As I reluctantly submitted to the ministrations of the Chiropractor the other day, I pondered the link between mind, body and spirit that I think of as a triangle, or three dimensional pyramid, each side being inter-related and impacting on one another. I feel that at this point I should ask readers to please note that the theories that I am sharing in this post are not prescriptive or laid down in any way; they are simply the product of my musings.
I like my Chiropractor’s holistic approach. He does not treat a ‘bad back’ in isolation, rather with his knowledge and expertise he views it a part of the whole and his initial consultation and ongoing questioning during treatments reflects this. He does not see spine and joint problems separately from the client’s emotional state and/or past physical/mental problems, and this resonates with my own beliefs.
“Be nice!” I admonished him, after he prodded a particularly tender spot alongside my lumbar spine.
“Well, if you like”, he said, “I can tickle your head and play you some whale music, but that won’t make your spine better. Someone else can do that bit for you”.
His words made me laugh, but in fact he had no way of knowing that my ‘dealing-with-grief toolbox’ contains head-tickling (in the form of massage when I get the opportunity) and whale music – well, I don’t really like whale music – but I do enjoy some of the seamless healing music that is a marvellous aid to losing and transporting oneself in meditation.
The healing triangle that best represents (to me) how each element inter-relates with the other has ‘mind’ at its apex, body and spirit at the other two angles, and to illustrate with random examples, I considered how I am consciously feeling at any given time:
active, practical, emotional, anxious, creative, stressed, content.
Each of these reflects in my body as being:
energetic, healthy, upset, restless, content, unwell, nourished.
And each of the former two states is additionally, unconsciously mirrored in my spirit:
lively, balanced, heavy, unsettled, happy, low, settled.
I hope this trilogy is clear to picture from the diagram below. The words should be read in their colours, ie active relates to energetic relates to lively etc.
Of course these are simply examples, and you will have your own variants to consider. But perhaps this model is a good starting point for looking at the delicate balance that exists between our physical selves and our psyche, soul, spirit … however you wish to view it.
In the same way as your mind-set can affect your physical state, so physical movement elevates your emotional state.
We are all entitled to the occasional duvet day, but I find that harnessing and utilising energy where I can, always works better therapeutically for me.
Whilst I would never dream of suggesting or implying that we bring physical ailments upon ourselves because of our actions, mind-set or beliefs, I do believe that the elements which bond together the mental, spiritual and physical contribute to our health.
It is hardly surprising that the level of grief and trauma associated with loss can manifest itself physically.
I was prey to a number of dental abscesses and infections following the loss of my parents and of James, and I firmly believe that the state that I was in at the time contributed – not least because I was so stressed that I was clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth at night.
I like the example of a tube of toothpaste with the lid on. Squeeze it hard enough and the contents will break out somewhere – at the bottom, on the side … and so it can be with grief that is held in and locked away – it will come out somewhere eventually, perhaps years down the line. Ultimately, it is not helpful to try to soldier on regardless – accepting help where it is needed is a hard lesson to learn. I have to confess that it is only recently that I have really taken on board that I should practise what I preach and do this for myself!
I pride myself on getting my grief ‘out’ through writing, spiritual practice, exercise – all the tools I have amassed in the past ten years. BUT despite this I have to address various minor health issues that appear to come out of the blue, although when I analyse them, they make a certain amount of sense.
My arthritic hip is likely to be hereditary and there is not much I can do to alter that. However, the sore back that has recently started to trouble me could be attributed to the body’s protective armour trying to stabilise the hip joints – or could it be that my back is finally reacting to the heavy load of sadness that it is carrying?
The jury is out on that one!
In the meantime, I must trust in my Chiropractor’s mantra, “short term pain for long term gain”. I do hope he is right.