Find your own Symbol

Symbols have become important to me as I learn how to fight back against my fibromyalgia.  Not only do I tend to do some things in threes, as 3 is an important number in Chinese medicine and other practices, but I have adopted a couple of symbols as my own and they have become tools for me to fight my fibromyalgia.  The first time I mentioned doing things in threes to my husband, he was worried I was going to become OCD as well as dealing with my fibro.  I assured him that’s not what I meant.  I take deep breaths in threes.  In my deep breathing, I breathe in for 3 seconds, pause, then breathe out for three seconds.  It actually took me a bit to build up to this.  I had to start out at 2 seconds and work my way up.  There’s something about tying the relaxing effects of deep breathing to the number three that boosts its effect for me.  When I practice yoga, I usually do sets of three complementary poses together.  That’s pretty common in yoga practice though, it’s not something I made up on my own.  When I practice other forms of meditation, or Qi Gong (Chinese practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation, with roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts and philosophy), I do things in threes or multiples of threes.  One of the things I do in Qi Gong actually has me repeat the same motion 81 times on each side of the body.  But that’s for another post.

According to Wikipedia, “a symbol is something that represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for “STOP”. On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. A red rose symbolizes love and compassion.”

I love all things Irish. My husband and I spent a month traveling around Ireland one summer during college.  I fell in love with the country and the culture. My symbols are Celtic in origin, but you can choose a symbol from anything that has personal meaning to you. I wear a necklace all day, every day with my chosen symbols on it.  This necklace has become like a shield for me.  It helps to shield me from the stressors every day throws at me, the pain I feel every day, triggers that spike my pain, and anything that upsets me emotionally and therefore spikes my pain.

My symbols are:

Tree of Life

Celtic Tree of Life

The Celtic Tree of LifeAs above, so below.  The tree of life connects all forms of creation. It helps remind me to stay grounded and centered.  We are connected to all things on this Earth and can draw power and support from them.  I don’t go too far into this line of thinking, but I do find it comforting to think of so many sources of support surrounding me that I can tap into when I need them.

Brigid’s Cross. In Celtic religion and Irish mythology, Brigid (Brigit or Brighid) was associated with perpetual, sacred flames. She is the goddess of wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship (especially blacksmithing), healing ability, druidic knowledge and skill in warfare.  It’s her healing ability that attracted me to her.  I was at my worst when I stumbled upon Brigid and her healing abilities in Irish mythology. I figured I could use all the help I could get.  Brigid was adopted by Catholicism and is also known as St. Brigid. Her symbol is the cross pictured above. I wear an updated version of her cross, pictured below.  It’s actually a triple cross – threes again – with her sacred flames around it.  It has a more Celtic feel with the interlocking knotwork of the triple cross.

Brigid Cross

Brigid Cross

When I’m getting stressed, or the pain is spiking, I grab my necklace and take deep breaths.  I’ve done this so much now that just touching the pendants on my necklace calms me down.  My necklace is a focus for me and helps me to breathe through a spike in the pain. This only works well for quickly passing spikes.  For spikes that hang around for a while, or a full-blown flare, my necklace only works so well.  It helps to calm my emotions which does help reduce the pain a bit. My mind relaxes and some of the stress dissipates. That’s not much relief in a full-blown flare, but it’s still some relief and I’ll take it. Symbols can be very powerful.  Just look at the Cross in Christianity as an example.  Each of us can choose our own symbols.  It’s not like chosing a creed to live by but choosing something meaningful to you does give that symbol its own kind of power.  For fibromyalgia sufferers, anything that can focus our thoughts and distract us from the pain, even for a moment, is a really good thing.  Maybe you already have a symbol and don’t even know it.  Think about it.  Maybe finding your own symbol will help you in some small way, like it has helped me in my battle against fibromyalgia.

Brigid's Cross Pendant

Brigid’s Cross Pendant

8 thoughts on “Find your own Symbol

  1. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your posts, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the excellent work.

  2. ddLynn says:

    I love the things you use to stress relievers! I too, use yoga and the deep breathing to calm me. And often I have to use it to remind myself to let my muscles relax as they tend to tense without me even being aware. I was wondering where that tree symbol came into play. So glad I found the explanation here. My husband has been to Ireland too, and loved it. I hope to one day as my paternal grandmother was Irish. I was always bummed I didn’t have red hair and freckles. 😀 Have you taken yoga lessons or do have you just learned on your own and/or used DVDs?

    • painfighter says:

      My muscles are tense without me being aware of it too. It’s only when I do yoga or meditation that I notice it and am able to release some of that tension. I started doing yoga a little in college from a DVD I think. In college, I started taking free yoga classes provided by my college twice a week. I took them all four years. Now that I live across the street from the college, I’ve started taking the classes again. I also practice yoga on my own. After awhile, you get a feel for the poses that do the most good for you, so those are the one’s I focus on in my personal practice. I’ve used DVDs, recorded TV episodes and books to learn more about yoga and learn new poses. I love doing yoga in a class and at home. Doing it in classes feels different though. There’s a shared energy when you do it with a group of like minded people that I find benefits me. I recommend you try a class if you’re able to find one near you. Classes are helpful especially when you’re just learning yoga as the teacher will come around and correct your stance if needed. Some poses bother my hips and the teacher I’ve worked with for years now helps me by showing me alternate poses that I can do that stretch out the same muscle groups.

      I love all things Irish. I repainted my sitting room a nice green and have made it my yoga/meditation room. It’s a peaceful space for me. I have artwork on the walls from when we went to Ireland and other prints I’ve ordered online of Celtic art. It seemed natural for me for my symbols to come from Ireland. My husband is part Irish, but I’m French and German mostly. Ireland is my adopted home country though. I felt at peace there with the people and the rolling green landscape.

      • ddLynn says:

        I have taken a few yoga classes and I agree about the energy. Like you I also have a DVD and have used some on Netflix. I find I have to do some sort of yoga everyday otherwise my muscles and movement begin to feel restricted. I honestly don’t know how you work at all. I commend you for continuing to do so.
        I’m French, German and Irish. I love all things Italian. 🙂 I have always adored the Celtic artwork though. That’s why your symbol intrigued me. Your sitting room sounds awesome!

      • painfighter says:

        Have you looked into The Yoga Center? It’s on Grandin Road in Roanoke above Grace’s Pizza. They have all sorts of yoga classes. They also offer a free yoga class once a month so you can try them out and see if you like them. They send out a weekly newsletter about all their classes and it usually has a cool yoga related quote in it to. The next free class is tomorrow from 3:30-5. I doubt I’ll make that one since I get off work at 2:30 and am always tired Friday afternoons. I do yoga everyday too, whether it’s 20 minutes of stretching after doing my cardio exercise, or a hour or more session in a class or on my own. I took 11-weeks off work on medical leave and at the end of my leave I didn’t think I could work again. Coming back was really, really hard. I tried working full-time (40 hours) and just couldn’t do it. Working 30 hours a week means my schedule is 8-2:30 with a lunch break. That’s much more manageable for me. So days, I can’t do six hours and have to leave early to go home and take more pain meds and try to sleep through the worst of it. So far my boss has been very understanding. I hope it continues. I love Celtic artwork. We have a lot of it in our house. I also have some Celtic jewelry, pottery, and a journal. If it’s Celtic it’s a safe bet I’m going to want it. 🙂

  3. Hi, I like your use of symbols, very positive thing to do. Mine is the labyrinth! I can liken my illness to being stuck in a labyrinth, and that one day I’ll find my way out
    Yoga is excellent. I find all exercise helps me with pain, and I found this out by accident too. I’ve been doing PowerYoga by Duncan Peak. If you know of any good yoga on dvd, please let me know?

    • painfighter says:

      I used to use a DVD that you could stream on Netflix called Yoga for Healing. You can’t stream it anymore, but maybe you can find it at your library or somewhere. My yoga teacher told me that people with fibro need to do Yin yoga, which is slower and you stay in poses longer and often take them deeper too. Our muscles get so tight and sore that we need to hold poses longer than “normal” people. When I do yoga at home, I usually just move from one pose to the next for whatever feels good and my body needs that day. Good luck!

  4. Fibro Files says:

    This is so cool, Have shared it at Good News Network on facebook. I also love celtic symbols and have a few on my tumblr site They are symbols in the public domain which means anyone can use them for whatever they like.

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