Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Imagine yourself free. What does that look like? What does it feel like? Give yourself permission to release old hurts, unhealed angers, seemingly unsolvable conflicts. Give yourself permission to be the pure you.
In a meditation visualization, you might feel yourself walk across a lovely meadow on a gorgeous day, letting the beauty around you absorb petty cares. You see a door you enter to a set of steps going down. With each step down, you move deeper into your core self, away from concerns, until you reach the door at the bottom. When you go through that door, you exhale the last of your problems and close the door behind you. Now you are standing free. You brought nothing with you and you feel great. Remember the sensation so you can reproduce it at will.
I just watched an online segment of the Eastern Medicine: Journey through Asia series with Ty Bollinger in which he interviewed several doctors from India. One observation echoed a conclusion I’ve heard from cancer survivors before: cancer begins in the mind. When we suppress negative emotions without healing them, they fester. Old guilts, griefs, or resentments—hurts we may hardly remember consciously—lie behind our lives, repeating cynical tapes that open us to disease and depression. We distort our self-image so that it looks less-than in the mirror. Our biology recreates the conflict we once felt.
As someone who’s empathetic, I have to take deliberate steps not to absorb all the negativity—judgment and resentment—swirling around the world. Was there ever a time with no negativity? Were/are humans ever content? I have no idea, but I do know we crave humor to help us balance—hence the popularity of late-night comic news shows and slapstick comedies. I keep a stock of DVDs that I use to refill my sense of humor or romance or need for music. I dance to a CD of Garifuna drum music from Belize. The result is definitely humorous.
We also crave closeness with people who can help us release our emotions in healthy ways. In some circles, I’m known as a soother—the one who can return the needle from Code Red to a neutral position for friends in need, important because we can’t sustain anger or angst and health together. Political activists, for example, must fill their lives with the goodness in humankind, the magnificence of the earth, and whatever spirituality the person can embrace to sustain equilibrium. I force myself to look for the good in people I don’t admire. Sometimes I need a microscope.
We can use exercise to help us “let it go”: walking, dancing (whatever you conceive that to be), playing sports (with the emphasis on playing), hiking, swimming—anything that involves movement and is something we truly enjoy. Have-to exercise doesn’t offer the same benefits—ask my treadmill.
When fun and funny seem far away, when all human society looks hostile, when food seems like the only trustworthy happiness, it’s time to start dancing with Princess Elsa. (I danced my way through my bachelor’s degree with Debbie Reynolds singing “He’s My Friend” from The Unsinkable Molly Brown and, together with another senior who was desperate for a stress reliever, re-enacted horror movies in my dorm room for lower classmen.) When life looks insurmountably difficult, it’s time to call a friend or two for lunch or games or a cozy heart-to-heart. It’s time for nature. It’s time to forgive yourself and your past and all those nagging disappointments that stick to you like dog fur on black slacks. When I forget to let go, I grow old. Who needs that?