Originally published in Skin Deep. Copyright 2005. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
To the ancient Greeks, every physical symptom was seen as a visitation from the gods. Whatever afflicted the body was divine, a holy messenger, a whispered secret from the guardian spirits alerting us that the soul was in need of a course correction. The ailments of the body were really cures for the soul. And whatever cured the soul was the fundamental and necessary medicine for the body. By addressing the symptoms -- listening to them, honoring them, being with them, welcoming their divinity -- the soul would find its way through the mists, and the grey clouds raining poison on the body would lift.
Let's take a look at low energy, for example. What could it possibly be a cure for? What messages can lethargy and fatigue bring, and how would it be a blessing from the gods that could cure an ailment in the soul and thus complete the sacred circle and bring restoration back to the body? Well, interestingly enough, any disorder that brings us low energy is often the only way to slow us down. Speed is the disease. Low energy is the cure. It's a remedy for when we aren't attending to our deeper needs, when we're lost in the business of doing and forgetting how to simply be and feel.
Like it or not, low energy brings us into compliance with the slower pace of the soul. It's mandatory meditation, a forced vacation. It urges us to discover where our energy leakages are and where our life truly wants to go. Find the messages the gods are delivering through this ailment and you've found a cure for your life and for the body that was kind enough to slow you down and bring you home. Are you feeling low energy because there's something wrong with your body, or because you need to be in touch with the reality that you work hard and require rest?
No matter what the cause, whatever we consider the disease is still the cure. Even if your fatigue is catalyzed by a food allergy, the wrong diet, a parasite, or poor sleep, you can only find the remedy to restore your body to health once you slow down, pay attention, care for yourself, look for help, and explore. It matters little to the soul what mechanism it employs to alert us to its calling.
And what would you imagine excess weight to be a cure for? For many, it's a wake-up call for a life out of balance. It asks us to look at our relationship to the earth, to each other, and to ourselves. Obesity is not the highly personal issue it's cracked up to be. Yes, it is personal, but there's a more important layer of understanding available through this divine symptom. Excess weight is a companion to industrialized nations and to Third World people eating mass-produced food. It's the harbinger of a collective experiment gone wrong. It's the cure for ignorance that would have us believe we can move as a society at a blinding pace -- a speed at which it's difficult to see the results of our actions.
Depending on the study you consider, 96 percent to 99 percent of all people who lose weight on a weight-reducing diet gain it back within one to two years. Yet few researchers have paid attention to the small percentage that keeps it off. Amazingly, what most of them have to say is that they had a significant life change -- a career move, a much-needed divorce, a new love, a spiritual experience, a breakthrough sexual relationship, and so on. In other words, their stories changed, their loads were lightened, and their metabolisms transformed via the chemistry of the soul. Reprinted with permission from
The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, Weight Loss by Marc David, Copyright 2005, Inner Traditions/Bear Company, 800/246-8648, www.innertraditions.com.