I’m always struggling with some invisible force this time of year. Something between the end of summer blues and that rough landing into the start of winter.
But I loooove Fall. I love crisp pumpkin farm air.
Recently – like for the last 20 years – unbeknownst to me, my body was quietly unbalancing itself. Subtle mysterious little nudges of “hello, we need help” came and went. And I usually ignored them. Until two years ago, precisely on my birthday, I lost all strength and feeling in one arm and I could barely make it up a flight of stairs.
It wasn’t my best birthday.
Two years later. It wasn’t a stroke, or a pinched nerve, or scoliosis. It wasn’t what any western doctor claimed it to be.
It was the end result of an imbalance of key organ systems that normally function in harmony. A balance quite delicate that the smallest transgressions can send some of us into detour.
Ignoring my diet and sleep and health since high school started my imbalance. Everyone has some trigger. My imbalance existed long before I started being healthy, and being healthy wasn’t enough to turn it around.
I had a lot to learn about how to heal my body. And I’m sharing this to help you heal yours.
People roll their eyes when I speak of Chinese medicine – because they don’t understand it.
But Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a few centuries ahead of western medicine. TCM knows the body the way Einstein knew the Universe. It’s a higher powered, fully integrated, beautifully complex genius. And I know only one cosmic dust spec about it.
Except to say, it works. And for true healing, in the hands of a capable practitioner, it works wonders.
My most – most – capable TCM doctor told me, “I’m not your doctor – your body is your true doctor – it knows exactly how to heal, I’m just helping it do what it needs to do.”
In the first visit, those mini symptoms I thought I could live with, and the pain, the numbness, the symptoms I could not live with – those were all related. It was only because I knew a little TCM that I knew my doctor was not crazy.
But I had never experienced healing in this way. I had never ever experienced healing in any way. I was that rebellious patient who ripped up unnecessary prescriptions and left the shreds on the examining bed. I could never swallow a cover up. I’d rather a doctor admit they don’t know the true cause of a problem than attempt to “treat” a symptom.
Western medicine functions at many layers superficial to the deeper condition that is really going on – it ignores the balance of organ systems that normally work together because it doesn’t even believe in it.
But the truth is, most of us could not handle the tough love of TCM. Mini example. As part of my treatment, I had to hold off on any form of caffeine (among other things!). No biggie, I thought. But some friends told me they could never do that. For me, it wasn’t about choosing caffeine or no caffeine, it was about choosing to heal.
The hard part was not what I had to give up – it was that I had to give up. Literally. I had to let my body rest.
My new favorite doc told me that as my body heals, I will be tired (he mentioned this right after he told me to stay off caffeine ;). He said, anytime you feel sleepy, just close your eyes and rest. He didn’t give me time to ask how that’ll work in my average working day.
But, by the next day, I was so grateful he had given me that permission. Because he was so right.
I was tired. I mean, SO. TIRED. A heavy unrelenting exhaustion took over every cell of my body. I could not keep my eyes open past high noon. It was a distinct type of exhaustion I had never felt before. But it was strangely liberating.
Something about a doctor you trust, telling you to rest, makes rest oh so restful. I didn’t have to wonder what and why. I knew. I trusted. I didn’t fight it. And I just let go. I let my body have the healing rest it needed.
Weeks later (yes, weeks!), one morning I woke up early, no alarm. The next few mornings, the same. The heavy eyelids and afternoon naps ceased. The pain had subsided, things were slowly on the mend. Healing happened.
Most of us never listen to our bodies, and when do, we often don’t follow our own guidance. We fight the need for a mini afternoon shut eye (and get Starbucks instead). We fight the need to sleep a restful eight hours at night (and get Starbucks in the morning instead).
Meanwhile, your body needs that rest. Even if it’s totally healthy and balanced, but especially when it’s not and it’s healing.
Rest is not a cessation of activity. Not one bit. When you rest, your body starts cleaning up the party it had all day by you just being alive. When we’re awake and going about our day, our body keeps our busy machines going.
Only when your body takes a break does your body get to do its other (really important) job – the job of recovering from the day’s activities. Your body needs to replenish stores of necessary nutrients and energy, and patch up any big hurdles it took on that day (getting sick, running that extra mile, whatever!).
So, when YOU rest is when your BODY heals and renews. Letting your body do that for you may be your greatest secret fountain of youth and wellness.
What’s the first thing you can do to help your body heal? Start by growing a big ear and listening to your body.
If your body needs a little rest, don’t fret about it. Take a mini hint from Mother Nature right now. Trees and leaves are readying to take a little rest. You can too. It’s ooookkkaayy. We are part of our planet’s seasonal tides. And we have just entered the season of resting and healing.
And baking some yummy, yummy stuff.