Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Eavesdrop on Your Body

writing illustration by Anthony Russo from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blogShortly after I was diagnosed with diabetes, I decided to write down what my body was saying to me about having this condition.

I postulated that I would just listen and take dictation. I recorded the first things that came into my head that I imagined as the communication from my body at that moment. Here’s what I heard, and wrote:

Take care of me
I am your system
I am your lifeblood
I am a network which communicates with itself
I am a network of information pulsing within the world
I transmit what you need
Feed me
I unfortunately must be plumbed with a needle
In a haystack
In a dimwit
In a bad girl
In a durable item
In a shining woman with tresses of auburn and a gown of netted gold
In an arched cathedral where you once stood witness and sang
I am your support to find your signals
I am your trampoline
I’ve got nothin’ but love for ya, baby
I’ve got some pain for you too
I remind you with each pinprick that you have skin
I remind you that you have borders which any prick can’t get into
I communicate in infinities of systems
But all can be known with the inner eyes
All my organs pulse with knowledge
Feed me
Know me
I’ll make up for letting you down
Work with me
Play with me
I’ll nourish you
I’ll shine for you
I’ll be strong and sturdy
Through me you will cry, but then you will laugh
And eat!
Feed me
And I’ll feed you back
I’m all yours

I found myself near tears at points with the baldness of the truths that my blunt body stated. And I was impressed by the imagination and perhaps ancient memories it seemed to offer. I didn’t want it to be a finished poem; I was happy to just have it, a communication from the body like a message in a bottle pushed urgently to shore.

typing from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Afterward, I felt rather tender toward my body, appreciative of its ups and downs, its loyalty throughout this and other challenges. I felt forgiveness – toward my body, and from my body toward myself.

Try this little exercise, also called "free writing." Find a spirit of childlike playfulness. No judgments, just listening. You don’t have to be a writer to do it. The outcome doesn’t have to be “good writing.” It doesn’t have to be poetic or meet any other standards.

pink journal from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes BlogPick up a pen, or go to your computer. Pretend you’re just taking dictation. Don’t stop to revise. Don't stop at all, in fact. Don’t censor. If you don’t hear anything, write the first thing that comes into your head. Don’t wait for something “good” or “inspired” to come to you. It may feel like junk or nonsense at first. At some point, you'll start to get meaningful stuff, even if you don't see it that way while you're producing it. 

If you have a specific issue you've been working on, ask your body to talk to you about that. It could be weight gain. It could be exhaustion. Just ask, and "take dictation" from your body as it tells you something in response. See what flows from your awareness down your arms, onto the page or screen. Start.

No one else has to read it. Or you may want to share it. You’ll have fun, and you’ll feel surprise.

Whatever other emotions arise, just allow them to be there in your experience for a few minutes. Then take a deep breath, and exhale. Put away what you write someplace you can find it, so you can pull it out and read again.

I know that one thing you’ll feel is relief: one always does in the face of intimate truth.

The communication from my body shown above was written decades ago. The other day I decided to do this exercise again. Here's what came out:

You make me work so hard
And yet I love to stretch out
Here in the middle stretch, in fact, 
It’s a bit more challenging to keep taking the next step
Yet what else are we here for?
And what alternative do we have?
Yes, this dull ache is still here in the right hip
But so many other dull, or not-so-dull, aches have come and gone
I know you’re better at handling the flaring-up pains
Those dramatic, cry-it-out, think-it-out, emotional waves
But here I am just carrying you through
I need you to notice this
If I were a horse, would you give me an apple?
If I were a dog, would you massage me more?
In fact, I’ve noticed, you do massage your dog a lot more often than you massage me!
It’s OK to take it easy, you know
And I’m more resilient than you sometimes remember
So, baby, let’s get ready for the rest of the race
Or is it a marathon? A marvelous, a Malomar, 
A mistake, a message, 
A missive, or a mistress? (no – that last one is me) – 
Maybe it’s more than you bargained for,
All this living, and yet I know my duty,
To live, to revive, to restore, to regret, 
To resurge

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What's So Great About Being in the Center of Your Head? (More on Tool #2)

So what’s with all this talk about being in the head? What about being in the heart or other parts of your body?

As the previous posts touched on (, when you get into the center of your head, you bring your awareness into the sixth chakra or “third eye.”
getting centered in your sixth chakra behnd your eyes from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

It’s fine to be in any of the other major energy centers, or chakras, from the first one at the base of your spine to the crown, or seventh, chakra on top of your head. Each one has its own abilities, and you access them most fully by focusing your awareness in that chakra.

However, for consciously getting in synch with your body – whether in meditation or just walking around in the world – the sixth chakra often works best. This energy center offers you certainty, clarity, and neutrality. It gives you “clear seeing.” When developed, this ability translates into clairvoyant perception – when you are in a light meditative trance – of the energy movie around you.

Let’s contrast the sixth chakra with the fourth chakra, near the heart, which holds your abilities and information related to affinity and caring. Gathering your awareness and energy into your heart chakra for most of your meditation is not the most helpful thing you can do, because when you use your intuitive tools from this space, everything you do is colored by caring and the desire for closeness. You won’t have as much perspective. You might love everything you pay attention to or be overcome by other intense feelings. 

chakra illustration from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blogYou might want to use your heart energy to heal others, to fix situations. But if you do that from your heart, you won’t be doing it from a neutral point of view. You won’t see things as clearly. And you won’t feel as certain about what you’re noticing. You’ll have an agenda.

The heart chakra is a fitting place to center your energy when you’re engaged in loving and affectionate activities. Also, chances are you already know how to be in this energy center. It’s more culturally acceptable to love than it is to see yourself, others, and situations without bias or competition. Being in your heart may feel more natural to you than being in the center of your head, where you’re simply looking and communicating. So practice something you’re less familiar with, which offers a great deal of power to see truth.

In addition, you don’t want to interfere with the important physical work of the heart by doing a lot of energy work from this chakra. Let your heart muscle pump blood; let your feelings of love and like and hatred and dislike flow in and out of your heart chakra. Feel close, feel distant; feel. But when you want to find a quiet space to simply be, perceive, get back in synch with your body, consciously and confidently release energy that isn't really you, and call back in the energy that is, bring your awareness to your sixth chakra as we’ve described.

The center of your head is such a relaxing place because of the neutrality, clarity, and certainty it offers.

To illustrate this further, think of your first chakra at the base of your spine. From the center of your head, just imagine it. (Notice how you want to go there energywise as soon as I mention it? That’s the habit of sending your energy wherever someone points you to.) This is where your survival information is stored. Here your fight-or-flight mechanisms are triggered: great, useful information if indeed your physical survival is threatened. If you’re having a physical emergency, you immediately leap into your first chakra at the clanging bells of adrenaline. 

But normally, you don’t want to be engulfed in that stressful, save-my-life response. You don’t want to sit in the middle of pure survival data when instead you’re seeking a restful, calm, clear seat in your body. You’re looking to release stress, not experience it.

get neutral from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blogThe other main chakras also are rich with abilities and information: the second chakra, where you experience emotions and sensuality, where you might experience a “gut feeling”; the third chakra, a crucial one for diabetics as it’s related to the pancreas and controls will, identity, and running the physical body; the fourth, the heart chakra, which we’ve just discussed; the fifth, or throat, chakra, which contains your communication abilities; the seventh, or crown, chakra, where you might “know things off the top of your head.” 

But as you can see from these quick descriptions, none of these offers the neutrality of the sixth chakra or center of your head. Here is where you imagine, visualize, or perceive what’s happening energetically, “see it in your mind’s eye.” And as yet another saying attests, we humans are wired so that “seeing is believing.”

If meditation is about getting into communication with your body and your energetic field, it’s good to listen from a point of neutrality – because the body has both positive and negative things to tell you. You’ll be able to hear all of it better, and respond better, not from your survival impulses, your emotions, your finicky diabetic issues of control, your heart, your communication center, or the top of your head – but from the unbiased seat in the middle of your head where you simply see.

Having a geographic area in my space where I can anchor myself, and feel more neutral and certain, helps me enormously in managing my diabetes. When I’m having low or high blood sugar and start to veer into spaciness, feeling disconnected from my body and my abilities, I can gently yank my attention right behind my eyes. This simple adjustment helps me to get back into the moment, to assess what I need to do to remedy my physical situation, and to just generally carry on.

meditating guy from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Remembering to place my awareness there throughout the day also keeps me on a more even keel, reducing stress, which in turn smooths out my blood sugar, blood pressure, and even heart rate.

All this is augmented by taking time out with eyes closed for a few minutes or more each day to use this tool – sometimes even on the bus, at a site where I’m consulting, or anywhere else.

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein