I spent a good part of this afternoon using an ice cup on my cheek to relieve the pain of an extensive dental appointment. Within a very short time the miracle of the therapeutic value of ice kicked in. As I write this, I no longer am experiencing any pain. My jaw and cheek are still stiff and the pain is gone. As many of you know, I taught Hydrotherapy for over 20 years. Using heat, cold and the combination of the two (contrast treatments) has been a very large part of my own self-care over these many years. Having this knowledge and ability to tend to myself makes me feel so very grateful. Knowing how to stretch the tight places, to strengthen the weak places, to cool down the inflamed places, to heat up the contracted places has given me a sense of empowerment and a feeling of inspiration. I love to speak, teach and write about all of our own abilities to live a life of greater self-care thus lessening our dependence on a health care system that is deeply flawed and unreliable.
Our bodies are programmed to heal. Whether small or large, major or minor, terminal or temporary all challenges to our optimal health are met with a mindboggling precision of strategies from our very bodies to ensure our survival. This protection starts in the womb and accompanies us to our final breath. Day in and day out an intelligence coordinates our functions so we can go on our merry ways. WOW. What a miracle, what a spaceship, what a great place to live in, our bodies. Bottom line is we cannot be here on the earth without one. And then, of course, there are those times when it does not feel like any of the above!
Some spiritual belief systems diminish the body. They emphasize the inner life and devalue the "temple of our abode." Yet we all know how different life can be when the temple feels like a shack in need of repair. When I was 20 years old I had an ephiphany. I understood that health truly is one of the greatest wealths and I started down the path of becoming my very own medicine woman (so to speak.) It is now 36 years later. My life and my self-care includes massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, various types of exercises, stretching, movement and physical play. My "medicines" are the plants in the form of herbal tinctures, infusions, salves and oils. Common sense in nutrition is my meal plan. And a visit to an emergency room once stitched up my knee.
Natural healing has worked well for me over all of these years. I do think one of the "secrets" to all of this is to cultivate a true enjoyment of taking care of oneself. After all, who could possibly know our body, mind and heart better than our own self?!
Self-care is the ticket to health care. No amount of money can buy our health. Money can buy policies that enable us to have tests, drugs and surgeries. Sometimes these things are helpful, even life saving. Yet let's not confuse ourselves. With an investment in ourselves day to day as a lifestyle, over the years we just may become the best doctor, medicine man or medicine woman you could ever imagine. Our bodies are programmed to heal. Look in the mirror. Perhaps you are the healer you have been looking for.
Cate Miller has been a therapist and teacher in the massage profession since 1982 and a teacher at FSM since 1986. Her specialty combines Neuromuscular Therapy with communication and perceptual awareness skills. http://www.floridaschoolofmassage.com