I’ve been in a fair amount of physical discomfort for several months. On a scale of 1-10, I would estimate that at its peak, it’s an 11 and when it’s tolerable, just a nagging sensation, it’s about a 3. I push through though because I know, thanks to my years of yoga work, listening to my body and reading lots on mind-body pain and medicine that it’s all stress-related.
Caveat: This is a brain dump with little editing. If you have questions, find me on Facebook or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the thing though: it’s all on my right side.
I’ve written about my tennis elbow before.
I’ve written about my interest in MindBody science and the work of Dr. John Sarno or the Rusk Institute in NYC.
I’ve written about chakras, a little.
I’ve never put it all together for anyone to read, at least at this point about what the what my freakin’ body is trying to tell me. But I’ve got a sense now.
Why am I sharing any of this with you? Because I believe our bodies are trying to tell us things all the time.
Here is the status I posted on my Facebook page today:
do you have pain in a majority of one side of your body than the other? for me, it’s my right side. right shoulder, right elbow, right sciatica, right hamstring, right plantar fasciitis… despite the obvious that they’re all related physically (which they are because the fascia connects all of it), they are all related psychically; as the “male” energy is on the right and the “female” energy is on the left sides of our bodies. i’ll be writing about that soon.
And so here we are. Talking about how aging sucks and how our bodies are breaking down right before our eyes.
First, you can slow it.
Second, it’s supposed to break down, but we might be ushering that process along without knowing it.
Cool fact: humans naturally look to the right side of another person’s face to read emotional states because that is where we display most of our emotions. Look in the mirror, see what side of your face is different from the other (unless you spend a great deal of time behind the wheel…).
So yes, the right side of the body is the “male” side; the left side is the “female” side. These aren’t so much myths as they are almost completely unknown in our hemisphere. The Chinese and sages from India had this shit figured out epochs ago. I will also link it up, the right / left side with a rundown of the chakra system.
Wait a sec, backing up … what’s a chakra? Pronounced, “chick-rah”; there are eight primary chakras and something like 80,000 in our bodies. They are invisible energy centers which spin at various speeds either shine brightly or are dull and muddy (per our health). They also have colors assigned to them, respectively. They also have to do with auras. Yeah, it’s woo-woo stuff. Deal with it or go read People Magazine or something. I find when I start talking about this stuff people do one of two things: they pull up their chairs and secretly chant, “YOU GO, MOLLY!” or they roll their eyes and start texting. When I first started studying this stuff, my mom thought I was into yogurt and chiclets gum. Once I explained it, she was all in. And then she whipped out her sketch pad and likely made funny illustrations about monks spinning gum in their yogurts.
Ok, a quick rundown with each of my ailments, starting at the right foot: plantar fasciitis: a horrible pain (a 22 on a 1-10 scale) in the heel or arch of the foot that hurts most upon rising from sleep or rest; once warmed up, it tends to fade away. It is an inflammation of the fascia which is a system of interconnected fibers in our bodies which runs from the heel to the crown of the head out to the finger tips; it’s serious shit, and it can sideline you for weeks, so if you can get in to see a myofascial massage therapist, all the better.
Chakra: first or root, which reflects our “root”: it’s primarily related to issues of the lower back, the hips, our tailbone and our legs. Energetically, it manifests in pain or comfort regarding where we are in the world, our tribal identification, where we came from and how stable we are, from that base, to go from there. Those of us who hailed from exciting and unpredictable homes as children might find that we have back pain or leg pain as we age… and we feel that this stuff tends to “just come out of nowhere” … trust me, it comes from somewhere. You might just need to open your eyes and mind and heart, metaphorically, of course. No need for surgery. What’s a good stretch for plantar fasciitis? Anything that stretches your calf muscle or the warrior or triangle poses in yoga. Also, an extended through the heel plank will do the trick too. Just be gentle to yourself and BREATHE!
More root chakra: Right hamstring and right lower back / hip: sciatica “si-at-ih-ka”; I like to think of this as prisoners chanting “ATTICA! ATTICA” because that’s how I feel: as pissed as Pacino and imprisoned by my body. Holy mother of Abraham Lincoln. This is just … such a frustrating condition. It started for me last spring as a nagging, mildly aching twinge; like a … a dull tingle in the right lower back and hip; just to the right but at the level of those two indentations on our backsides, just above the butt. Walking hurts. Your hamstring gets so inflamed it burns. Your butt aches. When I would cross my leg, right over left of course, it would feel “better” or at least not worse. That crossing one leg over the other is a stretch of the psoas (“so-as”) muscle, a yoke-shaped muscle which helps keep the curve in our lower back. If you jack up your psoas, you jack up your lower back. What’s a good stretch for that? Knees to chest, crossing one leg over the other and twisting to that higher leg’s side. Get a foam roller and prepare to cry like an infant when you use it to stretch your tight IT band which is also a culprit in this situation. Breathing… in yoga: pigeon, triangle, alternate leg stretch, intense forward bend; are you experienced in yoga? revolved triangle is my GO TO! … just be gentle with yourself and yes: BREATHE!
More about the root chakra: color: ruby red; issues: finances (gambling, economy, budget), physical / personal safety, career (do you like your job? is it a good fit for you? can you be yourself?), home (do you want to move? do you like where you live?), needs (enough to eat, wear for you and your family), possessions (cars, stuff, jewelry — too much? not enough? all of this can make you feel unbalanced, which will affect your “footing” in the world).
Moving up… nothing in the spine… Second / sacral chakra: reproductive health;
I’m pretty good there. Gah! No I’m not! I was Dx’d with PMDD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder in 2009?, which is completely under control now. I wrote about that… it’s a CRAZY condition which engendered feelings of outright rage and fury on anything with a pulse within a 20′ radius without warning (for me too!) about 3-5 days before my period. I wrote about that here: Living and Thriving with PMDD. Second chakra deals with our ability to create well and in a balanced way, once we understand who we are and where we come from (first / root chakra) thank God…
Chakra: sacral: orange; located in the reproductive / genital area issues: cravings for physical pleasure: food, drink, sex or adrenaline/risky behavior, addictions (food, drugs, blah blah blah… religion, gambling…); your body (sleep habits, exercise, health awareness, vanity: do you/don’t you care about how you look? think about that.) From what I understand, if I worry too much about my elbow, then I affect my 2nd chakra, of course, which then gets my belly in the game…
I have some lovely digestive issues from time to time, that’s the 3rd chakra, which has to do with our ability to DO things. agh… yes…
Chakra: third: solar plexus; located just at the navel: yellow; issues (take a deep breath): fear, power (being in a position of power: are you afraid of it? are you yearning for it? current or past moments when you felt powerful or powerless: how do they translate today? those twinges: they are trying to tell you something); control (again, fear of being controlled, fear of losing control; past and present and future — pay attention: first chakra at play here too: do you know who you are and what you want? if so, then likely your 3rd chakra is strong. Digestively… are you constipated? What are you trying to keep in and control? What literal and metaphorical SHIT in your life are you keeping in and withholding which basically toxifies you? Do you have the opposite? What are you trying to expel?
Third chakra is also the DOING chakra: “Ok, miss smartypants. You know who you are (root). You have created this thing (sacral), now DO (solar plexus) something with it.” For me, it’s writing the book. It’s the initiate chakra. It’s the put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is chakra. It’s heavy duty and it’s one that brought me to my knees at the yoga retreat. I was all big bad and me; I volunteered because I knew I was weak in that third chakra. So this gorgeous trainer kneeled before me and yelled at my stomach, “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” and that was it. I was out. I never felt so powerless. It sucked. But it has got me thinking and I’ve never stopped.
Right elbow; “tennis elbow” or “tendinitis.” Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons. If I could blame doing laundry and constantly emptying or loading the dishwasher for this condition, I would. The problem is, the union here sucks. I have no rep. I am my rep. Tendinitis has a lot to do with either repetitive stress injuries or rheumatic diseases. I don’t have anything rheumatic going on. What does tennis elbow feel like? How do you know if you might have it? When you simply try to lift something using your thumb and your fingers and lifting mostly from the elbow using the forearm. Pain occurs when you try to unload a mug, plate, boulder, puppy from the dishwasher and instead of being able to do that, you cry and curse. That. I have been once completely immobilized by this … condition in both elbows almost immediately after burying my mother. What else is covered by tendinitis? Grasping, holding, controlling, steering, lifting, releasing… all of it. What helped me? In yoga, lots of down dogs, wrist flexing exercises and rest. Outside of yoga, a band I wear which keeps the tendon pressing on the muscle and bone, lots of cursing and ibuprofen. I had a couple shots of cortisone, but … this is mental with me. I know it. My left side is fine now, my right is about 90% done. My right is repetitive. This is telling me something about my male energetic tendencies. I have smelled like a human vat of BenGay. I have used SalonPas patches which I will say right now: ROCK.
How have I functioned with tennis elbow with two dogs, three sons, a husband and life? Somehow I managed to lift things as though performing a bicep curl. Or, as in the last few weeks, I’ve resorted to asking my husband and children for help. Imagine that. I also had a pain in my upper right back / shoulder that I called the “Twizzler from hell” because it was about the diameter and density of a Twizzler. I figured it out though, I started to notice when it was bugging me: when irrational women with insane issues got too close. Once I eliminated that, it was better. But it still comes and goes when I deal with what I consider to be immovable feminine energies. So both those issues, the Twizzler and tennis elbow reside / belong to the fourth chakra….
Chakra: fourth, or heart. emerald green. Yikes. There it is. Love. My arms extend from my heart chakra which begins at the midpoint of the chest and includes a little bit of the shoulders and definitely the arms. The fourth chakra is a big deal because it’s the beginning / gate to the upper chakras, which have more to do with the esoteric in our lives: the unseen stuff stirring around in our minds. While the first three chakras are more concerned with the physical world: stuff, material, who we are, what we do; the upper chakras don’t dabble in such nonsense. They go straight to the soul, the spiritual, the stuff we don’t like to talk about at cocktail parties. Right here in plain writing: “the heart chakra is affected by thoughts and feelings related to… >inhale< mother, father, stepparents, grandparents and other family members; past lovers, friends, spouses; friends, co-workers; employers, teachers, peers and [even] strangers.” (p8 Chakra Clearing, by Doreen Virtue)
Basically, how do you feel about any one of these people in your life? I’m gonna throw in dogs and cats and other “pets” too (I put ‘pets’ in quotes because if you have an animal living with you, you have an opinion about that animal and that opinion is tied to your heart chakra). It has a lot to do with giving and receiving love, emotional intimacy.
Issues: love (divine love from God and your inner / higher self) including friendships and platonic love. And dare I say “hate”? Can’t have one without the other. People attachments (dysfunctional relationships and codependency >SWIFTLY RAISES HAND!!!! ME ME! PICK ME!< or obsessions about a person >ME! AGAIN! ME!< … but I’m getting much better. I loved my mom. I really did. My arms are tired though. Forgiveness or unforgiveness toward organizations, yourself or others living or dead known or unknown to you — listen people, we’re all a little crazy. I’d be lying to you if I tried to tell you that I wasn’t affected when Philip Seymour Hoffman died, in a way I myself had a hard time understanding. Another aspect to the heart chakra is its relationship with clairsentience: an extrasensory way of communing with knowledge: intuition, clear feelings about something, guidance. Do you get those feelings and blow them off? Try sitting with that idea for a few moments. Yoga for heart chakra: down dog, interlaced hands behind back with gentle bend in the elbow, goddess pose, triangle pose, bridge, camel, bow, warrior 2… anything that will open your heart and chest and make you feel completely vulnerable. Do it. It will help. Oh, and sitting like this too:
Right. Roll a beach towel into a 5″-7″ wide column. Lie along it with your tailbone unsupported and your back of your head just at the nape of the neck unsupported. Lie there for several minutes and breathe. Let the floor hold you up and sink into the roll. That will help you open your chest.
Moving right along… this is a big one and I had TONS of sore throats, tonsillitis as a child. I still get strep occasionally. Do you lose your voice? What about if your tongue swells up? Look, I’ll admit this: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Other times… think about what you’re repressing or holding in; it can MAKE YOU SICK… My upper back bugs me a lot, my right shoulder hurts a lot. This is connected, I have no doubt, to my need to muscle through / or “man up” about certain aspects in my life. Repetitive patterns with certain types of people… it gave me the Twizzler.
(My! This is a long post!)
The throat stuff? Fifth or “throat” chakra: sky blue; located at the midpoint or Adam’s apple area of the throat, includes the nose. Issues surrounding the health of the fifth chakra include: COMMUNICATION! Do you speak your truth to loved ones? Coworkers? Classmates? Peers? Your audience? Your boss? Do you communicate clearly? Don’t know if you do? Read “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz; you will have a better understanding. Do your projects aptly represent you: your writing? Your art? Your designs? Your teachings? Do you voice your needs for help to God, your friends, your boss, your inner self? Can people hear you? Do you feel like what you will say won’t matter so you don’t bother?
Think about this! Yoga for the throat: neck rolls, start out with your chin dipping toward the chest and take some nice long breaths, feeling the fibers stretch on the backside beneath your head and radiating alongside the neck into your shoulders. Release your jaw. Are you a jaw clencher? Run your tongue along the outside of your upper and lower teeth. A yawn will come. Let it. Another idea? chanting. Sing! Recite! Call someone and speak on the phone. Go to the grocery store and ask for assistance; when you’re in traffic and you need a spot in line, ask for it. Might not get it, but get in the habit of speaking up for what you need. Need? Did someone say Need? Check back on that root chakra? Do you have hip and throat issues? Just wondering… my mom had horrible hip and back pain as she aged. I don’t think she ever really asked for what she really needed.
Sixth and seventh chakras are all inside your head. HA. No, they are. These chakras concern your ears and eyes. As I child, I suffered UNBELIEVABLE ear infections. I still have moments when my ears seem to feel “off” or congested for no reason.
The ear chakras (there are two: six and seven) are violet red (which is how my ears feel from time to time, frankly) and they have to do with communication and Divine communication, in the way of God, intuition, inner knowing and your desire or reluctance to hear messages from the spiritual realm. Here’s a fun thing: do you have situations with certain people where you hear one thing and they say another? What about mental playback of conversations or situations with people which might’ve have been difficult? Verbal abuse? Negative feedback… if your ear chakras are clear, you can have a better relationship with not only other people, but with yourself and with your intuition and you can build and hone clairaudient skills to hear messages or impressions from angels or God. We run into problems with our ear chakras when we have resentment or hold grudges against those who have said negative or hurtful things or things that are hard for us to hear. According to Virtue, the ear chakras also can become unbalanced when we turn away our ears in fear from the truth, be it “in the form of intuition, or Divine guidance from God.”
The eighth chakra, the “brow” or “third eye” chakra; dark blue; between the eyes. On the yoga retreat I went on last summer, we did a ton of work with the third eye chakra, mostly in a physical sense, to get an idea of what it’s like in our bodies, because we already know what it has to do with in our metaphysical bodies. According to a lot of literature on this stuff, this third eye is our highest self, and it is turned back toward you because everything you need is “in” you already. Well, ok, here’s me sitting on that bus wondering: if that’s true, then why the chit chat about God and Divine guidance? Your third eye represents everything you think, feel and do. It has to do with and it has a lot to do with headaches, migraines, intellectual distortions.
The third eye is affected by your thoughts and feelings relative to your future (your desire to see what is in store for you — on the path you’re on, or if you change it…); the past (how you see your past: are you fair, are you biased? were you victimized? were you abusive?); and your ability to believe in a spiritual realm (angels, apparitions, heaven, etc.). Virtue writes about conditions that the third eye is in when you close your own eyes and visualize it; whether its lid is open or closed, whether it is clear or cloudy.
Ok. So there’s one more, a major chakra, the “crown” and this one is sort of the mother lode of them all. Different people say different things about its color, but the prevailing opinion is that it’s a white-hot purple and it sparkles. It is located at where else, but the crown of our heads and it deals with our ability to receive thoughts, and our “claircognizance” which is “clear knowing” and our relationship with the Divine. How do you feel about God? Do you feel close? Apart? Indifferent? What are your thoughts on spirituality? Another biggie to me is “trust” — our ability to receive and give trust to thoughts and impressions we experience from an ethereal plane.
So here’s the deal: this is a lot of information. Sometimes, as I said, a cigar is just a cigar. But for me, I know that I have fourth and first chakra issues … aww, hell, I have almost all of them to deal with.
What does any of this have to do with my right / male / masculine side? It has everything to do with it if you’re me.
The left side is also the side that speaks to our right brain, the so-called “creative” and inventive half of our brain. If my left side aches, it means that I’ve perhaps been too free or allowing or have tried too hard to come up with creative solutions where simple logic will to do the trick. There is no need for creativity and head-banging, it’s a situation of simple process.
The right side is the side that speaks to our left brain, the so-called “logical” and rational half of our brain. To me, if my right side aches it means that I’ve tried to also be logical about things, perhaps in a situation where logic is useless. It’s about control, it’s about forcing and it’s about other things as you’ll read below.
Regarding the pain on my right side: from the back of my neck to the arch of my foot, it means that I’ve tried for a long time to muscle through life; that I’ve forced myself through things, that I’ve denied my softer more vulnerable side; that I’ve denied my needs, because “needy” was wrong; that I never asked for help and that I don’t do that so well still. I will likely take me a ton of pain (which I’m experiencing) on my right side for me to finally pay attention and take notice. I denied my left side, even though I’m left-handed, because it is my softer side, it is the side that represented my mother, in the most subconscious way; and all my life, I tried to live not only as the Non-Mimi, but as the Anti-Mimi: my nickname was “toughie Turner” and boy did I live up to it.
So now she’s gone. I didn’t mean to make this post about her and my grief, but my right side aches and I know this: my love for my mother was deep and profound but not enough to save her; that I was never meant to save her; that no matter how much I muscled through, she wasn’t mine to save. That sucks.
I also know this: that when I back off, and rely more on my feminine side, when I let go from muscling through, when I ask for help, when I rely on others, when I am OK with not having all the answers, when I laugh more gently, when I speak more softly, and when I breathe with kindness into my fourth (heart) chakra, the pain starts to fade away and melt into the ether.
What are you holding on to?
What are you repressing?
What are you keeping at arm’s distance?
Think about how you muscle through life. Or is your left side in pain? Do you not push yourself enough? Are you too easy? Do you fall victim a lot? Do you feel helpless? I have never been considered helpless; but if I don’t start to figure this stuff out, I will be helpless…
Yes, sometimes a cigar is a cigar. But sometimes, what if it’s not? What if it’s YOU?
But wait, there’s more! How to balance or clear the chakras? You can google or youtube a TON of videos and view them free. Doreen Virtue is VERY California, so she has um, like a delivery, that is sooo like, soothing, and like … yeah. I can handle it, but not all the time. Look for some that you might like. Listen to them with headphones on and see how you feel when you’re finished. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit still for a bit.
Ps: Here’s another step I’m willing to take, and it’s controversial but worth a second or fifth look: think about a possible link between these issues and any cancers in people you know.
Women: uterine, ovarian, vaginal cancer; men: prostate and testicular cancer: 2nd chakra area. Breast and lung cancer: 4th chakra area. Throat cancer, 5th chakra… Lots of alcoholics and those with eating disorders have throat issues; perhaps because they feel mute or voiceless, unheard. So they act out and their issues manifest in sickness.
Is it related? Who knows. Don’t rule it out. How can you be more open or less open in those chakras to protect yourself?
Once one gets used to the chakra system and thinking in this way: “What’s this telling me? Is this just a cigar? Am I sure?” Then the process takes a whole new turn. One night after a very intense and busy weekend of yoga training, I was supposed to go to an Eagles concert. I was wiped out. I don’t even really like the Eagles. My husband wanted to go; it was a client-work thing. I got a HUGE knot at the base of my skull, on the right side only. It was excruciating. Male side, 5th/throat chakra. I took 4 motrin which barely put a dent in it. I was suppressing my thoughts, I wasn’t telling him how I felt. I also was muscling through. This whole experience shed light on how I deal with the males in my life aspect in all of this. This headache lasted for three days, and I simply don’t get headaches. I got to the retreat. Early on, the first evening of the retreat, I spoke to one of the other students about the pain, she’s a reiki master.
She put her hand over the pain and she said, “Your man got you to do something and you didn’t debate it even though you should’ve, huh? You let him win… You need to speak your truth.”
That was it. I agreed it, I called him and told him that I didn’t want to go to the Eagles concert, that I felt like he was making me do it and even though I don’t care for the Eagles and this client was a mutual friend of ours, I needed a break and he sort of pressed me into going. >Poof!< the pain went away. Immediately. Never came back.
There is a lot to all this. Look up “Intuitive Listening,” a CD of recorded conversations on Mind-Body communication by MonaLisa Schulz and Christiane Northrup; it’s mind-blowing.
This is a fun link: What does your body look like (heat signature) in various emotional states?
Very cool video for chakra balancing: