It's all Connected
At the height of my depression, I was in great pain physically. I had prostate pain like you would not believe, a constant stabbing pain. I would pee blood and then I would be laid out in bed for days. I went to many doctors. I ended up learning that I had a mutated gene of Cystic Fibrosis. This was a huge shock but it explained a lot. I was sterile, I had 3 different surgeries to try to correct this, my sweat was very toxic, salty and acidic. I could rust even the hardest metal; bass strings would last 1 gig as my sweat would just eat them and corrode the metal.
I was also getting lung infections 2 to 3 times a year. I was a physical mess, a mental mess and I had zero self esteem or faith in myself at all. My thoughts were that nothing was ever going to change.
But when I made that call for help, everything actually started to change. A complete shift in who I was and how I felt in mind, body & soul happened and it was hard for even me to believe.
I started to embrace meditation and mindfulness, I started to heal my past with help from Mastora and many EMDR sessions had.
What is EMDR therapy? Here is a short description.( By Kristen Stewart | Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH, everydayhealth.com)
“The EMDR approach involves eight phases that generally start with the therapist taking a thorough client history, establishing a rapport with the patient, and explaining the procedure over the span of a few sessions before actual treatment begins. During the treatment itself, the patient focuses on the traumatic event and accompanying sensations while also following the therapist’s fingers with his or her eyes as the fingers are moved back and forth. (The fingers are most often used, but some therapists use auditory tones or tapping instead.) This is then repeated numerous times until the patient does not feel distress when thinking about the upsetting memory.”
I also decided to combine writing and creating my own meditations with the goal of healing in the same way EMDR was healing me. I could create my own meditations and I could come up with my own ways of dealing with things in my life but in my own way, ways that felt natural and comfortable for me.
Things started to change. I didn’t notice it at first because I was blinded by my depression, only seeing the things I wanted to see. I had never learned to be mindful of what was going on in my mind, body & soul, nor did I really believe that it was connected at all. Through practicing meditation and mindfulness, I learned that it was all connected! The blinders that were on throughout my depression were being lifted. I started to notice things. Not only my mind was changing but how I was feeling about myself and how I was reacting physically began to change too! My body was changing along with my mind and soul.
My prostate pain slowly disappeared, I was no longer tense, and I was learning to relax my body. I noticed how the more I practiced mindfulness and meditation, how everything about me was changing. I was controlling my reactions and thoughts in ways I never dreamed I would be able to. Because I was in tune with how my body was reacting, I was then able to breathe deeply, slowing everything down, and my physical reactions became my alarm system! Not only telling me when I was in trouble but also when I was feeling good and happy because my body was free and relaxed. The more time I spent in the relaxed mind set connecting my mind and body I felt so good about myself and my soul sang as I truly started to enjoy life.
When I was stressed out from work I was vomiting every morning and sometimes at lunch as well. My body was screaming at me for years and I just wasn’t listening, I was unable to listen because I was not practicing mindfulness. But once I learned how to listen it was a big wake up call for me. I had to look at the situation and see it! I used radical acceptance: people don’t vomit everyday, never mind two times a day. I was in so much pain from my throat being burned every morning by the acid from my stomach, and on top of that I was waking up in the middle of the night to vomit as well.
This was horrible and it had to stop! But what was I to do? I had to look at my life and make a decision. So I dropped down to part time at work, I left all the work stress behind... it was scary on all levels! But I had to make the call because my body was screaming that it had enough. When I dropped down to part time it was amazing to see the immediate change – in the first week I was vomit free!
I took the stress away! I left my position and the things that were stressing me out! I noticed that my body instantly reacted in a positive way! I had already been meditating for 7 years and everything had already changed in my life, but when I dropped down to part time things got even better.
In the morning I no longer rushed out the door. I was getting the proper sleep, I was clear headed in the morning, waking up at 5am, meditating, doing yoga and loving it!
I was no longer thinking about work all the time. When I was at work, I put in my hours, showing up on time and leaving on time. Those were strong boundaries I put in place and they were never going to be broken. I never thought about work when I was not there. I was now enjoying my time at home.
I lost 14 pounds in 2 weeks! The stress was gone and my body relaxed and so did I. I started to write more, teach more, and do the things I loved and it felt good! My self-esteem grew as well I started to feel so good about myself and what I was doing to help other people! It helped me as well.
This mind, body & soul connection really came into effect when I sprained my ankle on my 47th birthday. I was sick with a lung infection, I was foggy headed and fell badly, not paying attention to where I was walking. I fell into a pot hole while carrying 2 large bottles of water, one in each hand, a very bad decision made by a guy who was spaced out and not really present and should have been in bed.
It was a very bad sprain and as usual I did not go to the doctor but decided to instead just tough it out and take care of it myself, which was again a bad decision. I ended up doing inventory at the store with this horribly sprained ankle. I then also ended up moving the store to a new building with this hurt and swollen ankle. I was clearly not caring about my physical health at all.
There was no one standing up and saying I should be at home and that was no surprise… or they were and I was just not listening! I went 4 months being in pain, unable to walk properly before seeing a doctor and getting x-rays. By then it was too late the damage was done! Extensive soft tissue damage. So I started to go to physio therapy. I did it for 8 weeks. I built the strength back up again and I was able to go on long walks and run for 1 or 2 km if I was lucky. That was such a blow to who I was because I would normally run 20 or 30kms a week.
I then hurt the ankle again when I was putting away patio furniture in my shed. This was like starting over. So I rehabbed once again, and after 3 months I was feeling good, though the ankle wasn’t 100% and I kind of came to the conclusion that it never would be. Running was never going to happen again and I took that in stride, though it was very hard to accept. I turned to longer yoga sessions and lifting light weights. My ankle got stronger but was still very weak.
I then fell again leaving my house walking on the side walk. This one really hurt me! Both in my mind, body and soul. I was so destroyed and I really, really felt like a loser, I was very humiliated and was stuck feeling sorry for myself… which is a really bad thing to do but I am human and I feel things.
This ankle of mine was screaming at me the same way my stomach was! You have to change! You have to grow! Think differently and see this as a gift! I needed to slow down and listen! I was ready. I saw this as a moment to level up and that meant on all 3 levels: mind, body & soul.
I started to meditate and move my breath through my whole body, I used that ball of light meditation and moved the energy down to my ankle and then up through my body as well. Letting this energy slowly and with intention heal my ankle and also the rest of my body as well.
I also started to go on my treadmill. It was time to completely change the way I ran and that meant every aspect of my running; they way I breathed, the way I planted my feet, the way I thought while I ran. This was going to be a complete rebuild for me and it was all going to be centred around meditation, mindfulness and strengthening my mind, body & soul connection.
Learn to Turn Off Autopilot
As we go through life, we just grow accustomed to things that happen and things that we do and experience, and we stop noticing things and just go on autopilot. I had been doing this in all aspects of my life and I changed that. I learned from practicing mediation and mindfulness. I was feeling amazing, truly feeling free and happy! Because I was slowing things down and being fully in each moment.
I was inspired and I was going to apply every thing that I had learned over the last 7 years to heal my ankle, I was going to run again!
I started on the treadmill but before I got on, I would do my 2 hour yoga and meditation routine first. Once I was relaxed I would then go to the treadmill and I would set the speed really low and walk. I would make sure that the speed was at a pace that I wanted it to be at, and I would not allow my old thoughts to come into play.
My old thoughts often were things like “you are going too slow, you need to speed this up”. I was not going to listen, I was going to breath slow and move my breath from the top of my head down into my legs, down to my ankle, my mind would be focused only there as I breathe deeply.
Each foot hitting the ground was paid attention to, never just put on autopilot. That is how I hurt my ankle in the first place and I was never going to take any step for granted again. I made sure that each step stayed within the frame of my body never over-extending myself and never making myself feel uncomfortable, again just like in my real life. I was making sure that each and every time one of my feet made contact with the ground, that I knew where it was going, it was strong and had intention, just like I was living my life now strong with intention.
Over time I was able to speed up the treadmill, I was also able to lengthen my time on the treadmill as well. I never questioned any time I was on the mill. The amount of time was never predetermined, the speed was never judged. My time rebuilding was never ever put on a chart and there were never goals attached to what I was doing, I was just enjoying what I was doing and loving it for the first time.
When I used to run, I used to have these fancy watches that synced up to satellites and would track my distance, my heart rate, my target area to burn fat! I cast all this away as this was now a totally different thing, this was about me and my healing, my growth and learning to make this mind, body & soul connection even deeper than it had ever been before!
I ordered an ankle brace and I slowly speed up the treadmill until was able to actually run! And without pain, the energy that I was sending to my ankle was working! It was working throughout my whole body! It was time to hit the street and run outside again.
I was scared because I didn’t want to hurt my ankle again! I let go of that fear and trusted myself with everything that I was working on. I started slow and ran for maybe 15 minutes every other morning and it felt amazing! One morning I looked down at the ankle brace I was wearing and said I don’t need you anymore! I took it off and I ran my first 5km run in over a year! I ended the run and walked home, feeling proud! My body was feeling great with no pain at all, my mind was completely clear and my thoughts were positive. I was happy. I had changed the way I ran just like I had changed my whole life!
I then went on three more 5km runs, and then I ran 10km. Everything I had been working on over the long winter was paying off. I ran that 10km and again had no pain, I was not tired at all, the deep breathing from practicing over and over again built my lungs stronger than ever before. I am now back to running a 30km week, with no pain, reaching a deep meditative state. I owe it all to this hippie trippie stuff that I never thought would work in a million years when it came to my depression, but I turned it into an even stronger tool by using it to heal my ankle, my mind, my soul and get me back to running and doing something I love.
Our minds, our bodies, our souls are all connected and working together at all times.
Sometimes they are out of sync and that is where we learn to adjust it ourselves. We practice and practice, every tool, every thing that I have written about in this book only works when you learn to treat yourself with love and learn to let go and just live. Whether it is forgiveness, radical acceptance, changing your perspective, meditation, mindfulness, healing our pasts, it all comes down to trusting and knowing that you are doing the right thing for you! And doing it over and over again till it feels comfortable.
When I relearned to run, I had to use every tool that I had been using in my real life and I had to trust that I was doing the right thing! Here is a break down.
I missed running, and the only way I was going to run again was to accept the fact that I need to rebuild and start from scratch or it was never going to happen.
I was pissed all the time because I hurt my ankle, I was angry and I held on to that hate... I had to forgive and let go. When I hurt my ankle I was not feeling well, I was on antibiotics for my lung infection and I was foggy headed. I made horrible decisions like not going to the doctor, and working on it only made it worse. I had to forgive myself for how I hurt my ankle. I was not in the right frame of mind.
I also had to forgive myself for not going to the doctor right away and also for working when I was injured. I was a different man then and I was controlled by outside influences and I allowed guilt and negative thoughts to push me in directions that I should have never gone in. It is okay, that part of my journey is over now and I can move forward and let that past go!
I changed my perspective
This injury was a gift, it was my body screaming at me to make a deeper connection, to take my meditation practice to the next level. To show myself even on a deeper level how it is all connected and how I can not only heal my past but also heal my body! I was given this gift so I could learn to run and enjoy it in a way that I never dreamed possible before.
I was given the opportunity to take my tools and yet again use them in a new way!
I trusted every step of the way
- I learned to trust my feet as they landed solidly where I wanted them to land.
- I trusted my breath as I pushed it through my body healing and keeping me alive.
- I trusted my body to tell me what was good and what was not. My speed, my length of time running, if I was in pain I would stop.
- I knew what I was doing was right, I trusted that everything was going to be fine.
- I took off the ankle brace and I ran freely without fear, I trusted that I was ready to do so.
I did not judge
I cast away all my old judgements when I ran. Speed, length, time- I just cast it all away. When an old thought came into my mind, I took that as a cue to once again trust and breath deep and never allow a judgement to enter my mind. As much as I wanted to place goals and values and judge this part of my recovery, I had to just let go of any judgements and breath through it.
As you can see I used very important tools that I applied in my own ways to benefit me in this time, in this moment. I trusted, forgave, accepted, I did not judge and I grew.
I have learned that to live my life to the fullest meant from day one when I walked into my first therapy session that I was going to have to accept new ways of thinking and living in order to heal. This was a huge step! Learning that meditation and mindfulness was going to be a part of my recovery was hard to grasp, but I embraced it and made it part of my life. Learning and believing that it is all connected mind, body & soul was just silly, but again I was open to change, open to learning and as you just read it worked and it is totally possible.
We are just guests on the earth, just another stop in our journey. We are travelling around in these bodies and it is also a gift! Our souls, our energy directly tied to our bodies always working as one and it is so wonderful and beautiful! We all have this time in our lives to learn and grow in mind, body & soul, we just need to learn how. It took 38 years to get to where I needed to be to make the changes in my life. But let me tell you this! I have never felt this good and it has only taken 7 years to get me to where I am now! That is incredible! To think that in 7 years a person can completely change the way he thinks, feels, and lives compared to 38 years of darkness, depression and anxiety. The good is always stronger and faster and will heal you if you learn to let go and trust and practice!