Monday, March 25, 2013

We Are What We Think


“Remember there is value in “waking up” – even if pain is the trigger. Such experiences invite more openness and spaciousness than ever before—even as our certainties continue falling away. It is simply that when we are open, the painful experiences in our lives can become windows revealing the larger Truth that lies Beyond.”
-Unknown Author

I woke up the other morning knowing that I was thinking things and that I kept repeating the same thoughts over and over again in a half sleep state.  Has that ever happened to you?  If so, have you taken the time to wonder what those thoughts were that surrounded you?  I kept trying to remember those thoughts, but they were gone to me … consciously anyway.

This is important to living a passionate life because those thoughts shape who I am, my beliefs, and how I look at the world.  My repeated thoughts create the conditions of both wholeness and vitality as well as depression and disease within my own body. When I am aware I do my best to think positive thoughts; thoughts that empower me and make me richer. This means owning and alchemizing my sadness, anger, and shadow self.

So often we are quick to try to forgive others and so hard on ourselves.  Or, we are quick to judge others and judge ourselves even more harshly.  What happened to forgiveness here?  Is it even possible to forgive others when we can’t forgive ourselves or we constantly judge ourselves?  And what is the overall impact of this on our bodies?

I know an elderly woman who was recently diagnosed with a very slow growing cancer in her breast.  She remembers the doctors told her that she wouldn’t even die of the cancer; that something else in old age would occur first.  Even so, she decided that she would like to have the tumor removed. Then she did the courageous thing and began to work with herself and to try to discern the connection between her thoughts and her health.

During a conversation she told me that the cancer has actually given her the opportunity to learn more about herself and the things in her life about which she was being complacent.  I asked her what those things were and to paraphrase, she said:

I have spent too many years denying the good and the bad; especially my mother’s rejection.  I know this tumor is a concrete expression of anger and rejection that I have turned toward myself.  In other words, all throughout my life I channeled my mother’s rejection into my own body.  The thoughts and feelings about my mother that I repeated to myself over and over had been taken root inside of me in the form of breast cancer.  I rejected my mother’s milk, and yet I also had to take some of that milk in order to survive.  Even though I have resolved my ambivalent feelings about my mother and am now in a place where I see my mother clearly and actually feel great compassion for her and myself as well, the anger and rejection solidified inside of me long ago.  The symptoms are just now showing.  For so long I looked for comfort and nourishment outside of myself and now I finally know it needs to come from inside of me.

As I listened to her speak I thought how beautiful her thought processes were. She actually took the time to listen to her repeated thoughts and to her body and found she had learned a great deal about herself before it was too late. We all have that capacity. We just need to learn not only how to listen, but to actually listen regardless of what we hear. That requires courage. As we listen deeply to what our bodies and illnesses are saying to us, we can begin to understand how we inherit things from our family of origin and how we can help heal the past. The key, of course, to all of this is forgiveness.


Small Lifestyle Changes that Produce Big Results:
Begin keeping a notebook by your bed. When you wake up, either from a dream or as you are awaking in the morning, immediately pick up your notebook and jot down your dream, the thoughts that are right there.  If neither is at the forefront of your mind, jot down your stream of consciousness.  When you read this at a later time, much of what you have written may not make logical sense.  That is alright.  Don’t expect it to do so.  Do this every night for a few weeks.

You will begin to see some patterns emerge after seven to fourteen days.  Pay attention to the patterns of thought that recur and just be with them without judgment.  These are just windows into the unconscious and the soul.  The more you know and care for yourself, the more you can know and care about others and the world as a whole.  The key here in this exercise is to throw out blame, shame and self judging.  As you continue to do so, you will find your life is happier, healthier and more vital!