Icebergs reveal only about one-tenth of their mass above the water. The remaining nine-tenths remains submerged. This is why they are such a nightmare in navigation, and why they make such an appropriate metaphor for writing about health and wellness.
Our current state of health – be it positive or not – can be likened to the iceberg model because only one-tenth of it is apparent. And, in order to understand the one-tenth of our health that is presenting, we need to look ‘underwater’ and try to understand the 90% that is submerged.
When we’re in a positive state of health, we may have knowledge and understanding of what is underwater – submerged. We may understand that the positive state of health we’re experiencing, is based on our conscious decisions to care for ourselves. For example, nourishing food and beverages along with physical movement and regular moments of stillness and calm could be identified as the main causes of a positive state of health.
On the flipside however, poor food choices along with little or no physical movement and lots of busy-ness versus minimal moments of stillness and calm, may explain a negative state of health.
The reason I’m writing this blog is because I wanted to share my recent health experience and my thoughts behind why it may have manifested, by applying the iceberg metaphor.
Earlier this year I noticed a stiffness presenting in my left shoulder, especially noticeable when I was in a yoga pose that required my arms above my head as in Downward Dog Pose. Generally my health iceberg – the one-tenth that is visible – presents as a state of very positive health, with little to no illness, and lots of vitality. My body is nourished with consciously chosen foods – most of the time, and experiences a variety of physical activities and regular moments of stillness and calmness. Overall, I am confident that my body is taken care of positively.
However, over a period of six weeks my left shoulder slowly began to stiffen and resist any type of motion. Movement that was sudden or outside of its limited range sent shockwaves of hot fire pain down my arm and up my neck. I began ‘hugging’ my left arm close to my side, and adjusting how I used my body, to ‘protect’ myself from any pain possibilities.
Due to my newly developed physical limitation, I was unable to brush my own hair or properly shower myself, I took my daily walk cautiously while pressing my arm and shoulder close to my side – preventing it from swinging – as this was too painful. Sleeping became a series of readjustments through the night and a variety of pillows as support props.
At first I self diagnosed and decided that I must have strained my shoulder while pushing myself beyond my limits at a yoga class. I was sure, that over time, the pain would subside and heal and continued to apply rest and recovery as my solution. My faith in my body, to do its thing and heal my self diagnosed shoulder strain, was unwavering for almost two months.
Eventually the problematic state of my physical situation motivated me to seek advice professionally. The excruciating pain had since been replaced by a dull ache – which was far more comfortable, however my shoulder was completed limited now with zero mobility
After an X-ray and an ultrasound the results indicated that there was no physical injury – there was nothing wrong with my shoulder according to the results! I was referred to a physiotherapist to help improve my mobility and was told at my first appointment physiotherapy appointment that I had what was commonly known as Frozen Shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is simply that, it’s frozen for a period of time. There are three stages, first stage freezing up – with a lot of pain, second stage – frozen, and third stage – unfreezing. Very little is understood about why it happens or what causes it, but it’s more common in women, especially between their 40s – 60s. Also, 20% of people will experience frozen shoulder in both shoulders. And, guess what, I ticked all the boxes, along with eventually getting frozen shoulder in my right shoulder. Good news is it’s a lot less painful in the second shoulder.
Let’s now apply the Iceberg metaphor to the physical aspect of frozen shoulder and ask the question, “If one-tenth of our current state of health is visible – two frozen shoulders for this example – then in what condition is our nine-tenths of health that is submerged beneath the surface?”
I couldn’t accept that I simply ‘got’ frozen shoulder and there is no reason!
To understand all that creates our current state of health, we have to look at the nine-tenths – underwater, and that’s what I began to do.
Underwater refers to the way we operate in our lives, not only the obvious elements of eating, exercising, resting and recovering but also the emotional, psychological and spiritual elements.
I decided that the mind / body connection had to be the reason my frozen shoulders presented in my life. My biggest question was: Why my shoulders?
My shoulders were stuck, immobile – was this an emotional manifestation of something stuck in my life?
My shoulders felt sore and overworked – could this be a psychological or emotional manifestation of doing too much – trying to please others?
My shoulders seemed out of alignment – could this be a manifestation that my life also was out of alignment – out of balance?
To understand these questions I looked deeper in to myself on an emotional, psychological and spiritual level to search for the answers. What was the emotional, psychological or spiritual un-wellness that was causing this physical manifestation?
Interestingly, as soon as I began to turn towards myself and acknowledge my own emotional, psychological and spiritual level of ‘wellness’ I noticed my shoulders beginning to free up and ‘heal’ almost immediately.
It seemed that by acknowledging myself – my Being, and showing love and gratitude towards the ‘whole iceberg’ of myself, my body responded physically in a positive and flourishing manner. The manifestation that occurred as a result of focusing on my optimal health and wellbeing was quite astonishing. My physical therapist was stunned by the shift and pace of my recovery, and by the confidence I exhibited in my own ability to heal and recover.
My confidence and belief in myself had changed – positively – simply as a result of applying the Iceberg metaphor and acknowledging the 90% of my Being.
My shoulders are well – which I believe means that the 90% of my submerged state of health is well, also.
Nicole Trueman – Professional Life Coach and Career Consultant
For further information please visit my website www.lifecoachtasman.co.nz