Monthly Web Columns

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LIFE 101

DHARMA MEDICINE

By Coach Cary Bayer
www.carybayer.com


My dear friend Gary, who’s an acupuncturist and Nature photographer, often has chronic back pain.  He can sometimes get relief from chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage.  Sometimes the pain, though, is so bad that he can’t stand up straight.  One day he was merely preparing his house for a visit from a few dear friends from childhood and the pain was so intense he had to lay down.
So when some people hear that when he was recently on a very special photography vacation in the hills of Scotland where every day there was significant hiking with his camera and tripod through rugged terrain to take exquisite photographs he didn’t experience any back pain. Coincidence?  Or was the fact that he was doing something he loves so much stronger than any back pain?  Or better yet, doing the thing that he most loves put him so much in the flow of being on purpose that this spiritual fact was greater than his physical back pain and acted as a kind of holistic “medicine,” if you will, more than acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage?
The relationships between Dharma and medicine is worth pursuing.  By dharma, I’m referring to the performance of those activities that are most appropriate for a particular person. Taking pictures with a camera in the Scottish highlands is not my dharma, but it is Gary’s.  There’s much that we don’t know about the relationship between what a person does and how his health is.  We do know, however, that an estimated 75-80 percent of disease is caused or complicated by stress.  So we are well aware that health can be jeopardized when someone is out of the flow of things.  And that there are jobs that people hate but do to pay the mortgage that are so harmful and toxic that they lead to heart disease and sometimes even death itself.  But what about the other side of this equation?  Can doing what is most right for you keep you healthy longer and even help you heal existing diseases?
A case in point close to home: I’ve been meditating since the age of 17 and teaching meditation since the age of 20.  From the age of about four till the age of 16, I was getting weekly shots from my pediatrician for hay fever and rose fever symptoms.  These maladies affected me so severely that I literally could not walk past a lawn that was being mowed.  My reaction to freshly cut grass was so intense that I would need several packages of tissues to rub my terribly itchy eyes and a bottle of Estivin to take the redness out of them.  My nose also became terribly stuffed, so those tissues did double duty.  To say that I was a mess was an understatement.
Things began to change when, at the age of 17, I started Transcendental Meditation, a wonderful technique for creating deep relaxation.  Shortly thereafter, my symptoms improved somewhat.  Within nine months of starting the practice I would say that symptoms had improved by a good 50 percent.  Within two and a half years they had disappeared completely.  I could have had two-hour picnic with my girlfriend while lawnmowers were working feverishly without any trace of hay fever or rose fever.
How do we explain such a dramatic healing? Could it be that the practice of meditation, while certainly strengthening my immune system, might have contributed to the healing of these allergies?  That would be the logical explanation b anyone who understands mind/body medicine, by anyone who comprehends the relationship between stress and illness, between the relaxing of the nervous system and the reducing of nervousness in that system.  Perhaps the itchy eyes and stuffed nose were a nervous reaction to the presence of ragweed and pollen in my environment. 
 But what about the possibility that, because meditation is my dharma, doing it helped me heal these diseases?  Maybe it was the connection to my dharma is what caused the healing.  We might conclude, therefore, that living your dharma can help you become healthier and free of certain illnesses.  Perhaps it can even extend longevity.  And since prosperity includes financial abundance and abundant well-being, we can see that doing your dharma enhances your prosperity on
both fronts.


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Emotional and Spiritual Skills for Success-  #4 in the Love Yourself,
Lose the Weight series


by Patricia J. Crane, Ph.D.



Have you ever used your weight as an excuse not to participate more fully in life, not to have a relationship, to avoid sex in the relationship you’re in, not to look for a new job? Are you willing to let go of your excuses? They are just a way of not loving yourself.

Mirror work- talking to yourself while looking in the mirror – is a powerful technique for learning to love yourself as you are making changes in any area. Look into your eyes and say to yourself, “I’m done with excuses. My weight is not the issue. I am willing to participate in life regardless of my weight.” Notice how you feel. Then tell yourself “I love and accept you just the way you are. I support you in all your new habits. You have been doing the best you can. It’s OK. I support you in making positive changes.”
Then tell yourself anything else that is important for you to know/hear.  You are claiming the wonderful being that you are. If you feel a lot of emotion coming up as you do the mirror work, that’s OK!  

It’s important to become aware of emotional triggers for overeating or making choices you know aren’t healthy. Almost everyone uses food to deal with emotional issues at some time or other. It’s how often you do this that determines if it’s a problem.

Starting now, every time you eat (especially outside of meal times), ask yourself first, What am I feeling right now? Can I resolve this feeling without eating? Take some deep breaths and acknowledge that you want to eat, “Yes, I want to eat now, but I can wait out this impulse for 10 seconds. I am willing to feel my feelings and deal with them.”

Here is an exercise to help you develop more awareness around emotions and eating.

Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and relax your body. Keep doing some deep breaths until you feel relaxed. Now, as though you are an observer of your own life, go back over the last two weeks and notice your eating patterns: when you ate, what you ate, where you were, and who was with you. Don’t judge or criticize, simply notice. When you ate for emotional reasons, what was going on?.......

Now go back even farther in time, letting your mind go to the time you first began overeating…. How old were you? What was going on for you? What feelings were you suppressing?  Accept that this was your way of coping at that time. Feel compassion and love for yourself. Go to another situation where you overate….. What emotions were you feeling then? Find a few others………… Then imagine you are looking at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself, “I understand more now. I truly do love and accept you just the way you are.”

Bring your awareness back to the present moment. Take some deep breaths and stretch. Open your eyes.

If you found a connection between feeling stressed and eating, here are some easy ways to deal with that. Stress increases your metabolism and so you feel fatigued. This can prompt you to want to eat something like a candy bar for fast energy. Ultimately, this leads to more fatigue because your blood sugar plunges after spiking. First, as much as possible plan your meals so you eat on a schedule. Eat low fat, high protein meals to keep your blood sugar balanced. Second, have some healthy snacks available, like protein bars or veggies and a low fat dip. In other words, prepare ahead of time. Third, practice deep breathing exercises to help you reduce stress.

Learning to handle your emotions effectively is truly an ongoing process. If you started eating emotionally and gaining weight as a child, then talking to your Inner Child can really be healing.

 If you gained a lot of weight after some traumatic event in your life, you may need professional help in dealing with it. Look for a therapist who offers a spiritual approach as part of their therapy. In the US, you can find them advertising in spiritual newsletters. Or ask some friends for a referral. Affirm that you are guided to any resource you need to create a healthy relationship with food. 

A spiritual course, A Course in Miracles, says, “Guilt holds the behavior.” So if you are feeling guilty (or ashamed or embarrassed or even angry at yourself) for gaining weight and not losing it, it’s time to let go of the guilt and any other emotions associated with your weight. True, easier said than done. Begin with “I am willing to let go of the emotions that have kept me stuck.”

For some people, prayer is a potent force for changing behavior. Asking Spirit, God, the angels, or ascended masters to assist you in your desire for changes takes the burden off you “doing it all yourself.”

Are you willing to forgive yourself? At the highest spiritual level, there is no need for forgiveness, but in our human selves it is another piece of the foundation for permanent change. And sometimes that change can occur very quickly when you stop feeling guilty, forgive yourself, and love yourself right where you are at the moment.  Be kind to yourself. You are worth loving!

--Patricia J. Crane, Ph.D. studied personally with Louise Hay and, with husband Rick Nichols, is authorized to lead Heal Your Life® training programs in Louise’s philosophy. She is also the author of Ordering from the Cosmic Kitchen: The Essential Guide to Powerful, Nourishing Affirmations. www.hyltraining.com and www.drpatriciacrane.com