When I have the best intentions to sit and meditate this is what happens, I make copious amounts of tea, I check my phone on loop (emails, social media, back to emails), decided that my skin looks a little dry so embark upon a facemask, get the urge to do some rearranging and clearing or go back to checking my phone. Sound familiar? This happens a lot when I consciously decide to get still. I'm human and like to think I'm not alone in my procrastination. I'm just grateful for my awareness, it doesn't mean it's easy though.
Being still and getting quiet isn't something that comes naturally for many of us, especially when it's so easy to distract ourselves from feeling especially with social media. Stillness allows us to tap into the voice our body has been longing for us to hear. It brings awareness to the aches and pains, thoughts and feelings that we ignore by choosing busy. When we persist in drowning out and ignoring our thoughts, feelings and symptoms the result is often illness or some event that makes us stop. A relationship breakdown, a traffic collision, a loss of job, burnout, depression.
I think most of us, to some extent have all had experience of distracting ourselves from sitting and just being still. We can all probably share times when we kept doing things to avoid feeling something uncomfortable or painful.
As much as I love food, walking in nature, creating art, yoga and being with friends.. one of the most powerful tools to improve wellness I've encountered is being still. Sitting quietly and inviting yourself to be with how you feel without judgement. Writing it out or talking with someone in a safe space to help process and let it go is essential. When you write something down, it no longer needs to be held inside as it's finally been acknowledged.
'Symptoms are words trapped in the body'. I've always loved this quote by Jacques Lacan.
I'm a big believer that there is always an emotional component to illness not just a physical one. Something that is very rarely considered but if we gave attention to the things are bodies were saying then it would put us on a faster track to improving our own health.
In general, we pay more attention to physical symptoms than we do to thoughts or feelings. Even though both affect our wellbeing significantly (ongoing pain, frustration, sadness), more often than not we only start to look for help when things start bothering our appearance or when it starts interfering with how we function. Which is often long after our body's start giving us signs.
I made a decision recently to do something, that in all honesty didn't really want to but I felt like I had no other choice (my own insecurities, there's always a choice). I was worried people would be disappointed in me if I didn't (working through this one too), so I went ahead and agreed to it. When I started doing it I'd always leave at the end of the day feeling exhausted like someone had drained me of all my energy, my stomach felt tight and I could feel myself being irritated by small things. Then I started to notice back acne....seriously! big red inflamed spots on my back and shoulders. I was mortified! My skin is the second biggest mirror of my internal health, the first is my gut. So I practiced what I preach, I altered my diet, drank more water, spent more time outdoors, took some infrared saunas and probiotics, the outcome? Very little change.
I knew that if none of the physical changes were helping it had to be something I was thinking or doing that wasn't lining up with what was truly healthy for me. So I did what I recommend to my lovely clients....get still for 20 minutes, sit with it, see what is brought to the surface (words, feelings, imagery etc) and spend 15 minutes or more writing about what comes up. Thank your body for letting you know something is up and ask what do you need to change to improve it, listen and make the small changes necessary.
I made the changes, in this case it was getting honest with myself and stopping what I'd agreed to but didn't really feel invested in. The back acne? Yep, you guessed it started to improve dramatically. In no way am I saying it's always as easy as that but awareness of our body and the messages it gives us is key.
I'm so passionate about the line 'more than food' because I've seen in my own life and in other peoples that no amount of healthy eating or exercise can realign us to a life of wellness if we are making decisions that go against HOW we truly want to feel. If we stay in relationships / jobs or keep behaving in ways that are draining our energy and supressing our passions.
If you've been making consistent changes to your health but aren't seeing as much progress as you'd like it's definitely something to look at and consider.