Inquiry: It’s chronic fatigue

 

Labels – when taken as true – comes with a particular way of viewing the world, rests on assumptions, and trigger associations. So it can be very helpful to explore even the most basic labels.

One of the labels I have explored for myself is chronic fatigue. Is it true? What happens when I take it as true? Who would I be – right now – without it? What’s the validity in the turnarounds?

– 0 –

It’s chronic fatigue.

Is it true?

Yes.

Can you know for certain it’s true?

No.

What happens when you take it as true?

I feel the weight of the diagnosis.

I imagine a large group of medical doctors with concerned looks agreeing it’s chronic fatigue.

I have an image of it as chronic.

My mind comes up with scary images based on what I have heard or read.

I see images of people being incapacitated for a very long time.

I feel fear, hopelessness.

Who would you be without it?

I feel lighter.

I am with what’s here.

Free of fear.

Peaceful.

Engaged.

Turnarounds

(a) It’s not chronic fatigue.

Chronic fatigue is a label, a thought. What it refers to is something different, not touched by labels and thoughts.

I don’t know if that’s what it is. It’s just a convenient label. Nobody really knows what CFS is.

It’s not chronic, in the sense of permanent or lasting, even now.

(b) It’s temporary fatigue.

Yes. Even now, it’s temporary. Sometimes, I have energy and a more clear mind.

It won’t last. That’s one thing that’s certain.

It’s “fatigue” only when a thought labels it so.

(c) It’s chronic vitality.

I sometimes do a lot, even if I was someone who didn’t have that label.

I experience aliveness and vitality, even when (what a thought calls) tiredness and brain fog is more pronounced.

The sensations that a thought calls tiredness and brain fog are vibrant and full of life.

– 0 –

Adyashanti: Let the body know its OK for it to find its equilibrium, its balance

 

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.

– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat, 2009, disc 12, track 6

Satsang with the body: You are welcome here. Your health, vitality and wholeness is welcome here.

And with the mind/psyche: You are welcome here. Your health and wholeness is welcome here.

 

Chronic fatigue

 

Some of the things I have found helpful for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS):

Walks, ideally in nature, and at least once a day.

Nurturing food. Slow cooked stews. (Current one: Beef, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, peas, barley, beef stock.) Oatmeal for breakfast. (Steel cut with coconut flakes, raisins, sunflower seeds, soaked overnight, cooked with apple or banana.) Beef broth. Local fruits, berries, seeds and nuts, nori flakes. I also take ginger and cloves capsules with each meal to aid digestion, and eat just enough so I don’t feel uncomfortably full.

Staying well hydrated. I tend to drink enough so my urine is pale to clear. I mostly drink herbals and spice teas (ginger, licorice, nettle, many from the Yogi tea company), and also at times – especially at winter – beef broth.

Reducing or eliminating certain foods. For me: sugar, dairy, wheat, processed foods. (Based on the effects I notice for myself.)

Nurturing body centered activities. For me, Breema, TRE, massage. (Also yoga, tai chi, chi gong etc.)

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). These invite the natural neurogenic tremors initiated and guided by the body, allowing for a gentle, gradual and eventually deep release of tension and trauma from our body-mind system. This thaws frozen areas of the body and mind, gently releases chronically held energy, and enlivens the body and mind. From what I hear, and what I experienced myself, it seems very helpful for chronic fatigue.

Taking care of myself. Saying an honest yes or no. Being more honest and transparent with myself and others.

True Meditation. Noticing what’s here is already allowed. Adyashanti’s guided meditations have been very helpful for me.

Inviting in a more stable attention. The easiest for me is to bring attention, gently, to the sensations at the nostrils as the natural (unmanipulated) breath goes in and out.

Identifying and inquiring into stressful thoughts about the fatigue and anything else in my life, using The Work.

Identifying and welcoming deficient selves, noticing they are not what I fundamentally am.

Welcoming what’s here – fears, discomfort, fatigue etc.

You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love.

Herbs, vitamins and minerals. For me, vitamin D, magnesium, siberian ginseng (deep energy), echinacea (immune function), huperzine-a, rhodiola (mental clarity, quick energy), probiotics, and more recently Hanna Kroeger’s B.E. Kit (for chronic fatigue) and Tibetan Chulen (deep, full, soft energy). Adaptogens such as siberian ginseng and rhodiola help build energy and improves immune function.

Supporting deep, restful sleep. For me, with small doses of melatonin. Also, rest and take naps during the day, the more the better.

Nurture nurturing relationships – with my mind, body, others, life. Finding and connecting with understanding, loving and supportive friends.

Nurture nurturing and enlivening activities. For me, photography, being in nature, Breema, TRE, inquiry, reading, learning, being of service to myself and others.

Nurture a nurturing environment. In my case, beautiful, simple, peaceful, near/in nature, wood fire.

Engaging in activities that are fun, rewarding, meaningful, that spark passion and joy.

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Thorough with one person or topic

 

I find I am drawn to be thorough with one person or topic these days.

For instance, in The Work, I am drawn to do it thoroughly on thoughts on my mother. What are the earliest and/or strongest stressful situations that come to mind? What do I find when I do Judge Your Neighbor worksheets, and inquire into the thoughts?

And I am also drawn to explore certain topics – such as my health – using different approaches. I bring it to mind and invite neurogenic tremors (TRE). I do ho’o on it. I find stressful thoughts and take them to inquiry.

Exploring tiredness & vitality

 

I have been drawn to exploring tiredness recently.

In short: It’s tiredness —> it’s vitality.

It’s vitality. What do I find?

Exploring sense fields

When I label something as tiredness (fatigue, exhaustion), what’s really here? What’s here in sensation, as pure sensation? (When I put this back into words, right now, I find tingling in my body, a slight pressure on the forehead.)

What happens when the mental field comes in with a label (interpretation, story) of tiredness? (It appears as tiredness, it seems real, substantial, I feel tired, other stories around tiredness comes in, hopelessness, I feel I need to rest.)

The Work

Two of my beliefs here are my health is not so good, and it’s tiredness. 

The turnarounds are my health is good, and it’s vitality. 

I find that when the story of tiredness comes up, attention goes to symptoms of tiredness. There is fear here, and stories about what tiredness means, what it may lead to, and that I need to rest. When I believe the story of tiredness, there is a sense of fatigue and tiredness. Working with the turnarounds in daily life, staying with them to see what may come up, I find many examples that my health is good (my medical results are very good, people tell me they see me as healthy, I get up in the morning and do everyday activities, I seek to find clarity around thoughts, I travel, I visit friends, I take photos, I study and learn).

Combining sense field exploration and The Work

Exploring it’s vitality, I stay with what I have taken as symptoms of tiredness – how are these symptoms of vitality? It’s energy, a warm vibration through the body, aliveness. It’s vitality. As I stay with it, the label of vitality seems genuinely as or more true. What’s here are simple sensations untouchable by any label. And the vitality label is as or more true. I stay with this to see what more may reveal itself.

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Beliefs brought to the Surface by CF

 

Health challenges are good for bringing beliefs to the surface. Here are some that still come up for me, sometimes – as this weekend – triggered by a simple cold:

I won’t be able to function, people will judge me.
I am a disappointment to god/others/myself.
I am not living up to my potentials.
I am responsible for the cf/dark night.
I shouldn’t feel tired. I need to have more energy (in order to do what I want).

It’s cf. It’s a dark night.
I can’t do what I want.
It’s not what I want. **

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Aging

 

What we associate with aging in our culture is not really about aging.

It’s what happens when the effects of certain habits and lifestyle accumulate over years and decades.

A bad posture has it’s effects on the body, and when this accumulates over long time it takes it’s toll, as does poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Whatever we do habitually accumulates over time.

At a quite basic level, unreleased tension and trauma has an effect on our body and mind, and this accumulates over days, weeks, years and decades.

And at an even more basic level, our beliefs create tension, rigidity and a certain lifestyle which also has effects that accumulates.

There is no reason we shouldn’t live a vibrant, alive and healthy life until death – whenever it may happen, if we move in the direction of being more alive, vibrant and healthy here and now.

For myself, I see I can do that through….

Inquiry, which helps release beliefs. TRE which helps release accumulated tension and trauma from my system.Yoga, Breema, Tai Chi, Chi Gong and other body-centered activities. Walks in nature. Spending nurturing time with friends. Mediation, prayer and clarifying intention. Finding and doing what makes me feel alive. And much more.

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Water

 

Cranky today? Even mild dehydration can alter our moods

Most people only think about drinking water when they are thirsty; but by then it may already be too late.

Even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly, according to two studies recently conducted at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory.

The tests showed that it didn’t matter if a person had just walked for 40 minutes on a treadmill or was sitting at rest – the adverse effects from mild dehydration were the same. Mild dehydration is defined as an approximately 1.5 percent loss in normal water volume in the body.

– from EurekAlert!

It’s probably what most people already notice, and it’s also good to have it confirmed (or the opposite) by research. I notice for myself that drinking plenty of water is one of the best things I can do for my mind and body. I tend to drink enough, usually in the form of spice or herbal teas, so my urine is clear or has a very pale color. And when my systems feels a bit off, drinking water – along with physical activity such as walking – is often the best medicine to bring it back to balance. I also notice that my experience of dehydration is a sense of contraction (congestion) in my body, especially noticed inside the mouth, and not thirst in a more conventional sense. It’s quite noticeable even when there is a slight dehydration, as reflected in urine that’s a bit less than clear.

Flavors of not wrong

 

In what way is something that happens not wrong?

I can find a silver lining. I may see a lot of it as wrong, but something good is there too. This works within my familiar world view and I don’t have to question underlying assumptions.

All is God (reality, Buddha Mind, awareness). It’s OK however it shows up.

And I can question and examine my underlying and basic assumptions, and find what’s more true and real. This is an invitation for the fabric of my familiar world view to unravel, and this can be helpful independent of the two previous ones.

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TRE – Tension and Trauma Release Exercises

 

I had my first TRE session today, led by a friend, and – wow – it was very powerful.

From about halfway through and for the rest of the day, I have felt a sense of grounding, a nurturing soft fullness, relaxed wholeness, flow and ease – on my own and in my interactions with others. There is also a sense of spaciousness in all directions.

The idea behind it is simple: Children and animals shake and tremble when they experience something stressful, while adults have learned to control, freeze and shut down. And through a set of very simple exercises, we can set the stage for that trembling and shaking, which in turn releases tension. This resets and reprograms how we experience ourselves and the world, relate, and live our lives.

There is more info on the TRE website. I especially enjoyed the Carte Blanche Medical video on TRE.

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Chronic fatigue

 

It seems that different cultures and time periods have their own fashionable and mysterious illnesses.

One of ours is chronic fatigue. Is it new or just a new name on an old ailment? Is it due to a virus? Is it a culturally acceptable way for the body-mind system to handle stress?

In my case, it came a few weeks after a viral infection (mononucleosis) and after a longish period of stress. For many years, it was quite manageable, and then it flared up during another period of stress.

It seems that quite different things work for different people. For some, it passes on its own. Others may benefit from yoga or the lightning process.

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Quick boost in well-being from outdoors activities

 

Just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim.

There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being.

In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.

– from the BBC article Green exercise quickly boosts mental health

We all (or most of us!) know this from our own experience. And yet, it is good to have it conformed by research, and also explore it in more detail. For instance, through these studies they found the most benefit from the first few minutes of outdoor activities, an additional boost if there is water nearby, and the largest effect for young people and those with mental health problems (they have more room for improvement as well).

Another article is available from Environmental News.

Article: The Great Prostate Mistake

 

EACH year some 30 million American men undergo testing for prostate-specific antigen, an enzyme made by the prostate. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1994, the P.S.A. test is the most commonly used tool for detecting prostate cancer……

Prostate cancer may get a lot of press, but consider the numbers: American men have a 16 percent lifetime chance of receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but only a 3 percent chance of dying from it. That’s because the majority of prostate cancers grow slowly. In other words, men lucky enough to reach old age are much more likely to die with prostate cancer than to die of it.

Even then, the test is hardly more effective than a coin toss. As I’ve been trying to make clear for many years now, P.S.A. testing can’t detect prostate cancer and, more important, it can’t distinguish between the two types of prostate cancer — the one that will kill you and the one that won’t…..

So why is it still used? Because drug companies continue peddling the tests and advocacy groups push “prostate cancer awareness” by encouraging men to get screened….

I never dreamed that my discovery four decades ago would lead to such a profit-driven public health disaster. The medical community must confront reality and stop the inappropriate use of P.S.A. screening. Doing so would save billions of dollars and rescue millions of men from unnecessary, debilitating treatments.

Source: The Great Prostate Mistake, op-ed by Richard Ablin who discovered PSA in the ’70s

A reminder of one of the many reasons why universal health care makes sense.

In the current US system, doctors prescribe tests and treatments they – quite often – know are not needed or are likely to not work. They do it because of pressures and benefits received from interest groups, and because they expect their patients to feel better if something – preferably elaborate and expensive – is done. And how do they get away with it? The insurance companies pick up the tab.

In Europe and other places with universal health care, there is a much stronger incentive to use procedures that are appropriate to the person and situation, and known to work.

Getting our priorities straight when it comes to health

 

Some friends of mine are having a microwave discussion on facebook. Will it kill you? Is it harmless?

My approach is simple: Focus on the simple things we know have a big impact on health. It may be less exiting than conspiracy theories, but works better.

Eat your fruits and vegetables. Exercise. Nurture nurturing relationships. Enjoy life.

If I want to take the next step, it is to organize my life to reduce time spent driving, and walk, bike, or take public transportation instead. It is more enjoyable, gives me effortless exercise, and removes me from an activity that is far more risky than almost anything else we do. (I have already done this, and rarely need to use a car.)

It is easy to get distracted by minor concerns, or scares unsupported by science or common sense (microwaved food and vaccines come to mind as examples). So it is good to get our priorities straight: focus your limited energy on the simple things that we know have a big effect.

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Granny goggles

 

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They found it difficult to understand why, when soldiers were already provided with adequate protection goggles, there were still a high number of eye-related injuries. It turned out the problem was obvious: the goggles made them look – in their words – “like grannies”.  Soldiers were issued with some new, cooler goggles created by designer Wiley X. Now they wear them all the time – even when they don’t need to. As a result, there has been a tremendous drop in the numbers of soldiers blinded in battle.

Another simple example of making it easy and attractive to do what is right, from BBCs article Dr Atul Gawande’s checklist for saving lives.

This can be applied to any area of life. How can we organize ourselves as a society and individuals in ways that makes it easy and attractive to do what supports life at all levels and over generations?

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Lessons from the Blue Zones: How to live longer and healthier lives

 

The four essentials:

1. Move Naturally – Make your home, community and workplace present you with natural ways to move. Focus on activities you love, like gardening, walking and playing with your family.

2. Right Outlook – Know and be able to articulate your sense of purpose, and ensure your day is punctuated with periods of calm.

3. Eat Wisely – Instead of groping from fad diet to fad diets, use time-honored strategies for eating 20% less at meals. Avoid meat and processed food and drink a couple of glasses of wine daily.

4. Belong to the Right Tribe – Surround yourself with the right people, make the effort to connect or reconnect with your religion and put loved ones first.

More info at Blue Zones.

Book: The How of Happiness

 

the_how_of_happiness

I am reading The How of Happiness, and it seems to be an excellent book. Practical, simple, science-based and effective. I especially appreciate the emphasis on finding practices that fits ones own circumstances and interests (chapter 3), and the pointers on why the preactices work and advice on how to go about the practices (chapter 10).

The author has a column in Psychology Today, and here is a video interview with the author.

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Illness, and then shame

 

It is curious how illness – whether mental of physical – is often associated with shame in our western culture. I have experienced it myself related to chronic fatigue. There is a shame around lack of energy, not being as social or engaged as I normally would be, not being able to do as much or what I normally would do, and so on. It is as if I am not only responsible, but somehow morally at fault.

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Wired: More of us are nearsighted

 

Wired reports that nearsightedness is becoming more common in the US. They offer a few explanations, such as increased short-distance use of the eyes, and not being outside as much in good light and looking at further distances.

They say it between the lines, but not explicitly: Maybe the best explanation is that we don’t use our eyes at varying distances throughout the day, from near to far and back to near again. That is how we evolved, looking at other people and the landscape at middle distances, then at our hands, tools and food at close distances, and then at the sky, horizon and people, animals and the landscape at far distances. Our eyes evolved for being used at diverse and changing distances, and eye muscles were exercised to be stronger and more supple.

So what is the solution? It is quite simple: eye exercises that mimic how our eyes evolved to naturally function.

The best book I have found is Natural Vision Improvement by Janet Goodrich.

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Universal health care and prevention

 

A brief note on a somewhat peripheral, but important, topic….

There are many arguments for universal healthcare, and one is that the health care system tends to become more efficient and less expensive.

A less obvious reason for this is an emphasis on prevention. In a society with universal healthcare, where we all pay for our collective health care expenses, there is a much stronger incentive to work on prevention. We all benefit, we all pay, we all benefit from all of us being more healthy. And although those connections will always be there, they tend to be more obvious to us when we live in a society with universal health care.

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SF Chronicle: Health Care Lessons from Europe

 

European health care is universal, but contrary to popular perception, it is not all nationalized. Facing rapidly aging populations, many European countries have gone much further than the United States in using market forces to control costs. At the same time, regulations are stronger and often more sophisticated.

Most of Europe spends about 10 percent of its national income on health care and covers everyone. The United States will spend 18 percent this year and leave 47 million people uninsured.

Europe has more doctors, more hospital beds and more patient visits than the United States. Take Switzerland: 4.9 doctors per thousand residents compared with 2.4 in the United States. And cost? The average cost for a hospital stay is $9,398 in relatively high-cost Switzerland and $17,206 in the United States. […]

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Happiness, and lots more, is contagious

 

Obesity is contagious. So is happiness.

At least, these are the results coming in from long-term studies of social networks — the networks of friends and families, neighbors and colleagues that we all belong to. Such studies have found that one person’s change in behavior ripples through his or her friends, family and acquaintances. If one of your friends becomes happy, for example, you’re more likely to become happy too. If you’re great friends with someone who becomes obese, you’re much more likely to become obese as well.

And the effect doesn’t stop there. If your friend’s friend becomes happy, that increases the chance your friend will become happy — and that you will too. Conversely, if you become obese or depressed, you may inadvertently help your friends, and your friend’s friends, to become fat or gloomy. (Intriguingly, happiness and obesity seem to spread in different ways. Obesity spreads most easily between friends of the same sex who are emotionally close. Happiness spreads most readily between friends who live near each other: a happy friend on the same block makes more difference than a happy friend three miles away.)

From Social Medicine, NY Times.

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Wired: An Epidemic of Fear – How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All

 

Before smallpox was eradicated with a vaccine, it killed an estimated 500 million people. And just 60 years ago, polio paralyzed 16,000 Americans every year, while rubella caused birth defects and mental retardation in as many as 20,000 newborns. Measles infected 4 million children, killing 3,000 annually, and a bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae type b caused Hib meningitis in more than 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage. Infant mortality and abbreviated life spans — now regarded as a third world problem — were a first world reality.

Today, because the looming risk of childhood death is out of sight, it is also largely out of mind, leading a growing number of Americans to worry about what is in fact a much lesser risk: the ill effects of vaccines. If your newborn gets pertussis, for example, there is a 1 percent chance that the baby will die of pulmonary hypertension or other complications. The risk of dying from the pertussis vaccine, by contrast, is practically nonexistent — in fact, no study has linked DTaP (the three-in-one immunization that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) to death in children. Nobody in the pro-vaccine camp asserts that vaccines are risk-free, but the risks are minute in comparison to the alternative.

A good article in Wired about the mostly irrational and overblown fear of vaccines.

It seems that with even the most rudimentary knowledge of the history of health, medicine and epidemiology, it is clear what a beneficial impact vaccines have had on human health. (The most obvious example is smallpox, with 300-500 million dead during the 1900s and zero today.) As the article mentions, there is of course a tiny risk with vaccines, but it is a very small cost to pay for the benefits we gain from it – individually and especially collectively. It seems thoroughly irresponsible to decline common vaccines, mainly for the risk we then place others and the community in.

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Simple changes, big effects

 

Bans on smoking in public places have had a bigger impact on preventing heart attacks than ever expected, data shows.

Smoking bans cut the number of heart attacks in Europe and North America by up to a third, two studies report. [….]

His team found that heart attack rates across Europe and North America started to drop immediately following implementation of anti-smoking laws, reaching 17% after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with a 36% drop three years after enacting the restrictions.

– from BBC, Smoking Bans Cuts Heart Attacks

Simple changes can have big effects….

Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

 

The leading countries in life expectancy, Sweden and Japan, are also among the most equal of the wealthy nations. Interestingly, they have accomplished this relative equality in completely different ways: In Sweden, the tax system redistributes income; in Japan the income is given out relatively equally before any tax adjustments. Combinations of the two methods are also possible. [….]

The core message is that the countries that distribute their incomes the most equally have the longest life expectancy and the highest quality of life.

From an AlterNet article based on The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. To learn more, go to their Web site, www.equalitytrust.org.uk.

As I like to say, the proof is in the pudding.