In my pursuit of life and health, my body was the missing element for many years. To think of it now seems crazy. We are not created to be a disembodied mind/spirit being. It took a bit of backtracking to figure out how I got to this place and then figure out how I was going to put myself back together.
In my younger days I spent quite a bit of time hiking in the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks. That is where I first leaned how to push myself beyond my perceived limits and override the immediate needs of my body.
I remember hiking with my sister up a particularly grueling trail. I didn’t think we were going to be able to make it to our planned stop before sundown. I was utterly exhausted and feeling defeated. I knew we had to keep going to because we needed to reach the next stream to refill our water supply for the next day. I was crying as we pushed on. With each step my legs felt like I was wearing hiking boots filled with lead. I was sweaty and thirsty. All I wanted to do was to sit down, take my pack off and not move.
The moment we arrived has been one I have thought about over and over again. I was relieved and elated. I dropped my pack and it felt like I could fly. We pumped water from the lake into our water bottles and drank our fill. That feeling of exultation despite the pain and tiredness was addictive. From that time on I knew that even when I thought I couldn’t go another step, I could pull out more energy from somewhere deep inside.
This served me well in some cases. As life progressed I got my degree in nursing, I married and became a mother. Each of those things in turn demanded time and energy that I willingly gave. Being a wife, mother and nurse added a layer of meaning and purpose to my life. Then later on as my husband became ill, the demands increased. I kept pulling energy from unseen reserves until those reserves were tapped out. When it got really bad, I just outright ignored my own body, and later my mind and spirit followed.
When I came out of that season, I realized that I was so disconnected from my body that I was unaware of what it was trying to tell me. I was not allowing my senses to take in information nor my brain to process them. I literally did not notice smells. I was going through my days not seeing what was around me. Food was strictly fuel and eaten on hurriedly on the way out the door in the morning, and shoveled in on lunch break at work. My body was solely a vehicle to move me through space, to do the things I asked it to do. For that reason, to this day, my favorite thing about my body is not my eyes, or smile but my trusty, reliable feet.
Frankly, healing my heart, mind and spirit have been a good deal easier than reconnecting to, and healing my body.
The first area I had to deal with was sleep. In the aftermath of my husband’s death my body literally forgot how to sleep for periods longer than an hour or two at a time. I have tried various teas, diffusing lavender, taking melatonin, doing meditation and more. I finally ended up going to my doctor nearly a year ago and getting a short course of a sleeping pill to reset my sleep cycles. It wasn’t a quick fix but with continued attention to my body’s need for quality sleep I am now sleeping for up to 4-5 hours at a time.
My next task was to reconnect with my senses. To that end, I have made sure that my home smells good by using essential oils and diffusers. I have incorporated textures that feel good, like my favorite fuzzy blanket, comfy pillows, and cool, smooth sheets. I have many vibrant, beautiful colors to look at in my home, like my red couch, the cool blues in the ocean picture on the wall, and gold wall sconces. It is a veritable feast for my eyes.
Now, every morning when I walk my dog I do a little grounding meditation. I take time to look at something beautiful. Clouds are one of my favorite things to look at and the morning sky can be a wonderful wash of colors. I breathe in deep and smell the grass and trees. I notice the feeling of the wind and sun. I listen for the sounds of birds, the nearby pond and doors closing as my neighbors get ready and leave for work.
The most important thing I have learned to do is to ask myself “What do I want?” and “What do I need?”. Even now I don’t always know what I want or need right away but that’s okay.