I’m very excited that as Tasty Yummies evolves in 2016 and a brand new website is on the horizon, to be bringing you more content, beyond food, to support your individual healing journeys. I hope you enjoy.
How Stress, Energy and the Subtle Body Can All Play a Role in Your Healing
Over this past year my ongoing healing journey has taken on many different faces and the path has very much evolved along the way. I have shared bits and pieces here on the blog, but so much of this past year was so up in the air and very changing, that most of the time this was something I chose to keep to myself.
Having been diagnosed with an autoimmune form of kidney disease late in 2014, my main goal in 2015 was to figure out what I needed to do to get this disease into remission. At the start of the journey, the biggest struggle for me to overcome, was the fact that I seemed to have no real outward or debilitating symptoms of the kidney disease, it was only discovered through a routine life insurance physical the year prior. However, after a brief time where my fear got the better of me and went the western medical route, including several rounds of varying pharmaceuticals, slowly this symptom-free girl found herself with a lot more issues. In turn, I had also found myself overcome by fear and feelings of helplessness.
As my state of mind shifted, so did my health. I began seeing a naturopathic doctor in January 2015 and we began the slow and arduous process of healing my body, first by approaching what could be (and for most people usually is) the underlying problem, my digestion. After the several rounds of prescriptions drugs for my kidneys, my gut was quite unhappy and the rest of my body also began suffering because of it. My naturopathic doctor suspected leaky gut, among other possibilities and this began the shift in my focus towards gut healing.
I spent the better part of the year trying out various protocols, elimination diets, supplements and so on. There were periods of great relief where I had felt better than I had in a very long time, as well as many stretches where I felt terrible, my body likely responding as it does, to the healing process. In the times of struggle it was hard for me to keep a positive mind. When I felt like I was doing absolutely everything I could, life began feeling limited because of the various protocols and plans I had committed to and my healing became, at times, at the center of my consciousness – my life truly felt like it was in a holding pattern because of it. I began to identify as someone being imperfect and I put things, goals, on hold until I “felt better”. It is inevitable that I hit my breaking point in the later part of last year.
For me, the true realization that my healing goes beyond physical, began as I chose to honor myself more deeply and recognize unhealthy habits, that I was inadvertently choosing to ignore. My amazing naturopathic doctor often asked at the start of my appointments what my stress levels were and most times I exclaimed “Oh, me? I have no stress, I am good! Life is great”. I have news for you, just because you are positive person, if you choose not to acknowledge or dwell on stress or emotional distress, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t there doing harm, deep in the darkest depths of your soul. It’s there wreaking havoc, I can almost promise you. Ironically, the realization came for me during one of my school lessons in the Nutritional Therapy Program I am currently enrolled in. As we covered the digestion module, we talked at length about the need for our bodies to be in a parasympathetic state when eating. Our digestion works best when we are in a rest and restore/digest state vs the very common sympathetic fight or flight mode.
I realized how often I was actually eating meals under stress. While cleaning up the kitchen from a long day of recipe development, while reading, watching TV or standing over the kitchen counter cooking another recipe or some other unnecessary task that had my mind preoccupied. In doing so, my body wasn’t truly acknowledging, honoring or respecting the fuel I was feeding it. Even on a physical level, you chew less and quicker, swallowing larger bites and giving your digestion even more work. This for me, was step one in realizing that healing my body required so much more than taking a few supplements and changing my diet. Any healing protocol needs to be multi-layered approach, to be effective.
Just in this single realization alone, honoring the body’s need to be in a more relaxed state for proper function, I saw instant results in my digestion and I also began to acknowledge other areas of my life I was holding onto stress and other stagnant emotions. I am not saying this solved my underlying problems or cured me for good, but it was a small first step in a large overall problem and I was happy to see that a small change, could make such a large improvement. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways for all of us, but recognizing it’s presence, acknowledging the source and taking steps to lessen it, are vital in the healing journey.
ENERGY and THE SUBTLE BODY
As a yoga teacher, I was already very aware the roles that the subtle body plays in our health and vitality. Yoga, meditation, exercise, these have all played a big role over the years, in my choice for a more mindful lifestyle. All bringing a deeper awareness of the flow of subtle energies in and around the body, I have always honored the role that these subtle energies play into my health and vitality. If we can look to our life force energy as a source for our overall balance, health or ease, then we can assume it’s lack is the cause of imbalance, illness or dis-ease.
The need for our life force energy to flow freely throughout our body to maintain our health, has been studied by scientists and health care practitioners alike, for many years. Our body is composed not only of physical elements such as muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, organs, glands, etc.; it also has a subtle energy system through which ‘life force energy’ flows. This subtle energy system is composed of energy ‘bodies’ which surround our physical body and assist us in processing our thoughts and emotions. The energy bodies have energy centers called chakras, which work somewhat like valves that allow life force to circulate through the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. We also have energy meridians and nadas. These are like rivers, or streams which carry our life force energy throughout our physical body, to nourish us and assist in balancing our body’s systems and functions.
Our physical body thrives because of this ‘life force energy’ flowing through it. If we are deficient or blocked, our physical or emotional body is left imbalanced and we are more likely to encounter illness and disease. If our life energy is more free flowing and abundant, it is much more possible for us to experience good health and a vibrant well-being. Going back full circle, this brings back in our old friend, stress. Stress can be a huge factor in weakening the flow of our ‘life force energy’. Often stress comes in the form of thoughts and feelings that we are holding onto and attaching our identity to. Fear, anxiety, worry, anger, sadness, etc. With this holding on, we are also gravely affecting our body’s ability to heal and protect itself.
More than halfway through this year long journey I have been on, to heal my gut and consequently, I hope, the kidney disease, I met Brook Albrigo, a shamanic reiki healer. While I am aware that I am far more open to this form of healing than your average person, I have also been exposed to versions of this practice that sadly left me both skeptical and truthfully, a little off-put.
On first meeting however, I knew that our paths were meant to cross and that Brook would play an integral role in my healing journey. Brook brings the most gentle healing energy that feels like a warm embrace, as soon as you are in her presence. After attending her New Moon and Full Moon sound healing ceremonies, I have been working with Brook for one-on-one Reiki sessions, regularly, as part of my healing and have seen great results and so much change in my health. It’s as if the last bit of progress towards healing, that I was struggling with, has finally been released and new pathways have been opened.
Reiki is a spiritual healing art with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese word (Rei) which means “Universal” and (Ki) which means “Life Energy”. So Reiki essentially means ‘guided life force energy.’ Reiki takes our hands-on-healing instinct and moves it a step further by opening a channel in the Reiki practitioner where life-force energy can move through their hands and reconnect to the recipient. The Reiki energy knows where to go and balances on every level. There is no religion or belief system required to experience the benefits of Reiki — and they truly are limitless, since it operates on every level of well-being.
Reiki restores energy balance and vitality by relieving the physical and emotional effects of unreleased stress, taking the load off of our immune system so it can keep us healthy and help us to heal quicker. It gently and effectively opens blocked meridians, nadas and chakras, and clears the energy bodies, leaving one feeling relaxed and at peace.
Reiki is not a cure for disease, however it is an incredible tool for relaxation and stress relief and it may also assist the body in creating an environment to facilitate healing.
The purpose of my post, like most of my what you will hear me speak of when it comes to health and healing, isn’t to push you to Reiki or any other particular healing modality, plan or protocol, rather I share my experiences as a means to encourage you to expand your awareness and your ideas surrounding your healing. To give yourself the space to sit in silence and honor what it is your body is truly asking for, rather than getting stuck on what works for others. Understand if you have struggled still while doing “everything right”, eating right, taking all the supplements, etc, to find good health, your vitality – consider digging a little deeper. Explore alternative therapies and consider supporting the subtle body and your vital ‘life force energy’. There is more to healing than the physical.