When I think of being healthy, I don’t think of just my body. I also think of that intangible part of me that resides inside my body — my true self, without all the judgments, roles, and expectations that are part of our culture and our world in this age of being.
But before I re-connected with myself and started healing, I struggled with inner awareness. This is my journey.
In my twenties, I paid little attention to eating healthily or taking care of myself. Life was moving quickly, and so was I. I struggled with my weight and I had battled with eating disorders. In an effort to feel better, I tried to control everything about my life, including things that were not remotely under my control.
There was no time to slow down or listen to the whispers of impending problems coming from my body. Eventually those whispers got louder and more frequent until they could not longer be denied.
In my mid-thirties I was diagnosed with infertility and told I could not have another child. Ignoring the doctor’s prognosis, I believed with my whole heart that I was going to have another girl. I took matters into my own hands, and I radically changed my diet and detoxed my body. The result was my second daughter, Emily. I like to say that even before she was born, I could not imagine living life without her.
My journey to health and wellness had begun. However, I was focused primarily on the physical aspects of healing. It would not be until years later when I began a yoga practice that I would discover that lasting healing would require more than healthy food and exercise.
Healing from the outside-in: diet and exercise weren’t enough
As I continued to change my diet and cleanse my body, I started to feel better. However, my second pregnancy was difficult, and I gained a lot of weight. I kept focusing on healthy eating and clean living and I eventually lost the weight I had gained.
As time went by my health began to decline again, even though I had adopted a healthier way of living. I experienced unexplained physical problems and lots of physical pain. I was diagnosed with autoimmune disorders and was told that my current state would be a part of my life forever. I once again pushed back. That voice inside my heart kept saying there is something more.
“The crack is where the light gets in.”
Although I had adopted a healthy diet and exercise program, I had not connected internally or started the work of healing the wounds of life I was holding inside. It took a cancer diagnosis and my mother’s death to open the path for healing. I began to feel a desperate need to find relief from the negative cycle I found myself in. After a doctor recommended that I try yoga, I made my way to a class and my healing fully expanded to include body, mind, and spirit. Beginning a mind-body practice was my first step toward inner wellness.
Total acceptance: becoming perfectly imperfect
As I began to move deeper into my yoga practice and past the physical aspects, I began to inhabit my body and to watch my mind. I grew a deeper capacity for self-compassion. I came to realize that truly accepting all of myself was another important step in my journey toward inner wellness.
I learned to give myself the same break that I would give a good friend and the same love and support, no matter what. Instead of being my worst critic, I started to become the kind of friend to myself that I would want to be for someone else.
I accepted that life isn’t perfect, and neither am I. This acceptance allowed me to soften even more and to love all of me.
Lasting healing and wellness: body, mind, and spirit
I realized that to bring about lasting change I needed to accept where I was at that moment, and then from that place of acceptance I could create space to make different choices. I realized that resisting my truth would keep me stuck in the shadows of self-deceit.
As I continued to let go and to heal my body, mind and spirit, I began to live again. I started to experience myself and my feelings without dread or fear that I would inevitably fall into an abyss if I let go even a bit of the control I had been holding onto for so long.
The truth is my view of health and wellness looks a lot different today than it did in my twenties or thirties. Today, wellness means a combination of a healthy lifestyle, mindfulness, and being able to accept myself at this moment and with all my imperfections. It means living from a more heart-centric place.
I’m interested in knowing what being “healthy” means to you. Please share your comments, and let’s have a conversation. You never know whom you may be inspiring by sharing your struggles and your triumphs with others!