I Need To Thrive, Not Just Survive

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The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness. The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.”  – Carlos Castaneda

Kinship
I was talking to one of my patients this week, just holding a place of listening, as it often is such a powerful healing tool. He was sharing his recurrent, daily anxieties as of late. He earnestly wanted to get rid of them, and he couldn’t pinpoint any singular reason why he felt that way. “It’s been a whole year now, you know” he said, in reference to the pandemic.

I am really fond of this patient; he has been coming for treatment for a number of years, driving a long distance each time to do so. He represents many of us, the ones of us who are seeking to transform, to contribute, to grow our consciousness and that of the planet as a whole. He, like us, has all the right reasons to feel connected, supported, and safe, with his many friends, and so many like-minded people all over the world. Yet, he shared, he felt anxious, separated, “discombobulated”. He was having hard days, and couldn’t get his mind off negative feelings. At night, he could fall asleep, exhausted from the day, but then woke up a couple of hours later and his mind would not turn off for three hours.

Our World today
Mental illness and dis-ease is projected to skyrocket over the next 12 months, due to the conditions that we have lived in over the past year. (Continues below)

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We human beings, are hard wired to connect, from our biochemistry to our very soul, and in that connection we find meaning and place. We thrive when we believe that we belong, when the feeling of belonging is a given, a carpet underneath holding us. With that feeling, the unknown is bearable, even exciting. Without it, we loose our anchor. Isolation breeds anxiety.

Roots
Isolation comes first as a belief, that fosters a thought which then triggers emotions, like anxiety and insecurity. These feelings and images that we generate in our consciousness, then express through our brain, pump millions of chemical messengers in the form of neuropeptides, that target our innate immune system, where they bind to receptors which internalize them as commands. Anxiety and uncertainty are pervasive influencers in our immune resilience. Inner confidence, a warriors conception of confidence, is a tremendous booster to immunity. Immune strength and immune intelligence are direct corollaries of a balanced nervous system.

Gazing practice
My teacher, Carlos Castaneda, taught me that the eyes act like hooks for our perception. The eyes can “hook” onto things, grab things, and get entangled with them. We rely heavily in our visual sense to create the reality that we see. We will believe something when “we see it with our own eyes”. It can be a powerful simple practice to sit outdoors in an open space at the end of the day, just before dusk. and gaze at a patch of pure sky, even holding the hand or a book to cover anything that might be in the corner of the eye, like the contour of a building, or branches of a tree. When we remove any possible contrast from the field of vision, the eyes can’t hook onto anything and so, they can’t fix a belief onto them either. After a few minutes of doing this practice, the mind deeply relaxes in the infinite depth of a patch of pure sky. Inner silence is the perfect counter state to anxiety, fear and uncertainty.

We are direct participants in our Cure
The idea of a warrior, and of a warrior’s way, implies a certain stance that one can uphold. It is the opposite stand of a victim, in the sense that the cause of unhappiness comes from outside forces, and so does the solution or the cure for those problems. A warrior stance reclaims the power that a victim stance gives away. As a warrior, things can be absolutely challenging and their impact on us undeniable but we add to the solution and intervene within ourselves to affect change. We show up to support ourselves, and participate in our own recovery.
An example of this attitude is to touch ourselves in a therapeutic way. Our body itself is a fountain of possibilities for healing. We can come into our bodies, instead of just thinking about our body from our head, and change things. If we are restless, anxious or out of center, we can do something right there, on the spot, to direct our energy and our mind away from those feelings. Here is a tip: the area of soft skin on the inner wrist, is filled with nerve endings that when stimulated gently can elicit soothing and calming states. With the pads of the index and middle fingers, gently slide them up and down along the area, along the canal made by the two tendons that go to the fingers. Just a few moments of lovingly rubbing that inner distal forearm, just above the wrist, is like caressing our heart directly. We reconnect with ourselves, we shift how we are breathing, we remember we are here.

Be Peace
Seeing my patient, was as if I was seeing myself, all of us in the world at this time. We are looking for a reassurance that we will be ok. We are looking for inner peace. If we are in peace we are not at war. Our nervous system is in neutral mode, not in fight or flight, with a healthy PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) tone. Off-on switch buttons are amazing practical images to have in our visualization tool kit. We can self-regulate our autonomic nervous system. Our immune system has one intrinsic identity: to do surveillance of non self and to defend, if needed, to the point of all out war. But it needs to be at targeted intervals not continuously, till there is no more vitality left, and our immune strength and speed go down. With no command of the off switch, there is no game.

Right there, in front of my patient, as we wrapped up our conversation and he got ready for the physical exam, I remembered an amazing image of a moment 20 years before, while in safari in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. The gazelle I could see roaming around, unpreoccupied, grazed with a pack of lions resting nearby. Everyone was at ease, the air was at ease. Ten, suddenly, two female lions get up from the pack and walk out in hunting mode. Everything shifts. Ears point up, frozen, listening. The gazelles now are ready to flight. They run wildly. The lions chase, a young calf pulls away and is taken. The war ends and soon after, everything returns to normal. The lions eat, the gazelle graze nearby, the air is at ease. On off switch. That is the lesson to behold.

We are our own placebo
Our brains are like a console of switches, turned up and down in response to what our Consciousness is experiencing. This experience, it is not a given. It is not random and it is not outside of our purview. We are players, we are co-creators. We count, and will persevere, through our unbending intent, in finding the way to affect the change in us that we are seeking.
I glimpse of hope sparkled in my heart at the end of the treatment, when my patient came out of the room his eyes lit up again and a smile in his face. “I feel good Doc, I think it will all work out. I’m ready to fight back, for my own happiness.” Now, that is the mood of the warrior. And I salute that.

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