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Symptoms

Lifestyle Determines Health

“…if we remember the fundamental principle that the symptomatology of an illness is at the same time a natural attempt at healing….”  ~C.G.Jung, Collected Works

How would we relate differently to our achy backs and stiff joints, or instable blood sugars and heartburn if we honored the symptom as the body’s way of attempting to heal itself?  What Western medicine offers is valuable, but it is limited.  The approach to symptoms in Western medicine primarily is that of attempting to eradicate or control. If we review symptoms as a natural process of healing, then the question becomes “Is the obliteration or control of symptoms the optimal approach?”

Certainly relief from symptoms is helpful, even necessary and life saving at times, but where both the provider and patient loose in the end is calling it a done deal when the symptoms are controlled or eradicated.

Epigenetics, which is the study of variation in gene expression that do not involve changes to the original DNA sequence, but may result in variable expression in our physical bodies.  Epigenetic change is a regular and natural occurrence and is influenced by several factors including age, the environment, lifestyle, and state of health.   What the study of Epigenetics has revealed is each of us is much more in control of lives than we thought.  We are not at the mercy of our genes!

We can influence our gene expression based on our lifestyles, and lifestyle determines health, thus investigation of disease beyond the mere treatment of symptoms is key.  What is lifestyle?  Lifestyle includes not only what we eat, but how we eat it; not only if we exercise, but what is our attitude when exercising;, not only if we are in relationships, but are those relationships nourishing; not only how we act, but what are the underlying emotions that are the foundation of our actions.

Health is not determined by a series of negative lab or imaging studies, nor is determined by your doctor saying, “Everything looks great.”

While those are important, each person’s health is ultimately dependent on his/her daily behaviors and attitudes.  Do you have resentments from childhood or from yesterday that are still festering?  How do those resentments impact your relationships today?  What habitual ways do you have of interacting?  Are they of benefit to you and others?  Are you willing to look, take responsibility, and be uncomfortable?

Wishing you courage and honesty with your self upon the exploration of these questions.  Remember engaging a trusted friend, family member or counselor to aid in your exploration is invaluable.  All the best!

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Category: Personal development

Dismissed

Dismissed

Over the years I have had many patients and friends share with me their experience of feeling “dismissed” by the doctor they were seeing.  It may have been a dismissal of symptoms or feelings or they felt they were not listened to.

Having reflected on their experiences, I recalled times when I had acted in the same way as a provider…when I was too overwhelmed to let one more thing inside my mind, heart and body.  While at first glance this seems like a valid strategy, it is actually an ineffectual one for the provider and probably harmful, or at least hurtful, for the patient.

What happens when we deny another’s experience is they begin to not trust themselves and viola we have created a victim, or disempowered another person.  When we deny another’s feelings, we deny their humanity, as well as our own.

I said many times over the years of practicing Obstetrics, “Thank goodness for epidurals.  If there were not epidurals, I couldn’t do this job.”  I started to question why I said that.  What has come forth is that I could not be with my own pain, thereby how could I be present and attend to any one else’s pain?  Whether is it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual pain, unless we are able to be with and attend to our own pain, we cannot honor and attend to another’s pain.

We all have pain from minor disappointments to major tragedies.  This is the nature of living this life.  The beauty of such is it provides us the needed contrast to experience happiness, as well as the fuel to heal.

In order to be an effectual healer, and we all are healers, we need to first cultivate the capacity to face and be with our own pain.  Then secondarily without effort, we transmit that healing force to all those we interact with no matter our profession.  Although overused, when taken to heart and felt, this is the essence of Gandhi’s saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Many blessings!

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Category: Relationships

Dream Tending

Dreams are the royal road to the consciousness

Freud said, “Dreams are the royal road to the consciousness.” Dreams can release emotional steam from our daily lives. Dreams may be an inner resource, especially during difficult times. Dreams are alive and have their own wisdom.  Reasoning and intellect pales in comparison to dream tending, which approaches all life’s deep questions from a different perspective.

To begin to tend your dreams, start with a dream journal at your bedside, a soft light and an intent before you fall asleep to remember your dreams.   The first step in dream tending is recording the dream.  Do this immediately upon waking, even if it is the middle of the night.  The primary skill in working with dreams is listening with your whole being while sitting on interpretations.  The following process to tend to dreams is from Robert Johnson’s book titled Inner Work.

Four steps in dream tending:

  1. Make associations: Every dream is a series of images. By making associations with the dream images we can discover the meaning these images carry for us. Essentially this highlights the personal significance of the dream image. The same image can evoke different associations or reactions from different people, thereby it is recommended to forego interpreting dreams of others or referring to a book on dream images.  A dream image cannot be separated from the individual who dreams it.

When making associations avoid chain associations.  For example, if image A leads to B and then B leads to C and C leads to D – then the original significance of the starting image A can get diluted.  The image Johnson uses to convey what is the preferred method is that of a wheel with the dream image A being at the center and the associations proceeding from it radiating outward from that center. In other words, always come back to the original dream image being studied and proceed with associations from there.  Images from our dreams connect us to our deepest parts of our self.
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  1. Connect dream images to inner dynamics: Inner dynamics refers to anything that is going on inside of you as you see the dream image.  So what is arising in you as you experience the image from your dream?  What feeling, conflict, attitude, mood, emotional event is being experienced?  Every dream shows us some way in which we are accepting or resisting our inner self. Dreams are a reflection of the unconscious, or that which were are unaware of within.  Dreams almost always are aimed at the inner level or interior life.  It is fruitless to attempt to understand an external situation unless you identify the psychological patterns within you that affect it. So useful questions may be:  What traits do I have in common with the image?  What are the main characteristics of the person in the dream?  How do I describe their character/personality traits?  How do those traits show up in me?  Every dream is a portrait of the dreamer.  Be compassionate with your self as you explore this as dreams often show us extremes to get our attention.

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  2. Interpretation: Interpretation is the bringing together all the information of the first two steps in the dream tending into a unified picture. The interpretation is a coherent statement of what the dream means to you personally.  Useful questions are: What teachings from this dream are most meaningful to me? Why?  What is the central message of this dream?  What is the dream advising?  Is the dream directing me or guiding me?  Is there an overall meaning of the dream for my life?  Dream interpretation bests sums up the meaning of the dream for your life, while also potentially containing an application to your waking life.  While dreams may have many interpretations, the dream interpretation that arouses you, provides insights, or liberates you from behavioral patterns is most likely the correct one.   Follow the small, subtle clues in the dream.  If there is some image that keeps coming up for you, tend that one no matter how insignificant it may seem.   If an interpretation does not seem clear, then make an argument for and against the interpretation you are reviewing.

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  3. Ritual: Ritual is a symbolic behavior that is consciously performed.  Ritual is a demonstration of respect and reverence that taps us into higher consciousness, higher power.  A dream ritual is a physical act that affirms the message of your dream.  It could be something practical, or it may be symbolic.  Keep your physical rituals small, subtle, physical and performed in silence.  In short, make them doable.  Talking tends to place our dream experiences on an abstract level.  Talking about a dream lead to its contamination.  Instead of a vivid, private experience, we wind up with an amorphous chat when we talk about dreams.

 

Imagination and dreams come from the same source…both are communication from the Divine.   Happy dream tending!

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Category: Personal development
Thank those who have caused you pain

I had to seek the physician

Because of the pain this world

Caused me

I could not believe what happened when I got there

I found my teacher.

Before I left, he said,

“Up for a little homework, yet?”

“Okay,” I replied.

“Well then, thank all the people

who have caused

you pain.

They helped you

Come to

Me.”

Kabir
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Category: Relationships

Enemy or NOT

Develop Conscious Relationships

Do you hide out in relationship?  What I mean by that is do you only have relationships with the people who are most like you in that they share your opinions, beliefs, and behaviors.  Do you avoid people who stir up feelings of dislike, trigger you in some way, or simply make your blood boil although you can’t pinpoint exactly why that is?

Most of us use relationship to nurture our egos, thereby hiding from our shadow qualities.  The people who we avoid or dislike or trigger us often contain a shadow quality we have that we would rather never see or admit to.  The danger in avoiding our shadow is that we never fully mature in our spiritual growth, which is the foundation of why any of us are really here.

There is an evolutionary path of relationship called conscious relationship.  It may be between you and another person (intimate partner or friend) or between you and an animal or plant.  It is entered into by both parties through willingness, commitment and awareness.  This path is not often harmonious, nor easy, and therefore it may seem unappealing.  It requires an understanding and a compassion for your humanness and a concurrent embracing of your own divinity, so that you may extend that to your partner in conscious relationship.  This is the path of all inclusiveness, which is the path of the soul.

Whenever we are excluding anything, we are in ego mind.

The path of conscious relationship is the path of agape, unconditional love and acceptance.  It begins between two.  It is the willingness to be fully seen, heard and experienced in all your and another’s contradictions. The reward of this path is exultation of our souls.

The commandment is “Love your enemies as you love your self.”  One may argue how can I love another as such, I don’t even love my self.  Well, we all have a fear of death.  If you don’t believe it, then why does your heart speed up when you have a near miss such as almost getting hit by a car?, In any feeling is at least the seed of its opposite.  The opposite of fear is love.  (One may say the opposite of love is hate, but taken to its root hate arises from fear.)  So even those amongst us who feel they hate themselves, there is at least a seedling of love, an instinctual love is present to work with.

Wishing you evolutionary relating!

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Category: Relationships
A poem for equilibrium in life love and spirit

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,

May the release of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,

May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,

May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,

So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what is said,

May your sense of irony bring perspective.

 

As time remains free of all that it frames,

May your mind stay clear of all that it names.

May your prayer of listening deepened enough

To hear in the depths the laughter of God.

 

– John O’Donohue
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Category: Personal development
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