For years I’ve wanted to write a rant about the stagnating choice so many of us make not to feel, not to connect to our heart (our sensorial, innate wisdom). Well, here we are in the heart issue with an invitation to connect to your heart. Let the ranting begin!
Part I: Seriously, people! Do we really need the medical profession to come up with a diagnosis such as “tight pants syndrome” to know that wearing constrictive clothing is damaging to our health?
Yes, there is such a syndrome and it refers to the nerve, organ and soft tissue damage that we inflict as we squeeze into jeans, shirts and undergarments that are too tight and constrictive. Testicular torsion? Digestive issues? Thigh numbness? Surely, we can feel that we need larger pants or less restrictive hosiery, yes?
Choices! Let’s stop hurting and injuring our selves for fashion and ego sake. Have a heart! Stop torturing yourself. Bring down the height of your heels. Increase the width of your shoes. Wear clothes that you can breathe and move in.
Feel and adjust. Live with pleasure — from the inside out. Cherish your body and your self.
Part II: My name is Kathleen, and I’m a shameless feeler. I love feeling and I do it well. In fact, sensitivity is my superpower.
I committed to my superpower 20 years ago when I divorced and chose premium self-care in lieu of the stress of unaffordable health insurance. As part of my caring, I committed to be connected to my self, to be aware, to keep stress minimal, to make sleep and time in nature a priority and, always, to tell myself the truth.
Embracing my superpower, I made an appointment this past winter to see my internist, a concierge doctor. I was feeling an unfamiliar sensation in my left breast that felt alerting. The sensation began the day my son told me he was being deployed to Iraq.
I sat with the sensation for a few months, wondering if it would change or go away. It didn’t and at times the sensation became more intense. So, I made an appointment for a checkup and a mammogram.
I described to my doctor the sensation, the emotions at the time it began and the absence of any lumps when I did breast self-examinations. Yes, tears were shed; I was worried for my son and for me.
My doctor listened and offered me a low dose of the anxiety medication Xanax. My inner translator interpreted: Let me help you disconnect from your feelings. ARGHHHHH!
Gobsmacked by my doc’s response, I chose not to abandon myself and go meek, as I had previously with doctors. Instead, I assured him that I’m not afraid to feel, that to me sensation is good.
He asked, then, if I have trouble sleeping. I don’t. He asked if I’m able to work. I am and do. He asked if I take any medications. I don’t. He suggested that I take half an aspirin and vitamin D. He told me my mammogram had been ordered and said I could go.
Cue the sound of car brakes screeching!!!
I can go? I haven’t had a general checkup in three years, and I’m a candidate for Xanax but not for an examination?
I requested a full physical. We found out that my heart is fine. My heart rate is at the low end of normal (normal for me). I’ve lost 12 pounds since my last checkup. My blood test showed everything is normal, including my vitamin D. I have a “slight rise” in cholesterol.
Exhale. I am fine. My mammogram was normal, too.
Feeling is our barometer for responding to our self and others. The late Paul Kalanithi, MD, neurosurgeon and author of the exquisite book When Breath Becomes Air, writes, “Before operating on a patient’s brain, I realized, I must first understand his mind: his identity, his values, what makes his life worth living and what devastation makes it reasonable to let that life end.”
What if all of us — lay persons and physicians — made choices and moved with self and one another through the deep understanding of our sacredness and our individual what’s-imperative-to-flourish? Perhaps then we would cherish our heart and choose to live in the embrace of its sensorial wisdom.
I commit to continuing to feel and respond to my sensing.
I commit to finding a doctor who is interested in treating me in light of what is ailing me, rather than my ailments.
I commit to honoring my sacred heart.
Kathleen Aharoni is a movement and life coach, speaker, workshop leader and author of the book I breathe my own breath! She has served on the faculties of Northwestern University and Columbia College Chicago. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.