Thursday, January 13, 2011

What is Your Body Trying to Tell You?

"The body says what words cannot." Martha Graham

About this time last year my daughter, Katelyn, was in the hospital for two nights. She got hold of whatever virus was going around Maryville College Campus, and it wouldn’t let go of her. Her wonderful roommates got her to the ER and stayed with her, even after I got there. This turned out to be a learning experience for me about connecting emotional components to physical symptoms (mine, not Katelyn’s). Because it turns out that even though I managed to avoid the gastrointestinal distress that she suffered, once she was feeling better and back at school, my body started talking to me about the experience.

You might call this divine intervention since I had recently restructured my practice to help people look at their health from a holistic perspective that considers mind, body, and spirit to be a unified entity. (Or you might call it God having a good laugh by making me look at my own life first). Whatever we call it, I thought you might be interested in some of the insights I’ve had thrown into my lap by taking this holistic look at myself.

The symptoms I experienced after Katelyn’s hospital stay include dizziness, sadness, and a little bit of muddled thinking (or a lot, depending on whom you listen to). These symptoms make sense in a holistic sense when you consider where I was in my life. I’d been taking care of Katelyn while she healed and really enjoyed having her home. A big part of my identity is as a mother to two of the most wonderful kids on earth. But within a few months of this experience, John would be graduating from high school and leaving for UTC and Katelyn would begin her ‘real’ life as an adult in veterinarian school. Where did that leave me? Dizzy, sad, and muddled.

It would definitely be a time for new beginnings, which can leave us off-balance, shaky, lightheaded, in other words, dizzy. And you want to talk about sad? That one’s a no-brainer. Despite being excited and proud about the new stages of my kids’ lives, knowing that the old stage of dependence was finally ending definitely left me feeling a little poignant. Sadly, the muddled thinking may just be a sign of the stage of life that I’m in myself, not a reflection of where the kids are!

What to do with these holistic connections? Well, obviously they are great real life examples for my clients to learn from. But they also point me to a better understanding of where I am right now in the present, which is all we really have. I’m in the midst of a wonderful transition that leaves me dizzy, sad, and muddled, but also provides new opportunities for me to express myself and my calling in the world. Amen to that!

Contributed by Dr. Annie Wills

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