I love the idea of the body being a temple. The body is the soul’s mode of transportation, the vessel through which we operate, learn, grow and expand. Without a body through which to experience, our ability to understand ourselves, each other and the Universe would be greatly altered and limited. Physical form is a way for us to learn to express love and gratitude. We become humble and expansive through being here in these bodies.
Since our bodies are so important, it is vital to take very good care of them. Honor them with appreciation and love. Accept everything about your body as a gift to you. All of it helps you to perceive your soul more clearly. This includes pain. Pain is a signal. As such it helps us see that something needs attention and care. This is as essential to us as air or water. When we trust this, pain can flow through us as easily as air and water.
I am very familiar with pain and illness.
I have had to re-learn how to care for and protect my body, and to respect it. I spent most of my adult life very sick and in a great deal of pain. Many days I wasn’t able to get out of bed without help. I was chronically exhausted and had fibromyalgia and early onset arthritis. I had seizures, sometimes several times a day and excruciating headaches. This became so bad that for awhile I was unable to form new memories, so I couldn’t keep track of what I had done already, or often where I even was. I have had a total of 13 surgeries, eleven of them abdominal, one on a breast mass and one on a knee. I was 130 pounds overweight several years ago. I was depressed and felt I had no function in the world. I spent an entire summer bedridden with one health problem after the other. I had two surgeries in less than a year. I was told my spine was deteriorating and my knees would need replacements within a decade. I couldn’t walk even half a block. Part of me wanted to quit. Instead I started loving myself.
Then great things started to happen for me.
Exercise, healthy food, water and fresh air are all needed to keep our body temples functioning well. For me, meditation and regular sleep patterns have helped a great deal as well. Once I decided to love myself, exactly as I was, all the things I needed to be well started falling in line almost effortlessly. I had spent years fighting my body and my mind. I often said I hated them and couldn’t wait to be released from what I thought of as a physical prison. I fully knew that I am not my body, but I wanted OUT of my body. Things shifted when I stopped expecting my body to be different.
I quit weighing myself, something that I did nearly every day since I was a teen. I started a journal to write down 3 things I was grateful for each night before I went to sleep. I discovered that I needed to eat gluten free. Hard as it was, I made the change. I began working out—yoga, Pilates, cardio, whatever felt good to me that day. I wanted it to be fun, not work. I only asked myself for ten minutes each time, but I found it felt so good and was so enjoyable that I usually kept it going for 30 minutes or so. I began meditating every day for at least 5 minutes. I allowed one stress free hour before bed each night and I went to bed at the same time each night. I opened the curtains each morning and let the sun in. Soon the difference in the way I felt was amazing. I was able to discontinue several medications within 6 months. The seizures stopped and I haven’t had one since.
Then I began noticing that many of the gluten-free foods were also natural and organic. I wondered if this could be contributing to my improved health and feelings of well-being. I began including more and more organic foods in my diet. I also decided to stop eating processed foods. Initially, this was mostly because I wanted to shift my food budget more toward organic foods. There wasn’t enough money for these and gluten free processed foods.
A new culprit appeared as I continued weeding out.
I kept soda for awhile longer, though I switched to caffeine free. I noticed even more improvement in my mental and physical state. Around this time, I noticed that on the days that I drank soda with food dyes in the (orange, grape, etc.), I felt an extreme change mental change. I was anxious, irritable and wound up. I also noticed that I had urinary inflammation similar to a low grade urinary tract infection when I consumed these. These were exactly the symptoms I had hoped to rid myself of by stopping caffeine. I did several tests on my theory and realized I needed to stop food dyes also. My husband was not convinced, until he tested this out on himself and the colored sodas had the same effect on him. Things improved even more. I was down to two medications.
My weight stabilized at a healthy place. Overall I felt very well. My pain had almost completely disappeared. I still got sick frequently with infections. And I was still tired most of the time. I knew I was borderline diabetic, but I had never done much to take care of it. My blood sugar would plummet frequently, leaving me faint, shaky, nauseated and with an intense headache. I tried going sugar free, but I knew the artificial sweeteners caused me other problems. The only way I knew to do it was by going without anything sweet for awhile and then reintroduce sugar to test the difference. My energy level came way up and I noticed I stopped being so susceptible to infection. I missed sweets, but I decided it was worth it to find a way to cook without sugar.
These days, I do yoga for about 30 minutes day, most days. I eat mostly organic (lots of veggies and fruits) and gluten free. I am eating sweets more often, but I sweeten them with organic Stevia, honey, dates or occasionally maple syrup. I meditate for 20-30 minutes every morning. Most of all, I have continued to cultivate my love of life and of myself. I can’t imagine not taking good care of my mind, body and emotions as I do now. These days, it’s hard to imagine I used to live in such a miserable state. I’m glad it’s behind me, but I am grateful for the experience. It taught me to love myself just as I am. It taught me that love is the key. Like a butterfly I have emerged renewed.
**Editor’s Note, 11/13/15: I have since chosen return to no sweets or high sugar fruits, as my body felt best eating this way, in the long run. Blog posts about this coming soon.