We live on this planet with flora, fauna, and organisms of all kinds. When history speaks of ‘plagues’ it represents imbalance. Currently in the middle of a frightening pandemic (COVID-19) we are keenly aware of the devastation an invisible micro-organism can unleash – so how can we regain balance and maintain our best health in the face of world-wide imbalance?
We begin to heal when we ask ourselves important questions that inspire observation. For example, have you noticed that there are some people who have insatiable curiosity about the world around them? This is the curiosity of a child, without the restrictions of having to ask an adult in the room for permission.
Those so blessed to live into their fifth decade and beyond are given an opportunity to embrace a ‘second childhood’ which, frankly, can be much better than the first. In the second childhood we have confidence, excitement at everything we have the power to venture out to experience, and a sense of independence. We marvel and wonder at miracles overlooked during our first childhood.
In the fifth decade of life we feel gratitude for the simple things; for the richness of each new day. Opportunity is our new companion. And though the COVID-19 pandemic does put limitations on activities and socializing in the way in which we’ve become familiar, even while safely at home, some people can’t quite embrace their second childhood – with or without the frightening pandemic. Why is that? Answer: their mind, body and/or spirit are imbalanced. They feel pain.
When the human body lives long enough, it begins to show wear and tear (mind, body and spirit). As we focus on the ‘intangible spirit’, open-mindedness and curiosity come into focus. We lean on familiarity – in people, places, and things, all of which bring comfort.
But what happens when what was once familiar appears the same, but behaves differently from what we thought we knew?
Reclaiming relationships falls under this category. We may notice that couples around us begin to grow apart – even after 20 or 30 years together. Why might that be? As the body needs proper nourishment to maintain agility and efficiently functioning organ systems, so too do relationships require emotional nourishment to maintain vigor and mutual satisfaction.
Sometimes we change and grow apart from our partner; or, we wake up to realize that what we thought we had, never really existed at all. The COVID-19 crisis forces us to focus on spirituality to a greater degree. We may decide to ‘settle for’ rather than ‘strive to become’ or ‘to reclaim’ – a personal decision, and not to be taken lightly.
We ask ourselves if we’ve ever faulted younger couples for not giving their relationship a chance – so often hearing of break-ups within the first 10 years of life together. But who is the wiser person? The one who takes 30 years to wake up or out-grow dysfunction? Or the younger person who recognizes right off the bat that things won’t work out? Neither is the wiser. The answer is: there is no single way to achieve happiness. Mutual satisfaction is a goal for most, though onlookers might not recognize the agreement. Mutual satisfaction is achieved in countless ways.
Not everyone wants to “work” on a relationship. For those couples, emotional ‘attachment’ is never an issue. Relating is less heavy, permitting those people to put energy into healing the world on different levels – whether it is an accountant or lawyer being available to clients over family, or a medical professional putting patients before homelife. Not every couple strikes a balance that is meaningful to outsiders. The important thing is that each individual in the relationship finds enough personal satisfaction to channel healing energy to the earth. If part of a ‘couple’ then whatever is mutually agreed upon is ‘correct’ for the union.
Problems arise only if the spirit isn’t fed in the way in which it needs to be nourished. If spiritually starved, the distress inevitably renders the physical body incapacitated by the time the person reaches the fifth decade of life. An unsettled spirit expresses itself in the form of anxiety – which is often accompanied by heart palpitations, unchecked adrenaline, too much cortisol, and digestive issues, to mention a few.
The unsettled spirit impacts the physical body as deeply as would a tangible injury, such as a fall from a high ladder, or auto accident. The body responds to the unsettled spirit as it responds to the physical accidents: with inflammation. Inflammation is the first step to healing. It calls attention to ‘the injury’. What becomes confusing is when inflammation goes unaddressed.
If your car’s dashboard flashed an engine check light, you would go to a mechanic. You would certainly NOT cover the light with masking tape and then set out on a 3,000 mile road trip. And yet, that is exactly how most people treat inflammation of the joints and gastrointestinal system (the gut). These ‘flashing lights’ continue to interfere with comfort, as well as absorption of necessary healing nutrients. And yet, the masking tape often used to ‘cover the symptoms up’ come in the form of over-the-counter liquids and pills (or worse: pharmaceuticals prescribed to block pain) before the diagnosis of root cause is made. Of course, if the mechanic examines under the hood and determines the engine is fine, but the light is at fault, but no replacement is available, the mechanic might indeed say “ignore the light for a while” and that would be fine. So if the primary healthcare provider determines the cause and states a liquid or pill could handle the symptom without further harming the body, wonderful. However, self-treating or accepting treatment of a symptom before the root cause is determined is often devastating to brain chemistry.
To effectively calm inflammation of the joints and gut, it is most helpful to begin by eliminating processed foods and anything that has the following words on the package: modified, partially hydrogenated, white flour, sugar, corn syrup, and artificial. We need to add to our daily diet organically grown produce – can be fresh or frozen; humanely raised, fed and killed poultry (Google: ShopWithYourHeart for brands that offer this); eggs from humanely raised hens; grass-fed beef, and dairy products from humanely raised cows. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as wild caught Alaskan salmon and black cod provide important lubrication to joints and anti-inflammatory nutrition to the gut. Probiotics (to be discussed with your healthcare provider as there are categories of organisms that may be important to avoid, depending on your body), and responsible exposure to the sun’s rays (for Vitamin D3 that the body manufactures in response). Speak with your healthcare provider or dermatologist for recommendations here as your body might require sunblock on certain areas for optimal safety.
Then, we consider additional steps. While nutritional intervention is of great value, there is more that we can do to regain spiritual strength. Your body is your business and your brain is the CEO. It communicates through whispers and shouts. Learning the language of your brain facilitates a meaningful internal relationship between and among you and your mind, body and spirit. Pain calls attention to a need. It is a helpful flag requesting investigation as to root-cause.
In order to address flags of pain, it is often valuable to tap into resources such as a life coach, therapist, yoga and/or tai chi instructor, and more. These professionals should be licensed and certified to be certain they have the most appropriate techniques to facilitate healing of the spirit through emotional as well as postural intervention.
This is your life and sacred journey. While in your body, add positive energy to the conversation you have with it on a daily basis so that everything it has to say is something you want to hear. Here’s to your best health and balance. ~ Dr. Nancy Iankowitz
About the author: Dr. Nancy Iankowitz DNP, RN, FNP-BC is a board-certified family nurse practitioner, director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC (mission & vision: help you self-heal; no patient turned away based upon ability to pay), functional medicine provider, author of several books, and editor of medical and nursing articles in professional journals. www.driankowitz.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.