I am slowly working my way through the book Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, by Rupa Marya and Raj Patel, which I heard about on the For the Wild podcast, here.
They draw parallels, in the book, between the micro and the macro – the state of human bodies and the state of the larger collective, and the state of the greater body of Earth… in a way that puts rigour to my late night epiphany that we are biomes within biomes! the microbiome in my gut! just a microscopic version of the biome of planet Earth! and what does this make me? am i just an amoeba in the grand scheme of things?
Inflamed is deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking…
They explain our immune response and the way it uses inflammation as a signal of concern: “when tissues are damaged or threatened, our immune system sends cells and molecular messengers that attack invaders, repair damage, and restore the body to health. Sometimes, the response doesn’t switch off, and the result is a chronic inflammatory state. When that happens, the body’s healing mechanism is transformed into a smoldering fire that creates ongoing harm.” Chronic inflammation plays a role in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, colitis, mental illness, dementia, and even aging. And, they argue beautifully, (in ways reminiscent of Gabor Mate who says a healthy society wouldn’t pathologise its addicts, but would see them as canaries in the coalmine, signals of deeper issues that we need to heal in our systems), that the Earth, as a result of systems of extraction, colonialism and capitalism, is also chronically inflamed… and so, we need to practice a kind of “deep medicine” to redress this.
The visit of the Pope, and the need for apologies, action, and redress on behalf of the Catholic Church for its role in the residential school system; the heat wave; shootings in Whistler and the Lower Mainland – it all feels feverish, inflaming, concerning, harmful.
I have been thinking lately about this metaphor, and what we do when something is inflamed… when we identify that symptom. Like, we stop what we’re doing to address it. We rest. We go somewhere cool. We seek out cooling remedies – cool baths, cool cloths on foreheads. We seek medicine that soothes and cools. We remove ourselves from the inflaming circumstances if we are able, and try to bring the inflammation down. We attend to it.
If we ignore inflammation, as any athlete knows, it gets worse and creates more lasting trouble, right?
This idea of turning towards and tending to inflammation feels alive for me this week – must be the weather – and so I’m super grateful for Crystal Conroy’s deeply soothing takeover at the Wellness Almanac.
Crystal is a local mama, a yoga teacher, a wrangler and horse lover, a photographer, a deep thinker, a tender of beautiful things.
Yesterday, she offered this invitation to start the day, and I reiterate it here, in case you missed it: