The second necessary principle to getting well is ‘Rest and recuperation’. This is an extract from my book ‘Journeys Back to Health’ written in 2006 with a follow on comment from today:
‘How can a body heal if it is under stress? The reality is that it can’t, because the energy is being diverted into various metabolic activities that are unnecessary in the current situation. For example, if you go to work, the physical and mental actions are driving the cells in your body into work activities, which will take energy from other activities, such as getting better. True and permanent healing requires a focus of mental and physical rest, so that our reserves can be employed to build us up again.
Rest is a quality that is often overlooked by society. We tend to associate doing little with laziness or lack of progress in life, yet rest will introduce a calmness to our nervous systems that will feed into our entire physiology giving us the chance to enjoy life more. In the process many cells in our bodies perform their functions better. For example I have observed that rest is associated with improved gut motility (reduced constipation, irritable bowel, and indigestion), less colds and ‘flu, and less anxiety and depression. At a more subtle level, it can help to promote improved liver function and thereby enhance detoxification.
An extreme example of rest is fasting. In some ways it is surprising this did not come up more frequently in our stories as I have found both personally and with friends and clients that this is the best way to bring about complete rest of body and mind. When fasting, our digestive systems rest from activity, which means they create minimal peristaltic action (muscular movement) and secrete little digestive juice or mucous. In so doing energy is diverted into getting the body well. Similarly a good fast should be accompanied minimal mental activity, and especially the avoidance of stress. This allows for energy to go into healing activities. I believe fasting may also work at more subtle levels as well by giving the spirit a chance to be heard. There are many good books on fasting, several of which quote cases of healing as remarkable as those in this book.
To some degree all of our subjects have rested. Anne caught up on sleep and attributes this as a major part in her healing. Victoria took up meditation and used creative visualisation to slow an active mind. Perhaps most interesting here is Glenn. We all appreciate that breathing is necessary for life but poor breathing is associated with many different health disorders, not just asthma. The fact is that when we rest and relax we breathe more slowly naturally and function that much better as a result. If you were to look more closely at the healing process you will note that as people begin to relax and our breathing starts to improve then the nervous system will relax all the more. This is called a positive feedback mechanism, where one positive action in the body creates another that then enhances the first one. Perhaps this is why so much came right for Glenn beyond his asthma!
Many people do not like to rest, as they are driven by ambition for self and family, and thrive on chasing the dollar. However many of these people end up with chronic fatigue or other health problems, perhaps because they ignored the subtle signs along the way’.
Ten years after writing this, I now appreciate from personal experience what a difference rest and recuperation can mean. And one of the keys to this is getting a good night’s sleep, seemingly the most common problem amongst my clients.