Tag: health & wellness

The Power of Our Imagination

The Power of Our Imagination

Friends and Acquaintances by Gale Franey
Friends and Acquaintances by Gale Franey

A person’s ability to imagine is a potent source of power that every person alive possesses. We may believe that our imagination has been displaced by pain and trauma or that we no longer have access to it, if indeed we had any to start. Or, we may be operating on the assumption that we need to think our way out of the emotional and psychological quagmire that keeps us fixated on our problems.  I believe,  that regardless of the state we are in, our imagination is available to us and can become a potent ally in our efforts toward health and wholeness.

We are all born with the power of imagination. Think about it. Can you remember a time in childhood when you were so immersed in play, your imagination so taken with the imaginary world you had summoned up that what your mind had created  seemed absolutely real to you?

I remember creating a home in the woods across from my childhood home. Tree trunks became walls, mounds of snow were fashioned into chairs and fixtures. What my friends and I created was absolutely real to us. I’m pretty sure to the eyes of an adult it would simply have been snow and woods. My perfectly crafted kitchen, complete with a pot of soup atop a beautiful white stove would have been rocks, and branches.

Our imagination is a source of power available to us at all times. Those of us who have been traumatized or who have suffered severely in our lives have turned a good portion of our imagination over to our pain.  What is fear if not a thing devised by our imagination? Perhaps the more potent our imagination, the more severe our pain.

Since my accident and subsequent PTSD, all it takes is a flash of an image at the right moment to set my heart racing. In a nano-second I am plunged into the arena of my imagination, re-living the accident as if it were presently happening. I had just such an experience last week while exercising at the club I recently joined.

I always choose a treadmill that faces a large window, so that I can focus on the big beautiful tree across the parking lot, rather than the TVs that are on the wall to either side of the window and always on. I had done so this day, but I just happened to glance at the TV, almost a side-wise, mostly unconscious glance at the screen to my left. Just as I did, an image of a man driving a car, his face painted with impending doom and terror, flashed before my eyes.  In the following nano-second the impact occurred,  and my imagination jumped into overdrive. In a split second, I was thrust into the midst of my own nightmare. Captured unwittingly, I felt as if I had no control over my suffering.

If we can recognize the power that our imagination plays in our lives,both for good and ill, we can begin to direct its course. We can choose where we will put it to work. You may say, “but we have no choice when fear overtakes us, when the physiological effects of PTSD become the driver of our emotions and imaginations” but, I believe we do have a choice. Our basic survival instinct may be broken. Our brains may replay horrific images and memories, seemingly without our say-so, but I believe we can, bit by bit, take back our power and retrain our imaginations to work in our favor and in cooperation with our healing efforts.

Using one’s imagination to counteract depression, anxiety, and trauma is a tool that is always at our disposal. Instead of choosing to let fear run the projector in our mind, we can choose hope, beauty, love, and reinforce these things as often as possible in our day-to-day lives. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a process, a practice, and ultimately a choice.

This is the fundamental principle behind the gratitude journal. When we stop and think about something good in our lives for which we can be grateful, a mini-film plays in our imagination – a reliving of something positive – and positive feelings flood our bodies. This, my friends, is far better than the flood of fear that when left unchecked leaves us only to continue suffering.

Making the choice to pay attention to what our imagination is doing, to become conscious of the imaginings that are transporting us to painful places and choosing, when we can, to imagine positive images and outcomes can begin to create an environment where healing can take place.  Our imagination can become our best friend instead of our worst nightmare.

Backwards Thinking

Backwards Thinking

bffff3fc7ca8ab3fcb9ff07f7e7e1bc6The sun streamed through the kitchen window this morning, it’s warm inviting tendrils wrapping themselves around me like a lost lover. The relief I felt, the fullness of my appreciation for what I had been missing and the cavernous desire to take in as much of its energy as I could was  not dissimilar to the way I felt when my boys returned home after their first weekend camping trip, or my husband from a business trip.

I’ve become increasingly aware of the vast array of sensory healing that is available to us, and how little we are shown the way in a culture that focuses on illness and pathology more than it does on sustenance and healing.  We are taught to focus on what is wrong with us, not on the amazing power to heal and thrive that is inherent in the gift of life.

This is especially true when it comes to mental and emotional issues. Although the tide is changing, many of us are currently suffering the ill effects of a lifetime of living in an environment that neither feeds us nor teaches us how to manage our gifts and challenges. Furthermore, we were taught to ignore the very signals our bodies naturally gives us to guide us through these challenges.

In the simple example of the sun shining after three days of rain we are shown many things. My body told me loud and clear that it needs warmth, sun, and the loving sustenance of nature. It needs these things as much as it needs water and food.  If I had not been fortunate enough to be in a home facing the sun when it came out and had instead been in a cubicle facing a computer screen, a very real need would not have been met and my awareness of it would grow dull over time.

I remember sitting in many a classroom longing to be outside. I forced myself to go to work in an office day after day because that was the thing I was supposed to value, not the needs of my body, mind and spirit for nature. I told myself that cleaning my house and making money was more important than any signals my body might be sending me to the contrary.

We have it backwards. I had it backwards. When we work in cooperation with our body we do not become the unhealthy sloths we think we will become. Quite the opposite. We find renewed energy, renewed health, renewed focus and activity.  When we follow our instincts, our intuition, our yearnings and desires, we give ourselves what we need and energy begins to flow and health begins to blossom.

Coming back to my original self from a lifetime of backwards thinking and backwards living has been a long and not always easy process, but it has been a glorious one, a life-affirming one and one I would like to see everyone have the opportunity to experience.

Learning to fill ourselves with what we actually need rather than trying to fill ourselves with that which will never nurture or sustain us is a life long process. I experience hurdles and bumps and drift away from those things I’m learning to be true. The difference now, however, is that I stay true to who I am more often. I live in closer proximity to my soul self and perhaps more importantly I am learning how to get back there when I wander off.

The path I took may not be for everyone. We each have our own unique sensibilities, but we all also have an inner self that will speak to us when we choose to tune in and listen.  It is this inner guide that will lead you on your path of healing. It will lead you to exactly what you need and take you to the place where the sun will heal your hurts and fire up your energy and a sense of well-being will become more real than ever before. The abundance of life and love lives within each of us regardless of circumstances. It is our birthright. This I will always believe.

 

Getting to Know Our Body

Getting to Know Our Body

Holly Sierra
La Paloma – The Yogi Goddess Of Peace by Holly Sierra Click on image for more information.

I have learned so much from working with Crystal on the dietary dimension of my healing process. We have completed our work together for now. I will touch base with her in August, and of course before if needed. Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

1. Our dietary habits have an enormous impact on all areas of our lives, from energy level, mood, severity of the symptoms of PTSD, mental focus and clarity, weight control and overall sense of well-being and health.  Equally important is the health of our emotions and our spirit.

2. We can learn to live in a cooperative relationship with our body. When we learn what our body needs to function efficiently and happily, and cooperate with what we learn, we feel better. As we feel better, it becomes easier to recognize the ups and downs of our body, mind and spirit and figure out which is which; then we can learn what we need to do to auto-correct before things go too far in the wrong direction.

3. Most health and diet plans create an adversarial relationship with the body. Rather than getting to know our body and its unique needs and characteristics, we too often force an external plan upon it, one that may actually end up sabotaging the very thing we’re trying to achieve.

4. What’s healthy for me is not necessarily healthy for you. What works for you may not work for me. Health is in the details and one size does not fit all.

5. Physical health cannot be separated from emotional and spiritual health. They must all work together in unison. When they do not, one can sabotage the other.

A few examples:

I learned while working with Crystal that dairy and sugar in large quantities are detrimental to my health. Prior to beginning our work together I routinely had plain Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit for lunch thinking that this was a very “healthy” meal. For some people it may very well be. For me, it led to afternoon crashes, an inability to lose weight, and fogginess. Now I generally have either a large salad with chicken or chick peas or vegetable/beef soup. I’m satisfied. I no longer have the afternoon crash and all the symptoms I was experiencing that went along with too much dairy and sugar have dissipated. I do not feel in any way deprived, in fact, I feel more focused than ever and energized.

In the past I lived for my bowl of cereal and milk in the evening before bed. I always ate sugar-free cereal and skim milk. I was trying to lose weight and stay healthy. This, however, is not a good choice for my body. Now, I have either an apple and almond butter and maybe a square of dark chocolate or left over oatmeal with walnuts and almond milk (I know that’s weird but I like it!), or a handful of walnuts or almonds and a square of chocolate. Calorie content is probably about the same, but for me the new foods keep my sugar in check and I’ve lost 15 pounds. Again, I don’t feel deprived.

Getting to know ourselves is crucial in achieving wellness. This means getting to know our body, as well as understanding our emotions and habit of thought and uncovering and expanding a deep connection to our spiritual center.  This is a process that takes time and attention, but one well worth undertaking.

Where are you on your path toward healing and wholeness? What is helping you? What is tripping you up?

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

FINDING YOUR INNER GUIDE

 

A Reason to Journey On

A Reason to Journey On

Friday Flowers

Catawba rhododendron along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains – photo by Bill Swindaman

Since last writing, I have been on a journey, both an exterior one and an interior one. We are all, everyday, journeying somewhere, whether we leave our home or not. There is so very much to learn about the nature of life, the gift of living, and our reason for being here. It is a very personal adventure if we choose to embrace it, and a universal one.  It’s both riveting and terrifying and sometimes, we must dig deep to find the courage and the wisdom to stay the course.

My husband and I drove 2,070 miles to see our sons and bring them a truck full of their belongings. It was the first road trip we have taken since our accident 3 1/2 years ago. Reaching this point has required a strength and courage very different from any that has been required of me before, and one I’m still not always sure I have, but it is a strength that is not without fear, but one that trembles and trusts simultaneously. Living long, living wise, and living full requires a letting go of ordinariness and embracing the extra-ordinariness that is the true substance and foundation of life for every one of us.

There is a reason that each of us is here, even if we do not yet know what it is. We have our part to play, our truth to speak.  We must find the courage to embrace it, to own it, to allow it to transform us in ways we may not be able to imagine beforehand. Every day in this way we must choose to turn our attention away from the blood curdling cries of a world that cannot see the truth and reach out to the hand that is reaching out to us.

There are those who have their ear to the spiritual ground swell and who are guiding, directing, discovering, embracing and describing its unfolding to the best of their ability. Caroline Myss speaks to me in this regard, as does Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and James Finley. There are others who may speak to you more. Find a mentor and tune in, often. We all need guidance along this path.  Here is Caroline Myss’ message today:

“Pray beyond petitioning for the stuff you want for yourself. Learn to be present to the grace of the sacred. Open yourself to the mystic that you are by nature. Your intuition is not a skill to be honed so that you can figure out how to stay safe and avoid losing money. If you think that, you will never develop more than your gut instincts. You need to challenge your fear of life becoming unreasonable – because it is already unreasonable. In truth, your life has never been reasonable, it’s just that you keep hoping tomorrow will be different and that you will find a way to bring more control into your world.

Prayer and trust and your capacity to reason as a mystic give you the wisdom to recognize that life will always be full of challenges and crisis. The wise way is not to attempt to find one path that promises you will never have to endure the pain of loss and illness, but instead to learn how to endure and transcend when unreasonable events come your way. Learning to defy gravity in your world – to think, perceive, and act at the mystical level of consciousness – is the greatest gift you can give yourself, because it is the gift of truth. And as we are bound to learn again and again in this life, the truth does indeed set us free.

Caroline Myss

Along the Path of Healing

Along the Path of Healing

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Photo by Jermain Chastain from her lovely website French-Kissed. Click on image to visit.

I’m settling into life with my new food choices. As time goes on, what I eat has become less and less a part of my waking thoughts, and more just something I do at certain times of day. I have not allowed myself to “cheat” because it is in those gray areas that I know I can become quickly sidetracked and lost. If I give myself an inch, I will take a mile, or at least I fear that I will. Until I can put this fear to rest, and trust my inner knowing a wee bit more, it is just easier to keep myself safe. Self-care is a requirement for change.  I also find great comfort in having Crystal at my side, because I know she believes in me when I don’t believe in myself.  She is gentler with me than I am with myself, and I need that.

I continue to work emotionally and spiritually with the traumatic experiences that have shaped my life and choices; shadows that need to be brought into the light. Carolyn Myss defines trauma as, “something that has happened to you that your reason cannot comprehend; a cruelty, a betrayal that your reason can’t absorb.” (Transforming Trauma, A Seven Step Process for Healing Trauma, by Carolyn Myss and James Finley, Ph.D.)  The first time I listened to these words, I stopped dead in my tracks. It was profound for me. Eye opening. Oddly freeing.

Up until that point I could not see, nor accept, that my experiences were sufficiently “traumatic” to warrant attention. Therefore, I did not treat them as such, and they were not healed.

Myss goes on to say, “A trauma is…a cruelty, a betrayal that your reason can’t absorb. “Why are you hitting me….Mom…? Why are you molesting me….Dad…? Why are you doing this? What did I do? I’m only four. You’re the giant that’s supposed to protect me. I don’t understand this. How could you do this?”   You can see through extreme examples how one’s world is shattered by trauma, but it can also be shattered by less extreme events.

Who among us has not experienced something in our lives that was not only painful, but in some manner incomprehensible? Perhaps as a teen, a best friend turned against us and we became the object of ridicule rather than respect; or a boyfriend betrayed us by going out with someone else while we were out-of-town; or our husband had an affair; or our sister, who was once our best friend and confidant, decides we’re no longer a priority. There are traumas of all sizes, from violent crimes and horrific accidents, to social structures that we once trusted implicitly that let us down. The size of a trauma is not the size of the event itself, so much as it is the way we experience it. So called “small” traumas, layered one upon another, without recognition or treatment, can lead to a life of chronic emotional, physical and spiritual pain, leading to a life of quiet desperation.

When we are not aware that we have been traumatized, and when we do not have the tools to give ourselves the love and self-care we need to heal, we turn on ourselves, with self-blame, criticism and isolation, and/or, we turn on others.  We are thrown out of balance. We lose confidence. We become distrustful. We no longer live in the world with our hearts and minds open, but rather, we live in reaction to the world, carrying a heavy guard around hearts and gifts. It’s no wonder we cannot be and do the things we so desperately long to be and do.

There are many ways to begin to bring our trauma(s) into the light. Step by step we can bring them from the shadows, take a healthy, loving look at them and then enter into the healing process. It is often helpful to work with a therapist, a spiritual guide, or a holistic practitioner, someone who can guide and direct our path, and give us the tools we need to grow in resiliency and inner strength. Most of us should not try to do it alone.

When we struggle to give credence to the life experiences that may have traumatized us,  it may be useful to go through one’s life with Caroline Myss’ definition in mind. I found this exercise eye-opening. I began to see why certain past experiences had continued to make their presence known in the present. I understood the need for a different sort of healing. For me, this was not an exercise of rehashing how horrible life was, but rather to gain perspective and understanding. For those of us who are highly sensitive people, things may hurt us deeply that might barely phase another, and that’s okay. This very same sensitivity is a gift on the other side of trauma, but first we must heal.

When trauma shatters our reason, we become fragmented. The world no longer makes sense. Until we heal the trauma, we live in a house divided, struggling to find peace. Healing is not only possible, it is necessary. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to each other.

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

Holistic Detoxification Process

 

 

Holistic Detoxification Process w/ Crystal Honeycutt

Holistic Detoxification Process w/ Crystal Honeycutt

Last week I asked Crystal if she would be willing to write a few words about the detox and wellness program I’m following from her viewpoint as an expert. She went above and beyond and created this great video. I know you’ll enjoy it! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in a comment and one of us will try to answer them.

 

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support