on vaccination, cross pollination, and death practice

It’s vax time~!

Aka, it’s time to address the unavoidable truth of our interconnection and regulate our nervous systems to be okay with the unknown, illness and death so we can have discussions that engage with complexity rather than shaming, dividing and judging :)

I had been planning to share about something quite different this month, but the past few days have been shoving this topic in my face and probably everyone else’s. I’m sensing a war-like dynamic surfacing — perhaps something that has always existed but emerging more evidently now as our inability to be with the realities of illness and death are exposed.

I was walking in the park yesterday when two lads from the local council approached me. They were gentle and young, and they asked if I’d had the vaccine. I was initially shirty, which made me realise I was on the defensive. But they were sincere in wanting to know my reasons for not having had it. I thought I’d better practice this nervous system regulation thing and decided to engage.

I explained to them that I’ve had bad reactions in the past, and that it’s not possible to know how I might react to this one. I don’t want to risk it at this time, with this vaccine so new on the market. They were very understanding and respectful. I appreciated them, and our interaction — the absence of hostility, the lack of attack in their energy allowing me to soften my own defences.

I continue to weigh up the many possibilities and risks for myself and the collective on this topic, and naturally get caught up in concerns about spreading the virus, especially to older and more compromised folk. There is always a temptation to start seeking out information, to feel as though I am making an ‘informed’ decision. But every time I do this, after some time, I feel myself moving out of my intuitive centre.

Because after all, at what point is enough information enough?

I have been down many of the informational rabbit holes on vaccines. Interestingly enough, that was seven years ago, rather than during this current crisis. I entered my rabbit holes, more like black holes, aged 23, when my autoimmune condition and adrenal fatigue flared in the immediate aftermath of receiving vaccinations before my trip to India (which I subsequently cancelled due to the severity of my reaction). This was when I delved, praying that the answer to my suffering would be found in information.

Information is powerful. It can enlighten us to new perspectives, new possibilities, new ways of seeing and experiencing the world and our selves. It can help validate and explain, give us a sense of peace or clarity about our conditions, and it can empower. For instance, once I knew that my eczema was an autoimmune condition, and I found enough information and evidence around the possibility of healing this through nutrition and lifestyle changes, I felt empowered, knowing that I was not doomed to suffer forever.

But information is ultimately a tool, something to be in healthy relationship with.

It can so easily go the other way when we pedestal certain information and sources. We pin our hopes for ‘salvation’ on a pharmaceutical product or procedure that does all the ‘work’ for us. Or in the more ‘holistic’ world, we may fall into seeking salvation by following a particular dogma, or a way of eating/living by a ‘guru’ who has healed and solved everything for themselves and promises the same for you.

I don’t mean to invalidate the role of western pharmaceuticals, or any medicine for that matter, in how it can vastly improve quality of life, and render many deaths preventable. But over-reliance on these methods can easily lead to disempowerment — when we rely on external sources for salvation, rather than using them in conjunction with the various mechanisms our bodies are already equipped with.

All medicine, Western or otherwise, is only really medicine when used in relationship — you are in relationship with the drugs you take, the food you eat, the people you talk to. As with all relationships, medicine is only healthy when used in balance, with discernment, boundaries, and respect.

In the depths of my crisis, I read a lot of information. Alongside the horrifying impacts of pollution, pesticides, steroids, etc, I also read about many diets — raw vegan, dry fasting, keto, paleo. I tried a few and became very miserable. What became apparent was that it didn’t matter so much *what* I was eating, it was the way in which I received food, my relationship with food and the world around me, and how my body was actually feeling.

The seven years since have been a journey of understanding what healing actually is.

Healing is not about salvation through gurus or diets, nor about confining our definition of medicine to substances we ingest or inject.

Healing is a death practice — it is about learning how to value life by honouring its mysterious counterpart and dancing at the intersection of joy and grief.

Healing is about receiving the full spectrum of medicine that life has to offer, and learning how to digest it.

Healing is less about right or wrong, and more about taking the path of least resistance, acknowledging that resistance can show up in many subtle ways, and tuning into intuition rather than external tugs.

In one sense, I respect and give thanks to those vaccines for catapulting me into this healing journey and making me so much more aware of my body, intuition and sensitivities. They ‘forced’ me to live a life of integrity. And so, whatever consequences there may be of this current vaccine, upon humanity at large, or upon individuals, I understand that these are simply ‘effects’ that carry with them lessons and opportunities, much as the ‘effects’ the vaccines seven years ago had on me.

The same can be said of illness.

There comes a point where empirical information only leads back to something we already knew, all along. We are already inundated by information on this vaccine, and a lot of it is inconclusive or conflicting. The more we delve, the more trials and tests there are, the wider the ranges of demographics given the vaccines, the more stories are shared, the more ‘information’ arises. We oscillate wildly between ‘truths’ and ‘facts’, trying to formulate an ‘opinion’ from these threads, at some points feeling profoundly lost and confused.

This stage of confusion I believe is necessary to break through — breaking ‘downwards’ in imagery — shattering and falling through the illusory floor held up by centuries’ worth of indoctrination encouraging us to have opinions, and landing on our bottoms, acutely humbled, bewildered into the possibility that there is no right way, no solution, no salvation at the end of the intellectual tunnel.

It’s relevant to say that my present perspective is not final or fixed . I continue to be real about the implications of all the decisions I choose to make. I am grateful to have the choice. Perhaps not vaxing means I continue to miss festivals and dance classes and sweaty techno parties. Perhaps it means I cannot visit Japan and my family there. Perhaps it means I cannot hug my grandparents.

And at the same time, I wish to listen to what my body says. I wish to honour what my body has experienced, and the messages it channels. These are factors that I will have to continue evaluating through breath and body.

I am willing to align my behaviours with my decision respectively. And at another time, I may choose differently.

And as much as I respect the perspectives of others at this time, I hope that I am respected in mine.

Western education doesn’t do a great job of teaching us to respect other perspectives. Instead we are taught the importance of having an opinion and being able to argue, with the goal of defeating the opponent by using evidence as ammunition — something around intellectualism colliding with individualism, a practice serving to inflate egos and create division. We’re ridiculed for “sitting on the fence” and so grapple to find a “position”, to join one side or another, conservative, liberal, pro or anti.

But arguments ultimately appeal to primal sensation rather than pure logic or reason. An opinion is never based only on neutral evidence, but a symphony of experiences that all come loaded with emotion.

When we don’t acknowledge the very real, personal experiences that are driving us to argue a certain way, we become dishonest with both our opponents and ourselves. We look for evidence and patterns to support what we already feel and believe to be ‘right’, and find ways to out-argue any contradictory evidence. We are really good at this, as humans. But then we lose the aspect of personal experience and get lost in often tautologous logic.

Failing to acknowledge that our opinions are actually heavily tainted by emotion, causes us to lose the thread of commonality of what binds us as humans.

And then we have division.

And when one narrative starts “winning”, gaining popularity over another, and becomes the new mainstream code of morality, whether that is white supremacy or veganism or pro-vaccination, then the “other” opinions become suppressed or ridiculed. Those in the ‘right’ feel entitled to attack the other, and those in the ‘other’ camp become defensive.

Debate around this topic elicits a full spectrum of emotionally volatile responses, because it awakens our most primal triggers around life and death. The people who feel most threatened or disrespected by my decision not to be vaccinated infer that I don’t value their lives, or the lives of others. Defensive survival mechanisms are activated, nervous systems spinning in fear and outrage.

And equally, many who are against the vaccination are so positioned because of suggestions that it can do serious harm to health, often coupled with deep distrust of authority (government, multinationals, pharmaceutical industry). Such distrust is hardly surprising and not ungrounded, but when we fall into extreme fear-based rhetoric, labelling “them” as ‘evil’, and those who are ‘brainwashed by “them” as ‘idiots’, then we have war. When we start perceiving such ominous agenda in authority, we are in a chronic state of fear. This again invokes a survival mentality, a need to defend against the “enemy”.

I want to remind us here of the thread of commonality that binds all of us, whether we identify as pro, anti, or as I do, the nebulous zone in between. We all want to go back to socialising without this pervasive fear of illness and death hanging over us. We want to see our friends and family, go to group gatherings, feel part of real-life community. We are creatures who need real-life interaction. And this is the common, human ground that we lose when we see people as being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and when we are moved by the need to ‘defeat’ our opponent.

It’s increasingly evident that such a collective emotional trigger combined with a lack of techniques to deal with dysregulated nervous systems means we aren’t really ‘addressing’ it — instead it is creating dynamics of shaming, judging and dividing. It is creating a war-like mentality across all social classes, and the interaction like the one I had in the park with the two lads is apparently quite uncommon.

This is because it takes both and all ‘sides’ to come out of the defensive in order to share our stories with true understanding. We perhaps first have to acknowledge the existence of our literal primal defensive mechanism, which has evolutionarily allowed us to survive as a species, working collectively and individually. We can acknowledge how this mechanism has served us, how it is the very reason we are alive today.

And we can acknowledge that the global situation we have today is more complex than what these primal defensive mechanisms evolved for.

We no longer live in villages separated by mountains, we no longer have to be weary of incoming tribes or tigers when we hunt, and we no longer eat collectively or share microbiome with our immediate community. The situation we have now is far more convoluted, we have resources that our ancestors could only have dreamed of, and we have the opportunity to use our present perspective to learn to be with complexity in a new, more integrated way.

There are so many ways to honour life.

Either way, we are being called to the practice of being with the transience and inexplicability of existence, to dissolve through the chaotic layers of rightness and wrongness, and to embrace this chronic existential fear of not-existing, of dying, and dance, humbly, with it.

Either option is a risk, just like every single thing that has ever been done.

To honour life, for me, is to be in interaction. To be in interaction with all other life forms — human, animal, plant, rock. To be in interaction with the endless unknowingness that lies on the other side of death.

To honour life is to feel the truth of separation as a prerequisite to existence, and be real with the need to share, interact, cross-pollinate.

All is Unknown.

/end/no end/no beginning///etc…


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With blessings, Kate