Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday!!
When you watch award shows and they give an award for Best Comedy Writing have you noticed how many people get the award? For instance, when Jon Stewart inevitably wins the Emmy, his team is about 15 people. We’d all like to think that he’s that funny all by himself, but the truth is it’s the collaboration that makes him funny (I’m sure his comical in a 1-0n-1 situation, you get the point). Hollywood is loaded with rooms of writers who come together every week and build upon each other’s work to create the scripts we see acted on television and the movies.
I started thinking a lot about this when I was watching an episode of the re-invented, Hawaii Five-O. One particular episode had the character Steve McGarrett in the car driving like a maniac with his sidekick Danno. Danno is so frightened by how McGarrett is driving that he’s holding on to every possible handle inside the car out of fear. McGarrett says, “Are you scared?” Danno replies, “I’m not scared; I’m rationally concerned.” Is that not the best line ever? I’m “rationally concerned”.
I bring this up because when you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or other life-altering illness being able to articulate your experience is helpful in creating solutions and developing a path to feeling better (remember I talk about the difference between feeling better and getting well). It’s the creativity of the writers in the room that come up with these jewels of the spoken langauge. Those little nuggets of juicy deliciousness that grabs us in our soul and lets us identify for a moment with that revelation?
So are you scared? What does scared look and feel like? Maybe like Danno, you’re rationally concerned? If that’s the case, then how would that show up in your thoughts and actions? You don’t have the luxury of having script writers who will orchestrate your life. You can be inventive and be your own writing team. You’d have to create a space to explore your emotions. You’d need to be able to go deep within to excavate those nuggets that capture the essence of the body, mind, spirit connection.
What would your writing team look like and what how would their script help you on your journey to feeling better? Let me know…maybe there’s a sitcom, a television drama, or at least a Lifetime Movie in it somewhere for you.
Ever wonder how fear came into the world? It’s been around ever since living creatures inhabited the planet. I believe some would even say that it was has propelled the genes of certain species forward; keeping them a presence on the planet. Now think about living with a chronic or life-threatening illness and ask yourself, “What role does fear play in my life?” I know it’s like answering the question “What’s the meaning of life”, but I believe you’ll come up with some smart and insightful answers. Then ask yourself, “What does fear allow me not to do on my journey to wellness?”
I do believe that pop culture reflects back to us the questions that are on the minds of the masses. Last week on “Grey’s Anatomy” a patient had what many thought was an inoperable, aggressive spinal tumor. The patient wanted Dr. Shepherd to remove the tumor and after standing in surgery for ten hours he closed the patient without doing anything. When the doctor spoke to the patient he told the patient he couldn’t do the surgery. The patient, as if channeling Buddha or Gandhi said to Dr. Shepherd, “When you are frightened, become inspired!”
I have to tell you that sentence stopped me in my tracks. It’s what Robert Fritz talks about in his book Creating. Fritz says that creativity comes when the culmination of tension is resolved. Something builds up inside us causing this eruptive sense of purpose and creativity to overcome the obstacles placed in our way. In the “Grey’s Anatomy” scenario, Dr. Shepherd went home and had a surgical epiphany, drawing on the walls of the bedroom figuring out how the surgery could in fact be accomplished.
What inner tension will be resolved within you allowing for creative solutions to living with or overcoming your current health challenge? How will you take your own drive and determination and use it as the keys to the kingdom that will provide you with hope on your journey to health and healing?
How attune are you to your body? Are you conscious of the slight changes in your physical nature? Ever been standing out in the cold and you begin to shiver? If you take a deep breath and relax the body the shivering will stop…at least for a bit. The point is that under stress or challenge the body tightens up, almost to the point of self-strangulation. If you consciously feel that tight how do you think your blood vessels and internal organs are responding.
It’s convenient and easy to believe that fear is strictly an emotional response to a scary situation. When you isolate fear as an emotional situation you then believe that the solution is also emotional. This often sends those facing a chronic or life-threatening illness to psychotherapists and behavior modification specialists in hopes of changing your thought patterns. Leaving out the physical component means you’re leaving out a part of the equation and that will result in disappointing results from your provider. Understanding that the mind and the body are connected will put your far ahead of the curve.
Fear is physical. It constricts the body cutting off needed oxygen to the body. It reduces the blood supply by constricting the blood vessels. Many will experience pain during times of extreme fear; can you think of anything more fearful than your mortality? The body creates its own domino effect and once the dominoes are set in motion the body falls prey to its actions. It’s crucial that you be able to recognize fear and counteract it’s effects with a practice that allows you to release the fear from the body.
There are many activities that will allow you to release your fear. Many body centered activities will give you the physical strength and clarity of mind to release the fear from the physical body; practices like yoga, qi gong, or dance. Exercise is one of the easiest ways to get the body to relax and release. You have lots of alternatives to give your body the benefit of dismissing fear. When fear is expunged from the body you give it the freedom it needs to heal itself. You provide the body with the space and energy it needs to activate your immune system giving you every opportunity to move closer to health and healing.
Last year I went back to school…it was time. I’m working on my PhD focusing on “Art as a healing modality when facing chronic and life-threatening illness. I only tell you that because I had a realization last night while writing my paper for the up and coming class. The class is on Wisdom and Civilization. Throughout the paper I’ve been writing about the mess the United States is in economically and began thinking about fear.
It’s impossible to turn on the television and not be scared by the news. If that weren’t enough we’re in the midst of a heated presidential election and the television ads would make you want to set up home in the United Nations. So how is it that we’ve come to fear the fear more than the situations we’re facing in the world?
Fear is the one thing that will generally derail all the hard work you put into getting well. I can understand fearing the illness because you may feel that you’re fighting something that not only has a mind of its own, but seems to have the resources to put a good fight. But when we begin to fear the fear, we’re challenging ourselves to engage in a conflict that is self-made. We invoke fear in others by telling them horror stories of the disease process or of treatment. We invoke fear talking about the financial impact of an illness. We invoke fear when we believe it’s punishment from a Supreme Being for something we did wrong.
Fear is not the enemy. Fear is not the arena to put your resources. Fear is a distraction, a large one I’ll admit, but still a distraction. Being fearful detracts you from putting your full attention on health progression. Don’t give in to the imposter, challenge the real thing…the illness.