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).
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).
We bind a great deal of energy up in our identifications, beliefs, wounds, and trauma.
First, what do I mean by identifications? An identification is when the mind takes itself to be a certain viewpoint created by a story. It takes itself to be that viewpoint. It becomes that viewpoint, in its own experience. That’s how a belief is created, including stressful beliefs. (And all beliefs are stressful or become stressful eventually.) And this is also an important component of how emotional wounds and traumas are created and maintained.
And why do they require energy? Our body-mind needs to use energy to create and hold these in place. It needs to consistently fuel and recreate the identifications. It needs to create and hold onto stories creating identifications. And it needs to create physical tension to associate with these stories to make them appear more real, solid, and true. Both require consistent use of mental and physical energy.
What are some of the effects of this bound up energy? The identifications in themselves can create fatigue, depression, anxiety, compulsions, and more. On top of that, these tend to be stronger and more visible when our general energy level is lower because some of our energy is bound up in this way. Over time, having energy bound up may also contribute to the characteristics we sometimes associate with aging (fatigue, lethargy, stiffness, chronic illness).
When do we notice this energy-binding dynamic? Sometimes, we have glimpses of how much energy is bound in identifications. It may be in a smaller way when a specific belief or wound is released. Or it may be when we are released out of identifications as a whole – whether temporarily (spiritual openings or glimpses) or more stably (more stable awakening).
And how have I noticed it? I have noticed it in a few different ways. Most clearly during spiritual openings when the mind trancends many of the identifications and hangups. In healing and inquiry sessions. And also when I have combined a daily meditation and yoga practice, or have done Breema regularly, and I find the bodymind wholeness that’s whole and healthy in spite of identifications, wounds, and physical ailments.
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.
Some like to think there is a one-to-one correspondence between certain emotional issues and certain physical illnesses. Or, at the very least, some like to present it that way.
Why are people drawn to it?
It can give a sense of hope and control, and something to do about a serious issue.
Since all emotional issues are on a scale, we can always find any one issue in ourselves if we look.
Sometimes, there may be some truth to the apparent connection.
And, sometimes, someone will work on a specific emotional issue and the apparently corresponding physical issue clears up – for another reason.
What are the potential drawbacks?
We may blame ourselves. For instance for the emotional issue or for being unable to change it.
We may put time and energy into resolving an emotional issue that has little or nothing to do with the physical illness. (This, in itself, is not a bad thing if it doesn’t take away from other approaches.)
In the worst case, we may neglect other approaches that could be more effective.
What seems more accurate?
First, reason and experience suggest that a one-to-one correspondence between specific emotional issues and physical illnesses is overly simplistic. Life is more complex and varied than that.
At the same time, it seems clear the emotional issues can create physical weaknesses and susceptibility to physical illness. For instance, in a general sense, we know that’s true for stress or feeling lonely.
And sometimes, a specific emotional issue may indeed be connected to a physical illness. It may be one piece of the healing process puzzle. Other times, there may be little or no connection.
So what may be a more reasoned approach?
In general, it’s good to take a holistic approach.
What can mainstream medicine do? What can other – perhaps more leading-edge – medical specialists do?
What can we change in diet, environment, or activity to support healing? How can we change our life to support healing, including finding social support, more sense of meaning, and reducing stress?
And, yes, does there seem to be an emotional issue behind the physical illness, and what happens if we find healing for it? (Vortex Healing is the approach I have found that seems to best do both of those.)
As usual, there is most likely some grain of truth to the emotional issue – physical illness correspondence, at least to some extent and in some cases. And it’s good to take a whole picture and more grounded approach.
Note: I know I have taken a devil’s advocate approach here. In reality, most people will look up what books etc. suggest about what emotional issue is behind their physical illness, take it with a grain of salt, check in with themselves to see if it seems likely, do something to find healing for it if yes, and still do whatever else they would do to find healing for their physical illness. It’s just one of many components, and for most people not even the most important one.
Sometimes, we find key interventions that reorganizes the whole system towards health.
I have explored different adjustments for my posture. For instance adjusting the angle of my hip rotation (bottom forward), shoulders back, leading with the belly or chest, imagining a string pulling on the top of the head etc. They all help to some extent but each one felt a bit contrived. (My posture is OK but – as anything – it can always improve, and especially through a wide range of daily life situations and circumstances.)
There is a simple pointer that really works for me: bring the chin in. When I bring the chin in, my whole posture adjusts and falls into place. It feels natural, organic, and comfortable. It creates a natural and easy whole systems change. The curve in my neck becomes a bit more shallow. My shoulders go back. My chest out. My belly in. My hips rotate forward at the bottom, allowing my lower back curve to reduce a bit. My stance and walk feel more comfortable. My mind becomes a bit more alert.
And I can use it in any situation, whether I walk, sit, stand, ski, or whatever I may be doing.
This is what seems to work for me right now. Perhaps not in the future. Certainly not for everyone. But for me, right now. And that’s what counts.
It made me reflect on key interventions. Sometimes, it seems we need to work on a range of issues and approach something from many different angles. And other times, we find a key intervention that allows for a relatively easy whole systems change.
And sometimes, the first may lead to the second. We may approach something from many angles and perspectives, and that ripens the system for a key intervention. Or in the process of exploring a range of approaches, we happen to find (what turns out to be) a key intervention.
In this case, the intervention is very simple and just a little nudge. And yet, it leads to relatively large and comprehensive changes through the system.
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.
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.
I have had scoliosis in my lower back since my teens. And I used to have periods of very strong back pain. I would typically wake up in the morning, perhaps every few months, and be unable to move for the rest of the day.
Some years ago, I discovered therapeutic tremoring. It’s the tremoring that our body initiates on it’s own, and most of us are familiar with it through seeing it in other mammals. For instance, dogs may tremble after stress. They shake out the stress after the stressful situation is over. It’s something that all mammals do and it’s built into us through evolution.
The reason most of us humans do not do it, especially in our modern culture, is that we have learned – from an early age – to stop it whenever it is about to start. We don’t understand it, or think it’s a sign of weakness. So we have learned to prevent it from happening.
Therapeutic trembling one of the greatest gifts given to us by evolution and our ancestors. It’s a mechanism that releases both physical and mental stress and tension. And it gives us a chance to get back to a healthy and balanced state, both in our body and mind.
Since we have learned to stop it, we need and initial structure to allow the body to tremble again. And TRE – Tension and Trauma Release Exercises – provides just such a structure. It’s a set of simple exercises which initiates and allows the therapeutic trembling.
When I started with TRE some years ago, my back was initially very sore. All the tense muscles there received a good massage and I experienced it as soreness for a while. Then, as much of the tension was released and the muscles (and fascia) returned to a more healthy state, the soreness went away and so did the recurrent back pain. Now, my lower back feels amazingly healthy and supple.
As with anything else I write about here, please contact me for more information – including who to contact if you would like to try these approaches out for yourself.
My partner has wanted to lose some weight, and this spring received a Vortex Healing session for it from another Vortex healer. It helped her regulate her appetite and reduce her weight. This fall, she had a period where she found herself again struggling with her diet and weight, and I gave her a Vortex Healing session to help her regulate her appetite and weight. It seems to have worked quite well. She says she is able to keep her calorie intake down relatively effortlessly and she is loosing weight by the day.
I am on the other side of this coin. I have tried to put on weight off and on for several years without much success. Strength training combined with increased calorie intake hasn’t done much for me. (I have never been underweight in a medical sense, but have wanted to put on a few more kilos.) It seems that my body has had a set point that’s a little lower than I would like. This spring, I did a couple of Vortex Healing sessions for myself to change the set-point and be able to put on a few kilos. And I found myself effortlessly putting on kilos this summer and fall. I am now, for the first time in my life, at a weight that feels much more comfortable to me. There is a bit of padding that seems to help my bodymind relax more deeply.
In both cases, Vortex Healing seemed very helpful in setting a new set-point for the body’s weight and in helping with weight management.
I received my 23andme results a few weeks back and it has reminded me of a few things about genetic testing. Depending on how it’s used, it can definitely have some drawbacks. But it can also have many personal and social / cultural benefits.
Here are some of the possible social and cultural benefits that come to mind.
We are reminded that we are all overwhelmingly alike. Only about 0.5% of our genetic material has to do with our particular geographic or ethnic history. We are overwhelmingly alike as human beings, and as Earthlings we are also overwhelmingly alike. As human beings, we share almost all our history and ancestors, and as Earthlings we share a great deal of our history and ancestors.
Many of us, and especially in North America, have a far more mixed ancestry than we may expect. For instance, some who identify as “white” may have Asian, North-American, or African ancestry mixed in.
Same or similar genetic sequence-patterns are found in most or all human populations. So when the different companies assign an ethnic group based on particular patterns, they do it based on statistics and probably. Any particular pattern may be more prevalent in some groups but are found in other groups as well. So the analysis is not always accurate. Again, it’s a reminder of how similar we are.
Our official family history isn’t always the same as the genetic one. We have an official set of ancestors. We have a genetic set of ancestors. And the two are not always the same. This may help us hold our identity more lightly. We can (learn to) embrace and appreciate both.
This all makes it more difficult to justify or hold onto racism. (Although I am sure some will be able to if they really want to.) We are all Africans. We share almost all of our DNA. Many of us are more mixed than we think. Any differences are, in the big picture, very superficial.
As genetic testing becomes more common and our understanding improves, it may well have an impact on culture. And, if we want, it may help us see how closely we all are related. It may widen and deepen our sense of “us” as human beings and even as part of the Earth community.
As mentioned, there are also possible drawbacks. For instance, it’s easy to misinterpret or hold certain interpretations as more solid than they are. And some may get stressed out by certain interpretations of their health or ancestry data. They may realize one or both of their parents (or grandparents) are not the ones they thought they were. Or they may mistakenly think that’s the case based on misguided interpretation of the data. Or they may think that a slight statistical increase in likelihood of a certain illness means they are actually likely to get it (which may not be the case at all). With all of this, it’s important to be informed before jumping to conclusions, and in any case take it with a big grain of salt.
I guess there is also some risk that employees or governments can use certain data in unfortunate ways. (I don’t think it’s happening much or at all now, but there is always the risk.)
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).
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.
I have had CFS since my teens, and especially strongly in two periods (including right now).
From the beginning, I knew that food played a role in how well I do. The type of food plays a role, as does when I eat, and – as I discovered more recently – having some minimal fat reserves.
Type of food. I tend to do best when I eat mostly vegetables and meat, with smaller amounts of grains and fruit, and minimal to no dairy and sugar. The less processed the better. And I prefer organic and locally produced food. I am from Northern Europe, and I notice I do well on traditional Northern European foods. Perhaps it’s genetics, or just what my body is used to, or the climate, I don’t quite know.
I especially like warm food that’s delicious and easy and quick to prepare. Slow cooked stews with bone broth is a favorite.
When I eat. I tend to eat relatively frequently. My main meal is often breakfast, and it’s often vegetables and meat. Lunch and dinner are typically similar. Although I do mix it up according to what I notice I am drawn to. It’s good to not be too strict. (For instance, I had muesli with kefir a couple of days ago and it felt right and good then. And I do sometimes eat chocolate.)
Fat reserves. I have been slim to skinny my whole life, and unable to put on weight even when I have intentionally tried to. This spring, I did a combination of Vortex Healing and using an app in order to put on more weight, and it worked within a week. (The Vortex Healing was for my digestive system and to support my body in absorbing and making use of nutrients.)
I am now up to 84kg (184cm tall) and have a minimal to moderate layer of fat on my body for the first time. It feels like an important and helpful buffer for me. I used to have energy crashes if a meal was delayed or I missed a meal. Now, that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. Joey Lott and others talk about the importance of eating enough in order to deal with and perhaps recover from CFS, and that fits my experience as well.
Additional notes. As I mentioned above, I am not terribly strict in my diet. Now and then, I do eat some grains, some dairy (cheese, kefir), and some sugar (mostly in the form of chocolate). I also find that butter seems to really help me, so I tend to melt butter on most warm meals. I should also say that I do some strength training and typically walk a good deal, so I try to stay as fit as I can within the limitations of having CFS.
I got Lyme disease a couple of years ago and had the red ring, the classic symptoms, positive test results, and diagnosis from a few independent specialists. Although some treatments helped for a while (antibiotics, hyperthermia etc.), the symptoms always returned.
So far, two treatments seem to help me the most.
Vortex Healing. Highest level Vortex Healers use a Lyme protocol that seems to make the Lyme go dormant. From what I hear, it may also clear it completely although that may take several sessions. (I know many are skeptical to energy healing but it has worked for me.) Until I started with the essential oils, I needed to repeat the VH Lyme treatment every half year or so.
Essential oils. A friend of a friend recommended essential oils for Lyme, and specifically, something called the Doterra protocol. (See details below.) She treated herself for a year or so, became free of any symptoms, and have so far – about two years later? – not had any recurrence.
I should add that I know people who report becoming Lyme free through using either Vortex Healing OR the essential oils, so the combination is clearly not necessary for everyone. With something as serious as Lyme, I personally tend to choose simple combinations of the best candidates instead of just one approach.
It’s hard for me to say how much my Lyme symptoms are reduced, if I am actually symptom-free, and if the Lyme is gone or not, since the Lyme symptoms are very similar to CFS and I still have CFS. The senior Vortex Healers I have checked with say they can’t find any indication of active Lyme in my system, and possibly also no dormant Lyme. I am still using the essential oils and will for perhaps a total of 1 1/2 years. I keep an eye out for the typical Lyme symptoms (for me, numb arms, legs, and face, stronger fatigue and brain fog, and emotional instability), and plan on scheduling another VH session if I notice them.
How I use the essential oils.
This is just how I use the essential oils. It’s not a recommendation or prescription. (Some say it can be harmful to take essential oils internally over longer periods of time.)
I use Doterra oils in OO (medium size) capsules.
In each capsule:
12 drops On Guard
6 drops Oregano
2 drops Frankincense
= 20 drops total in a capsule
I take one capsule a day for 14 days. Then 14 days break where I apply 2 drops of lemongrass and 1 drop of oregano on each foot daily. Repeat the cycle. As far as I understand, it’s not good to indefinitely take essential oils internally so I plan to stop after a year or so, or perhaps 1 1/2 years.
Here is how I have done it:
I got the Doterra oils. A bag of empty OO capsules. A regular dropper bottle. And a dropper with a milliliter scale. (The oils from eBay, the capsules from Amazon, and the dropper bottle can be found at any pharmacy or online.)
I fill the dropper bottle with 6 parts On Guard, 3 parts Oregano, 1 part Frankincense, and mix it by gently shaking it. (For instance, 15ml On Guard, 7.5ml Oregano, and 2.5ml Frankincense.)
Each morning, I fill a capsule with 20 drops from the dropper bottle and swallow the capsule with water right away. (The oils melt the capsules after a few minutes so the filled capsules can’t be stored.)
Thanks to Zora for sharing the Doterra info with me!
I plan on giving an update after a few more months.
P.S. The reason these are specifically Doterra oils is because of the On Guard mix. The other two oils can be from another company, although it should be a company with good quality oils.
I like the term “complementary medicine”. It implies a pragmatic and inclusive approach to health and well being.
Common sense implies that we use a combination of approaches to our health. I’ll go to a regular doctor for any serious or potentially serious health issue. And I’ll also use whatever else makes sense to me, whether it’s herbs prescribed by an herbalist, acupuncture, Breema, diet, nature, or Vortex Healing.
So if anyone comes to me for – for instance – Vortex Healing, and they have a serious health issue, I would always encourage them to go to a medical specialist and follow their advice. That’s not something I would say (only) for legal reasons, but because it makes sense. It’s integral to giving them the best chances for recovery.
I like approaches to health and well-being that are simple, fun, and intuitive (since they are aligned with our evolution and development). In this case, rolling, rocking, and crawling like a baby. It’s also very similar to what’s found in many traditional approaches, including different forms of yoga, and also Breema.
We are not ready for it. We are not ready to try it, or to have the problem resolve.
We have been disappointed in the past and don’t want to be again, so we reject it altogether. (From a wound, identification, belief.)
We don’t want others to tell us what to do. It may feel patronizing, or as outside pressure. (If it does, it points to beliefs and wounds.)
We don’t trust the messenger or the remedy. (For good reasons, or because of a wound/identification.)
We want to give what we are already trying a go, and don’t want to mix too many things. (This is very valid, especially if what we are already doing is working or has a good chance of working.)
I am sure there are other possible reasons. I have experienced this in my own life. For instance, I knew that some used herbs to heal from chronic fatigue but I had a prejudice about it until a friend convinced me to seek a local herbalist. It was a turning point in getting back to health. (The prejudice was that herbs wouldn’t have much effect, and that it was mostly used by naive new agey people.)
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.
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 a baseline fatigue and brain fog from the CFS. Although the unusually strong grogginess remains now even after the jetlag is gone.) I also have 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 loosing 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 cancelled 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 then 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 loose 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 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 referal to nevrologist 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 other, and obviously quite debilitating.)
I went walking in the woods yesterday. The journey, which was intended to be brief, ended up much longer than planned, and I eventually found myself quite hungry and somewhere I hadn’t been before. There was a McDonald’s there and a bus heading back to the house, so I decided to have a meal at McDonald’s, as part of the adventure. (A meal with milk shake and ice cream.)
Predictably, I didn’t feel good for the rest of the day and the morning after. And specifically, I noticed hopelessness and sluggishness set in, along with a craving for more dairy and junk food. I usually don’t eat/drink dairy, apart from some kefir, because I feel sluggish from it. And I usually don’t eat junk food (fast food, sweets, chips etc.) because my system feels off when I do, and it does seem to bring about a sense of hopelessness for me. Another reason I mostly avoid this is that junk food creates a craving for more junk food. It feeds on itself.
For me, the effects of foods are most noticeable in how they affect my mind. Dairy makes me feel sluggish and drowsy. Sugar makes me feel drained and tired. Wheat makes my mind feel a bit weird and off. Junk food creates hopelessness. And so on. It seems that highly processed foods tend to fuel and activate painful beliefs, identifications, and a victim mentality, at least in my experience. Vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit, and non-wheat grains are usually fine, as are most unprocessed foods.
Now, two days later, the effects are mostly gone. I had a strong craving for more junk food yesterday (anything would have done), but didn’t indulge so it’s mostly gone today. My mind also feels more clear again.
From talking with others, it seems that I am not the only one experiencing heavily processed food in this way. It’s almost astonishing that they are allowed to sell and advertise it. Especially knowing that the food itself is designed, and intentionally so, to create more cravings for it. It’s a drug you can become addicted to. It does impact the mind (and obviously the body) quite strongly, and not in a favorable way. And it doesn’t provide any (real) value beyond that of less processed foods. To put it crudely, it’s there to line the coffers of large corporations.
In my teens and early twenties, I did a Taoist practice where I brought attention up and down the spine and through the top of the head. (Visualizing dark light going up, and golden light coming down, with the in and out breath.)
Now, I am doing a similar although simpler practice where I bring attention up and down the spine. Rest with it. Notice. Allow. Feel.
I notice again something I noticed several years ago. When I bring attention to the spine, I see three (or more) pictures of the spine, and they don’t quite align. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the spine is, for that reason, and it’s more noticeable from the chest area up. My sense is that it’s connected with an incarnation trauma, perhaps the sense of being unloved and unlovable, and a sense of fragmentation. (Which is also expressed in sometimes being confused what to do next in life, and feeling split between two or more options.)
Some ways to explore this:
Continue bringing attention to the spine. Notice. Allow. Rest with it.
Find kindness towards it. See it’s there to protect me. It’s from deep caring. It’s from love. Treat it with respect. Kindness. Authenticity. (As I would like to be treated.)
Look for a threat. Where is the threat in bringing attention to the spine? In the multiple pictures of the spine? In the slight discomfort I experience when I bring attention there?
What’s the worst that can happen if this doesn’t heal or resolve? (Look for the threat.)
What’s the best that can happen if it does heal and resolve? (Look for that.)
Look for the spine. See if it’s findable.
Look at the incarnation trauma. Look for a threat there. (In the images, words, sensations associated with it.)
When a story is believed and held as true, it tends to create struggle. And that’s tiring.
It takes a lot of energy. It can be draining. It can even impact our health in quite obvious ways.
If it’s that way with just one identification, imagine how tiring it is to have a whole bundle of them, as most of us do. We are, in some ways, bundles of identifications, and that’s tiring.
That’s one of the things we see when we are relieved of identifications and struggle, even if it’s only temporary.
We may be “lifted out” of identifications and glimpse the ease and simplicity of life without. (And the richness and fullness of life without identifications.) We may examine a particular hangup or identification, and find release from it.
We may also discover it through resting with what’s here. Shift from thinking to noticing. Finding ourselves as a whole. Shift from resisting to allowing. Shift from rejecting to holding experience in kind experience. Inquire into beliefs and see that what we thought was happening isn’t. Look for and being unable to find the threat, or deficient self, or command, that initially seemed so real and solid.
I imagine that the struggle from identifications is one of the things that creates old age as our culture often thinks of it. It has little to do with a biological inevitability, and more to do with the effects of accumulated struggles over a lifetime.
It’s common – in our culture, and our time – to use war metaphors in medicine and about our health.
As many have pointed out, it reflects a few different assumptions. It shows an assumption of a basic duality, or split, in ourselves and the world. An illness or medical problem is “other”, something that happens “to us”. And it also reflects an assumption that what’s happening is bad or wrong.
These views can be traced back to early Christianity, and Judaism, and perhaps even further back. And they can be found in some other cultures as well, in different flavors, although certainly not all cultures. Even that is a hint that these assumptions perhaps do not reflect something inherent in the world, and also that these type of assumptions are not inevitable. They are learned, and they can be unlearned, and perhaps be replaced with more helpful metaphors or assumptions.
I notice these basic assumptions in myself. Somewhere in me, there are assumptions that the CFS is “other”, something “other” that is impacting, me, and also that it’s wrong, bad, or at least unfortunate. There is also an assumption behind the label CFS, and what it means for me and my life.
When I notice that, there is the possibility to shift how I relate to all of this. Instead of taking it as how it is, and identify with the views created by these assumptions, I can relate to these assumptions – and what they trigger in me – more intentionally.
I can, for instance, say you are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. I love you. And repeat this, quietly, and sit in it.
It’s often easier to first do this towards one assumption or reaction at a time, and then perhaps with all of it.
I can also use ho’oponopono towards these parts of me, these parts of worried love. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.
I can experiment with simple loving kindness. I love you.
This is a 180 degree turning around from the war metaphor mentality. It’s an experiment. There may be fears coming up, especially at first. Worries that I won’t take care of myself and my health if I genuinely find peace with and love for the symptoms, and the reactions in me towards them. I can meet those worries too in this way, and see what happens. Is it true I won’t take care of myself and my health? What is the reality? What really happens when I shift into finding love for what’s here, including that which I previously saw as “other” or wrong?
Also, how do I change my view on these symptoms and what’s triggered in me (worry, confusion, fear, anger)? Do I see it as worried or confused love? How is it different when I genuinely see it more that way? Is there a sense of love meeting love, presence meeting presence?
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.
The nice thing about these pointers is that they are simple, they align with the “official” advice, they fit with our evolutionary history (often a good check), and they help improve health in general. And they may not only help maintain and improve gum and teeth health, but can possibly also help “repair” existing problems.
Some seem surprised that spiritual teachers get sick.
Why would they get sick?
They are human, and humans get sick.
Their bodies may get worn out through high levels of energies running through (aka kundalini).
They may have asked to be shown what’s left, and to find peace/ease with what’s here (whatever it is), and life gives them an opportunity to find just that.
We can get sick even if we do everything “right”, and teachers – as anyone else – don’t even do everything “right” (in terms of health). It’s a matter of genetics, environment, lifestyle and more.
All of these fit my own experience. My system certainly got burnt through high levels of energies running through it for several years (with a following “collapse”). I did ask for “full awakening” no matter the cost (a year or two before the dark night) and to be shown what’s left (a couple of weeks before the darkest period of the dark night). And there are weaknesses in my genetics (although pretty good overall), toxins in my environment, lack of nutrients in much of my food (due to modern agricultural (mis)practices), and sometimes poor food and health choices on my part.
The question “why do spiritual teachers get sick” may also come from a confusion between two different things. One is a a health and fitness focus as who we are, at the the human and energetic levels. This can include a focus on diet, exercise, breath, chi, “inner work”, and so on. The other is finding ease with – or as – what is, as it is. A shift in what we take ourselves to be. This one is independent of the health focus. It may include it or not, but doesn’t depend on it. And spirituality, at least as I use the term, is about the second one. The emphasis is on finding ease with what is, through inquiry and seeing what’s really here, and less – or secondarily if at all – on health. (Of course, a wise approach is to include both, with an emphasis on consciously recognizing the “true nature” of ourselves and what’s here.)
There is another aspect to this. When spiritual teachers get sick, it’s an opportunity for them to explore how to relate to it which in turn may benefit others. It may help them mature and deepen as human beings, and clarify what’s really there – in contrast to what at first appears to be there (which may include recognizing it as love, and finding genuine love for it). That’s not “why” they get sick, but it’s a possible outcome.
There has been an odd myth in modern western culture that said that we cannot take care of certain aspects of our own health through our lifestyle.
Fortunately, that’s changing, and it has been for a while.
We know that by acting healthy, we can maintain good health into old age. (Staying physically and mentally active, and perhaps even doing forms of yoga, meditation and inquiry.)
We know that by exercising our eyes, we can maintain good eye health or sometimes even reverse eye problems. (I used glasses from my teens. Started eye exercises in my mid-twenties. After a few weeks went back to the eye doctor who said my vision was good and I was in no need to glasses. And when I asked, she said that poor vision can’t be reversed….! My vision went from mildly near sighted – 0.75 to normal.) See f.ex. Natural Vision Improvement by Janet Goodrich.
We know that the mind can be trained. We can train a more stable attention. We can find kindness and love towards ourselves and others. We can even recognize our “true nature” (the layers of it). And all of this can be invited in and made into new habits. See f.ex. shamata (stable attention), ho’oponopono, loving kindness/metta, tonglen, holding satsang with parts of ourselves (kindness, love), and forms of insight meditation and inquiry (recognizing the dynamics of the mind and our human nature, and our true nature).
We know that by making a few relatively simple changes, we can maintain health free from (most or all) infections diseases, and many other diseases. See f.ex. K.P. Khalsa (my herbalist).
We know that by making similar simple changes, we can prevent and even reverse tooth and gum problems. See f.ex. How I healed my Teeth Eating Sugar by Joey Lott. (I am just starting this now.)
We know that the source of stress and distress, and even trauma, can be recognized and even undone through inquiry. See f.ex. The Work and the Living Inquiries.
There is a lot more here, and it keeps being further explored, adapted to our current modern culture, and widely available. Some of it – such as the effects of some types of meditation – is gaining increasing attention through research.
I usually don’t write about science here, mainly because many others do it, and since I want to keep this blog limited in terms of topics.
And yet, sometimes mainstream science and media overlook a topic that seems crucial. In this case, I keep reading about the increasing problem of multi-resistant bacteria, harmful and potentially deadly bacteria resistant to a wide range of antibiotics. What these articles, as well as western science and medicine, seem to largely ignore, is a completely different approach that’s easier, cheaper, and as or more effective. And that’s phage therapy.
It’s been succesfully used in eastern Europe for decades, there is a great deal of research on it, and its less expensive than antibiotics, so why not use it in the west as well? If they don’t trust the research, why not put resources into your own research? If you encounter multi-resistant bacteria, why not apply an approach you know works well? Why not even use it in combination with antibiotics? After all, peoples lives are at stake.
It seems that the old political divide between eastern and western Europe is still at play here, two decades after the political divide largely ended.
If anything, this is yet another example of how science and medicine is influenced – and keeps itself limited – by old habits and financial interests. If researchers and pharmaceutical corporations had people’s best interest at heart (a shocking idea), they would invest a great deal of time and resource in phage research. And yet, inertia and lack of financial incentives makes this a slower process, at least so far.
When the body does its dance, sometimes its perfectly appropriate to let it do it, to find its way. Really invite it to find its way, to find its equilibrium. And if you have an intention to allow the body to find its equilibrium, its balance…. If it knows that, if you have told the body its perfectly fine for it to find its equilibrium, then it will be much more likely to find it.
If you don’t have that in mind, sometimes the body can keep going through patterns. It releases and goes through the pattern, releases and goes through the pattern.
If you know inside that you are asking the body to find its natural state of equilibrium, wholeness, release, it really helps it a lot. Your communication with it is really quite useful to it. It really helps if we are in synch with our bodies.