There’s no denying it, the body is innately brilliant. Most times, it functions without requiring a single input of conscious effort or thought. Your body takes care of you, moves you from place to place, and is your personal interface with the world around you. Your physical body constantly works in your favour to attain and maintain a homeostatic, balanced state. It comes with a built in feedback system, so if something goes wrong, it will let you know. Many people fear the feedback the body provides. Pain, fatigue, or any other discomfort, we have been taught that the signals of the body are simply inconvenient and are to be deleted. This is so far from the truth, and so many have been largely misguided. Herein lies the problem; the body knows best, yet many choose not to listen. When the body speaks, what is it truly saying, and how can you properly respond in order to make things ‘better’?
First let’s talk discomfort and pain
When you physically don’t feel well, your body is telling you something. Most of us know this. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, pain, by definition, is “a localized or generalized unpleasant bodily sensation or complex of sensations that causes mild to severe physical discomfort and emotional distress and typically results from bodily disorder (such as injury or disease)”. So if the body is in ‘pain’, it is obviously telling you something. The only way the body speaks is through what we call ‘symptoms’. A better way to say it, in my opinion, is to refer to the communication of the body, not as a ‘symptom’, but rather as a physical voice. Although the body does not speak your cultural ‘language’ per se, it speaks by physically manifesting what it is trying to say.
All living organisms, from a single cell ameba to a complex, multi faceted human being, have an innate drive to survive. Living organisms, by nature, are not programmed for self destruction. The body simply does not cause itself pain, self harm, or disease for the sole purpose of self destruction. Symptoms, illness and disease present as part of a self healing operation. Thus, regardless of the ‘symptom’ (the body’s physical voice), there is a purpose. When it comes to discomfort and pain, the purpose of the body speaking is to let you know that an aspect of itself needs to be addressed.
What is my body trying to say?
This is the million dollar question. When your body speaks, why can’t it be more clear in its messaging? Well, it is. The problem is that we as a human species, have become so disconnected from our physical body, although the message is clear, most of us are unable to understand what it’s trying to say. Most can ‘hear’ (feel) that the body is saying something (ie. painful knee, digestive complaint, fatigue, etc), but it’s like you can only speak and understand one language while the body is speaking another. Let me break it down and try to simplify what the body is saying when a ‘symptom’, regardless of what it is, speaks up:
“Pay more attention to me, the body”
“There is an aspect of your life that you have forgotten, not addressed, or are downright ignoring”
“There is a trauma (mental, physical, and/or spiritual), that has yet to be resolved”
I once heard a doctor speak about a patient who came to him with a long term diagnosis of ‘hypothyroidism’ (low energy, tiredness, dry skin, slow metabolism, thinning hair, poor memory, and thyroid labs that defined hypo-functioning of the thyroid gland), and osteoporosis. At first glance, it’s a simple case; provide thyroid support and meds, and the patient will improve. Unfortunately, this will only mask and suppress the symptom itself, while not addressing the underlying message of the body. Ultimately, in this particular case, this doctor came to realize that his patient had been severely restricting her diet in order to lose weight, was excessively over exercising, was extremely stressed, and had created a daily life pace that she simply couldn’t keep up with. In this case, if this woman continued down her current path, it was only a matter of time before she would have completely burnt out, or even worse, developed a more severe ‘illness’ or ‘disease’. Because this woman was not listening to her body along the way (kept pushing and pushing it to its extreme despite the body telling her to slow down), the body finally had to ‘put its foot down’ by down regulating the thyroid gland (one of the master glands of metabolism and energy) and force her mind and body into a full fledged lack of energy of ‘symptoms’ so that she had no choice but to finally stop. In this case, the doctor worked with his patient to re-configure her life pace, greatly reduce her exercise intensity, improve her rest/recovery periods, and helped her replenish and nourish herself with fresh healthy, abundant organic foods and nutrition. Within 3 months, her thyroid returned to normal, and his patient never felt better. And no direct ‘thyroid support’ was ever required.
When a symptom speaks, it is critical to listen, as your body is always working for you, and never against you. Your body is your best friend, it advocates for you, and it only wants the best for you. It is an extension of every aspect of who you are. When there is a symptom, there is a necessity to slow down, listen to it, work alongside it and ‘go into it’. As a society, we are afraid of discomfort and pain. It is critical to feel it, be with it, and experience it. Otherwise, it is like a dire warning sign simply being overlooked and ignored, until it is too late.
The body is intuitive and innately brilliant. First the body is kind and subtle. If it is not heard, it will speak louder. If it is still not heard, it has no choice but to stop you in your tracks (severe symptom, illness or disease), either until your body fully breaks or you finally decide to listen.
The body is on a continual journey of healing. Symptoms are its navigational feedback tool letting you know whether you are on track with it or not. Without good health, most have nothing. This is why when the body speaketh, it is time to listen.
Dr Jeremy Hayman, ND helps patients at Cornerstone Naturopathic Inc. feel better, live better, and achieve optimal wellness and health. Years of patient care coupled with dedication to personal life balance has helped Dr Jeremy employ the adage that “your approach to health should be simple”.
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