Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Your Soul Story: The One Only You Can Tell

In recent posts I've emphasized how important I believe exploring and expressing our soul is for our health and well-being. 

Although hard to define, I've described soul as our unique nature, personality, talents, interests, voice and story.

I've also suggested that many of us forget or disregard our own soul and story and this neglect can have a detrimental impact on our mind, body and spirit. 

The writer Barry Lopez pens, "Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”  

I would add that the story one may most need to hear is their own.


At the end of last months post I said I would offer some ways to explore and express your soul for greater health and well-being.  

Idea 1: Your Soul Story

Find an old notebook or journal, or buy a new one.  

Studies have demonstrated that journaling or writing down your thoughts and feelings have a positive impact on health and well-being.   

Give yourself permission to take 15 to 30 minutes each day for a week to reflect on and write about significant and meaningful events that have occured on your life journey. 

I recommend early morning before the world starts waking up. But you may prefer another time.

Write about anything that comes to mind as you reflect on your life. Try not to judge or screen what comes up. There will most likely be events that you consider positive, negative or neutral. Try not to label them or get swept away by your memories of them. Simply record them as you would if you were writing your own autobiography. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, content or trying to make your words perfect or poetic. Simply write about what comes to mind and keep it flowing for as long as your thoughts come.  

It might be helpful to focus on a particular period of your life for each day of the week that you do this. You could begin with childhood, proceed to adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, senior adulthood etc. Or you can simply write about whatever comes to mind each day as you reflect on your life. 

At the end of the week take some time to read back over what you've written. 

What thoughts or emotions emerge as you read about your significant life events? Pride for what you've accomplished or endured? Gratitude? Sadness? Disappointment? Joy? Other emotions?

What might it feel like to share some of your significant life events with a friend or loved one? You can ask them to simply listen as you share and not feel like they need to comment. How does it feel to share and be heard?

Would you consider sending me an email at jason@livewhole.net or comment below about how this experience of reflecting and journaling was for you? 

May You Live Whole!  




   

Monday, April 1, 2013

Do you neglect your soul and spirit?

Of the familiar threesome of mind, body and soul (or spirit), does your soul get the least attention?

The soul is hard to define, but by soul I mean your unique personality, life story and innermost being. Other definitions describe the soul as the spiritual part of humans distinct from the physical; the essential part or fundamental nature of anything; the animating principle of life and action in humans.

“This is the great error of our day, that physicians separate the soul from the body," observed Plato over 2000 years ago. "The cure should not be attempted without the treatment of the whole, and no attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul.”

Although Plato's critique was directed toward the medical practitioners of his time, my sense is that even today most of us separate the soul from the body. We may discount the soul altogether as a key to our health and well-being. In our defense, it is easy to neglect or take for granted the immaterial or spiritual. If we can't see, touch, or taste something, we can think it doesn't exist.

Thomas Moore in his book Care of the Soul writes, "The great malady of the twentieth century, implicated in all of our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is 'loss of soul.' When soul is neglected, it doesn't just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning."

What would it look like for you to pay more attention to the exploration and expression of your soul? What do you think...might it lead to greater health and happiness in your mind and body?  
  
Stay tuned. In future posts I'll be offering ideas on ways to explore and express your soul for greater health and well-being.

May you Live Whole and neglect not your soul! 



Friday, March 1, 2013

No Regrets!

An Australian nurse, Bronnie Ware spent years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She noticed common themes and recorded her observations in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, and later into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. They are:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and knew that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed.  Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."


In Short:
Be Authentic.
Don't work so hard.
Express your feelings.
Stay connected with friends.
Let yourself be happy.  


May you live whole with no regrets! 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What makes you come alive?

Last month I ended my post with this question. 

What makes you come alive?

One way to find an answer is to remember a time in your life when you felt really alive, when you did something for the pure enjoyment and pleasure of it.  

Hint - You may need to think back to your childhood.

I recently uncovered my own response to this question by remembering that as I child I loved to sing.  I loved singing in my bedroom with my record player and instruments all around me.  My mom was a music teacher and my father a music lover, so I had every childlike instrument from drums to piano to kazoo. 

So what did you love to do as a child?  Or who did you pretend to be as a child?  It's never to late to rediscover the spark and this may just be a perfect time of the year to wake up the child within

The wisdom and wonder will still be there.  It's In Every One of Us.



Happy and healthy holidays to you and yours!

Jason

 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Don't worry about what the world needs!


Did the title of this post get your attention? 

Does it sound selfish to you? Or does it sound intriguing and a little freeing?

It's the first sentence of a longer quote by Howard Thurman, American author, philosopher, educator and theologian. 

 "Don't worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes YOU come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive." 

So how does the message in this quote relate to our health and well-being? In my mind and experience they are intricately related. 

As I have listened to more and more people share the stories of their lives, I have realized that most of them have a deep desire to care greatly for the "others" in their lives.  

Whether it's honoring a parents last wish to look after their spouse or siblings after their death, or always saying yes to their church or community organization's request to give more of their time and resources, many will go beyond what is healthy for them in order to meet these demands. 

My concern then is not that we care or do too little. My concern is that many care and do too much. And this I believe has profound impacts on our health and well-being. 

I don't believe for example that the tremendous increase in Diabetes in our country is caused simply from too much food and too little exercise.  I believe another factor is that people are weighted down emotionally and physically by either their own perceptions of their obligations, or by the very real expectations of others upon them such as parents or employers. 

So Howard Thurman's message above, his request of us if you will, is to STOP and ASK ourselves a different question for a time. 



WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE?










 





Sunday, April 1, 2012

Inches of Wonder!

I've been noticing the new green foliage of ivy and trees and the multi-colors of blooming azaleas and other flora. 

 I've also been noticing the prominent yellow powder common during this season along with hundreds of canker or inchworms out in mass this year. I notice them as I walk through their silk threads spanning door frames and other corridors or as they land on my head and tag along on my clothing.

This is a caterpillar, not an inchworm.

I also began to recognize my annoyance of these young larvae and my labeling them as a bother as I pulled them from my clothing and out of my hair, what little I have. This annoyance increased to general irritability and a bit of an obsession to get rid of these creatures at every spare moment, sweeping them off of our doors, walls and walkways.

And then I remembered the attitudes of mindful awareness, two in particular: Non-Judging and Beginner's Mind. Non-Judging is recognizing the habit of the mind to categorize and judge our experiences, locking us into habits and patterns of reacting. And Beginner's Mind is allowing ourselves to experience the world in each moment as unique and precious, as if we are meeting it for the first time.   

I realized I was judging and labeling the inchworms as annoying and beginning to get stuck in a reactive pattern of irritability and aversion. This pattern was increasing my stress with potential to spill over into other areas of my life as well as impact my overall experience of this very beautiful and pleasant season of the year. 

So rather than continue this reactive pattern I returned to Beginner's Mind and chose to get curious about this inch long looper. The closer I looked and the more I learned about this previously labeled foe, the more appreciative I felt for yet another wonder of spring. 

Sure they're still dropping down on my head and eating our plants to some degree, but my response is different. Instead of irritability and tension, it's more of a friendly acceptance as I now coax them gently off my clothes, notice their unique design and place them down outside atop their next meal.   

Where are "worms" showing up in your life this Spring? What is possible for you if you respond with curiosity rather than react with judgment? 

"I am living, you are living, we are living in a world of wonder." Darrell Scott and John Anderson, World of Wonder

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Matters Most to You?

How is your motivation for achieving your health and well-being goals in the new year?  

If it's waning, perhaps your connection to what matters most to you could be strengthened.  One creative way to stay in touch with what is most important is the "autobiographical collage," as shared in Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way.

Gather a stack of magazines (about 8-10).  Give yourself twenty minutes to tear out pictures, images or words that reflect your life - your interests, values, joys, inspirations, dreams, etc.  Anything that draws you in and grabs your eye, mind, heart or spirit - rip it out!

Keep tearing until you have a good stack of images (at least 10-20). Now arrange your images anyway you like.  You can glue or tape them to a sheet of newspaper, tack them to a bulletin board, even laminate and frame them.  Whatever you do, make them accessible. 

You may be surprised, as I have been, by the power of this very simple tool to motivate, focus, and remind you of what is most important as you continue moving toward your vision of optimal health.