This time of the year reminds me of the cycles of life. The Holistic Health Centre is beside Penticton Creek and our favorite pastime is watching the Kokanee salmon travel their way up to the spawning beds. They have little pools of water where they spend much time gathering their energy till they are ready to wiggle their tails and move ten or twenty feet up the shallow and rapid moving parts of the creek. I am fascinated by their exquisite coral color and enjoy the first-hand observations of their ritual of life and death.
Every month I scan my mother’s photographs looking for the photo that will inspire me to tell another story. It has taken me many years to truly appreciate the persistence and effort it took Mom to capture my family on film, despite my father’s constant complaining about the high cost of film.
Till this month I never noticed that the two pictures on the cover are almost identical: brothers Michael and Billy proudly displaying their catch. Summer or winter, catching fish was always a thrill. We loved the hike to the fishing hole or the canoe ride on the lake. It was a fun part of living in the wilderness. We watched the huge female salmon lay their eggs and once a year, Dad would catch one and carefully remove her eggs. He taught us how to preserve them by using salt and borax, turning the eggs carefully as they dried out and became a semi-soft sticky mass which we used for fish bait. I loved the color and the texture of the eggs so putting them on my hook was easy. I think what I most appreciate about my upbringing is that it taught me to be practical, hard-working and realistic about the cycles of life and death. Grandma, my Mom’s mother, taught me about the importance of using nature to heal oneself as she was sensitive to man-made potions. She ate only organic food and used medicines that grew nearby in the hills.
The more time I spend around the Centre, the simpler and clearer my ways of presenting information to the public become. I appreciate the basic principles that Harvey Jackins presents in his book titled The Human Situation, written in 1973. He explains that learning is natural and that people have a great deal of interest in understanding new information if they have a point of reference. He states that, “A new concept has no meaning if it can not be related to what is already understood.” To try and learn new information without a source of reference is to create distress.
He goes on to tell this story about a mother who was repeatedly asked by her young son, “What is that?” She would answer, “That is a lumber yard.” Many times they passed the building and each time he pointed and asked, “What’s that, Mom?” Suddenly she realized that she had not given him any useful information. She then said, “You know the house they are nailing together across the street from us?” He nodded. “That house is being built from boards.” She then asked him if he knew what boards were. When he said yes, she then said, “The place where they keep the boards till they are needed to build a house is called a lumber yard.” At this point he said “Oh!” in a tone of deep satisfaction, and never again questioned her about that building.
In following chapters Jackins explains that context must come first, that good repetition is necessary, and that the learner must express this new-found knowledge. It is best to learn a little at a time.
Another book of his,”The Human Side of Human Beings,” was one of the first books I was assigned to read when I studied Graphology. It made quite an impact on me for I remember telling many people about his experiment and kept it in mind as I raised my children.
The experiment went like this: twenty children and their mothers went into a busy mall. All of the mothers were to separate themselves from their children, ages 4-7. After fifteen minutes, they were to let the children find them. Half of the group were to let the children cry and talk about their feelings of being lost. With this group the children were listened to and comforted. The other half had to shut up their children as quickly as possible. Saying things like, “You weren’t really lost, stop crying,” they either threatened or bribed their children to stop the crying as quickly as possible. Several months later the same group of parents and children returned to the mall and the same thing happened. This time, the children that had been allowed to cry and talk about the experience responded exactly the same way as they did the first time. The group that weren’t allowed to cry responded hysterically and the parents had a difficult time trying to shut them up.
When we are hurt, emotionally or physically, it is important to express our pain and our anger. If we can’t do it at the time, the body will store the memory. Years later when our mind has forgotten the incident, the body won’t have. If the same scenario is replayed, the body reacts the same way it did the first time the incident happened. Our reaction may not make any sense to us as adults. The quote that says, “The response is always right: it is the situation that may not be appropriate” is starting to make sense to me.
For example, being in business I have to deal with ‘men in authority.’ This makes my stomach nervous and I feel like I have to go pee. If I tried, I couldn’t, but the pressure on my kidneys is intense, making me feel like I have to. In my mind I say to myself , “This is silly, why am I reacting like this? I am not going to get in trouble with the city administrators for asking them to sell me a business license,” but the question remained as to why I react this way.
Last month while undergoing a Rolfing session I got my answer, as my body released some old fear that was stored in my kidneys. As my rolfer, Gary, worked that region I immediately had to go pee, so I did. As I returned to the table I could feel my body starting to shake and my teeth starting to chatter. As Gary continued working the other kidney area, I cried quietly. Then he rolled me over onto my back, into fetal position, and continued to work the back of my legs. Suddenly my hands swung to my throat and I felt like I wanted to choke myself. I started to scream, as if I were a child. When the screaming ceased, my teeth started chattering. As he did some release work on my neck, I started to laugh hysterically. Ten minutes after my session ended, my shaking and chattering stopped. ☛ I went for a walk to shake off the energy and then settled down to do some paperwork. When Jan came into my office I said, “I am so tired.” She said “Why don’t you take a nap?” so I tried. As soon as I laid down I got angry so I got back up and continued with the paperwork. When she came in a second time I said, “I don’t want to take a nap but I sure am tired.” She said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to sleep standing up.” We both laughed as we tried to figure out who sleeps standing up. Then slowly it dawned on me … a baby … against her mother’s chest. So I piled up many cushions on the couch and took a nap sitting up. After about twenty minutes I could feel the tiredness pass and I knew I had figured out another piece of the puzzle.
When I was two years old I bit everyone and everything so I was probably reliving an incident where I had bitten my Dad. I can imagine his reaction: he would have picked me up with his hands around my throat and screamed at me never to do it again as I gasped for air. All I wanted was Mommy.
Fear is usually stored in the kidneys, anger is stored in the liver, love in the heart and so on. For most of us who study holistic healing methods, this is common knowledge. Each organ has a specific task in maintaining the balance of the body. The distress that happens in the body when an energy flow is blocked is subtle, but has long-term effects. Many others believe as I do that this is one of the contributing factors to illness. Disease settles in many years later. Doctors and health practitioners are starting to make the connection between the pain and the long forgotten accidents or emotional upsets that gradually shut down the flow of energy to an organ.
I enjoyed feeling my feelings as a two year old and how it felt when I didn’t want to take a nap. It also helped me to understand my fear of ‘men in authority’ and has helped me to piece together one more part of the puzzle of ‘who I am.’ I tell my story in the hope that it will enable you to understand what it means to ‘process’ and that together we can change the way the health care system views our dis-eases.