When you start to get sick or feel less than your best, what's the first thing you do? Do you look for medicine, book a doctor's appointment, or try to ignore it? Do you ask for a loved one's opinion or consult WebMD? Do you ever take a moment to pause and ask yourself what your body's behavior means? Or where it's coming from?
For the past couple months, I've been dealing with some irritating redness and dryness on my face. Despite consulting a couple different doctors, my skin has worsened. I've been feeling self-conscious, frustrated, and irritated. I've been doing my best to listen to the doctors' advice, research home remedies (I now know more that I ever wanted to about oatmeal face masks and jojoba oil), and be gentle to my skin.
But the more I think about how annoying it is to have these skin issues, the more my skin flares up in response to my anger (probably doesn't help that I'm also a mindless face toucher).
In my frantic, desperate Google searches to heal my skin, I saw a few articles that reminded me of the spiritual link between mind and body. Years ago my mom showed me Louise Hay's book You Can Heal Your Life.
It's all about how we can turn inward and channel our mental strength to heal (or at least improve) ourselves physically. Louise Hay's belief is that our physical symptoms are just tangible evidence of what's going on in our subconscious minds.
In the index there’s a massive list of symptoms, body parts, and various illnesses and conditions. Beside each one, there's an explanation of what the thing represents and how it relates to our mental state, accompanied by a mantra you can use to promote health and peace from within.
I find all the entries fascinating, but some are especially interesting to consider and totally make sense when you think about them from a metaphorical, symbolic perspective (if you’re an English major, you’ll probably dig all the connections and symbolisms the book has).
For example, this is the explanation for hip: Carries the body in perfect balance. Major thrust in moving forward. Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.
Here’s the one for throat: Avenue of expression. Channel of creativity. Throat problems - the inability to speak up for one's self.
Here’s wrist: Represents movement and ease.
Interesting, right? Here's an abbreviated list that someone posted online.
The book doesn’t advocate that you replace medicinal or physical treatment with spiritual healing, but that you use it to supplement whatever else you're doing. Of course, this is not a new philosophy by any means. Eastern and holistic medicine practices, which have been around for centuries, are founded on the fundamental correlation between mind and body. Plus, now more than ever, scientific studies have been able to prove the direct link between our mental state and our physical health.
So this is not groundbreaking news, but it is a valuable reminder. It's way too easy to be consumed by how our bodies feel instead of looking at what we’re going through mentally and emotionally that may have influenced it.
I think our bodies are always trying to tell us something. If we pay attention, we can usually attribute it to one thing or another. A cold might be your body's way of telling you to slow down because you’re overworked. A broken leg could be a signal that you need to put your life on pause in order to truly rest. Severe cramps could be your body's way of suggesting you should relax more and let go of the things you're gripping onto.
I think it's similar to horoscopes—if you want to see something, you will. If you're like me and want to find meaning in the butterfly that flits around your shoulders for over half a mile as you run along a dusty trail, then you will. If you don't care, then you don't care. And certainly, sometimes shit just happens and there doesn't seem to be a logical reason for it (I’m looking at you, cancer).
But as long as you can use whatever insight you glean to improve your life or make a positive decision, then it’s worth it.
When I looked up my own issues they really resonated with me and felt so true to my circumstances and emotional state right now. In an effort to feel better, I’ve been trying to change course and focus less on determining how many different products I can slather on my face in one day (beeswax, vaseline, olive oil) and focus more on cultivating a sense of peace about my life.
Because whether or not you believe there’s something to learn from your lower back pain, whether or not you think your blisters came from a lack of emotional protection or from your six-mile run in bad socks, and whether or not you think that the fact that warts are “little expressions of hate” is insightful wisdom or total crap—surely you'll agree that stress, worry, and fear never help us feel better.
For now and hopefully always, I'm trying to focus on accepting where I am and what's going on with me, and learning to feel peace about it.
What about you? Ever had an illness or physical discomfort that told you something more about your life? Have you ever sought to understand what your body is trying to tell you on a metaphysical level? Sending everyone vibes of resilience and strength!