“What do you really need?” my aunt asked me a few months back when I was sad and tired of still feeling so low on energy and sick most of the time despite being gluten-free for over 2 years. Working my socks off to get my second dissertation in to complete my last year of university, I thought “REST! Somewhere I can go to simply be, somewhere with space for yoga and meditation, in amongst nature, with good organic food grown on the land that I can harvest myself and prepare fresh each day. Somewhere with a community feel, where I can make a positive contribution.”
From the tips of my toes to the crown of my head, I craved this place so deeply. I made a pact to myself at the start of this summer to honour my needs, so that I can bring myself fully to the world, to be able to do what needs to be done. To look after myself so that I can look after others. I visualised this place I felt I needed and rested in the peace of it. I’ve heard the power of intention is a very strong thing, and voila, here I am. I am in the place I imagined.
I arrived in France to a table full of smiles and a big gluten-free and vegan dinner. The farm has a profoundly peaceful atmosphere and I felt instantly at home, welcome. Each morning we begin the day with the danseyoga practice, becoming aware of our bodies and the ways in which we can release stress, emotion and learn to enjoy the way these limbs can twist and turn and stretch. Next we have a delicious gluten-free and vegan breakfast, recipe here. Work begins after, with a range of tasks to complete, from working in the garden to renovating the house to getting involved with art projects. At the minute we’re making a film, Dina, who lives on the farm and leads the danseyoga, is shooting it. Every evening we do a different activity in the temple which is a big studio space where we can dance, make music with drums, singing, different types of improvisation. Last night we did family constellations.
Dina is very knowledgeable, I love to listen to her stories and feel the wisdom within her words. Coincidently, a fellow gluten-free traveller arrived on the same day as me so we have been able to compare stories and not be the odd one out at the dinner table, as well as learn some new things alongside one another. Dina has been helping us to delve into the causes of this gluten intolerance and discover the intrinsic link between the emotional body and the physical body. This is something I’ve already been exploring a little, particularly since last October when I started doing TM mediation twice a day every day, in order to allow my body the deep rest it needs to heal. Alongside this I practice Reiki and regular yoga, the benefits of which have been wonderful.
But as well as rest, I need to start getting to the bottom of the problem. I don’t want to treat the symptom, I want to treat the cause, because this is logically more effective. Dina says digestive problems can be very strongly linked with the emotion guilt, which itself has 3 parts: Anger, Fear and Sorrow. To be intolerant to a food can highlight intolerance to these emotions, i.e. not allowing oneself to express them fully or really feel them and therefore creating a blockage in the gut, the core of one’s body. Without being able to ‘digest’ one’s emotions so-to-speak then the physical digestive of food can be effected. As the mind battles with itself, so does the body; coeliac disease is often described as the body attacking itself when gluten is ingested.
This too can be linked to the neck, which is a place where stress is stored when we don’t let emotions out properly and therefore tense up to keep them in. I’ve had neck pain for 6 years, about the same amount of time as I’ve had problems with gluten. Many different paths have been leading me towards this basic realisation, that to really heal my physical problems, I must be prepared to delve deep within and tackle the root. This can be daunting but as with most challenges, the rewards are boundless.
So, I signed myself up to house sit on the farm, completely alone for one week. Given my intense fear of the dark (it gets very dark here at night!) and need to be around people, this felt like a brave decision. Rather than the hectic adventure of travelling, I decided that before my next steps, I want to invite myself to really take the time to enjoy the company I keep on my own. To let myself feel whatever it is I need to feel, to be empty or full, to ground and connect before embarking on the solo journey ahead. After all, I’m going to need plenty of energy to meet lots of new people, go to many new places and drink in the anticipation and excitement of travelling.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out. How good it feels to simply be, to breathe, to rest.