To live well and healthily it helps to be in synch with yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually and I was as out of synch as a body, mind, and soul could get.
Two years ago migraines, heartburn, stomach pains, dizziness, and sleeplessness, were a part of my life. My teeth ached from grinding and jaw clenching and I was suffering from fatigue. I could barely make it through the day. When my heart began to pound for no reason at all and I felt light-headed, I finally went for help.
I was, as my doctor bluntly put it, a “living disaster”, but thank God, I did not have any major illness or heart problems. What I had, she said, were the very visible and real physical effects of unremitting tension. But when I asked her what I could do about it the only answer I got was, “Change your lifestyle!” She then gave me the name of a holistic yoga instructor.
Wishing the doctor had given me a miracle “feel-better” pill instead, I went to see this person.
After talking with me for about an hour, the yoga teacher told me my spirit was in distress, that my physical self was being poisoned by the tension I allowed into my life.
“Your emotional reactions are eating you alive. You need to find a place where your soul can heal itself and, in turn, heal your body.”
Right. But did that place, so hyped by New Age celebrities, really exist?
Now I am in favor of a mind-body approach to living but I had no idea where my soul could go to heal my body. However, I was willing to try. I signed up for classes in something called, “Body, Mind, and Soul-Be One.” Though initially I was reluctant, after attending my first class I decided it could be one of the best things I’ve ever done.
The class was not just for people wanting to put their bodies into pretzel-like positions while chanting a mantra. It was a class that was practical and spiritual. The practical side detailed what negative emotions can do to a body. Anger, hatred, and frustration cause physical ailments. Easily understood; I was a walking example of that.
But the spiritual side was something else. The instructor talked about being nurturing to someone I had been completely ignoring most of my adult life. That person was me. He talked about the priceless gift of health and how we need to nurture our spirits with calm and gentleness the same way we nourish our bodies with food and water.
I listened intently and tried to follow through with both the physical positions of yoga and the meditation that he recommended to stay focused and calm. In the class, listening to the sound of waves, it was easy to do.
During the first week, I really tried hard to "become one" and looked forward to my next class. But during the second week, overwhelmed with deadlines, I found myself snarling to the inner me that being calm only works when everything and everyone else around you is calm. I allowed myself to fall back into the non-nurturing habits of lack of sleep and stress eating.
With my stress increasing and a lapse back into the "old" me, I still reluctantly made time for meditation. Unfortunately, my attitude was that I was going to get my money's worth for these classes if it killed me! Talk about emotions eating me alive!
But forcing myself to meditate, for whatever reason, was to be my saving grace.
Luckily for me, the part of myself that was crying out for relief responded to the meditation. Focusing on what I really wanted my life to be like and imagining how I could change, actually made sense to me. And the breathing; concentrating on each precious breath as I meditated encouraged my body to feel more alive in the moment. The feeling continued a good while into the day. Maybe there was something to this mind, body, and soul healing process. I liked feeling good.
As I went to each class I began more and more to be a little kinder to myself. I forgave myself for not being perfect and found that I didn't have to be in control all the time. The world would run just fine if I made a mistake or even if I wasn't in charge. My instructor smiled at me and nodded his head when I told him I was sleeping well.
The physical "ailments" I had been feeling began to fade as my soul began to heal. I avoided negativity as best I could and found out that I had a choice in life. I could either live life every single day or rush through it and wonder where the last twenty-four hours had gone.
After six months of weekly classes, I am slowly healing. Do I still get tense over situations? Sometimes, but then I remember how my body felt before and how differently I feel now. It is as I was told six months ago:
"When the soul is peaceful and the mind is clear, the body is healthy."
And that is priceless.
© 2012 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved
Books by Kristen Houghton
Nourishing Thoughts: The Little Book of Sayings for a Healthy, Happy Life coming May 1, 2012