My Mind Body Disconnection

mindbodyWe hear a great deal these days about mindfulness, being present, and mind body connection. I am a certified Pilates and, more recently, yoga teacher, and I’ve always enjoyed these practices. Like a lot of people, I came to Pilates and yoga because a friend brought me to a class. Growing up, I wasn’t much of a sports athlete, but I was in dance classes and Pilates and yoga fit into that kind of mold for me as an adult.

I was recently at a workshop for teachers that focused on considering the link between happiness and lower back health. That really got me thinking more deeply about how emotional and mental health are related to physical health. Over the past decade, I’ve seen many examples of how pain can cause anxiety and depression, and that causes more pain, and it can just snowball. But recently I’ve been thinking more about how I feel about my own body. I’ve realized that I felt like I took good care of it, and then it went and got a brain tumour. That makes me a little mad, if I’m honest.

I think a lot of people must feel this way when they receive an unanticipated diagnosis, as if they’ve been betrayed by their own bodies. I’ve been doing some yoga workshops recently and investing time in teacher training. It has occurred to me that one of the greatest gifts this pursuit gives me is not being more fit, or more mindful, more present, learning relaxation and breathing and meditative techniques. Those are all good, but the greatest thing is that I’m making up with my body. I’m remembering to feel gratitude for the wonderful things it does, the amazing ways it works, and the improvements and changes it is capable of. I am learning to forgive it and admire it. I feel better about allowing it the accommodation it needs, instead of trying to push through and regretting it. For example, I know that running or working out hard raises my heart rate too much, and results in headaches. The same with advanced inversions in yoga, headstands and the like. I am learning to be okay with limitations and to give my body what it needs and not be resentful over the things it doesn’t like.

This is a little epiphany for me, so I wanted to share it. And I wanted to say thank you to the people who have helped bring me along to this path, all the teachers I’ve had along the way – Joan, Caroline, Jodi, Kelly, Kelley, Jennifer, Chelsea, Sara, Evelyn, Miranda, Gary, Debbie, Shelly, Kathleen and Doug. And thanks to all the students I’ve had as well, who always teach me as much as I teach them.


  1. Matt Gilbert · · Reply

    I’m a big believer in coconut oil and can personally vouch how it boosted my immune system and kept me out of the hospital back in 2008 – when I try to tell most people about it though they look at me as if I had just stepped off a spaceship from another planet. Coconut oil combined with a ketogenic diet makes perfect sense, in a nutshell I would like to know how your battle is progressing (or not) against your brain tumor – as I understand it you’ve been at it at least a year and you are holding your own, no chemo, no radiation, no holes drilled in your head. Perhaps you have heard on the news about a woman in Oregan, Brittney Maynard who has a brain tumor and has set Nov 1 as the date to depart this world rather than undergo treatment or let the disease take it’s slow and painful toll – I found your site here and can’t help but think if there was only some way to get the message to her that there is a fighting chance, and there is hope through coconut oil and low carb lifestyle – perhaps through you, and others like you, and your experiences so far. If only, if ONLY we could somehow reach out to Brittney Maynard and at least persuade her to give some consideration to giving a try to what has worked for you, and others.


    1. Hi, Matt, thanks for reading and for your comments. You’re correct, I’ve been doing the ketogenic diet since March 2013, so just over a year and a half. And I’ve not had any chemo or radiation, or surgery to resect the tumour (I did have a hole drilled for a biopsy!) but I like to be clear that this is because neither was recommended for me. It’s that I turned down recommended standard of care treatment in favour of pursuing an exclusively dietary intervention. My tumour is a grade two mixed cell type tumour; it’s likely to be very slow growing and is only 2 cm in size. I probably never would have become aware of it at all, except that it’s located near my motor cortex, so I had motor seizures because of the inflammation and edema it was causing. I did read a bit about the case of the young woman you are referring to. It’s my understanding that she has a stage four glioblastoma. This is an aggressive and fast growing tumour type that is very difficult to treat. One thing I’ve learned about brain tumours is that there are hundreds of different kinds, and sometimes the ones that are not cancer are just as dangerous and life threatening. I’ve met people dealing with cancer who choose many different paths, and it seems someone else always has ideas about what they should do. I think this mostly comes from a good place, but I’ve also seen examples where people pursuing natural alternatives are judged because they decide to undergo chemo, or people having chemo and radiation are judged because they aren’t doing enough to improve their diet or lifestyle. I’ve become pretty passionate about the idea that I believe everyone should have access to good, credible information on options, and then we all must respect their choices. Because sometimes there are no good choices, and no way to really know what will be best. So everyone just has to make the decisions he or she can best cope with, and hopefully has the support of loved ones who understand that. Thanks so much for helping keep the conversation spreading!


  2. I got the message through to Britanny Maynard.She either wouldn’t listen to me or she was too far gone for the Ketogenic diet to help her.I contacted her on Twitter/Facebook.Everytime I hear or read about someone with cancer I Google their name and I usually find them on Twitter/Facebook and I tell them they should Google:Ketogenic diet cancer.


    1. Matt Gilbert · · Reply

      I just now got your Nov 25 response, thank you for responding, and I did not know until now you had commented back in October. I have an aunt who recently turned 70, and a couple of years ago I told her about coconut oil and my low carb regimen I’ve been doing for a while. The coconut especially interested her, and after about 6 months of cooking with it she told me about how much healthier she had become, more energy, an overall better feeling of health, she cooks her eggs in it for breakfast and sautees vegetables with it, etc etc, and she lost about 25 pounds, give or take a few, to boot. She also uses it for her skin and said her skin has really responded well. I always like to hear things like that – that something so easy can make such a big difference in our health – and I was able to spread the word. I’ve noticed coconut oil has gone up in the grocery stores, I wonder if it is catching on?

      You may have already read this, but google and find ‘The Oiling of America’, it’s easy to find, and it tells some really astounding information – starting with the diets of Americans in the early 1900’s, – people ate meats, and bacon, and animal fat, and real butter – cancer and heart attacks and artery disease were practically unheard of. Then along came cheap margarine, huge profits, and other vegetable oils – and then a flawed study ‘proving’ that animal fats were bad and the ‘answer’ was the vegetable oils, and then the profits, politics, big business, lobbying, outright misinformation, eventually even swaying organizations such as the AMA over into the misinformation and outright lies. To this day, most of my friends still think that saturated oil is bad and will cause heart disease, that eggs will give you cholesterol and clog your arteries, that eating fat will make you fat, etc etc. It’s a real challenge to try and set them straight,, as we’ve been hammered for decades with slick commercials, and even the medical community telling us that we should reduce the fat and eat lots of carbs, (the food pyramid) although the mainstream medical information is slowly coming around and the word is getting out – mostly through various studies – that people on reduced carb, / high fat diets are quite healthy – contradicting decades of conventional thinking. The Oiling of America is a really detailed, and well documented and footnoted writing, I think you can buy it as a book, but I have found the text files, and pdf formats of it for free quite easily. It’s a real eye opener. You and your readers may already know about it, and maybe you’ve already blogged about it, but in any case, it crossed my mind and I thought I’d mention it. I’ll check back from time to time, take care!



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