Monday, August 15, 2016

Pay close attention: See what is really happening, not what you think is not happening

I’ve always struggled with dread of the unknown. This has ranged from general unease because I don’t know something I want to know in a particular situation, to fearing the worst “what-if” scenario due to not trusting that my karma is better than that because of what I have done right. 

So, when I felt something shift one morning before getting out of bed a couple weeks ago, I knew this was a great opportunity to practice being at peace regarding what I don’t yet know. 

My biggest life-theme these past few weeks has been developing a new-normal in my physical health, rather than restoring the old-normal that eventually led to my latest major health challenge. So, naturally, when I felt that hard-to-describe karmic, energetic shift, my first thought was the big karmic shift I’d already made in my health. July 17 was the first day of my consistently feeling better after three months of intermittent symptom relief. July 25 I marveled as I walked in the beautiful lush greenery of Shiawassee Park that I actually feel like I’ve recovered: I felt like the light-switch on my aura was turned way up, and I was finally running on a full battery again. 

One close friend even commented a few days before the morning I felt that shift that she could sense a profound karmic change in me. So, was that what the sensation was about? I wondered. 

Then I realized what I was doing: I was trying to guess, overanalyze, instead of letting it happen. When I realized that, I decided the best action to take regarding what I don’t yet know is to use it as a cue to pay close attention. 

This is not the same thing as being hyper-vigilant for signs—Because if we do that, we’re unlikely to get (or recognize) any true signs around us or any intuitive nudges from within us. The truth is, if we overanalyze or test out what-ifs while we’re observing, we’re not really paying close attention. 

This is all easier said than done. Some of what I’ve been writing about this year I’ve already been working on for a year or four or five years. We have so much cultural and social conditioning around us to expect our desired results immediately. If I hadn’t already overcome much of that conditioning, I never would have stuck with holistic health, or Buddhism, or the homeopathic treatment I’ve been doing for my recent health challenge. 

The thing with all three of these is that often things get worse for a while before they get better. When we experience this phenomenon, rather than it being a sign that we’re doing something wrong, it actually signifies we are making difficult and necessary long-term change. It takes a lot of courage and patience to apply holistic health ideas after a lifetime of very limiting medical conditioning. It takes a lot of courage and patience to stick with a spiritual practice that emphasizes personal growth after many years of being timid and afraid of the pain of confronting our need to make profound changes in our lives. It takes a lot of courage to not get discouraged when our health seems to go haywire in response to something we’re doing to stop the pain we’ve been in for so long. 

It takes a lot of patience to stick around long enough to see the positive results of all this. If we do stick around, we will always see them—It might take a month or ten years, but we will. 

Last summer, Steve Goldner, one of Michigan region’s SGI Buddhist leaders, made the point that just because we don’t see results happening doesn’t mean that nothing is actually happening; we’re just not SEEING it. It’s simply not possible that when we work really hard to change something that absolutely nothing will change. 

So, Steve advised, we need to revise our prayers so that we “see what is REALLY happening.” 

This concludes my eight-post “holistic health and Buddhism” series. Thank you for reading, and I hope that my experiences and ideas here have helped you do some value-creation in your own life and health, on all four levels. 

Image: “Patience,” by Karla Joy Huber, 2010; Prismacolor marker and Sharpie marker

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