A symptom…ache, pain, bloating, runny nose, period cramping, itchy skin…these are merely signals for help, calling for your attention. Let’s re-frame it this way: if you were driving along in your vehicle and the check engine light appeared, what would you do? You would likely take it to a mechanic and have it checked out.
Now think about your body for a moment…A twinge of pain strikes and you take pain medication to make it go away. That’s the equivalent of covering the check engine light and continuing to drive! You don’t perceive the light anymore, but you can be sure, the engine problem hasn’t disappeared. Your body certainly deserves, at minimum, the same courtesy your car does.
The symptoms you experience draw your attention to a certain body part or process that is occurring as a result of abnormal physiology (bodily function). It is difficult to stick out the pain because as a society, we have been conditioned to seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. However, without inquiry or investigation into the source of the symptom, potential understanding is lost.
By neglecting the opportunity for insight about why a symptom is present, you give up power. Take a moment to think about it and you may realize the source of the problem. In giving yourself the chance to explore a symptom on a deeper level, you enable action. In taking action based on your comprehension, you have regained power over your state of well being.
When a symptom arises, dedicate some time to understanding it. The first consideration is “Why am I having this symptom?” It is often hard to narrow it down to one cause as there are so many factors that affect the way you feel day-to-day. Awareness of these factors and how they interact is important in implementing positive changes. And awareness is where I propose to start. When you practice mindfulness, associations between your diet, your thoughts, your stressors and how you feel suddenly become clear. Armed with knowledge, you can maneuver these factors into producing results that optimize your state of health rather than detract from it.
The next time a headache hits, instead of immediately reaching for that pill, observe the smoke signal for what it is and give yourself a moment to understand the why of it.
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