For over a decade, my body was trying to guide me, but I ignored it. My body started with whispers — a queasy feeling in my stomach, a repetitive twitch in my left eye, bouts of diarrhea, the occasional headache. The day I said "I do" to the man with whom I ended up in an abusive marriage, I threw up. Nerves, I reassured myself. The day my attending physician told me she'd get me kicked out of my OB-GYN residency if I didn't perform a totally un-indicated C-section on a set of premature twins, I wound up with my first-ever migraine. Coincidence, I concluded.
I didn't realize at the time that your body uses physical clues to guide you when you're selling out your soul's truth.
I didn't pay attention to the whispers, so my body started to yell. I developed high blood pressure that failed to respond to three medications. Cardiac arrhythmias that jacked up my heart rate into the 200's and required shocking my heart rate back to normal. Severe, debilitating allergies. A painful sexual disorder that made it feel like I was getting stabbed when my husband and I had sex. A cancer scare.
My doctors (bless their hearts, they didn't know) never asked me what my body might be rejecting. Instead, they gave me drugs and performed surgeries that didn't help. By the time I was 33 years old, I was taking seven medications that my doctors told me I'd need for the rest of my life. They also told me I'd probably have a heart attack or stroke by the time I turned 40, and because nobody had taught me differently in 12 years of medical training, I believed them. Now I'm a doctor who knows better, and I want to make sure you do, too.
I believe we're all born with a cosmic purpose, a mission to live out, kind of like the "Earth rescue" mission Charles Eisenstein muses about here.
When we live in alignment with this purpose, we feel happy and fulfilled. This often (but not always) translates into physical health and vitality.
We're not obligated to accept our mission. We have free will and can always opt out. But our souls and bodies have got our back, and if we veer off track, our bodies tend to speak up.
It's as if the body and soul are in cahoots, and the body gets roped into being the soul's spokesperson. Perhaps, when we're living in alignment with the soul's guidance, the body is inclined to stay healthy. When we veer off course, the body speaks up.
This is a good thing! But only if we know how to interpret these cues the body gives us. Otherwise, we feel like helpless victims of physical illness.
But we are not helpless! In my new book, The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage As Medicine For The Body, Mind & Soul, I offer a Prescription for how to get back on course.If you're interested in digging deeper into this kind of inquiry, download the free Self-Healing Kit here.
All of these resources are full of tools that build on each other, including a "body compass" tool intended to help you let your body guide you in your decision-making, as well as learn how to interpret the messages your body sends you.
Am I suggesting that such symptoms don't reflect real medical problems? No!
I'm just saying that if your doctor has done a thorough workup and found nothing, or if your doctor has treated you but you're not getting better — pay attention. This is your body talking!
Please don't interpret this to mean that I recommend staying home and weathering out a heart attack while you ask yourself soul-searching questions. Lord knows, that's not what I'm suggesting! If your body is acting up and you don't feel well, see your doctor.
You don't want to ignore the warning signs of something potentially life-threatening just because you've clued into what your body might be communicating to you.
I'm also not suggesting that all physical symptoms are the result of misalignment with your soul's purpose (though many shamans, New Age authors, and alternative healers would suggest that this is the case.) I'm a physician who still believes conventional medicine has value, as long as we're not using it as a Band-aid that allows us to avoid looking deeper.
Even if we're getting the necessary guidance from our body's warning signs, many of us still don't make changes in our lives because of what we think we "should" do.
You just know you need to quit your soul-sucking job, but you should stay anyway because you're afraid you'll run out of money otherwise.
You just know it's time to leave your toxic marriage, but you're afraid of what everybody will think. (And what about the children? Don't good people keep their promises, even if their bodies break down?!)
Not unless you'd prefer to die early rather than rewrite a commitment. I know that sounds harsh, but I say this with love. And if you don't believe me, read all the data proving this is true in Mind Over Medicine.
This is not a judgment or criticism. It's also not a promise that if you make these brave changes, your health conditions will disappear overnight. But it is a wake up call from your body and soul, if you're ready and willing to pick up.
Do you have the courage to listen to your body and claim your calling?
The reason I wrote The Fear Cure as a sequel to Mind Over Medicine is because I realized that you can do all the down and dirty soul work to figure out what your body is trying to communicate about how you might have veered off course. But if you're too frightened to do what you must, your body may start to scream. So let's practice preventive medicine.
I know how scary it can be to let your body be your guide because I've done this myself, and it wasn't easy. It meant quitting my job as a doctor, leaving my marriage, whittling my inner circle down to those who support my scary choices, and standing up to those who try to tempt me to make fear-based decisions.
I'm now down to half the dose of one of my seven medications — and I've been symptom free for 8 years now. I'm no braver than you. If I can do this, you can, too. But it takes a village like the tribe we have here at MindBodyGreen. We can do hard things when we hold hands and say yes.
I'm all in. Are you with me?