State of Mind
While going through the therapies, it sometimes feels as if I am placed outside my physical body. Only a few months ago coping mechanisms still seemed to be completely in charge of every moment. A good thing on one hand, because while the chemo- and radiotherapy were performing their destructive tasks there was really not a lot I could do, other than roll with the punches. On the other hand; when the body/mind unity is coping, it has basically no energy left for deep healing.
After the first phase – healing by means of sleeping – it was time to get my body back in shape and invite the muscles to start using their respective memory. Forcing my legs to move with more strength, straighten my spine, move my shoulders, swing my arms and breath. Stop coping, start healing. Breath!
State of Body
Now and then we hear people speak about how this or that coping mechanism has taken over and that – as long as it works properly – this is a good thing. Just as we are being taught that stress is a normal part of our lives and that we just have to learn to live (cope) with it. And although having adequate coping mechanisms in place can save our life, they have the tendency to outlive the dangers. In other words: when they are no longer needed, they are still in action.
When we are in a state of coping, we are putting ourselves under constant stress. As a result, the energy that we need to heal is simply not accessible. All available energy goes to the coping and the coping with the coping. In such a situation, we are not healing. State of mind becomes state of body. This makes sense, because there is no real difference between the two. The division between the mind and the body is a purely academic one that goes back to the days of Descartes.
What happens in the brain defines what happens to the body and vice versa. Not only is trying to separate the both as if they were competing entities occupying the same physical location not realistic, when it comes to healing it is counterproductive. Before we know it, we are living completely with our head, and we no longer know how to listen to the signals of our vessel.
State of the Moment
When we are going through times of rehabilitation, there are moments when we become more aware of our limitations. And even though these limitations may be temporary, we may give in to the negative emotions we have attached to them. When we do that, we stop seeing our own progress. We may be thinking about the past, in terms of who we were and what we lost. Or we start thinking about our future in and what we will no longer be capable of. Sadness, anger, disappointment and disillusion can become part of our daily emotional baggage. We fail to be aware of the only moment that really matters. The present.
The strength we need to heal ourselves lies in the capability to truly accept the state we are in at any given moment and – if we are not satisfied with that state – do the work that is needed in order to change it. Not at any moment during our recovery, complaining about our fate serves any purpose other than to feed our self-pity or need for attention (which are the same, when you think about it).
Power of the Moment
None of these ideas are new, of course. Buddhists have known this for a long time. But because we are all humans, each of us has got to go through life’s stages to learn these lessons and integrate the skills. A shift in consciousness is not something that happens all by itself. It’s work. And only if we are prepared to do the work, we will learn to appreciate how powerful a single moment can be.
When we no longer distract ourselves by thinking about our pain, our grieves and failures but instead focus on what we can do in this very moment, then – and only then – we will be able to see how we sabotage our own success in life.
And change into a happy person. That too.