This is part one of a three part post on the Lymphatic System.
Part One – Yin Magic
I pretty much think about my lymph system every day. That part of my brain is likely a super highway of neurons by now, while not so long ago it was a barren country two track. I think about my lymph for so many reasons, primarily being that the removal of all my auxiliary nodes on the right side effects the function of my lymph system in both my right arm and upper torso. This is generally considered to be a permanent change that carries with it certain restrictions and risks. That is the dark side of all this lymph musing- there is a shiny side too. And I am hoping that what I now know about lymphatics might inspire you to think about your own lymph system.
I never much considered my lymph before this journey. I have come to marvel at all the ways it works quietly for the body. Much of how it functions is still a mystery. What we do know is that our lymph is intercellular liquid in constant exchange with every cell in your body. It carries out duties for our immune system, acts as garbage service for the body and and even performs necessary tasks on behalf of our vascular system. It moves without the benefit of a pump, like the heart the cardiovascular system uses. What does keep Lymph moving is primarily our breath and our daily movements. (Yet another good reason to get out and walk!) Breathing deeply for even a few breaths can refresh the lymph flow thought your body as the diaphragm acts a bit like a bellows.
In ancient Tibetan medicine they perceive that all organs and each tiny cell of your body is surrounded by golden light. This Light flows in waves. During a healing session with a Tibetan energy medicine practitioner in 2014 it occurred to me that this could also describe our lymph system. After that healing session I began thinking about the lymph as light, as liquid golden healing light that nurtures every cell in the body. I suspect that all the visualizations around my lymph as golden light contributed to the lymph tumors dissipating. After surgery my grief and anger at loosing those healthy lymph nodes derailed my visualizations for many months. A few months ago I began to visualize golden lymph light again for the purpose of healing those pathways disrupted by surgery.
In Chinese Medicine the need to balance out our Yin and Yang qualities is paramount to our health. It seems to me the Lymph system at it’s best is on the the Yin side of things, the flow of the feminine, receptive energy throughout our body- While the cardiovascular system is very Yang- an active masculine force. I see that there are corollaries between the major lymph crossroad and the meridian system of TCM used in acupuncture. Here is a nice article explaining the meridians. We all contain both masculine and feminine energy- our society has been out of balance for generations, biased towards valuing the masculine energies, while devaluing the feminine energies . I think that these times we live in are very interesting in part because of the return of the feminine. Those patterns of imbalance are shifting.
Perhaps its feminine quality is why western medicine so underestimates the mighty power of the lymph- being so biased towards the Masculine energies. (Well to be fair, that and the fact people don’t usually die quickly from “leaking lymphatics”, whereas they can and do bleed to death quickly if you cut an artery.) Not surprisingly it is likely a consequence of breast surgery that western medicine is learning more about the lymph now. Because surgery is such a disruption of the lymph channels, many women develop lymphedema post mastectomy. And a back doorway is opened to understanding what the lymph does.
Lymphedema is considered one of the major longterm health risks for women post mastectomy. For me this manifest as swelling in my upper torso and armpit area, and occasionally in my arm. I wear a compression sleeve to support my lymph system in my arm, much as soccer players wear compression socks. Lymphedema is not just incidental swelling, and I will go into it more in Part Three of this series. I bring it up here because it is an example of how the feminine is rising, and how the lymph system is part of the divine feminine within every person.
Though western medicine proposes that lymphedema is incurable, I believe that the body does heal itself in miraculous and amazing ways. I am noticing at nearly two years post surgery that my incidences of swelling are much lessoned. I believe this to be because my lymph pathways have worked out alternative routes that can handle my average daily activities. Again the creative force of the divine feminine at work.
The things we do not know about the lymph system are vast. I think its mysteries may be best understood as metaphor. Perhaps we can not know the lymph by looking at parts of it under a microscope. Perhaps it is only by listening to the ebb and flow of our inner ocean that we will come to better understanding of it. Like so many things that are Yin there are not words to fully express it. So I encourage you to take a moment to feel the waves of lymph moving within you with every breath. Washing every cell clean, a sparkly golden light of gentle divine love.