Natural Health, Uncategorized

I’m Going to Settle

Woman meditating

That’s right, I’ve decided it’s time to settle. And I’m so happy. That word has such negative connotations, settling – like it means accepting less. And for me, it does mean settling for less, but in a good way! In fact, at the risk of being dramatic, it’s changing my life, this settling. This year has been the most stressful of my life with a major debilitating illness, a 400 mile move with children who struggled with it, financial stress, and then the unexpected death of my mother just two days after she left our house at Christmas. It has been awful. Plus I work, I have acupuncture practices in two different states, and run I a home, am raising two boys and two young energetic big dogs, I was stressed! So much so that it started to impact my parenting, and that’s always where I draw my line. Or maybe where it’s so obvious how badly I’ve been treating myself that I finally see it. A few  weeks of watching my stress and short temper effect my kids and I thought something has to change!! But what? I can’t just never clean my house or do laundry or exercise the dogs or help the boys with their homework or go to work or………you know how it is, the list goes on. So what did I do? I read the word “settle” somewhere, in passing, and it was like a lightening bolt. That’s It! I thought. I needed to teach my mind to settle. Like muddy water in a pond all churned up my mind was chaos. My reality is busy. My mind was chaos. So that even on a rare day where I had a little free time, I still felt totally frenetic and swamped, even if I wasn’t. Because my mind was always in overdrive. I didn’t know how to settle down. How to let my mind settle, let the pool of water settle, let all the junk flying around in the water settle, let my breathing settle. Settle. For some reason this word has helped me enormously. I have meditated on and off for 20 years, but even that sometimes feels like an effort, “Clear the mind” – but sometimes I can’t. But settle, that I could do. I started sitting for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. This is what’s recommended in Transcendental Meditation, about which I know nothing, but I decided that sounded reasonable. Long enough to make a difference but not a ridiculous thing to ask a busy working mother, like an hour morning and night. 20 minutes I could do. And I have. And the results were instant. I mean instant. No struggling to get meditation “right”, no wondering if my mind was clear enough, my inner voice quiet enough or positive enough. I had no agenda. I just let my mind settle. Tried to empty my mind, but if thoughts wandered in and out, that was fine too, I’d just ask them to be quiet, like patrons joining a violin concert a few minutes late. Just keep your voices down little thoughts and you can stay too.

Whatever it was about that word, it has shifted me. I instantly, that first night, slept through the night for the first time in months. And this week when I’ve woken and instantly gone into my default mode these days – panic – I just tell myself kindly to settle. And next thing I know I’ve gone back to sleep (this is a major development for an insomniac). And I feel as if I had so much more time in my day. That’s the strangest part. I don’t. But I felt all this room to get through my day more peacefully rather than rushing and short tempered and always feeling like I didn’t have enough time. My life on the outside didn’t get less hectic, but my life on the inside did, and so there was all this quiet space that hadn’t been there before and it changed everything about my day. So there it is. Really I am settling for less. Less stress, less chaos, less pressure inflicted on myself by myself, less worry. I see my mind as a cloudy pool of muddy water and I let the silt settle to the bottom, let my mind be clear and wow, it’s beautiful when that happens. I was instantly kinder, more patient with my children, and happier. Just happier, which is always a good thing. So there it is. It’s time to settle. Nothing wrong with settling for less 🙂

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Natural Health

Thank You Pain!

woman in the field

This year I started feeling sick. I am extremely grateful that it is nothing serious. I know how precious that is. I also know that I am so grateful that I got sick. Grateful that my back started aching and I felt nauseous for weeks on end. Normally I feel good. Tired, with a business, home, marriage and 2 little boys, but physically I usually feel good. I treat people in my acupuncture practice all week long who come in with various ailments, people trying to get away from discomfort, just as I was. When one day I found myself taking an antacid and an ibuprofin in one day I thought – STOP! I wondered how I had gotten to pill popping without taking the time to sit in my body and actually figure out what was wrong. My point is this: our aches and pains can be gifts. Thank them. They are telling us when we have veered off our true paths. This isn’t in any way to minimize serious or life threatening illnesses, which some of my clients are struggling with. But for the back pain, the headache, the fibromyalgia, the heartburn, for these daily troubles there is a wealth of information in those discomforts. Our bodies are trying to tell us things that we have not been hearing. Our bodies, lives, souls may have been trying to steer us in a certain direction subtly at first, then less subtly, then through a slight headache, and finally by pain or illness that actually gets in the way of our lives. That is the point. Our higher selves are getting in the way. To make us stop. And sit and listen. Not every ailment will magically disappear just by doing this, but it is amazing how many problems will lessen, ease, release. One example I’ve seen over and over is people with hands who hurt, young people with no arthritis have come to me several times over the years with hands that ache and hurt all the time. I have often found that these people are doing too much. They often aren’t good at asking for help (something I relate to!) and they have taken too much on. In addition to treating them with acupuncture I have suggested seeing if there are things they could offload, or get help with. It seems that this second thing is really what helps the hand pain dissipate. Strange but true. For me I realized I had stopped taking care of myself. I had spent a bitter cold, snowy winter indoors, cooking and eating and taking care of my family, but I had lost connections so important to myself – to nature, to creativity, to exercise,
to spirituality, to fun. When I sat with the physical problems that had been bothering me I had an Oprah AHA moment. I realized I needed to make changes, some very small, some very big. I have started with the small ones, including removing chocolate and wine from their position at the base of my food pyramid, planning my summer garden, and dusting off my meditation table. It doesn’t matter what the changes are: realizing you’re angry with someone, you need to change a relationship, train your dog not to chew up all your new shoes, work a few less hours a week, spend more time at the mall, whatever it is that you need but aren’t getting. It’s different for every person, and it changes constantly. Which is a pain in the butt. Sometimes literally. But when your body starts feeling bad, remember it might be good. Thank it. Thank the hemorrhoids, depression, eye infection, aching joints or gas. Those lovely symptoms are gifts delivering a message to you. Make sure you take time, sit, breathe and listen to the message. Sometimes the cure comes right from within you, making the changes your life and spirit need to thrive.