My life’s work has been about creating health through accessing our inner wisdom — the part of us that lives deep within — the part that heals our skin when we scrape ourselves and keeps our nails and hair growing even when we’re not thinking about it. Accessing and living from this deep inner place—and letting it guide your life — is the most practical and effective way there is to live joyfully and fully — regardless of what’s on the news and how many cars are going to the mall.
One of the miraculous processes that has taught me more about that inner wisdom than just about anything else is pregnancy. I originally went into obstetrics and gynecology because nothing in medical school touched me more deeply than watching and being with pregnant women who later went through labor and birth. I learned that women labor and birth in the same way that they live. And I learned that the body already knows how to do these things brilliantly, if we just get out of the way and allow the process to happen.
I have since learned that these processes are a physical metaphor for how all creation comes into being—whether it be a relationship, a novel, or a new job. We’re always pregnant with something, and we’re usually going through labor with other things. It’s a continual cycle. If you’re a woman, your body knows exactly how to let go and let this process happen. (The same thing is true in men who are in touch with their yin or feminine side). Anyway, the knowledge for how to create something new—whether it be a human being or an idea—is part of who you are. The biggest obstacle to knowing this and trusting it is fear.
Listen to Your Body
In order to create health daily, long before illness ensues we need to pay attention to the subtle signals from our bodies about what feels good and what doesn’t. Foggy thinking, dizziness, heart palpitations, acne, headaches, and back, stomach, and pelvic pain are a few of the common but subtle symptoms that often signal that it is time for us to let go of what we don’t want in life and start using our own power to improve things. Here’s an example from my own life. Back in the 1980s, when I had two young children, I was working too many hours, and I often felt that aspects of my work weren’t respected by my colleagues. My face often broke out in large blemishes, which I had never had as an adolescent or at any other time in my life until then. I tried taking vitamins, changing my diet, and using a variety of skin creams. Nothing helped—until I left my place of work. Within six months the problem cleared and has never returned.
Clearly, my face was a barometer of my well-being during those years. Through my skin condition, my body had been telling me that my work setting was not supporting me optimally. My complexion had been registering my “thin-skinned” sensitivity and my anger at not being completely accepted by my colleagues. (I hadn’t completely accepted myself, either, at this point, and my work environment was a reflection of that.) All of these emotions lay just below the surface, though I couldn’t appreciate this at the time. Once I faced my innermost needs and left the situation that simply was not supporting me, my complexion improved automatically. As my life cleared up, so did my face.
Negative emotions exist to let us know that we are not facing the clearest path to what we want. When we realize that our bodies and their symptoms—feelings—are our allies, pointing out what serves our highest good and what doesn’t, we become free. Whenever you feel angry or upset, have a headache or a bodily symptom, take a moment to reflect upon what the symptom is trying to say to you. When I am caught up in a downward spiral of negative feelings, I instantly know that I am out of touch with my inner guidance and that I’m giving too much attention to what I don’t want. I have learned to notice when I’m feeling bad and stop for a moment.
Spiritual and Holistic Options
If I can catch myself at the beginning of the bad mood, I can often get my energy flowing positively again by doing the following process:
- I acknowledge what I am feeling without making any judgment about it. I avoid wallowing around in the negative emotions and prolonging them, but I definitely feel them fully. I “stay with the feeling.”
- I acknowledge that there is a reason why I am feeling the way I am.
- I spend twenty seconds or so identifying what is causing my energy to flow negatively.
- Having identified the source of my negative emotion, I then ask myself what I do want. (Have a friend do this with you if you need help clarifying your wants in a positive, nonreactive way.) What I want is usually the opposite of what I am experiencing.
- I then name what I want. Stating our wants is powerful because it defines them clearly, allowing our creative energy to flow toward them.
- Finally, I affirm that I have the power within me, via my inner guidance and my power of intent, to get what I want.
- Remember the law of attraction. The people and circumstances we attract to us are always a reflection of our own thoughts and beliefs. Update your beliefs, if necessary.
Going through this process is not a way to deny my emotions or stuff them. Rather, it helps me acknowledge them, feel them fully, and use them as guidance toward what I do want.