If you are following this healing series of posts with me, you have just finished the 21 day meditation challenge I recommended in my last missive. And I hope you are feeling different somehow: more ‘grounded’ maybe or more hopeful about the future. We now need to think about what comes next in this healing journey.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, please do go back and read the series in order. All the healing posts are here (in reverse order, newest first). In essence, we are trying to find a non-ingestive way to heal that involves not taking meds or supplements or relying on specific diets etc, for those of us who can’t tolerate much. Well, that’s how it started out, anyway. Now, we are using different methods to explore ways to calm down our over-stimulated systems; to turn our stuck ‘on switch’ back off.
One of the ways to calm the system down is with meditation and we explored mantra meditation last time. I hope you liked it as much as I did. Next, we need to start actually working on stuff to move us forward a bit. Before you can move towards healing, though, you have to first accept there is a problem.
The Importance of Acceptance
This is quite a simple idea, isn’t it? Obviously, you have to know there is a problem because you are already suffering, right? Well, yes, but it goes a bit deeper than that. There is a difference in actually knowing something at an intellectual level – I have gluten illness, I can’t eat stuff, I am so reactive etc etc – to knowing it and accepting it at a much more emotional level. As per, I’ll use my own case to illustrate the point.
On an intellectual level, I know I have severe multiple food sensitivity probably caused by gluten illness and all that comes with that. I know I need to look after my diet, heal my leaky gut, bring my inflammation down etc. Important though it is, all of that can also be seen as a type of ‘fight’ if you see what I mean? And also by its very nature, the focus is put squarely on the physical body as we constantly scan for how we feel: is there a pain there? will I react to that? can I have that today and still be OK for that event in 3 days’ time? and on, and on, and on…
To be honest, it’s exhausting, isn’t it? I felt really worn out with the constant worry, fear and, yes, the fight. I was becoming simply flattened by it all, and I know a lot of you feel the same way. That can’t help us can it? It’s like being a hamster on a wheel.
So, how about we just accept that this is the way life is – for now – and stop letting it rule our lives so much?
I know you are now shouting at the screen: ‘oh, if only it was that easy!’ etc, but bear with me! Sometimes just letting go and accepting the problem means that you tip more easily into a healing state.
I had spent years hoping and praying that one day this would all be over and I would be better. I felt utterly despairing and depressed when I suddenly realised that this was actually a real illness that had gradually crept up and up over the years, and there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it, no matter how hard I tried (and there’s the rub..or an illustration of the fight, anyway).
One day, I just felt so tired of fighting it, I just thought it had got to be easier to just accept that this is how it was going to be and I had to make the best of it if these were the cards life dealt me. I needed to find ways to live around it, to let go of the grip it had, sucking the life out of me and literally making my life smaller and smaller with every passing year. I had no fun anymore. I never went anywhere (prefer my ‘safe’ comfort zone), stopped talking to people (all I could think and talk about what food and what I had lost; I was boring myself!) and basically withdrew internally. No more. If this was what life was going to be like, I just had to accept it and make the best of it; enjoy what I had instead of constantly focusing on what I’d lost.
And that letting go was one of the best things I’ve done so far. Why?
Because What You Resist Persists!
Eh? Well, in psychotherapy and neuroplasticity world, this is a common saying. The more you resist something, the worse it will get. The converse is that the more you just let things be, the better it will get. There’s power in that there statement…I think it was Carl Jung originally.
If you just accept things are as they are, and feel the sadness about it, the anger and frustration, the loss, the guilt – oh, they are all there, aren’t they?! – then you are not resisting what is going on. You just accept what is happening – for now, this is where life is and there seems to be bugger-all you can do about it – and go with it. However emotional and counter-intuitive that feels, I know. It is simply better to accept the horrible situation, feel it and stop fighting it, then you can move on. Does that make any sense?
In fact, there is a huge area of medicine where the belief is that repressing emotions can actually cause real physical pain and health issues. We’re not talking about psychosomatic illness or imagined pain here; it’s actual, real pain and illnesses including things like tinnitus, back pain, IBS, RSI, chronic fatigue and over-reactive syndromes, but that is caused by emotional repression from either the past or present. The more I read of that, the more it truly makes sense to me, and I will return to this in a later post for you. In short: start to really feel your emotions and the whole horrid crappityness of it all; don’t repress that or it will likely come back and bite you even more in the bum later!
Whilst I’m on this subject of making things worse by focusing on them, let’s just look at that a bit more closely..
The Elephant in the Room
Think of the proverbial pink elephant joke: don’t think about a pink elephant. Y’see: you can’t help it, can you? Your body sees what you just told it not to; it can’t help it. So if you are constantly thinking about your illness or a symptom, even if you are trying to be positive about it or even NOT think about it (resistance), your body will see just the illness and symptoms.
The more you think: I’m going to react to this food, or if I do x, y or z, this will happen, or I musn’t think about this pain etc, and you do that zillions of times a day because you are conditioned to feel fearful, the more it will actually happen. You can’t help it; we are like Pavlovian dogs and, if something happens that is stressful, like a reaction or bending down and pulling your back, your amygdala and brain generally holds that memory and will ‘think’ it for you every time it sees a similar situation. If that situation happens a lot, you develop a fear of it and that is a very powerful emotion, which ultimately leads to a sort-of conditioned response. Well, that’s how I perceive it anyway.
This is most probably because you build neural connections which just strengthen over time with the repetition. It’s how we rebuild neural connections in stroke victims, for goodness’ sake! Repeat, repeat, repeat. Constantly. I am absolutely convinced that my own neural connections are so strong, I almost only have to think something about food and the reaction happens! I have a very powerful mind! But, that’s a good thing as it means I can use that power to turn it around 🙂
The subconscious mind doesn’t really understand the difference between positive and negative words, either, so even if you are ‘being positive’ and saying: if I eat this, I won’t get a migraine, or whatever, all your mind hears is: eat this, get a migraine.
So, the more you think about your health issue, physical symptom or whatever, the more you focus on it and feel worry and fear about it, the more it will happen. Also, the more you fight against it emotionally, forcing the emotions about it down, the worse your stress level will be and the more you will suffer. If you can let go, your worry level will drop and so will your fear and over-stimulated system. Makes sense, really, doesn’t it?
Neurologically, we know that new neural connections can be built by repeating stuff every day for 21 days. Why do you think the meditation challenge I recommended last time is 21 days? Eh; they’re not daft! I’ll return to this in a later post and suggest things you can say repeatedly to help this process. For now, this is still acceptance at an intellectual level, isn’t it? We see what we’re doing and we try to stop it consciously. It’s important. But it’s not enough.
I had done all that, and did feel a lot less stressed and over-stimulated by letting go, but it was only when I felt the acceptance at an emotional level that it really kicked in.
What Does Your Heart Look Like?
I had accepted the problem intellectually and not exactly ‘given into it’ but given up the fight. I felt heart-sore, heavy-chested and extremely sad. I thought I would try a heart meditation to help. And, boy, I didn’t know what I had let myself in for!
I can’t actually remember now which meditation I did. I think it was Deepak’s Soul meditations; the heart sutra, which I’ll give details of at the end for you. In that, you have to imagine your heart beating and a point of white light in the heart area. Well, all I could find was this weedy, flickering dim pinkish light (I am very visual, clearly – first animals and now this!). It was very distressing actually because I realised that my heart was really poorly.
I looked at it and the image that came to mind was of Patrick Swayze lying on the ground after he’s been attacked in Ghost, not quite believing he was dying! It was really clear. He was fading away and, I felt, so was my heart. I was shocked to tell the truth and it really upset me.
Looking closer, my heart was in a right state. It looked like it was misshapen, bruised, stabbed, bits off it and had lots of weeping wounds. It’s light was barely there. I felt so sorry for it and imagined myself holding it very gently in my hands, cradling it as if it were dying, and sobbed.
I felt terrible that I hadn’t noticed before and hadn’t taken better care of it. I felt very wobbly when I came out of that meditation and for several days afterwards. But, I was also strangely calmer and more accepting. If that’s what my heart had been coping with all these years, blimey, no wonder I was ill! I felt I had recognised a problem at a much deeper level inside me and that realisation and knowledge proved to me very strengthening.
Since then, I have tried a variety of techniques to start releasing some of that stored hurt, which is tough to take obviously, but, for me at least, feels very necessary. The trick now is to release and recognise the emotion, bring it up to be dealt with and use techniques to remove the negative ‘charge’ from it (this is psychology speak!). In other words, you always have the memory of an event but the feeling about it doesn’t rule you anymore. Does that make sense? I’ll come back to some techniques asap for you.
Phew. I feel, as per, I have bared my soul – or heart – for you today but I hope it helps someone to move on towards healing. I am the least ‘crystally’ person you can think of. I am a trained biochemical nutritionist for goodness’ sake and this is very far out of my field. But, as I said at the start of this process: I decided to just let myself be led into whatever realms might help and that is what I am doing. Y’see: acceptance and non-resistance in practice!
What to do next
So, where does that leave us? I am way past this bit now but if you are following the journey, maybe it is time to let go a bit and just let life happen, seeing what it brings. Perhaps stop resisting and fighting it so much. Have a rest! Also, say ‘yes’ much more. I had got into a habit of just assuming I couldn’t do things, then I remembered a book called ‘The Yes Man‘ from years ago: a comedian who decided to say yes to everything that comes his way no matter what it entails. It’s very funny, actually, and of course he takes it far too far, but the principle is a useful one. Why not say yes every time your immediate reaction is to say no and see where that takes you – back into life, hopefully?
To support yourself, continue your mantra meditation and maybe move to deeper stuff like the Soul of Healing Meditations I’ve mentioned, alternating them maybe, or doing one of each every day, or whatever you feel works for you. If you like, continue the 21 day Deepak Chopra challenges – do the same again if you have it, or swap to Perfect Health which I have found the best of all of them so far (and so have others I believe; you’ve told me, thank you).
Also, start working with heart meditations to give yourself some true kindness and see if you need some work there; I suspect we all do. Use the Soul of Healing heart sutra meditation above as I did, or I have found a great site of free meditations and often use those. Not the same as the Soul ones, which are much deeper if you like, but I like them, not least because they are free! The other thing I found very helpful is a heart chakra meditation – I used another Chopra one, Chakra Balancing: Mind, Body & Soul, and did either the whole thing or just the heart one when I felt emotional. I just find his voice so soothing!
If anyone has any other recommendations for meditations of this type, do share of course. These just happen to be ones I have found and I’m sure there are zillions out there!
This will probably release some emotions in you, if that’s needed, so next I will be telling you what techniques I have found work best for me to help release and ‘de-charge’ them. Obviously, if you need support from a counsellor or somebody, do get it!
What Animal Now?
For those of you who are wondering what animal I am now (remember, I was a deer and then a hare!), I am now not an animal at all! I turned into a muscular, iridescent snake, glittering and moving slowly on the ground (even more grounded…) and now I am a tiny little yellow-flowered plant, a bit weak and battered about by the breeze but putting roots down. My petals are those that close in the dark and open in the sun, so going in and out, sort-of peeking at life! How fascinating is that?! I like these visual images; they give me a good idea of progress. What are you now?
In essence, today’s lesson is…
Let go a bit and stop fighting. No-one is saying you have to accept this is happening in a negative way but, by letting go and stopping the resistance, paradoxically you open the door for greater healing. Have a rest from resistance! Just ‘be’ for a bit and maybe work on your heart and see where that leads you.
I hope that helps to move you forward a bit. Enjoy.