I’ve been doing a lot of research on stress. I understand my purpose in helping heal through targeting stress, and more deeply; our addiction to it. I believe that somewhere along the way, a stressor in life caused a coping mechanism to arise out of survival, and this coping mechanism somehow became a crutch. Maybe the stressor changed, and the dependency on the coping mechanism stuck. Then, life became this unsafe place where the level of dependency on the coping mechanism necessitated a certain amount of life stress. And so, the cyclical addiction to the process of coping, and living life in a fight-or-flight state.
And now my story; I’m watching my body as I get stronger. The fascinating thing to me is that as I let go of stress, my body is getting stronger from my really low weight, and I believe that my digestion is better absorbing food. When under stress, the body under fight-or-flight doesn’t allocate energy to digestion- instead preparing the body for battle. This being said, there’s merit to the idea of malabsorption regarding nutrients.
Point blank: I’m not eating much differently from what I feel, yet I’m gaining strength, weight, whatever.
It’s an amazing thing to experience…ok it’s also scary. But I’m trusting my body, and I’m enjoying the capability to do more things like swim in a pool that isn’t 91 degrees (I still get very cold, but I can actually do it without getting hypothermia…).
The other thing I’m learning about is how the body works under stress and how physiologically we actually lessen the blood flow and so, nutrients and oxygen carried to areas of our bodies. The main culprits are tension-migraine headache, stomach, eczema, heartburn, hiatus hernia, spastic colon, ulcer, colitis, IBS, hay fever asthma, and there’s been incredible research about the causes of these being mainly emotionally-based. This talk was profound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjG-8GE2Wf4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjG-8GE2Wf4
Tension myositis syndrome (TMS), also known as tension myoneural syndrome or mindbody syndrome is a name given by John E. Sarno to a condition he describes as characterized by psychogenic musculoskeletal and nerve symptoms, most notably back pain. Sarno, a Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and Attending Physician at The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center, has described TMS in four books, and has stated that the condition may be involved in other pain disorders as well. The treatment protocol for TMS includes education, writing about emotional issues, resumption of a normal lifestyle and, for some patients, support meetings and/or psychotherapy. In 2007, David Schechter (a medical doctor and former student and research assistant of Sarno’s) published a peer-reviewed study of TMS treatment showing a 54% success rate for chronic back pain. In terms of statistical significance and success rate, the study outperformed similar studies of other psychological interventions for chronic back pain.
Another resource on this if you’d like to read more is here: http://www.mindbodymedicine.com
I’m also reading a book called Mind over Medicine, by Dr. Lissa Rankin. The concept of the book is how the mind’s subjective perception of events is what leads us to our current state of health. Basically, as humans, we have different realms of our beings that we need to nourish and nurture, and these are the predicates of our mind states. These factors, listed below, are the single most important aspects that shape how we view the world, the lens through which our lives are painted. A warm and positive lens, brought on by things like;
- a healthy sex life
- a meaningful relationship with a partner
- a good relationship with a health care practitioner, and so being, social support
- community involvement and feeling of belonging
- being of purpose in our careers
These factors are critical for our beings to feel at peace. A peaceful human environment will let our bodies function in a relaxed state, where we can know how to heal ourselves, allow rest and repair of our tissues, and decrease overall inflammation. We thrive here.
It’s fascinating to me to learn about how physiologically we tend to manifest body and mind factors. Check this out; the metaphysical manifestation of disease.
I find this so interesting, and the initial talk I posted about the concept Dr. John Sarno talks about how different body areas are shut down from emotional stressors. So, I believe that based on the stress, and the link above from the Spiritual Causes of Disease, there’s a correlation with the stress source and the area of the body in which it manifests. For example, I’ve had some ankle pains, and ankles are said to be:
Ankle: Inflexibility and guilt. Ankles represent the ability to receive pleasure.
And so it is.
Another article from a wicked trail runner, Dakota Jones, talks about how he solves some unresolved injuries from healing spiritually;
I decided that my body was rebelling against me spending all my time and energy on self-aggrandizement. And this was a decision, because I never had some kind of epiphany about it. There was no moment of enlightenment. I simply decided I didn’t want to be unhappy any more and I needed to change something. To that end I have lately taken steps to become more involved with my community, to create projects for kids, and to repeatedly berate iRunFar readers about environmental stewardship. This doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice being a competitive runner. In fact, quite the opposite: I find that I can have a unique impact as a runner that isn’t available to everyone. The more I have reached out in these ways, the more I’ve realized how much I don’t know. I spend a lot of time trying to learn things lately.
The concept isn’t new. But it’s fascinating. I’m self experimenting with exploring other aspects of my life and seeing how my body responds. The aspects listed here, from that book I mentioned:
- Do you feel well supported with loving community and intimate relationships with friends and family who allow you to express your authentic self?
- Do you feel in touch with your life’s purpose?
- Are you able to stay in alignment with your integrity in your professional life?
- Do you feel financially secure?
- Are you in a nurturing relationship with a romantic partner who allows you to express your authentic self?
- Do you feel satisfied sexually, either with or without a partner?
- Are you able to set healthy boundaries with the people who stress you out?
- Are you comfortable saying no?
- Do you feel spiritually connected to a Higher Power that you trust has your best interests at heart?
- Do you have a healthy way to address negative emotions, such as anger, resentment, grief, anxiety, and depressed mood?
- Are you an optimist?
- Do you practice gratitude?
- Do you engage in generous activities that serve others?
- Is your life enriched with scientifically-proven relaxation response activators, such as meditation, prayer, laughter, hugs, playing with animals, orgasms, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, massage, EFT (tapping), and alternative healing methodologies, such as acupuncture and energy medicine?
- Do you live in an environment that is conducive to relaxation responses?
- Do you feel well equipped and appropriately supported to manage the details of day-to-day life?
- Do you express yourself creatively in ways you enjoy?
- Do you let yourself nap if you need to?
- Are you mindful of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and activities that trigger avoidable stress responses in your body?
- Are you committed to doing whatever it takes to reduce stress responses and activate relaxation responses in your body?
And I look forward to being my own success story.