As my work focus has switched to tasks related to my real-life studio, my time in cyberspace has been seriously reduced. That’s the short explanation for why I am only now getting this post up (I’d had it planned for March-ish). These periodic write ups come after we hold a Breast Health workshop in the real world. I just love how every workshop brings new information and new insights. Each coming together involves different women and so there is always something unique to share. As it happened, I caught a glimpse of an article on the cover of a free local magazine that struck a chord especially given what was the predominant area of discussion in our last workshop: “Breast Health, Mammography vs. Thermography.” In spite of it’s title, the article isn’t about health as I define it; rather it is the about monitoring the breast tissue mechanically. Clearly when it comes to breast cancer, western medicine has its necessary methods of detection, and thermography is slowly gaining deserved respect as an integral part of a complete cancer screening program. But what about simply having healthy breasts?
This reminds me about what I think Joe Pilates was getting at in his book, Your Health, back in the 1930’s. Sadly, his writings did little to alter our course and here we are still conflating caring for our health with receiving medical treatments. Joe pointed out that health is not only a normal condition but also one to be deliberately maintained. When Rupam, Ollie, and I offer our Breast Health workshops we give women a variety of things to do every day to promote and sustain normal healthy breasts. This puts health in the realm of personal practice – a set of actions that give us a framework for tending to our healthy bodies. It is not something that we get from a Medical doctor, unless that practitioner has gone beyond the typical boundaries of their practice for these current times. Rather, the wide variety of practitioners who give us the tools for actual health care are most often to be found outside the medical community since Western Medicine is most wholly occupied with tending to disease.
Only upon writing that, it dawned on me that what we are calling “health care” is actually more aptly called “disease treatment”. To my way of thinking, thanks to Joe Pilates and others, real health care is something different. Real health care is personal and completely holistic. It is a learned practice that most of us are learning as adults but that is most ideally learned from birth onward. It is passed from person to person and while folks often have a lot of training in order to share knowledge; it can and is intended to be practiced by anyone and everyone. We are the only rightful experts of our own bodies. Real health care is the people doing t’ai chi in the park, it’s taking a walk in the woods, it’s making proper use of nature’s bountiful herbal and comestible provisions, it’s holistic exercise, it’s being grateful, it’s jumping on a trampoline, it’s swimming, it’s Ho’oponopono, and so many varied practices that are too diverse to list here. All of those practices have something in common, they have the potential to shift our nervous system over to its parasympathetic mode of operation. As I’m learning in Holistic Biomechanics, that’s a pretty important switch to have at our command. It’s one of the keys to maintaining normal health.
Rupam has discussed the topic of thermography in our workshops before and this time I heard the full story. She knows a person who administers thermography tests in the SF Bay Area (get in touch with Rupam to find those local resources). Through asking her patients, this practitioner had discovered a relationship between an absence of “hot spots” in the breast tissue and use of Rupam’s Lady Nada’s Breast Oil – all the women with tissues clear of “active zones” were using Rupam’s oil. Given that the oil is applied through a specific massage that Rupam recommends, we don’t know whether the oil or the daily massage has more effect on keeping the breast tissue healthy. But it seems apparent that there is a correlation between regular care of the breasts with Rupam’s breast oil and breast tissue that is healthy (read, at low risk for becoming cancerous) by the standards of western medicine.
Given who was in our spring workshop, the conversation revolved around the topic of cancer. For those who have had some degree of relationship with breast cancer, there can be a lot of fear around the topic. Rupam pointed out that the antidote to fear is love, that the two cannot coexist. Taking the time to direct our energy toward caring for our breasts on a daily basis shifts us to a place of love. For those of us who have associated fear with our breast tissue, this is an important and radical shift to make. But I’d venture to guess that most of us women could stand to benefit from expressing love toward our bodies, our breasts in particular. Rupam’s experiences in India taught her how important our breasts are to us women, and how tender loving care of our breasts enhances all aspects of our lives because our breasts are our natural source of nurturing and creativity. Indeed, breast health is about much much more than avoiding cancer. I am grateful to Rupam each and every day for teaching me that valuable lesson. (When I get a little time, I’m going to catch up with everybody else and watch this movie that Rupam mentioned. Apparently it gives us some insight into the power of love.)
When it comes to our health, in many ways we are called to slow down. When we are touching our body, especially the breast tissue since it is so delicate, it is important to go very slowly. V-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I added the emphasis because so many of us are already going at a remarkably fast pace – even our slow is fast by the standard of slow. It takes 5 seconds for our body to sense and integrate touch in the Limbic System. Honestly, I don’t know what the limbic system is, but Rupam made the statement with the sort of emphasis that compelled me to take note. Generally when systems of the body are mentioned that I know nothing about, I tend to rely on a notion that I learned from reading Joe Pilates’ writings, that our bodies have layers and layers of function that all coordinate with one another. We are consciously tuned into the most superficial of those layers if even those – how our skin looks, if our muscles are tone, if we are experiencing pain. Focusing our attention on other layers of our physical function can serve to enhance that miraculous and incredibly complicated internal coordination that is the healthy functioning of our bodies. When our health is at risk and we are dealing with the possibility of disease, slowing down can serve us in another way. Taking the time to fully understand what is happening and what the practitioners who are helping us understand to be happening is very important to arriving at a plan of action that serves our best interests. Taking the time to get multiple opinions can help us complete our understanding and ensure that we avoid treatments that we may eventually regret.
From where I started, growing up in Michigan completely embedded in the standard of our mass culture when it comes to every aspect of health and self-care, it has taken me a long time and all my resources to arrive at my current perspective on health. The change that I’ve undergone was so monumental that I’ve made a career out of it. While I still learn every day, I can see how my mindset is now firmly set in a mode that I would call proactive prevention. I share little bits of what I know here so that others who are interested in returning to their own state of normal health may have support in doing so. Please, with love, share this post with others who you feel would be grateful for the information.