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January 12, 2007
Gaining Release: Healing Hands and Labyrinths


December 8, 2006
Tending to Spirituality's Physical Side: 2 Approaches


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Rx for Heart Health


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How Many Ways Can You Open Your Heart? -- Part 4


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Posted: May 05, 2006

Spiritual Caregiving

7 Inner Steps to the Health You Truly Want -- Part 1: The First 3 Steps

(Editor’s Note: Sometimes we encounter a hidden resistance to taking even small steps toward health. Use this "workshop" to help you start your journey to better health and well-being. Parts 2 and 3 will follow in the next installments of Spiritual Caregiving.)
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Just about everyone I've talked to wants to be healthier. Nearly everyone also knows a step they should take. Yet for many of us, taking that simple step proves remarkably difficult. Why?
 
One useful explanation I've found comes from the wonderful book A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., and Richard Lannon, M.D. These researchers explain that as infants and toddlers, we require nurturing and love to develop properly. Unfortunately, few if any of us receive this love unconditionally all the time from our parents or primary caregivers.
 
These perceived lapses of love hurt us deeply, and we react to the pain with fear. This pain/fear cycle is repeated many times, yet it is unacceptable to our caregivers for us to express this pain. Ultimately, we come to blame ourselves. At our core we take on the wound of feeling unworthy or abandoned, while developing strategies to win our parents' love and approval.
 
The good news is that these strategies allow us to survive childhood to become more or less successful adults. The bad news is that we become inauthentic as we cover our core pain and fear of being unworthy or abandoned.
 
This cover-up is our emotional predicament as humans, say the authors. Acknowledging these core fears, I have learned, can empower us to take steps toward health. I believe that working toward better health is learning to love and forgive ourselves at ever deeper levels.
 
In my day or weekend workshops, I ask people to take large risks, to dig deep and dream about what excellent health would mean for them. I then ask them to dig deeper to find out whether their ill health has its own psychological benefits. Is there a core issue to be acknowledged before progress can be made? Often, I find that people experience an aha! that lets them move forward.
 
I hope this 20-minute version of my workshop will prove helpful. As with a weekend workshop, my guess is that what you get from it will depend on what you're willing to risk.
 
20-Minute Workshop for Better Health

1  Are you as healthy as you want to be?

____  No. (Thanks for the honesty! Proceed.)

____  Yes. (Congratulations! But just in case, proceed anyway.)

What would excellent health be for you?

Take some time with this one. Feel into it. (If this were a live workshop, you would write a response to the question before receiving the next question. With this print version, you may skip down the list without writing anything. The question here is: Are you willing to risk some time and do this step by step for your health?)

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2  What are the costs of your lack of excellent health?
It's common for people, especially optimists, to paint a rosy picture of their health. That's not helpful here. On the other hand, pessimists will have no problem with the following questions. So let your positive filters down and take a good, hard look at your current health status.

 

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Given your current health, what can't you do?

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At its worst, which of your priorities does your lack of excellent health threaten?
Maybe your health won't allow you to keep up with your kids. Maybe it's threatening a relationship. How does it affect what is most important to you?
 

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3  How would you benefit from having the health you want?

If you have a disease of a chronic or genetic origin, it may not be realistic to imagine being completely cured, but I'm asking you to do that anyway! Wellness is a journey, not a destination. Anything that inspires you to take positive action promotes wellness. If you have an incurable disease, living well in the present and improving your mental, emotional, and spiritual health is not only possible but essential.


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What would you be able to do or achieve?

Imagine, at some future time -- say, a year or two from now -- that you have achieved the health and vitality you want. Let your imagination run free and see and feel what it would be like. Maybe you remember a time when you did feel really good, healthy, and full of calm energy. Notice your facial expression and posture. What sounds are you hearing? What do you imagine other people saying to you? What positive things are you saying to yourself? What are you doing? Now add any fantasy touches to make it just the way you want it to be. Imagine yourself doing something or succeeding as you've always wanted to but haven't been able to, because of lack of health or energy. When you are ready, slowly come back to the present with your answer.  

 

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At a deeper level, which of your core values would excellent health promote?

 

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(Next week we’ll introduce you to the next 4 steps in Part 2.)


This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, www.SpiritualityHealth.com. For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see www.SpiritualityHealth.com/subs. Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at www.caregivershome.com. Contact staff directly via email at ASKspirituality@spiritualityhealth.com.

© 2006 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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