This title might sound suicidal, but this is not my intention. When you look at your life as the consciousness that keeps you alive and allows you to be more active, letting go of your life is freeing your consciousness. You are freeing it from your thoughts and conditioning. This allows you to be conscious of powerful inner resources and develop a deep spiritual connection. This goes against the way most people live their life.
We have been conditioned to be very conscious of the way we think. Our conditioning is so strong that our consciousness is trapped in our thinking mind. Basically, this is another way of defining attachments. When your consciousness is connected to a thought, you are unable to connect to your deeper inner wisdom. On almost every spiritual path, you are encouraged to let go of your attachments, which allows consciousness to enter a spiritual realm.
I want to propose to you that this can naturally happen in every breath. When we learn how to breathe beyond our thinking mind, our in-breath is a way of letting go of the thoughts that define our life. This in-breath can create a habit that frees us from our thinking mind every time we breathe. Then, on our out-breath, our consciousness returns to our thinking mind with a clear perspective.
To the ego that naturally fears death and is what we identify with, this traps us in our thinking mind. For most people, their thinking mind serves them and makes them more efficient in this world. But, when a person aspires to an important goal, that beyond-thought reality is the home of powerful inner resources that they need. For instance, if you struggle with a health crisis, breathing into this depth is how you can become an active participant as a partner with your doctor. Not only do you activate your healing powers, you remove anxious thinking that limits your ability to heal.
If you want to express love to someone who is important to you, the ability to breathe beyond thoughts allows your heart’s expression to be pure. We limit our love by the way we think and were conditioned. If you had the power to transport consciousness to the silence beyond your thoughts, your love would be free from any limitations. Of course, this happens by a habit which can happen to most people naturally. But, for those whose love is limited by their thoughts and conditioning, they may need to put conscious effort into making this happen.
Another aspect of our life that this breath can serve is our work. When we hold onto our thoughts, we block creativity and our openness to new ideas. Creativity is an important part of work and can subconsciously be limited by the habits we create. Developing the habit of conscious breathing, where we let go of our thinking mind, has the ability to makes us more conscious on our job.
Focusing on breathing may sound insignificant, but it can add quality to every aspect of your life if done consciously. I suggest that you take time and develop the habit of letting go of your thoughts. This can happen by practicing breathing into silence every night before you go to sleep and every morning when you wake up. This will allow you an instant escape from anxious thinking and, possibly, develop this habit in every breath.
The hospital is a place where a lot of frustration and anxiety meet professional care. It is a place where an incredible amount of information is passed. I want to focus on the patient’s role in dealing with the hospital situation. I suggest that the patient strive to be in a super-conscious state of mind. It is difficult for a patient to agree or disagree with a diagnosis, but the patient can be extremely alert when a doctor says what they are going to do.
One time, I was in a pre-surgery room getting prepped for trigeminal nerve (brain) surgery. I was in intense pain. The doctor was reviewing the surgical procedures before I was anesthetized. When he said the surgery would be on the nerve leading to the right side of my jaw, I immediately was alarmed. This was because the pain and nerve went to the left side of my jaw. After the doctor checked, he said the right side was what was written on the report. He apologized and operated on the correct side. It showed how important patient participation is.
I feel the best way for a patient to deal with the complex environment of a hospital is to be totally alert. I did not have to go to medical school to know the difference between right and left.
This was a dramatic example, but this consciousness is needed on the mundane level of everything you do when you are a patient in the hospital. You should always ask what medication is being given or what procedure you are scheduled for or what meal has been delivered to you. I do not suggest that you be an antagonistic patient, but all these issues are dealt with by being more conscious.
Another conscious thing you can do is to have someone you trust be with you as your advocate. Sometimes, when I was sick in the hospital, I would go in and out of being awake and aware. At those times, it was helpful to have a second set of eyes and ears. Whether you have an advocate or not, being more conscious is not only to catch mistakes, but it is a way to make the treatments and medication more effective.
This is not something you should wait to develop while you are in the hospital. This is how you should enter the hospital, so it becomes a natural part of your life. You do not TRY to be conscious. You only TRY to do something when you feel you cannot do it. Illness is a great motivator. It can force you to become more conscious, so you do everything you can to deal with it. This is one of the benefits of being sick.
In the first few minutes after you receive a diagnosis, you set the tone of how you are going to deal with it. This is the way you are going to relate to your illness from that point on, until it is consciously changed. Doctors say that when a person hears a diagnosis of cancer and slams his fist on the desk, he lives longer and becomes more involved than a person who passively accepts it. Our initial reaction to the diagnosis plays a significant role, but it can consciously be changed by developing better life skills. If you trust your inner resources, you become more confident in dealing with challenges. These include self-trust, self-image and confidence.
You trust what is important to you. When you see your inner resources as an important part of your life, you confidently rely on them. When you do not see them as important, you become a passive victim, waiting
for help to come from other than yourself. In my book, A Healthy Way to be Sick, you learn how to move importance from things that are outside of you to what I call the Zero Point, where you trust yourself. Basically, that says that your life and inner wisdom are more important than your thoughts and perceptions. In a health crisis, self-trust is essential to become an
equal partner with your doctor. The doctor represents the medical world and the resources it takes to heal you. In that partnership, you represent the inner world and the inner resources it takes to heal the body and respond to medical treatments.
The next inner resource is developing a strong self-image. We think to our self-image, which is the way we interpret what is happening. A positive self-image interprets challenges in such a way that you play a significant role. Your interpretation determines the conclusion you arrive at. A negative self-image plays the role of a victim and hesitates to get
actively involved. Since we trust what is important, we have to see our self-image as an important part of the healing process. In my book, The Positive Self: Change Your Self-Image and You Change Your Life, you develop a self-image that serves every part of you. It is your positive self that openly receives powerful inner resources and plays an active role in
The most important thing you have in healing is the attitude you have about your illness. Attitudes are based on the decisions you made in the past, when you dealt with similar situations. For instance, if in the past when you dealt with a health struggle, you decided that you cannot deal with it, you formed the attitude that eliminated active involvement in the
future. The poor decision came more likely from your negative self. It is possible to image that same situation and create a decision from your positive self, which will significantly change the attitude you have now. If you are more connected to a positive self-image in your everyday life now, that decision naturally changes. Confidence is a result of your positive self being kind and compassionate to your negative self. This eliminates the self-doubt that negative conditioning plays in your life. Confidence, or ‘with faith’, brings a spiritual quality to the challenges you face. This quality opens you to something bigger than yourself to deal with your challenge. It eliminates the self-doubt you, too often, insert into challenges. We cannot always change the challenge we face, but we can always change what part of us deals with that challenge. Confidence is an important ingredient in really trusting ourselves. Every part of a health challenge needs to have the best part of you participate. When that happens, you are a better partner with your doctor. This applies, not only to your conscious lifetime, but it also applies to how you face death. This does not only involve you, but also the people you love and those who care for you. Continue reading →
In March, 2014, I had my 33rd anniversary of my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). In my 33rd year, after dealing with partial blindness, brain surgery, coping with a wheelchair and excruciating pain, I entered Hospice. My entry was not because I was expected to die soon; it was just that I was on a downhill progression with my illness and I needed to manage my pain.
It was a shock to me to be put into Hospice and I knew I had to deal with it myself. My wife, Amy, and my mom were incredible supports, but they were not always available. I used poetry as a way of coping. When issues came up, writing poetry allowed me to view that same situation from a poetic perspective.
In 2013, I wrote The End: A Creative Approach to Death. I felt creativity was important, because it allowed me to use my whole brain, instead of just linear thinking. I would encourage everybody to approach any major struggle using their whole brain, especially at the end of their life. It does not really matter what your creativity is, but it has to be an expression that goes beyond worry, fear or negativity.
I am not a professional poet, but I wrote these poems to help me process the dramatic journey I was on. This is the way I coped with a situation that even the experts do not have a cure for. The spiritual perspective for me was the deepest way to capture my situation not as a victim, but making the best out of a devastating situation. For those who related to my poetry, it triggered beautiful communications.
Everyone has the opportunity to utilize their right brain, if they express their heart to those they love. Only utilizing the left brain is a way to trigger frustration and a disconnect with those you love or those who love you. It is not time to focus on intellectually figuring out your situation; that needed to have been done before your final days. Completing unfinished business in your relationships is the best thing you can leave those who love you. The following poems are an expression of the 3 months of my time in Hospice; July, 2014 to October, 2014. I am now in palliative care. My decline is not as dramatic and pain is relatively under control.