#7: Forest Within (16:53)

Inner turmoil can sometimes manifest as physical pain.

Welcome to the seventh episode of Seeking Balance a Personal Journey. Thank you for joining me today!

I created this podcast as a way to regain a little more of my own personal balance and to share my journey by telling these stories.  The show notes are available at VTBalance.com

I was a bit delayed getting this week’s episode out because of an old neck and shoulder injury that resurfaced and made it unbearable to sit at my home computer after working all day at my demanding job. It looks like I am on the right track to getting things in order with a great physical therapist and some determination on my part.

I’ve very much felt like a pathetic loser lately and needed to delve into my plethora of stories to remind myself that I’m okay and will continue to be OKAY!! Physical pain can be incredibly draining in more ways that one.

The events of the last few of weeks have proven just how strong I have become. In re-igniting this old neck pain, I’ve been given an opportunity to revisit the lessons I learned from sustaining that original injury.  I was hit on the head by a large tree limb – with the weight of the man who was swinging from it – about 18 years ago. Reflecting back on that time frame, I was going through some very similar feelings of knowing what I need to be doing and having road blocks preventing me from getting there.

What I have been experiencing didn’t just happen over night. Although, I did lift something I shouldn’t have and it just made everything worse. My day-to-day stress and anxiety seems to have become intensified and I’ve felt simply drained. Challenges I would normally breeze through have literally felt like carrying a huge weight on my shoulders. Very interesting how that manifested physically.

Although the podcast tells my personal story, by letting you into my deeper self, I am hoping you might find a common thread so you don’t feel so alone if you are struggling with similar circumstances – whether physical or emotional.

It feels like a twist of irony to repeat motions all day long that intensify the pain. As unfulfilling as my day job is, it pays the bills. It is not a pleasant place to be to begin with. My little mind tricks I play to endure the unpleasantries stopped working because I couldn’t get through the physical pain of driving a mouse all day long like a damned banshee.

In the journey to finally get in to see the physical therapist, I have fought and struggled through red tape including having to locate lost medical records. My perseverance paid off. I spent yesterday morning getting a bit of relief and learning some simple movements and exercises to begin to feel normal again. It feels like that huge weight is slowly being lifted from my shoulders – quite literally. Coupled with my self-imposed anti-inflammatory diet, and some great natural herbs and supplements, my obstinance is starting to pay off.

Are you beginning to see where I am going here? Repeated physical movements can intensify pain, just like repeated thought patterns can intensify situations. This journey, for me, is tying together all the physical, emotional and mental pieces so I really can move forward.

If you’ve listened to the previous podcast episodes, it’s quite evident I tend to not take many situations at face value. On some deeper level, I fully understand my desire and need to get back to what I feel is my calling, while being trapped in circumstances is causing all kinds of misery to manifest, just like when I was first hit on the damned head all those years ago. My own thoughts and perceptions are limiting my abilities just like the pain is limiting my physical abilities.

Creating these podcasts is helping me piece together what I need to do, and to let go of, to truly feel balanced again. It’s one thing to talk or write about it… and another to TAKE POSITIVE ACTION! It seems for me lately, what that action really needs to be is what’s eluding me.

To put it in perspective, here’s a little analogy.

I guess emotional pain is, in a way, like having our hands blistered from touching a red hot stove a couple of times. The pain is so incredible and the only thing we can focus on are the horrid blisters preventing us from accomplishing anything the way we would like to until they have healed and the use of our hands has returned to normal. We just learn to finally stop putting our hands on those darned burners when they are glowing red. Doesn't mean you hate your stove or hold silly grudges against it, because, after all, no one held your hands there, you placed them there yourself. We have lessons to learn and they sometimes hurt to make an impact. The pain comes from our own actions, not really from the stove. And there lies the source of the healing as well...from ourselves. Not to get too philosophical here with this analogy but if we burn ourselves, is the "stove" to blame? Or is it just a byproduct of our own actions and egos? No one forces us to place our hands there. It is so easy to blame the “stove” whether it represents what we think someone has done to us, difficult challenges we face, or personal losses. All I know, is I have blistered my hands enough.

Years ago I used to write poetry. I’d like to share a couple that correlate to this week’s theme. The first, Safe Haven, is an imagining of my higher self talking to my lower, ego-self.

• • •

Safe Haven

The walls that surround you are piled brick upon brick
so high that sometimes I cannot reach you at all.

I can bust through and pull you to safety from your fears
just long enough for you to rebuild the barriers.

It is up to you to decide when you will free yourself.

I can only offer the incentive of a safe haven
where no harm will come to you outside of your boundaries.
A place where you can feel the power and magic of what love is.

When you are ready, I welcome you with open arms.

• • •

The next one, Invisible Walls, has to do with all those self-inflicted barriers:

• • •

Invisible Walls

A free spirit is trapped
like a caged animal

inside a world of boundaries
and limitations.

Every once in a while
it becomes frustrated

and starts beating
on the walls that enclose it.

If only to get a brief glimpse
of freedom lost

but instead to have
its spirit broken
until it learns once again
to live within the boundaries
in order to make them disappear.

• • •

I’m taken back to a story I wrote during the time frame I was hit on the head. I was living in Kentucky at the time. Now, more than ever, I need to revisit the lessons from that story…

• • •

Seeing the Forest Within

I spent many of my growing up years in an area very much like this one where I now live—surrounded by nature. While society, peer pressure and circumstances were breaking the soul of a young girl, the solitude and peace I found getting lost on the mountain that began where the back yard ended was sometimes the only thing that kept me going.

I learned at a young age that to run through the woods causing a ruckus, focusing my thoughts on the latest act of "injustice" or trying to momentarily escape such a seemingly cruel life, meant to not experience what was around me; to miss things that I was just not aware existed because my presence scared them off. My eyes were not opened to see.

But to sit for hours in my favorite tree just being still and quiet, nestled where no human could find me, meant to really see what lay just beyond my back yard. The animals did not seem to mind me there and the cool breezes were sometimes the only comfort I felt. To place my hand in a spring-fed brook and not move it meant to have little fish swim around and touch my skin but to make waves meant to scare them off. I got to witness things as they are supposed to be by learning to be still in the forest.

Too bad it took me more than 20 years to realize that just like being in the woods, the more I fight and cause a ruckus with my circumstances and surroundings, no matter where I am, whether those are internal or external issues, nothing appears as it truly is. To hold within the thought that I AM THE WOODS, to have an inner stillness just like sitting in that tree, all things unfold just as they are to be right around me and within me. Nothing seems to be missed. But just like a child, it has to be learned with each step through that inner forest. Why do we learn to honor and respect what we see in nature but not apply the same concepts within and around ourselves in our every day lives?

Going through school, there were some subjects that just did not interest me. I could have cared less about them yet I needed to pass the courses in order to succeed, to graduate. So it seems to be with life. If we do not learn the lesson plan, we get to take the course over until we pass. Lucky for us, school is always open. It is our choice to attend.

Learning to associate the words in the text books, which seemed to evade me, with an analogy from personal experience to make the lesson plan stick, helped me pass the subjects with which I had difficulty. I hated history so here I am repeating it.

Yet, somehow along the line, I forgot about the inner associations and it became so much harder to live in my world. I had neglected my lesson plan. I could not see how I was subconsciously internalizing negative experiences to the point that what I externalized from my inner forest was very noisy. It became a dark and frightening place to go and I prevented myself from seeing the beauty and experiencing the joy that had been there all along.

 To think of it in terms of our external world, when a natural disaster occurs, we accept it and clean up the aftermath. We rebuild so we can go back to living our lives again in a comfortable manner. The way things are “supposed” to be. When we wreck our cars, we take them to a body shop for repairs. Yet when something occurs that hurts us, an inner disaster, sometimes we cannot see how to clean it up. So we try to walk around the mess that has been created, the fallen trees and debris, or we drive our inner cars with the bumpers falling off. Until we fix what causes the problem, we are not comfortable and walk amidst an inner mess. We somehow get used to living with it—as it just keeps getting worse. If we do not take the garbage out, it piles up into a stinky mess. Why do we not deal with our inner messes the same way we deal with our outer messes?

There are always lessons if we are open enough to see them to solve a problem from a different perspective. If we can look beyond the obvious of what is around us for the simplicity of what it can teach us, we begin to be still in our forest and observe. It does not matter where you live, who you are, or what your level of education is, the signs are there to help us clean up what we have created, it is up to us to see them. For me, it can be as simple as dirty dishes. I do not like washing dishes. Sometimes I allow them to pile up that in order to regain any functionality in my kitchen, I am forced to wash them. That is always my clue that if I can allow my external world to become such a mess, then there must something in my internal world that has made it so. Instead of washing the dishes when I was done with them, which would have been a simple task, they pile up to the point where more work becomes necessary in scraping off all the gunk that has become hardened on the dinner plates.

It all ties together

I finally began to see that everything outside my own mind and body also dwells within it through the associations I form and how I choose to view and react to these very things. What flows out is only a reflection of what flows in. A simple endless cycle. Problems can be the world working against us, as easily as lessons to teach us to work within the world.

I once saw the “holes in my soul” as horrid ugly things to be healed. Somewhere along the path that I have created through my dark inner forest, I decided to look up and see that the sun shines through the trees. When I stepped beneath the rays of light, I felt them shine through the holes in my soul, illuminating what lies within. Only in feeling that warmth did I stop trying to close the holes and began to open them wide as I walked one step at a time in the right direction—toward the light. And so began this lady seeing her peaceful forest within.

• • •

How’s that for some deep thinking borne out of physical pain??  

As I close this week’s episode, I’m reminded of a couple of quotes from the artist, Rabindranath Tagore:

“That which oppresses me, is it my soul trying to come out in the open, or the soul of the world knocking at my heart for its entrance?”

And…

You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water."

 

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Seeking Balance a Personal Journey and for allowing me to share my stories with you.

 

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Until next time, love well my friends.

 

 

• • •

 

Until next time, love (and eat) well my friends!

Email me at Lisa@VTBalance.com


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