My body speaks to me all the time.
It speaks wisdom.
It deeply knows health
It is a system designed for adaptability, resilience, and self-repair. It is designed for health.
Breathing fast and shallow, brow knitted, nervous system buzzing? Translation: I’m not getting enough oxygen, so how are you going to even think straight? You’ve got me set on overdrive and I can’t switch into recovery mode. Slow down. Take those three items off your to-do list. Take the whole list way less seriously. Take yourself way less seriously. Take a break and walk around the garden. Look, really look at how the flowers are made. How you are made.
Bloating and distended belly? Translation: I’m full. Put the other half of that green drink in the fridge for later. And for Lord’s sake, sit down and relax for a few minutes before you even start – give me a chance to get ready for the food, get some saliva and digestive juices going. When you’re standing at the kitchen sink or riding on the highway, I just can’t even get your digestive system going.
These are two of the messages my body delivered today, and I listened.
Some days I am too busy to listen.
Some days I listen and treat the messages as opinions of absolutely no merit or standing. My will To Do Important Stuff triumphs once again.
Spend too many days in one of those unresponsive modes, and I am headed for trouble: I begin to feel ill, when all my body is trying to do is repair its disturbed balance.
In this respect, I share the view of Hippocrates, the 5th century Greek physician often credited as “the father of western medicine.” He called this faculty the vis medicatrix naturae, usually translated as “the healing power of nature.” Physician and author Victoria Sweet writes in her extraordinary book God’s Hotel that a more accurate translation is “the remedying force of your own nature to be itself, to turn back into itself when it has been wounded.”
When we listen to the body’s speaking, we know when our vitality is strong and when it is depleted.
We can also be frogs in a pot being gradually heated, not noticing until it is too late to jump out of the boiling water: we play down the body’s messages of fatigue, achiness, funky bowel patterns, aches and pains that come and go or move around, fuzzy mind, irritability or lethargy. We hardly notice that patterns are being laid down.
Or, we may be quite aware of changes and seek medical assessment, only to be told that our lab numbers are fine, or handed an Rx for an anti-depressant.
As a vitalist, I would say there are preclinical changes happening that are not optimal – changes for which we do not have lab tests to measure what is going on. What we do have are sensations and observations, clinical evidence the body is trying to restore its balance. We also have stories that help us make sense of all this information: it is very common to have a sense of your health Before and After an accident, an injury, an acute illness, a disruptive life change. All this evidence can be assessed and translated into practical supports, among them herbal supports
As an herbalist in the vitalist tradition, I know there are plant friends from the mildest and food-like to the stronger and therapeutic that can:
- aid and enhance our innate body wisdom rather than suppress its messages or burden it with side-effects
- nudge our body back towards health
- restore our adaptability, enabling us to mobilize a robust response to physical, emotional, and environmental stressors
- rebuild our resilience, allowing us to rest, repair, and recover from those stressors
So, listen to your body today.
It is speaking to you, and it speaks the truth.
What is it telling you?