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Excerpt from

Chapter 14, “Beginner's Mind”


“And thus the world is full of leaves and feathers,
and comfort, and instruction.”

                                                                                                                               ~ Mary Oliver, from the poem, “Crow”

     We have no idea what our future holds but when we maintain a sincere wish to grow, it will happen because we carry the seeds of our growth inside us. As we learn this, we develop trust in our path and relax. We push less and meander more. We gradually open to a deeper sense of wholeness among all the facets of our being.

     Our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual parts are dynamically intertwined. Stress in one area stresses the others, and health in one promotes health in the others. We can feel a distinct difference between times when these aspects are in harmony with each other and when they are not. There will be times in our chronic illness when we lose our balance on a tide of emotions, or believe that our rational mind is the only guide we can rely on to get us through. If we know the feeling and value of being in harmony, however, we can bring ourselves back to center.

     Our minds are particularly skillful at dominating our other aspects, and our schooling has taught us that we should only rely on things that are rational and externally verifiable. Eckhart Tolle, in his book Stillness Speaks, describes the challenge of the dominant mind: “The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely.”

     If we understand our patterns, we can bring ourselves back into balance. When we are aware that difficult times trigger an array of automatic responses, we take a big step toward breaking out of the recurring loop of pain, struggle, and more pain. When we practice inserting our positive beliefs into the stream of negative thoughts, the stream shifts and the current weakens. We can move from feeling that every mental and emotional reaction is true, to knowing the truth of our centers. We can gentle our emotional storms and bend our thoughts into more positive and hopeful channels.

     Our thoughts can then become more our friends than our enemies, and we can better align our minds, emotions, spirits, and bodies to assist whatever part of us is in need. Our body fear subsides. Our illness fades into something about us, not the definition of who we are. We take an enormous step along our healing path when we understand how much power we have within ourselves to feel better.

     There is great reward when all our aspects are working in harmony. We can maintain caring relationships with our bodies, even when we’re in pain and discomfort. Rather than distancing ourselves we will stay with our bodies, as we would with a friend in times of trouble.



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