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Healing Power of Thought Mind Body Medicine

A Death Sentence

I want to tell you Sally’s Story from Marci Shimoff’s book Love for No Reason.

Shortly before her 50th birthday, Sally became ill to the point she had to be rushed to the hospital. When she got there doctors discovered she was in liver failure.

Sally was shocked. She didn’t drink and had no history of liver disease and after a day of extensive tests, the doctors ruled out hepatitis and cancer. The final verdict was “liver failure for no medical reason.” Even though they couldn’t find the cause, they were sure about the effect: Without a liver transplant Sally would soon die.

She was immediately placed near the top of the national waiting list for donor livers.

With each passing hour Sally’s chances for survival dwindled. Transfusions kept her barely alive until the third day when a donor liver became available. After the transplant Sally’s surgeon said her liver was the worst he’d ever seen. The cause was still a mystery.

Gratitude and Intention

After her transplant Sally was overcome with feelings of deep gratitude. Rejection had been a theme of her life, but now she felt a sense of wonder. She thought,

“God, if you can get me a liver at the last minute, I’m going to trust you. I don’t know who or what I am. I certainly don’t know how to love myself, or anyone really. So please send me whatever and whomever to teach me what love is. I want to live it, be it, model it.”

When Sally left the hospital, she began to take loving care of herself. She scheduled massages, bought herself flowers. She explored alternative healing modalities like acupuncture and homeopathy.

A Setback

Then, about a year after the transplant, Sally got sick again. Without another liver transplant Sally would die. She was sent home with a pager that would alert her the instant a donor liver became available.

Three weeks passed but no call came. During a visit to the hospital Sally encountered a woman who had just received her third liver transplant. This woman  did nothing but complain – about her husband, her health, about everything. Sally remembered something she had learned from acupuncture. According to Chinese medicine the liver is related to the emotion of anger, both expressed and repressed.

Sally wondered if she might need to do some “inner surgery.” She went home, sat down, and for the first time in her life quieted her mind. Sally asked herself, “What do I believe?” As she wrote down each answer without censorship there were many that shocked her. But one in particular stood out.

“I believe there’s a punishing God and I’m being punished because I’m a terrible person.”

If this was her core belief, it became clear to Sally why her attempts at self-love had been unsuccessful. She didn’t have to look far to find the root of the belief that she deserved to be punished. The answer was simple: as a child simply being Sally meant being punished.  She had grown up in a household with zero tolerance for children expressing anger or tears.

Thoughts as Medicine

Sally began to feel deep compassion for the little girl inside who still felt so unloved and so unworthy. In her imagination Sally hugged the child and told her,

“You didn’t do anything wrong. I forgive you and I love you.”

That inner embrace was a turning point. When Sally’s inner voice scolded her with thoughts of, “You shouldn’t feel that way. Stop crying. Don’t be a baby!” Sally would change her thought and speak to her inner child.

“It’s okay honey. You can have those feelings.”

Sally begin to heal emotionally but surprisingly, her physical health began to improve too. The day Sally had sat down to discover what she really believed, her bilirubin levels had been sky high. Too much billirubin meant her liver wasn’t functioning well. As Sally practiced loving thoughts over the next nine months her billirubin levels fell steadily – all the way back to normal.  Her doctors couldn’t explain it.

They Called It a Miracle

That was eighteen years ago. Sally never had to have the second transplant.

Over the years she has continued to be a loving parent to the little girl inside. Ten years ago Sally met and married a wonderful man who has given her the opportunity to experience unconditional love. She wouldn’t wish her brushes with death on anyone but she’s grateful for them because they taught her something she might never have learned otherwise.

What Are Your Core Beliefs?

Do those beliefs help you or hurt you? Is it possible they are affecting your physical health? You don’t have to go through something so dramatic to begin experiencing the healing power of changing your thoughts. You can begin right this moment.

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Thought Medicine Healing Power of Inertia

A True Story about the Healing Power of Inertia

I’m 18 years old and it’s the day after I’ve had major surgery. If you’ve never had surgery it might surprise you to know that in most cases, they get patients up within 24 hours after an operation. People who get moving have fewer complications and get better faster. The only problem is, because I had to undergo several pre-op tests, I’ve had nothing to eat for at least 5 days. I’m in a lot of pain and I’m extremely weak.

Get up and walk? Are they serious? All I want to do is lie still and rest.

The nurse walks into my room, cranks up the back of my hospital bed and insists that I sit up.  I want to cooperate but my muscles don’t.  Even though I struggle with everything I’ve got, it seems like my back is super-glued to the sheet which is now soaked with the sweat of my exertion.

The nurse and I are both frustrated. But she is kind and finally gives me an assist, pulling me forward and helping me swing my legs over the side of the bed. She lifts me up onto my feet and…

I faint.

I’m not that big but 130 pounds of dead weight is more than she can handle. I’m vaguely aware as she collects my gangly arms and legs and dumps me back into bed.

Every 3-4 hours we try again. Every time I stand up, I faint. It doesn’t help that they give me a pain shot beforehand so I’ll be able to cope with the excruciating pain of my still-fresh incision. Each time we try I feel even weaker. Every fiber of my being just wants to stay horizontal.

By the next afternoon I still haven’t been able to pry my own back away from the hospital bed –  let alone take a walk down the hall, which is our ultimate goal. The nurse is afraid if she drops me I could get injured but she’s not a quitter. As she tucks my exhausted body back into bed she mutters, “I have an idea.”

Later that evening she waltzes into my room accompanied by her “idea” – a strapping young resident from another floor named Dr. Valentine. He’s about 6’5″ and looks more like an NFL linebacker than your stereotypical doctor. He’s kind but stern. There is no way I’m not getting out of that bed and taking a walk down the hall with him. He’s all business. His strength is comforting and a little bit scary.

Before I know it he lifts me up into a standing position. As usual the black snow fills my vision and I begin to faint. But Dr. Valentine doesn’t let go. He calmly holds me against his chest until I stabilize.  It takes a few minutes but finally my head clears. The next thing I know Dr. Valentine is puppet-walking me out the door and into the hall. I feel like Raggedy Ann but with his help I go through the motions. Then it’s back to bed. I’m exhausted – more weary than I’ve ever felt in my life.

Here’s the surprise: the next morning I’m able to get up on my own!

This time I can actually sit up and get out of bed. I don’t faint and and I’m able to walk down the hall on the arm of my very proud nurse. It still hurts, but each time it gets easier. By the next day, I’m able to get up and walk whenever I want… on my own. And I just kept walking back to a normal healthy life. (Thank you Dr. Valentine wherever you are!)

The Law of Inertia

Most people know that inertia is the force that keeps things stuck. As the law of physics states, “Inertia is the tendency for a body at rest to stay at rest.”

But that’s only half of the story.

The Law of Inertia actually says that things tend to keep doing what they are doing – unless some outside force intervenes. While it’s true that something that isn’t moving will tend to stay that way, that’s only half of the law.  The other half says, “A body in motion will tend to stay in motion.”

The Tipping Point

The moment an outside force changes non-movement to movement – or vice versa – is a “tipping point.” That day in the hospital, Dr. Valentine was my tipping point. He was the “outside force” that got me moving again.  From that point on it was easier because inertia now was working in my favor to help me keep moving.

How to Create a Tipping Point to Leverage the Power of Inertia

A few years ago I decided to start taking early morning hikes several days a week.  I had a lot of trouble getting out the door.  I was out of shape and as much as I focused on how good for my health daily walking and hiking would be, my attempts to get started were sporadic at best.

As a coach I know that it takes 21 days to “install” a habit. Finally I made a deal with myself to take a walk every day for a few weeks. Not Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Every day. To keep track I put a big “W” on my wall calendar each day I’ve kept that promise to myself.

I know it sounds silly but after a few days I didn’t want to break the zig-zag chain of W’s on my calendar. Even if I got busy and hadn’t yet walked, I’d sneak in a quick 5-minute stroll in the evening so I could earn my W and not break the chain. I liked watching the pattern grow.

My tipping point was a seemingly silly compulsion to keep the WWWWW chain unbroken!

After about 3 weeks I didn’t have to use the calendar trick any more. Soon I wasn’t just walking, I was hiking nearly every day. The Power of Inertia had taken over and movement was now my new pattern.  The calendar trick helped tip the Law of Inertia to my side. Those 5 minute evening walks helped too. Why? Because if something is moving, it will tend to keep moving.

Behold the Power of Inertia!

If you want to change something in your life, and it feels overwhelming, it helps to remember that a tipping point can be a very small change. You can leverage the Power of Inertia if you are willing to go through a small bit of discomfort. Then it will get easier.

How can you leverage the Power of Inertia in your own life?  What small force of change can you bring into play as your tipping point between being stuck and movement forward?
Please comment below.

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How to Deal with Disturbing News Deepak Chopra

“When we turn a tragedy into an opportunity to contribute something positive to the world, we begin to offset the pain and start the healing process.”

Almost every day we are exposed to disturbing headlines. Many of the stories are gratuitous in nature – more gossip than “news.”

But in our post 9-11 world there are truly disturbing current events that can deeply impact our sense of inner peace and well-being.

I happened to see Dr. Deepak Chopra today on MSNBC addressing the terrible shooting in Tucson that resulted in a catastrophic injury to Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of several people including an innocent child.

I’d like to give you a link to the video of Dr. Chopra’s remarks but there doesn’t seem to be one available.  Instead I’ll summarize what I remember and add my own thoughts:

1. Become a neutral observer of your feelings…

Dr. Chopra says the highest level of human consciousness is the ability to witness oneself. Observe your fear, anger, or sadness.  Simply notice what you are feeling without trying to change it. This ability to take a step back in one’s own consciousness and observing your own feelings is the key to experiencing what Eckhart Tolle calls “the pain body” as separate from your core identity.  Yes, you have painful feelings, but your feelings are not who you are.  You are the field within which the feelings are arising. It also helps to “breathe through” the feelings.

2.  Remember a time you felt better…

Once you have allowed your negative feelings to just be there, gently turn your mind to a time when you felt a strong feeling of peace and well-being. It doesn’t have to be an important memory.  It could be as simple as thinking about how much you like the beach, or that certain Beatles song, or ice cream. Focus on feeling that good feeling as you connect to the memory.

Chopra says this human ability to remember and choose to connect to a different feeling is the second highest level of human consciousness. In my experience this is the most difficult part of the equation, but it is possible. The point isn’t to repress your bad feelings. It’s about allowing them to flow so that a better feeling can arise in the present moment. Small children are great at this – able to giggle after scraping a knee, even while their cheeks are damp with tears shed a moment before.  If you can manage to lift your own spirits, even for a moment,  you will create a cascade of brain chemicals that will not only make you feel better, it will create a state in which you will be able to think in much more constructive ways.

3. Try to find something positive in the negative situation…

Once you have calmed your mind and body by re-experiencing a more positive state, try to find something positive you can learn from the negative situation, no matter how small. Can you reframe the bad news as an example of “what-not-to-do?” Perhaps you can identify an opportunity for deeper understanding or forgiveness. Sometimes finding something positive within a tragedy is challenging, but do your best. At the very least, tragic news can help us remember to appreciate what’s really important in life.

4. Take positive action…

If the bad news is personal, positive action may involve making changes in your daily life or relationships. In the case of a community or national tragedy, you may feel called to serve in some way. When we turn a tragedy into an opportunity to contribute something positive to the world, we begin to offset the pain and start the healing process.

What are your thoughts?

After going through these four points Dr. Chopra pointed out that they are fundamentally about Being, Feeling, Thinking and Acting  – and in that order. Dr. Chopra also suggested filling cyberspace with peace by tweeting and posting messages of peace on Facebook as one kind of positive action. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but hearing him say that in his Indian accent made me want to roll my eyes. It seemed like frivolous New Age babble, especially in the shadow of people dying needlessly. Then I remembered my mission.

Even though I’m a strong advocate for the power of thought, like many people I’m easily seduced by the idea that negativity is more “realistic” than a positive thought about peace. But what if that’s the biggest lie of all?

What if Deepak Chopra’s invitation isn’t silly? What if you focusing your mind on peace – especially during stressful times – might be a powerful antidote to all the negative media messages you are exposed to everyday?

Behind every action, every feeling, and every word, there is a thought. What if millions of people focused their thoughts and words on peace, if only for a few minutes?  How powerful might that be?

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