Inner Awakenings, Deep Reflections, and Contentment

I have always found it fascinating that the month of January was named after the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings, who was always depicted with two faces: one looking towards the past and one looking towards the future. This notion of “new beginnings” is what gives rise to our custom of making a New Year’s resolution. For most of us that are our health and the health of our family. It is a time for looking back into the past, as well as forward into the future. To pull on our wisdom, gained from a lifetime of experience to see what can we take from our lives well lived and apply it to our future.

This year, though, I’ve chosen not to make a year-long resolution. Living out so deep in nature has taught me that our earthly tomorrow is quite uncertain and that there is wisdom in being attentive to the present. My advice: Let go of resolutions and take life day by day. We’ve all done some version of “I’m going to lose 10 pounds,” “I’m going to exercise every day,” “I’m going to meditate 10 minutes every morning,” “I’m going to spend more time in nature.” We make resolutions because each new year is an opportunity to start anew and start over—but the reality is that each and every breath is an opportunity to start over.

This year I will not make a yearlong promise, as I have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring. My quiet vow – to take each day as it comes, to live my life breath to breath, heart open to whatever joy, pain, love, sorrow, adventure, or change it may bring. In other words, I choose to be content – to resonate with my own voice, to hear what I really need for myself.

Three Steps to Contentment

 

When we are mentally and emotionally satisfied with the way things are, that can be described as contentment. We may not like the way things are, but we recognize all that life has to offer and we are then willing to embrace it all fully. We are okay with who we are and what we have. Feeling content can lower your stress, which can, in turn, boost your immune system. Try one or more of these tips to deepen your relationship with your wise self.

  1. Gratitude Journal. You don’t have to have a fancy journal. You can use a handy spiral bound school notebook, or you can simply open a document on your laptop and begin to list all the things you are grateful for at this time. Let your mind really wander and listen to your body and your own emotional feelings as you make your list. Keep it handy, and refer to it when you’re feeling down.
  1. Inspirational Book. We all have favorite authors, or maybe you have a book of inspirational quotes. Keep this book handy to take out and read from time to time. Use one of the quotes to share at the family reading time or to stimulate a writing session in your Gratitude Journal.
  1. Drink a Variety of Herbal Teas. The very act of preparing and drinking tea can be a way to reduce stress, make time for yourself, create special time with a family member or friend, and to educate yourself on the effects of different teas on your body. In honor of “National Hot Tea” month, I invite you to try chamomile for relaxation, echinacea and elderberry tea for building the immune system, or green tea for increasing energy and blood flow.

Open up to the idea of healing, and little by little each day you will feel a little closer to becoming free.

— Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

Moving Forward: The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Suffering and pain are an unfortunate part of life. When we feel betrayed or slighted by the actions of another, we often hold grudges that lead to the burn of anger. But as a wise Buddhist saying goes, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” The truth of this statement stings, as we all know the feeling.

Scientific research has shown over and over that rumination on angry thoughts leads to physical manifestations of that pain. Bottling up betrayals brings on muscle tension, high blood pressure, and undue stress on our heart, and it’s even been proven to lower your immunity and put you at risk for depression. Holding on to past hurts can literally make you sick.

Maybe you lost someone you trusted or your family has not been the same after a divorce or traumatic event. Even misunderstandings with strangers can lead to long-term hurts that never seem to heal. Sometimes we taste this bitterness for years–well after the painful event took place. But with the costly toll this mental anguish can take on your physical health, something’s gotta give.

To start you must realize that all is not lost, even if you’ve been hurt deeply. We were born with wondrous resiliency – we are designed to recover from injuries. But what is the secret to righting past wrongs and getting past the pain so you can heal? It’s simple, but certainly not easy–we must forgive.

The Aramaic word for forgive, literally means to “untie.” Forgiveness is what frees us from the ties that bind us to our pain and suffering. We must forgive to free ourselves from being tangled up in old wrongs. And you in the process, you may find that your muscle aches and high blood pressure, and depression improve, as well. You’ll begin to form healthier relationships and make way for overall wellbeing and spiritual wholeness.

Here are some ways to let go of the past and move forward with forgiveness:

 

Let it all out

Share your troubles with a trusted friend or therapist. Acknowledge how deeply you feel this pain and how much you’d like to let it go.

 

Give yourself time

We may tire of hearing the phrase “time heals all wounds,” but there’s just so much truth in these four simple words. Open up to the idea of healing, and little by little each day you will feel a little closer to becoming free.

 

Leave a little space

Know that you have a right to move on from unhealthy relationships. You are under no obligation to keep giving your trust and love to someone who is not a positive force in your life. And just because you forgive them, does not mean they still deserve a place in your life now.

 

Lean on the experts

Get professional help if you cannot find a way to move forward; the health risks are too great to just hope that kind of pain will go away on its own.  I often recommend the book “Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness,” written by Dr. Fred Luskin, Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. 

 

Forgive yourself

When you find the hurts are directed inward, it’s time to be compassionate with yourself. Think of how you would treat your best friend or a kind stranger, and imagine what you might say to comfort them. Take the sting out of the words you repeat to yourself, and begin to heal that broken heart.

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4 thoughts on “Inner Awakenings, Deep Reflections, and Contentment

    1. Greetings! Thank you and I agree wholeheartedly! With managing two apartment complexes; I see {and hear} such nonsense it just boggles the mind. I always advise people of exactly what you just mentioned. Thank you for sharing!

      Like

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