Fatigue is a common complaint at doctors’ appointments these days. Whether we’re experiencing sleeplessness, anxiety, excessive stress, or a low-grade case of the blues, we usually try to treat these issues one at a time, often pharmaceutically.
But pharmacist, herbalist, and shamanic healer Constance Grauds, PhD, claims chronic stress, apathy, anxiety, insomnia, and depression — and a general lack of energy and vitality — are all symptoms of a deeper issue: fear. And there’s no pill for that.
Grauds, coauthor of The Energy Prescription, learned about the effects of susto, or fear, while exploring the jungles of Peru in 1994, where she studied natural pharmaceuticals and began her 17-year apprenticeship with an Indigenous shamanic healer.
Noting that Western tourists seemed to have little energy — and believing that fear is what drains us — the Indigenous people Grauds met observed that perhaps our busy, stressful way of life has left us in a chronic state of fear. Their observation changed the way Grauds views health.
“We all know from our own personal experience that fear makes our bodies, minds, and energy contract,” she says. And while it’s a natural response to stress, emotional shock, emergencies, and danger, many of us aren’t able to shift out of fear, so it becomes a chronic condition.
Even if our fears are minor, they force us to retreat and disconnect. “The shaman would say there is only one disease: the disease of disconnection,” she explains. “And fear is the ultimate disconnector.”
But there are simple ways to transform the chaos and depletion of a fear-driven existence into a more vibrant, happy, energy-filled life. And some are as easy as taking a deep breath.
Exercise, proper nutrition, meditation, and spending time in nature are a few of the things we can do to feel more energized, says Grauds. But attitude is where it all begins.
“Many of us approach these healthy activities out of fear,” she notes. Nursing worries, such as I’m not thin enough! I’m afraid of getting sick!, puts us in a constricted, stressed-out state. As a result, on a cellular level, the body can’t absorb the full health benefits of our healthy practices.
To achieve better health and energy, Grauds asserts, we must release fear. She recommends a four-step process that helps us shift from the anxiety-ridden self to a state of deep awareness of our connection to everything else. From there, she says, we can move toward a stronger, calmer “sustainable self.”
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