Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease, Part 9

Unorthodox Idea #9

Assume this Illness has Shown Up in Your Life to Teach You Something

Perhaps you’ve been in a situation in which you have witnessed an injustice performed — say, you see an adult abusively screaming at a child in a public place.  Your mind might convince you not to speak up or do anything, repeating phrases in your head such as, “it’s none of my business”; “that’s not my child”; “the authorities will do something about it.”  Meanwhile, you walk away from the situation with a stomach ache, tears in your eyes, or a “sinking” feeling of guilt.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “the body never lies.”  Indeed, we can talk ourselves into just about anything using the mind’s cunning ability to persuade because it wants what it wants in the moment (safety, security, and social acceptance!).  Our bodies, thankfully, are more honest — they tell it to us straight.  When we are tired, our eyelids sag.  (When we start to get older…so does the rest of us.)  When we are about to do some public speaking — forget about it — the physical symptoms show up everywhere!  It’s not always the prettiest picture, but our bodies do send us all kinds of alerts.  If you don’t believe me, look no further than the contents of your handkerchief when you have a cold, or consider what happens when you eat food that’s gone bad.

The same is true for diseases, even the deadly ones, when they show up in our lives.  Like it or not, they might be trying to tell us something, and it behooves us to stop our complaining for a few moments  and listen.  One of my favorite writers, a Zen Buddhist named Charlotte Joko Beck, says this, “Everything in our life that disappoints us is a kind friend.”  Though we might squirm to know the answers, we can be for ourselves like our kindest friends who offer truth when they see it, and more importantly, ask open, clear, judgment-free questions that let us know any response is welcome and valid.

Ask yourself these questions:

What might this hurdle be trying to tell you?

What is there to learn?

How could you be supporting yourself — mind, body, and spirit — more fully?

What unfinished business might you need to attend to?

How is this an opportunity to rebirth?

What does this disease want for you?

It took awhile of living with Lupus for me to see that I had not one disease to overcome, but two.  I had, for several years, been suffering from a mild but very persistent eating disorder.  Determined to look a certain way, I had spent my high school and college years silently obsessing about food and weight.  The obsession was so pervasive, it hovered over me like a dark cloud rendering me nearly incapable of thinking about anything else.  Not only did I miss out on a lot, in effect, I formed an addiction to the mentally-disabling yo-yo of self-approval and disapproval.  The medications I took to control my Lupus made it even worse — the side effects adding considerable weight to my body and severe acne all over my face.  To say the least, it was a low and lonely time of self-discovery, but slowly I began to consider that my body wanted more for me than a life of ego-driven, conditional self-acceptance.  I saw that I could begin to accept myself in many forms, and that as I did that, others would too.  As I started truly taking care of my body, my eating disorder, quite literally, started to lift away.  Eventually, so did my Lupus symptoms.

Assume this illness has shown up in your life to teach you something. While you are at it, further assume it will only stay as long as it needs to. This isn’t about you having done something wrong — rather, it’s about the universe seeing that more is possible for you and offering you an opportunity to see it too. Like it or not, our bodies are constantly talking to us.  Getting sick, if we are listening, forces us to do things we need to do — to rest, slow down, reexamine what’s important, start telling the truth, eat to live, see our lives and the people in them for what and who they are, know ourselves, and play this game as if our lives depended on it.

Thanks for being here.  I’ll see you tomorrow for the final entry, Unorthodox Idea #10.

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Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease, Part 7

you are what you eat

you are what you eat

Unorthodox Idea #7

Realize You Are What You Eat.

This idea is not unorthodox at all.  It goes without saying, right?  Still, when you are on the miracle mile towards self-healing, it is important to remind yourself that each and every morsel you put in your mouth is an opportunity to make a contribution towards health.

Food choices are some of the easiest places to look and make changes — even small ones — towards what we want for our bodies and ourselves.  The logic is right there in choice, if you think about it — what you put into your body is what you’ll get out of it.  For example, do we want our bodies to look and behave like a bag of Cheetos or like organic tomatoes? In other words, do we want our systems to be made up of processing dyes, empty calories, and chemical preservatives… or do we want them to be natural, alive, and full of energy?

death spray

There is a movie that came out a few years ago called Our Daily Bread that shows — with striking and objective imagery like the photo above — where, exactly, our food comes from.  There is one particular scene that stays with me.  We see a middle-aged man arrive at work and go directly to the locker room to dress for the day’s duties.  At this point, we don’t know what those duties are.  We watch him methodically don a kind of hasmat suit, complete with a face mask, gloves, and special footwear.  He is totally sealed in; not an inch of his body exposed.  Seeing the extent to which he is protecting himself, we might assume this man was about to clean up a toxic spill, perform live surgery on a poisonous snake, or enter a burning building.   But no, we quickly learn he is merely treating our food.  We see him enter a large greenhouse, and with a spraying hose, distribute chemicals on a huge crop of growing peppers.  This man’s head-to-toe protection suit keeps him a distance away from the hazardous chemicals he is spraying on our food. In the very next scene, he sits down to eat his lunch.

As I said yesterday in regards to how we speak to the delicate healing systems at work inside us, we can’t engage in warfare — at any level of consumption — and expect to balance our own systems.  Peace just isn’t achieved through violence — we know that — so let’s stop supporting food sources and systems that promote it.

A few years after I was diagnosed with Lupus, and I was still juggling medication dosages and different advice from different doctors I had a realization: I am the ONLY person who can truly take care of this body.  The same is true for you. If self-healing is your goal, start investing in yourself by choosing life-giving sources of daily sustenance.

Here are a few places to begin:

1. Get the facts. Put Our Daily Bread or the movie Food, Inc on your Netflix queue and learn about where your food comes from.

2. See that what’s best for the planet is also best for us. Get some education and a great story with one of these enjoyable reads: Animal, Vegetable, MiracleThe 100 Mile Diet, or Omnivore’s Dilemma

3. Take ownership. Shop at your local farmer’s market and/or join a CSA for the freshest, organic ingredients.

4. Stop drinking out of plastic bottles! Buy a water filter and save money while you are saving your own life.

5. Cut out the unnecessary drugs. All the chemical preservatives in processed and frozen foods go directly into our bloodstream. When we are already taking prescription medications, that can add up to a large amount of chemicals having their way with our internal systems.  Trim the fat — start cooking your own simple meals.  That way you can be in charge of using fresh natural ingredients, and start filling your body with live, active nutrients it needs to bolster it’s own healing. Cooking can be easy and simple.  If you are new at it, start with Mark Bittman’s fabulous How to Cook Everything. Take it from me, that book can turn just about anyone into a family chef.

6. Start to see your health as a life-long journey. When you spend a little extra money and effort to procure organic meats, dairy, and produce from small farms you’ll get it all back and then some in so many other ways.  A few extra dollars is a small price to pay for a healthier body; cleaner, safer water sources; a more beautiful and functional environment to live in; and a sense that you are contributing to a small-business fair economy, among many other benefits.

7. Put love in your food. Before you eat anything, remember you are feeding the miracle-making temple that is your body.  Take a moment to acknowledge the true meaning of nourishment when you are cooking and preparing meals, and another moment just before you eat to let your body know you are taking care of her. Go ahead and envision your daily intake working wonders on you.  It is.

I’ll see you tomorrow for Unorthodox Idea #8

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Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease, Part 6

It’s a new week — Happy Monday!  Today begins the 2nd half of this 10-Day, 10-Way Blog Series on Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease — Unorthodox Ideas #6-10.  If you are just now joining us, you can scroll down this page and read the last 5 entries in reverse order to bring yourself up to speed. There’s a subscription button to your right — just enter your email address and you will be the 1st to know when a new post is published.   And, don’t forget to pass this blogsite along to anyone in your life whom it might empower.

unabashed presence

Unorthodox Idea #6

Befriend Your Body.

“You mean, you’ll put down your rock and I’ll put down my sword and we’ll try and kill each other like civilized people?” – from The Princess Bride

When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, I was lucky enough to receive superb medical care and getting the right cocktail of prescription drugs shifted my experience from one of utterly painful paralysis to taking a long jog in the park within a matter of days.  In the short-term, western medicine saved my life and I am grateful for it.  In the long-term, though, I knew I’d need to save my own, especially with a label like “incurable” tagging along behind me everywhere I went.

Befriending my body meant realizing my body is 1)all of me, and therefore, 2)not against me, and 3)not some separate thing I can “hand over to the experts to fix.”  I knew I needed to forge a loving relationship with the very thing that seemed to be betraying me and my life plans.

One easy and totally accessible way to start to befriend our bodies is to put down our swords. We can embrace that in order to move towards true, lasting health, a holistic approach is not only preferable, it is necessary.  To start, we’ve got to see that our minds and bodies are constantly sending messages to each other, and that how we do that matters.  Modern medicine approaches (particularly when utilized solely) have a tendency to engender an antagonistic relationship between our minds and our bodies, and you can hear it in the very language we use.  Visit any conventional cancer ward, and you’ll hear words and phrases like “kill the cancer cells”; “get rid of”; destroy”; “eliminate”; “infested”; “battle”; “fight”; etc.  Sure, the idea is to get whatever is toxic and poisonous out, but in the meanwhile, these are our bodies we are talking about.

We all know that sticks and stones can break our bones…but words hurt the worst. The last thing our bodies need when they are sick is more violence — particularly coming from us! We simply can’t wage a war against our own lifeblood and expect to heal from the inside out. What we can do is change our language.  We can nurture the delicate processes of healing with a delicacy of speech, thought, and belief.  Doing so instantly shifts our relationship both to our disease and to our bodies.

So, put down your sword, and instead, send some loving messages to the systems in your body that are working to right things.  Write yourself a letter.  Talk about your journey with others using the kind of language you would use with a toddler.  And, thank your body for all that it’s doing to move you along towards another day.  After all, we all work better with a little encouragement.

I’ll see you tomorrow for Unorthodox Idea #7.

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Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease, Part 5

you don't get to stay here indefinitely

hey Disease! You don't get to stay here indefinitely...

Unorthodox  Idea  #5

Tell Your Doctor.

Doctors want to see medical miracles happen as much as the rest of us do.  It was awhile before I told my doctor I was nearly certain I was through with Lupus.  I wanted to be symptom-free for a good while, and more importantly, I wanted to feel it in my gut.

When I did go and have an office visit, the conversation went like this:

Doctor: “So, what brings you into the office today?”

Me: “Well, I’m here because I really don’t think I have Lupus anymore.”

I fidgeted while she looked down at the copy of my medical chart she was holding, perusing it for a long moment.  Then she looked me dead in the eyes.

“You know what…I don’t think you do either.”

Getting this clearance from her (and the blood tests that followed) was important to my family, but what made a huge difference to me was knowing my doctor trusted me. As in all healthy relationships that eschew hierarchy, trust is a two-way street.  If my doctor trusts me, I can trust her.  In sharing your commitment to heal yourself with your doctor, you aren’t asking her to mix a potion or perform wizardry — you’re just asking her to partner with you.  In effect, you are making her job easier.   (I have subsequently visited other specialty doctors who have, patronizingly, laughed in my face when I’ve mentioned my Lupus-free status.  Suffice it to say, I walked out of those offices and have never looked back.)

While the focus of the modern/western medicine is a more scientific approach to the human body, many doctors understand the limits of a science-only approach to healing. Moreover, they do well to maintain a sense of empathy and openness when it comes to dealing with their patients’ emotions and experiences.  After all, doctors are the ones who invented the placebo effect, right?  They know that good old faith, hope, and love can have a most dramatic effect on the healing process.

With an air of confidence and a little benefit of the doubt, tell your doctor your plans.  If your doctor isn’t one to truly listen to your belief in your own powers to heal, find another doctor.

Thank you for following along this week.  I’ll see you on Monday for Unorthodox Idea #6. (And, don’t forget — now you can subscribe to this blog!  Just enter your email address in the top right corner, and confirm your subscription status when you receive an email.  “Subscribing” means you don’t need to remember to check the Treelife Blog for updates — we’ll alert you!)

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10 Unorthodox Ideas for Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease

disease-free

disease-free

Today is the beginning of a 10-Day Celebration on the Treelife Coaching Blog where I will reveal, One Day and One Way at a time, my Unorthodox Ideas for Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease.  For a little backstory and today’s kick-off idea — Unorthodox Idea #1, read on…and come back tomorrow — there will be more waiting for you.

Two years ago, I cured myself of Lupus.  Perhaps you know someone with Lupus and you might have heard that this autoimmune disease is “incurable” — which means that once you have it, you have it for life.  Like many diseases, Lupus can manifest in variant degrees.  In some cases Lupus is deadly, in others it means a lifetime of painful symptoms, and in other cases it is mild and controlled, but always present.  In my case, it’s gone.

The number one question I get from friends, family, and anyone who visits my website and reads my biography is this: “How did you do it?”  Whenever someone asks that, I realize what they are really asking is:  How can they cure themselves (or someone they love) of something incurable?

The answer to that question is both complex and simple.  The complexity lies in the fact that we are all so unique as individuals.  Therefore, we have to find the kind of solutions that work best for us. This is true with any kind of issue or problem.  Assuming I can generalize about any kind of solution for anything would grossly undermine your instinctive ways in the world.  Therefore, I simply can’t give you a secret number to call or a magic potion.  I can’t tell you exactly what to eat, what doctor to visit, or what book to read (although I have some ideas).  I certainly can’t assure you that you will “Be Free of your [Incurable Disease] in 30 days if you just Follow these Simple Steps.”  I wish I could guarantee instantaneous and miraculous healing for anyone who is suffering.

What I can do is this: I can tell you that you have a lot more power than you might think to cure yourself of whatever is ailing you. I can offer you my non-strategic, unorthodox, and non-guaranteed approaches to a disease-free life in the hopes that there will be something in there for you of value.  I can say that this journey of self-healing really is a journey, and it doesn’t stop when it’s over.  If doing these things doesn’t cure you of your disease, they will, I think, at least, cure you of not believing in yourself.  Which is to say, it’s worth a try, right?

Unorthodox Idea #1 Decide You Can.

If this article was titled “1 Unorthodox Idea for Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease” this would be the 1.  The simple act of deciding the impossible is possible — and moreover that sheer will is more powerful than nearly anything — is not only the most potent gift you can give yourself, but also the only place to start on a journey of self-healing.

When something is labeled “incurable” — too many of us take that to be law.  The end.  In truth, “incurable” simply means a cure hasn’t been discovered or recorded yet.  Until now; until you.  Shifting your perspective to look at it that way makes a diagnosis like “incurable” more like the beginning of a journey (and less like a death sentence).  Begin with deciding you are the cure.

See you tomorrow for Unorthodox Idea #2.

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