The year I turned 28 was also the year I almost didn’t turn 29.
I was diagnosed with a mystery blood disorder — idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, which literally means, “we have no idea what’s causing it, but there’s something way wrong with your platelets” — and spent a year of treatments trying to keep my platelet counts high enough to not die.
Eventually I came out the other side (minus my spleen), took a look back at everything that had gone on over the past year, and thought to myself, “There has to be a better way for people to experience healing.”
I was really lucky, in that I had a healthcare provider who believed in my body. When I got scared and overwhelmed with all the hospital visits, the procedures, and the labels applied to my body and my health, I could turn to my Chinese medicine practitioner. She told me that in spite of all the frightening diagnoses and invasive procedures, my body was resilient. Amazing, in fact. And it could get me through anything.
Since that time, I’ve devoted my life to figuring out what healing really looks like, outside the most recent story of how we do medicine. In my work as an acupuncturist, qigong therapist, health coach, and healer who’s helped hundreds of patients feel better and change the story of their health, I’ve come to know a few fundamental things about health and healing.
Now I’m sharing them with you. May they help you wake up to your own inherent power to heal.
1. There’s no one path to heal.
I want to teach you about the various paths so you can heal, not so you can become a “good” acupuncture/qigong/feng shui/whatever person.
The more you understand about health and wellness and your own body, and the options available to you, the more empowered you become to be your best health advocate and healer. And the healthier you become overall.
2. You are more powerful than you imagine.
The things your body can do — and is already doing, right now, as you’re reading this — are astonishing. You are all-mighty, walking around, full of sheer, mind-blowing power.
Your body is a canister of chemicals designed to make you feel good and when you don’t, it lets you know something’s up and creates or directs you towards an antidote. How amazing is that?
3. Health is a collective responsibility.
Health is inherently collective. We’re at a tipping point — we need each other. And we’re starting to see, particularly in the WEIRD — Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic — community that I’m a part of, just how bad at community we are, and how it’s hurting us.
4. Your health is your health.
Learning about your body is your responsibility, not anybody else’s.
That means that you have both the responsibility to do what you can to create the health you want, and the freedom to enjoy your body, your health, and your life as you choose. Give up on any one of those branches, and you’ll find yourself out of balance.
5. You are not your labels.
Depression. Asthma. Cancer. All labels. All conditions, for sure. But all of you? Absolutely not. Your labels are just that — labels. You are so much more. And sure, you can work with your labels, and you can work to change your labels, and a lot of times you’ll even lose your labels entirely. But you always have to start by separating them from your self.
6. Your body is always talking to you. Are you listening?
We’ve been taught to disconnect. We disconnect our bodies from our minds, ourselves from each other, and our societies from their traditional wisdom.
As within, so without.
How you experience your body is a mirror of how you experience your life, and vice versa. The more you learn to listen to your body, the more possibilities for healing you’ll become aware of.
7. Words are good medicine.
Anybody who tells you that you can just sit down and recite a mantra a bazillion times to heal yourself is wrong. But anybody who tells you that words are totally irrelevant to your health is just as wrong.
Try this: think of the name of someone you really love, and notice what your body does. Really get into the details, their smile, touch, sound of their voice. Now think of the name of someone you really don’t like, and notice what your body does. Feel the difference? That warmth, that tension, those feelings are physical. The words you use to think about things affects how you feel emotionally, but also physically.
Go with weakening words regularly, and over time, they will affect your health. But go with empowering words, and you’ll find one of your best allies for healing.
8. Health is shaped by human systems.
I used to say the recipe for a healthy life was simple: hydrate. Move. Eat. Sleep. Cultivate relationships. Mind your thoughts. Don’t take it all too seriously. And if you can tick all of those boxes, great!
But, there are people in our country who don’t have equal access to the basics of life. Water, clean air, a place to sleep, the energy to move their body after a gruelling 14-hour shift…
So, while there are some evergreen things that are always going to be basically good for you — water, nutrient-rich food, moving your body — you need to recognize that you exist in a system. And that system is necessarily going to shape what you’re able to do for yourself.
The way health is presented to us is individual, inwardly directed, and kinda surface level. But health more than that, it’s more than just the basics. Health is respect for yourself. It’s having good boundaries. It’s being able to see the longer term, bigger picture as much as you can; it’s taking the long view.
It’s knowing that, while we all have to meet specific needs for wellness, how you get there is as unique as your own body.
If you’d like to amplify your health, I’d love to have a conversation about how we can make that happen.
Find out more at howYOUheal.com, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org