Last week was very challenging, as I needed to go into my doctor’s office to follow up on some test results. I had to do a lot of work to offset the fear and anxiety I was experiencing, (thank goodness for EFT and meditation!) as being called in to review results is never a warm and fuzzy experience. My fears were compounded by the fact that I have a family history of reproductive cancers with both of my grandmothers. I am grateful to report that everything turned out ok, but the experience was very intense and got me thinking about a lot of things.
In the days leading up to my appointment, I made the conscious decision to dwell (as much as possible) in a place of hope and acceptance rather than fear and limitation. I fully recognize that time is a precious commodity, there are no guarantees. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and be none the wiser. An advance diagnosis is a gift in some respects, because it brings you the consciousness to be able to accept the limitations of your experience and truly embrace every second you have. As human beings we are here for a limited time, however the vast majority of us pretend this isn’t the case. While a health diagnosis is scary as hell it is not a predictor of time or quality of life. You can have all the time in the world and never truly live. I will say that over the last week I was more present, aware and grateful than I have been for a very long time. My challenge will be to maintain this going forward. I suspect the best approach is to engage with the present as much as I can, to focus on and express gratitude for the multitude of blessings in my life, and to recognize that all of this is fleeting. I hope that constant acknowledgement of the transient nature of life will give me the awareness to treasure every moment.
I honestly believe that difficult experiences are a gift in that they give me an opportunity for growth. These challenges are here to teach me a lesson and allow me to move forward from a place of deeper understanding and acceptance. This can be a form of liberation, if I let it. I also fully recognized how important it is to make the most out of every second spent with the people I love. Does this mean I will never get frustrated or short with my kids? Of course not, I am only human and learning to accept my limitations is a huge part of this process. One of my personal mantras is Be Here Now – the past is done, it only has relevance in so far as I hold on to experiences that create limitations or fail to serve me in the present. The future hasn’t happened yet, I have no idea what the outcome will be so why choose to dwell in a place of fear? In truth this present moment is all we really have.
I reflected on the fact that every time I get worn down and burnt out I tend to have issues in the same area of my body. Perhaps energetically it is a second chakra issue, not expressing myself enough creatively, not practicing enough self love, or issues around finances and needing to work through limitations around lack of abundance. Or perhaps it is a genetic weak point, that gets triggered when I don’t take care of myself properly. I have been listening to a lot of talks on epigenetics, genetic markers or weak points that can be turned on – or not – based on lifestyle habits. It could also be psychologically or emotionally centred; perhaps it comes down to a deeply rooted lack of connection or affection for that part of my body. Regardless of the root cause (all, one, or none of the above) these questions really got me thinking about the necessity of loving those dark, hidden parts of myself, the ones that cause me shame or discomfort.
I am constantly amazed at the gift of receiving exactly what I need when I need it most. I listened to a fabulous talk by Dr. Paul Epstein, ND last week, discussing the necessity to get to the root cause of disease and learn to love the parts of us that need support and healing. There is something so beautiful in having the courage and conviction to face up to what scares us most, to uncover our personal traumas and identify the tools needed to give ourselves the healing we so desperately need:
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. –Rilke
The people in our lives do the best they can, but like everyone else they are human and every human being on the planet has limitations, areas they are working on. Perhaps you had a perfect childhood, with perfect parents and wonderful interactions with everyone you encountered. I am not sure that actually exists as we are all complex human beings, but if you did that is beautiful, cherish it. If like the majority of the population that didn’t happen, the knowledge that you are infinitely powerful in your capacity to now heal yourself, to give yourself exactly what you always needed and wanted is incredibly powerful.
I speak from experience when I say that it can (and most likely will be) be an incredibly painful experience. Facing up to fear and trauma and all of the things you feel would be best left in the dark is not for the faint of heart. I have not reached the other side of this process and have a lot of work left to do. But I can honestly say the process of doing this work is a game changer. Instead of hanging on to fear, lack and trauma, the process of facing it, accepting it, and showering it with all of the love and compassion I have will go a long way towards letting go and moving on with my life. I believe it is necessary to accept the dark, hidden parts of myself if I want to dwell in the light. Until I uncover and work to resolve the condition that created disease in the first place there is no way I will be able to fully heal myself. The form of disease (or imbalance) my lifestyle and belief patterns created will keep recurring until I work to resolve the root cause.
I have found some invaluable tools in my quest to better understand and work through my personal limitations. Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly have helped me face up to my perfectionist tendencies, and the ways in which courage can be a form of personal emancipation. Her TedTalks on shame and vulnerability were incredibly illuminating for me. Dr. Lissa Rankin’s The Fear Cure helped me explore the ways in which fear has ruled my life and decision making processes. Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit continues to blow my mind each and every time I read it, making me painfully aware of my attachment to woundology, and holding onto past trauma. Lastly, Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times was a beautiful reflection on staying mindful and present in the face of the inherently transient, ever changing nature of life.
Have you had a health crisis in the past, and what did you take away from your experience? How did it shift your perspective? What tools have you found to help carry a sense of presence, awareness and gratitude forward after life returns to normal?