How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 4

Pay attention

This week’s blog is from chapter 4 of How to Heal Yourself and is about paying better attention to our parts and their messages in order to heal and live whole. The following is an excerpt.

In our journey to healing we need to pay attention to our whole self. This is hard to do because we are so used to living in a semi trance state and not paying attention to our lives. We let ourselves coast along and forget that our bodies are designed to help us find our way. In Holistic medicine – Beyond the Physical I explained more fully how to pay attention to our parts. I used the metaphor of each of us being composed of earth, fire, air, water and ether and described how we can pay better attention to each part.

Earth is our physical body and we pay better attention to this by looking at the meanings behind our symptoms and illness and also looking after the physical body better with good diet, exercise and sleep.

Fire is our intuition, our passions and our creativity and when we pay these more attention we find more joy in our lives.

Air is our rational logical thinking mind. Too often we pay this part of ourselves too much attention but we do need to listen to our logic in combination with our intuition; we need to pay attention to both.

Water is our feelings and emotions and by paying attention to these we find ways to deal with the issues in our lives.

Ether is the energy connections that bring about the signs and synchronicities that help us on our way.

 So when we pay attention to the five elements – earth, fire, air, water and ether our lives become easier. It’s like we have a road map on how to live. Our soul and spirit are in charge and they let us know what to do and what we need through our five elements. As we get better at paying attention to all our parts we begin to live a life centred upon the needs of our soul and spirit. It’s a new way of living so it takes some practice and perseverance but as we pay more attention we get better at it. It’s a paradigm shift from the Western reductionist way of thinking and being to a holistic way of thinking and being. Holism is the theory that all our parts are intimately connected and they cannot exist independently. We cannot understand the parts of ourselves as completely separate from the whole and the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

Everything in our lives has a meaning beyond what is just the physical meaning.

My next blog will be on Chapter 5 – Look after the physical.

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land on which I work and live.

How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 13

Nurture connections 

This week I’ve been working on Chapter 13, which is all about nurturing our connections with people and with the earth. I’ve been thinking about connections a lot this week with the terrible fires all around us here in Australia. I’ve been thinking about how important our connections with people are as we rise together during and after such natural disasters. I’ve been thinking also about our connection to the earth and how we have failed to look after her properly; we have forgotten how important our connection with our planet is.

So this blog is about how we can connect with the earth better; it is a shortened version of the chapter but it gives you an idea of how we might renew our relationship with mother earth.

There are two parts to this renewal; the first is to restore our connection with the earth and the second is to look at ways to look after the earth better. In the book I go into more detail but here are the ways of connecting with and looking after the earth that I think are important.

Ways to connect with the earth

  • Go outside

We should make it a priority to spend time in nature. Walking in the bush or swimming at the beach or tending plants in our own garden are all very therapeutic. 

  • Grounding activities

I have three favourite grounding activities. The first is just to walk barefoot on the earth; grass and sand are ideal. Walking on the beach has a double benefit if you put your feet and legs into the water. 

The second activity is to find a tree and either lean into it and give it a hug or sit at its base with your back against it. Imagine you are part of the tree with its leaves touching the sky and its roots sinking into the earth.

The third activity is to lie on the earth. I like the beach but any grassy area will do. Lie on your back and feel your weight sink in and be supported by the earth. Visualise how big the earth is and how you are part of her. Feel her energy flow into you.

  • Animals

Having animals in our lives has been shown in many studies to be beneficial but we don’t need research to tell us this. The joy that pets and other animals bring to us is immeasurable. Connecting with both wild and domesticated animals brings us healing and brings us closer to the earth.

  • Indoor plants

Tending to plants connects us with their cycles and their needs and can be a mindful activity. Enjoying the growth and changes in our plants brings us in touch with the natural world. Especially if we live in a city having indoor plants is a wonderful way to remind us of our connection to the earth

  • Gardens

Connecting with the earth through gardening is an easy way to bring more earth energy into our lives. Gardening is also a mindful activity and can be done by almost anyone on some level. Maybe only indoor plants are achievable but getting outside and getting our hands in the dirt is what we have been doing for centuries.

  • Pay attention to cycles

If you are a gardener you will notice the cycles of the earth. Even without spending time gardening we can pay attention to the cycles of the earth. The days get longer and shorter, the tides come and go, the moon goes through a 28 day cycle, the seasons cycle around the year. When we connect with the earth and her cycles we become more in tune with her energies. 

  • Consider taking herbs

Herbs have the energy of both the earth and the individual plant itself. When we take a herb we are not just getting the actions of all the parts of the herb but we are getting the energy of the whole. Plants and particularly herbs that we use have developed over millennia to have useful properties. 

Ways to look after the earth

  • Consume less

While generally decreasing our consumption of stuff the important areas to focus on are buying local and seasonal foods with minimal packaging, avoiding the use to single use plastics, eating less meat and dairy. We can grow some of our own food and avoid wasting food. We can make do with buying less stuff.

  • Use renewable energy

Using renewable energy instead of those based upon fossil fuels is an important change. As well as using renewable energy we can make an effort to use less energy in our homes and workplaces.

  • Cut down carbon emissions

This follows on from the previous point and I believe we all need to think about our personal carbon emissions. Flying and driving are large contributors to carbon emissions and we can take personal action by decreasing our travel where we can and offsetting the emissions when travel is essential. We can make a difference by using public transport and cycling or walking instead of driving; holidaying closer to home and having virtual business meetings instead of flying to meet in person.

  • Become an activist

This is my 2020 news year resolution – to become an activist and help bring about change. I encourage everyone who is able to become active in pushing for change. This might mean becoming active in a local conservation group or a worldwide organisation. It might mean lobbying the government for change or supporting a greener politician or entering politics yourself. 

  • Avoid investing in non sustainable companies 

For those of us who invest, either through our superannuation or out of it, we should avoid investing in companies that aren’t sustainable. Investing in renewables instead of fossil fuels can make a difference .

  • Talk about it

Start a conversation with your family and friends about looking after the earth better. Let them know what you’re doing and simple things they can do to help.

Let me know in the comments or by email if you have any more suggestions about connecting with and caring for our planet.

In my next blog I will go back to Chapter 2 which is about making choices and decisions on treatments.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land on which I work and live.

Disclaimer. This blog is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 1

Responsibility for your own Health

Well it’s the New Year and I’m enacting one of my resolutions, which is to write a blog each week. This week in How to Heal Yourself I have been finishing off  Chapter 1 – Responsibility for your own Health. This chapter is about the first phase in healing from any illness, which is to take responsibility for your own health. Too many people give away their responsibility to other people; to doctors or other health professionals. They follow treatment plans that they have no real idea about because they trust their doctor. But ultimately healing is done from within, not by external forces, so we must be responsible for all the factors that affect our health. This does not mean we don’t use conventional treatments it just means we take charge of our management and don’t just blindly follow along.

Responsibility means being both responsible and accountable for our own health and healing. Some definitions include being to blame but I don’t feel this is a helpful way to look at disease. Our lifestyles may be to blame for our illness but mostly we do the best we can in our lives. Blaming ourselves or others for our illness is not very productive. I like to look at it as being accountable. This means that we look at all the possible reasons why we might have become sick and try to change. It means we take account of the whole of our lives and seek to heal not only the physical body and the mind but also our soul and spirit. We can look at our lives and our situation in a holistic way and take steps to become responsible for our own healing. That means making changes that give our body the best chance to heal.

If you’ve read my other books you will know that I believe that our inner self, our soul, is the authentic self and through our soul we have a connection to universal spirit. When we connect with our inner self or soul we can better channel source energy and become the person we are meant to be. And this source energy, which is the energy of life, helps us heal. Much of the work of healing is about increasing the flow of energy from source through our soul to our body and mind. It is about being the person we are meant to be and this brings about healing on all levels.

The responsibility we have is to get in touch with our own soul and spirit and work in ways that enhance the flow of healing energy within our bodies and minds. We have to become accountable to ourselves for what we do to our body, mind and spirit. We cannot blame anything external to ourselves for our illness or disease; we must take the responsibility ourselves. We must do the inner work that brings our soul’s presence on to centre stage. We are ultimately responsible for making sure we live a life that is centred on our soul’s needs.

When we get sick we often feel out of control, plunged into chaos. Disease and illness destabilise our sense of control and solidity. We feel adrift from our life, as we knew it, especially if it is a serious illness. We may feel as if our bodies have let us down.

The feeling of loss of control is common with many illnesses and it often causes us to question everything. Indeed I believe this is one of the purposes of serious illness in our lives. It helps us question the life we had been living and encourages us make changes that bring about a better life. We can choose to not make the changes and let our illness be in control. Or we can become responsible both for the illness and our own healing.

I have been thinking about the steps we might take in order to take more responsibility for our own health. I think the first one is to learn to trust ourselves better. We need to trust that our bodies can heal and to follow along with our deep knowing about the best ways to heal. We need to trust our own body, mind and soul and its amazing capacity to heal given the right conditions. We simply have to trust that this is so and work out what the right healing conditions are on an individual basis. 

The second step is to trust the process of life and understand that illness has a deeper meaning for each of us. The changes we make that lead to our physical healing also lead to deeper healing and transformation. The transformation is ultimately about becoming our authentic selves and living a soul centred life.

The third step in taking responsibility is to make conscious decisions about our life and treatment plans rather than getting caught up in the machine that is illness and conventional medicine. If we don’t consciously make decisions about our life then they will be made anyway so we need to get conscious about it. 

The fourth step is to regain a sense of control and that is what the whole book is about – how to regain control of our lives in a conscious way in the midst of our illness.

My next blog will be about Chapter 2 – Choosing between Treatments. I am currently struggling with this chapter and finding it difficult to write but I think it is important to look at how we might choose between various treatment options for our illness.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2020.

Carol

December 2018 Newsletter

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STRESS

I was going to write this month’s newsletter about stress management and decided that what most of us need isn’t just stress management it’s stress reduction. Sure, we can do relaxation, mindfulness practices, meditation, get plenty of sleep, eat healthily and exercise to help manage our stress but wouldn’t it be better to reduce the stress? Yet many people find this hard to do. Our lives have become so busy that we are under continual stress to be somewhere or do something almost all the time. Our children’s lives are so full of school and after school activities that their heads are spinning too. We have changed from human beings to human doings.

How can we reduce the busyness of our lives? How can we reduce our stress instead of just managing it?

One answer is that we need to declutter our lives – declutter both our physical space and our time allocation. Two years ago, I started the process of decluttering my physical space. When we declutter our physical possessions, we look at each item we own and decide whether it brings us joy or whether it is a necessity. If it doesn’t bring us joy or it isn’t a necessity, we sell it or give it away or throw it out. We gradually surround ourselves with only things that are necessary or bring us joy. We can bring this awareness to how we spend our money as well by only buying things that bring us joy or are necessary. This helps the environment and our pockets.

We can do this in other areas of our life as well. How we spend our time is just as important; does what we do bring us joy? Is that time spent on an activity a necessity or a joyful experience? If it is neither then maybe, we could look at not doing it. We could decide to only spend our time on what brings us joy and what is necessary. This is a choice we make every day and if our lives are too full of stress part of the problem is that we fill them full of too many activities. We could look at how we spend both our money and our time more thoughtfully and we might find we can change our lives for the better.

Last year I decided to leave conventional general practice because I wasn’t enjoying my work. There is the necessity of needing money to live on, so I do need to work which is why I started at Safflower clinic. I now choose to spend longer with patients and not stress myself out with ten-minute consultations. Sure, I earn less money but now I try to spend less money. I try not to buy things I don’t really need, and I am aware when I buy stuff that it may have an impact of the earth and on my pocket. I could work more or harder, but I choose to work less and buy less and spend more time doing things that bring me joy. I spend more time writing and gardening and walking and having fun with family and friends.

I have taken on more study and find this can be a source of stress if I try to be a perfectionist about it. Like most people my expectations of myself can be too high so I try to find the joy in the study and if it’s just a drag I only do what is necessary. Since I started at Safflower life has been a bit too full of work and study, so I am considering whether to defer next year’s study or do less study. Each activity in our life can be examined and we can let go of those activities that don’t fill us with joy or aren’t necessary. In this way we help reduce our stress levels, which is really the best stress management technique there is.

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia or you can pick a copy up at Safflower Clinic for $20.

Disclaimer. This newsletter is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

Safflower Chinese Medicine Clinic

Opening  a GP practice at Safflower Chinese Medicine Clinic. 

I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining Safflower Chinese Medicine Clinic as an Integrative GP. I will be starting on Monday August 20th and consulting three days a week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The services I will offer as an integrative GP at Safflower are as follows –

  • Long consultations (history, examination, referrals, conventional and alternative treatment options)
  • Shorter follow up consultations (results, feedback and follow up treatments)
  • Routine appointments (for short general practice issues and laser acupuncture)
  • Routine appointments will be bulk billed for health care card holders and pensioners

I will offer longer consultations where I will spend time listening, taking a history, examining the person and ordering investigations where necessary to arrive at a shared understanding of the person’s health issues from a holistic perspective. I will then work with the person to explore both conventional and alternative treatment options considering the mind, the body and the spiritual aspects.

I have an interest in complex problems that may not have an easy diagnosis and I enjoy working long term with patients to explore their health issues and help them find ways to heal. I am also interested in all mental health issues and will explore with people the psycho-spiritual aspects that lie behind many mental health problems.

I will also offer routine consultations and advice on any general practice issues however the practice is not set up for emergencies or acute injuries. The practice is also not currently equipped to provide vaccinations, removal of skin lesions, suturing, ear syringing or pap smears.

I have an ongoing interest in laser acupuncture and will be able to incorporate this as one management option. I will work closely with other members of the team at Safflower to provide both a Western and an Eastern perspective on health issues.

I am currently studying a Masters in Applied Science in Chinese Herbal medicine at RMIT but am not yet able to prescribe Chinese herbs; for herbal prescriptions patients will need to see Brigitte, Eryn or Vicki.

More details about prices and booking an appointment will be available soon on the Safflower website.

 

 

Listening to the calling of our heart

Listening to the calling of our heart.

Our hearts are always calling to us. They try to get us to pay attention to longings that we often bury beneath our everyday existence. We bury such longings and ignore the callings because to listen would be to go against all we have learnt about fitting into society. For society does not pay heed to the callings of the heart. Society pays heed to the callings of the ego and the mind; to mortgages and secure jobs, to school work and university degrees; to being a good child, a good spouse, a good parent.

I listened to an interview with John Mayer the other day and he spoke about knowing that he was a musician and writer from a young age and following that calling knowing it was what he was here to do. Sometimes I wish I’d had that clarity of calling at a young age. But for most of us life gets in the way and our hearts get burdened with expectations. We expect we will follow a certain path only to find that it is not what we thought; that we do not arrive at a place where our hearts are filled with joy, love and abundance. We glimpse such places along our path – maybe when we fall in love, or have a child or begin a job that we love. Yet somehow we can’t hold onto that place within us that is trying to show us how to live.

The heart callings have a strange pull on us and sometimes if we pay attention that pull will be an irresistible force that draws us towards our life’s work. The calling changes over time but some impulses are always with us urging us to leave secure jobs and do things that society may frown upon.

Your heart may be calling you to fall in love with someone, or change your job, or have a baby, or buy a puppy. It may be calling you to stop the busyness of your life and spend time listening to its longings. Sometimes we are so busy that we don’t pay the heart and its desires any attention. Maybe it is because we don’t want to hear what the heart has to say about our current life? Or maybe it is just that we have forgotten how to live in touch with our heart centre but rather pay all our attention to the ego mind.

The ego does not want us to listen to our heart simply because to do so might put us against society’s expectations. But even the ego may fall in line eventually. When that part of us sees that the way of the heart leads to joy and fulfillment and wealth of a type not measured by money. We may struggle with listening to the calling of our heart but once we cease the struggle we can just accept that what we need is to pay our heart more attention. Maybe then we can accept that to follow our heart’s desires is not selfish but the way we can be of greatest service to the world.

Transformation 5 – Allowing

Transformation 5 – Allowing.

I have spent the last year writing a book about transformation and this week I discovered that everything I had been doing in order to transform was related to the physical aspects. I thought if I transformed my physical environment and my physical body and mind that I would be on the path to greater transformation of the spiritual kind. I tried to incorporate spiritual practices into my life and believed that by doing these practices I would be able to transform myself into someone who was more authentic and more aligned with their spiritual inner self.

This week I discovered I had been approaching the whole thing from the wrong direction. So I deleted most of the book I had written and began again. I have learnt much in the past year but not what I planned. I started out with so much purpose and direction; I planned out the book and assigned chapter headings and tried to make the transformation something logical and rational and physical. Yet what I intended was to become more authentic and more aligned with spirit; to have my inner self manifest physically. My planning and logical thinking got in the way again. I allowed myself to try to control the process instead of allowing the process to unfold.

I discovered that I need to be more allowing of the natural process of life. It cannot be forced. Of course we can try to force it, we can plan and plan but what that generally brings us is more of the same. My more of the same is more dissatisfaction with conventional medicine and my general practice work. I have gone in circles with this and each time I planned a change that might make a difference and each time I came full circle back to the same place.

Now I know that my path is to find a more joyful existence where I can live my passions and help people. I’m not sure what that exactly entails and that’s where I’ve got stuck before. Trying to plan my way out, using my brain to find alternatives. Never succeeding, rather I only find more of the same. Now I see that to transform my life and myself I need to allow it to happen. This means not forcing, not searching, not grasping at alternatives. It means allowing life to unfold in its own way. It means paying attention to signs and synchronicities that show me the path to take to my future. This allowing means making peace with the present and finding joy in the life I have now but knowing that change is coming. I can feel it.

The temptation is to plan and force and work out where the path will lead me so that I know how to get there by dint of will and logic. That is the way we have learnt, the way of control. Allowing is the opposite of control. It is giving up control to a higher force that lives inside us all. This force connects us all and unless we pay attention we might miss the signposts that show the way. The signs are always there but I sometimes fail to pay them enough attention.

Why is it that for years I have been dissatisfied with my work? It’s a sign that I should be doing something different. I always knew this yet I resisted the knowing. What else can I do? How can I make a living? What if I fail? I let the negative control my life. I still feel like most of my path has been on course; that I have needed to learn certain things through my work in conventional medicine. But now I know that I need to be doing something else. I just don’t know what it is yet. I need to allow that to unfold and that’s my new plan. Allow life to unfold.

Transformation 3 – the physical body

Transformation 3 – the physical body.

Transforming our whole self can begin anywhere but I chose to begin with transforming my physical aspects. Decluttering my life was the initial step but then I had to look at transforming my physical body into something healthier. I had let myself go in my middle age, becoming rounder of belly and quite unfit. This was affecting how I felt about myself and I decided that what I was learning about in my nutritional studies I should put into practice and see if it made any difference.

I read and researched about what a good diet should be and came to the conclusion that although I have always had a relatively healthy diet I needed to clean up my act. I had not been eating meat for many years except for fish – so I was not a complete vegetarian. I decided initially to try the low carb high fat way of eating. In this diet, which isn’t really a diet so much as a different way of eating, the carbohydrates are kept to a minimum – mostly just vegetables and the occasional fruit. Protein and fats make up the bulk of the food. I cut out all sugar, bread, pasta, rice, root vegetables and began to eat more nuts and cheese and fish. I ate a variety of vegetables and occasionally some berries.

I managed to stick to this for some months and then went on holidays and it all went out the window for a while. When I returned to it I wasn’t as strict. I felt I had more energy on this way of eating and I avoided the swings in energy that a high carb diet causes. However I lost very little weight and it was quite a hard diet to maintain.

Further research then led me to the Paleo diet – the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors. This was very similar to the low carb, high fat diet but it didn’t restrict fruit as much. It did however mean no dairy. I lasted about two weeks on a vegetarian and fish form of Paleo but found the food choices too limited without meat. After all our Paleolithic ancestors were not vegetarians; much of their diet was meat based.

Not to be discouraged I made a major decision – to start eating meat again. I had been vegetarian partly for health reasons and partly because of the poor treatment of animals. The health reasons seemed a little unclear now. So I began to eat meat again – mostly organic free range or biodynamic.

I definitely think a Paleolithic type diet is the healthiest diet and the diet we have evolved to eat. This is the type of food I eat:

  • Vegetables – preferably organic
  • Fruits – preferably organic
  • Meat and fish – meat should be organic, free range, grass fed. Fish should be low in mercury and sustainably fished
  • Eggs – organic free range
  • Nuts and seeds – preferably organic
  • Good oils – olive, omega 3, coconut
  • Legumes – preferably organic
  • Herbs and spices – preferably organic

These are the types of food I avoid:

  • Highly processed foods especially those containing sugar and fructose, artificial colourings, preservatives and artificial sweeteners
  • Sugar
  • Dairy – many people lack the basic enzyme for digesting dairy, others are intolerant to the proteins. I have recently been reintroducing a little dairy into my diet in order to get a little more calcium.
  • Most grains – especially gluten containing grains. Some cultures have eaten grains for centuries and have ways of preparing them that decrease gut problems but for most of us grains should be avoided
  • Soy – although I may eat fermented soy sometimes
  • Processed meats – these have been shown to increase our risk of cancer
  • Foods containing chemicals, preservatives, colourings, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, other drugs

I do still drink coffee although less than I used to and I have alcohol a couple of times a week and I’m still deciding whether either has an adverse effect on my health.

Overall I feel less tired. I don’t have those slumps during the day when my blood sugar starts to plummet because I’ve eaten too much sugar or carbohydrates. I can go for longer without food if I have to without feeling hungry or cranky. I have lost 10 kg so it seems to be working, and without too much effort. As long as I eat paleo type foods I can eat what I want so it’s not really a diet but just a different way of eating.

As well as good food I have started taking extra vitamins and minerals. Through my nutrition course and research I am taking a multivitamin and mineral that includes most of what I need. In addition I take vitamin c, magnesium and if I feel like I’m getting rundown I take an immune booster with herbs and zinc in.

I think extra vitamins and minerals are important because even though I eat mostly organic food it still probably doesn’t have as many micronutrients as our ancestors’ diet. Certainly we’re probably all lacking vitamin C. I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that taking vitamin and mineral supplements has adverse effects. It is possible to overdose on fat-soluble vitamins but in the doses in the average multivitamin pill this isn’t going to happen.

In addition to eating much more healthily and taking the extra vitamins and minerals I decided it was important to exercise more. I began walking almost every day and bought an online yoga membership which I actually began to use.

So healthy!

Exercise

Exercise is worth focusing on for a moment. Most of us aren’t active enough in our everyday lives so exercise becomes an important component of keeping ourselves healthy. The more active we are the better although too much exercise can have adverse effects on how health with joint problems and overtraining issues. The secret is always to listen to our bodies and pay attention. If we have been leading sedentary lives then a gradual increase in activity and exercise is best, paying attention to how our body reacts to new exercise and adjusting accordingly.

Each exercise program and increase in activity is individual. It’s important to do activities and undertake exercise that is enjoyable. We want to bring more joy to our lives, not more suffering. Sometimes we do have to go through some initial reprograming of bad habits to come to a place where we enjoy the increase in activity.

A good exercise physiologist or personal trainer can help us develop healthier habits and sometimes we need a medical check up prior to undertaking exercise – again it’s an individual thing. Tailor your physical transformation to your own particular needs.

Changing our outer body, feeding it better and moving it more, not only makes our body healthier but it makes our mind healthier. Our cells rely on good nutrition to do their job and if our cells are healthy everything works better.

Sleep

The other aspect of good physical health is getting enough rest. Sleep is really important for our health; it is essential for healing and restoration. Research shows that adults require eight to eight and a half hours every night for good restorative sleep and the optimum hours are between 9 pm and 5 am. Delta wave sleep, which is the best restorative sleep, has been shown to occur mainly between 9 pm and 2 am. Restorative and healing hormones are produced in this time. Poor sleep patterns over the long term lead to an increased risk of degenerative diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Tips to establish a good sleep pattern can be found on my website –  Sleep

Healthy environment

I’m going to write more about our relationship to our environment in a later blog but our physical environment is important to our health. Most of us don’t realise how much we are exposed to chemicals and radiation in our everyday lives. Compared to our grandparents’ lives we are exposed to myriad chemicals and toxins and higher levels of radiation. These can all cause illness so it pays to decrease your exposure any way you can. Clean living is more important than ever.

Ways to improve your environment and exposure to chemicals and radiation

  • Reduce cleaning chemicals. Use microfibre cloths to clean with and use only vinegar and bicarb soda. We have become obsessed with killing germs which is altering our microbiome and potentially leading to increased rates of allergies and asthma. Avoid bleach, solvents, strong detergents, air fresheners and fragrances.
  • Avoid chlorine and fluoride in drinking water – use a good quality water filter.
  • Avoid all pesticides and herbicides in the house and garden – these contain hormone disrupting chemicals and other toxins, they are designed to kill animals and plants and should be avoided.
  • Keep electrical appliances at least one metre away from where you spend a lot of time- eg bed, couch, dining table. Avoid prolonged use of mobile phones.
  • Avoid storing food in plastic – use glass, stainless steel and lead free ceramics. Plastics can contain hormone disrupting chemicals and other nasties.
  • Open your windows and air out the house on a frequent basis.
  • Eat more organic and unprocessed foods. Avoid the chemicals involved in processing and conventional farming methods and as much as possible eat organic or home grown produce (pesticide and herbicide free of course).

 

When our body is healthy it is more in alignment with our higher self. Sometimes our health is influenced directly by being out of alignment but if we can look after the physical aspects as well as we can this helps our spiritual journey. Diet exercise, good sleep and living clean are important elements of transforming our physical self into a more healthy state.

Transformation 2 – transforming the physical.

Transformation 2 – transforming the physical.

As I began to think about transforming myself it occurred to me that what I needed to do before anything else was to declutter my life. To get rid of the old before ushering in the new.

Last year I came across a beautiful little book called ‘the life changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organising’ by Marie Kondo. I read it and started to practice the art of decluttering. The basic premise is that we should surround ourselves with things that bring us joy and not hold onto stuff that no longer brings us joy. Similar to other decluttering advice – is it useful, is it beautiful, is it sentimental?

I followed the process as described by Marie and began to shed things. I shared the start of the process in a blog a year ago. I found the process difficult at times and there are many things that don’t bring me all that much joy that I am still reticent to part with but it is a process that I am determined to follow. There is a certain freedom in getting rid of stuff; we all seem to have so much of it.

Not only can I discard those physical things that no longer bring me joy but it is also good to discard behaviours and activities that no longer bring me joy. This is much harder to do.

I am aware that sometimes I try to do too much and don’t leave myself time for things like exercise, spiritual practice and writing. Instead I spend too much time looking at my phone and my emails or going to social functions that I don’t really enjoy. Or I watch meaningless stuff on television to fill in the time so I can avoid listening to my self.

At some times in our lives we all do too much so that our authentic selves become overshadowed by ‘real life’. Part of decluttering is about pruning back our activities so that we only do those things that bring us joy on some level.

My work is one thing that doesn’t always bring me joy. The other day I had a bad day at work with a very sick child. General practice can be very stressful yet there are parts of it that I really enjoy. I really enjoy the connections I get to make with people and the help that I can give them with the healing power of the relationship we build. The ability to help people transform into their true selves as they explore their illness and health is powerful medicine. Yet much of general practice is fast paced and stressful; too many patients for the day is a common problem that is difficult to overcome when you are providing a service to the community. Is there a way to declutter my practice so that it brings me more joy and less stress? I have been reflecting on this a lot and come to the conclusion that if I can be completely present for the patient then it doesn’t take so long to help them. So I practice this more.

I began with the stuff; the physical things that fill my life. I pruned back my possessions so that everything in my house brings me joy. Of course I’m not that good at doing it so as I write this I’m still surrounded by too much stuff. But I have started the process. We can begin with small steps and physically decluttering our lives is one thing we can all try. It is a process after all.

It is important in decluttering to examine each aspect of our lives and try to let go of those parts that don’t bring us the joy we deserve. We can declutter our physical stuff, our work, our social engagements, our family commitments, our leisure time and our spiritual practices. Making my life simpler helps me have more time and space to connect with my inner self and spirit.

Transformation 1 – Intention

Transformation 1 – intention.

This blog series is my effort to document the process of transformation that we might undergo in order to become whole or truly ourselves, the person we are meant to be. In order to transform consciously and purposefully we can’t just write about it or think about it. The change has to involve doing things differently, behaving differently. It has to involve action of some type.

In writing this blog I hope to not only learn how to transform myself but also help other people learn how to transform. The intention is to transform myself into a person who is more aligned with my inner self. This inner self is the essence of who we really are but often it is overshadowed by our outer persona. The persona we display to the world comes about as we are shaped by the outer physical world. We let ourselves become a person that sometimes only faintly resembles who we really are. We do so because it is easier than being true to our real self.

My intention when I started this blog was to become truer to myself, authentic, more whole. While I had discovered much about my true self in writing my first book, Holistic Medicine, it seemed that I still lived according to other people’s rules. I still paid too much attention to what society and my ego self expected of me.

Could I transform myself into the person I was meant to be without chaos, illness or drama?

And how was I going to do it?

Without knowing what the process would be I first set the intention that this is what I am going to do. The intention is set by the action of beginning to write this blog and document my progress. I trust that the process will reveal itself as I take each step and documenting it all not only helps me but potentially helps others who wish to transform themselves into more authentic people.

The reasons we are not authentic are many and varied. We tend to become less authentic when we let society or those around us dictate how we should behave. Often it is our own expectations and beliefs that trap us in a life we don’t really love. For surely being authentic is about living a life that is full of joy and love and service to the world. It is about living the life we were born to live, following our true path, our destiny.

How do we identify our true path? How do we know when we are not on it?

The simplest answer is that our true path brings us joy and when we are not on our true path we are not living with joy. Our life drains us and we are unhappy. But changing our life is often a long-term process.

In order to transform into the person I desire to be, all I have to do is align my outer self with my inner self. Of course it’s that easy! My inner self is the eternal part of me, my soul, my connection with Source (the universe, God etc.). This part of me is full of love and knows exactly what the path is. My outer self is the ego me, the mind that chatters away, often with negative thoughts and beliefs. Transforming into my authentic self is about being constantly in touch with my inner self and source. My intention is therefore to live a life in touch with source energy. Setting this intention is important. Like any process living my life in touch with source energy does not have an endpoint and it isn’t a physical outcome so much as a spiritual one.

Once upon a time my intention was to transform my life into a life full of joy and happiness and I thought the way to do this was to stop work as a doctor and become a fulltime writer. So my intention was much more focused on the physical dimensions. For years I fantasized about stopping work as a doctor and just being able to write. I changed jobs frequently trying to find something that was more joyful and fulfilling. Yet I always ended up in the same place. That was because my intention had such a physical outcome attached to it. My inner self and source were always leading, attempting to get me to follow my true path and my true path is to be authentic. Now my ego thinks it knows what that means but it doesn’t. My ego thinks my true path is to be a writer not a doctor. My ego plans and plans and focuses on outcomes that never happen. So now my intention is to live a life in touch with source energy and I can do this by aligning my inner and outer self. In this way my outer persona is a reflection of my inner self – that is what being authentic is all about.

If your intention is about physical outcomes then this blog is probably not for you. While I will go through certain steps or processes that help you transform into a more authentic person it is not a recipe for achieving specific physical goals. Our inner self knows what achievements we are capable of and the direction our lives can take. Our ego thinks it knows what we can achieve but these wished for achievements are often fantasies that society has sold to us. We are all special but often not in the way we fantasize about. When we manage to live our lives directed by our inner self and source we achieve things we never knew were possible but they may not reflect what our ego dreams of.

To set my intention with this spiritual focus of being authentic to my inner self is new for me. All those years I have been trying to be authentic I have just been trying to achieve an ego fantasy of what I believed was my authentic self. I believed that my real role in life was to be a writer not a doctor. Having set my intention to now be authentic I am now open to what my inner self and source have in mind for me – my ego does not know what that might involve but living life with the intention of being authentic opens me up to many possibilities that I may not have even entertained.

I have lived much of my life trying to follow my authentic path but this is the first time I have let go of the outcome in physical terms and set my intention in purely spiritual terms. I intend to live with my physical self aligned with inner self and spirit. Or in other words to manifest my inner self on the physical level. Let’s see how it goes.