Tag Archive | Reaching Out

Breathing in the Now

Present moment

I was asked recently: “How do you stay so calm and in the present moment throughout all your health scares?”  This inquiry came from a dear friend who is filled with future worries over a loved one who may have cancer.  I include words like “future” and “may” on purpose.  Because upon reflection, I realize that this is the key to my acceptance, and subsequent serenity.

I must keep my mind in the present moment at all times.

This is a mindful practice. And as the word “practice” implies, it takes concentrated effort to maintain.  But with practice and time, it becomes more natural; like a form of breathing.

Breathing in the NOW.

Here are some steps I’ve taken to keep my mind, body and spirit in the here and now; neither fretting about the past nor worrying about the future…

SPIRITUALITY: The next question my friend asked was regarding to my spiritual health… “Is this what makes you so strong?” she wondered.  I’ve thought a lot on this. My immediate response was to explain that although I am deeply spiritual today, it was not always this way; especially during the throes of my most severe illness.  But, I was wrong.  Although it is true that my spirituality has only grown over the years and I can now comfortably say I believe in a Higher Power, an Energy that is greater than myself, there was always a spiritual trust deep in my soul…

TRUST: A trust that everything would (and will) work out the way it is supposed to be.  I can’t define what this is and nor should I (this is where I can get into trouble!).  But I do have an unexplained knowing.  And that “knowing” is the faith that I am going to die not on my time clock, but on the Universe’s.  And although that may sound scary, it can actually be very freeing.  Because once you let your mind release the worry of when you’re going to die, or get sick, or come upon hard times, you can focus on the HOW:

THE HOW: How am I going to live today to the fullest extent of my spirit?  What steps am I going to take to: nurture my mind, body and spirit; reach out to others instead of isolate; strengthen my relationship with my spiritual base (whether it is God, Buddha, the Universe, or the trees); show myself all the love I deserve; and reach out to others in need?..

SERVICE:  One of the best ways I have always found for getting outside of my own insular world of worry is to reach out to others.  This certainly isn’t the first time you’ve heard me sing this song!  Being of service to someone else (stranger or loved one) not only gets me out of my own head, it uplifts my soul, recharging my internal energy source, my Soul Beacon. And, let’s be completely honest here: there is always someone who has it tougher than you right now.  It’s important to keep that perspective!

IN THE NOW:  There are many techniques I use to keep my mind in the present… I will repeat the mantra “I have arrived” over and over while holding my hand on my heart.  I will use a God Jar (you can name it anything you want); this is a container where I write down my worries and place them inside.  Then when those worries resurface in my mind, I gently remind myself, “Oh, Tam!  You already sent that to the universe/God; you don’t need to worry about that anymore.  It’s taken care of.”

CONTINGENCY PLANS:  Stop making them!!!  I was master of this for so many years, and all it did was exhaust me!  I would figure out all the “possible future outcomes” and then come up with (several) contingency plans for each scenario.  But, you know what?  90% of the time my future would unfold completely different than anything I had “prepared” myself for.  So I would still have to fly by the seat of my pants, in the moment; but my mind would be so fatigued from all the ruminations, I wouldn’t have the energy to successfully face what was in the here and now.  Then, one day I just stopped!  And, you know what?  If I am doing all the above things to take care of myself on a daily basis, I can always find the tools to help me with whatever comes my way. And my life, my spirit, is much calmer because of it.

I realized all the anxiety I was feeling on a daily basis was self- created.  I decided to get off my own Merry-Go-Round of Hell (cue Twilight Zone music…).  You can, too!

STOP WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP:  I thought that if I was always waiting for something bad to happen, I wouldn’t be caught off guard (disappointed, disheartened) when it did.  Yes, my life is constantly dropping shoes on my head!  But, all that waiting did was create a stress-filled environment where I was inviting trouble.  We attract what we expect!  So, I started expecting differently.  And because I stopped looking to the sky for these impending “bombs,” I am now able to recognize and celebrate all the calm days between the storms.

STOP ASKING “WHY ME?” AND START ASKING “WHAT NEXT?!:” Truly, there is no answer to the question “Why?”  I can’t tell you how many times loving friends have lamented, “Why you?  I just don’t understand why the nicest people get the hardest lives?”  I don’t know either.  But all this question does is create an environment of self-pity.  And when I am stuck in self-pity mode, I can’t see all the amazing gifts that have come out of my illness.  I’m not saying it’s all “unicorns and rainbows” here! But, I do know that in any situation, be it physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, inter-relational… the only question that serves me is: “What next?”  What am I going to do with the hand that is dealt me?  How am I going to make this Situation serve me?  What skills do have to get through this?  And who do I know that can help me?

Once I move beyond victim mode, into action mode, I am living in the present moment.  AND, FOR ME, THAT’S THE ONLY PLACE I WANT TO BE!

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Shine On, Soul Beacon, Shine On!

lighthouse

I have mentioned in many of my posts the idea that each of us has our own Soul Beacon. This is a concept that came to me organically during a moment of extreme illness.  It was a vision and even more so, a “knowing,” that I felt soon after my first near death experience. I was in a “stripped down state,” mentally, physically and most certainly spiritually.  I felt raw and exposed.  But, in this vulnerable state of being, I opened myself up to being completely vulnerable.  I felt as connected and observant as a child when discovering something new in their environment.  I became aware of the flow of energy between people.

I started to notice that energy exchanges could be both positive and negative; they could either lift one up or drain them entirely.  This was not just a feeling; I actually visually experienced this phenomenon. That insight gave me an intuitive knowledge of human interactions that I hold to this day.  When people exchanged laughter or encouraging words, streams of soothing, white strands of light would connect the interacting parties.  I saw this as a “recharging of the soul.”  It was pure energy, being given and being received.

Conversely, when an exchange was less then pleasant or supportive, there wasn’t a free-flowing exchange of energy. The flow would become heavily one-sided, with one party literally “sucking the life” out of another. This would show itself in forms of jealousy, fear, anger, insecurity, and dominance.

I had a clear vision of a beacon of light.  I saw that each of us is born with a cache of energy.  But just like any form of energy, if it is not recharged (refueled), it will deplete.  And when our energy sources are low, we experience depression, illness, sadness, despair, fatigue, hopelessness, and diminishing spirituality.  Most people respond to this feeling by hoarding the small amount of energy they have left.   We don’t share this energy out of fear of running on empty.  But in that hospital room, I discovered the key to unlocking a never-ending supply of energy.  The key is…

You have to give your energy away in order to receive more for yourself.

Give it away?! Yep.   This is where the concept of a Soul Beacon comes in.  Imagine a lighthouse.  The night is foggy and therefore the beacon’s light source barely reaches beyond its own standing.   Now translate that to the situation I spoke of above.  You’re feeling “foggy” and out of sorts, so you only shine your light source on yourself.  You keep your depleting energy close at hand and do not include anyone else in your circle of light.  Eventually, that circle of light will get smaller and smaller until its hardly providing any energy source for you to face the world.  This is the moment when many want to curl up in a ball and tell the world to go away.

This is when you need to stretch your final energy source far and wide; to imagine that Soul Beacon, seated in the center of your body, stretching its fingers of light to illuminate others paths.  Because this is what happens when you do: that light shines on someone else in need; the receiver is then recharged from this positive exchange and shines their light back onto you.  You will feel your inner beacon growing in strength.  With each positive interaction, the foggy veil of sadness and fear will lift.  You will start to have energy to take that next step, and then another.  And the best part is, while you’re recharging your own energy source, you are also giving that gift to someone else!

Who are you going to illuminate today?

How can you reach out in order to replenish your own light source?

What choices can you make today from a place of compassion and faith whether than from fear and insecurity?

How can you shine your Soul Beacon from heart to heart?

Read the story I wrote of a young girl and an old sage in: It All Began With A Beacon of Hope (click link)

Please share your stories and experiences!

I Am One Big Ball of Raw Nerves

Mihail -Miho- Korubin ; Oil, 2012 ~ "It Is Over"

Mihail -Miho- Korubin ; Oil, 2012 ~ “It Is Over”

I am a bundle of nerves; raw and jangly, the all of me is on edge.  I just went to my pain doc to try and get some relief from this “nervy flare” and had to not only explain it all to a medical resident who spoke broken English, I then, one hour later, had to repeat the same info to my doctor!  It’s hard enough to communicate what is currently going on with my regular physician, let alone trying to explain it to someone who speaks a different language with me!  Can you hear my frustration yet?

But, truly, I am exasperated with my on inept body; at this flare that was triggered almost two weeks ago and won’t let up. (see: Paying a Steep Price for Admission) I feel like every nerve in my body is frayed and hyper sensitive! And I mean sensitive!!  How to describe this pain?  This electrical, bug-crawly, burning, tingling, spasmy, hot, numb combo?   It’s the Nervous Wreck Cocktail, that’s for sure!  It’s like my body has decided to revolt against everything!  Touch=Bee Stings; Breathing=Fire; Walking=Hot Coals; Just Being=Buzzing Electrical Wires.  And the strangest symptom of all?  My histamine system jumps on board and starts reacting like I am being attacked by a horde of allergens; I start sneezing uncontrollably, eyes water, face puffs up.  I know, sounding crazier by the minute!

And if I can’t clearly explain it to myself, how do I expect others to understand?  I guess I just hope.  I hope that the doctor won’t look at me with that slightly confused visage, wrinkled brow, sad, concerned eyes, downturned lips… I can almost see the wheels in his head screeching to a halt, not sure what direction to turn next.  He’s very empathetic, that’s a positive.  He kindly puts his hand on my knee and apologizes for my pain.  He tells me how strong I am in the face of so many difficult situations, but that he can tell how much this current scenario is negatively impacting my life.  OH, really?  Were the tears a clue?!

And apologizing for my pain?  Shouldn’t he be apologizing for not being able to figure out how to treat my pain?  I know he feels bad… I do too!  But, the pain is there, so what are we going to do about it?!  Can’t do any of the typical treatment modalities, because I’m either already on the highest dose of a medication or have tried it and stopped for some reason or another.  He finally comes up with a “new one:” Nortryptyline at bedtime.  “If we can at least get your sleep better, than hopefully the pain will follow suit.”  Like I haven’t heard that one before!

And I hate this.  Because it’s so not like me to rant!  I don’t know if it’s the freedom and acceptance of this blogging world that has opened up this damn of pain or what.  It’s these damn nerves!  They set everything afire!  Uh!

None of this is really helping the pain to go away.  But, to know I am no longer holding this space alone (see: A Cosmic Connection) helps to diffuse it, even just a tiny bit.  Thank you for holding this pain with me.

I do believe that this is the greatest gift of this forum:  A sharing of energies, a collective soul.  We are all going through our own struggles, yet by bringing them out into the open, we are no longer carrying the burden alone.  And, selfishly, I think I hope deep down that someone out there will read my post and understand: truly “get it.”  And then I won’t feel so alone anymore!

And that’s what I forgot for a moment.  I’ve been afraid to let people all the way in right now.  To let them see how severely I am hurting.  I’ve been afraid of sounding “crazy” (I mean, come on, who says they feel like bugs are crawling under their skin?!).  I’ve been afraid of getting more of the “sympathetic, she’s sounding a little wacky, but I love her anyway” looks.

I don’t need your sympathy.  I need you to say, “Wow. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but that must be really hard;” and to hold the space of pain, confusion and fear with me.

I don’t need you to try and suddenly change our relationship in order to make me better, to “fix me.”

Because I don’t know how long this flare will last.  And I have to remind myself; I don’t need to figure that out.  I just need to get through today.  I just need to remind myself that this will pass; and, that, until it does, it’s okay to reach out to others and say (scream?), “I’m hurting!”  And to admit that I can’t engage in activities right now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t always be able to.

Just for today… I need your love.

Just for today… I don’t need you to understand exactly what I’m going through, I just need you to accept me.  To accept the all of me.

Just for today… I need to feel like I’m not crazy.

Just for today… I need to cry.

Just for today… I need to count the minutes, because I don’t know if I can make it through the next hour.

Just for today… I need you to know I don’t mean to be short with you, I’m just on edge.

Just for today… I need you to know I may feel fine one moment and horrible the next.  I’m not trying to be inconsistent; my disease is inconsistent.

Just for today… I need even more of your love (and maybe some extra hugs, too!).