Here on the west coast it seems that winter has just begun with this week’s rain and cold weather, yet Spring is just a couple of weeks away. For most of human existence we humans have lived by the seasons, and changed our habits and rituals to be in alignment with the natural rhythm of each season. It is only in the last 100 years or so that we have pushed against nature in the name of progress. Makes me wonder how much our disconnecting to the natural rhythm of nature is related to the rise in chronic illness, chronic stress, chronic pain? Just something to ponder.
In the spirit of attuning to the natural rhythms of Spring, I have chosen Renewal as the theme for March’s local FibroHaven meeting. Each month we begin our meetings with a theme and write an intention based on our theme on a slip of paper and place it into our sacred jar. Last’s month’s theme of “releasing and letting go” created some powerful intentions of releasing things like fear, stress, self-doubt, weight, limiting beliefs, and much more.
For this month’s theme of Renewal, take a moment and consider what deep and dormant seed within you would like to bring back into bloom? We have all lost connection with pieces of ourselves as we learn to live with our symptoms, and yet they are still there, just waiting for the renewal, the rebirth that comes with winter’s thaw. I invite each of you, whether you come to our meetings or not, to create the intention for that seed within you to grow, and then consider what actions you need to take to bring it to life.
I will share with you my intention is to grow the seed of Self-Love. Because if I cannot love myself, I cannot receive the love of others, or ever truly appreciate my value or purpose. So I will be writing “Self-Love” on my paper that I place in the jar. And the actions I will take are:
- I will speak to myself as I would a child – with pure LOVE
- I will move my body every day, for a minimum of 15 minutes, and no more than serves me
- I will eat the foods that make my body hum
- I will connect to nature everyday and breath in the wisdom of it
- I will forgive myself easily and often
- I will reach out for support when needed
And so it is.
What seeds of your Self do you intend to nurture and grow this Spring?
There’s this spot on my upper back that my husband and I lovingly refer to as my baseball. Sort of ironic because I am actually a huge fan of baseball. But this spot on my back, is probably my least favorite part of my body. We call it the baseball because for years when it would get inflamed, it became a huge knot – about the size of a baseball. At least that is how I experienced it. Likely it was the size of a walnut, but where’s the drama in calling it that?
I have come to realize this spot is where I carry my emotional pain. It has improved so much the last few years since I have immersed myself into my healing journey. I now practice self-compassion and self-acceptance, combined with yoga and meditation, and I have a completely different experience of pain in my body. The pain is still frequent and present, but my emotional response is significantly less. Instead of reacting to it, I now try to listen to it, and decipher the messages coming from my body, and respond with compassion.
Just as a newborn communicates the only way it knows how – smiling, crying, cooing – our bodies also communicate through the only means available – pain, discomfort, pleasure, etc. It is our work to listen to and respond accordingly to these messages. When a baby cries, the mother responds by tuning in to the cry and providing what the baby needs in that moment. It is a call and response that moms and babies have been perfecting for years.
But what happens when our bodies call out? Do we tune in, listen, and respond in a loving way that brings us comfort? Or do we tune out, and look for ways to escape? Or worse yet do we add to the pain by getting angry and adopting self-abusive behaviors?
For many years, this is exactly how I responded – take something to numb it (numb ME) and shut it up, distract myself with food or television, or better yet, I would get angry, frustrated, and indignant that this was my life, this was my body. None of these responses improved or made the pain go away. They simply made me a victim of my body, rather than a friend to.
Last week brought a lot of challenges, and with it a lot of emotion. I could feel the familiar ache in my back – the baseball – starting to get aggravated. I ignored it. I pushed through my days, pushed through my week, grimacing and getting angry every time I felt the pain, but never addressing it directly.
My body continued to send me messages, and I continued not to listen. So the messages started coming at me from different sources. I read Angel Cards frequently, and almost always before every yoga class I teach, I sit down with a deck of Angel Cards, and ask my angels and guides for guidance. Yesterday, this is the message they sent me:
I chuckled when I saw this, even shared it on Facebook, and then continued to ignore my emotions, ignore the messages. I even asked my husband to aggressively rub and pound on my “baseball” because I was so sick of the ache I just wanted it to go away. The exact opposite of gentle! He did, and I had a brief moment of relief.
And then I went to bed, and woke up in the middle of the night feeling like someone had taken a bat to my baseball, and my neck, and my head. I could not move, or even open my mouth to ask my husband for help. I was paralyzed with pain.
And this is why acts of self-love and compassion like yoga and meditation are called practices. It is a continual practice to adopt and integrate behaviors that increase wellbeing, and decrease suffering.
I know this place on my back is where I carry my emotional pain – and yet I still chose to ignore it, and worse yet I chose to be physically aggressive with it. And my body responded with even more pain. This is a typical cycle, and a cycle I am in the continuous practice of learning to break.
So tomorrow is a new day, a new chance to practice. It is an inside job, this learning to love and listen to my body. I forgive myself, forgive my judgement, and I even forgive my body. It is communicating with me in the only way it can. It is up to me to act on the messages, up to me to tune in and listen to the wisdom of my body – and the more I do, the more I learn to appreciate and love my body. Even my baseball.
As I continue my quest and expand my understanding of what it means to live well with a chronic illness, more and more I am drawn to alternative and non-traditional healing options.
I shop nearly exclusively at health food stores these days, choosing the organic option over the non-organic if available. I read, study, and research to make the smartest choices, but ultimately, my body is the best indicator of what is best for me. The more I tune in, the more I notice the relationship between what I put on and in my body to how I am feeling. Lotions and sunscreen filled with chemicals dry my skin and make me feel toxic. Fruits covered in pesticide make me nauseous. Eating foods containing gluten gives me instant pain in my back and neck, and a headache that can last for days. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
I am fortunate to have many alternative shopping options where I live, including one of my favorite places to shop Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy. Pharmaca opened in my neighborhood nearly two years ago, and has become my go-to store for health and beauty products, vitamins and supplements, and so much more. They have grain-free food options for my pets, a large assortment of essential oils and herbal teas, and even carry one of my favorite greeting card lines – Papyrus. That’s why when I was contacted about doing a review and giveaway of the store for FibroHaven I jumped at the chance.
Pharmaca is a truly beautiful shopping experience. The stores are colorful, very well merchandised, easy to navigate, and the staff is always friendly and helpful.
On my most recent trip I was in search of non-toxic sunscreen. I spend a lot of time at the beach, summertime or not, and am well past my days of competing with my girlfriends to see who can get the darkest tan. In particular I was looking for a mineral-based sunscreen, with active ingredients of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Natural sunscreens, made with organic and mineral sunblocks, are free of worrisome ingredients, but can be more expensive. I was pleased, and not the least bit surprised to see Pharmaca had a few options that fit my needs. My decision came down to two.
MyChelle Sun Shield is an SPF 28, mineral-based, full spectrum UVA/UVB sun defense that, according to the manufacturer: is environmentally-safe, and offers powerfully effective protection, yet is gentle enough for infants and non-irritating near the eyes. Translucent Zinc (11.6%) and Titanium Dioxides (0.67%) provide a safe alternative to harsh chemical sunscreens. The addition of soothing Aloe and Vitamin E help reduce signs of sun induced irritation.
True Natural Sunscreen gets its SPF 30 from an equal combination of active ingredients Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide (6% each). Inactive ingredients include coconut oil, shea butter, eucalyptus and jojoba oils. According to the manufacturer: The Caribbean Coconut scent from aromatic Coconut Oil is sweet and subtle and safe for sensitive skin. This gentle and all natural mineral based formula provides an instant shield against damaging UVA and UVB rays for the face and body – reducing the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Biodegradable, gluten-free and vegan – its the perfect choice for you, your family and the environment.
I can attest, the smell is heavenly, and True Natural is the sunscreen I selected. I have yet to wear it, but once again I was very pleased with the selection of natural options at Pharmaca.
And I seldom get out of there with just the one thing I went in for. They have a great selection of gluten-free snacks and bars, so I grabbed one of my favorites – Zing chocolate coconut bar. I really do love coconut!
I also replenished the Vitamin D3 and Biotin I was running low on, and indulged in something I have wanted for a long time – a himalayan salt candle holder. The basic premise behind a himalayan salt lamp or candle holder is to help cleanse your indoor air and provide an attractive soothing light in your home. It is definitely attractive and soothing! I light it when I am meditating or doing yoga and it calms me.
One bag and about $50 later I was out the door. Another successful and enjoyable Pharmaca shopping experience.
Pharmaca stores are located in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. And as a “thank you” for writing this review, they are giving away one $50 gift certificate to a lucky FibroHaven commenter.
The $50 Pharmaca Gift-Certificate Giveaway
All you have to do is leave a comment either here on this blog, or on FibroHaven’s Facebook page under a posting about the giveaway. Leave a comment, and share what shifts you are making to live as well as possible with chronic illness. It can be related to the types of products you use, the supplements you take, the foods you eat, how you soothe yourself, or your overall state of wellbeing.
The winner will be chosen at random on August 4, 2013, and will be announced both here and on our facebook page. Once announced, I will contact you for your mailing address to provide Pharmaca, and they will mail you the certificate.
And to make your shopping experience even more enticing, you can print this Pharmaca $10 off coupon to take with you into the store. That’s enough savings for your own himalayan salt candle holder!
The gift certificate is for in-store use only. It is not for online purchases, so click on the link above to see if there is a Pharmaca in your neighborhood.
I look forward to reading your comments!