Ok, are you ready for some deep conversation? Recently, my husband and I had those difficult discussions about funeral arrangements and what kind of burial we’d like. Sounds gruesome, I know, but these are real, straightforward talks that need to happen. We’ve all had those thoughts about our own mortality: What if I died tomorrow… Have I done all that I wanted to do? What would I have done differently?
It caused me to reflect on my life and the changes that I have made in the past decades and the legacy I’d like to leave behind. I am definitely not the same person I was twenty or thirty years ago. The struggles and triumphs I’ve endured got me to the place where I am now. By no means, am I perfect. Rather, I am a student of life – constantly learning and soaking up information like a sponge. The older I get, the more time I want to spend grabbing onto knowledge as if it were an outstretched arm from a firefighter as my house was burning. I want to learn all that is humanly possible, while trying to get through an ordinary day of work, paying bills, household chores, taking care of pets and my family.
When I was a teenager, I went to a church with my mother and grandmother that was a nondenominational Christian church. While there were biblical quotes given in every Sunday talk, there was also discussion about a book called “A Course in Miracles”, which is a philosophical interpretation of the Bible.
Hang with me, this is deep talk.
I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.—T. S. Eliot
Close your eyes, put your hand on your chest, and feel your heartbeat. Focus on slowing down your breath and relaxing every part of your body, beginning at your head, down through your jaw, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, and toes. Imagine that every cell in your body is operating at its utmost potential. Envision every muscle and bone healthy and strong. Bring your awareness to your breath. Pretend you’re breathing through a straw slowly. Inhale to the count of ten and exhale even more slowly. Try to slow your heartbeat.
Studies show that we can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and diminish anxiety just by being still and calming our bodies and minds. Meditation helps the mind find a happy ground where it’s not working so hard and spinning out of control. It helps control anxious and negative thoughts.
“Before aligning the mind, body and soul … first one has to straighten their mind out.”
― Stephen Richards
Part of being healthy and happy is not only based upon what we eat and how we exercise, but how we think and feel. Scientists are discovering and admitting to the links between how our emotions affect our health. We’ve all heard stories about couples that have been together for a long time and when one of them dies the other soon follows although they had no terminal health problems. Grief can have an astonishing effect on the human body and can cause heart attacks and even stroke.
Meditation, relaxation and finding things to distract you from overwhelmingly negative thoughts have been proven to relieve stress and even pain during difficult times. When my husband, Ted, had both of his knees replaced he was in an incredible amount of agony, even with anesthesia. I tried something with him that I knew that has helped me with debilitating migraines. Don’t expect it to completely take away the pain of a critical injury, like a broken arm, but try this when you’re feeling stressed. It worked for Ted.