Vortex Healing experience: Connecting with underlying fear

 

In these days of pandemic isolation, I am aware of the part of me that struggles with being unable to do as much as I would like. This part of me has been a frequent companion since the chronic fatigue returned more strongly a few years back.

Yesterday morning, I noticed a shift in how I experience this struggle. In the past, I have experienced it as frustration. Now, I experience it as fear. I can connect with the fear behind the struggle, and that feels like a relief and – in a sense – a coming home. It’s more true that it’s fear, and connecting with the fear allows something in me to relax.

I also noticed that I already know the truth of the situation. For instance, that the frustration comes from “shoulds” in me and do not reflect reality. I can more easily align with this truth and don’t have to go into the frustration.

I enjoyed this shift and explored and stayed with it for a while. It didn’t seem to be connected with any particular or recent healing work so I assumed it came from a maturation that had happened mostly below the surface over time. (Which is certainly part of it.)

When I mentioned this to my partner in the evening, she said “I did the choice points for that issue for you yesterday, while you were asleep, but I forgot to mention it. Sorry!”. We had talked about doing the choice points for it the previous day although I assumed she hadn’t done it yet since she hadn’t mention it.

Her not mentioning it was perfect. It allowed me to see the effect of removing the choice points without being influenced by knowing it had been done. In this case, removing the choice points allowed me to connect with the deeper feelings and beliefs under the earlier surface expression, and it also allowed me to more easily align with the truth of the situation.

Choice points – as described in Vortex Healing – are energetic structures created when the divine decides to have a certain experience for itself. In this case, frustration over not being able to do as much as I would like. At higher levels of Vortex Healing, these can be unraveled in relatively short time.

I add a few words about what I have noticed about this frustration: It comes when the underlying fear is not noticed. It comes from beliefs and identities telling me I am not good enough as I am and that my value comes from my activities. There is a fear of not being good enough or valuable enough in the eyes of others, existence, and the divine.

And it’s innocent. It’s something I adopted from others early in life.

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Chronic fatigue reflections II

 

This is the second in a series of posts with Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS) reflections. These are my own observations so take it with a big grain of salt and – if you have CFS and are curious – explore it for yourself and see what you find.

CFS, rest, and energization. A big part of living with Chronic Fatigue syndrome (CFS) is needing rest, and often a lot of rest (before, during, and after activities). With Vortex Healing in my life, that’s now a little different. When I need rest, what I really need is Vortex Healing energization. The need for rest comes from lack of energy, and this can be remedied – partially or largely – with VH energization.

The way it most often looks is that I notice the need for rest. Lie down and rest, and also receive VH energization. The energization fills up my energy system, and the rest allows my system to absorb it and recover. The result is that I feel much better and the rest period typically is shortened.

Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to channel for myself (since that takes energy), and that’s when it’s a blessing to have a partner who is a senior-level Vortex healer.

CFS, crashing, fear, and grumpiness. I have mentioned this in another post and it’s something I keep exploring. If I am out and about, even for a short period, I need to eat (small amounts) and drink frequently. If I don’t, my system starts crashing.

When that happens, one of the early symptoms is grumpiness. Sometimes, it takes a few minutes before I notice what’s happening and that I need some food and drink. The grumpiness may then take the form of a mostly single-minded focus on getting just that.

Although grumpiness is fine, it’s not always so enjoyable for me or my partner (when we are out together). So I have set the intention to be more aware of this pattern, recognize it earlier, and explore the grumpiness itself.

What I have found is that it’s actually fear. Survival fear.

When I notice that fear, I can tell myself (and my partner) that I notice fear. I notice fear. Survival fear. That means my system is about to crash and I need something to eat and drink as soon as possible, and also a bit of rest.

Noticing what’s behind the grumpiness, putting it into words, and saying out loud helps take some of the charge out of it.

I am still early in the process of exploring this but I suspect it means it doesn’t have to go into grumpiness in the same way.

If this dynamic follows a pattern I have explored before, then it can take two forms. One is that my system needs food and water urgently, there is survival fear, I don’t notice or recognize this fear, and it takes the form of grumpiness or even anger.

The other is that the fear is noticed and acknowledged, and it doesn’t have to take the form of grumpiness or anger because it is already acknowledged and listened to and I take steps to remedy the situation it’s telling me about. (Through food, drink, and rest.)

In the first case, the signal is amplified because I didn’t notice it early on. In the second case, I notice the early signal so it doesn’t have to amplify.

Warrior and CFS

 

This is something I am in the middle of exploring so my insights around it are not so clear right now. (Of course, it’s a pitfall to assume that our understanding about anything in life is ever very clear!)

There is definitely a biological component to CFS (Epstein-Barr infection prior to onset of CFS etc.) but that may not be the whole picture.

I have long suspected there is a connection between suppressed warrior archetype / energy and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), at least in my case. Part of this suppressed warrior archetype is suppressed anger. And it has been suppressed because of adopted family and cultural norms and patterns, and more specifically through people-pleasing and sacrificing my own needs and passions in order to please others.

When I am intentionally in contact with my inner warrior and anger, I feel stronger, more solid, more authentic, more real, more grounded, and I have more energy. I seem to be able to do more without crashing.

I should say that the energy behind anger is, in itself, a more neutral energy. It can be expressed in many ways, including as determination, focus, and authenticity. It doesn’t have to be expressed in what most people think of as anger, although that can be appropriate as well. And if it’s expressed as anger, then the more we are free from beliefs and emotional hangups around anger, the more we can express it in a healthy and constructive way.

I should also mention that several people (senior Vortex Healers and teachers) have said that I seem to have had several lives as a warrior and that the trauma from these lives is still with me. It seems that this has especially surfaced the last few years in order to find healing. I don’t know, but I can easily see myself as having had several warrior lives in the past. And some of the trauma I have explored in myself definitely fits war trauma. Whether it’s literally true or not, the image definitely highlights something in me that needs attention.

In German New Medicine, they see feeling off track as connected with CFS. That also fits my experience. When I first got CFS, I was fifteen and felt lost and off track in life. The CFS symptoms subsided in my 20s and 30s, perhaps because I felt on track and had a strong sense of purpose in life. After several years in a marriage where I felt I couldn’t be myself I similarly felt off track and the CFS returned, and this time stronger.

Why did I feel off track? A major reason was people-pleasing and that I set aside – and didn’t embody or make use of – the warrior archetype in my life. If I had, I would have made very different choices and I would – very likely – have felt much more solid, authentic, and on track in life.

Of course, I don’t know if this had anything to do with the onset of CFS, or the maintenance of it, or what role it will play in healing from it. But I will certainly continue to explore it and do my best to bring the warrior back into my life.

What does the warrior archetype mean to me? It means being more real, authentic, honest, determined, passionate, and being a good steward of my life and – as best I can – the world. It means to stand up for myself as needed, and for others and the world. It means to use the energy behind anger and channel into all of this – authenticity, realness, honesty, determination, passion, and anything else.

How do I work with it? I can easily access the energy of the warrior and just being in contact with it – and use it for daily life activities – helps a lot. I am also actively working on any issues holding me back from living more from the warrior, and this mostly means fears and beliefs that it’s dangerous. (Which it is but that’s OK, that’s part of the game.)

In terms of approaches, work with it using inquiry, dialog, and Vortex Healing (especially choice points has been helpful) and so on.

Why do I say “the energy behind the anger”? Because what’s experienced and expressed as anger is something else before it takes that particular form. It comes from a more neutral and primal energy. And this energy can be channeled in different directions. It can be suppressed. It can be expressed as healthy or unhealthy anger. It can be expressed as clarity, determination, authenticity, honesty, groundedness, fearlessness (not allowing fear to stop me), and action.

Why do I chose to work on it? Because it can’t hurt. At least, it can give me a better quality of life. And it may even free up resources in my body so it can more easily heal itself.

If there is a connection between the warrior archetype of CFS, what may it be? It may be that suppressing the warrior (through people pleasing etc.) somehow sets up the system to be more susceptible for CFS. For many, a mononucleosis infection (Epstein-Barr) lasts a few days, is over, and has no long-term consequence. For some, it precedes CFS. The difference may be a combination of genetics, personality / emotional issues, ongoing and acute stress, and perhaps more. And in the personality / emotional issues category, we may find suppressing the warrior and anger. Who knows. At the very least, it’s worth exploring and see what happens when I free the warrior. (As I did in my late teens and twenties when my health was much better even though I still had CFS.)

Updates a few days later…..

Family background. I thought I would add a few words about how this pattern was created in my life. My father is a warrior by nature and has used that energy in his work and life outside of the family. But in the family, he suppresses his anger, emotions, and warrior. His motto is: Don’t speak up about anything. Don’t rock the boat. And especially when it comes to my mother. I was distressed by this dynamic even as a very little child and spoke up about it, but was told – as I was in many other situations – to be quiet and pretend nothing is going on. I adopted this pattern, by necessity, and unfortunately learned to not speak up, not stand up for myself, and instead be a people-pleaser. (Enneagram nine.)

The regrets I have in my life come from times when I didn’t speak up and didn’t stand up for myself when I needed to and it was appropriate. In other words, I learned to hide my inner warrior. I learned to hide my warrior nature. And – as mentioned above – this may be connected with the CFS. At the very least, going out of this pattern and standing up for myself more regularly will help me a lot in my life and improve my quality of life. And, who knows, maybe it even will help bring me back to a more robust health.

Spiritual dark nights and warrior. When I went to Nepal and India in my twenties, I wished for some kind of spiritual transformation. Instead, what I got was learning to stand up for myself. And that is a spiritual transformation. It’s part of embodiment.

When I occasionally mention the dark night I have been going through for a few years, most people think the transformation has to do with learning about or discovering interconnectedness, compassion, empathy, living for the larger whole, and so on. But for me, it’s the reverse. I did all of that in my teens, twenties and thirties. What I didn’t learn was to stand up for myself consistently and when it was needed in life. (Of course, I need to deepen in the oneness side too, but for now, what seems more important is to learn to take care of my human life with more consistency.)

The dark night obviously has had to do with healing old traumas and emotional issues, and seeing and questioning remaining identities and beliefs. But a big part of it is exactly this: learning to stand up for myself. Learning to be a good steward of my own life. Learning to take care of the individual side of the individual vs. collective/oneness side of the equation.

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Chronic Fatigue reflections I: movement, surfacing emotions, crashing, food, and anger

 

I decided to start a series of posts with Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS) reflections. These are just my own observations so take it with a big grain of salt and explore it for yourself (if you have CFS).

Chronic fatigue and conscious movement. One thing I have learned through living with Chronic Fatigue (CFS) is to be extra conscious of how I physically move. If I move too fast – and frantically – it’s clearly not good for my health. I need to find a comfortable way to move, and that usually means to slow down. Beyond that, if I can find a nurturing way to move, that’s even better.

When I see others moving in a fast or frantic way, it’s a reminder to me to slow down. I am usually pretty good at it, but I too notice the temptation to speed up and try to do a lot quickly. It’s also helped me to look at why I am tempted to do this. Mainly, when I have some “extra” energy – beyond just being able to lie in bed do close to nothing – there is a temptation to do as much as I can – and perhaps to do this relatively fast – since I don’t know how long it will last.

I have done a lot of conscious movement work in my previous life so this is relatively natural for me (tai chi, chigong, yoga, Feldenkrais, Breema). For others with CFS but without this previous experience, I imagine that very gentle conscious-movement explorations can be helpful if it’s adapted to what they are able to do without worsening too dramatically or crashing.

Chronic fatigue and surfacing emotions. We are a seamless system so emotions play a role in any aspect of our life, and so also in chronic illness. For instance, chronic illness may lead to – at different times – anger, frustration, sadness, grief, anxiety, and so on, and it’s good to address this to improve quality of life and give the system a better chance to heal itself. It’s also possible that certain personality traits – like perfectionism and people-pleasing – is connected with CFS although research has not shown this (yet).

In general, why not address emotional issues? It can certainly improve our quality of life no matter our situation, and it can also free up resources allowing our system to better heal itself.

There are many possible connections between CFS and emotions. Here, I want to highlight just one. When my energy level is good, my old emotional issues are mostly “hidden” and not very obvious. I have the resources to deal with life without having too many issues triggered.

When my energy levels go down, these old issues tend to surface more easily. Even smaller challenges in life can trigger my old hangups since I don’t have the resources to deal with life’s challenges as I normally would.

The gift in this is that I get to see these old hangups, make a note of them, and perhaps – if I have energy! – address them.

Chronic fatigue & crashing. When my system crashes, it’s typically when I am out of bed and in some activity, and when I do too much and haven’t had food and water frequently enough. The recipe for avoiding crashing is the reverse: do less, rest more, and eat small meals and drink (water, herbal teas) more frequently.

When my system crashes, it feels like a whole-systems crash. My physical body begins to shut down. My mind goes into survival mode with a single-minded focus on food and water. And if I perceive that someone or something is in the way of me getting food and water quickly, I may also get frustrated, angry, and/or grumpy. (The focus is often on chocolate and sodas since that gives me quick energy, even if I rarely if ever eat and drink it otherwise.)

Chronic fatigue & food. I know I do better when I avoid some foods (wheat, dairy, sugar, refined foods) and eat more of other foods (vegetables, some fruits, some less typical grains). In periods where I eat more indiscriminately, my system is eventually impacted and I need to switch back to a more intentional diet. Similarly, if I eat strictly for too long, I eventually need to broaden my diet.

The foods I get sick from if I eat them regularly become medicine in small amounts in periods where I eat more intentionally (for instance, cheese, cream, chocolate).

As mentioned above, if I am out of the house and notice I am about to crash, it can help to eat foods I usually completely avoid (AKA “junk” food) – simply because this food is full of quick energy.

Chronic fatigue & anger. I suspect that, for me, there is a connection between suppressed anger and fatigue. It may be one of several keys to healing. (It was obviously not the only or main factor in causing the illness, if it played a role at all.)

In my case, there is probably a connection between perfectionism and people-pleasing and suppressed anger (when we ignore our own needs in order to please others, we naturally get angry). And there are also beliefs and “shoulds” about anger from my family (where showing anger is not acceptable).

Anger is energy, and when it’s suppressed it means that the energy of the anger – in the moment – is not available. I also suspect that suppressed anger corresponds to chronic tension in the body (see other articles on how chronic tension is necessary for us us to hold a stance and believe anything at all), and that tension requires and “binds” energy that could have been used for the normal functioning of the body and for healing.

I notice that when I connect with the energy of anger, and perhaps use it when I speak and act (in a constructive way), I feel stronger and I feel I have more energy. And I don’t crash the way I normally do following exertion (PEM).

I thought this would be the end of this article but I’ll add a few more observations / questions….

Yawning as a signal. Over time, I have learned to notice signals that helps me avoid crashing. Yawning is one of those signals.

In my experience, when I yawn it means one of three things.

Most often, it means I need food – and that I need it right away. It’s already been a little too long since last meal or mini-meal.

If I have recently had food, it may mean that my system needs energization. Vortex Healing is the best way for me to do this.

And if I have had food and my system is relatively well energized, it may mean that I am ready for sleep.

Vortex healing experience: after a healing session

 

Each Vortex Healing (VH) session is different – depending on the VH tools we use, the focus and intention for the session, the recipient and what’s going on for them, and probably much more.

I thought I would share my experience yesterday with receiving a VH session. It’s not necessarily typical (this doesn’t happen following each session) and it’s also not atypical (nothing was really that surprising).

I received a VH session using Bioelectric Flow (a VH tool) with the intention to work on what will most effectively allow me to heal from the chronic fatigue (CFS). I felt the energy – the Bioelectric Flow has a distinct quality – working in my head, and especially in the center of my head and where the brain meets the spine. (This was also the experience of the healer.) It felt strong, as the previous two Bioelectric Flow sessions have been.

Following the session, I noticed the energy continuing working on my brain. I went to bed early (8pm), slept for a couple of hours, and woke up with a lot of anger in my system. This is, most likely, suppressed anger that the healing session allowed to come to the surface and be seen and felt. I had the intention to notice and allow the anger energy and also notice and allow the old suppressing pattern without engaging in it.

For the next one or two hours, I stayed in bed and noticed and allowed whatever was coming up, and also had periods of strong shaking, trembling, leg and arm movements (running and hitting), and vocalizations. All of this helped ground and release the energy coming up in my system.

In the beginning, I felt everything – myself, the world – as waves and energy. Then, I experience myself as an energy being without boundaries. And then, as boiling liquid without any boundaries. After a while, and especially after shaking and trembling a few times, the sense of my physical body returned more and the “boundary-less energy” feeling relaxed a bit.

After I sensed that this process was mostly over, I got up and had something to eat and drink, went back to bed, slept for about nine hours, and woke up feeling good.

This process was made easier – and especially being with and allowing what surfaced was made easier – by sharing bed with my partner, physical touch, and she understanding and supporting the process. We even got some good laughs from the intensity of the shaking and movements that sometimes happened for me.

From the beginning of the return of the CFS (about ten years ago), I have sensed that it had to do with my brain and nervous system and that my brain and nervous system needed healing. I have also sensed that the CFS has to do with feeling off track, people pleasing, me leaving my inner guidance on a major life decision some time earlier, and suppressed anger from the people-pleasing and leaving my own guidance. During the session, the energy worked on my brain and the brain/spine connection, and after suppressed anger surfaced, so it happened to fit two of the main things I sense needs to change for a real and deeper healing to take place.

I should mention that I am able to give myself VH sessions (I am at MG level), but it’s sometimes easier to receive from someone else, and – in this case – the specific VH tool I wanted to use is in a future class for me so I needed to receive it from someone else.

The difference between causes of illness and what helps it turn around

 

Words are important. And the words a therapist, doctor, or healer use with their clients or patients are especially important.

It seems obvious but most of us are sometimes sloppy, don’t think about how our words may be perceived, and we may even be – knowingly or unknowingly – intellectually dishonest.

This came up for me when I asked a top level energy healer about my chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and specifically a crash following over-exertion (PEM).

His reply was “the tiredness has emotional causes”.

I am very open to work on any emotional issues that may maintain the CFS and prevent healing. After all, the body is a seamless whole, CFS is a complex and chronic condition without a single known cause or remedy, and working on any part of my system and environment can support my body in healing. Emotional issues are already on top of my list of things to address, along with strengthening my energy system, diet, and aiming to live in a warmer and dryer climate.

And yet, his reply seems a bit careless.

First, CFS isn’t just or even primarily about “tiredness”. The symptoms are typically a combination of fatigue, brain fog, digestive problems, sleep problems, post-exertion worsening (PEM), temperature dysregulation, and much more. To reduce it to “tiredness” makes it sound like it’s just a worse or more lasting form of regular tiredness which is far from reality.

Second, CFS has several known non-emotional factors. For instance, it often follows an infection like mononucleosis (as in my case). The Epstein-Barr virus seems to play a role. The tendency to crash following exertion (PEM) is a core symptom and isn’t related to emotions in any obvious way. Diet is an important factor in stabilizing the condition and perhaps the healing. Nutrients the same. And climate often plays a big role for people with CFS. (I get worse in cold and wet climates and sometimes remarkably much better in warm and dry climates.)

Emotional issues definitely plays a role in well-being and in reducing stress (which can support the body in stabilizing and perhaps even healing itself). It may even be one of several factors in the onset and maintenance of the illness – although we don’t know enough about that yet.

But to say that “the tiredness has emotional causes” reveals a lack of understanding of CFS and a lack of humility when faces with a complex and relatively poorly understood illness.

Also, there is a difference between factors that cause, maintain, and support healing from an illness. Sometimes, these are different from each other. And especially when it comes to chronic, complex, and poorly understood conditions, some or all of the healing factors may be different from the initial causes and even the maintaining factors.

It may be the healer had a sense or intuition that it can help me to address some emotional issues and that’s my sense too. If he had that sense and still expressed it as “the tiredness has emotional causes”, then it seems he made a big, unnecessary, and potentially misleading assumption.

If I took what he said seriously and literally, as some would, it would close the door to other approaches. Including approaches that may be equally or more important in supporting my system in its healing process.

For several reasons, it would have been much better for him to say “it may help your system to work on emotional issues – try it and see what happens”. It would be closer to his reality. It would be more intellectually honest. It wouldn’t conflate causes, maintaining factors, and healing factors. And it would support the client – in this case me – to follow his pointer while also staying more open to other possibilities.

In summary: I see there is a grain of truth in what he said and working on emotional issues is already on top of my priorities. (I have been working on it for a while.) And yet, I see his response as careless, potentially misleading, and even intellectually dishonest.

In the worst case, it can close the door on addressing other factors that can support the healing as much or more.

Setting all of this aside, which emotional issues are on my to-do list? I am especially interested in working on any possible issues that may have stressed my system at the onset of the illness when I was fifteen, any fears of staying sick, and even any fears of being healthy and fully involved in the world again.

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Healing work: differentiating factors that initiate, maintain, and support healing from the illness

 

When we work on healing, it can be helpful to differentiate factors that initiate the illness, maintains it, and supports healing from the illness.

These three groups of factors sometimes overlap and sometimes are different from each other. For instance, if we identify healing factors, it doesn’t mean those are the same as the ones initiating or maintaining the illness (although they may be).

Simple vs complex illnesses

When the illness is simple, acute, and relatively well understood, the three types of factors may be more or less the same. I get an infection. It’s maintained by the bacteria. And the healing comes from eliminating the bacteria – either through allowing the body to take care of it or using antibiotics.

When the illness is more complex, chronic, or less well-understood, differentiating the three may be helpful. The maintaining factors may be different from the initiating factors, and we may need to address both. Also, we’ll often need to take a holistic approach and focus on supporting our body in its healing process in any way possible, independent of the specific initiating and maintaining factors.

Not jumping to conclusions

I sometimes see people working in alternative healing modalities confuse these. For instance, with a complex and chronic condition, it can be helpful to work on any emotional issues that create stress and this is one component in supporting the body in healing itself. That, of course, doesn’t mean that any one emotional issue created the illness or was even a (major) component in the onset of the illness. It may be, but it also may not be. We often don’t know, and for healing purposes, we may not need to know.

Similarly, if we know what caused a chronic illness, it doesn’t mean that addressing other things isn’t helpful for the healing. Often, we need to take a holistic approach in supporting the system in healing itself.

My own experience

I am perhaps especially aware of the importance of differentiate these three types of factors because of the chronic fatigue (CFS) I have had at varying levels since my teens.

In my case, the initiating factors may be a combination of genetics, mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus), teenage stress (social anxiety), and possibly mold (I lived in a basement apartment). When the CFS returned strongly some years ago, it was likely triggered by another infection (pneumonia) combined with mold and possibly stress.

I am not sure what the maintaining factors are although stress, an overactive flight/fight/freeze (FFF) system, diet, and climate are likely to each play a role.

When it comes to the factors supporting healing, some address possible maintaining factors and some support the body in healing itself.

In the first category, a priority is to remove any Epstein-Barr virus still in the system, reducing stress and supporting the FFF system in normalizing, changing the diet to (mostly) avoid processed foods and foods I have an intolerance to, and – as much as possible – spend time in a sunny, dry, and warm climate.

In the second category, I have found the following helpful: herbal medicine (mostly large doses adaptogens), get plenty of rest and sleep, learn to listen to and take seriously the signals from the body, supporting and strengthening my energy system, and working on any emotional issues creating stress and possibly preventing healing. One of the things I haven’t wholeheartedly focused on yet is detoxing.

Chronic Fatigue and three forms of rest

 

Since I am exploring chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) more these days, I thought I would write a few posts on it. This and other topics are mentioned in my article on the CFS retreat.

With CFS, there are three forms of rest: after, before, and extra.

Resting after an activity is the after rest. This usually takes care of itself. I do something. Feel tired or exhausted. And need to rest. Often, I don’t have a choice.

Resting before a planned activity is the before rest. I rest for hours, days, weeks, or months before a planned activity so I’ll be able to do it. I rest a lot anyway so this is on top of the baseline rest.

Resting on top of these two types of rest is the extra rest. This is the rest that allows the body to heal and restore itself. It’s the rest I do when I could do something else but know that this extra rest is vital for restoring my body and allowing it to heal.

As I mentioned, the after rest usually takes care of itself. I don’t have much choice but to rest after activity. The before rest is something I have learned and it feels relatively ingrained now.

It’s the extra or healing rest I want to pay more attention to. This is the one I want to program myself to do more of. I notice I have energy to do something, and I still chose to rest. I chose to not spend the little energy I have right away. I chose to invest it in allowing my body to build up resources to heal.

A while back, my herbalist told me to spend only half of the energy I feel I can spend. That’s very good advice and something I am still learning.

Chronic fatigue retreat in Norway

 

After being officially diagnosed with chronic fatigue (CFS) in Norway, I was offered to participate in a four-week course for CFS. I think of it more as a CFS retreat, and I thought I would share a few impressions from it here.

THE SETTING

The retreat is held at a rehabilitation center in southern Norway specializing in, among other things, chronic fatigue. The location is by a lake in a peaceful and beautiful valley. Everything was paid by the government, including transportation to and from the center. (I like that we collectively in Norway contribute to these things and decide it’s important.)

We have our own rooms (spacious, clean, quiet), four healthy and delicious meals a day, and there are several common areas. For those with food intolerances – which is most of us with CFS – they prepare special meals. They also have a quiet room for those who needed peaceful meals.

The CFS staff is professional, personable, kind, and with a very good understanding of CFS and its challenges, and what typically helps people with CFS.

The schedule is gentle. Four meals a day. A class (workshop) three times a week following breakfast. Mindfulness. Mindful movement. Some gentle activities in nature.

We can have the food delivered to our room if we feel it’s too much to do it ourselves. And we can ask to have someone change our sheets and towels.

I had special meals (without wheat or dairy). And I prioritized the classes and sometimes rested instead of participating in the mindfulness.

There will be a follow-up two-week retreat sometime next year.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

When I looked into the different locations for CFS-courses in Norway, this one stood out. Past participants gave it almost exclusively positive reviews. And I have to say I am very impressed by the staff, the place, and what I have gotten out of it. I am very grateful for having been given the opportunity to be here.

AVOIDING WORSENING

I know some people experience a worsening after participating in a CFS course, although I suspect it happens less often here than other places. The staff call potential participants in advance to screen them and make sure (as well as they can) that they have a high enough capacity to participate and get something out of it without worsening. (Or, at least, not more than we can recover from relatively quickly.)

During the course, the staff strongly encourage us to pay attention to early symptoms of doing too much and stay within what we are able to do without risking crashing. We are encouraged to create a schedule for ourselves we are comfortable with. (I am on a reduced schedule.)

And whenever we say no to an event because we need to rest, we receive strong positive reinforcement for doing so. After all, learning just that is one of the reasons we are here. And by resting instead of overdoing it, we set a good example for the other participants.

WHAT I GOT OUT OF IT

For me, what I appreciated the most was to be understood – by the staff and my fellow CFS participants. So I felt normal. I didn’t have to explain. I didn’t have to worry I wouldn’t be understood. I didn’t have to worry about what they would think when I had to choose to rest instead of participating in an event or social activities.

Most of the content was familiar to me, but it was very helpful to go through it, have conversations about it, and have the importance of it reinforced.

In the long term, I hope to learn to stabilize better and avoid frequent crashes, especially since this is essential for giving my body enough rest so it can gradually heal itself.

MAIN EMPHASIS

The main emphasis is to learn and use strategies that improve our quality of life and give our body the best opportunity to gradually heal itself.

Stay within a level of activity so we avoid crashes. (Taking the elevator down to the basement.) Sometimes, we may choose to do a little more, but in general stay within a range that gives stability. This gives the body an opportunity to gradually heal instead of frequently having to use resources to recover from crashes.

Notice the early signs of needing to rest and take these seriously. If we had diabetes, we would take insulin as soon as we needed to. It’s the same for CFS. As soon as we notice we need our medicine, which is rest, then take it. Prioritize it.

Reduce stress, including in the following ways:

(a) We learned to recognize stressful thoughts and what they do to our emotions, symptoms, and behavior. And replace these with more realistic thoughts that are more kind, calms down our system, and lead to behavior that helps us rest and take care of ourselves.

(b) We found and prioritized our personal values (what’s important to us), and learned how following “shoulds” create stress while following our values calms the system.

(c) We learned basic mindfulness and noticing and allowing thoughts, emotions, and sensations, and that we are not any of those. And that fighting discomfort and reality create stress while noticing, allowing, and befriending discomfort and the reality of our situation calms our system.

(d) We explored that we are all 100% valuable independent of what we can or cannot do, and what we think and feel about how valuable we are. We all agree that babies are 100% valuable even if they can’t do much and create work for others, so when do we lose that value? It’s only in our thoughts and feelings we reduce our value, while in reality, we keep our 100% value.

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How I am currently working on the chronic fatigue

 

I thought I would write a few notes on how I am currently working on my chronic fatigue (CFS).

I mostly use the following approaches: Vortex Healing which is a very powerful form of energy work. Living Inquiries which is a modern form of traditional Buddhist inquiry. Natural Rest. (Basic Meditation). And sometimes ho’oponopno, parts work (Big Mind process), and other approaches described on this website.

Infections

Now and then, I check for the Epstein Barr virus to see if it’s back. If it is, I channel to remove it. (Happened last winter/spring.) I also check for Lyme. If it’s active, I channel so it goes back to a dormant state. I use Vortex Healing for this, and sometimes have another Vortex Healer do it for me since that’s easier.

Energy system

I use Vortex Healing to work on clearing, energizing, and optimizing my energy system.

Almost daily, I spend some time optimizing all body energies, the energy system in general, and my system as a whole. I also check the different parts of the energy system, organs, and parts of the body (like cells, mitochondria) and work on the parts and connections that need extra attention.

This summer, I focused on the deeper and more fundamental parts of the energy system: pre-natal jing, kidney essence, the constitutional energies of the energy pathways (meridians, voridians, kundalini) and the organs (primarily kidneys and lungs), and the energy production of the cells.

I plan to work more on the kidneys, nervous system, and digestive system.

My energy system feels much better than it used to and seems to be in an overall good state. For some reason, this hasn’t translated into more energy in my daily life. That’s why my next step is focusing on the fight/flight/freeze (FFF) response and any emotional issues that may contribute to an overactive FFF and the CFS (fatigue, brain fog).

Flight/Fight/Freeze

I plan to work more directly on the flight/fight/freeze (FFF) response using Vortex Healing. The FFF response is often chronically engaged and overactive for people with CFS, and is for me too. I’ll work on the FFF response in general. Some of the different systems that are part of the FFF (nervous system, endocrine, etc.). And any traumas and emotional issues contributing to an overactive FFF response.

Emotional issues

I have mainly worked on my energy system the last few months, and it’s now time to work more systematically on any emotional issues that may impact the FFF and CFS.

Using Vortex Healing, I intend for the energy to work on the emotional issue most impacting my energy system (or fatigue, brain fog). The energy goes there even if I don’t consciously know what it is, and I usually get a sense of what it is after a while.

Some specific issues I’ll work on with Vortex Healing and Living Inquiries: Wanting to hide from life (and childhood experiences related to that fear). Feeling off track (as I did both at the onset of CFS and when it returned many years later). Fears of the illness. Fear of being healthy. Fear of allowing and befriending what’s here – my situation, my discomfort – more fully.

On my list is also to explore my willingness to heal, and any fears connected with it. To work more systematically on any issues that may have triggered the initial onset when I was fifteen. (Fear of adult life, etc.) And look at any resistance to the illness so I can find more genuine peace with it as it is.

Outlook

Although last year has been difficult for me healthwise, I am generally quite optimistic. I know I can have a good quality of life even with CFS, and I know that with proper rest and continuing healing the different aspects that may contribute to the CFS, there is a good chance I’ll gradually get better.

Own inquiry: Tired

 

Since the idea of “tired” and “I am tired” is a common part of CFS, I thought I would explore them.

Look at the word “tired”. See it up in front of you. Look at the letters, shapes, texture. Look at the space around it.

Do you feel anything in the body when you look at the word? Yes, a knot in my stomach, a sensation through my upper body and in my face.

Feel the sensations. Allow them to be there.

Do you see any images? Yes, an image of my body and something dark especially over the upper body and more dark and dense in my belly.

Look at that image. Put it up in front of you, as if it’s on a wall. Look at the shapes, colors, texture.

Is that image tiredness? No, but it’s connected to pressure in my chest, a (smaller) knot in my belly, and sensations through the upper body and face.

Feel those sensations. What happens? I notice they get stronger when I say the word “tired” to myself. I notice sadness.

Feel the sadness. Take time with it. Allow it. Where do you feel it? My upper body feels hollow and the sadness seems to be in the middle of the hollow upper body.

Can you find the sensations creating the sadness? Yes, in my throat, chest and heart area, and a small contraction in the belly.

Feel the sensations. Allow. Rest with it. What do you notice? The sensations are getting stronger. Stronger sense of sadness. It feels good to feel it and allow it. I notice the space it’s all happening within. It feels spacious.

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Chronic fatigue & the flight/fight/freeze response

 

The fight/flight/freeze response seems connected with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It may be chronically activated and connected with many of the typical symptoms of CFS.

Although this is well-known in the CFS world, we don’t many specifics or the why or how or what to do about it.

When the flight/fight/freeze (FFF) response is activated…..

The eyes dilate. Light sensitivity is typical for CFS.

The heart works harder. Faster, stronger, and sometimes irregular heartbeat is relatively common for CFS.

Digestion is inhibited. Many with CFS have digestive problems.

Sexual function is reduced. Again, common in CFS.

There is heightened sensitivity to any stimuli. Hypersensitivity to sound, movement (around us), and chemicals is typical for CFS.

Higher cognitive functions are reduced. The body’s resources are used for more immediate concerns. Reduced higher cognitive function (executive functions) is a core symptom of CFS.

Sleep has low priority and the FFF response counteracts sleep. Sleep problems of all sorts are common with CFS. (Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and don’t feel refreshed after sleep.)

Sweat secretion is activated. Increased sweating and cold sweat is common with CFS. As is temperature dysregulation.

There is less blood to the skin and kidneys. People with CFS often have white spots in the hands and fingers. I wonder if that’s connected to reduced blood flow? (Also, in Vortex Healing, weak and infected kidneys is one of the first things they work on.)

And finally, if the FFF response is chronically activated, you’d expect to see fatigue. And that’s another core symptom of CFS.

More in general, while the flight and fight response seems chronically active and may account for many of the symptoms, the condition also looks a lot like freeze (need for rest, isolation, etc.).

How can we make use of knowing about the FFF / CFS connection?

For me, it helps me feel less weird. I see that many of my symptoms make sense in the light of a chronically activated FFF response.

And anything that reduces the FFF response is helpful, like mindfulness, gentle yoga, and (skilled, gradual) work on stressful thoughts and underlying trauma.

This also explains why therapeutic tremoring has helped many with CFS. By releasing chronic tension and trauma out of the system, the chronic FFF response relaxes a bit and this helps the system recover and function more normally.

When it comes to the modality I currently find most helpful (Vortex Healing), I plan to focus more on my FFF response.

Why do we see a FFF / CFS connection? I am not sure. CFS often follows an infection like mononucleosis. I wonder if the body’s response to the infection somehow leads to a chronically active FFF response?

Note: I intentionally used the more broad FFF term as I didn’t want to focus too much on any single component of it. FFF involves more than any single system in our bodies and far more than what we currently are aware of. For instance, there is this recent article about the role of the bones in FFF: Bone, not adrenaline, drives fight or flight response.

Update December 2019: I just found an article on possible damage to the brain stem in people with CFS/ME. This is very interesting and can explain why the flight/fight/freeze response is chronically active for many with CFS. A virus and/or inflammation may have damaged the brain stem, which in turn causes the FFF response to be chronically “on”.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Misconceptions based on the name

 
I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and although I am mostly interested in how to heal from it (and live with it), I am also interested in CFS in general. And that includes the label and how people may perceive CFS based on the label. It’s easy to understand why CFS became the popular name for the condition. It’s simple, catchy, and relatively easy to remember. And it was created before the condition was well understood. (Not that it is well understood  even now.) And yet, the name itself can lead to misunderstandings. Is it chronic? Yes, in the sense that it’s often long lasting. But people do heal from CFS, even after many years of illness, and with a diagnosis and symptoms that match all the criteria. Often, it requires working with specialists in the field and using a holistic and comprehensive approach. Is it mainly fatigue? Yes, fatigue is a major component. But it’s far from just a longer lasting form of regular fatigue. It typically includes a lot of additional debilitating symptoms such as worsening after any (physical or cognitive) exertion, brain fog (a sense of “cotton in the head” along with impaired  cognitive function and executive functions), aches and pain, digestive problems (leaky gut), hypersensitivity (to light, sounds, chemicals), and more. There is a long list of sometimes obscure, inexplicable, and weird symptoms shared by most or many of the people who are diagnosed with CFS. The condition is not created by what causes regular fatigue. Often, it comes after an infection, typically Epstein-Barr. And what can bring recovery is different from a regular fatigue. Rest is important but not sufficient. Often, a comprehensive approach is needed focusing on nutrition, learning to navigate life with the illness, and in general supporting our system in recovering in any way possible. For me, this support comes from a combination of rest, nutrition, working on emotional issues, mindfulness, energy work and so on. Is it a syndrome? Yes, it is a syndrome since there is that long list of symptoms. I suspect it’s called a syndrome mostly because the condition is not well understood. Most illnesses have many symptoms without being called a syndrome, so when we understand  it better and know more about what causes it, we may well give it a name that doesn’t include the word “syndrome”. So what about the name chronic fatigue syndrome? The name can give the impression that it’s a longer lasting case of regular fatigue, and perhaps that its causes and remedies are similar to those of regular fatigue. But that is far from reality. The symptoms are more and different, the causes are different (although not fully understood), and what helps recovery is different. A couple of days ago, I saw a discussion thread in a Facebook group for a more general healing modality (Vortex Healing). Some people responded with suggestions that seemed to assume that CFS is a variation of the regular fatigue most people experience now and then. And that was the seed of this article.

Acceptance and commitment

 
From the Optimum Health Clinic

This video is a reminder of the importance of acceptance and commitment if we want to change. He talks about chronic fatigue (CFS), and it also applies to change in general.

How does acceptance look to me? And specifically in the context of CFS?

I am more honest with myself about my situation. I let it sink in. I live according to my situation. (I make plans, regulate my activity etc. according to the limits and possibilities of living with a serious illness.) I also take care of (care for) the emotions and fears coming up in me when I am more honest with myself about my situation.

And how does commitment look?

I am committed to finding improvement. To explore best practices. Work with someone who has a good track record in helping people with CFS and uses a grounded and integral approach. Implement their recommendations. Stay with it. Make adjustments as I learn more and see what works for me.

I find it interesting to look at the comments to this video. Some comments (almost all as of writing this) seem a bit reactive and express something like “are you telling me I am not committed? I have been fighting this illness for years!”.

We may wish to heal, we may be distressed about it (sad, angry, hopeful, disappointed), we may try a lot in order to heal, but that’s different than acceptance and commitment. For instance, the word “fighting” in itself implies a lack of acceptance and an orientation that can get in the way of a deeper commitment.

To me, acceptance and commitment are quiet, deep, and gives a direction over the long term. And it’s an ongoing process, at least for me.

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You don’t have to fix everything

 

This video from The Optimum Health Clinic is about chronic fatigue (CFS) and it’s something I very much relate to.

Since we don’t know exactly what causes CFS and we often need to take a comprehensive and integral approach to manage it and perhaps heal from it, it’s easy to think that we have to fix everything to recover.

I am just like the client in the video. I know it’s probably not true, but I still often feel and act as if it’s true. I keep working on emotional issues, nutrition, diet, herbal medicine, regulating my activity levels, mindfulness, prayer, heart-centered practices, energy healing, being honest with myself and following my guidance, and much more, in order to see if I can recover from the CFS. At one level, it’s a wise, comprehensive, and integral approach. At another, for me, it sometimes has an element of compulsiveness.

It can be the same with healing from trauma since it’s often a set of emotional issues tied together, and we can always find additional related and underlying issues to address. We may have the idea that we need to fix everything before we are OK and can relax and enjoy life again.

And it can be that way with awakening as well, in whatever way we understand awakening. We keep going at it, perhaps from many different angles, and don’t feel we are OK or can relax until we “arrive” at some imagined place or state.

We may know – and perceive in immediacy – that all is the divine and perfect as is. We are also aware that there is room for improvement in terms of befriending our experience, clarity, healing, maturing, and living from our experience of all as the divine (Big Mind). And we may be genuinely drawn to keeping exploring all of this and deepening in it.

And for some of us on a spiritual path, it can feel a bit compulsive and we have the idea that we have to fix everything about ourselves before we are OK and can relax.

It’s very natural and understandable if we have some compulsion in our healing or awakening work. It’s even helpful. It creates an extra needed momentum and especially early on in the process.

And yet, at some point, it’s helpful to address the compulsion itself. Where does it come from? Is the voice in me driving the compulsion true?

Often, the compulsion is a reaction to believing that we are not OK and not enough as we are. We try to improve ourselves in order to get somewhere or get something we believe we don’t have. We may also have a belief that we need the compulsion in order to get anywhere and fear that we’ll stagnate without it.

None of that is really true, and as the compulsion relaxes, we may discover a few different things. We may find that it’s OK to take time to relax and enjoy our life as it is, and we may find we are more able to relax and enjoy it. We may also find that we are still moved to explore and invite in healing and awakening, and that there is a deeper calling or curiosity that’s not dependent on compulsion, a sense of lack, or (unquestioned, unbefriended) fear.

So the compulsion itself is not good or bad. It can be helpful in certain phases of our process. And it is driven by something in us that’s out of alignment with reality, so at some point, life invites us to notice and address it.

By doing that, we may find a deeper sense of contentment and OKness as we are. And that from here, we are more free to enjoy life and even to keep exploring and inviting in continued healing, maturing, and awakening. We lose the compulsion and we gain deeper contentment.

I should add that if our exploration was largely driven by compulsion and a sense of lack, we may let the exploration go after we resolve this sense of lack. We may be very happy to just enjoy and live our life without this element of exploration. And that’s more than OK too.

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The gifts of chronic fatigue

 

This is another topic I like to revisit: 

What are the gifts of chronic fatigue (CFS)? What are the genuine gifts in it for me? 

It supports healing, awakening, and humanizing. Just like life in general, when we are receptive to it. 

It invites a deep healing of the bodymind. In my case, it invites me to notice any stressful beliefs and find what’s more true for me (The Work). It invites me to find healing for anything that comes up and is triggered by the illness and life situation. It invites me to find healing for any emotional issues that may weaken my system (they all do) and contribute to the illness. It invites me to strengthen, clear, and balance my body and energy system in a variety of ways – through food, herbal medicine, bodywork, energy work, nature, and more. 

It invites awakening. It invites awakening to (and out of) beliefs and identifications, and especially those triggered by my situation. It invites noticing what’s happening in me – including the emotional pain – as happening within and as what I am. (Not noticing that is extra painful so there is an inherent incentive to notice what it is happening within and as, and find what I am as that.) 

It invites humanizing, becoming more deeply human. Having a serious illness, and having a lot of unprocessed emotional material surfacing, and also making decisions “out of character” because of it, is very humbling. It can be deeply humanizing. This is all universally human. What I experience has been and is experienced by innumerable others. 

In addition…. 

It invites learning about health and healing, and what works for me in my situation. I have learned about CFS and Lyme and Lyme co-infections. I have learned about what foods and herbal medicines work best for me (I had a pretty good sense of that from before). I have learned about a range of modalities for healing the body and mind. 

It invites deep rest. Not only in a conventional sense, but a deeper rest through healing, awakening, and humanizing. (Emotional wounds, taking ourselves to only be separate, and trying to be better than or different from others is inherently stressful. When we heal, awaken, and humanize, we find relief and a deeper rest.) 

It has given me time to rest, notice, and explore, including to explore these topics. 

It has given me experiences, insights, and skills I can share with others and that may be useful for some others. I have been given a lot from others (everything including my life), and passing on just a little bit that’s helpful for others makes me very grateful. 

And last but not least, my situation has motivated me to seek deep healing, awakening, and humanizing. It has given me an extra motivation and perhaps sincerity. It has made me willing to be extra humble (sometimes) in order to find healing, awakening, and humanizing. 

Would I have chosen to not have had these health problems? Yes. Do I see the genuine gifts in them? Yes. Did I ever have a choice? No. This was chosen by life. It’s happening within and as all of existence. It’s the play of life, or the universe, or the divine. 

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How do I experience chronic faituge?

 

How do I experience chronic fatigue (CFS)? A few friends have asked me lately and I thought I would share my answer here as well. 

The simplest way I have found to explain it is that it’s like having a flu without the fever, runny nose, or sore throat. It makes it hard to do much, exertion deepens the fatigue, and the brain is foggy. Sometimes, it’s like having a severe flu, sometimes it’s a little lighter. But it never goes away. 

I experience the brain fog partly as a “cotton in the head” feeling and partly as a cognitive fatigue. It’s hard to take in complex information, and I get tired quickly when using the brain / mind. 

There are additional symptoms, some of which are a bit weird. For instance, light and sound sensitivity. Temperature dysregulation (too hot or cold, or hot and cold at the same time, or cold sweat). Muscle tension and pain. Sleep problems (not anymore for me). Digestion problems and food sensitivities. Crashes if too much exertion, especially if combined with heat and/or lack of proper food. Feeling better in some climates (for me, warm and dry). 

My best guess is that my CFS was triggered by a combination of a virus infection (Epstein-Barr), exposure to toxic mold, psychological stress, and perhaps more. When I initially got it, it was in my teens following mononucleosis a few months earlier, when I lived in a basement (mold), and had the usual teenage stress and angst.  I got much better after high school when I was able to set my own schedule, make my own food, and engage in activities deeply meaningful to me. And then the CFS came back severely a few months after a pneumonia I never really recovered from, while again living in a moldy environment (Oregon), and stress from my life situation at the time. 

It makes sense to approach it from a multitude of angles and to support and strengthen my system as much as possible. I have found a few things very helpful: Herbal medicine (mostly adaptogens), Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), Breema bodywork, diet changes (minimize dairy, yeast, wheat, refined sugars, processed foods), mindfulness practices (natural rest, inquiry, heart-centered practices), spending time in nature, resting (do half of what I feel I can do), and energy work (Vortex Healing).

Low energy, its consequences, and how to bring it up

 
With my chronic fatigue (CFS), I have had plenty of opportunities to notice what happens as my energy level goes up and down. When I am more fatigued, it’s as if the light is dimmed so I get to see more of the things in me lurking in the darkness. In general, I tend to become more sensitive to sounds and activity around me, and I sometimes get to see some of my stressful beliefs more clearly. Fatigue can also look a bit like depression since I don’t have the energy to engage in emotions very much. For most of us, when our energy level is lower, hangups, stressful beliefs, anxiety, depression, compulsion and more become more noticeable. So we can find benefits to low energy when it’s here anyway. It makes it easier to notice what normally is under the surface. We can notice, allow, notice how parts of us respond to it, allow that too, and perhaps meet it more intentionally, with patience, curiosity, presence, and so on. Or not. And then notice and allow that. Or not. It’s obviously good to bring the energy up, for a few different reasons. It supports our bodymind system in healing itself. It reduces many symptoms so our quality of life is higher. And it makes it easier for us to take care of what we have seen – find a different relationship to it, invite in resolution or healing for it, or simply being with it with patience and respect. How can we bring up the energy? I am sure there are many approaches out there I am not familiar with. Of the ones I personally have tried, herbal medicine and energy work (Vortex Healing) have been the most effective, in addition to rest, moderate activity (within the limits of what I can do without crashing), and improving my diet (low on the food chain, mostly avoiding dairy, yeast, refined sugar, and the most common grains). It also helps, over time, to release tension out of the body (therapeutic tremoring, TRE), resolve and clear up stressful beliefs and trauma (inquiry, parts work, Vortex healing), and reoirent in how I relate to myself, others, and the world (heart practices such as heart prayer, ho’oponopono, tonglen). Read More

Having CFS is similar to being an athlete

 

Having chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is similar to being a top athlete.

I have to be very conscious about my diet. I need to avoid certain things (in my case dairy, yeast, alcohol, wheat, and to some extent sugars) and make sure I eat low on the food chain and ideally with the seasons and local and organic foods.

I have to make sure I rest enough and give my body and system time to recover, especially after any form of exertion. (Extertion in my case means any physical or mental activity.)

I have to prepare for important events. I need to give myself enough rest, and pay even closer atttention to my diet. (Important events means any time I, in advance, know I will need to extert myself physically or mentally.)

Mindfulness and mental strategies can play an important role.

I can push myself if it’s called for and this is often followed by a physical crash and sometimes collapse. Endurance athletes do this, as sometimes do people with CFS.

In general, I need to keep my body in as good shape as possible through, as mentioned above, diet and rest, and also gentle exercise as I am able (walks, swimming), herbal medicine, gentle forms of yoga, and so on. And I can push myself if it’s called for, even if it’s followed by a crash. (I have learned to avoid this as much as possible as it can take a long time to recover.)

Note: I write about CFS here since it’s part of my life and an important invitation for healing and maturing for me. Also, there is a chance that something I write here could be helpful for someone else with CFS, or that it can help people who don’t have CFS to understand it a bit better.

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The gifts of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

 

Yet another revisited topic:

For me, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has come with many genuine gifts.

Of course, it’s important to acknowledge all the challenges that come with it. CFS and any chronic condition can bring up grief, anger, struggle, threatened identities, and unresolved issues. And it can lead to loss of work, relationships, money, status, and so on.

But we also have to acknowledge the genuine gifts that can come with CFS to get a fuller picture. These are gifts we may intentionally notice, explore, and even pursue (at least in periods where we have some energy besides what’s needed for basic daily tasks).

Here are some I have found for myself:

It has helped me with my spiritual practice.

From putting effort into my practice, I have found ways that are far less effortful. For instance, even when I did Shikantaza practice (“just sitting”), I put more effort into it than I needed. Now, I am happy to just notice, allow, and rest with what’s here. And that’s a more genuine way of doing this most basic meditation or noticing practice.

Also, since I have been more raw in periods, due to the CFS, I have been able to notice, meet, and inquire into unloved and unexamined parts of me that previously didn’t come as much to the surface.

Earlier, even if I saw all as Spirit, at a more visceral level I tended to associate Spirit – or at least awakening – with certain feelings and states (even if I knew that wasn’t the case). Now, I am able to more viscerally experience what’s here as Spirit including what’s challenging and uncomfortable. (This is still a process, I imagine it will continue to deepen.)

I have explored and delved into a range of new (to me) practices. I have to admit that this has been my tendency my whole adult life, so I probably would have done that anyway. Although the sense of urgency has perhaps been a bit stronger because of the health-related challenges.

It has given me time. And I have used this time to: Rest. Spend time in nature. Explore and investigate the topics I write about here. Explore and investigate other things in life that I tend to not write about or write less about. (Since I want to keep this blog somewhat focused.)  Find deeper healing for my relationships with the world, others, myself, and my life.

It has come with an invitation to drop facades and be more honest with myself and others.

I have learned something about how it is to face challenges in life. In my twenties, I often had the thought that life was too easy. Now, I know something about going through challenging periods of life.

I have learned about a range of new (again, to me) approaches to healing, including some I may have been less interested in otherwise. For instance, herbal medicine, therapeutic tremoring (TRE), and Vortex Healing.

I have found a deeper appreciation for the simple things in life: a cup of tea, resting, friends, family, nature. I always appreciated these, but it’s different now.

I have found a way to often be genuinely content, and with a deep appreciation and gratitude for my life as it is.

Of course, it’s not all a dance on roses. There are still daily challenges. I sometimes get frustrated when my body doesn’t play along as I think it should (most recently today). I sometimes get annoyed and sad when I consider the many losses connected to health challenges. I sometimes get angry when things are not as my mind thinks they should be. I still sometimes have fear or concerns about the future. I sometimes feel embarrassed when I consider how others may see me. I have small flashes of envy when I see someone living the life I did or thought I would at this time in my life. But all of these experiences are part of being human. They are here to protect me, and they come from deep care for me. And they do happen within and as what I am. And there is often deep gratitude for my life as it is, including all the challenges.

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Victim and victimizer

 

I am briefly revisiting this topic:

When we explore identities, it’s helpful to explore both ends of the polarity.

For instance, if we have chronic and bothersome issues in our lives, we may also have a victim identity connected with it. It’s helpful to explore this identity and perhaps find healing for it. At the same time, we have a victimizer part in us. We couldn’t have a victim part without the victimizer part. They depend on each other to exist, and they hold each other in place. If we only address the victim part, we only do half (or less) of the work and the release will be partial.

An example from my own life is the victim identity connected with the chronic fatigue (CFS). Yes, there is a victim identity and it’s helpful to inquire into it and invite healing and release for it (through inquiry, TRE, Vortex Healing etc.). But that’s less than half the picture. The rest is the internal victimizer that creates and holds the victim-identity in place. This one may be more difficult to notice since we tend to see it mostly “out there” in life, circumstances, or others. But it’s equally, or really, in here, in me. And that’s where I need to explore it if I wish to find more freedom around the whole victim-victimizer dynamic.

The freedom and relief that comes from this work makes it worth it in itself. And, who knows, it may even impact my physical health. The release may support my body in healing itself better. So it’s definitely worth the time and investment required to find some healing around this and many other identity-sets.

Note: When I have worked on my own internal victimizer using Vortex Healing, I have found it helpful to approach it from slightly different angles. For instance, intending to work on the victimizer, the bully, the self-cruelty, and more, one at a time.

Also, when I say that working on just one of the pair of parts or subpersonalities, it’s because there is the other half, and there is also the awareness and exploration of the dynamic within the pair. So if we work on just one of a pair, it’s less than half of what we need to explore to find a fuller release.

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Chronic fatigue and therapeutic tremoring

 

From my own experience and that of others, it seems that therapeutic tremoring (TRE) can be very helpful for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Since it releases tension out of the system, it can help improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and lead to more comfort and well being in general.

Equally important, therapeutic trembling may allow energy tied up in tension to release and thus become available to the (other) needs of the system.

Both help with everyday functioning and both may support the system in healing itself.

There are some TRE precautions for people with CFS. Mainly, do the tremoring for only short periods at first, and follow the signals of your system. As your system gets more familiar with it, and you get more familiar with how it responds, you can increase the frequency and length of the tremoring sessions.

Several notes:

I use the word “system” here instead of body, mind, or even bodymind. I could say “bodymind system” since I am referring to the whole of the human being, body, mind, and all. When I use the word “tension” that similarly refer to tension as having body and mind components.

When I say “trembling” or “tremoring” it’s a lot more than just trembling. It can be any kind of movement (autonomous, not created through intention) including “butterflying” of the legs, slow rhythmical movements, shaking, subtle vibrations, stretching, jumping, sounds and more. All ways the bodymind – outside of our conscious awareness and intention – invites tension to release when it’s allowed and invited to do so.

And when I put TRE in parenthesis after “therapeutic trembling” it’s because TRE – Tension and Trauma Release Exercises – is perhaps the simplest way to allow therapeutic trembling to happen for us modern people. Therapeutic trembling is built into us through evolution, but in our modern culture, we have learned to suppress it. We may have learned it’s a sign of weakness, or embarrassing, or that it means we are out of control (and that’s bad), or we don’t understand what it’s for, or we just have a general suspicion of the inherent wisdom of the body, or we simply think there is no inherent wisdom in the body. For whatever reason, we have learned to suppress it, so we need to unlearn and allow the trembling to happen. And TRE is a good tool for just that.

Also, I should say that although it seems that therapeutic trembling can significantly help people with CFS, the extent will vary between people. It does require sticking to it for a long period of time, over months and years (although the progress will be noticeable from early on). And the underlying medical conditions may vary between people since CFS is an exclusion diagnosis.

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My approach to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

How do I approach my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and brain fog?

We are one seamless system, so it makes sense to take a holistic, pragmatic, and ecletic approach. To use whatever works and approach it from many different angles. At least until the causes are more pinpointed and/or we have found simple and effective treatments.

Here are some things that have been helpful for me.

Rest. Avoid excertion.

Nature. Walks.

A diet that works for my body. In my case, eating less processed foods, low on the food chain, and organic and local as possible. Mostly vegetables and some meat and fruit. Mostly avoid wheat, dairy, and sugar. Listen to the body. Follow the body’s guidance.

Herbal medicine. For me, right now, eleuthero, echanacea, kapikachu. Stangeland’s herbal tea.

Resting with/as what is. Allow. Notice. (Shikantaza, “just sitting”.)

Western medicine. Check for deficiencies, organ problems, known illnesses with similar symptoms, toxic mold exposure etc.

Mindful body-centered activities. For me, it’s Breema but it could also be (and has been) Tai Chi, Chigong, and yoga.

Therapeutic trembling to release tension and trauma. Over time, this releases and frees up energy previously bound in tension. For me, through Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE).

Befriend the symptoms and my life. Change and heal my relationship to the symptoms and my body, myself, others, and life. I mostly use ho’oponopono and tonglen, and also inquiry and Vortex Healing.

Use the CFS and my life situation as an opportunity to see what’s left to heal at an identification and emotional level. As above, I am mostly using inquiry, ho’oponopno, and Vortex Healing for this.

Explore and find healing for any emotional issues that may have contributed to the CFS and Brain Fog (created a weakness, suseptibility). E.g. wanting to avoid life, finding refuge in the CFS. Again, inquiry, ho’o, and Vortex Healing.

Seek out and strengthen nourishing relationships. Heal stressful ones (at least from my side). Limit those who drain me.

Organize my life, as much as possible, so it’s simple and nourishing.

Use energy work to strengthen and balance the system, and clear physical and emotional issues contributing to the fatigue and brain fog. In my case, this is Vortex Healing.

Do more of what gives meaning in life. Zest.

And other things as I discover and am drawn to it.

A brief note about Norway: To me, taking a pragmatic holistic approach is natural. And that’s what I have seen among people I know in North America having similar health issues.

But in Norway, I have sometimes noticed a strange polarization between those taking a psychological approach (Lightning Process etc.) and those favoring a physical approach (which partly means waiting for doctors to find a treatment). They seem to overlook that we, as human beings, are one seamless system and that the mind-body distinctions is imagined. By taking imaginary sides in that way, we limit our options. And that doesn’t make sense when it comes to something as important as our health. It makes more sense to take a holistic and pragmatic approach. And, of course, many in Norway and everywhere else do just that.

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Brief update

 

I just returned from Core Veil in London, a Vortex Healing course with Ric Weinman. I feel it helped clear, stabilize, and perhaps deepen a lot of the haphazard openings and awakenings from my pre-Vortex Healing days. And the course seems to also have strengthened my system considerably.

Over a couple of tea-breaks, Ric took a look at my chronic fatigue (CFS) and brain fog. He said it seems that a CFS (inducing) virus is still hiding out in my system (which would explain a great deal), and did a couple of brief treatments to clear it out. It will take some time for my system to adjust to a potentially virus-free existence. We’ll see how it unfolds.

A few words about viruses and CFS: There are probably many things that fall under the CFS label, including undiagnosed known illnesses and various subgroups of “true” CFS. Sometimes, CFS is called Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome which is fitting since it often comes after a viral infection. (For me, mononucleosis in my teens.) Many of the symptoms associated with CFS fit a viral infection. For me, it feels like having a flu – sometimes strong and sometimes less so – without the fever, runny nose, or cough. The brain fog and wooziness is there. The fatigue and tiredness. Worsening condition after exertion. Brain fog and inability to focus as before. Unusually sensitive to noise and sometimes light. Wanting to lie down and rest. (Or being unable to do anything but lying down.) And a rest that often doesn’t feel restful or nourishing. All of that is similar to having a flu or a similar infection.

If there is/was still a virus in my system, it also explains why the energetic work seems to actually work – in clearing and energizing pathways and chakras and doing many other things – but it doesn’t significantly change my overall health situation. The virus holds it back. So we’ll see what happens if a hidden virus was the key and the virus now really is gone.

CFS and bodymind

 

The body-mind is a seamless system, as is the individual and the larger social and ecological wholes. It’s all a seamless system.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and other mystery illnesses function as a reminder of this. To understand it, manage it, and treat it, we need to take a broad and inclusive approach. At least, unless they find one simple solution to curing it (which may happen).

For now, it seems that different approaches work for different people in terms of managing it and sometimes healing from it. Activity management is a universally helpful approach to managing CFS, perhaps since we all do it anyway. It’s part of human life. And some have healed themselves through yoga, or some form of cognitive therapy, or herbal medicine, or eating more, or through other approaches.

In my case, what preceded the CFS, the symptoms, and what helps, is not original. The initial onset was preceded by mononucleosis, perhaps combined with typical teen stress which put an extra load on the system. I got much better after a few years, mostly because I found myself in a situation where I could manage my schedule more freely. When there was a relapse of the severe CFS many years later, it was after severe pneumonia that I wasn’t able to completely recover from.

It’s also clear that it’s connected with food intolerances (which makes the symptoms worse). And it may be connected to mold since I lived in a basement when it first happened, and I lived in a house in Oregon with mold problems when I had the relapse.

My approach to managing and healing from CFS includes:

Avoiding foods my body reacts to. (Dairy, wheat, sugar.)

Regulating my activities. Rest when needed. Do a little less than I feel I can (to avoid crashes).

Herbal medicine. Right now: siberian ginseng (energy), echinacea (immune system), kapikacchu (energy).

Natural rest, inquiry, heart centered practices. This helps me change my relationship to the CFS symptoms and it’s impact on my life, and also explore any issues that may in any way contribute to it.

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). TRE releases tension out of the muscles, which in turn frees up energy.

Eating enough. It seems that this is a peace of recovery for many. Making sure the body has enough calories and nutrients to have a good metabolism. (Also, recently adding a small layer of fat to my body has helped me avoid energy crashes.)

Vortex Healing. This has helped me greatly although it’s also a slow(ish) process. I have used it to clear the mono-virus that was still in my body when I started with VH, clearing and optimizing my energy system, and also working on emotional issues impacting my physical health and energy levels.

The Vortex Healing approach to CFS and similar health issues is a reminder of what I mentioned above. It’s best to take a broad and inclusive approach and leave no stone unturned. Prioritize and explore.

Note: I was motivated to write this by a somewhat odd discussion in a Norwegian CFS Facebook group. Some seem to take the view that cognitive therapy approaches can heal CFS (which it can for some but not others), some that it’s a purely physical illness (it certainly has that component, and that’s where a “magic bullet” cure may be found eventually), and some take a more inclusive view. As I mentioned above, with any mystery illness it makes sense to take a broad and inclusive approach and leave no stone unturned.

Chronic fatigue as a modern form of monasticism

 

Some years ago, I talked to a therapist in England who referred to chronic fatigue (CFS) as a modern form of monasticism.

I can see how that fits.

CFS requires a withdrawal from distractions. It creates a situation where we come face to face with ourselves, including what we have avoided in the past. We are invited to question basic identities and beliefs and find what’s more true and helpful for us. We find ourselves in a situation where we may have to go deeper with any spiritual practices we are familiar with.

CFS may also be connected to feeling off track in life, so this is a chance to notice and return.

More specifically, any serious or chronic illness tends to challenge our basic beliefs, identifications, and hopes. A lot is stripped away, including a great deal we found comfort and took pride in. It may bring up our deepest fears. Life invites us to notice and question all of this. And it also brings up questions such as who am I without all that? In what way is my life still of value?

In some ways, any challenging life situation is an invitation to release identification with more superficial identities (roles, work, gender, preferences etc.) and shift the center of gravity into more universal ones.

We can also ask, what are the genuine gifts in this situation? If this is the best that could have happened, why would that be? How am I invited to relate to this, my life, and the world?

And if we have a spiritual orientation, it’s perhaps an invitation to go deeper in inquiry, surrender, prayer, heart practices, and whatever else we are drawn to. In my case, one example is that it helped me find a more genuinely restful and basic form of meditation (notice what’s here, rest with it, notice it’s already allowed).

So in all of these ways, and probably several more, CFS can be seen as a modern form of monasticism, or at least a retreat. It can serve some of the same functions, if we let it.

Note: I have written this post in a quite loose and unsystematic form. I chose to not go into typical beliefs and identities that may be challenged by CFS and any chronic illness, and also the many approaches for healing our relationship with CFS, our life, and the world that could be used. I have done so other places in this blog.

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CFS and how my body puts functions on rotation

 

When the chronic fatigue (CFS) is strong, I find myself mostly resting. And in good periods, I can usually get most things done.

But when it’s medium strong, as it is now, I notice how my abilities seem to cycle.

For instance:

I may have OK mental energy and not so much physical energy, or the other way around. If the mental energy is OK, I can get some paperwork or writing done. If the physical energy is OK, I may be able to do some errands, clean, or go for a good walk.

Some mental functions may work OK but not others. I may be able to read but not write, or edit photos but not have a long conversation, and it may switch the following day.

Some physical functions may work OK but not others. I may be able to clean but not go for walks, and this too may change the next day.

It’s as if my bodymind has put the different functions on rotation. My limited energy is rationed out, and each area of life gets its day. But not all at once the way it was before the CFS. There is a beautiful wisdom in it. It means I am able to do different things on different days without trying to do too much on any one day. So over a few days, I may be able to cover many of the things on my list.

The trick is to go with the flow as much as possible and trust that a day will come when I’ll be able to do what I didn’t or couldn’t do today.

It also depends to some extent on what’s required. If something is strongly called for, and I have a reasonably good day, I may be able to mobilize enough energy to get it done – although it tends to come at a cost.

And if something is scheduled, I am often able to prepare – through rest and taking care of myself – so I am able to do it on that particular day.

I should also say that some things that seem especially daunting is hard to get done even on good days or in good periods. That’s when it’s good to have help from others.

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CFS, Lyme and personality changes

 

The real reasons behind the CFS label, and also Lyme infections and co-infections, often create personality changes. Along with fatigue and brain fog and some other things, these personality changes can be among the most challenging symptoms. They certainly have been for me.

In my case they include:

Reduced executive functions. Poor memory. Difficulty making and following through on plans. Difficulty taking care of essentials in life.

Hypersensitivity to sound, chemicals, and my environment in general. Avoiding noisy places.

Having to say no to or cancelling invitations due to fatigue and feeling terrible. (And people sometimes interpreting it differently and getting upset.)

Withdrawing from family and friends due to fatigue and brain fog. (Again, with people sometimes interpreting it differently and perhaps themselves withdrawing.)

Emotional rawness, turmoil and instability. Anxiety. Dread. Irritability. Bursts of anger. All of these are uncharacteristic for me as they have played out after the serious CFS returned and also after I got Lyme.

Vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and hangups amplified and coming to the surface. These surface since there isn’t much energy to cope with them as I did before the CFS.

And the fatigue, brain fog, and what’s listed above, often leads to missing opportunities, losing much of what’s important to me, and finding myself in life situations I couldn’t have imagined finding myself in.

Chronic fatigue (CFS) means…..

 

I am also reminded of how the chronic fatigue (CFS) label really says “we don’t know what’s going on”. And for dedicated doctors, it says “we are going to find out what’s really going on with you”. (For other doctors, it says “I can’t help you”.) In my case, I was lucky to finally find a doctor who could diagnose it and help with treatment.

From a previous post.

The CFS label is a temporary and somewhat lazy label. It can be helpful as a label that includes a typical cluster of symptoms, and it does give some doctors an idea of what to look for.

I have certainly had my share of doctors who half-heartedly asked some questions and did a few tests, and for whom the label really meant “I can’t help you”. And now finally, one for whom the label meant “I can help you. I won’t give up until I figure out what’s going on with you. I have found several reasons for your fatigue and brain fog, and it can be treated”.

Chronic fatigue and spirituality

 

I have wondered about CFS and spirituality. It does seem that more people with CFS are into spirituality than average. It may be that people with CFS get into spirituality as a way to deal with it. Or that there is another connection. For instance, it’s possible that both CFS and getting into spirituality has to do with a wish to find refuge or escape from this world. That may be part of it for me as well. (And that doesn’t mean that spirituality can be reduced to wishing to finding refuge or escaping.)

From a previous post.

In my case, I got CFS at age 15 a few months after mononucleosis. There was a sense of the world becoming very far away, my head felt filled with cotton, I was severely fatigued, my brain didn’t work properly. (I didn’t think of it as CFS then, but looking back the label fits.) After about a year, there was a spontaneous opening or awakening where everything without exception was revealed as God, Spirit, consciousness, love. And that opening never really closed down. The CFS continued, although I learned to regulate it more following high school, and it was compensation for by my passion for what I did.

I then got severe CFS again some years ago, and a few months after pneumonia. (I was bedridden for 3 weeks and terribly sick. My doctor called it “walking pneumonia”! I normally don’t like to take medicines, but at that time I strongly felt I needed it, but my doctor didn’t agree.)

In both of those phases of my life, I felt quite lost and off track. Initially, combined with or because of typical teenage angst. More recently because I found myself in a situation that didn’t feel right at all, and it felt difficult to get out of it. (Getting out of it in a real way meant I had to go against or confront some very core beliefs and fears.)

So it may be that CFS is connected with feeling off track. Or seeking refuge from a difficult situation or world. Or there may be personality characteristics – such as being highly sensitivie – that makes us both interested in spirituality and susceptible to CFS. Or that may just be the mind trying to make sense of things.

What’s more real is that CFS and other illnesses does bring up our fears, beliefs, and identifications, and we can look at these. It tends to bring up what’s unfelt, unloved, and unquestioned in us, with an invitation to us to feel it, find love for it, and question the stories behind or associated with it.

Chronic Fatigue & Lyme Update

 

I just spent two weeks in Poland and went to the Lyme/CFS clinic almost daily. It’s good to get some answers, and yet the treatments this time had less effect than last summer. I think it is because the treatment mainly focused on repairing the mitochondria, while what I more acutely need is to focus on active infections.

Here are some highlights:

Lab Reports February 2016

Active Epstein-Barr, Lyme, and two pneumonia bacteria. (I am not surprised about this. For instance, my Lyme symptoms return when I am off Artemisinin for two days a week.)

Epstein-Barr (these should be less than 2)

EBV LTT antigen 1 ug/ml  6.6

EBV LTT antigen 0,5 ug/ml  2.9

Borrelia (Lyme) (these should be less than 2)

afzelli 5.5

sensu stricto 3.1

garini 5.4

OspC 3.7

Pneumonia (these levels have increased since July 2015, which matches my experience)

Mycoplasma pneumoniae IgG  118 (has increased, was 96 in July 2015)

Chlamydia pneumoniae IgG  159 (has increased, was 118 in July 2015)

OK vitamin D3 level.

Vit. 25-OH D3 73,4 ng/ml
Not active candida.
Candida albicans IgA    < 10 U/ml
Candida albicans IgM    < 10 U/ml
OK B12 level? This was very low (127) last summer and I have taken sublingual B12 (methylcobalamin) since then. The reason my body doesn’t absorb B12 through the intestines may be parasites.

Methylmalonic acid  17 ug/l   normal range 9-32 (an indirect indicator for B12)

Magnesium are at normal levels. Selenium is at 135 ug/l (normal is 50-120) so it’s a little high, and the symptoms of high selenium fits with what I have. (It seems that just about all of the positive findings have similar symptoms, and fit with mine….!)

It’s also possible that I have heavy metals in my body (increasing the load) and parasites.

A “Food Detective” test found that my body reacts strongly to almonds and cow’s milk, and mildly to wheat, rye, oats, mushrooms, and yeast. (None of these are surprising to me. I have known about my reaction to sugar, what, and diary, and also some other grains and almonds.) It may be even more important for me to stay away from these foods since my body mobilizes against them, which means it will have fewer resources to take care of the real threats (intracellular EBV, Lyme, pneumonia).

Lab Reports from June 2015

EBV IgG 284 U/ml (Epstein-Barr antibodies, over 20 is positive)

C3A / C4A serum levels. These were low and suggested Sjøgren’s disease. Later results were negative for Sjøgren’s.

C3A serum level 0.27 (low, o.58 – 1.90 is normal range)

C4A serum level 0.37 (low, 0.57 – 1.68 is normal range)

VEGF 0.86 (within normal range)

Glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase 10.2 U/g Hb (normal range 7.20 – 10.50. This is a metabolic pathway providing energy to cells.)

ADH antidiurethic hormone 5.0 ng/l (normal is below 8)

Epstein-Barr

Antibodies p/EBV IgM 0.25 S/CO (negative, below 0.50 is negative)

Antibodies p/EBV IgG 59.16 S/CO (postive, over 1.00 is positive)

Vitamin 25-OH D3 37.0 ng/ml (normal/optimal range is 30-50)

Vitamin B12 127.4 pg/ml (very low, should be 200-800 range – or really 400-800 from what I read other places)

Borrelia IgM Western-Blot – negative, no reaction. (This is likely a false negative based on symptoms and other tests.)

CD3/CD8 (T-cell co-receptors)

% CD3+CD4+  13.3 (low, normal range is 19.0-38.9)

CD3+CD4+ 242  (low, normal range is 300-1200)

CD4/CD8 3.54 (high, normal range is 0.80-2.50)

CD57

% CD3+CD8+ 14.6 (low, normal range is 19.0-38.9)

CD3+CD8+ 266 (low, normal range is 300-1200)

Cortisol 472.3 nmol/l (normal range is 171-536)

Pneumonia

Antibodies p/Mycolasma pneumoniae IgA  negative

Antibodies p/Mycoplasma pneumoniae IgG 95.7 RU/ml  (over 20 is positive)

Antibodies p/Chlamydia pneumoniae IgG  118.39 RU/ml  (over 22 is positive)

Antibodies p/Chlamydia pneumoniae IgA  negative

Minerals

Sodium  146 mmol/l (little high, normal range is 136-145)

Potassium 3.97 mmpl/l (normal range is 3.5-5.1)

Chloride 109 mml/l (little high, normal range is 98-107)

ALT 24.1 U/l (normal is above 4 – not sure what this is)

AST 25.4 U/l (normal is below 39 – not sure what this is)

Hormones

TSH 2.480 ulU/ml (normal range is 0.270-4.200 – thyroid stimulating hormone)

Free thyroxine FT4  17.89 pmol/l (normal range is 12.00-22.00 – thyroid)

Triidothyrine FT3  5.68 pmol/l (normal range is 3.10-6.80 – thyroid)

Testosteron 22.36 nmol/l (normal range is 9.90-27.80)

 

Lab results from Ahus (hospital in Norway, February 2016)

Cytomegalovirus

CMV IgG Negative

CMV IgM Negative

Epstein-Barr Virus

EBV EBNA-IgG Negative

EBV VCA-IgG  345 (The Norwegian doctor says this suggest past infection. When I look at it, I see a higher number than the results June 2015 which suggests active infection.) 

EBV VCA-IgM Negative

Hepatitis

Hepatitis B virus core antigens  Negative

Hepatitis B virus surface antigens  Negative

Hepatitis C virus antigens Negative

Treatment February 2016

While at the clinic this time, I received i.v. to repair mitochondria and remove heavy metals from my body. I also did two hyperthermia treatments.

What I was prescribed while I was there:

Multimessenger (for immune system). Consists of: Colostrum/ betainehydrochlorid / Larix occidentalis/ Green Tea extract/ Punica granatum/ astragalus membranaceus/ Lentinula edodes/ Grofila Frondosa
Artemisinin 500mg x 2/day
Black cumin oil 5ml away from food – black seed oil “Ethiopia” from El-Hawag
Cholestyremine (to remove heavy metals)
Plaquenil (for parasites + possible Sjogren’s syndrome)
LDN 4.5mg
Vit D3
Probiotics

As I suspected, my doctor also recommends I go back to using antibiotics to take care of the EPV, Lyme, and pneumonia.

I also take vitamin A+K, magnesium, and eleuthero (Siberian ginseng for strength) and echinacea (for immune function).

What I am prescribed from my herbalist:

Echinacea 5g

Eleuthero to max comfort

Kapi kachu to max comfort

Methyl Folate work up to 5g

Weakened system and accumulation

Here is what I suspect happened:

I had mononucleosis at 14 or 15 followed by an initial CFS a few months later. I was sick most of high school.

I did better after high school, as long as I was careful about what I ate and to get rest when I needed.

I had a severe pneumonia 6-7 years ago which never left my system, and I had a strong return of the CFS a few months later.

I got Lyme May of 2015 (numb arms, legs, face, tongue, poor memory, severe fatigue).

It seems that each of these – the Epstein-Barr, pneumonia, and Lyme stayed in and increased the load on my system. The two periods of CFS both came a few months after a serious infection (mononucleosis and pneumonia). It’s likely that my body was initially weakened by the EPB and was then less able to fight off the rest.

It’s also possible that my system was weakened by feeling lost and off track, which I did both at age 14-15, and 6-7 years ago. During times when I have experienced a strong sense of purpose and being on track, I tend to do better.

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A few words about sensitivity

 

Since childhood, I have been quite sensitive to a range of stimuli, especially sounds (noise, eating sounds, paper rustling), certain foods (sugar, dairy), chemicals, heat, physical exertion, and more.

I notice that my sensitivity is related to how well I feel in general. When I feel stronger and/or feel good about my life, I tend to be less sensitive. When I feel more fatigued or vulnerable, and I am less happy about my life, I become more sensitive.

Also, I assume these sensitivities are a type of “allergic” reaction. It’s my system reacting strongly to stimuli that in themselves are relatively harmless. My system seems to respond as if it’s a life and death situation, when it really isn’t.

That’s why retraining my system’s response seems important. How do I retrain or reprogram the stimuli-response reaction? How do I help my system respond with calmness to the stimuli that previously have triggered a strong reaction? One way is to feel the response in my body, and rest with it. As I rest with it, I am signaling to my system that it’s OK. There is no life-and-death situation here. It’s OK to relax. It’s OK to be OK with it.

Joey Lott writes about this, and it’s also an inherent part of Natural Rest and the Living Inquiries. In Natural Rest, I notice what’s here and allow it as is. I may even say “I love you, stay as long as you like”. In the Living Inquiries, I look at images and words, and feel sensations, which invites the “velcro” to release. (Sensations that seems “stuck on” images and words, lending them charge, and a sense of reality and solidity.) Both signal to my system that it’s OK. The stimuli is OK, whether it’s a sound, image, or sensation. It’s not life threatening. It’s OK for my system to respond in a relaxed way. It’s even OK to find love for it.

Said another way, when there is velcro (or a belief, or identification, or a psychological knot), the stimuli may trigger a strong and unpleasant reaction. It’s an over reaction, in a conventional sense, although the reaction is appropriate to the underlying belief, identification, velcro, or trauma. And this looks like sensitivity.

There is a sound. The sound itself is harmless. My system responds strongly, with a fight or flight or freeze response. It’s alarmed. It reacts that way due to a belief (or identification, velcro, trauma). And that stimuli-response pathway can be changed. My system can learn to respond in a more relaxed way, through inquiry, or Natural Rest, or just feeling the sensations of the reactions and resting with these sensations. In each case, I am showing my system that it’s OK. It’s OK to respond in a relaxed way. There is no life-and-death situation here.

Another way to work with this is Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), allowing the body to release tension and trauma through it’s natural and inherent trembling mechanism. (Spontaneous trembling, shaking, rocking, stretching.)

A couple of notes:

I included physical exertion above. I suspect that chronic fatigue fits into this pattern of stimuli followed by an exaggerated response. The stimuli is physical exertion, and the response is fatigue. It may be a type of freeze response. This is not the whole picture of CFS, but it may be a part of it for many. (I suspect there is a great deal of individual variation here, and another part of the picture is physical problems such as mineral and vitamin deficiencies, viruses, auto-immune illnesses and more.)

Similarly, fatigue itself may be the stimuli, and the system responds with increased fatigue. This can also be retrained, in the way described above. It’s at least worth a try. And inquiry can be invaluable in this process.

Is X a threat? The physical exertion? The fatigue? The brain fog? These sensations I label in that way?

Can I find X? Fatigue? Exertion? Brain fog? Someone who has these?

Is there a command to X? To escape a situation? For the fatigue to go away? For the brain fog to go away?

I am intentionally avoided using the term “nervous system” above. It’s obviously important in this context, but there is clearly a lot more going on than just the nervous system. Our whole body-mind is included.

One way the nervous system plays a role, is what happens when the sympathetic nervous system (flight/fight/freeze) is chronically activated. This leads to the parasympathetic part of the nervous system being less active. And this, in turn, leads to diminished immune function, digestion, and more, which in turn can lead to a range of health problems.  Teaching the nervous system to relax – in general and when faced with certain stimuli – helps our overall health. It makes the body better able to heal itself.

Health update

 

As mentioned in an earlier post, I went to a doctor in Poland this summer. He is a specialist in Lyme, and – as it turns out – also in chronic fatigue (CFS). He sent my blood off to a number of labs, and I received the results in August. The results show a number of things that all contribute to fatigue and brain fog (including poor executive functions and shaky/raw emotions).

These include: Very low B12 levels (127), epstein-barr virus (mononucleosis, often associated with CFS), two pneumonia viruses, an auto-immune disease, and Lyme.

It’s a relief to finally have more specific information about what’s been going on with me. Now, I can say it’s the things listed above, instead of using the fuzzy term CFS.

I don’t know the exact sequence of how I got these things, but here is my best guess:

When I was 14 or 15, I had mononucleosis. Some months later, I got CFS for the first time and this lasted 2-4 years quite severely. I felt I never recovered from this, and that may be true if the Epstein-Barr virus is still in my system (intracellular). After this, in my twenties and early thirties, I was able to function reasonably well as long as I could organize my own schedule and include rest when I needed it. (I was unable to follow a regular work schedule, and fortunately didn’t have to.)

Seven or eight years ago, I had pneumonia, and I never felt I got over this too. It now turns out I didn’t. The viruses are still there (also intracellular). This pneumonia preceded (and may have led to?) my second severe CFS episode some months later, much more severe than the initial one in my teens.

I assume the B12 deficiency developed over several years. It may have made me more susceptible to the pneumonia and Lyme by weakening my system so I couldn’t fight them off. It’s also possible that some of these led or contributed to (?) the B12 deficiency (not sure if that’s how it works).

It’s also possible that I have had Lyme for far longer than just this summer. Several people have suggested it, although I didn’t have any tests until now.

My doctor thinks that these are all treatable, so I am optimistic. I also know how important it is to help my system relax and strengthen in general, through diet, sleep, nourishing relationships and activities, moderate physical activity, helping my nervous system release tension and relax, doing inquiry on stressful beliefs/identities/apparent threats, and more.

Any prayers for my full recovery are welcome.

My experience with Lyme in Norway

 

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In mid-May, I noticed a numbness in hands, feet, and face, and weakness in my hands. Two weeks later, I discovered a red ring on the underside of my arm, near the armpit. I went to a doctor who thought it could be Lyme disease and gave me a five-day antibiotics treatment (this was in the US). The numbness went away after one day.

Two weeks later, in Norway, the symptoms returned and were much stronger. The numbness was back in my hands, feet, and face, and now also tongue and mouth (and a bit later lower arms), along with stiff neck, very strong brain fog and grogginess, and fatigue. (The initial extremely strong fatigue and brain fog could be related to jet lag, and I also have baseline fatigue and brain fog from the CFS. Although the unusually strong grogginess remains now even after the jetlag is gone.) I also have a weak grip (things slip out of my hands), and when I get up after resting I move and feel like an old man.

I had gathered that Lyme is a controversial topic in Norway. The official position seems to be that the infection itself doesn’t last very long. (If the symptoms are longer lasting, it’s something else.) Doctors who treat this “non-existing” disease in Norway risk losing their license and one did even last year.

When I called my regular doctor, I got an appointment the same day by the receptionist. She called back within an hour and said that when the doctor had heard why I wanted to see him, he canceled the appointment and said I could possibly get an appointment two months later. A bright spot: Some days later, I was able to get an appointment. My doctor looked at the red ring, did some neurological tests, and agreed that Lyme is a probable diagnosis. He gave me a relatively mild two-week antibiotics treatment.

From what I understand, it’s important to treat it more thoroughly, especially early in the process, to prevent problems later on. I got the names of some doctors who may be more knowledgeable about Lyme and contacted several of them. The pattern was the same with all of them: When they heard why I wanted to see them, they either didn’t respond or said they possibly had an appointment about two months in the future (and to call them them to set it up).

The last one I talked with was initially friendly and welcoming, and when heard why I called responded: “that’s a controversial topic in Norway, I need to go now and will call you back later, goodbye”. And then didn’t respond to my later attempts at contacting him.

The essence is that it seems impossible to get quality treatment for Lyme disease in Norway. That’s why most Norwegians with Lyme disease go to Germany or Poland to see doctors there.

Several things come up for me around this:

I had expected Norwegian doctors to at least have the integrity to tell me they can’t treat me since they may lose their license if they do. Instead, they either cancel my appointment, don’t respond, or tell me to call back in two months. (Which seems irresponsible considering my symptoms,)

Since there is disagreement about Lyme internationally, I would expect the Norwegian doctors and government to take a precautionary approach. To treat any possible or likely Lyme disease thoroughly (initial four or six-week antibiotics treatment + anti-cyst medication). Instead, they chose to not treat it, avoid patients who may have it, or they treat it in a minimalistic way that may make it worse in the long run.

I don’t know the politics around this, but the official policy on Lyme in Norway does seem to be influenced by politics, and perhaps arrogance and wounded egos.

I should mention that I am among the more cautious when it comes to using medication and antibiotics (also to reduce the risk of creating more antibiotic-resistant strains), but in this case, the risks of leaving it untreated or wrongly treated seem serious enough so I chose to go the medical and precautionary route.

This also triggers the victim identity in me, since it comes on top of my existing struggles with CFS, and it happened just as I left the US (where I could have received the proper treatment) for Norway (where I can’t).

Update: It seems there are three possibilities when people are infected by Lyme. (a) It lasts for a relatively short period of time and then is gone, perhaps due to antibiotics treatment. (b) It can become longer-lasting, due to continued infection. (c) There may be an auto-immune response which creates problems. I am sure there are other possibilities too. I haven’t read much about it yet.

Update 2, mid-July 2015: I went to Poland to see a Lyme specialist there. It turns out that he also specializes in CFS. It’s possible that there is a weakness in my system that makes me more susceptible to both CFS and Lyme. He took a good number of tests to get an idea of what’s going on, and what the best course of treatment may be. One of the main questions is why my mitochondria seem compromised, and unable to produce as much energy as they normally would. I feel a little better, partly from what he gave me, and partly from feeling I am in good hands and that someone actually takes my case seriously and may be able to do something about it.

Update 3, July 16, 2015: I had an appointment with my regular doctor in Norway (about referral to neurologist for CFS), and he interrupted me and changed the topic as soon as I tried to give him an update about the Lyme. I still have numbness in arms, legs, and face, a stiff neck, strong headache, very strong grogginess, memory problems, diarrhea, and more, so it seems irresponsible by him to dismiss it – to the point of not even wanting to hear about it. (The symptoms are stronger some days than others, and obviously quite debilitating.)

Update 2016: After hitting my head against the wall with the Norwegian health-care system, I went to a very good private clinic in Gdansk, Poland, and received treatment there. It was expensive but worth it. The symptoms reduced greatly although it seems that the treatment wasn’t enough for the Lyme and co-infections to go away completely. It may just be that I didn’t go there enough times and for long enough.

Update 2019: I am now free of symptoms from Lyme and co-infections, and it seems to be due to several Vortex Healing treatments. The symptoms have returned about half a year following the Vortex Healing session(s), although it’s easy enough to schedule a new session (or a series of brief sessions) which makes the symptoms go away again.

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Tiredness

 

Tiredness is very interesting.

It can be physiological, often from lack of sleep. It can have a significant mind component. And perhaps quite commonly, there is some of each.

In inquiry sessions – both as client and facilitator – I notice that an almost overwhelming tiredness can set in, often when the client is looking at something with a lot of velcro and seemingly threatening. When tiredness is brought consciously into the session, the experience of it can shift, and it also tends to mysteriously vanish after the apparently threatening images, words, and sensations have been more closely looked at. It may be that this tiredness is a form of protection.

In life, it may be similar. I wonder if not a part of chronic fatigue is the same impulse to protect. The tiredness is a form of protection, and if so comes from innocence, deep caring, and worried love. Tiredness protects me from being out there in the world, with all its apparent dangers, risks, disappointments, and more. (And that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a very real physiological component to chronic fatigue, and perhaps even in the cause of chronic fatigue.)

Some ways to explore tiredness:

Living Inquiries. 

Rest with the tiredness. Notice. Allow.

Feel the sensations. See how it is to be curious about them. Feel the sensations as sensations. (As much as possible. This may be much easier after doing the following inquiry.)

Inquire into the sensations, and any associated images and words. Is it a threat? Is it tiredness? Is it someone who is tired?

Kindness.

I love you.

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. (Ho’oponopono.)

Holding satsang with.

You are welcome here.

Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

What would satisfy you forever?

What are you really?

Dialogue/mining.

How does X relate to you? What advice do you have for him/her?

What does it mean? What would is say if it could speak?

What does it need from you?

In my experience, the kindness can be very helpful in reorienting and relate to it differently, and the dialog can do the same. What really helps is resting with what’s here, and especially feeling the sensations of tiredness, and looking at the associated images and words. When the velcro is loosened, it’s much easier to feel the sensations as sensations, and the associated images and words are recognized as images and words.

The sense of tiredness may get thinner or lifts. Or there is still a more physiological tiredness here (from lack of sleep usually) and it’s OK, it doesn’t seem like a problem, and it doesn’t have as many overlays of images and words.

This is similar to how physical pain can be explored.

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The gifts of fatigue

 

It’s easy to see chronic fatigue (CFS) as a disaster.

That’s how we (most of us) are trained to see significant health problems. And if that’s all we see, and we hold it as true and real, that’s how we create suffering for ourselves.

And yet, as with just about anything else, there are also gifts there, and it’s good to acknowledge these. It helps balance the picture in my mind, and how I relate to it and my life.

So what are some of the genuine gifts in CFS for me?

When I thought of fatigue, the first that came up for me is I love you. (To the fatigue and associated symptoms.) This shows that something has shifted in me since I first got it.

I learned to befriend ordinary rest. I used to be driven to always do something productive (studies, work, photography, meditation). I didn’t want to “waste” any time. From the fatigue, I learned the value of rest.

I learned to find peace with being dependent on others. I used to be strongly invested in being independent and take care of my own life. And I learned the gifts in being dependent on others. In receiving. In letting people give. We are always dependent on others, in innumerable ways. And I found the gifts in being dependent in a more obvious way too.

I learned to find kindness for my very human experience, even when my human side didn’t like it at all. I learned the value and relief in finding peace with and love for what’s here. And I am still learning.

I had to face beliefs about health, value, roles in society, success, failure, and more. I have worked on and looked at many of these, although there are some left.

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TRE and fatigue

 

There may be many reasons for chronic fatigue (or not), and many ways through it.

For me, Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) is one.

I assume that chronic tension binds energy that otherwise could be used for healing and living life. And it may also block energy flow, in a more eastern view, with a similar result.

At the very least, it certainly takes a lot of energy to hold tension in the body. (As it does to hold beliefs, identifications, and velcro. This is what creates the mental and physical tension, which is why natural rest and inquiry is apart of this exploration for me. I want to go to the root of what’s happening, and TRE alone doesn’t do that.)

When I do TRE, I feel relaxed, whole, and more myself. And as I do it over time, chunks of tension soften and gradually release, starting from the legs and hips and moving up the body.

For me, now, the main tension sits in my shoulders, and that’s also where – in my throat – I notice a consistent body contraction. My hip area and lower back feels much more soft and open, and it seems that it’s largely due to the TRE.

Need for rest

 

I have experienced an unusual need for rest over the last few years, following many years of being very active.

This shift is connected with what some would label chronic fatigue and a dark night of the soul. And, yes, I realize that those labels can be helpful for communication and navigating what’s happening, and they may also be limiting and stressful if taken as too solid and real.

Why this need for rest? There may be several answers.

(a) The body & mind is exhausted and needs rest to recover. This exhaustion may be due to previous years of high energies, both in form of kundalini and in a more everyday sense. And also living with and relating to what was unloved and unexamined in me…. being stressed by it, setting it aside, wrestling with it.

(b) It’s a time for healing. A time for being with myself, for loving and examining the unloved and unexamined. It’s a retreat. It’s nature’s way of ensuring I get time and opportunity to do this, since I didn’t chose retreat on my own.

(c) It’s an invitation for natural rest. For allowing what’s here as it is, allowing this field of experience as it is here & now. And finding myself as that which already allows it, and is it, this field of experience as it is in immediacy. Perhaps first in through rest in a conventional sense, and then living this also in activity.

(d) It may also be related to identifications. (i) As mentioned above, identifications themselves can be tiring. They can lead to stress, unease, struggle and more. (ii) Also, there may be a sense that rest – and perhaps fatigue, isolation – is safer than being active and exposed in the world. Rest becomes a form of protection. An attempt to protect the imagined self. (iii) There may also be beliefs about the fatigue itself and what it means, which can solidify or amplify the sense of fatigue and need for rest.

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Chronic fatigue and TRE

 

I have chronic fatigue (whatever that is) and have been doing TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises) for a while.

Many have reported good success in healing from fatigue using TRE, and it’s perhaps not so surprising.

Neurogenic tremors allow the body to release tension and trauma (physically and emotionally), and this – in turn – releases and makes available the energy and resources previously tied up in maintaining the tension and trauma.

I have found other things helpful too:

Inquiry into my thoughts about the symptoms (labels, what they mean) and any stressful stories, including the most basic ones.

Loving kindness. Meeting what’s here – including the symptoms and my reactions to it – with love.

Gratitude. All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for…… and include anything in your life, what’s easy to feel grateful for and what it’s more challenging to find gratitude for.

Natural rest. Allowing what’s here – this field of experience – as it is. Noticing it’s already allowed as it is. Spending time with this, now and then through the day.

Feeling sensations as sensations, especially any sensations associated with the fatigue. (The sensations interpreted as fatigue, brain fog, resistance, fear, sadness etc.) This can be made easier through inquiry into words and images associated with these sensations.

Following my guidance and my heart. Inquiring into the way my mind stops itself from living this. Following my guidance even if there is fear. (Feeling off track can be draining.)

A good – and not very strict – diet, consisting mainly of simple and ordinary foods, similar to that our ancestors would have eaten. (Not much processed food, or sugar, dairy or wheat.) Drinking plenty of water. (Mostly in the form of herbal and spice teas, enough to keep the urine light colored or clear.)

Spending time in nature. Find your spot. Go for walks. Sit and rest. Soak it in. Allow nature to gently work on you. Walk barefoot.

Strength training, although not in excess.

Herbs. (Eleuthero, rhodiola, chulen, Stangelands Urtete etc.)

Engaging in nourishing activities and relationships. Dropping, as far as possible, draining activities and social engagement.

Welcome fogginess

 

I still have some symptoms thoughts label fogginess, fatigue, poor executive functions and so on, and another thought ways it’s part of what’s left of the chronic fatigue.

So I can hold satsang with these parts of me. For instance, when I notice brain fog…..

You are welcome here.

Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your devotion for me. Thank you for your love for me.

How would you like me to be with you?

What would satisfy you forever?

What are you really?

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