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Body Wisdom

Our bodies are amazing, they are constantly providing clues to our emotional and physical states.  We are also amazing, in our ability to block out these clues and wonder why our symptoms, energy levels, and emotional states continue in an un-well direction.

My favorite analogy is by Bob Duggan, founder of Tai Sophia Institute (now Maryland University of Integrative Health).  What happens when your “check engine” light comes on in your car, do you put a piece of electrical tape over it and claim it fixed?  Of course not!  Blocking out the indicator does not remedy the problem, only masks it for future if not imminent compounded problems.

Our body works in a very similar way, offering lovely little “symptoms” as indicator of deeper, more residual problems we have an opportunity to address.  But, our western pattern of wellness propounds that masking symptoms equals wellness!  Have a headache, take an aspirin.  Headache gone, problem gone.  Have a backache, take anti-inflammatory or get surgery. Backache gone, problem gone!

Imagine, for one moment, we used these symptoms as “wisdom teachers,”  opportunities to look closer at our lives and see what conditions surrounded the existence of these symptoms and perhaps even ADDRESS OUR BEHAVIOR AND THOUGHT PATTERNS THAT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THESE SYMPTOMS.

Wait just a darn second, are you suggesting I take personal responsibility for how I feel?  How un-American!  Don’t you know it is the responsibility of the health care profession to cater to my wellbeing?  I can eat or behave any way I want to, my insurance will take care of my co-pay, thank you very much!

The American health care system is in crisis for this very reason.  We are a population chronically putting electrical tape over our warning systems.  We ignore the smoke coming out from under the hood until the engine has seized and we are dragged into the service bay.  Cracked engine block and stripped pistons?  No problem, we can fix you!

What if, just what if, we paid attention to our check-engine lights and changed our oil when our bodies demand nourishment instead of waiting until our engines seize?

This is a very new practice for many of us.  We are so often ready to give up our own power it is a huge step to start paying attention to our own bodies and the choices we make around them.

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Five Steps to Wellness

Step one:  Observe your body.  So often we have lived with symptoms for so long we think they are “just the way things are.”  Can you list minor symptoms that show up for you in the presence of stress?  Can you list them in order of escalation?

For example, tightness in my jaw is a early indicator that I need to start paying attention to how I am treating my body.  My shoulders become tight when I am under stress.  If the stress continues I tend to notice it in my hip joints, lower back, and develop a runny nose and throat congestion.  If I put tape over all these check-engine lights and continue to operate business as usual my body usually says, “that’s enough, if you’re not going to pay attention to m

e I’m going to make you pay attention, we’re officially sick!”

In Herb & Renewal, we have lots of customers who come for us for cold-care, or for treatment of chronic conditions.  We love and appreciate our customers, AND we want to start this conversation earlier, about how to PREVENT depressed immune systems, inflammatory conditions, chronic pain, etc.  Start paying attention to your body, it is WISE!

Step Two:  Nourish yourself.  W

ould you put sugar and food coloring in your car and expect it to run at optimum performance?  Of course not!  So why do we fill our bodies with the same level of garbage and expect different results?  Time and convenience is so often the answer provided, but so much time is lost due to low energy and doctors’ visits it hardly seems a fair trade.  Even if you don’t have time to cook you can make wise grocery choices to ensure your food is prepared using wholesome ingredients and no additives.


Step Three:  Drink Infusions!  These nourishing beverages contain a rainbow of vitamins, minerals, alkaloids, and other nourishing elements to help promote healthy bodily function.  Boil water.   Pour over 1oz dried herb in a 1 qt jar.  Replace lid and allow to steep for 8 hours to overnight. Strain, add honey if desired and enjoy!  I dilute mine or pour over ice for added refreshment.  Susan Weed is a brilliant herbalist and great advocate for this practice.  We love her and we love infusions!

Step Four:  Sleep!  Low energy during the day?  Commit to a 20 min power nap when you get home from work.  Even if you don’t fall asleep, allowing your body to be horizontal, your eyes closed, and practicing letting go of ruminating thoughts will leave you with more energy than before, guaranteed!  Most people say they don’t have time, but can rattle off the latest plot development of all their favorite shows.   A good night’s sleep is the number one way to boost daytime attentiveness, immune system function, and appetite control.  So turn off that TV, pour a nice cup of chamomile tea, and get to bed early!  What a luxurious treat!

Step Five:  Be kind to yourself.  Remember we are always learning.  Don’t beat yourself up for what you did or didn’t eat, do, or sleep.  Promise to learn the lesson and try it again in the future.  The same goes for the language you use.  Do you use kind words about yourself and others?  Do you forgive easily?  Do you refrain from judgment?  Do you frame your understanding of situations by taking personal responsibility for the outcome?   Can you use what you learn today to make your life more beautiful tomorrow?  Do!