© Jan Brumfitt, January 1999
Jan is a recovered ME/CFS sufferer who now offers various therapies, as well as her experience, to other patients. She lives in Yorkshire, England.
When I was thinking about what to emphasise in this talk, I realised that it was just as important, if not more so, to talk about how my attitudes towards my illness and my understanding of what was happening, changed beyond all recognition, as much as the actual therapies I engaged in.
I want to start with a very sweeping statement:
"When I fell in love with myself I began to get better from M.E."
On the surface this may seem to be a very trite or even a very selfish statement to make, but in fact for me it is a deeply held truth. I want to look at what happens when you fall in love. Firstly your heart opens and feelings are very expansive as the lover and the beloved become as one. There is no one in the world more important than the beloved, and time stands still, no past, no future and the present moment is all there is. Everything you do is done with love, care and compassion. If the love is true, when the realisation comes that neither the lover nor the beloved is perfect, the love expands to accept all imperfections without judgement. This is the meaning of unconditional love.
At the beginning I was reaching towards this love for myself in a very unconscious manner, but when it became completely conscious then I truly began to improve, because the conditions for returning to wellness were at optimum level; a deep love for the body, mind, emotions and spirit, a complete letting go to the present moment without fear, and the willingness to accept and explore every experience as it arrived without judgement or criticism.
Like everyone who is plunged into the maelstrom that is M.E., seemingly completely out of the blue, I was looking for a "cure". When people said to me that it could take months or even years to recover, it was beyond my comprehension that this could be the case. It was like being deep under the water and the surface was miles away, but I was trying to find the way up there. Each time I tried something, there was all the expectation that this time my head would get up beyond the surface, and then I would find myself drowning again on the bottom, with all the attendant disappointment and desperation that brought.
So I had to alter my way of looking at things. The picture I formed over the months and years was a set of stairs, maybe fifteen or so to break the surface, and another fifteen to step out of the illness altogether. The first fifteen I realised would be the most difficult because I was operating largely in the dark, but once my head was above water and I could see more clearly, the second fifteen would be easier. I had to become very clear in my own mind what I was going to do and why I was doing it, so that I could keep on doing it even if it seemed not to make any difference at all.
I recognised that when someone wrote into an M.E. magazine and said something like "Try hypnotherapy. I was ill for five years and then I went to a hypnotherapist and now I am well," they were probably already near the surface on the twelfth or thirteenth step and hypnotherapy pushed them up the two or three steps and out of the water. Other people trying this therapy who were much lower down the stairs and therefore didn't get above the surface could well think this was nonsense. In fact probably both got as much out of it as one another but one could see the way and gained confidence and the other, still in the dark, thought it hadn't worked, so gave it up and there he was back on the bottom again.
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We all go through the stage of trying something and then throwing it away if it doesn't work immediately, but if we never move on from this we never start to climb the stairs. What I eventually grasped was the basis for improving the condition of any chronic illness and that is to understand the rationale behind what you are doing and do it willy nilly and let go of outcomes. Know that if something is good for you, it will automatically be pushing your towards wellness. Don't keep measuring it. It's like slimming. If you are constantly on the scales, measuring your weight loss, then the minute you gain a little bit, then you lose confidence and it gives you the excuse to drop the diet. Then back you are at square one. With M.E. the same thing happens. If you are constantly in your mind measuring results, the moment you dip, you stop doing whatever you were trying and back you are on the bottom feeling very sorry for yourself. I became that kind of victim many many times before I cottoned onto the correct process.
I want to push this point a little further and expand it, by relating an incident that happened to me in my own life. Perhaps eighteen months into my illness, I wanted to go to the shops, but I was really too tired to contemplate it. The shop was one hundred yards away maximum, but the last twenty of them were up a slope. I made a bargain with myself. I would play a relaxation tape or two, rest my body and then I would be ready to make the journey. I'm sure you've often made these kinds of pacts yourselves. Needless to say all the time I was listening to the tape, I was wondering whether it was going to relax me enough to make the trip, so I didn't really enjoy it because my mind wasn't on it much at all. At the end of the allotted time I was not any better than when I started, but I decided to do it anyway. Of course I could have driven or decided not to go, but I had already got it in my mind to do this and wild horses wouldn't have deviated me.
You don't need me to tell you what happened. I had overridden my bodily needs and I paid for it. Eventually I realised that overriding bodily needs had to stop, but that took a very, very long time to sink in. This incident sticks out in my mind, because after it I came to a very important understanding. I had loved myself conditionally, not unconditionally and I had lived in the future and not in the present moment. I had said to my body, "If I do this for you, then I want you to repay me by doing that for me." Unfortunately for me my body didn't want to play that game.
If on the other hand I had loved myself unconditionally, I would have said to myself, "I'm going to play a relaxation tape, because it is a beautiful thing to do for myself. I am going to enjoy it, every minute with no regard for the outcome, because my body deserves it." At the very least I would have had an hour's enjoyment, and at best, it is probably very likely that I would have relaxed enough to have gained the energy to go to the shop, but if I hadn't so what?
This was probably the single most valuable lesson I had to learn to reach the path to take me to wellness. Everything I did had to be because I loved and valued myself and because I didn't want to treat myself roughly, whether it be in body, mind, emotions or in spirit. Before I grasped this point I was inside a dark cave going round and round in circles. I knew there was a door but I kept going past it and missing it. The door became visible when I began to do everything out of a deep love and respect for all aspects of myself. Then I stepped through it and I was at the beginning of the path.
The next thing I had to come to terms with was my sensitivity. I was sensitive to the whole world: sound, vision, food, people, including friends and family, my emotions were heightened beyond enduring and I found all this quite unbearable. You see I didn't recognise the gift that my sensitivity was. I hated it and anything you hate you are in battle with over and over again, and it constantly trips you up. I kept wanting to go back to "normal", whatever that was. The shift came when I began to value my sensitivity and to love every aspect of it.
I am glad to say that I am still incredibly sensitive to everything but now I let it guide me instead of fighting it. I am sensitive to the food my body wants. Why should I want to put anything into my body that harms it? It tells me when I do and very quickly. Having explored my feelings I am happy with every aspect of myself. My emotions are heightened and flow freely like they did when I was a tiny baby. I am no longer hurt by what other people say because I feel much more secure in my own being. I see that my sensitivity is very beautiful and I respect it.
You have to learn to make your sensitivity work for you and not against you, otherwise you will always be reacting to something or someone and that takes valuable energy. When I stopped thinking my body was in a mess, and recognised that my body was in fact very, very wise, and that every symptom it threw up was a pointer to show me how to get well, that was another immense step.
I believe that people whose sensitivity heightens during an illness are not only protecting themselves from harm, but also are beginning to understand themselves in a completely different way. I began to make headway when I began to feel myself as an energy body and not as a solid body. You will have of course heard of Einstein. Einstein recognised that matter and energy were simply interchangeable aspects of the same thing. In his famous equation E=MC2 he was saying that one unit of energy was the same as one atom of matter multiplied by the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second, squared. I have billions of atoms in my body and if each atom is the equivalent of this much energy, then the amount of energy I have in my body is absolutely huge.
So, as I lay totally exhausted, I thought to myself, "Where the hell is it?" It must be somewhere otherwise I would not be here. Eventually I understood that if I could not feel my energy flowing, then it must be blocked on all sorts of levels and that my job was to find and understand the blocks, and then free them. It was like my life was a tangled ball of wool and I had to undo the tangles one by one. Some would be easy to unravel but others very difficult.
I want you to do something now to feel your energy. I want you to hold your hands, palms facing a little apart, curl down your fingers in a relaxed way and buff your nails together for thirty seconds. Now hold your hands loosely in your lap palms upwards, close your eyes and stay still for a minute, breathe slowly and deeply and feel where the energy is moving. If you need to sigh, do so to let go of any tension. As the time passes, you should be able to feel your energy moving in all sorts of places.
Perhaps we can look at certain symptoms in terms of the energy body. Pain for instance after exercise. If you have energy blockages in different parts of your anatomy, then when you start to move the energy and it hits a blockage it will start to build up. If it can't get out, it becomes over energised, rather like shaking a champagne bottle and needing to take the top off to let out the gas. If you can't take it out, it will eventually blow itself out with all the attendant mess. You need to remove the blocks carefully and gradually, If you send too much energy through the body at any one time. either through physical exercise or through stress, then you will either build up energy in confined spaces between blocks which will become more and more painful or eventually the block will blow its top to try to free the energy force.
The more I learned to work with the pain, the more I realised that at the point of my greatest pain I was probably nearest to release and if I could find the block and remove it then I could release the pain. To do this I eventually learned after several years how to enter the pain and experience it and explore it and I found that behind most pain was emotion.
Learning to flow with emotion was my next lesson. This was something I had always found very difficult to do in the past. I believe there are only two kinds of emotions, expressed and unexpressed. I had to stop judging whether an emotion was good or bad. We equate happiness with good emotions, which are O.K. and we label sadness, grief, anger, rage, frustration, fear, insecurity and anxiety as bad emotions, which we don't like and avoid at all costs. I had to begin to learn to stop judging my emotions and to learn to love everything that was coming out of my psyche. When I did this, I freed a lot of energy.
The greatest blocker of energy was fear, understandable, but eventually it had to be faced and embraced and accepted. Fear is a difficult emotion because in the first place it is a protection. If you had no fear you would walk across the road in front of a bus and be fatally injured. When I was first ill I overrode my fear that I did not have enough energy to go to the shop, or to cook a meal, or to talk on the telephone and because I was not listening to my body, I exhausted myself completely. I thought my body had somehow got it wrong and that it was mistaken, but of course it hadn't and I paid for that error. But after I had made that mistake hundreds of times, my body became overprotective, and I recognised I had a residual fear there, which could hold me back. Then there was a third even more unconscious fear, which was the fear of failure. I could spend ages worrying about a decision I had to make between two alternatives. Sometimes this was very trivial. Now part of this might have been lack of oxygen to the brain, dehydration or exhausted adrenals but the other part was a subconscious fear of failure of making the wrong decision. What did it matter? If we weren't afraid we could just stick a pin in it and choose any alternative and accept the consequences. It really wouldn't be of significance.
I eventually recognised that fear above all froze my energy, and that this was the very last barrier I had to break through. If I had no fear I could explore this illness properly and see it for what it was. When I entered my fear, I could see it was just an energy, which could pass through me and leave. What is more I could welcome that fear because as I recognised it holding in various parts of my body, when I welcomed it into the light of day it would leave me and free my vitality.
Many years ago I read a book by Dr. Deepak Chopra called 'Quantum Healing', which made me appreciate the role the mind has to play in becoming well and strong. In it he describes a time when he was working in hospital, when he began to read the case studies of patients with multiple personalities. He was totally amazed to find out that each personality that the patient manifested carried its own physical symptoms. For example, one person was diabetic when he was in one particular personality and had to have three insulin injections every day, but in his other personalities he did not have diabetes at all. Immediately the change in personality, came the change from needing insulin to not needing it.
Deepak Chopra was astonished, because everything that was rational said this was impossible, yet here it was in black and white. The evidence was incontrovertible. So began his love affair with mind-body medicine and his understanding that the mind governed not only what was going on in the brain but all over the body at the cellular level.
When I recalled this book I knew that I needed to find out how my mind could help me to free myself from the dreadful symptoms I was experiencing. It was very important to realise that the way I thought would affect the way I was. I had a choice to decide whether I thought my illness was a terrible curse that I would never recover from, or something I could explore and learn from. Much later I learned that when I flooded myself with love my body relaxed and it was as though the cells were adjusting themselves and working at optimum levels. This did not happen overnight, but little by little.
I recognised that I was making huge life changes and that my illness gave me the arena to go deep within and meet all the demons in my cellar. In order to do that my body had to stop me completely. I am a completely changed person. I love every moment of my life, whether it is peeling the carrots or driving the car or playing golf or just sitting still. The most important thing I learned was to let go of outcomes and to become immersed in this moment now. After I had progressed through the initial terror of such an awful illness, which was like a living death from which there seemed to be no end, I knew I would eventually get better, but I had to let go of the time and the place.
I remember that as a child I was not allowed to go to the swimming baths. Eventually of course when I got to eleven years old we went with school and because I was very talented at sport I expected to jump in and swim. Much to my amazement I was very nervous of the water and I was afraid to take my feet from the bottom and I couldn't ever imagine how I would ever have the courage to do that. Eventually after about ten weeks I figured out a way. I could put my head under the water and hold it there for quite some time, so what did it matter whether my feet were on the bottom or not. So I spread out my arms, put my head under the water, lifted up my feet and guess what? I floated.
M.E. is like that. You are already in a dark place under the water and you are drowning. You can either struggle, or lift up your feet and float. It takes great courage to make that step but once it is done it can be practised in more and more difficult situations. Letting go to Life with Love is the ultimate lesson M.E. has to teach.
What I want to do now is to go through some of the things I did, which I feel most influenced my slow journey to wellness. I think that perhaps one of the most important things, which I was very, very slow to recognise, was the complete cleaning up of my diet. At the beginning there were certain things that sent my body into a flat spin and I had no option but to cut them out. I saw this as a gross inconvenience because I had not opened my heart to the needs of my body and realised what a great asset my body's sensitivity was.
I could not take alcohol, coffee, sugar or red meat for example. Of course all these foods possessed a high level of toxins and that was why my body was wisely rejecting them. However, when I first visited Dr. Swinburne I was still drinking tea. At this time I was unable to control my heartbeat, I had pain swooping down my left arm and was having one anxiety attack after another. It felt like I was going to have a heart attack and I was very, very frightened. Dr. Swinburne suggested that I might be allergic to caffeine, which of course I realise now is a pure toxin. She told me to cut out the tea and within forty eight hours the attacks had stopped. I have never drunk tea or coffee since.
What I eventually realised was that my body was very toxic for one reason or another and that it was vital I did not make it more poisonous by putting more toxins in it. Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and refined foods, like white flour and white rice, should never enter the body of a chronically ill person.
You may say, "But things are bad enough without denying myself a cup of tea and a piece of cake." I appreciate that need for comfort but there will come a time when you need to choose between comfort and getting better. The choice is always yours.
Most people with M.E. suffer from nervous debilitation because their adrenal glands are exhausted. Caffeine exacerbates this and after the initial lift, as adrenaline is put into the bloodstream, blood sugar is used up at an alarming rate and there follows a drop in energy. Just the thing you need to avoid.
Neat sugar poured into the bloodstream causes the body to sound the alarm bells and that costs energy. Any carbohydrate which is being converted into glucose for the body to use now, is stored in the liver as glycogen as the body races to combat the sugar which is dangerously high in the bloodstream. The body can only deal with the equivalent of two teaspoons of sugar at a time in the bloodstream. A Mars Bar has ten and a can of Coca Cola fourteen, so imagine the panic that ensues if you ingest either of these. Insulin is poured out of the pancreas, and this takes out not only the sugar you put in, but more besides. The result is an eventual drop in energy, which M.E. sufferers cannot afford. The body is no longer converting carbohydrates, because the brain told it to store the sugar rather than utilise it and so you become hungry.
Have compassion on your body and don't feed it any toxins. Cut down meat intake to a minimum. It is dead flesh and therefore there will be an element of putrefaction. It stays in the gut longer than our digestive system likes and releases toxins into the bloodstream.
I began to eat organic food as much as possible. This is not cheap, but if you are eating very little meat and instead having grains and pulses, which are very inexpensive, it balances out. I felt a slight lift, not a lot, but enough to know I was on the right track.
I was almost three years into my illness and still not at all well, when I found my way to a nutritionist and this took my head above the water line. At this point I really refined my diet and cut out wheat and dairy produce and I began my love affair with alternative foods. I love cooking now, where before I had seen it as a chore and I see it as a way of nurturing myself and my family and friends.
I also began to take supplements and to know why I was taking them. I want to mention one or two, which I think are essential. A high strength B complex, at least 50mg and preferably 75mg or even 100mg, helps in all sorts of ways, and especially supports the nervous system. B5, in addition to this, supports the adrenal glands if you are suffering from adrenal exhaustion and feel especially anxious. If you have blood sugar problems, which many sufferers have, and have sudden drops in energy and need to eat immediately, then chromium is very important. Magnesium helps with twitching muscles but is most effective I found if I took it one at teatime and one before I went to bed along with Acidophilus. Both acted as a relaxant and helped a little with sleep.
If you are on a very limited income then concentrate on a really good multivitamin, which includes at least 50mg of B vitamins. Quest, Solgar or Lamberts are good brands. All over Britain there are nutritionists trained by the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, and were you to talk to all of them, you would find case histories of hundreds of patients with all forms of chronic fatigue gradually getting better through altering the way they eat. At least thirty per cent of the answers to getting better lie in what you are putting into your body. And I recognised that my attitude towards my diet was of prime importance. If I felt I was depriving myself, then eventually I would give up, but if I saw finding new ways of eating as an adventure, which was going to benefit me for life then it was a whole new ball game and I wanted to know more and more.
There is a wholesale health food store in Halifax called Suma foods for which I have a card. I made enquiries whether it would be possible for an M.E. group like yours to have a card and the person I spoke to felt it would be looked at favourably. They have every kind of organic food you could imagine and often it costs the same as ordinary food you buy in the shops or very little more. Orders over £150 are delivered free, so you do not even have to go, you can order over the phone.
Perhaps the single most thing which will take you up several steps, and it is free, is to drink more water. I read a book called 'Your Body's Many Cries for Water' and without doubt it changed my life. Many of the symptoms of M.E. are the symptoms of dehydration. Muscle and joint pain, brain fog, mood swings, allergies, excess histamine production, breathing problems, digestive difficulties, to name but a few. Quite a number of people I know have now come off asthma medication as well as tranquillisers and antidepressants.
I was so impressed with the book that I wrote an article looking at M.E. in terms of dehydration and it all fitted. This article seems to be now touring the country and I am beginning to get feedback, which is favourable. At the very least, water flushes out the toxins, which have accumulated in your body. At the best it lifts mood, takes pain from the muscles and joints, reduces brain fog and enhances energy. What's more it is a free therapy. If I drink before, during and after exercise, I get very little muscle pain. If I don't, my muscles and joints become very stiff and take longer to recover. I found that if I was off it, a pint of water brought me back to normality. Often when you think you are hungry you are really thirsty, and drinking instead of eating brings your weight down to the correct level and for me improved my metabolism, so that I no longer have the tendency to put on weight.
Healing is the next thing I want to talk about. If anyone had told me that I would be involved in Healing five or six years ago I would have thought they were joking. But sometimes it needs desperate situations to put you in contact with something you are avoiding. Healing is nothing to do with psychic phenomena, or strange visitations from the other side or God suddenly deciding that this or that person should become well. All Healing is ultimately Self Healing and it is simply opening up to Love, to your own Love and to the Love of others. I believe that the true nature of the Universe is Loving Energy and when you go to a Healer He or She puts you in touch with that Energy.
Six months after I began my illness, I was led by a series of coincidences to go to a healer called Harry Thompson in Queensbury. I knew that he had had quite a lot of success with M.E. sufferers including several spectacular recoveries. I had great expectations but was very disappointed with the first session because I felt not a thing. I was utterly exhausted being driven there and I didn't feel any better on the way back. However, next morning the lump, which had appeared behind my ear, had gone down and by the following weekend I was able to do a short trip to the supermarket, with no after effects.
Two weeks later, when I was due to go again I was able to drive to Queensbury myself. Four weeks after that I played ten holes of golf, two weeks later a full round. I stopped taking supplements, began to exercise aerobically and three weeks later after a hectic weekend I relapsed. I went for healing again, recovered after a couple of days, went back to normal and relapsed again. I just did not learn the lesson that I had to save the energy I was receiving. Eventually I could only keep the energy in for a few hours and then I relapsed, although I was never to be as bad as I was before I went the first time. You can imagine how angry I was that I had thrown away the chance of wellness by being so foolhardy.
Some time during that period, I was in the middle of a Healing Session with Harry, when he quoted to me from a book he was fond of called 'A Course in Miracles'. This is what he said:
"When you are afraid, remember this, that God is real and you are his beloved child in whom he is well pleased."
Much to my absolute amazement my mental reaction was, "Who me? A beloved child? How can I be? I am ill."
I was shocked that I should think such a thing. Consciously I would never have thought that, but subconsciously I thought that because I was ill and debilitated, I was no good and of no use to anyone.
I knew that that was a key concept that had to change. If my body mind and spirit was receiving the message that I was no good, that could never promote wellness. I had to learn to be utterly content exactly as I was and believe you me I was a long way from loving and accepting myself like that. Opening yourself to your own love is the key to getting better.
How many of you do things for others at great cost to yourself? On the surface that may seem very commendable but underneath is this conditioning that you are only worthy when you are working for others. Let's look at how this is a fallacy in terms of energy.
We know that the Universe is a huge energy system and because of the way civilisation has moved there are a lot of blockages in the form of pollution, conflicts and stressful lifestyles. Everyone with a chronic illness is blocking the energy of the Universe in a small way. If you ignore yourself and continue to work with others you may help them to do a little unblocking but your own energy deteriorates further and further and becomes more and more blocked. That doesn't help the Universal Energy at all and may in fact hinder it. However, if you work on your own energy first and get that flowing freely, not only have you helped the Universal Energy but also you are then in a position to help others from the wisdom of your own experience.
I came across the word Reiki, when I was inquiring about a residential programme run by Carole Easton at the Lyndon Hill Clinic. She rang me back when I was ill in bed and said to me that all people with M.E. should learn Reiki. "What's that?" I asked. She spelled it out and told me about it. "How can I find such a practitioner in my area?" I asked. But she could not give me specific information.
The following week my friend was giving me aromatherapy and I mentioned this peculiar word to her. "Oh," she said, "I went to a complementary medicine fair at Ilkley last week and I picked up a pamphlet about that." I was amazed and I took it and contacted the person, who was Alan Balfour in Horsforth. I arranged to have a session. The day of the appointment I was pretty ill and really I shouldn't have gone but what I was amazed about was that after the session, when I had got home, my mood did not dip at all even though normally when I was so ill, I always felt very low. I felt I would go again, but I vowed I would only go when I could go under my own steam.
This meant that a year passed by before I met up again with Reiki. This time it was because I had found someone in the village to give me massage while my friend was on holiday. After the second session of massage, which was a bit vigorous and left me pretty well exhausted for a day or so, when I went again I had noticed that he offered Reiki and I asked whether it might be a good idea to have Reiki instead of massage. We decided it was. The Energy and the Love that came through that day were absolutely incredible and I was hooked.
He, his wife and his daughter had already done the course but his son and daughter in law were going to do the course in January 1996 and I asked whether they would be prepared to take me. Again I was really not fit to go that weekend but when I was attuned, the energy that came through was indeed phenomenal and although it only stayed for the rest of the day and had gone the next morning, by the time I had finished the Sunday course there it was again.
So began my Love affair with Reiki. I used it constantly on myself, but when I practised on others I found I felt better at the end of the session than I did at the beginning. It meant I could give to others again with no detriment to myself. It also gave me the power of exchange and I could exchange Reiki with others, but also I could exchange other therapies like massage, reflexology, acupressure, etcetera.
It put me in touch with my energy body as well, so that I began to recognise where the blockages were and how the peculiar feelings I had been so afraid of were simply where the flow was being interrupted. It put me in touch with my emotional life, gave me a lot of personal understanding and above all it connected me with Unconditional Love, which I was learning was my true nature. Love was opening up my cells to healing and showing me all the time how to be more loving to my body, mind and spirit, and revealing to me that above all to let go of fear and enter a state of love was the way forward.
Massage is the next thing I want to talk about. I had massage over the years from several different people, each of whom showed me a different aspect which was valuable. To begin with, a friend who lived two hundred yards up the road gave me massage once a week. At this point I could scarcely bear being touched and I bruised very easily and all I wanted was the comfort of someone's hands on me. Basically I was allowing someone to give me loving through touch, and the hour and a half of the massage was a wonderful time of the week, which I looked forward to immensely.
That was enough at that time. I could not have dealt with a healing crisis after a massage but there came a time when I realised that I needed to use a massage to get rid of toxins in my body and that it was important that it was much deeper. I could now accept that if there was a healing crisis it showed that my body was just shifting all the poisons that had become lodged there.
The second person I went to was to open my mind and to revolutionise my thinking about M.E. and helped me to understand the role that unexpressed emotions held in the body played in blocking energy. I need first to go back to the hot summer of 1995, when I had spent virtually every day underneath a tree practising my breathing. There is a wonderful chapter in William Collinge's book, 'M.E. A Guide to Self Empowerment' called "Breath, Energy and Emotion" and I used to practise the six healing breaths, which is a Chi Kung exercise.
One night I woke up in the early hours of the morning after I had done rather a lot of this exercise prior to going to bed. I had had a really bad dream and as I woke with a jolt it was to find what I could only describe as huge amounts of anger coming out of my calves and elbows. It was absolutely amazing and I thought it was a bit weird. That was my first indication that I had specific emotions stored in particular parts of my body.
I jump now to 1996 when I had gone down to the Family History Centre to research my family tree and was sitting in front of a microfiche machine poring over names and dates. I soon had a headache, which quickly escalated into a monstrous painful state and my mind suggested quietly that even though I had only been there for half an hour it was probably time to make a fast exit and to go home. Instead something made me sit in front of the screen, close my eyes and enter into the pain to find out what was behind it.
To my amazement I soon honed in on a very violent emotion and that was rage. "So behind this dreadful pain is rage," I thought. "Can I feel it and let it go?" This was pretty scary because anger and rage are very frightening emotions and are often deeply buried because we are told when we are children that to show anger is wrong and so we hold it inside. Count every time we do that and you will see that the average person will have a lot of anger inside in one place or another. As I began to merge with the feeling, it was as if I could see that there was a tiny pinhole in my head and out of this, the anger was squeezing. Gradually the pressure began to release and within fifteen to twenty minutes the headache had gone and I resumed my work.
As I drove home I was ecstatic. I had learned how to rid myself of a headache, but more important I had explored my rage, found it was not the monster I thought it was and so I could let it go. Never again need I be afraid of anger in any shape or form. I could experience it without having to throw it at anyone and waste my energy. By experiencing it and letting it go, I unblocked the holding and my energy flowed more freely and therefore increased. Following that time, whenever I started with a headache, without fail, when I entered into it, the emotion there was always anger in some form or other, from irritation and frustration on the one hand, to full blown rage on the other, and when I let it go the headache went.
So back to my masseuse. She, and another friend who was a kinesiologist, both had an uncanny knack of finding very painful spots on my body and working on them deeply. Sometimes the sweat stood out on my brow as this was happening, the pain was so great. But there was always a pattern to the release. First unbearable acute pain, which reduced slightly to chronic pain, which gradually began to get less intense until there was a feeling of sickness and nausea followed by a big sigh from me, after which the pain began to disappear altogether. At this point I would accuse them of pressing less intensely, but they always assured me this was not the case.
This had probably been happening over a period of months, when one morning, after a particularly busy day during which I had overexerted myself yet again, I woke up to find myself feeling nauseous and very off balance. My heart sank, as it does in these circumstances, because it is a most unpleasant feeling and usually it took up to forty eight hours to get rid of it. It suddenly occurred to me that this feeling was identical to the one that I had on the massage table prior to sighing and letting go of the pain. I had no idea of the emotion at that point in time, so I just breathed into the sickness and sure enough I began to sigh and within twenty minutes the feeling of nausea had gone altogether.
Later I realised that, as I got more and more sensitive to my energy body, I was aware of blockages, which were causing me to feel off balance. Once I let go an emotion out of my body, my energy began to flow again and my body felt balanced. Later still I learned that the emotions for me, which promoted feelings of off balance were always anxiety and fear. Later still I could welcome these emotions, because when they surfaced, were experienced without judgement and let go of, they always freed my energy.
The third masseur I worked with and still do, is an expert in lymphatic drainage. This is a man who can pick up blockages on the physical level, particularly in the lymph glands, but also in the muscle fibres themselves and in places where there may be painful cellulite or fat adhering to the bone. Lymphatic massage is really important because the toxins gather there and if no exercise is being taken there is nowhere for them to disperse and muscle and joint pain is the result, as well as a general feeling of malaise. All residual pain was taken away from me when I began this treatment and my stiff lower back is now much more flexible than before I was ill.
And if you can only afford an occasional massage, that's O.K. because there is a wonderful book called 'Body Reflexology' by Mildred Carter and Tammy Weber, which shows you very simply how to work on not only the feet, but the hands, the ears, the face and indeed all parts of the body. Whatever complaint you are trying to remediate, this book will show you all the places where you can unblock the energy and relieve the problem. Basically wherever there is a sore point, work on it, because the soreness indicates a blockage. Usually there will be a sigh as it clears and you will feel tension leave you.
I have worked with all kinds of therapists and have benefited from many of them. Kinesiology is brilliant if you get a real expert because the body can be trusted to tell you what needs to be done to it. Reflexology massages the internal organs, in a very deep way and I think it is very valuable. Learning how to self hypnotise for relaxation is excellent, as is N.L.P. (neuro linguistic programming) which helps to reprogram the way you think about unpleasant events and changes them beyond recognition. Homoeopathy is very worthwhile, although it can be very slow working. Herbs too have a great part to play.
It doesn't really matter where you start and neither need you feel victimised if you have not got the money to explore these. Some of the most important things you can do are free. Drink more water, clean up your diet, practise slow and deep breathing until it becomes an automatic response, and learn to massage yourself, but above all, open your heart to yourself in Love. Feeling Love flooding through the body relaxes the cells and helps them to recover and to heal. Everything you do to yourself and for yourself should be done in the spirit of Love. Put nothing into the body, mind or spirit, which is not loving: no criticism, no negative thoughts. To do so is to hurt yourself and you are aiming to get better not worse. Let go of outcomes and simply do things for yourself which are beautiful and kind because you are worth loving and your energy is important to the Universe.
One of the most valuable exercises I learned was to go back in time and remember a beautiful experience. I chose falling in love. We had to flood ourselves with the feelings we experienced at that time and that was wonderful because falling in love is very expansive and the body relaxes and calms. Once we could do this we then had to switch our attention to something difficult that we wanted to change. It might be a fear or a phobia, a difficult relationship, or even a constant physical, mental or emotional pain. Once we had accessed this, we then switched back to the beautiful experience and began to merge the two. It felt very strange at first but gradually the beautiful experience overtook the painful one.
That was something I practised at every opportunity. Whenever there was something that was not going as I wanted it I could switch to this wonderful experience of Love. I experience this in a heightened way when I give or receive Reiki and now I more or less feel it all the time, which means that whenever I need energy I can get it at will.
I know now that I will not relapse. I feel certain that deep Love is the answer to recovery from all illness, because Love always supports, appreciates and cares for all aspects of the self, and never hurts, harms or criticises. Once I let go to that Love, I began to trust that Life always knows what it is doing, even in difficult situations like M.E. It seems amazing to me now, that I have developed so much, and feel so relaxed and in such a state of peace, that I know that my health will go from strength to strength as my body, mind and spirit open to Love and that this would never have happened without going through this nightmare illness.
What is more, I have no doubt whatsoever, that what I have experienced, everyone can experience once the understanding is there, and the courage to make the mind shift develops. It is not a case of waiting for the cure because I believe the answers are already here, within the body. I have a passion now to help as many people as possible to climb the steps to wellness because I know from the wisdom of personal experience that it can be done.
Good luck in your journey: although you will learn that you make your own luck as your mind shifts to making even negative experiences positive.
And remember this: "The Final Surrender is to your own Love." It's as simple as that.
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