Fall is here and unlike mainland America, we don’t have strong physical reminders of the shift in the seasons – drastic change in weather, temperature, and the changing color of leaves.  However, with November comes the reminder of Thanksgiving.

In my second book, Infinite Body Awareness, I’ve written about how the power of gratitude is one of three strategies that if applied can help you to self-heal and achieve ease and harmony in your body and life.  So, I figured to share more on how being grateful to your body, even if it has failed you in the past (such as causing you intense pain or stupefying health ailments), can assist you in being able to self-heal and thrive in your life.

Ever since my 10th year in practice, I became aware of how it was not only the challenging events in our lives that cause pain, but also when good things happen, or when we start to choose ourselves and honor who we are.  You might be thinking, “Huh? Wait a minute, why would good things and choosing ourselves cause pain?”

Well, the answer is that change is the one constant in our lives, and change, whether it be good or bad, is a stressor.  By nature, we hate change and change usually occurs spontaneously and can never be forced.  Try as you may, control is an illusion that we create in order to feel more at ease and less anxious as we engage our lives.

It’s rather ironic that after a challenging life experience such as a loss of a loved one, financial hardship, a job promotion or demotion, it’s not until after the crisis has subsided and upon reflection, that we see how if it wasn’t for those experiences, we wouldn’t have grown to be the person we are today.  Life challenges help to mold us, and test our ability to be resilient and overcome all the supposed, inadvertent surprises that pop up in our lives.  This is why cultivating gratitude in the moment of a health crisis, and learning to trust our bodies when it seems to be failing us, is crucial.

The difficulty is to own your experience amid extreme pain, discomfort, and fear of the unknown.  The way to build trust in your body comes in creating a daily practice of consciously connecting with your body, feeling the tension and ease in your body at different times of the day and staying observant of how your body responds and reacts to stressful situations.

Going through a health challenge or having intense pain without having created a solid connection with your body-mind, makes it more difficult to trust that your body is just responding to the stress that has been building incrementally for a while.  The analogy of seeing just the tip of an iceberg above the water, without seeing what’s hidden underneath, and how huge the iceberg really is, is similar to the symptoms you feel.

Your body will buffer you from the mounting stress for as long as it can, until it can no longer sustain, and then extreme pain or a huge health crisis erupts.  This is why preparing before, and taking measures to connect with your body to understand what it’s conveying to you is vital.

If you don’t succeed in interpreting your body’s response and signals to stress, don’t worry.  Start taking baby steps now, and make mental notes of restricted breathing, tight muscles, lack of flexibility and movement, to name a few.

Remember that you have the power to heal yourself, not some healer, acupuncturist, chiropractor, or doctor.  This is where gratitude comes in.  Start a checklist of all the people you are grateful for, all the things that you have, and all the areas in your life where you feel safe.  The moment you start recognizing areas to give thanks to, it will continue into other areas of your life where you may not be aware of.

The next area of gratitude is looking at how challenging people or situations have benefited you in the long run versus your long-held perspective that you got nothing from it.  Even bad or self-destructive behaviors bring some benefit to you, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it.

Like anything important life, it requires a concerted effort and practice, and that takes time.  Diligence and persistence are required traits if you desire to live a healthy life and achieve wellness on all levels.  Start with finding three things you are grateful for in the day just before going to sleep.  The time you spend doing just this act alone will pay you back exponentially in establishing a greater trust with your body and taking responsibility of your health and life.  Good luck and know that your body always has your back, as do I.