I was introduced to meditation when my son was 16 years old and he wanted to earn the Boy Scout Religious Emblem for Buddhism, called the Metta Emblem. For two years he studied Buddhism and began to meditate consistently. I watched how it changed his life. He became much more peaceful and calmer – and who wouldn’t notice that in a teenage boy?!
In the summer of 2014, I learned how to meditate from a Buddhist nun, who lived in our city. I was really antsy sitting still for even 10 minutes and didn’t know what to do with my mind. She helped me to learn how to meditate while walking, and this helped me to move some energy out of myself before sitting down to meditate. She also provided guided meditations that helped me to know where to focus my mind. Generally, her meditation “classes” were two hours in length with 20 minutes of a talk, 20 minutes of walking meditation and 20 minutes of seated meditation and then we did the cycle again. At the end of one of the two-hour sessions, I was in seated meditation and began to feel fireworks going off in my brain, a type of spiritual rapture. I wanted to continue meditating forever to experience this wonderful feeling. I became hooked on meditation at that point! And to date, I have yet to enjoy another one of those rapturous moments, but I continue to meditate daily because I enjoy the peace, calm and clarity that it brings to both my heart and mind.
I was looking for a way to meditate on my own at home, and found a website for Dr. Joe Dispenza online. Dr. Joe is a chiropractor who healed himself after a severe accident that broke several vertebrae in his spine. When he was told that he would never walk again if he didn’t have his spine fused, he used meditation and other mind transformational work to heal his body. He then studied neurology and neuroscience extensively, writing several books on the power of the mind, based upon his personal experience.
I read Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book, You Are the Placebo, which gave me numerous different meditations to experience at home. This book also gave me an introduction to the power of my mind. I went to two of Dr. Dispenza’s workshops in the Denver area to learn even more about how to meditate. There were so many people in attendance at the workshops, many of whom had some physical malady that they sought to heal. It was wonderful to feel part of a community with so many people speaking the same language of healing.
In a more recent book, Becoming Supernatural, Dr. Joe states “Because wherever you place your attention is where you place your energy…when you place your attention and awareness on your pain, it expands, because you experience more of it. If you keep attending to your pain and experiencing more and more of it, it becomes a part of your life.”
This hit me because that’s exactly what I was experiencing. Every morning I awoke to stomach pain, and I sometimes awoke to pain in the middle of the night. My entire focus of the day was pain – how to get out of it if I felt it, or how to not ever experience it again if I temporarily was feeling good. It was an awful way to live. I never realized how much of my day was consumed with focusing on my physical symptoms. I didn’t really want to talk with anyone outside of my family about what I was feeling, fearing my litany of issues would drive people away. When I had tried to explain to others that I could only eat four foods, I’d get raised eyebrows and the comment “no way!” frequently.
I ceased pursuing many friendships. Not being able to eat at restaurants made having lunch or dinner excursions difficult. I didn’t want to have the focus be on me bringing in my food to a restaurant, so I just chose to stay at home to eat.
Meditation allowed me to feel connected to something positive outside of myself. I began to meditate at least once a day, and many times twice a day. I really wanted to get better, yet what I noticed first was how sick the thoughts that were manifesting in my mind had really gotten. In meditation, I learned to observe my thoughts as they floated by. I had thoughts like, “I’ll never get well;” “I’m going to always be sick;” “Maybe I’ll get more love from people if they know how really sick I am;” “I hate that my body doesn’t listen to what I want to do.” And on and on it went. No wonder I didn’t want to sit still with myself!
Since I had been taking so many medications to quell my symptoms, I was frequently loopy and unable to stay awake during meditation. I learned to meditate in the morning when I was fresh, and then again in the afternoon after taking a nap so that I could gain some value with the time spent meditating. Michael A. Singer wrote in his book, The Untethered Soul, “True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. This is done by constantly remembering that you are the one inside that notices the voice talking. That is the way out.” I soon began to separate myself from the thoughts that were constantly roaming through my mind. It was as if I was living with a maniacal roommate in my head. When my inner voice was spouting all those thoughts of never getting well, I’d learn to say “thanks for sharing” and then affirm my body’s ability to heal itself.
One of the meditations that Dr. Joe Dispenza created is called “Blessing of the Energy Centers” where focused attention is placed on the chakras in the body. Two of those chakras are in the gut. Each time I would bring my mind to awareness in my gut, I’d feel like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I would remember having stomach aches so frequently as a child during those meditations.
These stomach aches weren’t just manifestations of allergies. They were born out of situations in my childhood that made me feel like I was not enough. It’s important to share this discover, as it was a key to understanding where my mind would go when I would experience fear in my life as an adult, which seemed to be frequent.
These memories would come to the surface as I calmed my mind and focused on my awareness of my two gut chakras. I had no idea there were so many emotions buried within my stomach, and the revisiting of these memories was difficult. I had never found the fortitude to sit still long enough to really experience the feelings that I had swallowed as a child.
I began putting the pieces together of why my body was trying to protect me while coming to terms with the loss of presence from my father. My father’s mantra was “We are the perfect family.” And I so wanted for that to be true. Sitting with loss and fear while in meditation isn’t something to do alone, I learned. I needed to share these awarenesses with safe friends and a spiritual mentor. Also, my husband and I have been together over 35 years, so he had watched me progress from a young adult, then through this illness and now into healing. His support and awarenesses really supported me during these times.
So, why was it important that I acknowledge these difficult memories from childhood? I wasn’t sure at first, until years later I had an “ah-ha” moment after a traumatic situation with my husband, Robert. He had been involved in an 8-vehicle accident early one morning on his drive to Denver. He had steered clear of hitting people standing in the road with their disabled vehicles, only to slide into other vehicles trying to negotiate the icy roads. He was able to walk away from the accident, but other people weren’t so lucky. He called me to tell me about the incident, and that he could hear a man screaming in pain having lost his foot when a vehicle slammed into his car taking off the open door. The interstate was shut down for hours, and my husband’s vehicle was almost totaled. During a crisis, I’m pretty good about being able to handle what’s coming my way; however, the next morning I awoke with the old familiar feeling of mast cells activating in my gut, and I felt like I was going to faint. I sat down in meditation and asked myself what I was feeling. I realized that I was afraid. The car wreck made me realize how tenuous life is. I was scared that my husband could have been killed on that icy road. I asked myself, “when have you felt this way before?” Instantly, the answer came to me – as a child when my father went to war. I was able to talk with my body and tell it “everything’s okay. You can calm down now. I’m safe. Robert is safe.” And within minutes I no longer felt faint, and I could feel my gut calm down as the mast cells ceased to activate. I was able to go on with my day, without taking any Benadryl or other medication to stop a mast cell reaction. This was a true miracle!
A space had been created between a thought being generated (in this case fear) and my body’s reaction to that thought. Meditation had created that space. Through the daily practice of meditation, my mind had calmed down enough for me to be able to watch my thoughts as an observer rather than an unwilling participant.
There was more to learn about the power of my mind, and I soon found another avenue to pursue in learning more about this potential. But first, I needed to create a new relationship to food than the one that I had in my childhood, and that honestly had continued into my adult years.
To read about healing through a new relationship with food, click here.