Right now I am in a middle of an experiment. Last year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a ‘phantom’ disease that causes pain in your entire body. It was a shocking but predictable diagnosis. In fact, by the time I’ve made it to the doctor’s I was already at a stage of managing my symptoms through yoga. However, paired with fatigue (at times extreme) and severe recurring migraines, painkillers often seemed like the only choice. My health was one of the major reasons I chose to do a course in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, and I am grateful that I did. As the course progressed, and the cleaner and healthier my diet was becoming, the whole idea of ingesting chemicals was beginning to feel crazy! Flashing them out of my system and dealing with side effects for days after a major flare-up or migraine, actually felt insane! So about six months ago I decided to stop. I decided to commit myself to not taking any chemical substances for all of my symptoms and instead focus more on natural, holistic ways of healing myself. So far, the results are astonishing! From spending hours in bed in, what felt like, never ending agony to being able to function and self- regulate pain. It hasn’t been easy. At times, I had to battle with myself hard not to take that strong painkiller that could take away my pain, or at least take the edge off it. I persevered, and this is what I've learned:
- Deepening and regulating breathing, whilst also focussing on releasing physical and mental tension, will help you ‘ride’ through pain;
- Becoming curious, rather than hostile, towards your pain will help you learn about it – it’s origin in the body, the ‘waves’ in which it flows and how your body responds to it;
- Accepting the pain as part of you, rather than a separate entity you have to fight, takes away the unnecessary energy expenditure allowing you to pay attention to the ways in which you can nurture and love yourself more;
- Trust in your body’s ability to heal itself! Know that pain and/or illness is something that you yourself have created, consciously or subconsciously, hence you hold the key to true healing. Take Responsibility;
- Ask yourself – is there a lesson I need to learn through this? Are there areas in my life where I neglect myself - body and soul? What are the messages this pain is trying to convey to me?
- Honour yourself! Take time off. Put yourself first. Sometimes we create pain as an excuse to take a break, to escape the Rat Race;
- Take action! Use what you’ve learned to make positive changes in your life. Even small things like taking regular breaks from work, reducing alcohol use, cutting out junk food or simply spending more time in nature can make a huge difference. Think PREVENTION.
To me this experience has been invaluable. I’ve definitely become more loving towards myself and I am learning to put myself first. More than anything, I have developed genuine trust in the process and the true knowledge that it works. So now, instead of lying in bed trying to breathe through pain, I am actually able to recognise the first signs and step back. And guess what? It is becoming a seamless process and even a positive experience. For one, those moments enhance my meditation as I am able to go inward and find the still, quiet place inside much quicker than I normally would. Plus, the pain itself is no longer severe or unbearable. It may be that my pain threshold has increased, or my body has learned to deal with it better; or maybe it is the daily yoga practices that I do and the changes in my diet and lifestyle. Come to think of it, it is probably a combination of things. One thing for sure though, something like this requires commitment. And trust. My trust has definitely strengthened through this process and I am going to continue to search for ways in which I can improve my life experience and that of others - the natural way.