When I began the OMS Recovery Program six years ago, I carefully studied the book and started the diet, taking vitamin D and doing some exercise. I also made lots of notes from 'The Mind-Body Connection' chapter (in the first edition), but I put the notebook away and forgot about it.
I made occasional attempts at meditating, but didn't really see the point - I couldn't get my head around the idea of just sitting there! I did do some Clean Language coaching with my mum to help me develop a metaphor for what it's like when my body is healing.
But I forgot about the rest of what George wrote in the chapter, including resolving unfinished business, forgiving and letting go. Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I made a note of, but at the time didn't follow the advice from (similar quotes can be found in the 'Meditate' chapter in the second edition of the book):
"I feel it is useful to commit to a continuous process of exploring and resolving emotional and spiritual 'dis-ease' and unfinished business. Often it is these past, poorly resolved issues that make and keep people sick." p.277 "To have the necessary energy to heal the illness, we have to heal the underlying problem in our subconscious." p.177
Fast forward a few years, and I realized it was time to fish out my notes and start following George's advice about doing this work.
Symptoms and solutions
Since diagnosis I had experienced a lot of fatigue, but then I began to get real problems with my arms and legs aching so much that my daily activities were greatly reduced. Each time it began, I had overdone it and not listened to my body telling me to stop what I was doing.
The first time it happened I was doing some gardening, and was determined to clear a patch in the garden so I might be able to grown some vegetables.
My arms quickly started hurting, but I carried on until they hurt so much I was forced to stop. It took them a long time to feel better, but when they did it happened again - I did too much and ignored the messages from my body telling me to stop. It also started happening with my legs too.
I was convinced that I could make my arms and legs better - I tried physiotherapy, LDN, and various supplements, but all with no effect. I had also begun meditating more as, after I went on an OMS Retreat in 2013, I had finally been convinced of its benefits.
Plus I had lots more time to do it, as I had to rest so much. I found that I gradually began to listen to my intuition more, and started to pay attention to synchronicities and things that showed up repeatedly. In the OMS book, George recommends reading 'Anatomy of the Spirit' by Caroline Myss, but I didn't do this until after I had heard about it from several other sources as well.
When I finally read it, I realized how unhealthy my thoughts, beliefs and emotions were. I saw myself as bad and unworthy, and as I began to truly believe the connection between emotions and health, I realized that doing this spiritual work may hold the key to healing.
I think it was an Eckhart Tolle talk I listened to where he said that healing is not the same as curing. The word 'heal' derives from the Latin for 'make whole'. And when you are whole, you can be OK with living with whatever body you have - even if you have symptoms that cause you problems.
I did hope that by working on my emotions and beliefs, my physical health would improve too. But even if it didn't, I would be able to accept that and still have gratitude for all the things I can do.
Luckily, not long after this I was offered coaching by Amanda Maney - funny how the universe works! She was looking for someone to practice on with a new modality she was learning called Meta-Health - an approach to understanding how our thoughts and emotions create our health or disease.
I have continued working with her for over 18 months now, have learned so much about myself and have changed lots of damaging beliefs. It has taken a while, as there were a LOT of unhealthy beliefs and emotions stuck inside me, but I have healed so much - and I have found that now that my mind is feeling better, my body is starting to feel better too!.
I'd like to share with you the kinds of thoughts that were subconsciously running through my mind before I did this work, so you can get an idea of how my thoughts and beliefs may have been preventing me from being able to heal:
"The world is a bad place. I must sort out all the problems. No one else is doing it, so I will have to do it. I must not rest until all the jobs are done. If I finish one list of jobs, I must start another list of bigger jobs. The jobs are never finished. I never get a chance to rest, or do things just for fun." "It's not fair that everyone else is allowed to rest and enjoy themselves when there's so much work to be done. I am weak and vulnerable in this world. I must protect myself. I must get better. I'm not allowed to be ill. There's too much to do. I can't allow my arms and legs to feel like this. I am angry that I can't do what I want to do." "I know my arms and legs are tired, but I can't stop until all the jobs are done, and I have run out of energy completely. I'm a danger to myself because of this. I know I would have more energy if I could learn to listen to my body, but I can't do it." "I can't use my energy for things I enjoy - that would be bad when there are so many jobs to be done. I mustn't fail. I am a failure. I can't feel good unless I can do everything I want to. I can't say no to things I don't want to do or people will think I'm a bad person." And so on... It all sounds so ridiculous to me now!
And, at the same time, I discovered I was also subconsciously thinking:
"I need to have these problems in my arms and legs, because it's the only way I get to have a rest. If I were completely healthy, I would have to save the world. It's safer to be like this. And who am I to get well? I don't deserve to be healthy because it's my fault I was ill in the first place."
I expect you can see how this was causing me to be stuck exactly where I was - thinking both, 'I'm not allowed to be ill' and, 'I need to have these problems'. I was going round in circles with these thoughts and using a lot of energy on the anxiety they created too.
I have also worked a lot on learning to allow my feelings, learning that there is nothing wrong with any of them. They are just there, wanting to be acknowledged and felt, and then they can fade away. I have spent my life resisting feelings of anger, shame, guilt, sadness and fear.
When traumatic things have happened to me, I have avoided talking about them, or even thinking about them, as it was too painful. I know lots of people do this. I now know that it's so much better to let whatever arises be there, and be felt, and then the emotion is free to go.
The word emotion comes from Latin and means 'energy in motion' so if you don't allow it to move through you, it will stay there. After working with Amanda for a long time, I finally felt able to talk about something very traumatic that happened to me as a teenager.
I felt waves and waves of emotion go through me while we spoke, and so much relief from finally sharing this with someone. And quite soon after this session, my arms started to feel a lot stronger, which I'm sure was connected. As well as the gift of being able to share my deepest darkest thoughts with someone who does not judge me at all, other benefits I have received from coaching are:
- Knowledge about myself - my patterns, fears, beliefs and habits
- Techniques to use when I need to clear something that's affecting me
- Being able to be completely honest with myself and others
- Being able to talk more openly with people as I know that other people have similar thoughts
- Caring less about what others think
- Much less anxiety
- No longer feeling depressed
- More stable mood and feeling happier
- More confidence that I can heal
- Knowing that it's OK to rest
- Knowing that it's OK to say no
- Knowing that it's OK to be angry
- Knowing that it's OK to be wrong
- Spiritual awakening
- Physical improvement
My favorite thing is that I now when I wake up, I look forward to the day, rather than my first thought being 'how long until I can go back to bed?' If you are interested in doing this kind of work, and would like to find a coach (or counsellor/therapist - I believe that the person and their skills are more important than job title), I think it's important to find someone who you feel comfortable with and who is on your side. For example, I know that
Amanda completely believes that it is possible for MS symptoms to get better and go away - it wouldn't have worked at all for me to work with someone who has more conventional beliefs about MS. And if you can't afford to work with someone in this way, there are loads of books and resources on the internet.
You could team up with a friend who you really trust to work together on things (although I really recommend getting professional help if you are working on very traumatic memories). There are lots of book recommendations in the OMS book, and here is list of books and audiobooks that have really helped me, plus a link to Amanda's website:
- Caroline Myss - Anatomy of the Spirit
- Lissa Rankin - Mind Over Medicine and The Fear Cure
- Joe Dispenza - You Are the Placebo
- Eckhart Tolle - The Power of Now and A New Earth
- Normal Doidge - The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain's Way of Healing
- Nick Ortner - The Tapping Solution
- Tosha Silver - Outrageous Openness and Change Me Prayers
- Adyashanti - Falling Into Grace and True Meditation
- Peter Levine - Healing Trauma
- Tara Brach - Radical Acceptance
To finish, I send my very best wishes to anyone who wants to take this journey - and offer another quote from George in Overcoming MS (p.173, 1st edition):
"Like other challenges in life, out of the kernel of the problem may come wonderful insights and answers that transform our lives."