“When I talk about chronic illness, I mean everything, virtually everything.” Dr Gabor Maté, legend.

Born in Budapest in 1944, a survivor of the Holocaust, he emigrated to Canada in 1956. He practised as a GP in Vancouver for over 20 years while working at the Palliative Unit and later on joined The Portland Hotel, a residence and resource centre for the people of Downtown Vancouver, aka drug central and its collateral damages. Maté has been exploring the effect of trauma on his large panel of patients touched by addiction or chronic illnesses. He’s direct and clearly comes from a deeply empathic place. He is engaged when he speaks, and when others speak. I think I ❤ him.

So Gabor doesn’t appear like somebody trying to prove something during his lectures. He’s simply stating the 2 deep errors in western civilisation medicine: separating body & mind and separating the individual from the environment. More on that later.

About body & mind: first news, turns out the heart as a brain too! And so does the gut! The gut knows where it’s at you guys. Fiona gave me some solid basic nutrition principles, shiatsu stylee, and my girl Anne-Pascale (hiyeee) shed some serious light by giving me this book to read. Frankly I had zero idea. 

So yeah, the gut: our largest sensory organ, the first immune organ. Gabor often does a little show of hands exercise at his lectures and asks “did any of you ever had a gut feeling, didn’t listen to it and then regretted it?” Needless to say, these motherflippin hands were Then he makes an interesting parallel between the job of the emotions and the job of our immune system. Which is to protect us, let in what we need, all the healthy, nourishing stuff AND to keep out the bacterias, viruses and a rake of other toxic stuff. #truthbombyo

“The Emotional centers in the brain are connected to the nervous system, the immune system and the hormonal apparatus. […] there’s a constant neurological communication, 24/7.”

Amongst a heap of other recommendations, When The Body Says No was introduced to me by Barbara, a canadian yoga teacher I met in Ireland just after my diagnosis. A petit je-ne-sais-quoi in her eyes. She also got diagnosed around my age and since then, met the love of her life, had two beautiful children and was teaching ashtanga… Her and her MS were doing good. It helped bringing me out of the slighly darker place where I was trying to figure out this life sentence – I wouldn’t dream of using those words now – and its effects. Meeting Barbara and her husband and kids was truly inspiring. And full of light.

It was the actually the first time I looked into the emotional stress/chronic illness thingy. The link began to grow more and more obvious as I researched. For each new patient’ story, I was reading some of mine between the lines.

“Chronic Illness is the body saying No because the mind can’t […] when we take on stuff that doesn’t belong to us, we suppress ourselves physically. […] Assert who you are, know who you are, what you feel. You are more important than your need for attachment. Not true as a kid but it is true as an adult.”

I don’t know about you but this speaks too me loudly, much more than Socrate back in the days. I might get back into it! Irish readers, Gabor Maté will be in Belfast on the 27 and 28th of June 2018 for a conference. We’ll make a date out of it!

You can listen to my imaginary BFF here.

Next week, we get back to serious biz and explore a bit more the link between individual and psychological and social environment. Scared? Me too. In the meantime, lettuce all be gentle with ourselves!

Why not book yourself a class with me? 😉


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