Keeping Emotionally Balanced During Physically Challenging Times: Part 5/7
Part 5: Taking Care of Ones Self
Self–soothing is an ancient and ingrained strategy for living. Babies do it all the time, through thumb-sucking, also, known to be a growth stimulant, or snuggling with favorite stuffed animals. Cats groom themselves. Dogs curl up with their special chew-toys. (Me, I watch movies; mostly romantic comedies, or inspiring documentaries.)
But there is another, deeper, dimension to self-soothing: the process of finding our way out of pain and into self-balance, a place of gentleness that generates genuine humility and a greater sense of loving and being loved.
There are many ways to achieve this state. One of the most effective (and perhaps the most exacting) is the total acknowledgment and acceptance of any pain and suffering— yours or someone else’s—that happens to be resonating in your energetic field. The ability to do this, and to re-enter this state of acknowledgement/acceptance as many times as is necessary, not only leads to an awareness of how this kind of psychic decompression actually works, but makes us more confident in relaxing into faith, calming out, and snuggling into our Divinity, a necessary prerequisite to physical, mental and spiritual health.
The first step of self-soothing, then, is acknowledgement. Just letting go and acknowledging that something is painful can create an initial release. This may even lead us to relax into the greater wisdom that pain and suffering are also part of the Divine at play in everything. Pushing-away or, “aversion” as Buddhists call it (I have this pain; I want it taken away!), is just as harmful to the body and spirit as craving (I want much more of what makes me feel good!); both inevitably create suffering.
The emotions of wanting to feel good or wanting not to be in pain are not bad in themselves. The Divine will, the “What Is,” is at play at every moment for all of us. Those who are suffering so much so that it creates unpleasant or criminal behavior need to have their pain acknowledged just as much as those who are suffering innocently from life circumstances. Pain and suffering, as well as physical, mental, and emotional health, are all based in spirit; they are the result of our aversions, cravings, and our reactions to the Divine “What Is” that is present in all things.
Of course, we can’t explain Divine will in logical terms; we can, however adjust our understanding to recognize that pain can be a pathway to awakening and to greater faith, which is ultimately the pathway to the most amazing advances in our awareness levels. Do we need pain to progress? I don’t know. Should our lives only consist of loving-kindness, patience, and tolerance? Easier said than done.
So what are the self-soothing behaviors that can move us towards inner peace and harmony? The most important, as mentioned, is the total and absolute acknowledgement of what is right now, without judgment of ourselves or of others. But how can we work toward this acknowledgement?
Some people use behaviors like smoking, alcohol, drugs, food, shopping to excess, or over-exercising in attempts at self-soothing; unfortunately, these not only often take a toll on our physical and emotional systems and are, in the end, counterproductive.
But making mistakes is normal, part of the learning process; beating yourself up over them, so that you become incapable of movement in any direction, is not. (Modern Bible translators have learned that the word for “sin” means only “to miss the mark,” as happens when we are practicing or learning any skill, even that of self-soothing.)
Walking in nature, exercising for fun, window-shopping, meditation, singing, dancing, chanting, cooking, reading, napping, and similar self-soothing activities are more effective and more lasting than those that come with built-in guilt or remorse or with inevitable health problems. Positive self-soothing behaviors can help us to be more at ease with ourselves, kinder to others, and more receptive to the all-important deeper states of acknowledgement and acceptance.
Be Well ~ Melinda
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