Banging Your Head Against the Keys

One of my favorite Sesame Street characters was singer-songwriter Don Music. He composed songs like “Mary Had a Bicycle” and “Whistle Whistle Little Bird.” He often struggled with lyrics and in his frustration he would bang his head on the piano keys, moaning, “I’ll never get it! Never! NEVER!”

Ever feel this way about your healing journey? You put in the effort, you’re feeling happy and healthy, and then suddenly things kind of fall apart and you feel like crap again?

After the holiday season’s social engagements, sugary temptations, mad dashes through gift shops, cold weather and viruses, it is especially easy to start feeling run down. Headaches, fatigue, weight gain, depression, aching joints, you name it. They all turn up like unwanted guests who show up just when you were ready for some quiet time.

It is tempting to interpret feeling sick as a sign that you’re failing in your quest to be healthy. Or worse, that it is not worth the effort and you should just give up.


Healing is not a singular event that happens (or doesn’t). It is a lifestyle.
Achieving true health not like visiting an exotic country, something you can achieve and then cross off your bucket list. Even if you never do it again, you can always say, “I did that.”

It’s not that one time you do the Master Cleanse or the Elimination Diet, or give up sugar for Lent. These are all wonderful things. They can be important parts of the journey but they are not the whole journey.

A lifestyle of healing is often unglamorous, consisting of small choices, made regularly, that make up the arc of wholeness that defines our life.

To paraphrase the Zen saying: chop kale, drink water. Sometimes you forget the kale and drink lattes. Other times, the kale and the water are not enough. Either way, your body gives you feedback in the form of whatever your weak point might be.

You then have an opportunity to course-correct and continue along your path just a tiny bit wiser than before. You’ll probably stumble upon some breakthroughs along the way. Just keep going.

Here are a few ways to cultivate a lifestyle of healing:

  • Pay attention to the things that make you feel well. Perhaps it’s meditating for 15 minutes, drinking a green smoothie, or eating fruit instead of a pastry.
  • Build small practices into your daily routine. This takes a lot of trial and error.
  • Listen to the whispers. A slight twinge in the throat, that mildly yucky feeling in your eyes, that pang of fatigue—these tell you that your body needs some support. When they come up, become even more intentional about your feel-good practices, whether or not you choose to power through.
  • Be grateful. First thing in the morning, put your hands over your heart and quietly give thanks for the health you do have. It is especially helpful when you are feeling worried.

When you fall off your good practices, start again or find new ones. Airplanes are off-course 90% of the time! They are constantly correcting, adjusting and adapting.

Just like you.

Don’t bang your head against the keys. What feels like a setback is just a detour. Take a breath, remember what works and keep finding new ways to live the life you want.

—Dr. Teray

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Berkeley Naturopathic Medical Group offers personalized support for achieving optimal health. Contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our doctors.