“There is perhaps apocryphal story that Dale Carnegie related about Abraham Lincoln. One of Lincoln’s advisors was recommending a man for inclusion in his cabinet, and Lincoln said no.
“I don’t like his face.” Lincoln reportedly said.
Horrified, his advisor said, “But he’s not responsible for his face!”
Lincoln replied. “Every man over forty is responsible for his face!”
Lincoln understood that over the course of our lives, we create and recreate ourselves in a way consistent with our stories about ourselves and the world around us.” – Thom Hartman, Taken from Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s foreword to Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process
A powerful means of physical healing and transpersonal work is telling of ones story in a sacred manner. We engage in sacred story-telling to heal the separation within and without. Diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and other illnesses all hold a healing story within in them. Through narrative medicine we discover the agreements that keep us sick, and the means to heal.Wherever we are hurting points to a divide within ourselves. If we have health problems due to a poor relationship to food (or to our physical body) these problems reflect to us where we are divided. We may be divided from our passions, we may be divided from our emotions, and we may feel separated from others.
Our stories, shared in a sacred manner will help name this divide and heal it. (This is why it is so important for our healers, including our physicians to have the time to listen to our stories). We also carry the stories of our ancestors and can release these as well. For example, I carried the “entitlement” agreement in my relationship to food. It seemed I was born with an “entitlement gene.” This “gene” (agreement) made it possible for me to eat as much as wanted as a teenager and throughout my life (up to when I had my child at the age of 40). This agreement to entitlement (I can have what I want and as much of it as I want) was rooted deep in my body and consciousness and perhaps began a few generations back.
Through narrative medicine, creating a sacred healing ritual and ending my agreement to this story my eating behavior has greatly improved. I eat less, slower and notice when I am full and stop. Before I often wanted more even though I was full. I want to share that this story and agreement was knitted to my story of rebellion. In order for me to survive some abuses in childhood and beyond I called forth a rebellious nature. When it came to food this rebellious agreement strengthened the belief that “I can eat whatever I want, when I want and how much I want.” When the entitlement and rebellious theme was strong I wasn’t really in touch with what was good for me. I lost touch with what I really wanted and was making choices from these agreements, not my true nature (where my authentic stories arise).We can each transcend our limitations and habitual states. And we can use narrative medicine as a means to accomplish more freedom. Any healing process should include listening to your story around your concerns. A good healer is a skillful listener and weaver of stories.
Last week we identified with the Healer Within. She holds the pain story, the healing story and much of the “medicine” you need to heal what is hurting you.Begin with your personal story around your body. What is the story of your physical body? Let your body narrate a story. Journal your body’s life story. You can begin each journal entry with your body addressing you, “Dear (your name here), It began when I was handed to the doctor and rushed away from my home of 9 months. I never tasted breast milk but . . .” Let your body speak its’ story, let it take you where it wants. It will take several journal entries to get to the present day. In a few weeks I will guide you on a healing journey with your story.
“In narrative medicine, one of our goals is to avoid insights and interpretations until entities and illnesses literally shout their meanings to us.” – Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., taken from his book, Narrative Medicine.
Consider also journaling about . . .What are some of the agreements you have developed and sustained with your body? With food? Write about this. Write about your favorite time to eat. Describe the environment. Choose one subject to go into detail about.
Off the Page – - If there are more places in your life that are cluttered (closets, evenings, work space, mind) keep clearing up space for your self, for your life now and for the life you are creating for yourself.
It would be good to be walking (or swimming) up to 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have time most days for this, what needs to be removed to make room for this? Our lives should have time for 30 minutes of activity (research shows it needs to be 90 minutes to keep us healthy and lean).
“We must accept the lack of certain, ultimate truth. We cannot know truth, only the stories we create about truth. Humility lies in the recognition that our stories will require constant modifications to keep up with our own evolution. Maturity consists of the ability to manage multiple, competing ideological tensions while negotiating an identity that works for the various, sometimes conflicting communities to which we belong.” –Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., taken from his book, Narrative Medicine.