I have now lived with ankylosing spondylitis for the past 12 years.
What a journey! What a rollercoaster!
So much has happened since my diagnosis. Lots of experiments and learnings, a change in career, a new purpose in life (to help others).
Most importantly, I have learned to listen to my body and strengthen my mind-body connection. I now understand what my body needs. I can better sense when a flare is coming and be proactive in my approach to find balance again.
A new insight
One of the biggest learnings over the years has been to appreciate the importance of cultivating calmness. Over and over, through the ups and downs, flares and stressful moments, the most consistent and beneficial tool/behavior I’ve implemented has been to find those moments of calm and peace.
This insight has been so powerful, not only for my own life, but one I get to share with my clients on their health journey as well. I see how positively it impacts their well-being and vitality.
More being, less doing
We live in a society where we are consistently in action, multitasking, going from one thing to another. This lifestyle is very demanding, both physically and mentally. Living with a chronic condition like AS on top of that, it can feel overwhelming and draining.
Our bodies are so smart and usually send us signals that something is off balance. That it’s too much. That we need to slow down.
This theme of slowing down has been very present for me since diagnosis.
At first, did I listen to my body? Not really. I kept on going.
Was it worth it? Not really. I was in pain, stressed, tired, constantly dealing with flares.
Fast forward to several years later, with lots of inner work and patience, I know that all symptoms serve a purpose and warn me that it’s becoming too much again. My body always reminds me that it needs rest, love and attention, in order to properly heal, perform, and be resilient to face life’s challenges.
I am aware of the importance of cultivating a slower pace of life. More being, less doing.
Cultivating calmness will look different for all of us.
Personally, I’ve worked on some habits to be able to connect with my body on a deeper level and really find this inner calmness. My aim is to step into the flow of being and of appreciating quietness.
I start my morning with a short meditation to sense how I feel that day. Throughout the day, I take a few mindful moments, or pauses, where I can also just step into being. This can be a short stretch session, going on a walk, or just making myself a cup of coffee or tea. In the evenings, whether I’ve had a social night out or just stayed in, I also take a moment to find this inner calmness and wind down before going to sleep.
Here's to slowing down and cultivating calmness.
Here’s to more being and less doing.
How long was your longest flare?