We, more than anyone else, know our own bodies; therefore, who better than to treat our ailments? Of course I don't mean if you break your leg that you try to set it yourself. . .
by Catherine Honora Kineavy
ost often, if we are experiencing physical discomfort, we reach for the over-the-counter medicine to ease our aches and pains. We live in a culture of quick fixes; drugs seem to act as our quickest salvation. However, I believe the true long-term relief comes from knowing the cause of our symptoms and treating the cause rather than the symptom.
I believe that most illnesses (not all) occur because we daily choose to compromise ourselves. When we live lives that are not bringing us joy, our bodies react by presenting symptoms. Until we get at the core causes, we will continue to experience these symptoms.
It is often said that "Knowledge is Power." When it comes to health issues, self-knowledge is the most powerful curative. The more subtle health problems that we experience can be remedied by knowing ourselves.
But knowing ourselves is not a trivial exercise. Our memory is selective, and we don't have immediate access to our past and the influences that have shaped us. Some memories may be triggered only by specific situations that remind us of past events. Other important events may be missed because we are not used to attending to them.
One of the most effective way of getting to know ourselves is to keep a journal. They are venues whereby we can express ourselves freely and honestly, and create a permanent record of our lives. We live in a culture that sometimes encourages us to be less than candid. Being authentic with yourself in your journal allows you to come to a greater understand of yourself. The mind, body and soul are connected. By processing our thoughts, feelings and ideas, we come to a better understanding, free of the constraints of momentary memory.
If you experience repeated instances of a physical symptom, consider keeping a special journal to help find the cause. For example, if you have been experiencing headaches, you should start to record when you get your headaches. In the journal, you could write about your emotional status, the foods you ate, whether or not you consumed alcohol, etc.
By doing this, you may begin to see a certain pattern of conditions that precede the symptom, to make the connection to your own health condition. You may realize, for example, that you experience headaches every time you eat raisins, or after consuming corn products. Keeping a journal allows you to make connections between symptoms and causes.
This symptom journal is separate from your personal journal, or diary, that you keep about your everyday experiences. Your personal journal may be more inclusive, at least as far as recording emotions. Your personal journal and your symptom journal can be cross-referenced in order to get a broader perspective.
You can refer to your journal on many occasions, especially to resolve relationship issues. I am not speaking of solely romantic relationships, but friendships and family relationships as well.
For example, you may recognize that you get angry every time someone behaves in a certain way towards you; although the person may differ, the feeling of anger is similar. It is at that point that you can begin to unravel the basis for the anger. Perhaps, for instance, their behavior touches upon a childhood wound. Once we recognize the wounds, we can begin to heal by knowing what triggers them.
In order to get to where we are going, we need to understand where we have come from. In order to know who you are, you need to write your personal story: an autobiography. Stories are powerful tools in facilitating our knowledge of ourselves. You may have family stories that have been passed down - but that's not your story, your reality. By writing your story, you will be amazed at the truths that will present themselves. It quite possibly could give you direction in life! It will certainly reveal the directions you have in a new way.
We all have plans, goals, desires and dreams. Sometimes our health falters when we lose track of our future. We may become overwhelmed by choices, or become stuck by the responsibilities of the present. But it is important to keep your dreams alive while living in the present. Writing down your goals is another powerful tool for health maintenance. Your goals let you see what you are working towards.
More importantly, I believe that you will derive the greatest benefit from writing a mission statement for your life. Reading your mission statement weekly will remind you of your passion in life. No matter how difficult life may get, you know that you have a purpose.
A final way to get to know ourselves is to keep a dream journal. There are many theories out there about dreams, but I believe that our dreams communicate truths. We just need to break the code. I notice that when I am experiencing some emotional difficulties, I frequently dream. At first, I think that these dreams are bizarre and unrelated to my life. But when I write them down or discuss them with a friend, the connections manifest themselves.
There are plenty of books out there to help in diagnosing symbols in your dreams, but even without the books, I believe you innately know the message. You simply have to be willing to listen.
We live in a fast-paced world and sometimes we treat our bodies like our cars we don't fix them until they are broken. I am saying, value your body, your mind and your soul. Take time out to appreciate yourself. In order to value yourself, you have to know yourself. The tools and insights above are those I have used myself. These are all natural ways to create a balanced and healthy life. The answer to many of our health questions lies within.
Catherine Honora Kineavy is a graduate student in European History, free-lance writer/editor, poet and Zen-Touch Shiatsu masseuse.