Last night, playing a family game of Clue, my nine-year old ran right straight into her own story. She’s the youngest, and had a story in her mind that she wasn’t capable of winning this game up against two adults and her older sister.
But there was a moment where, by luck, she realized she had learned two of the three things she needed to know to win the game. In her surprise, she gave away part of what she had found out. Her world fell apart. She was so close. But with her slip, the possibility of winning had evaporated.
I know this place. The one in which the untrue story that I believe in comes into direct conflict with what is possible if I believed in something else. It’s a direct challenge to my world view… it’s painful… and confusing.
I’m actually deep in the throes of writing that story down. In fact, I’m going to be performing that story live in Santa Cruz at the YoniVerse Monologues in March. It’s the story of my conflicting experiences of myself as a mother.
And so, as I sat with my girl last night, and she felt all of her anger and frustration and sadness about the story that she wasn’t capable… she ripped paper into little pieces and told me about how much it hurt. My heart ached for her… and I sat with her as she tore the paper and felt the feelings.
And then we talked about the stories she believes about herself… and we talked about what was really true… and we talked about how which story we put our attention on matters… and I told her my story about motherhood. While I talked I tore some of those tattered pieces of paper into hearts. Pretty soon… she was helping me… and organizing them into a larger heart.
She understood my story, and I understood hers. It was so amazing.
Truth is that we’re both still sad about the truths that exist in our stories about how we’re not perfect (because we’re not perfect… we’re human). But, we both found a bigger landscape for truth and possibility. And best of all, we got to feel human together.
As we came to our sense of humanity she made a “snow angel” in the remaining scraps of paper… and we brought greater definition to the angel… and made her “real”.
And so when my daughter crawled into bed we marveled at how the anger and frustration and sadness had resulted in an angel and a heart on her floor.
I’m humbled by her wisdom and her ability to feel her feelings. I’m still worried about how easy it is for her to believe that she’s not good enough. And I’m heartened by our ability to be present with each other.
Ram Dass said “We are all just walking each other home”. The key implication is that we’re in this together. And I think the together part is the healing part.
My kids and I were sitting in front of The Hula School in Santa Cruz waiting for the keiki (children's) class to start, when a guy in a straw cowboy hat walked up to a guitar repair shop next to us. The man inside was busy with another customer. This self-described "old hippie" was thin, had a gray ponytail, and a friendly voice. He asked us how long we'd lived in Santa Cruz... I said we'd been here on and off for almost 20 years. He told us he'd been here since 1963. He also freely dispensed some advice from his grandmother... and it sounded to me like it hit the nail on the head... so I thought I'd share it with you.
Grandma apparently told him that there were really just three rules in life that were important.
1) Use your imagination. Or at least use your brain. Turns out that's one and the same.
2) Life should be fun. What's fun spelled backwards? N-U-F. That's right. If it ain't fun then that's 'nuf of that and you should move on.
3) Be nice. As much as you can. 'Cause we all gotta live here together.
I'd say Old Hippie's Grandma was a wise woman.
Wow, if this isn't amazing timing! It's perfect for following on the heels of the last post about how your body can influence your mind. I'm going to turn over the idea that they have a relationship and just exactly what that means to me... but I felt like I needed to share this talk with you right now.
I just watched the following TEDx talk by Lissa Rankin, MD, "Is There Scientific Proof We Can Heal Ourselves?". She discusses how the medical establishment has been proving that your mind can heal your body for over 50 years. It's called "the placebo effect". I had never thought of it that way. Sometimes my scientific background actually comes back to bite me in the ass... that I understood how the drug efficacy thing worked, but never questioned the benchmark itself. While I knew that any new drug had to beat the placebo effect in order to be considered useful, I didn't think of what that meant. Funny, the premise of my current work was with me all along and I didn't see it!
I know from personal experience that the mind can heal the body. Years ago I had terrible food allergies to dairy products. It got worse each week, and at some point I couldn't eat at restaurants anymore because if they cooked my food in butter I'd have horrible belly pain and bloating for days. That was actually how I found Bioenergy Balancing. A friend recommended a healer, and despite my scientific training telling me that it couldn't work, I was so uncomfortable and desperate that I figured it was worth a few hundred dollars to see if I could change my life. It was, and I did. And after watching Lissa Rankin talk about what about medical care seems to work, I can see that it was the nurturing that my healer brought to the table, and her belief that I was worthy of being healthy, that gave me permission to think so too.
“When we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge others. … We tend to forget, though, the other audience that's influenced by our nonverbals: ourselves.”
This was a new idea for me recently: Maybe it's not just that our state of mind can influence our bodies... maybe this is a two way street. It's interesting to consider that we might also be taking cues from our physical body. It reinforces my perception that we have an internal relationship with ourselves that is very much like relationships we have with other people, only we fail to recognize it because we can never remove ourselves from it. It FEELS like it's us talking to ourselves, but really, it's what we've learned talking to us. It's what other people have told us, synthesized into a single voice in our heads. Anyway... it seems it's appropriate to add our very own body as another "voice" in this relationship.
I'm also going to admit that I've started standing in power poses in the morning. So far, I haven't been caught by my husband or my children, so they have no idea that I've been re-patterning my brain. They, maybe haven't noticed anything at all. But I sure have. My ability to continually deal with situations as they come up unexpectedly, the routine interruptions of trying to work at home over the summer, and to find ways to be productive (historically I've battled old family dynamics of being unproductive)... it's all been so different the last few days since I saw this TED talk!
I can't remember which of my incredibly awesome friends or colleagues posted this on Facebook, but I do have much gratitude for the things they post. This practice of standing powerfully is quickly becoming part of a 5-minute morning ritual where I stand tall, feel the power within (meaning that I summon words like capable, confident, strong, resilient...). I breathe deeply, receiving that sense of my essential self, and I release what no longer serves me. I give myself some appreciation for things that I know that I do well. And in less than five minutes I feel supercharged, positive, energetic, and totally ready to do what needs to be done for the day!
I'm still playing with my "daily" rituals (because I've admitted before that it's a challenge for me, right?). I'm actually taking an e-course about it. I'll share more about that as I work it out.
Click here to go to Amy Cuddy's TED talk about body language and it's influence on our perception of ourselves.
“If you can manage to experience three positive emotions for every one negative emotion … you dramatically improve your health and your ability to successfully tackle any problem you're facing.” ~ Jane McGonigal
My husband was out of town and my youngest child wanted me to sit with her every night while she fell asleep. I used this time to watch some really amazing TED talks.Jane McGonigal. Photo from her TED bio page
One talk that piqued my interest and stimulated some mental connecting-of-dots was by Jane McGonigal, a game developer... who has noticed that games that encourage us into optimism, cooperation, and creativity can actually lead us to approach our daily lives with the same outlook (link to her talk at the bottom of this post).
It seems... that perception is everything. People perceiving themselves as competent, capable, powerful, able to produce the desired change... that perception trumps physical discomfort as an indicator of how much people will feel that their lives are worthwhile. While this is where she leaves the talk... it's where I'd like to begin. Because this is where healing begins.
To know that our mindset is directly related to our ability to heal is incredibly powerful. It means that we don't have to manage healing first (be it physical, emotional, or mental) BEFORE we see ourselves as worthy of healing, as lovable, capable, and full of gratitude. In fact, that's backwards. We must perceive the possibility before we can take steps to make it happen for us.
So, what steps can you take today... to do something that encourages a positive, strong, grateful state of mind? If you're not feeling well perhaps you could take some time to make a brief list of things that you are grateful for. Get physically active... take a walk around the block... dance... walk your dog... or take time to stretch fully. Anything that gets you moving encourages blood flow and movement in the cerebral spinal fluid that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Connect with a friend, your community, or nature. Challenge your brain and stick with it. Choose wisely, so that it takes effort, but is not so complicated that you'll give up. Do a Sudoku puzzle, make some art, plan next week's menu and the groceries you'll need to make them.
That's a long list... don't let it be daunting. Choose one thing today and do it. Just... go ahead and do it. It doesn't have to be gigantic... just successful... and I think the other piece missing from the talk is to give yourself credit for it. I know that I, personally, often get to the end of my day and lament that I didn't do ANYTHING that day. That's not true. I'm not giving myself credit... I'm discounting what did get done... by saying these things to myself and relating my day to my husband. I did the dishes. I threw the ball for the dog. I HAVE to give myself credit for what I accomplished in order to feel up to doing more. If, instead, I berate myself for what I did not do... well... then I feel unmotivated to do what needs to be done the next day. Again... all back to perception. The keys to a shift in perception being lasting, though, is to 1) to acknowledge the deed that was accomplished, and 2) receive the resilience (read: motivation) that is gained from the completion. Which is to say... really let yourself understand and give credit for that success.
My 3-step prescription? Choose one thing. Do it. Acknowledge the accomplishment and receive the resilience.
I'm going to do this myself today... and I'll let you know tomorrow what I did. Will you do that for me too?
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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