Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth—trust that.”
One powerful way to do this is to cultivate the habit of looking at everything as a blessing. You don’t need to be a Pollyanna to evoke within yourself a quiet attitude of appreciation and thanks for blessings great and small. These can include the food you eat, the car you drive (so what if you think it’s a clunker; it’s a valuable tool), as well as friends and neighbors who help and support and share.
How does the acknowledging of blessings, given and received, convert to healing? When you take the time, for instance, to bless your food and truly offer up gratitude for what you’re eating, you’re: 1) releasing (in the act of gratitude) positive chemicals into your system, 2) Making it more likely that you’ll slow down and enjoy the meal in a conscious way that improves digestion, and 3) raising your awareness of those who have less, thus extending your thoughts to the sustaining web of human relationship.
TRY THESE FIVE SUGGESTED STEPS
STEP I: Think of realistic ways that you can bless, celebrate and help others who have the courage to walk this earth in what appears to be poverty, hunger, and despair. You can choose to support them on a spiritual level, through prayer, empathy and awareness, while also doing whatever you can (through contributions, volunteer work,
consciousness-raising of others) to help alleviate their physical suffering.
If your own physical, emotional and/or financial resources are limited, think of what you can reasonably contribute without harm to your own healing process; prayers and courtesy to others, even a decision to smile at everyone you meet, are great gifts, as meaningful in their realm as huge fundraisers or accumulated volunteer hours.
And please remember that it’s not necessary (and is actually counterproductive) to work yourself up into guilt for what you have that others don’t, or for things you tell yourself you should be doing to help in the world, but can’t seem to manage. Know that any movement toward the light counts, that no blessing is too small to make a difference, and that all is well no matter what. Don’t stumble into the traps of fear, anger, disappointment, frustration or sadness.
STEP II: Many people find themselves falling into a state of hopelessness in light of world events as presented by the media today. Begin thinking about what you allow into your mind in the same way that you consider what foods and medicines you allow into your body.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, co-founder of the Women to Women Clinic in Maine, often recommends that her patients go on a “news fast,” especially those with addictions to TV newscasts and newspapers. She wisely observes: “The human psyche was never intended to absorb the toxic news of the entire planet, either as a continuous stream or in a single concentrated gulp each day.”
Try turning off your TV news and forgoing newspapers for an entire week. You’ll probably discover during this time that if anything really important happens, you’ll be informed about it by other people (who thus function as a “filter” that screens out all but the most relevant information and ideas worth discussing). This is not just an exercise in self-denial, but another way of removing obstacles to your healing.
News “reporting” today, though it supposedly deals with facts, is primarily based on arousing fear and anxiety. Each report has the ratings-fueled goal of arousing those primitive survival reactions that will produce the adrenaline rush that many news consumers crave. These tactics will in turn arouse your “flight or fright” reflexes, which send (in)appropriate chemicals flooding through your body, even as you sit passively.
TV news especially, is the manifestation of the FEAR acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real (remember the “Weapons of Mass Destruction?”), while much of feature reporting has devolved into “junk news” and celebrity gossip.
STEP III: Assess how your worldview changes as a result of your “news fast.” Note and keep track of your physical and emotional changes as well. By living more in the world of the here and now, we can reduce toxic physical reactions based on false fears, and open ourselves up to hope and optimism based on actual interactions with the world.
STEP IV: What kinds of actions you can realistically undertake to bring hope into your heart and to the hearts of others. Look for the positive aspects of your immediate world, which are likely to be much greater in proportion to negative actions than the news channels would have us think. Know that it is not being unrealistic to perceive positivity and gratitude as permanent traits rather than as temporary states of mind.
Studies have shown that optimism has a very positive impact on people with compromised health. Ultimately, the path to healing is an old and well-worn but true one: to receive and perceive everything that happens to us as a learning experience that, if received in a welcoming and allowing spirit, can inspire creative and positive thoughts, words and actions.
Encourage yourself and others with words and actions that bring you hope. To quote the great yogi Swami Satchidananda: “We can’t stop the waves, but we can learn to surf.”
STEP V: At least once each day, look at and examine what is working in yourself and your life, and begin to feel gratitude for whatever that may be right now. Even a few seconds of this practice sets the tone for the day and for your self-healing.
The act of looking at ourselves, our environment, our work situation, or any part of our lives with gratitude opens the doorway to a whole new level of awareness of what is available to us right now. It is my belief that we are here to live, love, laugh and grow; as we grow, we begin to remember who we really are; eminently powerful light beings having the luxury of a human experience. This is indeed worth celebrating!
The continual practice of the steps and principles mentioned in this article will continue to help you open your mind and heart, dissolve and release obstacles to healing, and create for yourself the vital health and well-being that you seek.
With love and blessings,
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