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Learning To Love Your Body When Living With Chronic Health Issues

Written by: Christine Maunu-Westley, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Loving ourselves is one of the most important relationships we will ever have. It helps us move through life with self-compassion, self-confidence and self-worth. It can cause us to feel more joyful, believe in our goals and dreams, or even lead us to live life in faith instead of fear. Yet, as vital as this relationship that we have with ourselves is, it can also be one of the most difficult to have and maintain – especially if you're living with a chronic illness, disease or condition. Causing you to criticize, hate or be angry with your body.

For years I struggled with loving my body because of a progressive and incurable genetic condition I was born with called Neurofibromatosis – Type 1 (NF1 for short). It's important to know that a person cannot catch NF1 like a common cold or develop it over time. Either one or both parents carry the gene, and it's passed onto the child. Or there is a genetic mutation in the copying of parents' genes, which sounds like this should cause one to have some extraordinary superhero abilities. In my case, I was born with NF1 due to a genetic mutation. Unfortunately, I don't have any superhero abilities. Instead, I have many difficulties and health challenges that I go through, one of which is the growth of neurofibromas, a type of benign tumour (although they can turn cancerous), to grow on and under the skin.


A few years after I was diagnosed, which didn't happen until my early teens, I began to see the progression of NF1. It caused the neurofibromas, which look like bumps, to grow externally on my body. As a result, my body became more covered from head to toe, which caused me to hate my body and struggle with loving myself. For a long time, it even stopped me from pursuing the calling I felt in my heart and soul, which was to have a spirit and heart-led business helping others.


It didn't help that I had experienced strangers telling me to stop eating junk food because I wouldn't have so much acne on my face (which is the neurofibromas). People who would sit next to me on the public transit, only to see the neurofibromas on my arms and get up to sit somewhere else. Or the strangers who asked me if I was contagious because they were worried they would catch something. And although, understandably, strangers can be nervous or scared about a condition they know nothing about, it was emotionally painful to go through these experiences.


I felt so much anger towards my body and wondered how it could let this happen to me, and it wasn't until several years later that I realized just how angry I was and how much of this I kept bottled up inside. I remember the evening clearly. I sat in the bathtub by candlelight, which I usually do after a long day. However, instead of feeling refreshed and relaxed, I began yelling and crying at my body. I was going through these heavy emotions because new neurofibromas had grown, current ones were getting bigger, and ones I had removed were growing back. And because NF1 is progressive, the neurofibromas will continue to grow. So, the tears kept falling until there were no more tears left. Then suddenly, I could sense and hear my body speaking to me.


Like my soul, my body didn't want to go through all the suffering. So, I whispered gently to my body, "I'm sorry for being angry at you for all of these years. Thank you for all that you do to try and keep me going. I love you." And my body replied, "I've been waiting for you to say that. I forgive you and love you too.”


The emotional weight I carried for so many years began to dissipate. The more I let go of the weight, the more I could feel a bond strengthening between my body and soul. It no longer felt like my body was an enemy trying to harm me or drag me down. Slowly, I began to love myself for the first time, something I never thought I'd find or experience. I could feel strength and empowering energy rising because I knew my body and soul could work together as one. Living with NF1 will always have its challenges, but by loving my body, I can help alleviate some of the sufferings and keep going no matter how difficult certain days might be. I may pause and rest when I need to, but I will always keep moving forward.


Life can be full of ups and downs, difficulties and challenges. It can be even more challenging when dealing with health issues daily. So why make it harder for yourself by criticizing, hating or being angry with your body? That is why it's essential to love yourself and work on having a solid relationship between your body and soul.

Here are three ways to help maintain a loving relationship between your body and soul.


1. Choose a Song for Your Personal Anthem:


Music can raise your vibrations to many different frequencies. Choosing a song for your personal anthem can lift yourself out of sadness, guide your way through the darkness, connect to your inner strength, or help you love yourself a little more. You can dance to it or close your eyes and see what images come to your mind. Whichever song you choose, let it be something feels special and sacred to you.

2. Write Regular Love Notes to Your Body:


You can do this by apologizing for any negative thoughts and feelings that you may be feeling towards your body. Try not to be too hard on yourself for whatever you think or feel; instead, be gentle and compassionate. Then you can thank your body for something it has done to support you and let it know how much you appreciate it. You can write them on sticky notes and place them in different places around your home as a reminder. Or, you write it on paper and keep them in a special box for safekeeping. Below is an example.

Dear Body,

I'm sorry for being frustrated with you because I feel tired all of the time. I know you're working hard to keep me going day after day. I'm grateful for all that you do and will do more to help nourish and support you. Together, we can get through this.

Love Me

3. Create a Sacred Bath Ritual:


A sacred bath ritual can allow your body and soul to connect and communicate. It can also encourage you to be gentle with yourself, love yourself a little more, and raise your vibrations.

Supplies

  • A white candle ‒ to represent protection and purification.

  • Rose Quartz ‒ to open the heart chakra and encourage self-love.

  • Rhodochrosite ‒ to help you forgive yourself and feel a sense of self-worth.

  • Pink Tourmaline ‒ to help you have compassion towards yourself and promote a positive self-image.

  • Clear Quartz ‒ to enhance the properties of the other crystals and release any heavy energies that are weighing you down.

  • Organic dried rose petals ‒ for self-love and to enhance your intuition.

  • Healing music ‒ to help you relax and connect to your body.

Directions

  • Fill your bathtub with warm water, visualizing the loving and clearing energies of Mother Earth.

  • Light your candle, visualizing your space being pure and protected.

  • Place the crystals on the edge of the bathtub or the bathroom counter.

  • Play some healing music, and as always, use caution if you are plugging in a CD player or radio near the bathtub.

  • As you sit in the bathtub, close your eyes, taking a few slow and deep breaths in and out.

  • Pay attention to how your body feels. Does it feel like you are holding onto a lot of emotional weight?

  • Allow yourself to listen carefully for any message you may receive from your body. It's okay if you don't hear anything right away; it may take some extra time and patience until you are ready to listen to the messages. Always be kind and gentle with yourself.

  • Finally, if it feels right to you, you may also call in any angels or spirit guides who are here to support your highest good and well-being.

Remember, your body is your home, a sacred space for your soul. So whatever chronic health issues you may be struggling with, it’s not your body trying to work against you. Instead, your body wants to work with your soul together as one. So give yourself love and compassion, and take one day at a time.


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Christine Maunu-Westley, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Christine Maunu-Westley is a spiritual life coach, intuitive oracle card reader, channeller, Reiki practitioner, crystal practitioner, and the creator of Wisdom Within The Winds. Like a leaf blowing in the wind, we are all on a journey. We may not always know which direction we are moving in, but we are all moving somewhere. So we sometimes need help (re)connecting to the wisdom within ourselves and all around us. Her soul's highest calling is to hold space and support others with an open and loving heart, so they can (re)connect to this wisdom. She is passionate about seeing beautiful souls (like you) flourish and grow as you move through your journey in life – just as a leaf moves in the open sky.

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