Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taking Care of Yourself

If you don't take care of your body, no one else will. What will you live in when you wear out your body?

A while ago, I spoke about the importance of taking care of yourself when I heard that my young niece, aged 28, and with two kids under the age of five, had been diagnosed with cancer for the second time. The importance of this topic was further emphasized for me about two weeks later. Just after she was operated on, her Dad, in his 50's, was diagnosed with cancer,too.

They are an extremely close and loving family. Her Dad and Mom,who is my sister, in the space of a decade, have put three kids through college, paid for two weddings, had three grandchildren, gone on family trips camping and to Disneyland....in short, they have been "super" parents, and have had very little time for themselves.

My young nieces work more than full time, while trying to buy and make over houses, raise happy kids, help the grandparents....in short, do more than was ever expected of people since probably the pioneer or war years. It is impossible, and the growing number of women who are coming down with cancer in their 30's is a positive indication of this.

My experience
I am no authority, but I do know, that in the 1980's, after being one of the first women in law , then working three jobs as a teacher, I developed a tumor in my throat in my late 30's. I was lucky; mine was benign. When my doctor said my growth might recur, and that doctors weren't sure what caused it, I figured alot had to do with stress, and sought out people in the psychology field to find out, including going to a workshop where people from Harvard spoke, and attending a talk presented by Bernie Siegel, after I was lucky enough to hear about and read his books. I later wound up studying and certifying as a "body therapist", after researching, and hearing about another person interested in the psychogical causes of lots of illnesses.

Alexander Lowen, a "brainiac", who was among other things, an attorney, doctor, and therapist, created a form of psychotherapy called"Bioenergetics". He had made the connection between stress, people who felt "trapped" in some way and were not letting out emotions, and resulting illnesses, like cancer and tumors.

Overworked, and feeling that I could neither voice my needs or my complaints, I learned I had let them bottle inside, with the result that I once visited three doctors in one week. I had to I learn how to relax, find time to sleep, (I felt like I didn't even have time to go to the bathroom, and during my best years often had just five hours sleep), and let out my feelings. Twenty years later, my growth has not recurred.

To find the answer, I read like my life depended on it; it did!
I learned to take life slower, and that books often have the answers...or some of them.

These are books and authors I recommend if you are suffering from stress related illnesses...and I personally believe that most illnesses are. One of my favorite sayings is, "One does not die from an illness, but from one's whole life".

  1. Greg Anderson's The Cancer Conqueror
  2. Bernie Siegel's Love Medicine and Miracles
  3. Louise Hay's You Can Fight for Your Life
  4. John -Roger and Peter McWilliams Life 101
  5. Jon Zabat Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living
  6. Alexander Lowen's The Betrayal of the Body
What do these great minds say?

Greg Anderson emphasizes the importance of a positive attitude. If you feel like a victim, and act like a victim, you may become one. Instead think positive, and research to find answers for your illness, both in the area of rest, medicines, exercise, looking for support, and eating the right food. Believe you can conquer your illness.

  • Bernie Siegel says the same thing. Don't worry about being a "good patient"; the ones who live the longest aren't. They can be pains in the necks, but they push until they find answers. One has to be one's own coach and mediator. Sometimes the "cure" means getting away from toxic situations sometimes, like a bad job.
  • Louise Hay, as well as Alexander Lowen, and Bernie Siegel, believe that "disease" or "un-ease" is a message from the body telling us that something is wrong with the way we are living. People inherit genetic predispositions to certain illnesses based on their ethnic or family background, but the people who develop an illness, do so, because the stressful circumstances in the environment wear out a person's immune system and the person is worn out. Louise Hay believes that each part of our body means something; people with heart attacks may really have "broken hearts".
  • John Roger and McWilliams believe that people make a great mistake when they try to do everything at once. As they say, "You can have and do anything you want in life, but not all at the same time." The things you acquire require maintenance; one can't just pile up things and experiences ad infinitum. It was because of their wisdom and my tumor, that I worked just part time while raising my daughter.I know people think they have to work, and maybe do, while trying to do it all...but there is a price! Space it out!
  • Jon Zabat Zinn talks about how to meditate and take time out for oneself....What is that? I can remember when I didn't even have ten minutes to do that. He speaks about a body scan daily. Many people are not in touch with their bodies at all and think they are machines. Take the time to ask yourself every day, "What hurts?" What is my body trying to tell me.

  • Other good people that have written about their illnesses

  • Larry King spoke about learning how not to panic during his heart attack, and Norman Cousins about the importance of finding humor in life, like watching comedies. He credits watching old ones with saving his life.
  • Still other good people have talked about the benefits of having pets. For me, they are a salvation. They make me laugh, force me to exercise, show me how to relax, and make me feel loved and cared for unconditionally.
Again, I am not an authority, like at an AAA meeting, take what you can use and leave the rest.

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