Be the One You Love this Valentines Day

Be the One You Love this Valentines Day

I wrote this poem when I was a child.

I found it years later after I had been practicing meditation for 20 years.  I was stunned. I obviously had experiences of stillness and silence as a child to write something like this.

Then I realized that the most effective meditation for me is to sit and watch my mind and my breath. I find it fascinating and deeply relaxing. I have the pleasure of getting to know myself. It is true for me that silence is my favorite companion. That is my inner being, my center, my home. It is me in the fullest sense of the word.  

Don’t try to stop the mind.

If you try to stop your mind, most often your meditation practice becomes a battle with your mind. That is counterproductive. The mind is a thinking organ, just like the heart pumps blood throughout your body. Trying to stop the mind is a fruitless endeavor. It simply aggravates the mind, which winds it up. Watching the mind allows the mind to unwind and then it will naturally slow down and you will have periods of stillness between the thoughts. It is something that happens naturally without force. Over time, the spaces increase in frequency and duration. 

There are many meditation techniques.

Meditation techniques are designed to focus the mind on an object whether it be the breath, a word, a candle or something else. By focusing the mind, it brings concentration and allows a break from the constant flow of thoughts. We begin to see that there is more to our inner landscape than our thoughts. 

The purpose of the focus is to move you into a state of witness conscious, where you can watch the mind from a detached perspective. Once you experience that, the object of focus can be relinquished and the meditation becomes watching the activity of the mind, body and emotions. If you loose your ‘witness consciousness’ perspective, then you can engage the focus again. Even a moment of stillness between the thoughts is enough to change your perception of life and begin the journey to watching the mind and beyond.

Meditation is a powerful tool

Meditation is a powerful way to reduce your stress and become more aware of yourself and the world around you. You get to know yourself and re-integrate all the parts of yourself that you have pushed away. Making friends with those parts, is a component of self love. When you make friends with them, they integrate back into you and no longer sabotage your success.

Experiment with an object of focus that you feel drawn to and that makes meditation easy without creating a battle with your own mind. Let the mind become the entertaining focus of your meditation.

Everyone is unique

What works for one person, doesn’t work for everybody. So discover what works for you and let that be your guide. If you are visual, you may want to watch a candle or create an inner image to focus on. If you are auditory, you might do best saying an affirmative statement or a mantra or listen to some music. If you are kinesthetic, you may want to try watching the breath, feeling the breath move in and out of your body at the nostril or in the rise and fall of the belly with the breath.

Allowing meditation to progress naturally is the way to find inner peace.

Meditation is about letting go of goals and being present in the moment.  To become goal oriented about meditation defeats the purpose . . . unless of course, you can watch your mind trying to goal set and be amazed and amused at it’s tenacity. Yet, even that is a goal. See how tricky the mind is.  

One of the greatest comments I ever heard about meditation:

“Some days my meditation is like a refreshing, cooling drink on a hot day. Other days, I feel like I am locked in a very small room with a crazy person.”

Yep. That’s the mind . . . the ‘crazy’ person. As you detach from the mind as you sit, that detachment will creep into all areas of your life.  That allows you to be present in life without reacting (or at least not acting on your reactions) and make clear decisions from a place of love while remaining grounded and centered.

Home Practice

This week, set aside 10 minutes a day to set and do nothing with your eyes either open or closed. Choose a focus if you like or simply watch the wall in front of you. At the end of the 10 minutes go about your day. Be aware of what you notice during the ‘meditation’ or in your life. Let me know how it goes.  

Please post any questions or comments on Facebook or on my website blog.

Embracing Pain with Love

Embracing Pain with Love

Pain is the name of the game

Fibromyalgia is a painful challenging illness.  We have physical pain, emotional pain and mental pain.  It disrupts our lives and can steal all that we hold dear.

How can we move beyond the pain?

For years, I fought the fibromyalgia.  I pushed beyond the pain trying to out smart it, to move beyond it.  Eventually, with this approach, I collapsed and made myself even worse.  That didn’t get me anywhere. I changed my strategy.  I began to listen to my body.  I learned to surrender to the limits my body set on me.  I began to listen to my heart to hear the emotional pain underneath the physical pain.

Listening to my own pain, was an act of self-love

As I continued to listen and be present with myself and the pain, I began to create a relationship with my inner self.  I stopped the inner struggle between my heart and my mind.   My mind would push me to achieve externally.  My heart wanted rest and comfort.

Honoring all parts of myself

As my process continued, I learned to create balance between the warring parts of myself.  I learned to hear and nurture the frightened, vulnerable part of my self.  I learned when to work, when to rest.  I learned when to give way to the productive side of my that felt fulfilled through work or hobbies.

In the process I became whole

By hearing all parts of my being, and giving each part of me attention and a voice, I became more whole.  I was more balance and fulfilled.  I didn’t need the pain screaming at me to stop and rest or to give myself some nurturing attention.  The pain subsided.  I am more at peace within myself.

Guidance from within.

If the pain flares up, I need to stop and listen to my heart.  What is out of balance?  What am I missing?  Where do I need to go?  What do I need to do?  Guidance comes, I listen, I apply.  Balance returns.

Life is good.

Mindset for Healing

Mindset for Healing

The mind is a powerful tool.

It can assist with the process of rebuilding your health . . . or it can get in the way. I believe that the reason I have made so much progress in rebuilding my health is my mindset.  It pulled me through when the body couldn’t.  It also allowed me to keep believing that I could be healthy.

Below are 5 mindsets that will enhance your ability to rebuild your health.

1.  Never give up!

I really get that if you have been ill for a long time, you might doubt if you can really rebuild your health.  It is widely publicized that there is no cure for fibromyalgia by the medical community.  You have plenty of ‘evidence’ that says you will not be healthy again.  At best, you can mitigate symptoms and learn to live with it.

In my struggle to rebuild my health, I went through various phases.  I denied it.  I fought it.  I surrendered to it.  I was angry at it.  I gave up.  But then, a very wise person suggested to me some information about a supplement that was known to help fibromyalgia.  I tried it and got good results . . . temporarily.   But what I learned from that was there is always new information available.  That is one thing doesn’t work, there is always something else to try.

At that point, I made up my mind that I would always keep trying to rebuild my health.  After all, what else did I have to do.  I knew that if I didn’t keep trying, I would only get worse.  But If I kept trying, there might just be something out there that would work.

From that point on, I held the intention that I could rebuild my health.  I could be healthy again.  That made all the difference.  From that point on, my health did improve.  And continues to do so.

2.  Be grateful for the baby steps.

Sometimes, we can get so focused on one symptom that we miss the 5 others that have changed or improved.  It is important to pay attention to your symptoms and be grateful for the small baby steps.  Perhaps you feel more relaxed.  That may be a huge step for you, but someone on the outside might not notice it.  Perhaps you feel better when you wake in the morning.  Perhaps, you don’t react as strongly to something that triggers a reaction in you.  Notice these small changes and know that they are signs that health is rebuilding itself from the inside out.

What I have noticed, is that sometimes a symptom has gone away, and I completely forget about it.  I can be so focused on what hasn’t shifted, that I completely ignore what has shifted.

I have a symptom inventory list that I provide for my clients.  Take an inventory of your symptoms and the intensity of them.  Periodically check back in with your list to see what has improved. What has gotten worse, if any.  What has gone away.  This helps you to have an objective view of where you are and what progress you have made.  You might surprise yourself.

If you notice a symptom getting worse, then some detective work is called for.  Perhaps you need to change your protocol.  Perhaps you are in a healing response or retracing experience.  A healing response is when a symptom temporarily gets worse as it is healing.  Retracing is when an old symptom reappears as the body is healing on a deeper level.

3.  Put yourself first.

Most of us with Fibromyalgia are caring people.  We want our family and friends to be cared for.  Sometimes we put their needs ahead of our own.  We push ourselves beyond what we can do to take care of others.

I call this the Eveready Bunny Syndrome.  We think we are like the Eveready Bunny who just keeps on going.  Unfortunately, even the Eveready Bunny’s batteries run out.  When those batteries run out you just cannot keep on going.

You must include yourself among those you love.  If you have fibromyalgia, chances are your battery has run out or is very low.  If you do not take care of yourself first, you will have nothing to give anyone else.  As your health improves, it will be important to watch this.  I know as my health improved and my energy started to come back, I was so excited, that I would push myself too hard and have a relapse.  Take care.  Be aware.  Make the choice to respect your body’s limitations and get the rest that you need.

4.  Have compassion.

Fibromyalgia is a difficult illness.  It is difficult for you and it is difficult for your loved ones.  You may be experiencing difficulties just getting through the day.  You may not be able to do all the things that you would love to do for yourself and your loved ones.  Your loved ones my find it difficult to see you struggling, to watch you pain.  Out of their love for you, they might say or do things that don’t work for you.

Compassion is the action of accepting and understanding the struggle that comes with fibromyalgia.  It is forgiving yourself for not being able to do all that you want to do.  It is forgiving your family members when they don’t understand how you feel and why you are so limited.  It is empathy and understanding.

One of the greatest gifts that I received from having fibromyalgia is compassion.  I grew to have compassion for myself as I struggled with this illness.  I grew to have compassion for my family as they struggled to understand and cope with what I was going through.  Before I had fibromyalgia, I was a pusher.  I pushed myself and I pushed others.  Now, I listen to my body, my heart, others, and my soul and make choices from a place of love and compassion.

5.  Trust that everything is working for your highest good.

How can having fibromyalgia bee a good thing?  This one can be a toughie.  During my worst years with fibromyalgia, I struggled a lot with it.  As one point, I adopted the possibility that there was a gift in what I was experiencing.  That having fibromyalgia was a wake-up call.  That it wasn’t a punishment.  I hadn’t done anything wrong.  I wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t my fault.

I took a good hard look at how having fibromyalgia was changing me and how I viewed myself and the world.  How it was changing the trajectory of my life.  How it changed my relationships with others.  How it changed my choices.  I would have been in a very different place in my life if I hadn’t had fibromyalgia.  I am not sure I would have been any happier than I am now.  Probably not.  I probably would have more money and a different job.  I am pretty sure those things wouldn’t have given me the satisfaction and fulfillment that I experience now.  My values changed for the better.

I believe fibromyalgia can be a wake-up call to put your thoughts, emotions, and actions in alignment with a higher power.  In alignment with LOVE, peace and joy.  Yes, it is a rude awakening.  Perhaps it feels like you have been hit by a semi-truck full force.   But for me in rebuilding my health, I found a much better path than the one I was on.  A path that has brought me closer to myself, God, others and the world around me.  For that, I am absolutely grateful.

Contemplation for the week:

By embracing even one of these mindset suggestions, can pave the way for the others.  These shifts in mindset, can provide a more positive outlook on a devastating illness.  They can help you shift out of a victim mentality to feeling more empowered and in control of your life.  For me, these mindset shifts made all the difference in the world.  They helped me to keep my head above water in challenging times and moving forward in unraveling my experience with fibromyalgia and rebuilding my health, reclaiming my life, rediscovering my joy and aligning with my purpose.

Reflect on your current attitude about having fibromyalgia and consider the mindset suggestions above.  Notice if there are one or more that you would like to adopt.  Experiment with them and post your comments and questions below.