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BodyWise: A Column on the BodyMind Connection

The beatitude of gratitude

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This month's column is especially for those who were "damaged in shipping and handling." Children who were neglected, abandoned or abused frequently assume that they were either deficient or deserved to be punished. At the time, this may be a brilliant survival strategy. Unfortunately, it sets us up for academic, financial, professional, relational, physical and health challenges later. Those erroneous assumptions attract situations that seem to confirm them but also present opportunities for reconsideration, change and growth.

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Peter Levine, author of "Waking the Tiger," wrote that, "Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence." Thanksgiving, the holiday most closely associated with gratitude, seems like a good time to consider the role that gratitude can play to help us finally escape the seemingly endless cycles of suffering. To be clear, we're not suggesting being grateful for the abuse and suffering but being grateful for the inner strength and wisdom which enabled us to survive.

Language, words and thoughts matter. For example, the more we want something to change, the more we want something, the less likely it is to happen. This is because, until very recently, the word "want" was almost entirely synonymous with the word "lack." Therefore, when we use "want" in an affirmation, we are essentially reaffirming its absence. Our bodymind is like a computer: In order to change the outcome, we must use the proper commands. Readers who would like to learn how to make effective affirmations should read Robert Tennyson Stevens' "Conscious Language, The Logos of Now: The Discovery, Code, and Upgrade to Our New Conscious Human Operating System."

Paradoxically, the belief that we chose our families of origin in order to have the experiences and issues that we need to work through in this lifetime can provide another escape route from cycles of suffering. Whether true or horsepucky, this belief implies that we have never been victims, but rather spiritual warriors on a difficult path. And if we chose and survived that, we can choose differently going forward and reward ourselves with easier traveling.

Speaking of being and beatitude. If, despite our best efforts, we are stuck, struggle may be contraindicated. Surrender and ease might produce the results that we desire. Just being. One of the best pieces of advice I know is, "Don't think, just breathe." When a desk drawer is stuck, yarding on it with all our might isn't likely to open it. However, pushing the drawer back in may realign it so that when we try again it slides open easily.

Dr. Bessel A. Van der Kolk's book on childhood PTSD and its treatment, "The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, Body and the Healing of Trauma," acknowledges the importance of the bodymind connection. He explains how actions as simple as acting in a play, drumming, singing, and yoga, have helped patients recover from severe PTSD. Dr. Gabor Mate's book, "Scattered Minds," explains how a simple loss of connection with mom or some other caregiver in the first 27 months of life can lead to developmental delays and addictions.

In my experience, the Universe always supports those who truly desire to change, heal, grow. Hopefully, one or more of these tips will help you just be, and enjoy Thanksgiving, with all the trimmings.

—Mike Macy, LMT, is an avid skate-skier, fat-tire biker and birder. His book "BodyWise" conveys bodymind insights gained during 30 years as a Craniosacral Therapist. Reach him at mefmacy@gmail.com.

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