Dr Ian Tennant, author of the compelling new book, Restoring Balance, is a good friend of mine. We have worked together on and off for many years, and when Ian asked me if I would consider editing his forthcoming book, I wholeheartedly agreed. At the time I was Founding Editor of the publishing agency, The Write Factor, and I loved my work. Together, Ian and I considered the breadth and scope of his vision for the book, and then Ian began the hard work of actually writing it, which, like all good things, takes time.
Some months later, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer, for the second time. It came as a great shock to me because I thought I had learned the lessons I needed to the first time around, thirteen years previously, but (to borrow Ian’s phrase) ‘my wise body’ knew better. My first thought was, “But what does it mean?” – a question that even at that emotionally traumatic time, sitting in the consultant’s office, I thought was an unusual response.
When Ian phoned to discuss the book, I told him my news but reiterated that I really wanted to continue working with him on the Restoring Balance book project – it just might take me longer than I anticipated. Ian’s response was reassuringly warm and positive. Then he said, “I’ve just read this amazing book by Dr Joseph Mercola that looks at the role of carbohydrates in the metabolism of cancer cells. I think you’ll find it interesting.” And I did. That book, and a series of other wonderful synchronicities helped me to understanding what the experience of having cancer means to me – it’s different for everyone.
And so began my health journey…
And so a fascinating journey began, a journey of restoring balance – and one that continues to this day. Now, two years down the line, I realise what a gift ill health can be – even a life-changing diagnosis such as cancer. The gift is the opportunity to stop, breathe and focus on what your wise body – that small inner voice that struggles to be heard – is saying to you. In my case it was that I had to heal the rift between my body and my mind. I had to become a whole person again, not someone who was so entirely focused on work and deadlines that everything else in life, including my health was secondary. I used to joke that you could cut my head off and stick it on a shelf, and that would be ‘Lorna’. But, the joke’s on me! I thought it was absolutely fine to sit in front of a computer screen from 9am to 6pm and then do another couple of hours in the evening; the whole time, hardly moving my body and ignoring the sharp pains in my neck (yes, I know – pretty symbolic!) back and shoulders. My mind loved my work, and so my body had to keep up – only, I didn’t give my body what it needed to keep up.
The magical synchronicities of life however gave me a golden thread to hold on to: the opportunity to work with Ian and learn how to restore balance and meaning in my being. When I told Ian that I could now only do a couple of hours a day on a computer before my ‘body says No’ – Ian was more than happy to agree on a schedule that respected my health needs. Of course he would be – his entire ethos is respecting your bodily wisdom, and really listening deeply to what your wise body is saying to you.
Meeting your wise body again
As I slowly read through and edited Ian’s book, I learned so much that I have been able to put into practice to support my healing journey: how walking barefooted on the earth (or, in my case, the beach) can literally ‘earth’ you and rid your body of those pesky free-radicals that build up from natural metabolic processes. We are the only creatures to have shod ourselves, and we pay the price for that in that we are no longer grounded. I also learned about the benefits of intermittent fasting, and practice that together with a lower carbohydrate diet; but refreshingly, Ian doesn’t advocate any specific kind of diet. He advocates what works best for your wise body, with the advice: ‘Eat real food, and remember to stop!’ That’s pretty sensible.
The section on sleep and how manmade electromagnetic frequencies can affect the quality of our sleep really helped me. I put into practice his Lifestyle Recipe for Wellness regarding sleep; turning off electronic devices and hour or so before bed, including turning off the wi-fi at the plug, and ensuring real darkness in my bedroom, together with a wind-down period of relaxation techniques, stretches and quiet time. My sleep has massively benefitted from this. I also love his Exercise Spice Mix, which respects the fact that not all of us like to go for a run, or play rugby – instead, it suggests reconnecting with the body in ‘mindful’ ways; a ‘shakedown’ which can take seconds but focuses the mind on parts of the body that often get neglected; or a deep breathing exercise that really creates a wonderful bodily alertness.
Arriving back in our bodies
What struck me with Restoring Balance is that on some deep level – on a bodily level – we instinctively ‘know’ of what Dr Ian Tennant speaks; what he does so succinctly is to gently remind us of our wisdom, and backs it up with the most current scientific, irrefutable, thinking on the subject. It makes me think of that wonderful T. S. Eliot quote, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” When we arrive back in our bodies, and listen to our inner wisdom, we begin the healing journey of restoring balance. Ian’s book is brim-full of guidance on how to do that.
Lorna Howarth is a writer, who occasionally edits and publishes books. She is following her health journey one step at a time.