Shock horror – I had just received a diagnosis of having osteoporosis! As I left the Doctor’s surgery my mind was running wild with all the information of how the media, women’s and health magazines and the internet (especially Dr. Google) have described the effects osteoporosis has on a person. Images of little old ladies walking with a frame, seen in many advertisements selling calcium tablets, came running across my mind.
Does it mean I will become a very stooped-over old lady? Does it mean more falls and broken bones? Does it mean I will be on calcium tablets or the latest new medical fad of calcium injections every six months until my ‘last breath’?
Yes, all the above are the physical and medical signs of osteoporosis – but I was getting a strong sense that there is a deeper understanding of this disease that I needed to come to. Rather than go straight to Dr. Google, I felt to sit and ponder and really connect and feel into my body for the understanding that medical websites don’t give you. So, with a cup of tea in hand I sat under my favourite tree and watched the river flowing past our home, deeply pondering on the possibility that there is a more energetic meaning than just the medical term ‘loss of bone density’ which has resulted in my diagnosis of osteoporosis.
Hmm . . . of course the self-blame started to surface . . . am I now paying for the lack of exercise, which the medical world tells us builds our bone density strength, especially during the years from 10 – 30. Wait a minute, I was a very sporty person playing netball, hockey, swimming and tennis well into my thirties so that can’t be a reason. Am I now paying for not drinking milk all my life and therefore I was not consuming the required amount of calcium into my body on a daily basis? Am I now paying for having early menopause (46 years old) and therefore the ensuing lack of oestrogen caused the loss of bone density? Maybe!
The self-blame questions kept running wild through my head until I said STOP – none of this feels it is giving me a deeper understanding of why I have just received this diagnosis. In fact, all I was doing was regurgitating all the reasons the medical websites and articles use to explain why people get osteoporosis.
The tight tense feeling in my body started to abate as my pondering turned to words like disregard, lack of self-nurturing, lack of a deep quality of self-care over my busy working life – and possibly over many life times! No longer was I using self-blame, I could now sense the honesty and truth that my body was communicating to me.
I was starting to feel that this was more true -- it was amazing to feel how the depths of despair that I was in and the negative pictures of a ‘fragile old stooped lady’ were gradually disappearing. Was this diagnosis of osteoporosis simply an unlucky family gene (my mother was that little old stooped lady) or is it more reflective of a lack of vital Livingness?
Yes, I now knew that this diagnosis would have a very positive outcome for my body and for my future health and well-being.
I looked back over my 50 years as an educator and realised – no, claimed! – just how much I disregarded a true level of self-care, as ‘me’ always came way down on my ‘to-do’ list. Family first, then students, colleagues and parents came in a close second and ‘me’ somewhere at the bottom – mostly falling off the list! I thought of the many ways in which I remembered overriding my body’s needs to the point of abuse.
Throughout my whole life I never appreciated, I never valued, or indeed, I never honoured just how my body continued to work for me– even when I was treating it with such contempt and disrespect of caring for it.
Did I unconsciously set myself up to receive this diagnosis later in life? Perhaps this was my body’s way to bring me to this ‘stop’ moment, so that I had an opportunity to establish a beautiful quality of self-care and nurturing of ‘me’ and to lovingly place ‘me’ at the TOP of the dreaded ‘to-do’ list?
And I did! Over the past couple of months my priority was consistently developing beautiful rhythms and practices that resulted in an amazing change in my body. Yes, an early morning walk was not to be missed, but instead of heading out with the mindset of needing the ‘strength-building’ exercise to make my bones stronger, I put on my hat, my sunscreen, my sunglasses and a smile full of joy knowing that I was out walking in and with nature all around me – how gorgeous did this feel rather than the ‘pounding of the pavement’ sense that I used to walk in.
And, my weekly water exercise class became a loving thing to do with close friends connecting in friendship and fun with an amazing instructor that emphasised just how tender and gentle we need to be with our bodies. She taught me much about appreciation of my Being, as well as of my body. I also spent another beautiful hour doing Connective Tissue Therapy classes with her and through connecting more deeply with every part of my body I could now feel the preciousness and tenderness that is in my body.
Although I had developed very healthy choices in my eating patterns, I became even more conscious of choosing more nurturing foods that will support my bones, and in turn my whole body, in its natural healing process. Researching cooking books for stimulating and appetising meals became a loving process – a big change in ‘having’ to cook a family meal.
The relationship I now have with my body, and in fact with my whole lifestyle has changed enormously. The old relationship, if you could call it a relationship, was one of disregard, neglect, overriding, getting on with the job and at times it was self-abuse. Today’s relationship is based on loving the tenderness, the gentleness, the preciousness, the loveliness and the beauty of my body from the inside out.
Could these simple changes of attitude in self-caring for my body alter the long-term prognosis of Osteoporosis?
Maybe the medical world wouldn’t accept it because it isn’t scientific or evidence based, but I know from deep within, that my body is loving the self-care and nurturing and is healing in its own way. At last I am appreciating, valuing and honouring how precious, how tender, how loving it is to deeply reconnect to my inner essence, to my true ME and allowing my body to heal itself without any medical intervention.
Ruth A., Australia
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