has unresolved Father issues trapped in their knees and another has the death of a boyfriend trapped in theirs – how can we test for this? We can’t. This is why it is up to each one of us to learn to listen to our bodies and to be an open vessel for energy (ie: emotions) to simply travel through us. We are not designed to hold or contain them. They are not ours, they do not belong to us, they are not specific to us, and they are not meant to be identified with. I believe emotions are tools for evolution and consciousness. They are simply energy that takes on a certain feeling in our body, a feeling that we have created with our minds. So we can then change what we feel and how we respond to the feelings we do have.
So now, when I feel pain in my knees I don’t say “Oh poor me, why do my god dam knees hurt again? Why do I have to feel like a 90 year old when I am only 20? Why is this happening to me? Why am I such a loser? Why can’t I just be healthy? Why why why…..boo hoo hoo.” What I say is “oh, my knees are telling me something and I am going to take the time to listen, hear and understand what I need to work on next in order to heal. I can guarantee you that this process has worked for me many many times and I am walking, breathing, smiling, living in Africa, dancing, happy and healthy because of the fact that I do these kind of practices. They are what helped me heal myself.
The Body and Mind are two separate things which each have a unique purpose, yet they need each other to exist. You cannot have a body that works without a mind and a mind needs a body to live in. So learning to change my mind, or the way I thought about my mind in relation to itself as well as to my body has been the key to me unlocking the hidden messages that my body has been trying to tell me all my life. It made everything make perfect sense and this is when the real healing began. We are not taught to respect our bodies as the temples that they are. They are the space in which our spirit or soul resides. It is our only true spiritual home. Once I learned to see myself as a spiritual being, it changed my life completely. This occurred through the teachings of Swami Radha, which are incredibly powerful yet simple and if you are really ready to make changes in your life then Yasodhara Yoga is the answer but be for warned it is not for the weak! For someone to tell you that you have the power to heal yourself within you may go against everything that we have been taught about healthcare but I feel like a walking example of that fact. I believed it and this was one of the biggest gifts I was given, belief that I am a powerful being who does not need to look outside of herself to find the answers in my life. My story is enough proof for me to firmly believe in this and this is a big factor in why I cannot return to the Nursing Profession as it is currently as it just does not line up with what I fundamentally believe to be true about the human body.
*Disclaimer: This does not mean that medications, treatments and even death are not part of your cosmic plan, it simply suggests that we are capable of more than we are given credit for as human beings in the current medical system.
As I watch my body go through a purging of emotional baggage it feels unpleasant in some ways but I know through life experience what happens once this has cleared and it makes any kind of pain, barrier or resistance almost welcome in my life because it is like someone handing me a key to a door that leads to Bliss. Every wave, every purge, every pain, every tear leads me closer to my truth and to living life fully as a human being is meant to. To have let go of the idea that pain equals bad or negative changed my life but with that statement also comes the idea that joy is not equal to good or positive. Practicing non-attachment or non-identification with things other than my Soul has allowed me to see both the positive and negative aspects of my pain and my joy, which allowed me to detach from the self pity I was wallowing in that had created my life and my illness up to that point. It changed my desire for Happiness as the ultimate goal in life. Now I can simply feel an emotion, express it and know or believe that it is just energy that needs to pass through me. When I learn to do it fully and completely not attached to it being something or meaning something then life suddenly becomes less dramatic and easier, and the possibility to live in a state of pain free bliss becomes a reality.
So I continue every day to practice being aware, to feel, to process and to release because to me this is what being a human is for. I will not fill my life with ideas, concepts, and dramas that seek to distract me from my true purpose. I will not keep myself busy so I don’t have to actually cope with my emotions. I will not create more obstacles with which to further prevent myself from processing and releasing the trapped emotions that are very painful to carry with me. I am doing EVERYTHING I can to heal because I believe life is for living. Life is a gift and it is all the work that I need to do and my spiritual bank account is overflowing because of it!
“Take a look at yourself and make that Change.” Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson.