Radical Hope

“Gratitude pours forth continually as if the unexpected had just happened. The gratitude of a convalescent, for convalescence was unexpected. The rejoicing of strength that is returning, of a reawakened faith in a tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, of a sudden sense and anticipation of a future, of impending adventures, of seas that are opened again.”

–Oliver Sacks

As I listened to his words this morning, I danced effortlessly to the rhythm of the crackling chimes of bacon and kale cooking on the stove. Since changing my diet a few months ago, I have felt discouraged. There was a time when the only foods I could digest were bone broth, eggs, chicken, and avocado near the final stages of my dark night of the soul. Although I slapped on a smile and laughed about the simplicity of my diet, I was shaking inside, held together by threads of hope. My hope in a faith in a greater source that loves, protects, and sustains me, and the idea that somehow through my healing, I could help others heal.

This concept of healing is so foreign to most, in that it’s not something we get to see or experience in our every day lives. We don’t hear stories of people healing from diseases or disorders. We hear about treatments and learning to cope. We learn to live with dis-order in our body, making excuses for it, rather than identifying a root cause that may be something we can resolve.

How can we heal?

Do less

It is an understatement to say that our culture moves fast. Taking it easy, doing less and taking time to experience the beauty around us and within our relationships is not an easy task. It might sit unchecked on your to-do list for months, hanging over you like a heavy burden because you’re working so hard to include everything in your life that will fulfill and meet your needs.

But what if we trusted that everything would be provided? What if instead of burning ourselves out, we took the time to check in, listening to our breaths and asking questions not only of ourselves but of a higher power? This might mean doing less and having less, but since when was that ever a bad thing?

One of my best friends taught me a helpful mantra this year: “I have an abundance of time.” While this may not feel true in many circumstances, I am learning to attune my body to this truth that I don’t have to rush in order to make everything happen. I can take things one moment at a time. I can be more friendly towards myself by moving at the pace of my breath, noticing when it moves into my chest and begins to speed up. This requires a deep listening and the constant reminder that I speak to myself, “Move slow.” I still keep a never-ending to-do list, but I’m learning to remember there are only 24-hours in a day, and some of those hours are best used for cooking, resting, or dancing.

Connect

Spending time in Nicaragua taught me about the essentials for living, and at the core is community. Connection to others was easy for me when I was teaching yoga full time and living at a slower pace focused on eating healthy, enjoying life and serving others. Culture shock was so challenging for me every time I returned from a trip, that in many ways I isolated. I pushed people away because I couldn’t relate and I could not understand a consumer culture.

The more I gazed at my navel to improve myself and understand my past, the more disconnected I became. Instead of focusing on what I have to be grateful for and the support of my friends and family, I grew more depressed and disillusioned with our culture. I am learning that taking time to enjoy the people and the world around us is often a better use of my time than going inward.

Community holds us accountable. It keeps our feet on the ground so that on our quests for understanding self and others, we don’t float into the clouds or fall into a hole. I fully believe that my recent crisis could have been prevented had I been actively participating in a community. Tough stuff. Lesson learned. Healthy, conscious living takes a village, and sometimes you need village members to help you pull your head out of your ass, or out of your navel 🙂

Love

The term “self-care” gets thrown around so much, but doesn’t carry much weight unless it’s based on love. Over the past week I have completed two sessions of Retracing Sequence Method. This type of therapy is spiritual in nature and allows you to uncover the truth about your beliefs about yourself and God. These beliefs shape your experience of the world. Typically life experiences, good and bad, influence our perception of the world. Sadly, our bad experiences can have such a profound effect that we stop trusting, stop hoping and stop loving.

Here’s some truth:

Perfect love casts out fear.

Real love is patient and kind.

Love respects, protects and supports.

I didn’t realize that my perception of love was tainted. But I am learning that true love is much more amazing than I could have dreamed. To believe that I am ultimately supported by love changes things. It means I don’t have to worry, because I am safe and protected. It’s a matter of time before I will fully experience these truths integrated into my bones. It will take practice and noticing ways I can choose love instead of shame or fear. So, as a practice my new mantra when I get anxious or feel low?

“I will choose love instead.”

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