This winter has been a tough one for me – two bouts with the flu. Not just one, but two. And both were miserable.
When the first hit, I thought my head would come off and that the pain would never end. The right side of my head was pounding. I took two Ibuprofins to relieve some of the pain and because I know that there’s often an emotional component to symptoms, I checked myself for that. My kids had sailed through their cold with flying colors, while mine dragged on with lots of pain. Why had it hit me so hard?
I came to an ‘Aha!’ We had gotten an X-box in December and my boys loved playing on it. And when they did, a few of them yelled really loudly in excitement and competition. For a few days in a row, I would be sitting on the couch in the living room, with my right side facing the doorway to that very loud room. Their screams hurt my ears. I had even put my hand on my right ear, trying to block the noise. I even asked them to lower their shouting. And they did for a bit. But then not long after, their excitement would kick in, and their voices would raise.
I could have gone into another room, but I stayed on that couch in that room, because I wanted to be there. I had wished for a door to block their loud shouts. And I had wished that they would shut up even as I took pleasure in the fact that they were having so much fun.
And guess what? When I got infected with that flu virus, the severeness and the pain in my body was on the right side of my head, jaw, neck and shoulders. It was the side of my body that faced that open doorway to the screams and shouts – happy ones for them, annoying ones for me. When I took the time to process the emotional piece of my ailment and symptoms, I realized that I had been angry. Angry about the noise, angry that they didn’t calm down when I asked them to, frustrated (also anger) that I couldn’t sit on the couch in peace, and frustrated that the noise bothered me so much when it hadn’t bothered my mother who was visiting at the time. “What was wrong with me?” was one of the thoughts that I had as I sat on that couch.
So, while I was sick and suffering, but in a little less pain because of those two little Ibuprofins, I processed the emotional component of my ailment. I learned what my anger was telling me and learned an incredible lesson in self-care and self kindness. I also rested and took immune strengthening supportive herbs.
And I healed in time to go on vacation. Whew!
Could I have gone to the doctor and gotten some kind of prescription? You bet! And if the pain and discomfort had continued past three days, I would have. But instead I tried a different prescription. One based on the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the past few years as a Somatic Healer, Mind-body coach, intuitive, self- help junkie and even as a mom. I used the resources and tools that I’ve come to love.
So what is it when you experience a pain in your body, a nasty sinus cold, an eczema on your skin? What is that sciatica that popped up or that bladder urgency or that migraine, foot pain, weird skin rash that appeared ‘suddenly,’ out of no-where?
Well, in truth, it is not from ‘no-where.’ Our bodies are sensitive monitors – they are attuned to our physical, emotional and even spiritual well-being. And they will let us know when something from one of those areas is off-kilter and needs attending to.
Dr. John Sarno, the famous back doctor and author of ‘Healing Back Pain’, claimed that most back and neck pain comes from suppressing our emotions and even went as far as claiming that a lot of the autoimmune ailments of today come from this as well.
But it can be confusing.
When I had back pain years ago, I got MRIs and they saw on the screen, my herniated disc. When I went for physical therapy for my pelvic pain, the exercises did seem to help strengthen my muscles. And I do feel better and more energized when I stay away from wheat, gluten and a lot of sugar. And I’ve been taking synthroid for 20+ years for the Hashimoto’s thyroid disease that developed after the birth of my first child.
So, what is the true source of these ailments and pain?
Is it the herniation? Is it the weak muscles? Is it the thyroid that decided to go haywire?
From what I discovered from my training and the years of work I’ve done with my clients, myself and my family, one must take an integrated approach to healing. There are always the medicines, prescriptions, blood tests and MRIs. They exist for a reason and a good one at that. But there is no question in my mind that there are also emotional components to ailments, dis-eases, and pain symptoms. The body wants to be heard, not just fixed.
The way the mind-body system works is that that physical pain or ailment is not the fire to be put out, but is the alarm that is calling you to wake up! Wake up and look within – what is going on in your world that isn’t working? In what way are you not paying attention to a relationship that is draining you, a work dynamic that feels funky, a family member that is hurtful?
In what way are you not strengthening your body, or are you grabbing for bad habits because you’re trying to distract yourself from a life you’re in dis-ease with?
And what can you do about all this?
You can slowly and kindly unravel these questions for yourself. You can slowly and kindly look within with compassion and generosity to the struggles you’re having and take simple steps to start shifting that rudder, start shifting the direction that you’ve been steering your ship. Is it easy? No. There could be some emotional pain involved in this process of unraveling. You will probably feel uncomfortable emotions of sadness, grief, anger, shame. But guess what? You have the emotional pain already and you are feeling those uncomfortable emotions – you’ve just been trying your best to rationalize them away, ignore them, suppress them or distract yourself from them.
When I look back in time, I can see that I wasn’t expressing myself, I wasn’t in tune with my inner emotional world at all. And then I developed thyroid dis-ease.
When I had all that back pain/body pain? I wasn’t in touch with how overworked and overwhelmed I was in my life. I had no self-care routine – I didn’t even know what self-care was. I was also feeling hurt and judged in some very important relationships in my life. The world did not feel like a safe place for me.
Your body, your emotions and yes, your soul, have great wisdom to share. And changes need to be made. And all that suppression or distraction that seem easier to do than to make changes is not easier. Because your symptoms tell you so. Those symptoms are the alarm, not the fire. And as Mind-body expert Abigail Steidley says ‘Don’t just douse the alarm, douse the fire’.
So to answer the question – “Ahh – Pain! Is it the flu, my diet, the herniated disc, my thyroid, or my emotions?” Your mind-body system is all integrated and in order to have wellness, your emotions, mind, body and soul have to be heard. The first step is to listen within and be honest with yourself. What patterns in your life are not working? Are you angry, hurt, confused, sad? Do you feel stuck? Are you not expressing yourself in ways that are healing? Are you stifling your creativity? Are you judging yourself for being wrong for feeling what you feel?
What’s amazing about this kind of integrated approach is that once you look within and shift, everything around you shifts. You don’t need those lessons anymore. G-d, Source, the universe, or whatever term you use may bring you other situations for different lessons, but your moving up in a spiral motion and your energetic vibration is higher, more refined from each integration, each lesson learned.
My kids don’t shout anymore when they play X-box. That whole dynamic shifted. They play with excitement and joy, but not the loud screams. And if they were to behave that way again, I’ve been majorly forewarned as to the consequences I could suffer if I don’t do something different. Because of the integrative approach I took with the flu bout, I have an idea as to what I would do. But for now I can sit in the living room on that couch in peace and pleasure.
As for my second bout with the flu? I’ll share those lessons in another newsletter. Now it’s time for a rest.
Miriam Racquel (Meryl) Feldman is a Somatic Healer and Clarity Coach. She helps empower women with clarity and vitality in their relationships, career and health. Miriam also helps women heal from trauma, mind-body pain and anxiety. For more information, visit MiriamRacquel.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.