Heart Reading … Day 102

The courage to heal

What is healthy? Is it striving for the eternal physical capacity of one’s youth — at least in appearance if one is unable to achieve this in actual strength? Or is healthy sustaining a sense of balance and harmony in the body? In the mind? In both?

What is healthy enough? Is it an acceptance of one’s state of being — as if to resign oneself to endure illness and pains that are “not that bad” or at least not as bad as others? Is it a general trust or acceptance of the expert advice about our wellbeing by credentialed professionals?

A couple of weeks ago I went to a specialist about an out of whack test result. It was really nothing in the grand scheme of things, but something the doctor said stood out like a naked person in a hail storm: “many people I treat had no idea how it felt to be healthy after so many years of being ill.” It left me wondering about that transition from childhood (general good health, with some luck) to adulthood — at what point do we notice health slip away?

One unhealthy way of being has to do with our ability to ignore the messages our bodies give us — to the point where they become so intermittent or jumbled that we trust others’ opinions and expertise over our own.

What if “healthy” was something we all actively wished for each other — for every single being? This is not at all a radical idea. So basic. Yet there is so much illness. Alongside so much ignorance.

What if “healthy” was a daily listening and response-ability to investigate and attend to the body (and mind’s) ills and pains. Imagine how much time and energy that would take everyone — and how unproductive we would all be at work?

This is my point.

Our ability to ignore the messages our bodies give us is what keeps us stuck. Many years ago I worked for a radio station called Rock 102 (which I just thought of thanks to this Day 102 heart reading). Nearly every day I was ogled (or worse) by guys in bars, or car dealerships, or anywhere really as this behavior was not called out like it is today. Nearly every day I ignored the alarms going off in my mind about such inappropriate behavior. I’d even laugh about it and work to convince myself it was no big deal. I’d work harder so I could “make” it go away.

We can all celebrate #timesup and other movements that are helping people be more conscientious and respectful.

But patterns of ignoring the self can grow like cancer and affect other messages and signals the body-mind sends us. Ignoring the self makes it harder to reclaim our natural listening skills and harder to heal and stay healthy. Think about the near complete lack of self-awareness in The Emperor’s New Clothes — to be naked and believe one is dressed in regalia!

Similarly, patterns of tolerating others’ ignorance, instead of respectfully naming it and bringing it into the “sunlight”, can energetically reinforce inappropriate behavior.

There are too many ways people feel unable to speak the truth in the spaces that could be pivotal.

Thankfully I have healed (a lot anyway) from the harsh sexual assaults of yesteryear. These days I dream of pivoting away from more nuanced things that can set alarms off in my mind (like new real estate development and extravagance) and toward ways of living more simply, of respecting natural resources (and being aware of waste as a habit), and of spending time and energy noticing the beautiful life all around us.

Speaking of these truths is still a dream in many social circles. But maybe someday, hopefully soon, even wasteful and extravagant living will be called out as inappropriate and there will be collective pressure toward health and even #innerfortune.

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Karen Willard Ribeiro

Beyond Karen: emerging from the depths of an epic epithet is available at innerfortune.com and at your favorite independent bookseller. Thanks for reading.