“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott
In a world where “anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” I risk being called out as a buzzkill for pointing out that doing ‘anything’ does not require or presuppose that you can do ‘everything’.
This is a basic productivity truism, parroted widely and largely ignored. It’s also true of your health and physical abilities. You have only finite resources at your disposal. So why do we all act like superheroes?
(I don’t care if they’re lame; they’re concrete, they’re visual, and I derive unholy glee from stretching them until they cry for mercy.)
Imagine your body is a majestic sailing ship. The Black Pearl. The Bluenose. I don’t care. The point is, they’re leaky. And never more so than after a run of bad weather (or pirates. What the hell, let’s say it was pirates.)
Basically, if you’re in the hold all day manning the bilge pumps, you don’t have time to mend the sails.
(In this analogy, the leaks in your hull are stressors. Not just relationships, jobs, and money, but any incoming stimuli. Mending the sails is the metaphor for rest and healing. Got that? I don’t want to lose you.)
Stressors are said to cause the vast majority of diseases. The numbers vary depending who you talk to, but most people seem to agree on that point. Because we aren’t real good at removing stressors from our lives, the hull stays leaky, the sails never get mended and the ship basically limps from port to port. To top it all off, it’s pathetically vulnerable. Forget pirates. One little squall will sink it.
Those stressors are so pandemic in our society that they’re simply considered to be “a fact of life”, a constraint. That is, a problem that can never be solved, only coped with. The problem with assuming that your problems are constraints is that you limit your outside-the-box responses, because you focus only on coping.
There are other vital skills even less supported by society: Mending the sails. These are the low priority maintenance sub-routines in your body and they would be totally self-sustaining if we didn’t continually commandeer their resources to deal with the leaks.
Worst if all, when the leaks are all plugged (temporarily at least) the impulse is to immediately get underweigh again — to make up for lost time! And drydock? Phsaw. Drydock is for sissies. Up go the raggedy-ass sails, flapping in the breeze like holey knickers.
Where do I come in?
Often people will ask me, “Can you fix this?” and they’ll give me the name of some condition that they suffer from. I usually ask, “What would you be able to differently if you didn’t have this condition?” and if their answer is any variation of “I’d be able to do more.” I have to say, “Probably not.”
Your body’s highest concern is to keep you alive as a viable organism for as long as possible. If those symptoms are the only thing that slow you down, persuades you to rest, then until you are responsible enough to take care of yourself before your body has to kick your ass, you will not get “better”. You may cope better, and therefore experience fewer symptoms for a while, but if allowing you to be miserable is the only way to get your attention, that’s what your body will use.
I tore a muscle in my back on Monday. A client asked me “what does BodyTalk do for that?” Truth be told, I’m not doing anything for it. It’s a symptom of how I’ve allowed my fitness to slide, how little downtime I’ve allowed for anything not directly related to my business. In my family we were taught that you’re free to break the rules, but that means you cannot whine about the consequences. I’m taking my swat on the rear as a lesson so I won’t forget again so soon.
What most people don’t understand is the language their body is speaking. That’s where I come in. By the end of our sessions together, if you have any chronic symptoms, you’ll know what your body is trying to communicate. That’s a basic skill we’ve mostly lost. like navigating by the stars. In addition, we’ll have patched the sails and plugged some of the major leaks, and you’ll have a better understanding of when you need to get into drydock to fix things properly.
In most cases, you’ll be able to carry on at that point, but many clients continue to work with me in one of two capacities, maintenance, or optimization. Maintenance clients return between monthly and quarterly to ensure they’re ship-shape and to catch any unhealthy dynamics as they develop.
Optimization clients are goal oriented and we do a lot of work with paradigms and limiting belief systems, because these paradigms not only reflect how the client interacts with the world, it self-edits their reality. Changing perspective at that fundamental level is crucial for transformational change.
“The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” — Edward Gibbon
Did my metaphor clarify anything for you? Raise any questions? Please tell me your thoughts.