Just this last weekend, a friend called to tell me of the demise of a friend of his who slumped and passed on. He was just 51 but a busy executive.
I was at a filling station last week to do the alignment of my vehicle. There was this middle-age man who was such an expert to my judgement. I observed the emptiness of the surrounding that was carved out for alignment and such services within the fuel station and was wondering what the issue could be. Just then, I observed the poster on the wall. Alas, it was the obituary of the man I had come to meet to fix my car. He died a few weeks back. But how? He complained of mere malaria, took care of himself and was ready for work one morning. He slumped after food and before they could rush him to the nearest hospital, he had passed on.
Truth is that most of these early deaths could be averted if only we will all listen to our body.
Dr John D. Kelly IV, MD has the following to say. I’m sure there are lots to learn.
Your body holds great wisdom. It can teach you a lot about yourself. Most importantly, your body sends distress signals that you are a least temporarily off track if you seek a long and healthy life. Physical pain is a great teacher. It indicates that the body has lost homeostasis or balance.
Fatigue and blepharospasm
When I find myself falling asleep during office hours, I know I need to get more rest. Despite our best efforts, we cannot retrain our bodies to need less sleep. The effects of sleep deprivation are far reaching and include increasing ones risk of diabetes, weight gain and even Alzheimer’s disease. If I get less than 7 hours nightly, I dramatically lose effectiveness at work and at home. In my efforts to get more done, I am losing effectiveness and putting my health at risk.
When one or both of my eyelids start twitching, that is my body’s way of saying that I am overloaded. Blepharospasm for me is due to stress and it indicates that:
- A) I need a vacation as soon as possible.
- B) I am overcommitted.
- C) I am not seeing the world correctly.
Item C means that I am taking myself too seriously and I have drifted away from my mindfulness practice. I am no longer living in the moment and the anxiety of future events has taken hold. Blepharospasm is simply my cue to be more loving, grateful and present.
This is a hallmark of burnout and essentially means we go about our lives like a robot with little feeling or passion. We are merely “getting by.” When I experience depersonalization, it is truly time to jettison certain obligations. I am way overloaded and my compulsive “yes” to opportunities that I should do has overtaken my inspired “yes” to things I want to or feel called to do. Like my eye twitching, depersonalization indicates I need a break.
Fear, anxiety and sleep
Fear and anxiety indicate that my “pain body” or ego has taken over. These thoughts are not derived from my source and will lead always to negative consequences. The more I practice self-awareness and label these thoughts as coming from my wounded past the more I can return to the present and extend love and gratitude.
Sleep deprivation also tends to make me more anxious. Lack of rest merely makes the well dry. It saps our inner strength.
The key to any signal your body is sending you – whether physical or emotional – is to acknowledge and label it and then own it. Carl Jung once stated “what we resist, persists.” Again, the task is to develop awareness of negative feedback and use it to grow. For instance, if I am feeling particularly irritable, I accept these feelings, become aware or observe them, and use them as a cue to be more mindful and extend love.
A recent series of particularly sleepy days prompted me to exercise more (so I could sleep more soundly) and to go to bed earlier.
Our most beloved vocation is a marathon – not a sprint. To navigate the long journey successfully, we must reap the wisdom that our body holds. Listen to the signals your body is sending and respond. You will be your best self and your best surgeon.