Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Clearing the temple
Paul and I are having exceedingly bad hair days.
That's just one of the symptoms of the flu-ish type thing we seem to have picked up on a shopping trip. (I'm figuring flu simply because it came on so fast. Colds kind of creep up, flu is a 'wham', you're sick kind of thing).
Apart from the bad hair - which is amusing more than anything - we're not feeling too bad. Gross, yes, but not entirely miserable about it. No doubt it is psychologically easier to be sick when you're retired and don't have anything really pressing to attend to, just the usual chores which can be done more slowly and with a chuckle. The foggy brain means we have to think about what we could normally do with our eyes closed. I had really had to concentrate when I made the bread yesterday and Paul had some trouble folding his laundry.
In our strange and twisted private world-view, catching a virus once in a while is a good thing.
(It strikes me here that the expression of 'catching a virus' is odd. Shouldn't it be 'being caught by a virus' since the common point of view is that viruses are predators out to get us? Or is that my addled brain?)
Anyhow, whether we caught it or it caught us, a virus is a good thing sometimes. It gives the immune system something to do, for one thing, and as the immune system clears out the virus it seems to clear out any and all detritus that's accumulated, as well, don't you think? Why else do we so often feel far better after we come out of an illness than before we went in?
'Clearing the temple' .. I've had the title kicking around in draft, waiting for the day I could coherently vent my spleen about all that is wrong with the world, or commercial 'herbal medicine', or whatever it was I was pissed enough about to rant on. Righteous anger and all that.
We can clear our own temples (bodies/minds) of what is inappropriate without being angry. Can't we?
'Alternative medicine', unfortunately, still seeks to cleanse us of our sins. The treatments of today's Naturopaths - enemas, chelation and other 'cleanses' - are harsh and debilitating. They force the body into overdrive in the hopes of eliminating the invaders we have allowed in with our lousy diets and lifestyles. The focus is always on eliminating 'culprit' foods or 'toxins' and 'stimulating' the immune system or the organs of elimination. It is considered normal to feel worse before we feel better from those treatments, too, a sort of penance there I think. And we're expected to pay rather a lot of money, too!
I think that approach is more wrong than right; it does nothing to build up trust in our bodies to do what they are designed to do, it just reinforces the belief that we are weaklings and sinners who have desecrated our temples. Then we need a hero, a saviour - a white coated authority figure with a degree - to come along and fix/save us from ourselves. This is called the 'heroic tradition' and Susun Weed has an excellent chapter about it in her book "Healing Wise".
I strongly believe that we can do far more for our bodies and most importantly our relationships with them, by supporting them and trusting them to get on with what they know how to do. If we are guilty of anything it is that we constantly tinker with systems we just plain don't understand. That's why most of the medicine plants I work with are food-level safe, offering me nourishment in a form the body can recognize and work with. It's incredibly rare for me to ingest anything that will force or stimulate any system in my body. I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to think I know better than my liver!
Today I am craving onions - so it'll be onion soup for supper. I've read that onions contain lots of inulin, which the gut bugs love, but it's not the reading that is making me crave onions, it's my body/mind connection, so that's what I'll listen to. I craved onion soup when I was sick long before I read about 'why' that would be so.
I have turned off/disappointed more than one reader who has asked me for help in 'getting healthy' because of my approach. I never (never) tell anyone to eliminate their bad habits. I'll strongly suggest they quit what they think are good habits sometimes (supplements, vitamins, enemas) but if they smoke or drink soda? Go ahead, I say. What I want them to do is add in more nourishment. Have a bowl of home made bone broth every day. Go outside and greet the sun every morning. Make bread with your own hands. I don't tell them to give up sugar, I tell them to add a cup of stinging nettle infusion to their routine.
Why? Because this business of health isn't about punishment, it's about being kind to ourselves. I believe the kindness should come first, the giving to ourselves should come first, and then we will be more likely to experience giving up whatever is bad for us as a gift, too, rather than a punishment.
I even (sometimes) suggest that they thank their ailments, because every symptom is a lesson, a signpost to what can be done to help the body (which is you, after all) to recover. I often have to argue this one and remind them that if the body - like everything in nature - is designed to survive, it makes no logical sense to believe it is 'attacking you'.
Then there are 'autoimmune diseases', which I believe are nothing of the sort. There is no way the body would attack itself; it is confused by something, yes, but clear up the confusion and the so-called attack will end. Yes, I do know such a statement could have me burned at the stake for heresy these days and no, I cannot offer studies as proof. I can only go by my own experience and others I have seen who are now free of what were diagnosed as autoimmune disorders. How did it happen? Nourishment and a changed relationship with the body/self.
After all, our bodies are who we are, at least as long as we live in them. Being human is complicated and oh boy can we ever be fools. But beating ourselves up with harsh treatments and anger, just for being sick, doesn't make sense to me.
So this flu? Yummy onion soup. Equally delicious yogi tea. Spoonfuls of mullein syrup to keep the fluids from getting stuck in the chest - delightful. A couple of lazy days in pyjamas, and relaxing long steamy showers. Oh and hot water bottles at our feet. In other words, we will pamper ourselves until we're better.
That's how I believe natural medicine works. When I think of all the beautiful medicine plants that I've worked with (to relieve me of what 'they' called symptoms of fibro, the rigours of menopause, the joints worn out from cleaning rich women's houses and the various twists and injuries from my adventures) I feel that I have pampered myself by giving my body what it needs, every time. And why not? I deserve love, and the first person who has to love me is me.