Monday, April 17, 2006

Self as Expert

Met with a bunch of friends night before last, to talk health. All of us suffer some sort of aliment that requires the attention of the medical establishment. And all of us have struggled to get our needs met, by them and others. We were talking through what that means for us, what common lessons we have uncovered, things like that. Here is some of what emerged.

Our bodies have huge healing wisdom. We are all natural healers. Especially for our own bodies and ourselves. We know the answer for ourselves. If we get quiet enough and listen long enough, and trust ourselves. Each of us had/has experiences where when we asked our selves, our deepest knowing selves, we knew what we needed, what was important to us, what the next steps were. When we bothered asking ourselves, when we took it upon ourselves to be our own experts, we knew the answers. Our answers. For our health. So what has us hold back from doing that?

The first problem seems to be how to listen to ourselves. This is not so big a problem for me, so it was really important to hear someone else articulate this challenge. I guess when I would be spouting off about how we all would do well to listen to our bodies, and their inherent wisdom, she’d be like, “Yeah, great idea in theory, but how do you get connected to you body, how do you listen to it?” Might I even add, “How do you ask it questions?” I love what she talked about having learned. That since connection and listening to her body does not come easily to her she has to give herself more time to sit with decisions and questions and so on. If someone expects an instant reply, she will say, “I’ll get back to you on that.” And then take the time she needs, really checks in, makes space, and does not make a decision until she is clear. Different people access their inner wisdom differently (and it seems important to call it “inner wisdom”, for me it is body wisdom because that is where I pick it up most strongly, but really we are talking about your own still small voice, and that presents differently for different people. For some, a gut knowing, for others intuition, and so on.), be it meditating, or sitting by the ocean, or going for walks or talking it through with friends. The key element seems to be stilling the mind. And creating space and time.

A final important nugget from my friend on this: it can be learned. So it if doesn’t come naturally, or you assume everyone else can do it but you. Think again. Just like any other skill, this can be learned through practice and attention. And choosing to do that is essentially about finding our true nature – so next we need to look at honouring it.

The second challenge seems to be to trust ourselves with that and in that wisdom, expert place. To stand in our authority. To know what we know and not start second-guessing ourselves because someone with more, or different, degrees has a different opinion. To be an active partner in our health and healing. Doctors may bring knowledge and theory, but we bring something they can never access, our experience of what is going on. And if they can’t or won’t listen to that and subsequently put us in a cookie cutter solution, then it is our business and responsibility to ourselves to find someone who will. That is the standing in our authority with doctors. But really this “expert perspective” is an across the board thing. When we are certain of ourselves and our decisions and so on, we exude a self-confidence, an aura of expertise that is both hard to resist and hard to shake. When I know what I know and believe in myself and empower that place in me, I am a force to be reckoned with regardless of the circumstances. The easiest image for me to ground this concept into my system is that of Gandhi being physically beaten down, but his spirit and determination never wavering. I hope none of my doctors ever beat me with a stick (and God help them if they do) but if I stay true to myself, there is nothing they could do to make me lose sight of that truth.

Meanwhile the doctors seem to appreciate when we know what we think, what we want and who we are. They seem to want to partner with us, but if we don’t give them anything to work with, they can’t and then they need to be the “all knowing ones”. So, whatever our circumstances in life, being our own experts, being our own advocates, being our own best friends, really seems the best way to go.


At 7:28 PM PDT, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Some people inherently know their truths and speak their truths, and do so from an early age. Maybe for others, it is in the face of adversity alone that they learn to recognize their truths, and thus, out of a negative situation, a positive light is turned on and helps them through it. Maybe this could be a reason unto itself for the negative situation to present itself. Part of a Grander Scheme by the Creator? Who knows, but I think the very fact that you are gathering your truths and sharing them with others in the same situation is very healthy for each one of you.

At 10:36 PM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

I love the power of community. Of people choosing to get together and say, "Hey, what do you think about this, because here is what I see". Love that! In some ways it is part of what I like about blogging, there is room for a greater, more diverse and more dispursed community to come together and discover things.


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