I loved seeing Lisa Sanfilippo’s segment on Save Money, Good Health recently. She shared some of her yoga for sleep tools (I did some sleep yoga cpd with her years ago and love this gentle way of working with the mind-body connection to aid sleep without any side effects).
What astonished me was the presenter’s conclusion that asking people with insomnia to do 5 or 10 minutes’ yoga before bed was ‘a big ask’. When my insomnia was terrible (from primary school until my mid twenties), I’d have LOVED to know about yoga but it wasn’t part of my world. Instead, I felt doomed and permanently exhausted and on edge.
At the turn of the millennium, when I was in pain every day, not just a few days a month, I think I’d have wanted to punch (and me practically a pacifist!) anyone who suggested that one day I’d be grateful for the pain.
But the other day, I realised that the pain was a catalyst to my completely overhauling my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have celebrated my 13th Business Birthday this month.
Thanks to the pain, I have created a business that is sustainable throughout my energy cycles. After minor surgery, I was told I’d have to keep having surgery every couple of years until menopause (I was in my 20s) and there was no cure. Volunteering on the (then called) National Endometriosis Society helpline meant I routinely heard far worse stories than my own and I became determined to find ways to deal with it myself.
Feeling let down by the medical profession led me to yoga and quitting caffeine (apart from in chocolate) and alcohol. Cat Cow pose was better than hospital prescribed painkillers. I think modern medicine is wonderful and always recommend people see their GPs but am maybe more aware than many, because I was in so much daily pain and desperate, that there’s an awful lot we can do ourselves.
Thankfully, due to all the major and minor lifestyle changes I’ve made, I generally only have a couple of painful days each month and even they are much better than they were. I’m taking fewer painkillers than ever before and some months, don’t need any at all.
How motivated are you?
Everyone who knew me back then didn’t believe I could quit alcohol (I had drunk too much from my early teens) but, with immediate pain from my abdomen encouraging (yelling at me), I managed to find other ways to deal with my emotions. It was hard – I remember imagining myself taking myself for a walk into the depths of the woods in the snow with a giant bottle of whisky in an effort to stop feeling things. Quitting alcohol was probably the most dramatic change I made. And I needed that pain or I wouldn’t have done it.
Are your symptoms easy enough to continue living with or are you ready to try something different?
Back then, my work’s EAP meant I got some counselling to support me pre-surgery (and pre-diagnosis). I still remember the counsellor asking me what my ovaries (where I felt so much of the pain) might be trying to TELL me. I thought she had lost the plot completely but quickly realised that it was worse when I was bottling up my emotions and not saying what needed to be said. My body, in being so painful, coached me to learn to be a little (progress not perfection) more assertive and expressive.
If there’s a part of your body currently screaming for your attention in the only way it has available for communication (ie PAIN), what might it feel like to tune in? Just for a moment? What have you got to lose? No side effects (other than potential embarrassment but this is just in your imagination – no one else need ever know).
What might your symptoms be trying to tell you?
Louise Hay, who died recently, has left an amazing legacy helping the mind-body connection become more mainstream.
Her books can be a lovely starting point, a bit like a dream dictionary might give you ideas about yours but ultimately, you know yourself and your body best. Even when you’ve been ignoring it.
What clues is it giving you now?
Feel free to comment below.
*please note that while this was the case for me, am not by ANY stretch suggesting that everyone reframe their pain