Recently, my teacher sent me this article by Gabor Maté: How to Build a Culture of Good Health. Read it! It beautifully explains the holistic, relational, developmental nature of health that I think we’ve all experienced at some level but never had words for:
Ultimately, healing flows from within. The word itself originates from “wholeness.” To be whole is much more than to experience the absence of disease. It is the full and optimal functioning of the human organism, according to its nature-gifted possibilities. By such standards, we live in a culture that leaves us far short of health.
I’ve been studying biodynamic craniosacral therapy and meditating 30-60 minutes a day for over a year now. In the process, I’ve come to embody a new level of self-trust, presence, and health. It has strengthened my ability to be neutral and allowed the deeper forces that created and sustain me to build potency. In Dr. Mate’s words, I’ve been doing this:
Give yourself, as best you can, what your parents would have loved to grant you but probably could not: full-hearted attention, full-minded awareness, and compassion. Make gifting yourself with these qualities your daily practice.
Now, instead of gripping to protective identifications, I am being moved toward greater fluidity, resilience, awareness, and metabolism. It’s not always pleasant. I’m resolving long held imprints. I cry almost every time. But my tears are cleansing; they do not reinforce any victimhood. Instead, they dissolve old fears that no longer make sense. My personality is less rigid. My window of tolerance is widening. I can see others more clearly. I am able to sustain my own coherence more powerfully. And I can resource myself more effectively.
As educators and parents, we are often at a loss as to how to help our children. More and more, we see how trauma and dysregulation impact them negatively. We try to soothe, cajole, convince, manipulate, force, explain, etc. We want them to feel alright and know that everything will be okay. But resolving trauma and truly embodying self-regulation is an inside job. To teach children how to meet their fears and feelings in a healthy way, we must be regulated and model metabolizing our own experiences. To connect them to their inner health forces, we must meet them, as we meet ourselves, with authentic presence and love.
Adults need to know, even if their physicians often do not, that their health issues are rarely isolated manifestations. Any symptom, any illness is also an opportunity to consider where our lives may be out of balance, where our childhood coping patterns have become maladaptive, exacting costs on our physical well-being. When we take on too much stress, whether at work or in our personal lives, when we are not able to say no, inevitably our bodies will say it for us. We need to be very honest with ourselves, very compassionate, but very thorough in considering how our childhood programming still runs our lives, to our detriment.
To take advantage of the metabolic forces of our own health system, we need to grant ourselves the time and the space to process our own mental-emotional-energetic experiences and make conscious choices that serve our higher intentions. To prevent chronic stress from making us sick, we must stop valuing accomplishment over well-being. And yes, I know that’s challenging inside of … A materialistic culture (that) teaches its members that their value depends on what they produce, achieve, or consume rather than on their human beingness. Many of us believe that we must continually prove and justify our worthiness, that we must keep having and doing to justify our existence.
Choose to re-prioritize. Put your health first and your do-list second. Spend time being, processing, loving yourself. Give yourself the gift of meditation this holiday and open the door to expanding your consciousness, embodying self-regulation, and accessing the intelligence of your own system. Your children will thank you!