Keith Jarrett on CFS & music creation

I was saying to the disease: I know you are here and I have accepted your presence, but I am still going ahead with this work. To start it I have to make it as intimate as possible.

As soon as it got complex, I stopped. I wanted to stay close to the song, to sing it. So I was turning my disease into a song.

The disease taught me a lot. The greater the experience, the deeper the simplicity. Time is the most complex part of that simplicity.

– Keith Jarrett from the documentary “The Art of Improvisation”, 2005

In this quote, Keith Jarrett talks about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and how it helped him simplify and become more intimate with the music. He didn’t stop making music, he changed his relationship with making music.

I love what he says here. It mirrors how my relationship with spiritual practice shifted when my CFS dramatically worsened some years ago. I also had to simplify and become more intimate with it.

For instance, basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here. Instead of intentionally noticing and allowing, I shifted into something more simple and intimate. I notice that what’s here in my field of experience is already noticed and allowed. It’s already allowed. (By space, mind, life, existence.) It’s already noticed by consciousness before any conscious noticing. I align with what is already here instead of trying to manufacture anything or achieve something through effort. It may not look like a very big shift, and yet it makes all the difference. And it is more closely aligned with reality.

I was aware of and explored this difference long before this happened, but the CFS motivated me to be more simple and intimate in this noticing, and more diligent in finding the most simple and effortless way to notice.

And that’s happened in other areas of life as well, including in my connections with others. I have had to drop a lot of pretense and facades and be simple and more intimate, especially in my more close relationships.

Holding onto overly simplistic views for safety

It’s quite common for folks who get into healing and spirituality to hold onto simplistic views for safety.

We hold onto it to try to find some distance from the discomfort we are experiencing, created by deeper, more visceral, and stressful beliefs and identities.

PHYSICAL HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL ISSUES

One of these simplistic ideas is that our physical health challenges are created by our emotional issues.

I have this illness, so it must be created by an emotional issue. Working on that issue is the answer.

The reality is often far more complex. What happens locally is the result of movements within the larger whole. The small things we think we grasp are drops in the bucket of what’s actually going on. Innumerable things influence our health and our emotional issues are just one of those.

Yes, it makes sense to explore that aspect of it and see what happens. Most of the time, it won’t hurt, and it may help.

And it also makes sense to recognize that innumerable factors influence our health. Our health is an expression of what’s happening in far larger and more complex systems.

HOLDING ONTO SIMPLISTIC VIEWS FOR SAFETY

Holding onto views, identities, and stories for safety is inherently stressful.

I find it helpful to identify these and explore them.

What is the story? And some underlying and supporting stories?

What do I hope to get out of holding onto it? A sense of safety? Predictability? Having answers?

What happens when I hold onto it? In this case, do I overly narrow my options for how to explore and view my own health? Do I apply it to others and tell them their physical health issues are held in place by emotional issues? How does it impact my relationship with myself and others?

What’s the genuine validity in the reversals? Is it true that my physical health may have other causes as well? Or that the main cause could be something else?

How would it be to hold the initial story more lightly? How would it be to explore the emotional components and see what happens? And also explore other avenues? (Including finding more peace with my health and body as it is?)

WE ALL DO IT

In one way or another, we all hold onto overly simplistic views for safety. It’s what we humans seem to do, at least so far.

And, in reality, any view, identity, and story are overly simplistic.

Any mental representation is different in kind from what they are about. (Unless they happen to be about mental representations.) The terrain is always different from and far more than any map.

What we think we grasp is a tiny part of what’s there, no matter what it’s about.

And what we think we grasp tends to change over time. It’s provisional. It’s not final or absolute.

Finding an easier way: chronic illness as a guide

Some years ago, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) shifted into a more severe phase. That meant I had to find an easier way to do many things in life.

How can I do this in a way that’s more comfortable? Require less energy? Take my situation into consideration? Is kind to me and hopefully others?

Here are some examples.

FINDING MY VALUE

I have explored and found my value independent of my actions and activities in the world. Before this happened, I put at least some of my value on my actions and what I produced. (After all, I am a child of the western culture where this is a feature.) Where is my value if all I can do is rest? If I cannot produce or do much?

One answer is that we see a baby as having value, and they mostly eat, poop, and make sounds. If a baby has value, why is that not the case with me and anyone else independent of age and production?

Another answer is in noticing my nature, and that the world to me happens within and as what I am. Here, nothing is missing. It’s complete as it is.

And yet another answer lies in examining any stressful thoughts around lack and finding what’s genuinely more true for me. (As I did for several years through The Work of Byron Katie.)

ASKING FOR HELP

I learned to ask for help.

Before this, I took pride in not asking much for help and created an identity around it.

After this happened, I had to ask for help. And it helped me soften that identification and see the value and beauty both in receiving and giving and in allowing others to give. (Especially as long as they feel free to say no.)

I am not doing this perfectly, whatever that means, but I am exploring and learning.

FINDING A YES OR NO BY NOTICING MY BODY’S RESPONSE

I have learned to find a more genuine yes and no, not only through inquiry but also by noticing my body’s response.

For instance, if I am wondering whether to do an activity or not, I can say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I chose to do it. And then notice my body’s response. Does it relax? Does it sigh in relief? Then I say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I choose not to. And again notice my body’s response.

The genuine yes is reflected in my body relaxing, in a sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s a yes to the activity, and sometimes it’s a no to the activity.

(How does this work? It may be because the more unfiltered and honest part of my mind is intimately connected with my physical body. Or more accurately, because any tension in my mind is reflected in tension in my physical body, and tension always happens when we are not completely honest with ourselves.)

FINDING ESSENTIAL NEEDS AND MOTIVATIONS

What are some of my surface wishes and motivations? Taking one of them, what do I hope to get out of it? And what do I hope to get out of that? And that? What’s the most essential wish and motivation behind it? How can I give that to myself? In life? How is it to give it to that part of me here and now, within myself? (From Adyashanti.)

This is another way to simplify my life. On the surface, I have innumerable wishes and motivations. And when I trace them back to their essence, I find just a few and perhaps really just one.

This helps me prioritize and find and give myself what I really wish for and need.

It also helps me differentiate my genuine needs and motivations, and the strategies I use to find and give it to myself. It helps me explore a variety of ways to give it to myself. (NVC.)

For instance, I may have a surface wish for money. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for safety. Can I offer a sense of safety to the part(s) of me that wish for safety? Can I find ways to feel safer in life? (I can also explore ways to be a good steward of my life in terms of finances. What are some ways to have more stable finances? What are some ways to have a little more money in my life?)

I may have a surface wish for ice cream. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for love, comfort, and enjoyment, and even more essentially love. Can I give love to those parts of me wishing for love? Can I give comfort to the parts wishing for comfort? Can I give enjoyment to my inner community? Can I find ways to give this to myself in life? (And I can, of course, still eat ice cream if I wish.)

SIMPLIFYING MY LIFE

I have always loved simple living, and leading simple living groups was part of my actual job for a while. CFS has encouraged me to simplify even more.

What can I prune in my life? What can I say no to? (Which is a yes to me.) What drains energy? What do I really enjoy? What gives me a boost? What’s worth spending energy on, even if it has a cost?

What has life pruned for me? And can I join in with it? Can I find where it’s a genuine gift?

FINDING PEACE WITH SAYING NO

Like many in my culture, I have been programmed to think I should say “no” as little as possible. A part of me wants to please others to avoid discomfort. I should answer calls. I should say “yes” if I am invited somewhere.

So I have had to explore this and find more peace with saying no, and sometimes really enjoy saying no.

As Byron Katie says, a genuine “no” is a yes to me. Right there, I find more peace with it and even joy.

I see the benefits of learning to say no. It helps me take care of myself and my health. It helps me prune away activities (and sometimes people) that don’t feel right to have in my life. It leaves room for what’s more enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful. I find that the space itself is enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful (!).

Feeling free to say a genuine yes or no is easier through good communication and some education. I am working on being better at explaining my situation to people in my life. The more they understand, the easier it is for all of us to have our needs met. We can more easily find strategies that work.

FINDING AND GIVING TO MYSELF WHAT’S NOURISHING

What’s deeply nourishing for me?

In my case, I find it’s a wide range of things and activities.

Bone broth (!) is deeply nourishing for my body and thus for all of me. Whole food low on the food chain is typically the same. (I find refined foods draining.) Warm herbal tea, and sometimes spice tea, is often nourishing, along with dark miso broth.

Nature and being in nature is deeply nourishing for me. (It can be just sitting in a garden, enjoying the sun, clouds, wind, chirping birds, the sound of the wind in the trees, and so on.)

Some relationships are deeply nourishing, especially at certain times.

This type of exploration is nourishing to me, when I have the energy.

Some input – podcasts, interviews, articles, videos, movies, and music – is nourishing for me, at the right time.

Breema is deeply nourishing for me, whether it’s receiving, giving (when I have enough energy), or doing Self-Breema.

Receiving Vortex Healing for energizing is deeply nourishing for my system. It especially helps if I feel very drained or in a crash.

MORE EASE IN THE EXPLORATIONS: BASIC MEDITATION AND MORE

I used to put extra effort into my meditation practice, whether it was training a more stable attention, noticing my nature, or something else. In my teens and twenties, I would often meditate or hours at a time. I would go fully into the Tibetan Ngöndro practice. I would practice as if my hair was on fire, as they say in Buddhism. I found I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to find an easier and simpler way.

What was this easier way? I have mostly focused on basic meditation, noticing and allowing what’s here, and noticing that any content of experience is already noticed and allowed. By noticing what’s already here, I scale back the effort to the essentials.

I found that the essence of the Headless experiments is also helpful since that too is about noticing what’s already here.

Also, I kept some simple heart-centered practices like tonglen and ho’oponopono.

And I have, in periods, done simple forms of inquiry like the Big Mind process, and The Work of Byron Katie, the Kiloby/Living inquiries.

INQUIRY AND HEART-CENTERED PRACTICES

Inquiry and heart-centered practices help me find more ease.

Stressful stories are only partially true and my system is spending a lot of energy maintaining them and reacting to them. Identifying and examining these stories, and finding what’s more genuinely true for me, opens up space for more ease and presence. I find The Work of Byron Katie and the Kiloby/Living inquiries most helpful for this.

Heart-centered practices shift how I relate to anything – discomfort, myself, others, situations, life, and more. (And really, my images of all of these.) They help me shift from seeing them as enemies, struggling with them, and so on, to genuinely befriending them and perhaps even finding genuine gratitude for them. This too opens up space and opens up for more ease and peace with what is. The practices I am most familiar with are tonglen, ho’oponopono, and the Jesus/Heart prayer.

FINDING WHAT I AM

Finding what I am helps me find an essential simplicity.

In the world, I am this human self in the world. That’s not wrong.

Is that also what I am in my own first-person experience? I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the word as it appears to me, for any and all content of experience. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

And here, there is an essential simplicity. It’s the simplicity that allows and takes the form of all the richness of experience. It’s what’s free of tension and stress, and is free to take the form of what a thought may label tension and stress.

THE NATURE OF MY EXPERIENCES IS THE SAME AS MY OWN NATURE

This is perhaps a bit obscure and marginal for most but important to me.

When I experience discomfort, the habitual response in my system is to react to it. To try to push it away. Distract myself from it, often by going into compulsions. Make it go away, sometimes by healing and transforming it away. And so on.

My system responds as if it’s “other”. As if it’s a kind of enemy or problem. As if is a foreign element.

In reality, I am capacity for it. It happens within and as what I am.

Noticing this, and resting in that noticing, helps to shift out of this pattern. And that too gives more of a sense of ease and peace. It initially takes a bit of effort, and it really frees up a lot of energy tied up in the struggle from the old habitual response.

How do I do that? The easiest for me is to remind myself of my headlessness, notice my nature directly, and then notice and rest in the noticing of the nature of (what my thoughts label) the discomfort.

INVITED TO BE MORE SINCERE AND THOROUGH

Very little of this was new to me. These were all things I have explored since my teens or twenties. But the more severe phase of the CFS invited me to be more sincere and thorough in the exploration of all of it. Life created a kind of boundary for me and I needed to go deeper within that boundary. I could get away with less. I couldn’t so easily get away with being approximate and sloppy. I needed to be more sincere and precise.

It almost goes without saying, but a part of this sincerity is to find what’s genuinely true for me. Tricking myself doesn’t work since a part of me (all parts, really) know what’s going on. It has to be genuine to have any value.

OFTEN MESSY

By writing it like this, it can look as if I have it all sorted.

The reality is far more messy and human. I am not by any means perfect in any of this, whatever we imagine “perfect” means. I am winging it. I am learning a few things as I go along, often slowly. I forget and then remember again. I have a lot of issues and traumas that sometimes obscure and confuse any clarity that’s here. I don’t have any final or full answers. And as with most of these posts, I am writing this as a reminder to myself. As an invitation to myself to bring it alive here and now and explore it further.

It’s all very much a work in progress. And an adventure.

Note: What I have written here applies to some extent to many forms of chronic illness. This includes different forms of long-covid, some of which are similar to CFS. Long-covid is a post-viral disease and CFS is often a post-viral disease.

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What happens when I have less energy?

I have Chronic Fatigue (CFS) so I have become quite familiar with how my system functions when it has less energy.

Here are a few things I notice:

LESS ENERGY FOR ACTIVITIES

Predictably, I have less energy to do things. I need to rest more. I need to rest before, during, and after most activities.

I also find that some activities many see as restful take more energy than many seem to suspect. This includes conversations, sitting, watching movies, and listening to words or music. For me, it’s very noticeable how much energy these activities require, and I often cannot do it for very long.

This also happens with physiological stress, for instance when the weather is very hot or cold. I notice how this too takes a lot of energy, and there is less left for anything else.

LESS ENERGY TO REGULATE MIND AND BODY

In general, it seems that my system needs energy to regulate itself well. When my energy level goes down, my system struggles with regulating mind and body. Said another way, it prioritizes survival and energy saving. It goes into low-power mode.

My thoughts don’t work as well. I have trouble thinking, planning, remembering, and making (good) decisions. The executive functions suffer, probably because they – for my system – become less of a priority in these situations. Water, food, and rest are primary. Thinking is less important.

My mind tends to project the current state to the future. When I look at images of the future, I see myself with similar low energy. And joining in and fueling it fuels anxiety, worry, and concern.

I get more irritable. I get more sensitive to sounds and noise. If I need to eat, drink, or rest, I tend to get impatient with anything that’s in the way.

My cravings get stronger, especially for sugar. This is not so surprising since sugar gives a quick energy fix, and in an emergency, sugar does help a bit. (It’s obviously not a long-term solution.)

My vision gets blurry and I start seeing double. It dramatically worsens compared to when my energy level is better.

My body seems to have trouble regulating body temperature. I am often unusually hot, especially at night, and sometimes freezing cold – in a way that’s out of proportion with the ambient temperature.

It’s ironically more difficult to get good quality rest and sleep. The more exhausted my system is, the worse my rest and sleep tend to be. It’s difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, and the sleep I get is not refreshing.

WHAT HELPS

So what’s the remedy?

The short-term remedy is water, food, rest, and staying well within my energy budget.

Doing what feels genuinely right for me helps my system not use too much energy. While going against my guidance drains my energy. Following an honest “yes” or “no” is essential for not crashing. (I sometimes do a quick check. I say to myself “I can do X, and I chose to do it” and notice how my body responds. I then say “I can do X, and I chose not to” and notice how my body responds. One will typically give a sense of relief and peace, and the other tension. And whether that’s the yes or no depends on the situation.)

Asking for help. I ask for help with practical things from family, friends, or paid help. (I trust people to say no if it doesn’t work for them.) And when necessary, I ask for Vortex Healing energizing since that is often quick and effective.

I help myself get out of fueling stressful stories. I recognize unhelpful mental patterns and decide to set it aside. I focus on the physical sensations. I examine the stories and see where they come from. (Learned from family and society, fueled by a sense of lack in myself.) And sometimes, I just find an enjoyable distraction for a while to help me shift out of old patterns.

Some herbal remedies nurture and support the deeper energy levels in my body, especially some adaptogens. Bone broth seems to fill up deep energy reserves in my body. Eating low on the food chain and fresh and seasonal food helps my system in general, as does avoiding or minimizing certain foods. (For me, anything processed, dairy, wheat, and sugar. Although I do eat some of this sometimes, and sometimes it even gives me a boost.)

Breema nourishes, balances, and energizes. I find a sense of wholeness and my relationship to life shifts. This happens whether I do Self-Breema, or receive or give Breema bodywork.

Vortex Healing also balances and energizes, although in a different way. Vortex Healing energization tends to help a lot, although it needs to happen frequently since it seems that my system is unable to hold energy for very long. I find it’s also important to bring up the constitutional energy of my energy channels and organs, especially the kidneys.

And it’s always helpful to examine anything in my psychology that’s an energy drain. I especially pay attention to what issues seem to give me a feeling of weakness, hopelessness, or energy drain when triggered and explore those. In general, the more I can genuinely befriend what’s here, the easier it is. That tends to happen when I examine and get to know the parts of me struggling with what’s here. And also when I examine any stressful stories my system holds as true and find what’s genuinely more true for me.

Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) – a brief overview

I thought I would write a bit about Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) again.

A little over a decade ago, a friend introduced me to it and I was instantly hooked, started including it in my daily life, and did the training.

WHAT IS TRE ABOUT?

All mammals naturally shake after stress. It’s a built-in mechanism to help us prevent longer-lasting trauma, and we see it antelopes after being chased by a lion, a cat after waking up from anesthesia, and in many more situations.

We also have this mechanism built into our system, but most of us don’t make use of it. Likely because our culture tells us that shaking and trembling is a sign of weakness or of losing control, or people don’t understand it and scare themselves with their stories about it. Early in our lives, most of us learn that spontaneous shaking & trembling is no good. We learn to hold it back and suppress it.

This spontaneous shaking and tremoring is also called neurogenic tremoring. (Initiated by the nervous system.)

WHAT IS TRE?

TRE is a set of simple exercises that helps us get in contact with this natural trembling mechanism. The first helps warm up the feet, ankles, and legs. The second and third fatigues the calves and thighs. The fourth stretch the legs. And the fifth and sixth invite in the trembling. There is an official TRE app that takes you through these exercises.

That said, it’s best to learn it with a certified facilitator, especially if you have a history of trauma. It can be done in person or over video conferencing if you don’t have a facilitator nearby.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The simple answer is that the trembling initiated by our system helps release tension from our tissues. It’s a kind of natural internal massage. And since our system is a whole that we only in thought can divide into psyche and body, this helps release both physical and psychological tension.

This does not only take the form of trembling and shaking. Our system releases tension in many ways, including crying, laughing, sounds, spontaneous stretching, bouncing, and so on, and all of that can and often does happen in a TRE session.

A CAVEAT FOR US DUMB HUMANS

If we allowed this spontaneous tension-release shaking and trembling from early childhood on, we wouldn’t accumulate nearly as much tension as many of us do over the years and decades.

Since many of us have accumulated a lot of tension, we need to progress with some care when it comes to this neurogenic tremoring. It’s good to have the guidance of someone more experienced, for instance, a certified facilitator. It’s good to do only a very few minutes at first to see how our system responds and we get familiar with it. And if we have trauma in our system, it’s good to work with a therapist as well in this process.

IS IT A MIRACLE CURE?

Yes and no.

It’s effective in releasing tension, whether we think of this tension as primarily psychological or physical.

It’s very simple and natural. We are just making use of the natural trembling mechanism of our bodies.

It’s easy to do in daily life, even if it’s just a few seconds or minutes at a time.

At the same time, it may not be enough to deeply and thoroughly find healing for trauma. Sometimes, we also need a more psychological and social approach.

My personal favorite is a combination of heart-centered approaches (ho’oponopono, tonglen) and different forms of inquiry that focuses on the more basic elements in us creating the trauma. (More basic than the often stressful conventional story level.)

HOW DO I USE IT?

So how do I use neurogenic tremoring?

Since I have done this for a while now, it’s easy for me to initiate the tremoring. I intentionally start tremoring, and my body takes over and does it more spontaneously.

I typically do it for some seconds or a few minutes at different times during the day, whether sitting, standing, or lying down. And through tensing and relaxing different parts of the body, and placing my body in different positions, I can invite the tremoring to go to different parts of my body.

When it comes to the positions, I find that standing helps the trembling move through the whole body. It allows the shaking to move through my skeleton, and it gives me a sense of grounding and strength. Sitting towards the front of a chair with my back free invites shaking and release in the upper body, including the shoulders, arms, neck, and jaw. And lying down in the final exercise position helps the trembling happen in the hip area and it helps with relaxation and letting go.

This doesn’t mean the exercises are not useful and don’t play a role. When I do the exercises, I notice the tremoring goes deeper and into new areas.

In general, I experience it as an enjoyable, natural, and fluid process that’s relatively effortlessly woven into daily life. During a session, the trembling naturally goes in cycles with some periods of rest. And in my life, I notice the same type of cycles. In some periods, I do it more often, and in other periods less often. That too seems to have a natural rhythm.

TRE & CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

Neurogenic tremoring helps my general health and well-being.

And it also seems to free up more energy for my system to use for healing and daily life.

My system uses energy to maintain tension. Tension binds energy. So releasing this tension frees up energy for other tasks, including healing and daily life living.

That, in itself, is sufficient for explaining why TRE helps with my general health and the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

When it comes to CFS, we know it’s typically initiated by an infection. And there may be more factors at play, for instance, a combination of genetic predisposition and stress.

It’s also possible to speculate beyond this. For instance, is CFS also connected to a kind of chronic freeze or collapse response? It may be a part of the puzzle, but I don’t know. In my case, it does fit since one of my patterns from early in life is to freeze. (In some situations, I would go into a freeze response since flight or fight were not available to me.) One step further than freeze is collapse, and acute CFS does feel like a kind of collapse.

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Bone broth

I have been using bone broth off and on for the last couple of decades after I shifted from a vegetarian to a flexitarian diet.

Bone broth is one of the things I have found that significantly and consistently improves my health and well-being. It helps with my energy level, digestion, cravings, and the CFS.

(Other things that help with my general well-being and energy levels are: good sleep, drinking plenty of water – often in the form of herbal infusions, eating nourishing foods in general, eating and drinking regularly, eating with the seasons, some adaptogenic herbs, Vortex Healing energizing, Breema, and generally learning to understand and follow the signals of my body.)

I started again with bone broth last week, after some months without taking it, and it’s easy to notice how it nourishes my body and fills up deeper layers of my energy system. 

I notice the familiar difference between chicken broth and beef broth. Beef broth fills up deeper layers of my system. (I am sure this is different for different people. I am often drawn to the stronger medicine.) 

Bone broth helps my digestion in an amazing way. My digestive system is much more stable and seems better able to deal with a range of foods.

I notice how I am less drawn to meat when I have bone broth. The ideal diet for my system seems to be bone broth from beef and otherwise eating low on the food chain. Ironically, bone broth makes it easier for me to eat a more vegetarian diet. 

And I notice how cravings – for sugar and other less-than-healthy foods – go away when I have bone broth daily. I even have a slight aversion to those foods, likely because my system is more balanced and nourished. 

I should mention that I have tried bone broth powder. It has some effect but not even close to the bone broth I make myself.

I typically cook beef bones for two or three days on low heat in a slow cooker, with some vinegar to draw out the nutrients. (Update: I now started to use a pressure cooker, and it seems a good time is 15-20 hours to get the nice dark golden color.)

There is another side to this. One of my issues in life is not feeling deeply nourished – both psychologically and physically. So the deep nourishment that comes from bone broth seems especially helpful and important to me. That’s also why I am drawn to practices like Breema that have a deeply nourishing quality. 

Note: The photos above are from beef bone broth cooked 15-20 hours in a pressure cooker. It’s smooth, rich, delicious, and feels deeply nurturing.

Note 2: Gelatin powder has a similar effect to bone broth, although not quite as deeply and richly nourishing. I take neutral (unflavored) gelatin powder in hot water, often in the morning. It doesn’t quite replace bone broth, but it’s a nice emergency measure when traveling or when I run out of bone broth before having made a new batch.

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The importance of energizing

This is another relatively obvious (?) and revisited topic:

One of the most important things for well-being and healing is to keep our system nourished and energized.

It doesn’t matter so much how we do it, we just need to find ways that work for us.

It could be nourishing food. Herbal medicine. Yoga. Tai chi. Chigong. Inner yoga. Being in nature. Rest. Dance. Exercise.

Personally, I find energizing through Vortex Healing the fastest and most effective, although it doesn’t replace the other approaches.

In what ways does it help to have a more energized system?

In my experience, it helps with… Sleep and rest. Processing anything – information, situations, and issues. Dealing with life situations and whatever comes up internally. Finding healing for emotional issues. Enjoyment and contentment. And much more.

Pandemic & vaccine perspectives

I thought I would briefly address two specific anti-pandemic-measures views, and then mention a few general things.

Someone I know is strongly against wearing masks, with the rationale that they don’t work as well as some assume. Another is against taking the vaccine because it can have side effects. 

I understand and see it differently. Perhaps because I have different priorities and may see it from a different perspective.

MASKS

Masks may not filter the air very well, and a lot of the air goes in and out in the gaps between the mask and the face.

At the same time, we all spit when we talk, and often more than we are aware of. (Look at some high-speed footage and it will be obvious.) And these drops easily transmit the virus, so it makes sense to wear a mask.

It’s low cost. It’s easy to put on. And it prevents droplet transmission.

VACCINES

It’s the same with vaccines. We know they have serious side effects for some. They don’t prevent illness in all cases. And some even contract the virus and die even if they are fully vaccinated.

We also know that serious side effects are very rare. (It’s far more dangerous to do a lot of the things most people happily do in daily life, like driving a car.) It does prevent serious illness, in the vast majority of cases. And the ones who die while being fully vaccinated are typically very old or have a serious pre-existing illness.

IF WE DON’T MASS VACCINATE

At a collective level, the alternative to mass vaccinations is not very attractive. If we don’t vaccinate and don’t maintain the social restrictions, we’ll have large numbers of people dying, full hospitals, and people turned away from hospitals who desperately need help.

If we don’t vaccinate and don’t want to overload our healthcare system, we’ll have to keep the social restrictions indefinitely and likely for years.

In both cases, the only end of the pandemic is when most people have been infected. And that means a large number of people dying. A large number of people with long-term effects following the infection. And new virus mutations which may well include some that are far more dangerous than what we have seen so far.

AS A MEMBER OF SOCIETY

At a personal level, as a member of society and humanity, I can choose to not vaccinate and be part of the group that delays a return to normal and puts us all at risk through continuing the pandemic and increasing the risk of dangerous mutations.

Or I vaccinate, and am part of bringing society back to normal, the pandemic to an end, and reducing the risk of dangerous mutations.

AT A PERSONAL LEVEL

Also, at a personal level, it’s understandable to be a bit hesitant about vaccines. I don’t take them unless I have a very good reason to do so. But with the new mutations (currently the delta variant), and with likely coming mutations, it’s too much of Russian roulette for me to not take the vaccine.

We will all eventually be exposed to the virus, and we’ll get infected unless our system happens to know how to deal with it. (And it will only know that from previous exposure, which is the purpose of vaccines.)

A significant portion of those infected will have long-lasting and sometimes serious effects from the infection.

And, mainly, I don’t want to be responsible for infecting others, including people who can get seriously sick and die.

NATURAL SELECTION AT WORK

If none of this is convincing, we may look at what’s happening in the world today.

The majority of those dying from covid (mostly the delta variant) are unvaccinated.

In a sense, we are seeing natural selection at work here. Of the two groups, those who choose to vaccinate and not to vaccinate, life is weeding out more people in the second group.

The virus doesn’t care about our ideology. And at the same time, from now on, the survival rate in the two groups will likely be quite different.

A FEW GENERAL NOTES

I see some vaccine skeptics say that the pro-vaccine people are driven by fear. I see as much fear in the anti-vaccine people. And it’s equally true that the pro-vaccine view is just epidemiology.

The measures we collectively use to deal with the pandemic – quarantine, isolation, social restrictions, vaccines – is what we collectively have arrived at through centuries of trials and errors.

We have seen what works, and that’s what we use to deal with the current pandemic. None of it is new or what someone came up with on the fly in response to this particular pandemic.

Also, we need to take a collective view on this. We need to look at what works best for us as a society and species. If I am personally inconvenienced, so be it. It doesn’t matter much as long as we, collectively, do the best we can.

If we take the vaccine, the risk is only our own. If we don’t, we put everyone at risk. Not taking the vaccine, unless it’s for valid medical reasons, is supremely selfish and short-sighted.

Some say that the RNA vaccines are not tested very well. It’s not accurate since they have been tested for two decades. The general vaccine is well known, it has just been programmed for this specific virus. See for instance this article from The Guardian.

Some have fringe ideas about the virus, remedies, and so on. That’s fine, but we cannot base public policies on fringe ideas. Public policies have to be based on science, and that’s fortunately mostly what we see in this pandemic. (Apart from leaders like Trump who disregard the science and the advice from epidemiologists, and we have seen the consequences of that approach.)

And finally, I assume many or most of the people who are anti-vaccine, or don’t like the standard epidemiological measures used in this pandemic, are the same who would be very happy to follow the advice of other medical specialists. If they have a heart problem, they go to a heart specialist. If they have a broken bone, they go to a doctor who can set it and help it heal. So in a pandemic, why not listen to epidemiologists? Why not follow the best practices established – often long ago – in epidemiology in dealing with pandemics, just as we follow best practices in other fields of medicine.

In general, the anti-vaccine view seems to come from (a) lack of understanding of epidemiology and lack of a historical perspective, (b) misunderstandings about the vaccine, and perhaps (c) a narrow me-first view instead of a collective view.

The importance of energizing our system

The more our system is energized, the better it’s able to deal with whatever life has in store. It’s better able to heal from physical issues. It’s more able to relax and get good rest and sleep. It’s better able to deal with life situations and its own emotional issues. And so on.

And when our system is drained of energy, and especially the deep energy, it’s easily overwhelmed, stressed, disorganized, and confused.

That’s why it’s important to energize our system.

How can we do it?

Here are a few things I have found helpful for myself.

Eating food my system works well on. For me, it’s eating lower on the food chain, and fresh, organic, and local foods when possible, and also minimizing or avoiding dairy, wheat, and refined sugar.

Old fashioned bone broth, in particular, seems to deeply nourish my system.

Certain herbs nourish my system. This includes many adaptogens and herbal teas from Stangeland.

Certain energy system- / body-centered practices energize and nourish my system. For instance chi gong, yoga, and Breema – which for me is deeply and softly nourishing.

I have found that Vortex Healing works surprisingly well in energizing and nourishing my system, perhaps more immediately and noticeably than any of the others. (Especially when I receive it from a top-level Vortex healer.)

And there is more.

For instance, the climate makes a big difference. For me, sunny, warm, and dry helps my health and energy level significantly, while cold and wet drains my energy.

Being in nature. Dance. Strength training. And, in general, using my body in nourishing and energizing ways.

And there is also the mind side. The more my life is meaningful, the more energized i tend to feel. And the more I have resolved any stressful beliefs and issues in ourselves, the more energy is freed up. (A surprising amount of energy can be tied up in chronic stress and tension.)

In general, it’s about finding what works for me, and I like to take a multi-faceted approach where I include whatever works and makes sense. And I don’t do all of these all the time, apart from essentials like diet.

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The gifts in our life: challenging situations as a laboratory for humanity

I talked with a friend who has long-covid and she mentioned that she doesn’t feel so useful anymore.

We have infinite worth and value independent of what we can do in the world. Just by being, we have that infinite value.

And having a chronic or serious illness can help us learn and see things that can be infinitely valuable to ourselves, those close to us, and society as a whole. We are in a unique position to learn and discover certain things.

WHAT WE MAY DISCOVER FROM LIVING WITH CHRONIC OR SERIOUS ILLNESS

We may discover the importance in asking for help, and asking so others feel free to answer from an authentic yes or no.

We may discover the gift in allowing others to give. By asking for help, we allow others to give, and that can help them feel valuable. (If they do it from an honest yes.)

We may discover our intrinsic interdependence. Our human life wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the lives of innumerable other humans and other beings, living now and in the past.

We may discover our own authentic yes and no, and find freedom in giving our yes or no.

We may find a more honest and authentic way of being with ourselves and living our life.

We may be more honest and vulnerable with those around us.

We may find the value in rest and taking care of ourselves.

We may find the value and richness in a simple life.

We may find a high quality of life within our current limitations.

We may discover that what we thought were our limitations are not.

And then some more….

We can identify and examine old identifies and beliefs that don’t fit anymore. We may have put our worth on what we could do, and when we can’t be as active anymore, where is our worth? Can I find value, worth, and meaning in my life as it is now?

We may turn to something beyond our human self. We may find a sense of belonging with family and friends, and nature and even all of existence. We may engage in different forms of spiritual practice.

We may find a more kind way of relating to ourselves, our experiences, and life. We may shift out of struggle and into befriending our experiences and life. (And that can mean we relate with more kindness to people in our life as well.)

AN INVITATION

None of this is inevitable. A lasting challenging situation can bring us deeper into struggle, grief, anger, resentment, blame, and so on, if that’s the direction we go. And we probably will go into some or all of that at different times in the process. That’s not wrong. It’s understandable and innocent. And through that struggle, we may see the consequences of that approach and that it doesn’t give us what we really want.

We may find there is another way. And if we live with a chronic or serious illness, or another limiting situation, there is an invitation there. An invitation for each of us to discover a more kind way, which may include some of the things listed here.

CHALLENING SITUATIONS AS A LABORATORY FOR HUMANITY

A chronic or serious illness, or other lasting challenging situations, is a laboratory for ourselves, as outlined above.

And it is, in a very real sense, a laboratory for humanity.

When we humans are in these situations, what do we discover? What insights can come from finding ourselves in this unique position? How can these insights help humanity as a whole?

MY OWN EXPERIENCE

I live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and have had Lyme disease, so life put me in a situation where I was invited to discover this.

I have struggled, still do at times, and I have parts of me ready to engage in struggle at a moments notice.

At the same time, there is another part of me that wants to find a more kind way, and I explore that because it feels better.

Note: I am sharing what I discover on this website, so I am passing on my discoveries to humanity – at least to those who happen to find these articles. And I can also be better at asking for help. This blog costs money to maintain, and I have limited income due to my chronic illness, so if it gives you joy, donations are very welcome and received with gratitude. Use the link or the yellow donation button to the right. Thank you!

Health care practitioners that promise too much

Some health care practitioners promise too much. They speak beyond what they can honestly speak about. 

I haven’t noticed this with mainstream doctors or specialists, but I encounter it relatively often in the alternative world. 

They say: “Do this and you’ll get much better” or “you’ll get completely well again”. 

And my experience, so far, is that I follow their instructions and nothing happens or there is only a slight and temporary change. 

Why do they promise too much?

It may be they see it as “medicine” to encourage a sense of optimism.

In reality, what happens may be that we get our hopes up, get disappointed, and feel tricked or deceived. At least, that’s what happened with me until I got used to this pattern and learned to anticipate it, and also learned to avoid practitioners who use this kind of language. 

I much prefer practitioners who take a sober and honest approach. They may say: “Some people with your condition got better after doing this”. Or even better: “Let’s try and see what happens.”

Personally, I am much more inclined to trust practitioners who take a sober and grounded approach. They show that they are able to stay close to reality. And they don’t engage in trickery encouraging false hope.

 

Pandemic irrationality: not trusting experts, and opposing rules because they are unfamiliar

In these pandemic days, some oppose the government rules and guidelines put in place to control the pandemic. (Fortunately, less in Norway than in some other countries.)

There are several things about that opposition that puzzles me.

Trusting experts

For instance, most of those opposed to these rules and guidelines are not epidemiologists. Why wouldn’t you trust someone who has spent their life studying what works in a pandemic? Why would you instead trust some random people on the internet?

If I have a health problem, I’ll trust a specialist in the medical profession, not some random person on the street. If I want a haircut, I’ll go to a hairdresser and not a fisherman. If I have trouble with my car, I’ll go to a mechanic and not a manicurist. If I want to build a bridge, I’ll go to an engineer and not a surgeon.

If I want to know what to do in a pandemic, I’ll go to an epidemiologist and not some random people on the internet.

These people who are so opposed to the pandemic rules and guidelines, do they go to a mechanic when they want a haircut? Do they go to a gardener when they have a serious health problem? Do they ask a nurse to fix the mechanical problem with their car? Do they go to a doctor to design a bridge?

If they don’t, why don’t they trust epidemiologists in a pandemic?

Opposing the guidelines because they are new and unfamiliar?

I also wonder if some of those who oppose the pandemic guidelines do so because the guidelines are unfamiliar to them. After all, these people likely follow a large number of other rules and guidelines put in place to protect us all and benefit society.

Most of them are probably happy to use a seat belt. Follow traffic rules. Pay their taxes. Avoid killing someone. Pay for the products they want in stores. And so on.

Society has a huge number of written and unwritten rules in place, and most are happy to follow them either because these rules are familiar, or also because they know these rules are in place to benefit all of us and so we can have a well-functioning society.

If this is so obvious, why do they still oppose the guidelines?

Both of these seem completely obvious. We go to experts to get something done, and we generally trust them. And we already follow a huge number of rules in society, so what do these temporary ones matter? After all, it’s only for a short period of time and they are put in place to protect us all.

I am not sure. Perhaps it’s because people are not used to thinking logically about things? Or that they prefer to engage in their reactivity rather than what’s more reasoned?

Real-life test cases

We also have real-life test cases, both from history and in the current epidemic.

From history, we know that masks, quarantine, lock-downs, and so on work.

And we see the same in the world today. The countries with leaders who largely minimized and ignored the advice from epidemiologists, like the US (Trump) and Brazil (Bolsonaro), have not fared well. While the countries that did follow the advice have largely done much better.

Reasonable discussion

Of course, there is a reasonable discussion to be had on these topics. For instance, I often think that the Norwegian government is strangely behind the science. They didn’t recommend masks until many months into the pandemic, and they still assume that young people are not very affected by the virus (in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary). It’s also clear that masks need to be close-fitting and high-quality to function properly, and that’s often left out in the discussion about masks.

There are many things open to reasonable discussion, although these tend to revolve around the details and the specifics, not the general benefit of masks, temporary lock-downs, and so on.

Epidemiologists know what works, and they agree on what works. So why not follow their recommendations? Why not follow the government recommendations when these largely follow the recommendations of epidemiologists?

Epstein-Barr vaccine for ME/CFS?

We’ve been sort of chipping away at this [long COVID] by treating each symptom,” he says. “If it’s really true that at least 40% of people have significant recovery with a therapeutic vaccination, then, to date, this is the most effective intervention we have for long COVID.

Mysterious Ailment, Mysterious Relief: Vaccines Help Some COVID Long-Haulers, NPR

Quite a few who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) got it after an Epstein-Barr infection (mononucleosis), just like some got long-Covid following a Covid 19 infection.

Both are classic post-viral syndromes, so I wonder if an Epstein-Barr vaccine would help some of those CFS patients? Although most promising leads in medicine go nowhere, it would be worth testing.

Unfortunately, there is no approved vaccine for Epstein-Barr yet, but it may come. I assume it’s not a priority to develop this type of vaccine.

If this turns out to work for EB-related CFS, why would it? The trigger of CFS may be a low-grade chronic EB infection. So an EB vaccine may kick the immune system into better detecting and going after EB virus previously “invisible” to the immune system.

Chronic fatigue syndrome & the pandemic

There are several connections between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and the current Covid 19 pandemic, and I have written about it in previous posts. Here is a brief summary.

Long covid was predicted and predictable

CFS is also called a post-viral syndrome since it often follows a viral infection.

Those of us familiar with post-viral syndromes and CFS predicted that we would see many post-viral syndrome cases following the covid 19 infections.

There would be a pandemic within the pandemic. First, those who got acute covid 19 infections. And then, those with the post-viral syndrome and CFS following these infections.

I wrote about this a year ago, at the very beginning of the global pandemic.

Research into CFS & post-viral syndromes

The slight silver lining in this situation is that long-covid may lead to the medical field and governments taking post-viral syndromes and CFS, in general, more seriously. We may see the beginnings of this.

The main symptoms of long covid and CFS are the same: fatigue, PEM, and brain fog. Although there may also be some unique symptoms of long covid, including visible damage to the lungs and other organs.

A missed opportunity

The medical world has largely ignored CFS. It’s often not been taken seriously as a biological disease, and there has been minimal research into it.

That’s doubly unfortunate.

It’s unfortunate for those of us who have CFS and know it’s a real and serious disease.

And they missed a golden opportunity to be prepared for long covid.

We knew a pandemic would come and that we were on schedule for a new one.

And we knew that viral infections lead to a significant number of post-viral syndromes.

So why didn’t they take the opportunity to prepare by learning about CFS and possible causes and cures? Why didn’t they take the opportunity to nip the predictable current upsurge in post-viral cases in the bud?

In the coming decades, ignoring CFS will go down in medical history as an injustice to those with CFS. And also a missed golden opportunity to learn more about CFS before the predictable pandemic upsurge in people with post-viral syndromes AKA long covid.

This pandemic may be a triple pandemic. The first is the viral and medical pandemic. The second is the social cost. And the third is the large numbers of those with long covid.

If researchers and governments had the foresight, they could have prevented the third. Now, they are instead playing catch-up.

Reducing the viral load

This is something I have written about since early in the pandemic as I feel it’s an often overlooked point.

When it comes to protecting ourselves against the C19 virus, an important factor is to reduce the viral load.

Sometimes, we may be able to avoid getting infected in the first place – through physical distancing, good hygiene, facemasks and so on.

And in case we do get infected, the same measures helps us reduce the viral load. The fewer viruses we get into our system, the better chance our system have to deal with it.

Pandemic and chronic fatigue

An infection with the new-to-humans C19 (corona, covid 19) virus may lead to chronic fatigue. Although Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) often comes after mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus), it can follow other infections which is why it’s sometimes is called a post-viral syndrome.

So in two or three years, we may see a significant increase in people with CFS. And although I don’t wish it for anyone, I also realize that this can come with some upsides. It can increase awareness of CFS in general. It can help increase acceptance of CFS as a serious biological illness. And it can spur more research into CFS and its causes and possible treatments and cures.

The pandemic has already had some upsides for people with CFS and other disabilities or chronic illnesses. It has opened up the world through increased use of virtual meetings, socializing, and public offerings (talks, concerts, performances). I personally am very grateful for that shift and feel more included.

Notes on a pandemic

NOTE: What we collectively think we know about the pandemic is changing all the time, and I am not a doctor or epidemiologist (although I did study it while in university). So what I have written about here is likely outdated when you read it and it’s not expert advice. They are just some reflections from my side.

The initial notes are on the top and the newer ones at the bottom. I chose to keep all to show changing views over time as the pandemic progressed.

Click READ MORE to see all the notes.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXII

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Why I love science fiction

I have loved science fiction since I was little, reading Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and others.

Why do I love it? Probably for the same reason as others love it.

It gives us an opportunity to think about different possibilities for the future. It highlights what can happen if we take different paths. It gives us visions for what’s possible – both of what we want and what we don’t want.

It mirrors back to us our own society, mindset, and worldview. It can show us ourselves by reversing roles – for instance by having humans treated as we treat other species. It’s a great setting for exploring different ethical dilemmas. And by setting the story in the future and/or another place in the universe, it creates a slight distance that makes this mirror more palpable to us than if it’s more direct, literal, and heavy handed

Science fiction may seem like an escape, and it often does have that element. And at the same time, it can be deadly serious – in showing us possibilities for the future, and showing us ourselves as we are now.

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What I eat

I thought I would briefly mention the guidelines I use for food.

Eat lower on the food chain. More vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries. Less fish and meat.

Eat less processed foods. More whole foods. I tend to get the raw ingredients and make my own meals.

Eat local and organic when possible. When I am in California, that’s easy. When I am in Norway, a little more challenging.

Eat closer to how my ancestors ate. My more immediate ancestors lived in Northern Europe and ate grains (oats, barley), vegetables, berries in season, fish, and a little meat. In general, they ate with the seasons, and – obviously – local and organic food, and mostly lower on the food chain.

Follow my body. This is one of my main guidelines. Notice what happens when I eat certain foods, and when I leave certain foods out for a day or a few. Personally, I have discovered I do much better – physically and mentally – with less or no sugar and less or no dairy. I also seem to do much better with less or no yeast products, and less or no wheat and rice. So I mostly leave out all of these and only have a little now and then. I also seem to do much better on cooked food in the winter and fresh and raw food in the summer.

Good for the Earth. I keep this in the back of my mind as well and check my other guidelines against it. I already know that eating lower on the food chain, and local, organic, and with the seasons, is what’s generally best for the Earth and future generations. It’s best for me and my well beings, and generally best for the Earth as well.

Leave fads alone. There are all sorts of fads when it comes to food, both in popular culture and among nutritionists. These come and go. What’s left for me are the guidelines above – eat lower on the food chain, less processed food, and when possible local, organic, and with the seasons, and listen to my body.

Don’t be too strict with any of it. There is no need to take this too seriously or be too strict. I’ll have just about anything now and then, especially if it’s offered to me. The guidelines above are just that, guidelines, and probably influence about 80-90 percent of what I eat. At least when I make my own food.

In general these days, I eat mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and berries, with some occasional meat and fish, some occasional grain (the less common ones seem to work best for me), very rarely dairy, and rarely refined sugar. I tend to have a light breakfast (depending on my day), the main meal early afternoon, and I often don’t eat (or only have some fruit) in the evening. Most days, I do a mini-fast through the evening and night and until late morning or early afternoon. It would probably be good for me to do some intermittent fasting as well, for one or two days a week. I drink a lot of herbal and spice teas through the day, so my urine is pale or sometimes even clear. I also find that if I am in the high-healthy range for my BMI, I feel healthier. And I do enjoy food, and especially recipes that are simple, nourishing, and tasty. (One of my favorites is roasting vegetables in the oven, perhaps with a small amount of gourmet sausage – if possible local, organic, and free range.)

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Why is nature healing?

Why do we experience being in nature as healing? 

In nature, we are reminded of our larger ecological self. We are an expression of this living planet and its ecosystems, and in nature, we remember. We remember who we are. 

And the same is the case when we look up at the night sky. We are the universe evolving into this living planet and us, and we remember. That’s one reason a dark night sky is so important. 

Our species evolved in and as part of nature. Almost all of our ancestors lived in nature. It’s our natural habitat. It’s where we are home. 

In nature, we more naturally connect with our physical body. We remember who we are. We are invited to shift out of our obsession with thinking and into sensing and feeling, and this in itself is a relief and healing. 

Nature reminds us that the natural state is allowing and non-judgment. Nature allows all as it is. Nature doesn’t engage in value judgments. It doesn’t say that this straight tall tree is better than that crooked old one. And when we shift in that direction, that too is a relief and healing. 

We learn a lot by being in nature. We learn how we respond to different situations. We learn to handle challenges. We learn nothing is personal. 

In my experience, the more wild nature is, the more I benefit from all of this. And that’s one of many reasons why it’s not only important to preserve nature and ecosystems but to preserve the wild. 

Of course, not all experience it this way. In nature, we are also faced with our own conditioning. We are faced with the beliefs and habits that – in our minds and experience – remove us from our body, ancestry, and nature. And that’s another benefit of being in nature. We get to see how we divorce ourselves from our larger self and who we are. 

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).

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The energy bound up in identifications, beliefs, wounds, and trauma

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.

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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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Simplistic assumptions: emotional issues and physical illness

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.

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Key interventions: Chin in to support posture

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.

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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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TRE helped me go from back pain to a healthy back

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.

Vortex Healing story: Weight regulation

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.

The social and cultural benefits of genetic ancestry testing

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.)

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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.

How food influences CFS in my experience

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.

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How I have treated my Lyme disease

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.

Update May 2020: The summer of 2018, I received a series of short Vortex Healing sessions for the Lyme and it has not returned since. Knock on wood. I suspect these sessions were more effective because of upgraded infection protocol for the currently highest level of Vortex Healing. The sessions lasted for 15 minutes each and I received them daily for perhaps five days. I still have CFS, which I have had for decades now, but not the extra “overlay” of Lyme.

Complementary medicine

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.

Rock, roll, and crawl like a baby

– See also Sitting Wrecks Your Body from Outdoor Magazine.

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.

 

Why we resist what can be helpful (sometimes)

Why do we sometimes resist what can help us?

I can find quite a few possible reasons:

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.)

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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.

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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Processed food and hopelessness 

Nothing new here, but a useful reminder:

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.

Attending to the spine

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.)