In this short article my mind has selected several words to form various thoughts, that I have come to appreciate as ’heart-felt’. This is because I believe they have passed through the heart, while listening to and hearing from many ordinary people, living extraordinary lives. These are people whom I’ve met physically or virtually through life, but especially since 2015.
After spending time contemplating how to write this article, to ‘do my best’ and be ‘impeccable with my word’ (two of the most powerful ‘Agreements’ that Don Miguel Ruiz shares in his wonderfully insightful books, “The Four Agreements” and “The Fifth Agreement”), my mind has been drawn to a life-changing moment in 2015; a moment that my then neuroscientist brain experienced, and that I now believe to be a memory. That ‘belief’ is one that arose out of what Don Miguel Ruiz terms a ‘domestication’ process. In other words, a form of conditioning, that we all (including our parents and grandparents and so on) experience, the very moment we entered this world (more on that in a moment).
That memory includes hearing a sequence of words, which triggered various emotions to flow through my mind and body; emotions that also connect and triggered various thoughts, especially with my survival. Plus, thoughts connected with a desire for comfort. That moment in 2015 is when my perception of life began to change, and I started experiencing the most wonderful path that has introduced me to some very ordinary people living extraordinary lives; people who have guided me towards attaining a level of awareness or perhaps ‘consciousness’ that I now realise my brain, alone, is incapable of ‘sensing’ or ‘seeing’.
My hope, by writing this short article, is that some of my thoughts, that I have learned to pass through my heart (which is simply my way of saying, ‘the thoughts that materialise from a trauma-informed mind’) can:
- spark your curiosity sufficiently to read through to the end.
- stimulate your mind to generate thoughts to raise your awareness (or consciousness) to a level that you begin to ‘see’ that the state of your emotional health influences the words your mind selects to generate the thoughts you may experience.
- guide you to become more aware that when your emotions and thoughts flow i.e., come and go, you can begin to experience your best possible quality of life and well-being.
It was only a couple of weeks after one of those ordinary people, living an extraordinary life, Chris Lewis, had published my short article “The Word: the emotional power to heal or harm?”, when I had my first thoughts about writing this follow up piece. Some of the initial ideas were triggered after I reread the anagram I wrote at the end of my initial article, for WORD.
Then a few days ago I happen to read a Facebook post that shared these thoughts: “Many behaviours that people take for granted can be a sign of trauma. Anything from imposter syndrome to manipulation or even fear of failure.”
The post went on to share and explain: “A human body that has experienced trauma [is] often bombarded with these unwanted sensations and emotions that can influence every area of life. Maybe you struggle to take criticism at work? You might find difficulty asking people for directions. You might even find it difficult to concentrate on conversations?”.
I am certainly not refuting any of what was expressed, because what was written are the words from the mind i.e., the thoughts, of person with a trauma-informed lived and living experience. What it sparked from my mind, in that moment was:
“These are powerful thoughts; thoughts that trigger behaviours; behaviours that trigger [further] thoughts; and a mind that can lead to the creation of a ‘story’ that reflects all those thoughts and behaviours.
That resulted in a sequence of words creating this question “Does it need to be that way?” That question feels like an ‘intuition’ that I can only explain as, a ‘seeing’ from my mind, body, and spirit; my whole (human) being, especially my heart, and not simply my eyes. In other words, over the past few years the pathway I have been travelling has guided me and provided me with a wonderful opportunity, to re-learn and to re-enable a form of ‘seeing’, that I now believe we are all gifted with, when born into this world, before we experience a ‘domestication’ that I refer to at the start of this article.
It is in part, because of reading and hearing 100s of trauma-informed living experiences, that I have learned to really listen with and through my heart. It is that learning that continues to guide me in a ‘seeing’, or perhaps ‘perceiving’, leading me toward a level of awareness enabling me to let go of several restricting beliefs; beliefs formed throughout my very early infant years, childhood, and early teenage years. It is also an awareness that has pointed me toward letting go of the various thoughts and emotions that were attached to those beliefs.
And by releasing those various beliefs, I am now aware of a wonderful ‘space’ for fresh, invigorating new beliefs to flow in, along with new mental and physical health promoting thoughts and emotions.
Now, this is probably an ideal moment to explain in a little more detail ‘domestication’. For me that word is the most perfect, and powerful way to describe a process of ‘conditioning’ that our minds and bodies experience, because of the repeated and relentless messages the mind and body receives, from the very moment we start experiencing life, in the same way that Pavlov conditioned his famous dogs. That includes the time we are in our mother’s womb. As explained by Don Miguel Ruiz, it is that process of ‘domestication’ especially through the early years of life, and ‘self-domestication’ that leads us to gaining many if not all our initial limiting beliefs.
And this is exactly why key pointers about ‘awareness’ are part of a new “Emotions Awareness Teaching” programme being developed by the Lifestyle Health Foundation in partnership with the Person-Centred Neurosciences Society. It is with awareness that we gain new beliefs, which for me, is a profound moment, because a new belief triggers fresh thoughts, and that will enable the flow of emotions through mind and body. Also, with new beliefs, comes an opportunity to generate mental and physical health promoting thoughts and an energy that than injured mind and body needs to heal. It is this type of thinking that I believe can guide a person towards asking a question like “Does it need to be that way?’.
Perhaps I can attempt to express this with an alternative set of words, which come from a new belief, one that points us towards learning to be present i.e., to live in the now, and strengthen the flow of consciousness, a flow that ensure the mind and heart connect to our human ‘spirit of being’, and mindfully and impeccably select words that generate thoughts such as:
If any of my words, thus far, have triggered thoughts from your mind that you wish to share, as part of the re-learn journey I am travelling, I am in the process of shaping this re-learning into the Emotions Awareness Teaching (EAT) programme I referred to earlier. This is a programme that has the aim of explaining how through ‘awareness’, we learn why and how expression of all emotions, and the state of ‘emotional health’ is fundamental to the quality of wellbeing and life we enjoy; a quality that arises out of a ‘peace’ and ‘calm’ that can be discovered when our consciousness flows freely, and we live in the ‘now’, as some of you reading will know is taught by the masterful Eckhart Tolle
In our EAT programme we point you toward learning how and why the quality of that flow significantly impacts the quality of mental and physical functioning, in the same way that I know, how the quality of the physical cerebrospinal fluid flow through our central nervous system (the brain and spine) impacts the quality of our physical and mental functioning. How do I know? Because of what my mind and body experienced in 2014 and early 2015, before my neurosurgeon urgently operated on my brain to unblock that flow. He did so by taking out a junk of tumour, a tumour that sits on my pineal gland!
As I come to the end of this short piece, I am leaving you with this following thought: Now that I have written this article, and you have read it, to this point, I am now in a different moment to the one I was in, when I started to write it. All of what I have written and all that you may have read and perhaps felt (including any sense of frustration you may be experiencing right now due to the way I am writing this part) belongs in past. As soon as you have reached THIS point, it is a memory, it’s not ‘now’. Now is now. So, when an emotion arises, it is ‘true’ at that very moment, and please remember, that emotion whatever it is or was, has/had a purpose. And as we learn to observe how that emotion comes and goes, we then also become aware, like emotions, our thoughts also pass. They come from nowhere and go into nowhere, just like those clouds you observe in the sky.
It is my belief, based on years of neuroscience research (including my own PhD) and the relearning I am enjoying, that many of our troubles lie either in not allowing emotions to be experienced (suppressing them), or preventing them from going (memory), plus a desire to bring some back, due to the feeling of pleasure, reward, or comfort that you experienced at the time.
As I wrote at the beginning, one of my hopes is to guide you toward becoming more aware of how, by enabling your beliefs, thoughts (words), and emotions to flow i.e., to come and go, you can experience your best possible quality of life and well-being. It is also my hope that I have been sufficiently ‘impeccable with my word’ and have ‘done my best’ for these few thoughts to guide you and perhaps stimulate you to join me, along with a few others, on a path that started 8 years ago in Kings College Hospital and has involved ‘planting’ a very special ‘seed’ in 2021.
To read more about that ‘seed’ (actually it’s an acorn ) and perhaps ‘water it’, so our growing tree will bear beautiful fruit, please go to www.lifestylehealth.org.uk