What if symptoms were actually part of the solution?
by Megan Otto
‘From the moment we are born the body has an intelligence system designed to look after us’
‘Hey you up there! See that rash, growth, sneeze? It’s a message from your body. Are you listening?!’ Kim Knight, health and personal development coach explains symptoms are intelligent communication from the body to the head. “We are brought up in our society to think the head is king but actually the gut activates before the brain.”
Kim has tried over 150 different therapies and trained in Mickel Therapy, Energy Psychology, Qi Gong, Taoist Meditation and Emotional Intelligence to a professional level. She believes from the moment we are born the body has an intelligence system designed to look after us. It will scan 24 hours a day for information about happiness, healthiness and safety. Being happy and healthy is the norm although that is oft forgotten. “Look at what happens when people come back from wars with post traumatic stress disorder. They can’t function,” says Kim.
“This body intelligence system knows what is going on in a person’s life and forms opinions about it. Then it sends communication asking us to do something. It will begin with Plan A – body sensations,” explains Kim. “These are simple and subtle. There are two body sensations which we are well trained in and we do notice. One is hunger. It is not a pain but is definitely a sensation telling us to eat something. The other is needing the toilet. We know what that feels like. We take appropriate action and the sensation stops.”
“I am putting power back in people’s hands. Given the right advice the body can be a self healing mechanism.”
However if Plan A is unsuccessful the directive is stepped up to Plan B – emotions. Negative emotions like, “I’m feeling frustrated/worried/afraid/anxious/sad/angry” are actually a healthy form of communication from the body to the head. Unfortunately this is the level we unconsciously train ourselves to ignore. Then because the body is programmed to do its job come hell or high water it says, “Well okay you didn’t hear me so I am going to send you something louder which will get your attention. Plan C – symptoms.”
Symptoms like insomnia, food intolerances, eczema, asthma or skin irritations are often seen as minor but Kim believes they are a body’s cry for attention. Nonetheless initially the symptoms are often at a level where they are not inhibiting a person’s life so they can be masked with medication. “We haven’t yet asked ourselves, “Ok my body isn’t very happy about something. What is going on here?” But over time the body can only function with so many symptoms before the state of dis-ease turns into disease.” And what most people do not realize is that the flight or fight response induces the physiology of the body to change. Heart rate, breathing and nervous system ramp up, steroid hormone cortisol and adrenalin are released, digestion stops – the whole body is affected. This is when people start to get chronic conditions. “There have been many things happening before people get really sick,” observes Kim. “However our healthcare system is generally only really designed to deal with people once they get to that point.”
“Over time the body can only function with so many symptoms before the state of dis-ease turns into disease”.
An absence of awareness about our bodies is evidenced by hospitals with waiting lists. This lack of responsibility for ourselves is what led to Kim’s health coaching practice. “I am putting power back in people’s hands. Given the right advice the body can be a self healing mechanism.”
One of the most common complaints is stress. Kim point outs that most people think this is caused by something external but she says it is always an internal reaction to a real or internalised event. Either way she trains clients to analyse underlying issues.
“What I have found is that people with chronic health conditions have not been looking after themselves or attending to their emotional needs”
Childhood emotions not being validated are a reoccurring pattern. Clients might have been told “Don’t be silly, don’t cry!” Consequently they stopped allowing themselves to feel. Their modes operandi became fear because being authentic risks judgment or criticism. “To the emotional body that is the equivalent of dying,” says Kim. Honesty is one of the prerequisites for health.
Another principle is no division between the physical, mental and spiritual layers of a person. She recalls the frustration of listening to a rheumatologist at a fibromyalgia seminar. He said, “We still don’t know what creates fibromyalia and we’re looking for a gene to isolate it.” And I’m like no, no, no we do know. Look at what happens in a person’s life and how it affects them!”
The U.K. Public Health Association published a major review by Sir Michael Marmot called “Fair Society, Healthy Lives” in 2010 and revisited it in 2011. Their research revealed “…health inequalities do not arise by chance and they cannot be attributed simply to genetic make up, ‘bad’ or unhealthy behaviour or difficulties in access to medical care as important as those factors may be…difference in health status is reflected and are caused by social and economic inequalities in society.”
The report goes on to say doing nothing to improve the wellbeing of the nation was not an option because the human cost would be enormous.
“…health inequalities do not arise by chance and they cannot be attributed simply to genetic make up”
Kim bases her argument for better health on quantum physics, the science of energy. Go down to a million times magnification of a cell (by that stage it would be at a sub ‘quantum’ atomic level) and bizarrely enough all you would see is mainly space. “So when an emotion arises in the body and it is not resolved or discharged then it stays in the body. It is a vibration that gets trapped in the cell and over time it is repeated and augmented. You can imagine how that has an effect at a cellular level. The energy starts to distort the vibration of the cell which manifest as a dysfunction. It is the law of physics – cause and effect.”
Even language illustrates the interconnectedness of energy with the body. According to the Chinese healing art of Qi Gong anger is stored in the liver – hence the saying, “I was livid with anger.” Just as common, “My heart sunk”, “My heart was filled with joy” or “I was sick with worry” (stored in the stomach and spleen).
‘It is never too late. Kim says people can turn themselves around’.
“What I have found is that people with chronic health conditions have not been looking after themselves or attending to their emotional needs,” maintains Kim. “They might have been unable to articulate their feelings or had others walk all over them. So they have a whole stack of trapped emotions inside their body. Which are now manifesting as symptoms.”
It is never too late. Kim says people can turn themselves around. “I had a girl on the phone absolutely exhausted with chronic fatigue syndrome. Her doctor had told her there is nothing we can do for you. Unfortunately while modern medicine is fantastic in some areas some doctors only understand how to eradicate symptoms through medication or surgery. They know how to cut out a piece of cancer but not what the caused it. Obviously surgery is really good if someone has had a stroke, heart attack, something acute. But in this case it was chronic fatigue. I put together a jig-saw puzzle of the girl’s history and discovered she’d suffered traumas that she’d never told anyone about.”
Kim’s empathy comes from a break down she herself suffered 25 years ago. During the course of recovery she read a book which put forward the idea that all of reality is available to us at any given time. But we can only deal with so much at a certain time. And each person’s ‘reality cup’ will be different sized. Sometimes it gets over-full.
Kim knows there are some doctors who will take into account a whole person. For example The Australian Integrated Medical Association’s philosophy is medical care through integrating proven complementary medicine into mainstream practice. Kim is resolute, “I think we are in the middle or at least at the start of change.”
Kim Knight is a health and personal development coach based in Auckland, New Zealand, and working worldwide by phone with clients.
Megan Otto is a freelance writer also based in New Zealand. www.megan-otto.suite101.com