I awoke this morning in pain. I had done too much again.

During my younger years I was mostly unaware of pain, and even though I’d had two severe accidents, one in childhood and another in my twenties, I recovered seemingly without any long-lasting effects. My body had found a way of bypassing the injuries, allowing me to keep active. It was only when I reached my thirties that my back finally gave up the struggle. Four in five people will suffer serious back pain at some time and it is a leading cause of disability.

Decades later, my spine is now straight thanks to spiritual healing, though I still have a problem with a rotated pelvis. Chiropractic treatment is usually successful for a while; but then I’m a keen gardener, so the success varies according to my efforts on the allotment. And, of course, as we grow older our muscles weaken and no longer support our bodies in the way they once did. Yet, for many of us, gardening is nurturing for our souls if not for our backs, so we persist regardless of our pain!

A friend told me how, with the help of a particular therapist, she had been healed completely from a physical injury that was very similar to mine by dealing with the emotional pain she had been carrying around for many years. It left me wondering what the emotional trigger for my bad back might be.

Now, there are moments when I am drawn to pick up a book and by choosing a random page I quite often find a ‘thought for the day’. This is an example of wonderful synchronicity where any form of creative writing can hold a special message for us if it is the right moment for the message to be understood. Bizarrely, a moment of enlightenment once came for me while reading a crime thriller as the camouflage overlaying the text peeled away and revealed a hidden message.

I liken this to parables: whilst not everyone may interpret a parable in the same way, we take from the association of words whatever seems appropriate. The universe offers us myriad ways of discovering what we need to know.

So, when I awoke this morning and wanted to know why I was in so much pain, I asked for guidance. From my bookshelf I took down a biography of Rider Haggard, choosing a random page. I read the words, ‘…doubt’s strangling web…’ and a flash of understanding captured my thoughts. Yes, when I was younger, I had a lot of self-doubt that included a certain fearfulness. But could even a small degree of self-doubt be enough to cause, or become, a ‘strangling web’? And could it even cause physical pain?

At my book launch some years ago, I was nervous. I knew I was surrounded by supportive people, but within a few minutes of standing up to speak my legs turned to jelly, my voice disappeared and someone had to run and fetch a chair for me. I was disappointed because there had been so much I wanted to say and I was left feeling I would never get over my fear of public speaking. However, the lessons we have to learn invariably return with another opportunity to come face-to-face with them…

Recently, I was invited to speak at a conference towards the end of the year. I tried my usual tactic of saying, “Maybe” or “I’ll think about it”, not wanting to commit. It didn’t work. Perhaps, the organiser suggested, if I didn’t want to give a talk I would instead consider being part of a team in a Q&A session? That sounded okay because it meant I wouldn’t be alone on a platform – and there was always a chance that others on the team would be able to answer questions better than me! Self-doubt was reasserting itself.

I thought about my friend and how, after suffering for many years, she had finally found a way to be healed. For her, it meant screaming out loud her frustration at the circumstances of her younger life. But that wasn’t quite my style. So instead my hand reached for a book on healing and, opening a page at random, I read how our whole being is connected, not only to each component part of our body but also to our soul and spirit. Of course I knew this, I have always known this, but we so often forget our most important lessons, don’t we? I read on and paraphrase here:

‘If we are working totally from the heart,

there is no room for fear or pain,

for the body is totally at ease.’

Self-doubt holds a powerful energy that can prevent many of us from achieving our goals and everything we most want from life. Let us all, each day, try to ‘work from the heart’ and to let go of pain and fear. My own simple goal at the moment is to be able to stand on a public platform and not go weak at the knees!

The pain of last night has eased, and I’m beginning to feel confident about meeting this challenge. In a strange way, having acknowledged my self-doubt, I feel I have already won half the battle. I will not know, of course, until I am standing on that platform whether my self-doubt has left the stage before me…

Ann Matkins is the author of Celestial Ambulance,

a thought-provoking and often funny novel

about life – and work – in the afterlife.


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