Rest Your Mind On The Good Stuff

In my book A Journey of Creative Healing I tell my story of how as a young woman, widowed with two infant children, I was diagnosed, with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.  I had suffered random episodes of symptoms for a few years before these became too obvious to ignore.

Intuitively I rejected the diagnosis.   I felt that my illness was a reflection of traumas and challenges in my life and that my illness was a physical and emotional breakdown.

To dismiss the diagnosis over fifty years ago was not difficult as little was known of the disease, unlike today, there was no swag of information, no range of medication, very few support groups and no follow up evaluation by health professionals to consider how I would cope as the disease progressed.

Instead I focused on a daily creative project, it did not matter what, or how big it was, or how perfect the results were I just put my heart and soul into doing something creative every day.

I have always been convinced this intuitive step of not defining myself as the diagnosis was central in empowering the other simple common sense steps of acceptance, rest, quiet, gratitude and creativity to weave their healing magic.  This year I have been in remission for fifty-five years. 

 I am equally convinced that had I accepted the diagnosis and rested my mind on being a MS sufferer, my story would have played out in a very different fashion.

Today’s medical advancements are a far cry from the 1960’s and state of the art technological equipment provides as with a reliable and accurate diagnosis. Conclusively we see diagnosis is key to today’s successful management of that disease.

And it would be foolhardy to dismiss a diagnosis today.

Receiving a life-changing determination of what ails you focuses the mind keenly on the specific diagnostic definition.

But I still believe that it is counterintuitive to actually DEFINE yourself as the disease.  By define, I mean try it on for size, see that it fits, then live and breathe 24/7 being a ‘…………… sufferer.’

‘Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.’- Unknown

Define comes from the Old French word ‘definer,’ which is a variant of Latin meaning bring to an end, finish, mark the limit of. Our words have energy and power, especially ones that flag our suffering.  Quantum physics (way beyond my pay grade but I trust the science) say we are energy that attracts like-minded energy.

So be careful what you wish for or rather where you put your focus.

By necessity as a patient your life is focused on coping with treatment, medication and medical appointments.  But you can balance this with practical steps to change your focus

  • Make a determined effort to re-focus on doing what you love.
  • Daily – find somewhere quiet and encourage your imagination to see yourself content and in good health.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Avoid stress.
  • Banish the word from your everyday language or say ‘you are holding space for………’   
  • Ask family and friends to keep the word to a minimum. Ask them instead to actively visualise you as healthy and content.
  • Listen to your intuition and act upon it.

And when you able, in this wretched journey of ill health, have the courage to re-define your illness as a blessing seeing your sickness as simply the body and spirit’s way of saying ‘time-out’ to rediscover and renew you.

From this place you are no longer in conflict with the disease, and I have found, as many others have too, that when you get out of its way the body invariably knows how to heal itself.

 

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The Path To Your Real Self

Nature-WallpaperAt first the search for your Real Self can be imbued with an ambition to be more than you think you are. Not content with being a mere mortal but wanting to project yourself as a super person. I have a friend whose verbal tag line is ‘I don’t do ordinary – I do excellent’ which, would be seen in the world of commerce as commendable. But authentic self is about the simple act of being, living what you love, without the constraints of trying to achieve. The egotistical ways of wanting more, being more will need to slough away for you to live the authentic you.   Simply by being you become a beacon to others. I prefer to embrace ‘I DO DO ordinary, but I live it extraordinarily well.’

The intention of seeking your Real Self causes the ego to go into defence mode to keep you safe in your status quo; it only knows the well-worn path of your trampling belief system and its hunger to be recognised. And like any good defender of its perceived realm it will create strategies to slow you and stop you from reclaiming your authentic sovereignty of your Real Self.

Asking yourself ‘what do I love?’ is the key to finding your Real Self. For some this question will easy, they have always known from childhood where the direction of their true gifts lies. But for others whose truth has been in hiding it will need more persistence. Whether the initial answer comes easily or with a dedicated effort the repeated practise of asking ‘what do I love?’ intuitively rather than intellectually will get you there.

Why intuitively? Any intellectual deliberation will always be permeated with our default thinking. By setting our intention to receive intuitively we are tapping into our own reliable source of truth.

Before you dismiss receiving an ‘intuitive’ answer as something new age, bordering on flaky, consider the following. Leading scientific and philosophical thinkers of our time valued intuition above intellect. Evidence of this may be found in telling quotes from Albert Einstein (‘The only real valuable thing is intuition) Henri Poincare, Frank Capra, Jonas Salk, Immanuel Kant, Lao Tzu, Steve Jobs and many others. But Robert Graves, poet, novelist and critic put it most succinctly – Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought and leaps straight from the problem to the answer.

 We have all heard about the fireman whose insistent inner voice commanded him to get out of the burning house moments before the flaming beams crashed to the spot where he had been standing. A powerful  illustration of intuitive guidance that is available to us if only we will listen. We can tap into our intuition any time but most of us dismiss that patient quiet voice of guidance or action.

Purposeful intuition is accessed best in a quiet, still environment – meditation or a time spent communing with nature. I like to put myself in an imaginary circle. I see the circle as a sacred space. Silently voice your intention to serve yourself and to receive. At first the mind likes to throw up all kinds of dross – simply observe and acknowledge, as you would clouds moving slowly across a sky.

You will find Intuition delivers answers in different ways; you may get a symbol, a song, a feeling, a written word or a clearly spoken message in your head. Occasionally the answer might not come at that time but will come later in a synchronistic manner that defies ignoring. If the answer is obtuse look at what is obvious about this, what it might mean to you, if you’re unsure ask for more clarity. But the more you practice, answers are more easily read.

The question ‘what do I love?’ seems simple but we are multi dimensional beings who delight in many things from a hug from a loved one, a picture of a baby, coffee with a friend, a favourite book, good movie or a walk on the beach. Some characteristics of things that you are good at may give you direction but you will need to sift through these to elicit the most powerful connection. But frequently asking the question ‘what do I love?’ will plumb the depths and breadths of the real you.

finding-your-voice1There was nothing original in the title Finding Your Voice my self-help guide to public speaking book . Variations of ‘finding your voice,’ ‘having a voice’ or simply ‘a voice,’ are well known metaphors and cliché for living your truth. But my unwitting and decisive choice of naming it Finding Your Voice proved to be the open door and ongoing breadcrumb trail to who I am. At first the answer was generic – ‘a writer’ but as I kept asking the question I saw that it was leading me down paths that I had never considered. Giving me temerity to write a novel, speak up for what my heart and muse perceives as social injustice or  simply a desire to share a travel adventure. And wait,  I know there is more ….. I just need to keep asking ‘what do I love?’

Technicolor Mind Chatter

IMG_4657I love a guided meditation where a mellifluous voice tells me to take a deep breath in… tense the muscles…. and relax….   acknowledge the grey chatter of the mind and let it float on by.

And in my mind chatter phase I remember I need to take the fish from the freezer for dinner and that the kitchen floor needs a good scrub.  These willow wisp thoughts float by before my mind tries once more to establish its dominion before succumbing to the joys of surfing the deep.  Why grey it asks surely beige would be better. Grey is associated with external aging but beige as in cardigan says more about the mindset, don’t you think?  I wiggle in my chair but Deepak Chopra’s voice is willing me back ‘focus on the breath, focus on the breath.’

Mind chatter is not simply isolated to a meditation practice.  My mind  is in a constant state of mental chatter and I have found my internal chat show like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat comes in many colours. Let me share.

Hot Pink chatter is reserved for those  concepts that have a bit of verve, a peeve or a particular hobby-horse, anything where you feel a lick of righteous passion.  My hot pink state is so seductive it makes me feel I’m intelligent and I have something valuable to contribute. My mind immediately has  free rein to happily strap me in for a ride through the shiny worn pathways of  righteous concerns about anything and nothing. It is simply a diversion, a strategy for escaping doing what I love.

White – ah ‘white chatter‘ is barely a breeze of a blissful whisper when I see a newborn baby, see an expression of love or allow myself to be vulnerable and innocent. Instantly it grounds me in the moment.No wonder white light is used for healing and supposedly that dying walk through the tunnel to the light.

My creative thinking colour I decide is  green, flowing from the calming, nourishing green of my heart chakra.  Red chatter is for that moment when the anger will no longer be suppressed and needs oxygen. But ‘purple‘ that is a different story entirely.

The bruising purple will light up my neural pathways. Its chatter masquerades behind a sense of  dignity and honour. It is about being right and it is the most insidious of mind games that an ego employs. So subtle, the repetitive thoughts seemingly well-intentioned and thoroughly considered, so relentless till you take action.  Resolving  ‘purple chatter’ tension always  brings regrets.

What about yellow? Surely sunshine all the way……..

Relax, deep breath in let the grey chatter of your mind float on by.

Changing thoughts on being a 2

I know that I’m pure energy and that the thoughts that I generate have complete dominion over my reality. So I set myself the task of diligently observing my thinking and  I am beginning to understand how much brain activity I invest into negative or victim thoughts.

To give you an understanding of the canvas I am working with, I am a number 2 on the Enneagram profiling scale. This personality profile is defined as the ‘Helper’ or ‘Giver’

You would recognise the type as some one who has a natural empathy, is there in a crisis, or intuitively works out in a flash how to help/please/make you feel good.  Nice people yes because there is a deep caring there but the dark side is that we 2’s have a pathological need for your approval. We suppress our own needs as we give, understand and help but if this is not given the right approbation, recognition or level of appreciation God help you as the sweetness transforms into a shrew.   I’m in conflict as I write these words wanting to say unfair, unfair. Not me I’m evolved, my consciousness is awake.  I do things for the purest motives. I’m lovely!  Really Mary?

But with a detached observation, I notice that those poor little me, dark thoughts – Nigredo – will give me a dull achy type pain in my sinus area. I am sure if I was scanned while indulging in this putrefying nastiness, neurologists would identify exactly where the activity was happening in my brain. Thoughts of love, laughter and creativity – Albedo – conversely pulsate a blissful rainbow of colour and peace rising up, so it seems to me from my heart and suffusing my brain to match the vibration of the universe.  These are the same feelings that I get when I meditate.

With the Nigredo thoughts comes pain that pulls down a heaviness, a darkness into my body but with the Albedo there is a feeling of nurture, like the warmth of a loved one’s arms about you or the gentlest kiss.  It is all about softness whereas the mean manipulative thoughts are harsh, gritty like flint in a wound.

I’m trying to train myself  to identify that pain associated with the negative thought the instant it occurs, to act like a warning klaxon to stop the victim/the world has done me wrong  thoughts worming in, waiting for any opportunity to take me down.

Awareness of course, being in the present is route to consciousness. The path of being in the present for me is identify the pain or the joy that a thought gives me. Then I can use my will, to change the pain of the negative thought into a vibration of joy.

By transforming a dense leaden contemplation into golden bliss choices – that is true alchemy. ‘How clever I am,’ I think, ‘I could start something here.’  But Mary you know this is not new, wise men, the holy men have been saying this throughout the ages. So why has it taken me so long when I knew it intellectually? The truth is I, like you, needed to be ready to embrace this wisdom –  to make it my own. Frank Sinatra nailed it  –To think I did all that, And may I say, not in a shy way, Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way.

Left brain Right brain

Neuroscientists found that when they dumbed down the analytical side of the left-brain hemisphere – the right brain, which provides us with insight or intuitive responses, was clearer sharper and demonstrated enhanced creativity and innovation.

It seems that simple steps like brushing your teeth with your weak hand, travelling a new and different route home or eating foods that you have never tried before will stimulate and improve our overall brain development.

But can we improve our insightful  thinking (what I would call creative intuition) without an attendant neuroscientist zapping half of our brain with electrical impulses to temporarily still our left-brain’s predictive course of thinking?

Can we grow our well-spring of creativity?

When I write, I’m single-minded, totally focused, in the zone. If I was in an MRI scanner I’m sure it could be seen that both sides of my brain would be contributing.

But the most valuable moments of creativity for me frequently occur after  I have had time out.  After I meditate, take a walk along the beach focusing on the ocean, reflect on a good movie, or take an adventure break by going somewhere new.  Seeing things as though I was seeing them for the first time. The light bulb moments come when my brain is not busy with the grey chatter of the day or  my  treadmill thinking. They come when  my neurons are having a break from firing along their well trod pathways.

For a few years now I have deliberately practiced developing my intuitive ability. At first I found it hard not to indulge the analytical side as it could and still can be extremely persuasive in the case it presents.   But over time and many personal development courses I have found ways to disengage the finger wagging left brain and increase the  ‘yeh baby’  creative moments.

Inner ChildThis is where this picture on the left plays its part.  Meet little Me, aged four’ish.  My inner child.  I see her shy but triumphant smile as she tries to ride her older sister’s bike.  I identify with her trusting quality of innocence; she simply does not recognise that she is not big enough to fully reach the peddles  to make the wheels turn. She is in the moment of loving being able to ride the bike unconcerned that the bike will remain stationary.

My inner child image is my express route to my intuition. I visualise  her proudly sitting on her two sizes too large tricycle and this  curbs  my busy left-brain. In this quiet well of connection I set my intention to receive whatever guidance  I need, may be its a plot snag or a character’s flaws. As I continue to focus on this specific image of my inner child I find I experience once again  her  moment of elation and feel her joyful innocence. It creates the same mind flora as  the aftermath of time out but with more purpose. I find my intuition gives up guidance and answers like slices of golden toast in a pop-up toaster.

A mental image does not have to be a picture of you as a young child that is just my way of leaving the wallpaper behind and soaring to different places. For you it could be something from nature, a loved pet or any  image that allows you to identify with a joyful experience and importantly captures that feeling of innocence – seeing things as though you are seeing them for the first time. 

It is a simple technique but so effective. Similar to developing any part of our muscular system it requires regular practice to access it at will and determination to trust what you receive.

Try it I think you will be amazed.

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