by Kindra Phillips
My husband decided to leave the physical. It wasn’t unexpected, I knew it was coming. By the time he died, I was a shell of my previous self. I was drained and exhausted. My favorite song that we sing [in Society meetings] is Water by Daniel Nahmod.1 My favorite phrase of this song is “have you ever seen an eagle head straight into the wind.” I like this phrase because this is what I was doing for many years, struggling to keep us going, struggling to keep him going.
It was in this state of exhaustion that I had to deal with other people’s perceptions of my husband’s death. Some people didn’t know what to say so they ignored me, other people made suggestions on how they would have handled the situation better, and others just blamed me. I know that these people were dealing with their own issues, but it was hard not to take in the criticism.
I felt like my life was one of those choose your own adventure stories. In a choose your own adventure story you read a scenario and then have to choose what option you would take given the situation. For example, if you choose Option A, you would be instructed to turn to Page 15, and if you choose Option B, you would be instructed to turn to Page 20. I thought of my life as a choose your own adventure story gone horribly wrong, and I wasn’t able to flip the pages back to start again.
Recently, on a trip to Arizona, I saw a tree that had sores all over the trunk and it looked like blood was dripping from them. I was told that it was a bleeding tree. The bleeding tree is part of the weeping willow family and originates in Australia. Of course I was drawn to this horrible looking tree because I felt like that before.
I was told that every year the tree bleeds dark red sap and after it is finished bleeding, the trunk of the tree turns to a beautiful amber color. The amber colored trunk protects the tree from the harsh rays of the Arizona sun. I do believe that when we go through great diversity, it makes us stronger just like the bleeding tree. But how do you get from a place of pain and suffering to a place of abundance and joy? The answer might be different for everyone, but for me it was hope.
I received a reading by the Reverend Hoyt Robinette.2 I didn’t give him any personal information, he just started talking. Hoyt told me what would have happened if I choose to deal with my husband’s problem differently. He put to rest all the would haves and should haves that were constantly swirling in my mind. That was a blessing.
He then asked me if I wanted to know about my future. The question shocked me because I was still trying to understand the past. He told me a few things about my future. It wasn’t in the particulars of the future that made such an impact. Instead, it was an act of bringing hope back into my life. That distant ethereal hope that I had lost was brought much closer through his reading.
I used to work for a pharmaceutical company. In their drug studies, the drug was always compared to the effects of a placebo. In some cases, the effects of the drug were not much greater than the effects of the placebo. A placebo is defined as a pill prescribed more for the psychological benefit than for any physiological effect.
From the Brain Health Hacks blog,3 one author suggests that the definition of a placebo is a lot like the definition of hope. It is to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. It is well known that the placebo effect can greatly improve a patient’s health, so why not hope? The Japanese believe that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes in one year will be granted a wish. Isn’t this hope being put into action? Just like the expectation of getting well from a placebo pill? The power of hope is strong because, according to the Brain Health Hacks blog, hope is energy.
In the Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss,4 the author states that the physical body is surrounded by an energy field. This energy field is an information center and a perceptual system. It surrounds us and carries emotional energy created by our experiences and influences the physical tissue within our bodies. I know this because when my husband died my hair fell out. My emotional trauma caused a physical one.
The neurobiologist Dr. Candace Pert5 demonstrated that neuropeptides, the chemicals activated by emotions, are thoughts converted to matter. Practitioners of energy medicine can detect an area of the body that is not transmitting at its normal healthy frequency and this can indicate a problem.
The author goes on to state that it is vital that we maintain our own sense of power because power is the ability to generate internal energy and emotional resources. To increase our power, we can focus on the essentials that can help recover our energy. Every choice we make motivated by faith or fear, directs our spirit and affects our power. I choose faith.
Budda states “Since everything is a reflection of our minds, everything can be changed by our minds.” I believe that the energy of hope can transform the mind and body and get us that place of happiness, protection, and beauty.
In order to understand the power of hope, I read a book by Lorna Byrne titled A message of hope from the angels.7 The author, who has seen and heard from angels all her life, states that there is an angel of hope. The angel of hope can be in many places at once and is a beacon of light in all our lives and that hope makes the impossible possible. The angel of hope is not there to solve our problems. It is there to give us strength and vision to get through to a better place.
Recently I saw a little girl who looked like me in the airport. She had brown eyes and brown hair. She was wearing a mask and unable to communicate. According to her mom, she was on the way home after chemotherapy treatment. As I smiled at her, she became really excited. But she wasn’t looking at me. It was like she was looking through me. It was a strange encounter, but perhaps she saw her angel of hope. With the angel of hope guiding us, we can take those steps to get us to our better place. But I wanted to know, what are those steps that would allow me to follow the angel of hope?
According to Thich Nhat Hanh in his book No Mud No Lotus,5 there are five steps we can follow to find our joy and happiness:
The First Step is to cast off or leave behind those beliefs that are really obstacles to joy and happiness. These beliefs may include your ideas on how things should be or what you should have in your life. If something was obtained, it may be even more difficult to let go. The author calls this fearful attachment. Having these beliefs can cause suffering, but letting go is too difficult because of the fear of the unknown. Practicing a meditation where you put all of your fears, hatred, anger, problems and other energy sucking junk away for a while may help you take leave from those joy blocking beliefs. Not only does it make meditation more pleasant but practicing putting the junk away can flow over into your everyday life.
The Second Step is called inviting positive seeds. It is a practice of watering those positive seeds that are inside us and around us. These seeds can be things like compassion, understanding, and kindness. Any positive quality in which you would like to incorporate into your life. For example, if you want to be more grateful for the people, circumstances, or things in your life, taking time to acknowledge what you are grateful for would be like watering your gratefulness seed and thus creating more people, circumstances, or things to be grateful for.8 If you don’t like some thoughts or feelings that you are experiencing, then learn to focus on the opposite of those thoughts and feelings. For example, you may utilize affirmations. According to the Tiny Buddha blog,9 it is recommended that you identify the negative self-talk, create positive affirmation out of those beliefs, begin using the new affirmations and see the magic unfold. After all, according to The Secret,10 your thoughts and feelings create your life. So why not create a good one?
The Third Step is mindfulness based joy. Mindfulness is when we bring our mind to the here and now. Mindfulness is an energy that we can use to touch happiness and joy that are already available for us. The author states that when we walk it can be a celebration, and when we breathe, with awareness it can also be a celebration. What we are celebrating is life. The conditions of happiness that we have are already sufficient as we are aware of the fact that we are alive. Examine those things that bring you joy and happiness and use mindfulness to be fully present in those activities. I like to listen to new age music and soak in the bathtub. I figure when I am going through rough times, at least I will be clean.
The Fourth Step is concentration. Worries and anxiety about the future are always there, ready to take us away from happiness and joy. We can see them, acknowledge them, and use our concentration to return to the present moment. When we concentrate, we have a lot of energy; this energy will help us to not get carried away from visions of the past or fears about the future. In The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle11 the psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. Fear comes in many forms like unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension and phobias. This kind of fear is always something that might happen not of something that is happening now. The mind can cope with the present moment but you cannot cope with the future. Therefore, utilizing mindfulness to concentrate on the here and now can eliminate fear and allow our minds to concentrate on watering those seeds so that they grow into fruition. Buddha stated that happiness and tranquility arise from concentration.
The Fifth Step is insight. If we can see what is there it can liberate us from negative feelings such as anger, jealousy and fear. According to Gordon Burroughs in Becoming a Spiritualist,12 mediumship opens the door between the physical and spiritual worlds, and in doing so, the other side of life gives us valuable knowledge. Without insight I think it is easy to feel confused, lost and uneasy as we navigate throughout our lives. It was nice to receive an insightful reading from Hoyt Robinette. However, we all can develop our own skills.
In the NeuroLeadership Journal, Mark Beeman13 states that an insight is often a long forgotten memory or a combination of memories. These memories don’t have a lot of neurons in our brains involved in holding them together. We only notice signals above whatever our base line of noise is. Everyday thought might involve millions of neurons speaking to each other. An insight might involve only a few tens of thousands of neurons speaking to each other.
He goes on to state that just as it’s hard to hear a quiet cellphone at a loud party, it’s hard to notice signals that have less energy than the general energy level already present in the brain. Hence, we tend to notice insights when our overall activity level in the brain is low. Insights require a quiet mind because they themselves are quiet. Psychologist Stellan Ohlsson’s14 Theory of Inhibition states that we need to inhibit the wrong solution for the right ones to come to our attention because the non-conscious processing resources are so much greater than our conscious ones. These psychologists agree that you have to let go of the problem for the solution to come to you.
I often cannot let go of a problem, I like to chew on it like a dog chewing a bone. When my mind is in this state, I turn to the physical. I have been practicing yoga for a few years now. Practicing yoga not only makes me physically stronger but it also releases the tension in my body. When the tension in my body is released, the tension in my mind is also released and I can let go of my bone.
My favorite part of yoga is the last ten minutes when I lay on the ground with my palms up. I will happily spend an hour sweating to get to this place of quiet and peace. Remember that the mind and body are connected. Therefore, you can also use your mind to release tension from your body. Meditation can release tension from the body and also quiet the mind, leaving space for intuitive thoughts to bubble up into consciousness. It’s not important how you get to that peaceful quiet place. What is important is that you get there. Taking time to unplug, unwind, imagine, play and zone out is like watering the seeds of your soul.
Since the physical death of my husband, I have stopped trying to fly into the wind and just let life unfold. I assure you that this was no easy task for me, I was holding on to what was for dear life. I knew I had to give in and surrender to live life again. This surrendering was not an act of defeat like I once thought but an act of hope for transformation to come.
Since I have learned to let go, many blessing have flowed into my life. I have so many people that have supported me, including our Spiritualist Society. For me the impossible did indeed become possible. I am still working on the five steps that Thich Nhat Hanh suggested: casting off beliefs that do not serve me, inviting positive seeds, mindfulness based joy, concentration and insight. But I know that with the power of hope I can transform myself into the happy, protected, beautiful, vibrant self I envision, just like the transformation of the bleeding tree.
- Mood, Daniel, Water CD, Humanity Music Company, 2015, danielnahmod.com/water.html
- Butler, Tom and Lisa, Sitting with Hoyt Robinette, Association TransCommunication, 2010, atransc.org/circle/hoyt_robinette.htm
- Brain Health Hacks, brainhealthhacks.com
- Myss, Caroline, Anatomy of the Spirit, Harmony, 1996, ISBN-13: 978-0609800140, amazon.com/Anatomy-Spirit-Seven-Stages-Healing/dp/0609800140/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
- Dr. Candace Pert, candacepert.com . Also, Pert, Candace, et al, Neuropeptides and Their Receptors: A Psychosomatic Network, The Journal of Immunology, 1985, candacepert.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Psychosomatic-network-peptides-receptors-Pert-JI85-Pert-820-6.pdf
- ByByrne, Lorna, A Message of Hope from the Angels, Atria Books, 2013, ISBN-13: 978-1476700373, amazon.com/Message-Hope-Angels-Lorna-Byrne//1476700370/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
- Hanh, Thich Nhat, No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering, Parallax Press, 2014, ISBN-13: 978-1937006853, amazon.com/No-Mud-Lotus-Transforming-Suffering//1937006859/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
- See the SSR Gratitude Circle on FaceBook: facebook.com/groups/ssrgratitudecircle/
- Tiny Buddha, tinybuddha.com
- Byrne, Rhonda, The Secret, Atria Books/Beyond Words, ISBN-13: 978-1582701707 2006, 2006, amazon.com/Secret-Rhonda-Byrne/dp/1582701709/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452809744&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Secret
- Tolle, Eckhart, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Namaste Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1577314806, 2004, amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment/dp/1577314808/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1452809949&sr=8-1
- Burroughs, Gordon, Becoming a spiritualist, Port City Press, ASIN: B0007FTLVM, 1962, amazon.com/Becoming-spiritualist-H-Gordon-Burroughs/dp/B0007FTLVM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452810834&sr=8-1&keywords=Becoming+a+Spiritualist
- NeuroLeadership Journal, neuroleadership.com/research/journal/
- Stellan Ohlsson, PH.D., Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, http://psch.uic.edu/psychology/people/faculty/stellan-ohlsson