Blog 16: Understanding Self-Awareness

What exactly is self-awareness?

• According to Wikipedia, it is “…the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.”

• Famous psychologist, Carl Rogers said: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

• Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of past US President Roosevelt) is often quoted as having said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

• Famous ancient poet Rumi once stated: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

• And famous ancient philosopher Aristotle once said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

How people see themselves has been a topic of discussion for centuries. People see themselves as being very, very good or very, very bad, or at some place in the middle. The common thread of the above quotes is, where do YOU think you are on the scale of very good to very bad? How you see yourself is what self-awareness is all about.

Very few of us see ourselves as perfect the way we are. We don’t accept ourselves as a whole. There is always some part of ourselves that we want to change. Usually this change (or changes) are thought of by comparisons to other people. These thoughts are compounded by advertisements. We are too thin or too fat, don’t have enough muscle, our skin is either too light or too dark, our noses or lips are too thin or to fat, we are not assertive enough, we are too bossy, not sensitive enough or too sensitive about both ourselves and other people. The list goes on and on. Advertisements tell us that we should take this or that to make our bodies perform in different ways. For example: lower sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels, two things that can be lowered by changes in diet and exercise. Yet it is more common to take chemicals that ultimately stress our kidneys and liver. Don’t misunderstand me. Taking chemicals for these purposes is fine on a short-term basis. However, taking these medications for years often cause other damage that is not always irreversible. My mother took these medications for her blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol for years. When she turned 80 years old, a time when she was retired and ready to enjoy her life, first one kidney stopped functioning altogether before the other one malfunctioned. The result was dialysis and multiple trips to the doctors’ offices. With all this stress, her heart began to malfunction. After a treatment to correct her heart she died of a massive stroke.

One doctor told me that my blood pressure was too high and that I absolutely had to start taking medication. Wanting to find out why my blood pressure was too high (the real cause), I refused to take the medication and experimented with myself. Making a long story short, I realized I was not drinking enough water (something I stopped doing when I was wheelchair bound after a couple of surgeries). I had someone take my blood pressure one morning. I drank 64 ounces of water during the day (counted each ounce with a measuring cup). That evening my blood pressure was normal! The standard is to divide your weight in pounds in half. That number is the number of ounces needed by your body to function normally.

Our bodies are connected in many ways. Our minds are not separate from our bodies. While we can accept a diagnosis of what is wrong, we have choices. The first thing we must do is examine ourselves, our lives. Who are we, and why are we who we are? Those are extremely difficult questions to answer. It is vitally important to consider our lives without lying to ourselves or making excuses. There are other people who will always be around to say and do things that we do not like. We cannot control what other people think. But we can learn to control how we respond to the words and actions of others.
I heard a saying once: Holding on to anger and resentment toward someone else is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That is extreme, but it makes a good point. See my Blog on Reframing. It is so involved that I had to make it in two parts.

Who are you? Who are you really? Think of those around you (home, work, church, social friends, neighbors, landlord, mortgage company, your bank and supermarket)—no one lives in a vacuum. We all must deal with other people in our lives—whether we like them or not. We react to how they treat us—whether we express our feelings outwardly or keep our feelings inside they are still there. When you examine who you are, ask yourself how you feel about all aspects of your life, and all those involved.

Try an experiment. Go someplace where you can be alone for just one hour. Sit quietly. One by one, think of the major areas of your life and who or what is involved. As you think of these situations or people, note how your body responds. How are you really feeling? Are you suddenly tense, leary, feel anger or resentment, happy, peaceful, envious or jealous, calm or loving? With no one around to watch you or listen to you, be brutally honest with yourself. If you’re making excuses for someone or some thing, ask yourself why?
Save doing something about how you feel or making any changes in your life for another time. The purpose of this experiment is to find out more about YOU. Who are you—deep inside. Where is the dis-ease in your mind. Find out about the dis-ease in your body before it becomes disease. Remember, the mind and the body are connected. It is important to find out who you are, become aware of your “self” that will make it possible for you to make any needed or wanted changes that will increase your happiness and peace of mind, as well as increase your physical health.

NOTE TO READERS:  My site is being revised to include resources and visuals.

 

 

Blog 15: Biofeedback–Why ALL should learn to use it!

When you Google “biofeedback” many sites come up. A definition can also be found at Wikipedia.  In general, biofeedback is a process that people can learn to control many processes in the body that were once thought of as autonomic body functions, such as:  hypertension (blood pressure), heart rate, pulse, anxiety, pain, and even brain wave patterns.  Until the last 10 years or so, it was thought that the only way to control these autonomic body functions was with pills—forcing the body to change with chemicals (along with many different side effects).

 

The best way to describe the process of biofeedback is to give you an example of my first learning experience with it.  I was a Ph.D. student at a Saybrook University conference in California.  My instructor, Dr. Donald Moss, was conducting a demonstration session on biofeedback, and picked me to be the subject.  Dr. Moss connected several points on my body to a machine that would register any changes:  heart rate, blood pressure, etc.  He took my current measurements for comparisons after the procedure.

 

I was then instructed to close my eyes and relive one of the worst experiences of my life.  I remembered the day my father died—at age 19, just one week after I went to live with my father for the first time since I was a baby.  Living with him and getting to know him had been a life-long dream.  Watching my father fight for each breath, I begged the doctors to take my heart and put it into my father’s body.  Although I screamed and yelled at the doctors, tears streaming down my face, they continued to ignore me.  At one point, I heard Dr. Moss’ voice calling my name—bringing me back to reality.  My blood pressure and pulse had gone up to unacceptable levels.  It took a few minutes to calm down and leave my nightmare.  However, my blood pressure was still above normal.

 

Once I had calmed down, again Dr. Moss instructed me to close my eyes and this time reexperience one of the highlights of my life.  Believe it or not, I relived the birth of my second child!  It was a planned home birth with a midwife (part of a subject of a future book).  I had attended a midwifery clinic in Idaho.  They taught their clients to weigh themselves, check their own urine, sterilize the sheets on the birthing bed (my home bed) and the first clothing for the newborn baby.  My husband and I were shown films of births to help us prepare for our event.  My husband and 1½ year old daughter listened to the Doppler machine, as it echoed my baby’s healthy heart beats during our monthly checkups.  The home birth was remarkable.  After the nurse checked that the umbilical cord was clear of the baby’s passage, she moved aside so that my husband could catch our newborn as she slid out of me!  The whole birthing process took less than two hours!  Dr. Moss called me back from my reverie.  My body’s functions all registered normal!

 

This procedure documented the responses to my body when just thinking of negative or positive experiences.  My negative experience was over 30 years old, and my positive one over 20 years old.  Yet powerful thoughts from my past still had the power to influence how my body responded.

 

Now that I know the process and believe in the power of my mind, as well as the belief that I can communicate with my own mind, I have added yet another process to my arsenal to staying healthy.  There are several ways one can decrease stress and pressure on the human body, such as:  self-hypnosis, meditation, acupuncture, conscious connected breathing, reichi, chiropractic, as well as biofeedback.  I will continue to pass along information to those who want to increase their base of knowledge.

 

As I’ve said many times, watch what you think.  Your brain believes everything you say and think—even if it is imaginary (The brain does not know the difference between what you think as real or imagined.  If you think something is true, whether it is or not, your brain will react as if it is true—whether it is now or in your past.)  That is why it is important for those who do not yet believe in the power of their minds to find a professional practitioner of biofeedback for their first session before attempting to do this session alone.  Some folks may need more than one professionally guided biofeedback session if they find it difficult to believe in themselves, or believe in the power of their own minds!  It is also a good idea for sensitive or unstable people to seek professional guidance for their first biofeedback session to be able to receive any needed support.

 

Dr. Moss suggests that one go to www.bcia.org to find a practitioner of biofeedback.  Push the “Find a Practitioner” button.  Just enter the zip code of the area and state in which you would like to meet the biofeedback practitioner.  All of the practitioners listed with this organization are certified.  If any are found in your desired area, they will be listed with their contact information and area(s) of specialty within the practice of biofeedback.

 

I was extremely fortunate to have had Dr. Donald Moss as one of my professors.  What I’ve learned from him has not only improved my health, some of what I’ve learned from him has saved my life.  He is the author of many books and professional journals.  He is the Dean of the College of Integrated Medicine and Health Sciences at Saybrook University (California).  He is the Chief Editor of Biofeedback Magazine.  Also, Dr. Donald Moss is an author and conductor of workshops and classes in universities and institutions  throughout the world in mind-body subjects.

Blog 14 – The Women’s March On Washington (January 21, 2017)

I listened to the women interviewed during the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.  Many women expressed the sadness they felt about the political situation in the United States during and after the national elections for U.S. President.  They said they were home feeling helpless, despondent, sick with worry about how the election results may negatively affect their lives.  They didn’t want to leave their homes or visit with friends.  They cried often.

 

You often read my reference to Dr. Candace Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion.  In her book, Dr. Pert scientifically documents that for each emotion there is a specific substance released into the bloodstream.  Sometimes, seeing everything through a wall of despair can cause people to react angrily to the simplest of things.  Negative emotions can also cause the release of pathogens (disease causing agents).  I’ve often heard of people in remission for various diseases going out of remission after an upsetting incident.  Depending upon the disease, sometimes coming out of remission results in the person’s death.

 

One day, through TV, radio, church, or jobs women (and some men) heard about others who were just as concerned, just as despondent, and just as angry.  It all started with one woman stating she was going to Washington.  Word spread, groups formed.  Divisions of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and even political persuasion disappeared.  The commonality of being a woman was enough to unite millions of women.  It started in the United States, but quickly spread throughout the world that women had to unite to do something.

 

Traditionally, most government officials who make the laws are men (not just here in the U.S., but throughout the world).  Advertisements relay messages to women that if they buy this product or that, they will look better, attract more men, feel good about themselves.  As they are now, the products imply, women are not good enough as they are.  In songs and movies, it is the men who are the heroes.  And if a woman is a hero, it is because a man is supporting her!  Men are often paid more for the same work, as they are viewed by many companies as being more valuable.  Women’s shelters are often filled to capacity due to the increases in abuse against women.  Until recently, it was common practice for school counselors to recommend higher math and science courses be taken by male students.  Once married, it is the woman who is expected to change her name, as it is felt more important that their children should have the man’s name.  Just having the woman’s name is not good enough.

 

Our new political situation is like the icing on the cake.  For someone who has publicly disrespected many women, and bragged about it, to be elected President of the greatest country in the world—it hurts—deeply.  Add to that our new President’s plans to decrease medical care, to separate and deport family members, to reject improving the climate in which we live, and to negate the need for wage equality that would give single mothers better choices for their children.  Anger turned inward without acceptable means to express it (especially if the anger originated in childhood) leads to depression.

 

During the Women’s March on Washington, no matter what group identified the women, they connected and said ENOUGH!  Each had their own deal breaker!  Speakers gave suggestions as to how they could express their displeasure, how they could make changes, and how to unite.  Each felt, they were no longer alone!

 

Women will meet in groups throughout the United States.  They will decrease the moaning and groaning in their private homes and get out to talk with each other.  They will support one another for political positions, giving women more representation from the local school boards to state and national political positions.  Anger and despondency has turned to determination and hope!  Instead of sitting alone at home and crying the blues, they have found a way to direct their anger.  This way has always been there, but now they can see it.  There now is motivation and support.  Negative emotions can now be replaced with constructive dialogue, planning for a better future, and inspiration!  This Women’s March on Washington gave women back their drive to achieve meaningful goals and to fight for their right to be who they are—Good Enough!

 

Two Notes:

  1.  For me to see comments and communicate with you, please send an E-mail to: Beth@duncanmindbody.com
  2. I’ve decided not to spend the time it would take to complete my Ph.D. (years).  Further education would only prepare me for research and writing for professional magazines and journals.  I want use this time to help the average person:  those who don’t have mega bucks, those who suffer from side effects of too many medications for too long.  Using one’s mind does not mean replacing one’s doctor.  It means working WITH one’s doctor to regain health more quickly.  Be sure to sign up for my free newsletter, which will be monthly. 

    Thanks,     Beth

     

     

Blog #13 — Giving Up My Power

My doctor has informed me that the diagnosis of the condition affecting my skin for the past two years has been confirmed by blood tests and skin biopsies.   Lupus.  And she informed me:  there is no cure, only treatment.  I’ve tried all sorts of home remedies to treat the discoloration, the dryness, the itching:  various creams, vinegar baths, oatmeal baths, olive oil massages, to name a few.  The discoloration and itching that is intensive enough to wake me in the middle of each night for the past two years continues.

 

When a doctor says “treatment, no cure” that means reliance on medication.  I cannot accept that!  Never could.  A doctor in my past once told me that the next time I had an office visit, if my blood pressure was still too high that she emphatically stated that I would start taking blood pressure medication.  The next time I had an office visit, my blood pressure was normal.  She did not ask how I accomplished having normalized my blood pressure, and never mentioned needed medication.  I changed doctors!

 

When my current doctor suggested a new once a week medication for his diagnosis of Type II diabetes, I told him that I would consider it.  In the meantime, I would try natural means of lowering my blood sugar.  He has seen that my blood sugar is normal some days, within normal limits other days.  He asked about what I was doing, then told me that he is no longer worried about my blood sugar.

 

I believe in homeostasis, which I’ll discuss in another blog.  It is the body’s ability to heal itself (within limitations) if it has the proper ingredients in the body.  And in most cases, it also requires the mindset that one’s body can, indeed, correct itself.  Many years ago I had severe abdominal pain when I had my menstrual periods.  I discovered that during the first day of a woman’s menstrual period she loses a lot of calcium.  Insufficient calcium can cause pain in muscle tissue.  The uterus is a muscle.  So, as an experiment, thinking that if that is what caused my pain the first day of my period, I’d take some Tums (They are nothing but calcium carbonate).  It worked.  My pain decreased substantially.  I did not need barbiturates or any other prescription drugs with all their side effects.

Note:  Not everyone’s menstrual pain is due to a calcium deficiency.  Everyone needs to learn what their own body requires, which can be very different even from a brother or sister from the same mother and father.

 

I will find a way to handle this new form of lupus.  The earliest appointment I could get with a known and liked rheumatologist is at the end of March!  Perhaps I will, like I did when I was first diagnosed with lupus (when it affected my lungs and I was given 2 years to live if I didn’t take the prescribed medication:  Year 1997).  I could not tolerate the prescribed medication, and found a way to reverse what was happening in my body without medication.  Using my mind to improve my body is a power that I refuse to give up. I’ve suffered from too many side effects too often.  I want to learn how to use more of the power I know that I have.

My Motto:  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Blog. #12 — What Is Normal?

Words are powerful!  Not only do they have meaning, they can evoke emotions.  It doesn’t matter if the words are said by someone else or if the words are said to and by ourselves.

We can change our friends and the company we keep.  But no matter where we go, our own mind is there!  Whether we want to assess ourselves (find out who we are—the person inside our skin) or want to change some part of our ways of thinking and doing, the first thing that challenges us is where to begin!

Pema Chodron, American Buddhist Monk, wrote in her book Start Where You Are while meditating: “…following our breath and labeling our thoughts…not trying to repress them, but just simply acknowledging them as violent thoughts, thoughts of hatred, thoughts of wanting, thoughts of poverty, thoughts of loathing, whatever they might be….let the thoughts go and begin to feel what’s left.  We can begin to feel the energy of our heart, our body, our neck, our head, our stomach—that basic feeling that’s underneath all of the story lines…When we don’t act out and we don’t repress, then our passion, our aggression, and our ignorance become our wealth.  The poison already is the medicine.  You don’t have to transform anything.  Simply letting go of the story line is edging what we’re thinking and letting it go is the key to connecting with this wealth that we have.  With all the messy stuff, no matter how messy it is, just start where you are—not tomorrow, not later, not yesterday when you were feeling better—but now.  Start now, just as you are.”

Our story begins in the womb.  With our newly formed ears, we hear our mother’s voice, her heart beat.  Loud, pounding, shrill noises or soft, pleasant soothing ones, these sounds begin our lives.  Our minds set these sounds and feelings as our normal reality.

I’ll give you an example.  After a difficult delivery of one of my children, the hospital nurses wanted to give me the opportunity to sleep.  They planned to tend to my child for me.  However, my child wanted what she felt was normal for her—yelling and screaming until she got it.  None of the nurses’ arsenal of methods to calm a baby worked.  The hospital was a large institution with international personnel that served clients from all over the world.  Having no success, they brought my screaming child down the hall in the middle of the night and placed her in my arms.  Instant quiet!  She wasn’t even 24 hours old and not as big as a five-pound bag of sugar.  Yet her voice was extremely loud!

I tell this story to emphasize how important it is for we humans to want to feel a sense of normalcy.  It’s not always easy to put into words how or what we want/need to feel normal.  Also, and most important, there is no one normal!  It makes no sense to try and be like someone else!  This is the reason we each need to find out/learn, who and why we are if we feel the need to change.  Just like there’s no one normal, there’s no one method to finding out who we are.

The thoughts in our minds will be reflected in the feelings of our bodies.  We can’t fool our own minds!  Dis-ease in the mind will create dis-ease in the body.  Everything in our bodies is connected to something else in our bodies.  No matter what the circumstances, it maters what words we use when we answer the questions:

*Who am I?

*What do I need?