Digest Your Experience

The root of great health and vitality
Is great digestion and elimination
It might sound obvious but let me tell you
That digestion and elimination
Must also include life experiences and the past
So many people are digestively compromised
Because they cannot fully digest their past

Or eliminate the waste product
Therefore they cannot gain the necessary nutrition
And there is always some nutrition to be had
From experience, even negative experience

If you want great health and better digestion
Turn attention not just to eating better
But to proper digestion of your life, your past,
Your wounds, those dark areas, the no go areas,
And find a way to transmute them through full digestion

What does that mean?
It means letting them in to your inner world
Eating them, chewing them over, absorbing them,
But not indulging them or creating yet another story
Out of them
But, like food, extracting the goodness from them,
Any nutrients, anything useful, and then eliminating the waste
And then forgetting about them

I have seen hundreds of people
Still carrying around the past
Unable to accept it, unable to digest it
And thus unable to really live here and now
And those same people often express
Digestive issues, or chronic illness
Or constipation, or some other related problem.

This is not as far out as it may sound.

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Illness and Awakening – The Deepest Acceptance

I lived with major chronic illness for over 10 years.
Fifteen years later I am immensely grateful to the experience.
It played a huge part in my coming to consciousness.
It brought me to humility, tenderness and wisdom.
It forced me to look at the whole of me and let go of what was causing tightness or stress on the system.
It demanded I pay attention to what and how I digested the world, from the food I was eating, to what and how I was emotionally digesting my experiences, past and present.
It was a total revolution of awareness and understanding.

You just can’t experience this kind of thing without it teaching you valuable and humbling truths.
Of course you can also turn away from it in (over) medication, depression, resentment and resignation but that’s not the focus of my attention here. I am speaking to those who are confused, who long to open, who experience the confusion and shock, to those who seek awakening but might be ‘stuck with a persistent chronic (or acute) illness.’

This is really about love and the deepest acceptance of what is.

Yes, I was diagnosed with bowel disease. I felt it was the result of a lifetime of toxic living, major inflammation, buried fear and anxiety and a bad luck call.
I fought it and surrendered.
I loved it.
I hated it.
I listened to it.
I raged at my fate, at the unfairness of it.
I accepted the prospect of death, or the possibility of never healing.
I took it only as personally as I needed, which was a warrior’s task in itself.
I saw the body as illusion and still turned towards love.
I worked with all my beliefs, the good, the bad and the dark.
Ultimately I died into it.
And still I kept on inquiring into it, healing it, working with it.
And don’t misunderstand me, I also worked on inflammation, detox, nourishment, body work modalities, releasing deeply held stress and trauma, and so on. Mine was not a purely ‘spiritual’ journey. It was truly holistic.

The shock of a huge diagnosis in 2005 catapulted me (and Amoda my wife) into fear and panic. It totally engulfed my life but strangely it also focused my energy. There was something almost inevitable about it, it didn’t feel separate from my life. I don’t mean this on the superficial level, because on that level it DID come out of the blue. But on the deeper, intuitive, subtle level, there was a sense that this was a part of my life, albeit uninvited (maybe), but it would be unwise to completely push it away.

I had no choice, it came at me like a massive wave, crashing into my life, into our life.

Those of you who have experienced this know. When illness really strikes it is impossible to ignore. It becomes your new lover, your new teacher.
Illness moves in with you, whether you like it or not. And if you are in relationship suddenly you are in a threesome. It is exactly like an uninvited guest taking up lodging in your body and life.

It becomes your guru or your tormentor, and usually both.

Oh! it hasn’t been easy, it has been relentless. But it has compelled me to go so deep inside myself I found the mine of rubies, that which is untouched by illness, that which is innocent and always free. It actually liberated me. And brought me to love without attachment.

The thing that I learned most about illness is this. It is not ultimately about whether it physically heals, or goes, or any of those things. Of course on a certain level it is very much preferable to be restored to functionality.

But ultimately it is about the depth of the love it can bring us to. The body is a wild teacher, and illness is very wrathful. But it has so much to tell us about ourselves and about life.

This little poem sums up how I feel.

‘If you haven’t fully digested past experiences,
Assimilated what was nourishing
And eliminated what is no longer needed
You may have digestive issues
On all levels of your being.

The past is poison if it rots in your system.’

If this speaks to you, if you are experiencing some of this, I hope it has spoken to you and allowed you to go deeper, or just relieved stress for a moment, or you can feel my tenderness towards you and your suffering. It is all the mystery and none of us knows why or even what really we should do.

As Ram Dass wonderfully said, ‘We are all walking each other home.’

With love – Kavi

Everything (Including Illness) is Included in the Spiritual Journey.

Everything (Including Illness) is included in the Spiritual Journey.

I spent nearly 10 years seriously ill, from about 2004 to 2014. I had major chronic autoimmune illness. I won’t share the details but enough to say it was dramatic, not life threatening but totally debilitating, and it completely shattered my ability to live a ‘normal’ life.
I wrote a book about the experience called ‘The Power of Illness to Change Your Life.’


http://a.co/d/3ShFibv

It also invited me into the deepest inner journey of my life.
I see that period of my life as an entirely transformational one.
I cannot begin to tell you how deep it was. It was total. It took me to every part of myself, every unexplored area, every vulnerability, every attachment, every fear.

It demanded I resolve all past grievances and traumas. It urged me to accept the prospect of death, or a life of permanent illness.

It took me to rage and anger at my past, at myself, and at God
.
And of course it had a huge impact on my relationship with Amoda. She hadn’t signed up for a relationship with this. To her utter credit she just rolled with it and allowed me to have my inner journey, supporting where and when appropriate and encouraging me to dive in deeper.

I took absolutely no medication despite the frantic advice of the specialists and doctors. To some, to many, that was irresponsible. To us it was necessary. I followed nature, I followed intuition, I followed some instinct that said, ‘This will heal, you will heal.’

It was tough, warrior-like tough. I have been on my knees, on the floor. I have given it all up to god, I have surrendered my body for the peace of love and had that prayer answered.
I have embraced the human journey with all its fragility and its temporariness.

And I am not one of the spiritual ‘nondualists’ who want to deny the existence of the body and cast it aside as unimportant. I am not one of those.

I say love the body. Love the life. Find out for yourself what it means for consciousness, for the soul, for the spirit, to be in the form of a temporary vessel that will inevitably perish.

Explore the link between thought, belief and wellbeing and illness.

Don’t be afraid of the body, and don’t be afraid of attending to it. It’s not the enemy of freedom. It’s not the shackle that ties us down. Thought and belief are the shackles that bind us.

I have learned to be free AND live fully in the body while I am here.

I eat well and healthy. I run, yes I run, a lot. I love the freedom and joy of movement. And when I can’t do it any more, I will see if I can love that. When old age arrives, I will see if I can open to it, I will seek to embrace the fear I have of form dissolving.

But I won’t deny the human experience as not ‘spiritual.’ Everything is included.

Thank you for reading!

SHORT FAST – Chipping Away at Ill Health

The incremental benefits of short fasts.

We spend so much time looking for the magic bullet treatment that we are in danger of missing the benefits of slowly slowly chipping away at ill health.

I have often thought ‘Oh if only I did another long water fast, like 21 days, it would help me so much!’

But in truth what I notice is that, while I wait to see if that is possible, I do what I can, and what I can is to water fast almost every day, finishing eating by at least 4pm and not eating till breakfast the next day. That gives about 16 hours of fasting.
Honestly, that is so beneficial to the body, to digestion, to assimilation that it really should not be over looked.

We don’t need half of what we actually eat. Most of eating is habit, a lot of it is emotional, and some of it is essential.
At first choosing to fast after lunch feels terrible. The mind screams ‘NO! WE WILL DIE!’ and will drive us towards desperate action.

But if you persist the body quickly gets used to it and begins to appreciate the opportunity it now has to start to slowly ‘clean house.’ If you go to bed with no digestion happening, or very little, it helps sleep, helps the liver, and thus helps the whole system.

Eating late in the evening is an absolute no no in our house, never happens, never. And I know people work, and people have kids and busy lives.

But if you are drawn to short fasting you have to find a way.

Some resources for you:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#what-it-is 

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/06/short-term-fasting-may-improve-health

https://www.allaboutfasting.com/how-long-should-you-fast.html

Illness Triggers Vulnerability – Embrace it

I would like to talk briefly about how fragile we are and how vulnerable that makes us. We don’t have long on planet earth, a few decades if we are lucky, and then we are gone again into the eternal unknown. The majority of people kind of like it here, despite all the terrible things that happen, and all the suffering, the personal and global difficulties and the struggle just to live. We get used to it, we build relationships, we have family, loved ones, and attachments. That’s the nature of life.

And we expect that to last for at least 70 years, and maybe more. That’s not too much to ask, we think.

And then illness may come along and throw that idea under the bus. We might be 30, or 50, or (god forbid) even younger. In truth, in many ways, it doesn’t matter what age we are (except for the very young, and that’s an utter tragedy I can’t address here), it’s always going to be too soon, and it’s always going to mean the arrival of very deep emotions. That is to be fully expected. 

It’s going to herald the arrival of fear, and enormous vulnerability. Some of the depth of feeling will of course depend on the severity of the illness, but in my experience many of these mystery chronic illness’s trigger these fears BECAUSE they are completely unknown.

Illness knocks us sideways, and it catches many completely off guard. There is a totally new reality that arrives, a new context for everything. The truth arrives suddenly, we can call it impermanence. The facts of impermanence affect each one of us, no exceptions, but for those who are hit with illness, or even live in the unknown, this impermanence becomes a new reality. It changes everything. 

For the spouses, partners, relations, children etc, it is very hard. I know this only too well in my relationship. This marriage with Amoda my wife is our entire world. Neither of us have much family, we have no children, and we came to America and gave up whatever little we had in the UK. This is it, and we are in the boat together. To be ill triggers such a vulnerability, even guilt and sorrow. And it hits her very hard, destabilizing plans and possibilities.

But life is like this. Life is sudden and dramatic. It is disappointing and distressing. And it is impermanent. Life doesn’t play by our rules. It is unconcerned with what we want to happen and when. And the stark truth of illness bursts our illusions, sometimes dramatically and usually distressingly. 

The key to making it easier, if there is one, is to know this and to embrace it. In all my years of being ill, and walking the path of transformation, embracing the vulnerability, the let down, the heartache, the fear, anger and pain, the only way I have found is through love’s acceptance. I know that might sound new agey and trite, but when you are sick and suffering, such things begin to mean something real. Sarcasm and cynicism are the stronghold of the defensive ego that lives and dies in the matrix. They don’t make for good companions when the chips are down and we need to get real and intimate. 

Consciously embracing the vulnerability might not change anything, it might not get rid of the fear, or anger, or heal the body, or cure you, but it will open the door to a deeper acceptance of reality. That is the best we can do, and it’s the best gift we can give others. Everyone has to face the same thing. I have not met anyone who hasn’t had dreams shattered or had to face deep disappointment and heartache. It’s in everyone. And everyone will have to meet death.

But the difference between those who turn and face themselves openly and those who turn away in fear or blame, those who become bitter and twisted, is the difference between heaven and hell.

I am one who is bold and brave enough to turn and face the truth, even though it hurts like hell. I am not writing this because I have received some dreadful news, don’t worry. I do have some strange symptoms going on in my gut that I would like resolved and it’s creating a lot of discomfort and uncertainty, and we are in the US which means access to some health care stuff is more difficult (like getting a colonoscopy), but its more that it’s triggered my own sensitivity and vulnerability, and I thought I would share my insights with you.

I hope you are well, and if not I hope this brought you some solace and comfort. Maybe that’s the best we can do for each other.

Much love

Kavi

Sympathy for Suffering

The last few days, in fact in recent weeks, and particularly since we visited Santa Fe which is at 7000 feet, I have been revisiting some old symptoms associated with my ulcerative colitis. It is quite an unpleasant shock I can tell you. There is no blood, which is always pretty scary, but I have had mucus and irregular bowel movement and that feeling in the belly of discomfort and distress. (Sorry for the graphic detail!)

I am not trying to get any sympathy here, this short blog is about something else.

It is about the difference between feeing well and feeling ill.

I spent almost ten long years carrying illness and slow recovery. At times both Amoda (my wife) and I thought I was either going to die, slowly, or else carry sickness around for the rest of my life. It was bad, at times it was utterly demoralizing and I have spent time in despair and depression. I have been to the edge with my body and come back to tell the tale.

And my healing journey worked. It took such a long time, and so much patience and persistence. By the time I did my long water fast I still carried some remnants of scarring and discomfort in my colon, but after the water fast that disappeared. Since then I have had various issues, including a mysterious full body rash that lasted two years, and a borderline hashimotos diagnosis (thyroid malfunction and auto immune problem), but on the whole I have been getting stronger and healthier, to the point where people remark on my vitality and glow.

And every so often something happens and I get dragged back into stuff, and I remember.

I remember how tough it is to be ill. I think it’s real tough when the cause is mysterious and vague, labelled ‘auto immune’ without saying or knowing where it has come from or what to really do with it. Without knowing how to heal and how long it might take, it’s pretty daunting. That’s not to say acute illness is any better. In fact it’s all suffering.

It is tough. And that’s my point here. It is simple. It is very hard to function fully and brightly when there is illness. I am sorry. If it’s you who has something, I am sorry and I wish you great healing, or compassion and empathy, depending on where you are at.

Not everyone heals their body.

But everyone can heal their heart.

I came to the conclusion many years ago, when I was facing ‘the ‘illness for life’ thoughts, that it was more important for me to heal my wounded and broken heart than to be obsessed with healing my body. So I endeavored to do exactly that, and I remember one night I had what now seems like a deeply spiritual experience. Let me tell you.

I went out to the local woods and I lay down, fed up with pain and hardship, and desperate for some relief. I gave myself to the ground and it felt like a fell into a hole (kind of like a grave) and I realized I had reached the end of my tether. I came face to face with my mortality, and thus with God.

I remember saying (Inwardly), ‘God, you can take this body if you wan it, I no longer care and I am sick of holding on to desperation, but please help me heal this wounded heart. Give me some peace and love, and do what you want.’

I was so willing to let go of this body something changed. I actually became aware that life is vast and mysterious, much bigger than the smallness of ‘me and my body’ and how everything that we do, think, feel and experience is held in a love more exquisite and beautiful than anything we can ever imagine. If we could taste that love, what we might call God’s Love, for a moment, we may well not be able to do anything ever again, it may render everything else meaningless.

I have never forgotten this and whenever I slip back into anxiety or fear about illness, or death, or suffering, I remember it. It brings relief and great compassion, both for myself and for others who suffer. I know, through personal experience, that suffering is temporary and is not the truth of who we are.

But it is a challenge. And I feel for those who are ill, those who are at the end, those who are scared and those children who get ill so early in life. I have no explanations but I have an open heart that longs to hold suffering close and help carry it a little when it is too heavy.

Thank you for reading, may you be blessed.

Running Is My Meditation – Don’t Sit Around, Move Something!

Yesterday I did a 10 mile run. Two days before that a 6.2 mile run.

This morning I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge in the early morning sunrise.
It was utterly gorgeous and I felt such a sense of freedom.
I run approximately 25 miles per week. That’s 100 miles a month at least.
I have run 446 miles this year so far. All my runs have been in the morning.
My best running time is 11am when it’s warm, preferably sunny.
I’m 59 years old.
I am fitter than I have ever been as an adult.
I’m pretty fast for an older guy. I average 9 minutes per mile and my average length of run is 5.1 miles.
My app tells me I’m usually in the top 8% for distance run.

I am motivated for running.
For me it’s physical and spiritual. It’s even a kind of meditation.
It gets me into a zone. It helps me sweat. It enlivens me. It brings a great spaciousness to my mind.
I connect with some deep inspiration when I run.
I feel it enliven my cellular body.
It doesn’t feel like a stretch in a bad way, ever.

But it really hasn’t always been like this. In fact it was the opposite for years and years.
I was the most unfit guy ever during my 20s and 30s, and even my 40s.
It has taken years of persistence and success, and failure, to get to this point.
And still I have to persist. But I found the groove and know the rewards.

And don’t forget:
I have been through chronic illness, on a long journey that lasted about 10 years. Some of that time I ran, but I struggled with exercise. I stayed with it. When the body and nervous system is under par and stressed it’s very hard to get the full benefit of exercise. So you do what you can. I did rebounding to keep the energy flowing. I did yoga for flexibility. I did core strength exercises to build muscle. All of this you can do, adapted to your own state of health.

The bottom line is, you can’t recover or heal or find true vitality without doing something for the body.
If nothing else, walking is great! 5 – 10 miles a day will get things going. Just don’t sit around. It will kill you.
Sleep is so very important, good quality sleep. We go to bed very early and get up very early.
Hydration is very important.
Nutrition is vital.

But of all things I have seen and felt over the years, enthusiasm and motivation are the two most powerful. With those on your side anything is possible.

Anything.

Thanks for reading, see you out there!

Kavi

ps. Any runners out there, connect with me!
SmashRun – https://smashrun.com/kavi.hockaday