The Foundation and The Core
As a Functional Medicine practitioner, I often utilize a tool called the “Matrix.” It serves as a roadmap to organize and tell the pertinent parts of a patient’s story and demonstrates how all of the systems within the body are interconnected.
In utilizing this tool, we can map out those variables that have had influence on our long-term health; various events of our birth and childhood; triggers and perpetrators of illness; potential familial or genetic traits passed on to us. There are also those aches and pains, new diagnoses, acute and/or chronic illnesses impacting our lives – these too all take their appropriate place on the Matrix to help reveal our story.
Then there is the “Foundation,” meant both figuratively and literally… those lifestyle factors that have such a profound impact on our health:
- Sleep & Relaxation
- Exercise & Movement
- Nutrition & Hydration
- Stress & Resilience
- Relationships & Networks
Without these things being attended to and balanced, your foundation may not be as strong as you need for optimal healing and health. This is why we always start here.It’s also the reason it’s helpful to periodically check in with these aspects of wellness. Are these foundational pieces being nurtured? Are they in-line to support healing in my body and my mind?
We’re all human, so sometimes we fall away from healthy eating; or a significant stress comes into our lives; our sleep pattern goes awry for one reason or another; we injure ourselves and get off an exercise routine, and so on.. Life shows up and we respond as best we can and sometimes this foundation is right on track for us and sometimes it’s not. So this is always a crucial place to re-evaluate and check-in with—do I have a solid foundation? The beautiful aspect of this, although not always easy, is that most of these things are very much in our control.
So, this is the Foundation. And for those of you familiar with Functional Medicine, these concepts will not be new.
There is another part of the Matrix that I also want to focus on, called the “Core.” If you look at the Matrix again, there in the middle, in the center of it all—is the most important part of this entire process. The mental/spiritual/emotional Core. Not only interconnected with every body system revolving around it, but absolutely central to it.
We are energetic beings. We are sensitive to the energies of those around us: to our life experiences, to trauma, to joy, to pain and suffering, to neglect… Some of us naturally have a more heightened awareness and sensitivity than others to those energies around us. Some people like this are called empaths. They have the ability to feel/sense/appreciate someone else’s mental or emotional state without the other person telling them. The information can come to them simply as an overwhelming “knowing” or some people can physically feel it in their body;they can feel someone else’s pain, joy, sadness, despair, anger, etc.
There are many people who have this innate ability,though not all have awareness that this is what is happening—that they are picking up on other energies other than their own. And for these people, whether aware or not aware, the constant bombardment of energy around them can be a tremendous thing for that individual’s energetic and physical body to process and handle. As a result, these external energies can build-up and accumulate leading to stress on the individual. And we all know what too much stress can do.It has the incredible potential to cause imbalances and disease in the body and mind.
Then, there are our own energies and experiences that can carry such significant weight that their impact is difficult to process and move through quickly—these energies can stay with us for very long periods of time. Childhood traumas – emotions of these can get carried through lifetimes; sudden, unexpected events in our personal and professional lives that knock us off our center; chronic illnesses that seem to suddenly define us because they have seemingly infiltrated every aspect of our lives making it difficult to remember our true selves – or mourning the perceived loss of our prior selves. These are just some examples of our own personal experiences that can have significant impact on us.
But what do we do about this? How do we keep our mental, spiritual, and emotional health nurtured, cared-for, balanced, attended to?
There are actually many ways, but the biggest initial step for all of us, in our busy lives, is to acknowledge the utmost importance of this aspect of ourselves – our mental, spiritual and emotional health. We need to call awareness and shine a light on it and commit to being honest with ourselves about how we tend to this. Yes, this is often where our coping mechanisms come into play—do we stuff things down deep and pretend they’re not there? Do we challenge things head on or have a tendency to blame others when things don’t go our way? Do we treat others around us with love, respect & gratitude? Do we foster good thoughts about ourselves and others? Do we love ourselves? Do we feel that we are worthy? Do we put others before our own needs? Do we play the victim or the martyr? Does this serve us? Is it working? Do we practice self-care, leaving time for rest and self-reflection?
There are practices and people out there who can help us with these questions around self-care. They come in all shapes and sizes, ready and willing to share their tools for mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
It starts with you being open to doing the “work” it takes to evolve into your best self in this lifetime. Because it is work – doing the deep, healing work is challenging. It brings up our darkest fears, challenges our comfort zones, makes us want to run screaming for the hills. BUT, on the other side of it is you, the real you, the evolved you, the lighter you, the happier you – after having done the hard work.
We each have an incredibly individual journey, as we’ve all had different lessons throughout life that get us to this point. Remember it all is perfect—even in its pain and heartache—it is perfect and it’s what we are given to grow and evolve in this lifetime. And we have amazing support all around us. For some it is a strong faith in God and the support of the church, for others it may be the path of Shamanism that has led one to healing. Others may find that their own personal meditation practice can bring about great change and healing; or a conventional psychologist; or a gifted-healer/energy-worker without a traditional degree will be your guide and support toward change. We are blessed in this time to have many, many avenues for healing and walking the conscious path.
Attending to this Core part of you is the biggest gift you can give to yourself. By doing this, you will set up a space for healing which will only serve to enhance the effectiveness and power of any other treatment, food plan, supplement, medication etc. that you utilize on your path to health. I encourage you to start to look inward today!