What Is Normal?

December 12, 2016 Beth Duncan

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?