Pain might be the single most common denominator of life. Everyone has pain, sometime. Everyone understands that life contains pain.
This is the most tragic and confusing human irony to me: that pain, our most shared thing, is also the thing that most isolates us from each other. And the isolation makes it hurt even more.
But... why? Why does pain set us apart, isolate us? Several reasons.
We isolate ourselves and hide our pain from because we don't want to admit weakness to others. We hide our pain because we don't want our loved ones to worry about us. Or because we hope that if we ignore the pain, it will pass more quickly.
We might hide our pain because we know that people don't like to look at pain, and we're afraid our loved ones will avoid us when we need them the most. And when you're loved ones turn away, that hurts the most of all.
The most basic, instinctive, reason we hide pain is so others won't take advantage of our infirmity, and hurt us even more. We don't want others to know we're bleeding.
We even use bleeding as a metaphor in financial transactions.
"Smell the Blood" is a phrase that means to recognize an opportunity to take advantage of someone who is in a difficult situation. When I used to work in negotiations for a client who was in a tight spot, we were careful not to let the opposition "smell the blood."
Also in negotiations, there were parties who just weren't happy -who wouldn't finalize the transaction- unless they made someone "bleed on the table;" that is, they wanted to feel like the other party gave up more than they wanted to ...that they made the other party feel some kind of pain.
Bullies pick on those who are weak, wounded, or unable to defend themselves.
Even animals hide their pain and wounds, because predators look for injured animals as easy prey. The sharks start to circle. The vultures gather.
Pain and fear go hand in hand.
But we have another thing in common, that can transcend the instinct to isolate ourselves:
Everyone has the ability to hope. And everyone has the ability to love.
Hope. Hope eclipses the fear, and calls up the courage to acknowledge the humanity of reaching out for help, when it's needed. The humanity to admit we need help, we need comfort, we need connection. The hope to reach out and ask for recognition in your suffering. The hope of a caring word or a gentle hand, even if just for a moment.
Love. Simple love for life, for all of our brother and sister beings. Love awakens us, impels us to take up the courage of seeing another's pain and reaching out in comfort, in recognition. The courage to see and respond, instead of turning away.
It's beautiful, loving, thousandfold humane that we reach out in to each other. That we can connect and recognize, and share, and ease pain.
And it's everywhere! Everywhere, every day, you can read or hear a story of everyday people -and even pets, and wild animals- who reach out through, over, or beyond pain and fear; to need and ask, to connect and share, to comfort and help, to see, and to listen.
I'm inspired over and over, every day, by the loving, generous, kind, sincere; help, sharing, and support that I see. And I'm grateful, so grateful.
Sometimes it seems like greed, avarice, and uncaring drive the world; but when I start to see too much of that, I'm so grateful I have you, my fellow beings, my brothers and sisters in pain, and in love, to remind me that we do transcend. We do rise above. And we do help each other every day.
You all inspire me. I'm grateful for you.
Today's post came out of a discussion in a coaching group that I'm a member of. (Online Coach Support by Colleen Roberts - I highly recommend Colleen to all coaches. She's the Coach's Coach!)
Thank you Colleen for providing this 5 minute clip from our meeting!
And thank you for having the text of it transcribed.
You teach us the very best tools!
Tonight, I'll say something a little different than what I usually talk about.
Sitting here listening to you ladies talk, reminds me of a thought I had about the stories in our lives and the things that happen to us, and how we keep those thoughts gathered around us.
In Hawaii, we wear the flower lei, the beautiful flower lei... and the stories that we carry with us, and the thoughts that we keep around us, are like the flowers that we choose to put in our lei.
Then wear that lei around our necks and have the beauty and the scent of it with us all day long while we go around.
Of course, we want to choose beautiful flowers, but sometimes we get a flower that's broken or a flower that wilts or one that for some reason just starts to smell bad. Maybe it rots a little bit.
Maybe it started out looking like a beautiful bloom and then, oh no!
We can choose to keep these flowers in our lei ...or if a flower starts to smell bad, we can pull it out of the lei and toss it out; we can make room for a new flower in there, or maybe this time we choose a fern, or a different colour, or something that's going to serve us better.
When I think about the stories in my life and the stories that I keep around me, I realize there are different kinds: stories that have served me, stories that have not! Stories that I've kept, and stories that I've put aside -- and more stories that I will gather around me in the future, and more stories that I will someday discard because maybe they're actually a burden and I don't realise it yet.
I think of stories that my father told me when I was a little girl. He would sit on the foot of my bed and I would beg him for a bedtime story... and he would tell me stories about, oh, about Little Red Riding Hood and how she missed the warning signs and almost got eaten up by the big bad wolf! And she would have perished if there hadn't been help to come in and resue her.
Or he would tell me about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and how Goldilocks was greedy, and a bad citizen, and got herself into trouble because she went into other people's houses without permission and ate their food! - and then the bears found her, and she got frightened and had to run away.
He would tell me his favourite, The Three Little Pigs and how that last pig saved his own bacon from the big bad wolf by being resourceful and clever and and calling upon his own resources.
Now as I looked back, I realize there were certain important themes to the stories that my father would tell me.
And as I grew up, and he grew older, he would still tell me stories and they were different, they were more true to life, but still there were four strong themes that really emerged.
The first one of them was to think my own thoughts ...and not listen to the big bad wolf. Because too often the wolves have their own agenda, and their plans for you are for their own profit, at your expense.
The second theme was to make my own decisions. To make choices based upon my own thoughts, not based on the messages or advice of others.
The third was to find my inner resources and strengths, just like the little pig did. He found his cleverness and he found what he could do. The little pig couldn't be superman, he couldn't be bigger than the big bad wolf, he couldn't grow big teeth, but he had his thoughts and he had his resources.
The last theme is to use my thoughts, decisions, and my resources to act on my own behalf so I can move forward in my life. So I can take action to create the life that I want to live, take actions to affect the world around me and create the world that I want to live in.
So ladies, I want to thank you tonight for reminding me...
Reminding me how the stories in our lives are like the flowers in a lei ...and sometimes you wear them for a long time, and sometimes some of the stories stop serving you, so you have to pluck them out, and discard them from your life... and put in a new and more beautiful one.
- Aloha, Linda
How Could Seven Minutes Save My Life?
Pain, Pain, Pain.
I couldn't eat....I couldn't sleep. For months. My back, my legs, my head -everything was racked with pain. ALL THE TIME.
I had no energy. When I would get out of bed to walk 25 feet to my bathroom, I had to stop after 10 feet to sit on the couch and get enough energy to go the rest of the way.
My mind was in a fog. My husband -recently married, poor guy - was going nuts. I couldn't work. I couldn't do housework. To make dinner, I would start in the morning...as soon as I got up I would get a pot out of the cupboard and put it on the stove. Little by little, through the day, I would manage enough steps to get some food cooked for my husband's dinner after he got home from work.
I had been having some health problems here and there. And I've always had struggles with my tummy and digestion. But I was mostly an active, outdoors person, full of motion, eagerness, and curiosity.
Then everything eroded quickly. There was no trigger event that I can pinpoint; my health just collapsed like a landslide. I couldn't keep food down. I had chronic migraines. I went to Dr's and specialists, Naturopaths, all kinds of professionals. Sometimes they would suggest some pills to "try these and see if they help." They said possibly IBS, stress colitis, GERD...maybe it's wheat, maybe it's dairy. I tried elimination diets; I was tested for Celiac, I had biopsy. And more. More of everything, except answers. More of everything, except feeling better for even one day. And more pain, more pain, and more fear.
Every time I looked in the mirror I could see how the pain marked my face and aged me so quickly. My eyes looked back at me, like a soul lost beyond human hope... so alone, so small, and so afraid.
The Moment of Change
Finally one day I looked to the sky and cried out: "What do I have, besides pain? I have no joy, no love, no work to support me, no food to nourish me, no sleep to heal me, no one to help me. WHAT DO I HAVE THAT ISN'T PAIN???
All went still around me...
and then a soft thought, like a quiet voice, came into my head:
"You have a mind, and you can think your own thoughts."
I grabbed at that thought like a drowning girl grabs a life ring.
"YES! To my dying day, I can and I will think my own thoughts.
I will CHOOSE my thoughts!"
Then the second thought followed:
"I have a heart, and I can feel grateful...grateful for my mind and my thoughts."
Hope and Courage
Through the pain, I began to exercise my mind and practice gratitude. I would recite the botanical names of the plants from my horiticultural work. I practiced the multiplication tables. I worked on my memory, recalling the very first thing I could remember in my life, and working up from there. Pain would only allow a few minutes of concentration, so I began to challenge the pain: "For Seven Minutes I will do this crossword, pain or no pain. Pain won't stop me."
I looked for things to be grateful for. "For Seven Minutes I will be grateful for my 5 senses, my eyes that see, my ears that hear, my nose, my mouth, my skin. Pain or no pain, I will be grateful. Pain won't stop me from feeling and speaking my gratitude."
This Seven Minute practive of gratitude, performed several times daily, became my lifeline, and built a new foundation that grounded me and allowed me to become the self-healer that I needed to be, on my long journey of recovering my life. In my next post I include a recording of the actual Gratitude Practice, as my gift to you. Aloha, Linda
The Bare Foot Facts!
My Stockings Wore Out Fast
When I was a little girl I loved being barefoot. My Mom would laugh when I came inside the house: "Linda Marie, you always kick your shoes off first thing when you come in. You wear your stockings out so fast!" So true...before I even shut the door, my boots seemed to fly off my feet and land in the corner. My stockingfeet pattered through every room and hallway. in the Summertime Mom had to take me out looking for my sandals--I kicked them off all the time!
Yes, barefoot was my thing...and it still is.
Now I work in a shop that sells sandals and water shoes. In Hawai'i we call them "slippahs" or slippers. Until I worked here, I never realized how much foot pain and discomfort is running around in the world.
Fortunately it's easy to give our feet a treat, and help them stay healthy. I'll tell you about one of my favorites here, and you can find many more on my list of Treats for Your Feet.
My favorite Feet Treat? Going barefoot on the Earth. Why?
I could just say "because it feels so good. Try it, when you feel it you'll know what I mean!"
...and really, that answer is good enough.
You could just stop here, go out the door, kick your shoes off and start enjoying your
Seven Minutes Barefoot!
But maybe you're a curious-minded of person who likes to find out WHY.
I AM! Sometimes, anyway.
So I did some asking and reading, and here's how I understand it:
You probably remember from your science class in school that the Earth is surrounded by a huge electromagnetic field...and that we are each surrounded by our own electromagnetic field -almost as if we were each little planets of our own! So our personal fields exist within this bigger, greater field that surrounds the Earth.
I remembered that much from school...
(now if I could just remember the multiplication tables that well)...
...but here's what I didn't know...
The Earth's field has a resonance, an electrical frequency, that is the SAME FREQUENCY as our brain, when our brain is healthy!
Now, we get exposed to and affected by many different and persistant electrical fields in our modern world. They don't emit the same resonance that our brains work on. Those persistant fields can make us jittery, restless, tired. Difficult to focus and concentrate.
When I consulted the Wellness Center's Medition Teachers, they called it "computer energy." At first I thought they meant I should especially avoid computers!
But they explained it's not just computers. It's just that, since the 1980's, our daily, hours-long personal computer use has hugely upped the amount of persistant energy we get exposed to. And so many of us work on computers in an office setting, in buildings surrounded by electrical fields above, below, and on all sides. Our environments have become layered and layered with persistant electrical fields.
Sometimes we need to re-tune back to our original healthy frequency.
Our shoes insulate us from the harm and discomfort. They also isolate us from the Earth's great field. When we kick our shoes off and step out onto the ground we join with this greater field, this resonance that is as big as the whole world! The Earth enfolds us in that healthy, healing frequency, and gets us back into tune.
How Could Seven Minutes Save My Life? -- Part II
Challenging the Pain
Through the pain, I began to exercise my mind and choose my thoughts. Pain would only allow a few minutes of concentration, so I began to challenge the pain: "For Seven Minutes I will do this crossword, pain or no pain. Pain won't stop me."
"For Seven Minutes, I will write out the multiplication tables up to 20x20, then back down to 0x0. Pain won't stop me."
But the truth is, sometimes pain did stop me - especially at first. Sometimes I could barely make it through 3 minutes. Sometimes I couldn't even make one minute.
I began to look at the pain as if I were an Army General, determined to win myself back from an invading force. In a war there are many battles, and sometimes I could only capture a small portion of my territory: that is, my few minutes of chosen thought. So I would celebrate every bit that I moved forward, even if it was only 30 seconds. All victories are worth celebrating. All victories build and lead to the next victory.
Celebration and Gratitude: The Seven Minute Practice
Several times each day I stood in front of my mirror and looked into my eyes, to find and honor aloud my warrior spirit within. To find and honor aloud my spirit of wisdom within. To find and bulwark the foundation of my life, my inner spark, my inner spirit.
Most of all I looked for the spirit that is me and only me, unique on this Earth, uncopied anywhere in Creation. To speak with my SELF, to promise myself with words of love that I am always there, that I'm never alone, that my own arms are always here to hug me, my own spirit always here to hold me.
Even in the aloneness of pain and fear, I forever and always have ME.
Next, I spoke with love and gratitude to the senses that bring my life to me: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin.
Sometimes it was a brief practice, and sometimes longer. The important thing was, my spirit began to shift to hopefulness through the pain. My thoughts became more lucid, and able to focus longer, and to continue a train of thought -even after being interrupted by bouts of pain.
Slowly I discovered answers and workarounds that helped me gain ground toward wellness. I still had many battles ahead...and the gratitude practice inspired me, comforted me, reminded me, propelled me forward.
From being so unwell that I couldn't walk across a room, I'm now working, swimming, playing ukulele and singing!
I sleep well, I dream well, I wake up well.
I'm so happy and grateful for my life. . .
. . . and, with gratitude, I look forward to even more and better!
This Seven Minute gratitude, performed several times daily, became my lifeline, and built a new foundation that grounded me and allowed me to become the self-healer that I needed to be, on my long journey of recovering my life. This Seven Minute Gratitude Practice, is my gift to you. Aloha, Linda
I've had so many dreams in my life! But I always got frustrated with the BIG BLOCKS OF TIME that it took to build them all. So many I put aside, or abandoned, because I didn't seem to have time for ALL of them.
Then some violent and drastic events changed my life. Health, career, relationships all crumbled. I scrambled -- first to survive, then to build and maintain a sustainable lifestyle, and fought to stay out of depression and darkness. Long, dark days turned into long dark years.
How Did I Work my way out of it? Leverage! I learned that I could use small increments of time and energy to gain a little leverage over the events, first to keep up, and eventually to get ahead. That learning became my Seven Minute Self. Small blocks of time--first they saved my life! Then they built my personal and career achievements, and financial and personal successes.
Today I'm SO GRATEFUL to have a wonderful life! To look at the sky, breath the air, hear the wind and the waves. I'm so grateful to have use of my mind and spirit and limbs and SELF!
Now I live in beautiful Kona, Hawai'i and I practice my Seven Minute Self for my ongoing joy, personal growth, and the sheer delight of living! And for the joy of sharing it with you, too.