Hi everyone. It’s a beautiful day in the foothills of the Smoky’s and a little early for Spring Cleaning but a good time to clear our minds of too much thinking. Thinking is good when it serves. Decision making and problem solving are good examples of thinking as a tool, when we hear our highest self speaking to us; the self that has our best interests at heart. However, it’s hard to listen to it when we’re constantly thinking, obsessing about problems. What’s worse, our thoughts are usually influenced by unfelt emotions we’ve pushed way down since we were young children. Imagine all those un-felt feelings. As the title of Karol K. Truman’s comprehensive and healing book Feelings Buried Alive Never Die… https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0911207023/ref=ox_sc_act_image_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER indicates, we have a tremendous amount of waking up to do regarding our ignored feelings of the past. Un-felt feelings keep us stuck in a loop of obsessive thinking and over-thinking anything is extrememly stressful on the body. This is a wake up call to all of us with autoimmunity; extended periods of unrelieved stress, resistance to anything as it is, is the root of our condition.
Stress brings many changes in symptoms with more intensity and increasingly more of them. When we experience any change in our symptoms, we get anxious and are often scared. We probably aren’t fully aware of our fears or the increased tension in our bodies, but the prospect of another chronic problem to deal with daily and the possibility of having to change our health routine or medications can be and is usually daunting.
So how do you and I treat ourselves in this situation? Kindly. When I’m feeling resistance to any new symptom or change in my body – it’s hard to remember this but with practice gets easier – the first thing is to allow the symptom to show up in all it’s glory. To be kind to our bodies and minds, retire all resistance to what is new and unfamiliar. Fighting it will not heal it, but like picking mushrooms, resisting only insures another new symptom will pop up. Let this new pain or weakness fully show itself to you and allow yourself to stay present to it. The challenge is not to escape painful feelings but to draw closer to them, and look them in the eye. Physical and emotional pain that is allowed is the connection to our purest self. When we allow what is presenting and stay aware, we remember with who we are – our True-Self, as Thomas Merton termed it in the book Contemplative Prayer – and we’re better able to accept and listen to our bodies without panic. Breathe. It’s scary, but the fear will subside if you stay present. This is best done in a quiet room, by yourself and without distractions.
Distractions like going to the gym, on line games, coffee, chocolate or a good movie are fun, but then we have to return to the issue of this new and frightening symptom with no more options than before we distracted ourselves. The best way I know to quiet the mind of obsessing thoughts and emotions is to allow them to ramble past me while sitting still during meditation and contemplation. Quiet Stillness Practice, is not understood by talking about it (nor is any form of meditation) but needs to be experienced. There will always be that voice in your head denying you time to begin your practice but, ironically, the best way to quiet that voice is in stillness while breathing in and out.
Be kind to yourself and set aside ten to fifteen minutes each day, early in the morning is best. Find a place to sit away from the activities of the household, before your family gets up, or while they fix their breakfasts (preparation the night before in the kitchen saves them and you from worry.) Also, bring them together, even if it’s only you and your partner in life, and say what you will be doing; that you will need to be uninterrupted during your time alone; that this is something you are doing for yourself. If you are consistent with yourself and them and keep your practice they will be surprised to feel your love for them grow even stronger. Meditation not only increases awareness but gratitude, forgiveness and compassion for self and others.
One of the hallmarks of autoimmune conditions is that we forget about taking care of ourselves by getting too involved with helping others solve their problems. Just recently I’ve been working on distinguishing my needs from my loved ones’ and it’s still a difficult exercise unless I’m in meditation/contemplation. I’m never sure what my needs are or if they can wait. It’s easier to look outside myself and see others’ needs. Besides, it’s always been the case that I think my happiness comes when others are happy. I’ve noticed this is more like self-denial than selflessness. For better or worse (I think for better) that way of thinking is no longer helpful to anyone especially not me. I’ve been told by my family and only recently understood that my family doesn’t want me to do anything for them that would compromise my well being – ever. My old way of mentally putting my loved ones before myself was always a mistake in my thinking and not what they wanted. They need me and have said so, but now that they are adults, they need me to be be thriving in life, and they will get the benefits when I’m taking care of myself.
To know how best to care for ourselves we need to clear our minds and hear guidance originating from inside. Heart Math Therapy originated by the Heartmath Institute https://www.heartmath.org/tag/science-of-the-heart/ has done research on the heart to find that the heart actually has a thinking capacity grounded in love. https://www.heartmath.org/resources/downloads/science-of-the-heart/ With awareness in meditation we can listen to our purest guidance – to our hearts, to God, to the universe, to our True-Self – and grow in our love for ourselves and our ability to openly witness our pains. With practice we can hear their answers when we ask, “What do you need, what am I not understanding?”
Let’s continue this conversation next time with defining meditation and contemplation and identifying links to websites for support in getting started with your stillness practice.
Please share with us your experiences in clearing your mind and body of thoughts and emotions. Thank you.