When I was 20 years old, I was unstoppable. Nothing could stand in my way. Not even the minor car accident (in which a drunk driver rear-ended my car and I ended up with “just” a whiplash). Not even the excruciating pain in my neck which lasted years.
20 years later, “suddenly”, with no apparent reason, I could not move my arm. Only after visiting a chiropractor, who showed and explained me how big is the damage I have caused to my neck and spine, just from neglecting the injury, I realized what I have done. If I would only stop and do one of the things I know now (even just resting or applying a castor oil pack) the whole picture may have been different.
After few visits, I felt much better and pain was gone. Still unstoppable at that time, I then understood that this was just the beginning of my healing journey. Fixing a damage that has been accumulated in 20 years is not possible in a week. And this was my “Stop sign”. Up to that point, the easiest way for me to handle these “stop signs” was to ignore them. However, opening my eyes to view this sign, made me realize that this is my own responsibility to attend my own health. This is my own responsibility to find the time to give attention to my body or seek professional help to guide me how.
This has become a life journey, and as it keeps unfolding, I am fascinated by all the unstoppable souls who are crossing my way, seeking my friendly or my professional advice, and one thing keeps repeating over and over again:
Applying a castor oil pack has brought many of these souls to a very deep state of realization that a change needs to take place. Witnessing this phenomenon, either in my office or hearing from those who I suggested to apply the packs, brought me to the belief that deep state of relaxation has the amazing power to change lives – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Castor oil, a very thick oil derived from the castor bean (Ricinus communis) seed, has been praised for many benefits. Among them: Enhancing relaxation, Decreasing inflammation, Increasing circulation of blood and lymph thus enhancing the immune system, Improving elimination of toxic substances, Promoting tissue healing, Decreasing pain, Lubricating ligaments, Improving digestion, Easing many conditions including uterine fibroid, non-malignant ovarian cysts, endometriosis, headaches, migraines, constipation, intestinal disorders, gallbladder/liver conditions, and probably many more.
A castor oil pack can be done in many ways. The way that works best for me is simply applying the oil on the belly, covering with a hand-towel, topping with a hot water bottle and laying down for at least one hour.
When applying the castor oil pack on the belly, the oil lubricates and stimulates all the tissues, organs and systems in this region. Along with that, the heat draws the blood vessels up closer to the skin as they vasodilate, and oil is being absorbed into the blood circulation as well, thus distributed through the whole body.
Lubricating and stimulating organs as the small intestine, bladder, colon, liver, uterus, which are part of systems that are inhibited when body is under stress (when the autonomic nervous system functions at its sympathetic / fight-or-flight state), signals the nervous system to shift to the relaxed state (parasympathetic state). This may cause a confusion for the person experiencing it, since many of us may have not “visited” the parasympathetic system for a very long time. We are trapped in the fight-or-flight loop and do not know how to find the moment to breath and recover.
Shifting to the parasympathetic system creates a space, allowing to view life in a clear and focused perspective. It allows me to be more centered into my own body, realizing that so many things are happening inside, while I keep myself very busy outside. This deep relaxation opens my mind to ask the real questions, which I have been avoiding for a long time:
- Am I so busy working for others that I cannot find an hour for myself to walk outdoors or to engage in some movement?
- Am I so busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I don’t have an hour to seek a professional guidance resolving my own issues?
- Am I so busy being busy that I cannot find an hour to understand what relaxation really means?
In my eyes, a castor oil pack can be a major life changer. Such a simple action with such a powerful result. Even if at this moment, I am not able to answer all these questions, I have planted the seed, so when time is right – I will be ready to take the ownership over my life and start my journey.
And this is the real reason I love castor oil and I would keep telling everyone again and again and again that they should try a castor oil pack….
***Anat Shlagman is a Traditional Naturopath specializing in Relaxation, utilizing a unique tailored session, combined of Reflexology, Castor oil pack, Abdominal massage and Energy work, designed to bring the autonomic nervous system to its parasympathetic state.
The Edgar Cayce ARE – http://www.edgarcayce.org/are/holistic-health.aspx?id=9467&terms=castor
The oil that heals – A physician’s successes with castor oil treatments – William A. McGarey, MD
Herbs of grace – Farida Sharan
Many of us seek for the answers to our health issues everywhere we can and constantly on the lookout for the ultimate healer who can fix us. But what if you discovered that there is only one person, in the whole world, that can heal you? What if you discovered that this person is in very close proximity to you? What if you discovered that this person is not me (too easy;), but it is you?
Why would this person be you? Because you are the only one who can bring your own body to meet its survival needs. And why would that be important? Because when body’s survival needs are met, our nervous system can shift into a deep relaxed state which will signal to every cell in our body that “War is over!”. And what would that do? When the body is in a state of peace, inflammation will no longer be needed. Thus, any condition, which was aggravated by the flux of inflammation, will get the opportunity to settle down, or in other words – heal.
What are these survival needs? Think about babies – what do they need? To sleep, to eat, to be touched, to be soothed, to be clean, to move and to learn how to coexist with others in the world. We may have grown out of our baby stage, but our needs have not changed. However, now, we are engaged with so many responsibilities which have become a priority over our basic needs.
Here begins our part as self healers, by tending to our basic needs and helping our body meet them. How can we do that? Simply by going back to basics – returning to all the actions that we usually skip through our busy life. These actions are also known as the pillars of Traditional Naturopathy: Nourishment, Bodywork, Rest/sleep, Energy work, Herbal medicine, Hydrotherapy, Education, and Movement.
Here is my understanding of these pillars and some thoughts of how to apply them into our busy lives:
What does it mean Nourishment?
Nourishment means supplying our cells with the materials they need in order to function in their most efficient way. How can we nourish our body? By eating real food. Food that was not processed or changed by human hand. Food that existed here for thousands of years and is not new. Food that your grandparents will recognize when you take them shopping – ask them which foods they ate as kids and learn from them. These foods probably have been protecting them from what they are eating now.
The word “Food” is not always a synonym to Nourishment. It does not matter how much we eat or how we look, but if our cells are not being nourished, we will always be hungry and always seek for something to eat. That’s why we want to look for Real food.
Real food is not about being vegetarian, or vegan, or paleo, or follow a certain diet. It is about eating a product that our cells recognize and not replacing it with something containing harmful ingredients. Some examples of real food could be Fruits (preferably organic), vegetables (preferably organic), grass-fed / organic meats, Free range chicken /eggs / chicken soup, pickles, sauerkraut, avocado, full fat grass-fed dairy / butter….
Nourishment is not a sophisticated philosophy. Nourishing food has become less socially acceptable since it takes more effort to make it or find it. Sometimes we might avoid eating nourishing foods out of embarrassment to be the only one doing so, or simply because we are too tired or too busy to make the effort. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot find a moment to cook my own meal?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I don’t have few minutes to sit down and eat nourishing foods to resolve my own issues?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
What does it mean Bodywork?
Referring to the word “bodywork”, the most common association would be of someone applying touch on you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an in-home-(any type of)-bodyworker working on you 24/7? Or, maybe having the resources to pay for daily sessions? Probably…
But since this would be just a fantasy for most of us, we might want to look into other creative solutions, or maybe slightly shift our thinking to an efficient route. Even if you are blessed with an in-home-(any type of)-bodyworker, or you are seeing someone periodically (weekly/monthly/yearly or anything in between) – these professionals will see you only for a limited time. So that would be it? What is happening in between these times? What if you don’t see anyone?
My belief is that touch is not exclusive as an external act only. Could touching our own tissue be regarded as bodywork? Of course!! A gentle touch is very nourishing to our nervous system. And the main benefit is that it is free and unlimited!
This kind of touch is not only physical. It is mostly emotional and mental, as we allow our cells to open. Everything we kept closed inside, suddenly has the permission to come to light: Every feeling that we buried, every thought that we concealed, and even memories that we dismissed without processing. Once these memories / thoughts / feelings start to flood us, we have the choice to hide them again or to accept them into our lives.
Any issue we are dealing with requires lots of energy from us. But hiding that issue (mainly from ourselves) requires much more energy, which eventually can deplete our vitality. The wiser (aka older) we grow, the more energy our body requires for daily functions, and we have less energy to spare for other purposes.
As we grow wiser, we may feel more exhausted and sense that our body is not servicing us as before. Physical check would be a great venue to take to see what is happening, but along with that, it is imperative to take a deeper look and watch for hidden burdens. Since we are so accustomed to keep moving through our routines, it is not very obvious to us that we may disregard our feelings. When we touch and feel what is happening in our body, we can learn to use our energy in the most efficient way so healing can rise.
Nourishing touch should be regarded as a practice, like yoga or meditation, in order for our body to start trusting and letting go. The more we nourish with touch, the healthier we get, and the closer we become to real things – real food, real touch, real outdoor activities, real relationships, real emotional expression, real/honest reactions – which will promote us to real healing. Nourishing our Emotional, Mental and Spiritual aspects is essential simply because Physical nourishment is not enough. And Touch will probably cover them all…
Sometimes, we might be too busy or too tired to apply touch on our own tissue. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot find a moment to apply touch on my own tissue?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I don’t have few minutes to understand what my own issues are simply by touching and feeling the differences in my tissue?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
What does it mean Rest/Sleep?
Rest is not a synonym of laziness. According to Harvard university, sleep enhances memory, immune system, focus, improves mood and provides vitality for us to be productive. We can achieve much more of our goals in much shorter time when we are rested, rather than running constantly without stopping.
Over thinking, over worrying, and living with anxieties may prevent us from either falling asleep or getting a good night sleep to feel rested in the morning.
When we have sleeping issues – our nervous system needs some nourishing attention. We have to be mindful that when nervous system compromises, all other systems compromise as well (digestive, immune, hormonal, reproductive…).
There are many ways to calm the nervous system, but I will share here only one, aiding sleeping: Using Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) either as a tincture or as tea, is a very effective gentle way to calm the nervous system. I love the tea version as a great ending to a hectic day – sitting and enjoying a hot cup of tea. Yes, sitting is a huge part of enhancing relaxation… and with its great taste, even kids enjoy drinking Lemon balm tea. Lemon balm tea can be made with fresh or dried herb – simply pour boiling water onto the leaves (usually 1 tsp herbs for 1 cup of water, but you can always increase or decrease the amount of this herb).
The nice thing about lemon balm (and herbs in general) is that it is not causing you to be tired, but it shows you how tired you are, and actually forces you to take an action about it, trusting that taking breaks from our life missions will actually help us complete these tasks much faster and more efficiently.
Combining this tea with an application of a castor oil pack, when going to sleep, will bring the nervous system to a very deep state of relaxation, which will allow the whole body to recover through the night. It may take your nervous system few days to adjust and trust your nourishing efforts, and therefore, you may want to set a routine of daily drinking the tea and applying the castor pack for at least a week or two. Watch for minor changes. Don’t look for the extreme. Look for these little, subtle shifts, that may actually save your life in the long run. For example, watch your reactions to the events around you. watch your mood. watch your thoughts before you go to sleep. Has anything change? are you less reactive? are you happier? are you feeling lighter? are you more focused on your actions? are you thinking more clearly? Small steps, but what a difference they make!
Sometimes, we might be too worried or too busy to find time to take a nap or to sleep for a decent number of hours. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot find a moment for myself to take a short rest?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I cannot find few minutes to calm my worries which prevent me from having a good night sleep?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
What does it mean Energy work?
Energy work is often linked to many modalities as Reiki, Therapeutic touch, Craniosacral therapy, EFT, Chakra balancing, Polarity and many others. Every offered energy modality is amazing and can manifest an enormous shift in all states of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual. However, none of them can give their great results without counting the personal intention of the person who offers the energy work.
The most special and purest environment for healing sets when we offer healing from our hearts, while setting our intention to the highest good of the receiver, without seeking benefits for ourselves. This is why we have to remember, when looking beyond all the offered modalities, that each one of us is made of energy. We are giving and receiving energy all the time. So, even just by our presence, without any knowledge of any particular modality, we are actually offering energy work. And this offering may be the most important of all, as we are engaged with it throughout the whole 24 hours of the day and not in just a specific hour of a session.
Our intention has an astonishingly important role in our healing process and understanding the importance of this role may have an great impact on the way we manage our lives. When we are mindful of our intentions, towards ourselves or others, we may shift the energies surrounding us and create the proper environment for our healing. Our attitude, our inner response, our thinking – all affect our energy.
As energy beings, we are more affected by the transmitted energy rather than said or written words. We understand messages from a much wider perspective, and this may cause physical response. When our energy is weak or depleted or wounded in a certain area, the physical organs or tissues or cells in that area may suffer as well. Donna Eden, a pioneer in the field of energy medicine, refers to energy as “body’s natural self-healing elixir, it’s natural medicine which feeds body and soul and attending to it restores natural vitality”. She explains that our bodies continually vibrating at a subtle level, moving energy and information through the connective tissues that encase us. Donna Eden mentions that we resonate with energies in our environment, matching our frequencies of the vibrations to the ones around us. Shifting an energy field can have an effect on body’s chemistry. While disturbed energy precedes illnesses in the physical body, Donna believes that it is possible to correct energy imbalances before they coagulate into illness. Maintaining a healthy energy field is a powerful strategy for maintaining health and preventing illness.
Healing resides within us. The energy we bring from within comes from our choice and is owned by us. The more conscious and mindful we are about our own energies, our own intentions, the more we can direct them towards our own healing and healing of our surroundings.
We can protect ourselves from outside energies by warming our own energy. When energy is cold, it is like ice – if something hits us, then we shatter and break. But when energy is warm, it is like fluid – if something hits us, it will flow with the stream and eventually move out of our body. We want to keep our selves flowing and not stagnant. A good way to warm our energy is by taking a moment to visualize heat wrapping us until we feel warm. Adding a physical heating source can be a great idea to help enhance this visualization. And yes, a castor oil pack can do wonders here as well.
Sometimes, we might be too entangled in our worries to find time to mind our attitude to ourselves or others. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot find a moment to be kind to myself?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I cannot take few minutes to shift my thinking and attitude to resolve my own issues?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
What Does it mean Herbal medicine?
Plants have been used for nourishing and healing for thousands of years. And yet, in modern life, we grew farther from our natural surroundings, forfeiting earth’s offerings to us. Moreover, when Herbs are defined as weeds that we need to eradicate, we surround ourselves with chemicals that manipulate our nervous system. This manipulation is an insult to our nervous system which puts us in a fight-or-flight mode and prevents our body to reach a deep state of relaxation.
Would it be possible that the same herbs that we are trying to eradicate can be used to calm this response? Of course!! Simple teas as Mint, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Nettle, Calendula, or Oat straw can be amazingly restorative. Simple spices as Oregano, Turmeric, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Thyme added to our foods will revive the flavor along with boosting our Immune & Digestive systems.
The beauty with herbs is that they affect us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, no matter how you consume them: Walking in the woods and being surrounded by plants, watching them in your yard (or your neighbor’s yard), drinking a tea, taking a tincture, blending in cooking, taking them in a pill form, topically applying them on your body as an oil or a salve, using as a compress, or defusing their aromatic smells.
Sometimes, our overactive life might prevent us from taking a moment to look at the nature around us and to appreciate it. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot find a moment to make and drink a cup of tea?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I don’t have few minutes to sit in my garden or to walk in the woods and welcome nature’s offerings into my life?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
What does it mean Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy means healing with Water. What could be simpler than that?
Drinking, showering, bathing, soaking, hot water bottles/castor oil packs, hot/cold applications, teas, soups, sauna, hot tubs, and everything else you can think of.
Water has been used for healing for thousands of years, as it has many beneficial qualities, to name some: it’s reviving everything it touches; It can be astringent, tightening what’s needed, and at the same time it can be emollient, softening and soothing; it can be anti – antiseptic, antidemic (reduce swelling), antispasmodic, and at the same time it can be pro – stimulating, laxative, diuretic; It can constrict blood vessels (cold water), and at the same time it can dilate (hot water).
Sometimes, we are too burdened with our chores that we cannot find time to drink a cup of water or to enjoy a long Epsom bath. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot find a moment to fill up my water bottle and drink?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I don’t have few minutes to sit in an Epsom bath or to do a castor pack to resolve my own issues?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
What does it mean Movement?
Finding any type of movement that is enjoyable to you and that you would want to continue doing it without feeling forced to do so is the key to movement. (And it can be even something that you invent and only you know how to do it….).
There is no need to go for an extreme movement, unless you really enjoy it – a simple act of walking in nature can be very restorative to our nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system, and circulatory system.
Sometimes, since movement is time demanding, we might struggle to find time to commit to a movement activity. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot spare a moment to park my car further than I am used to and walk to where I need to go?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I cannot spare few minutes to commit to a movement activity (walk, yoga, swim, bike, dance, kayak…..) to resolve my own issues?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
What does it mean Education?
“We don’t need a title to lead. What we need is nothing more or nothing less than a burning desire to make a positive difference in our lives” Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE
Education is not about getting another certificate or degree. It is about the need to understand what is happening in our own body, without depending on others’ opinions and suggestions, which may not always be suitable to our unique situation. Taking the time to be in our body and research about our inward discoveries (by reading books/articles, watching informative movies…) can lower anxieties and fears from the unknown.
Sometimes, we are too overwhelmed with assignments which we need to accomplish daily, that we might not find the time to educate ourselves regarding our health. If this is the case, maybe you want to sow the following seeds of thought and see where it takes you:
- Am I too busy working for others that I cannot find a moment to read a book or an article regarding my own condition?
- Am I too busy running after everyone’s needs (my spouse, my kids, my cat, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my, my, my, my, my…. Oh my) that I don’t have few minutes to process my researched information within listening to my own unique needs?
- Am I too busy being busy that I cannot find a daily hour to heal myself?
Yes, it is an enormous mission to be the sole proprietor of your own body, but isn’t it a blessing to discover that you are also the sole proprietor of the greatest healer of your own body?
The art of healing yourself begins with sowing seeds and continues in the way you allow them to sprout and develop. Sowing the above-mentioned seeds might be plenty for today, but even this tiny action will always be much more than doing nothing.
Remembering that you are unique, and that your healing is your own personal journey, will help you seek out the professional healers that will teach you how to progress on your healing path and how to adjust their advice to your unique lifestyle. All this while keeping in mind that it doesn’t matter how big of a miracle the professional healer can do in one hour of their session, because there are no limits to the enormity of miracles that you can do in the rest of the twenty-three!
Love has been defined and understood in every possible way, many times referring towards others and not necessarily towards ourselves. M. Scott Peck, MD, in his wonderful book, “The Road Less Traveled”, defines love in a very unique way that also refers to one’s self:
“Definition of Love:
The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing
one’s own or another’s spiritual growth”.
By this definition, it seems like we need a will and an extension in order to make a proper love statement. While we are so used to offer this statement to another, how is it happening that we are not rushing to offer it to our own selves?
Thinking a little deeper – is it even possible to offer a will to extend ourselves to nurture another’s spiritual growth while not being able to offer the same will to nurture our own growth? Could it be that nurturing of one’s own spiritual growth should come prior to nurturing another’s growth? And if so – How can it be done? How can we turn Self-Love, a noun that is scarcely used in our daily life, into an active noun?
When I was in the naturopathic school we learned to make medicine- tinctures, flower essences, salves etc.. our homework was to make them at home and test them for a week or two. At the beginning, when I was testing my tinctures, I was always getting very tired. I was taking the tinctures in the morning and in the evening- the evening one would shoot me straight to bed. The morning one was less obvious, however, exactly at 12 pm I was forced to lay down wherever I was and close my eyes for 20 minutes.
Later on, I realized that my tinctures didn’t make me tired but only showed me how tired I was. But back then, I was getting pretty mad because I needed to change my whole schedule to accommodate my tinctures. Juggling between my studies and my efforts to keep my family of one husband and three young kids alive, it was a great struggle to add these two breaks into my daily routine. I had no time for this nonsense! It seemed an impossible mission for me and it made me very angry – what kind of homework are these that create such a havoc in my life? Homework should be about reading some books and answering some questions and not about forcing me to change my life! I had such great life finding my status quo to balance my energy (or probably to hide what didn’t fit the paradigm I lived by back then), and now what should I do? Making a change requires enormous amounts of energies! Where do I bring them from? (for sure I didn’t count my forced breaks as energizers by any means…)
And as a Taurus, I would find my ground and stand it. Only God could help those who tried to move me off my ground. But maybe this was God’s act, because I kept making my tinctures and kept testing them on myself (a commitment is a commitment! and since I wanted the certificate, I couldn’t spare more of my precious tightened time to complain..).
Many months later, the wisdom of these herbs awaken some wisdom in my head. I started to notice that I was watching my life as a movie, while not really taking part in it. The more I was forced to rest, the more I was astounded to see that the main actress in this movie is Me! I was shocked to discover that the person who runs all over town like a headless chicken is Me!! Needless to say that I didn’t like what I was discovering….. Needless to say that it saddened me very much to watch myself heading no where…
And yet, what a blessing have I received making my homework! The blessing of stopping me in my tracks and opening a space for me to think. And there came some thinking……
Going over my priority list, I understood what it is missing, or more accurately, who is missing in it – aka, Me. I realized that my own needs never appeared on my own list! How could this be happening? How could I be transparent for so many years and the earth kept spinning as if everything is ok?
And then I understood why this has been happening – it was happening because I had no idea what my needs were. I never took a moment of break to think about me! I never stopped what I was doing to find out if something is missing!
And then I knew why the earth never stopped spinning – it never stopped spinning because I never did! Why would anyone make an effort to do anything for me if I do not stop and make that effort to do it for own myself?
Blessed by these forced breaks, I was given a chance to connect with the main character in my own movie and see what she needs. Apparently, first and for most, she needed some resting…… Now, I could start re-arranging my priority list. Not an easy task in a world (that in my perception) sees a person who cares for themselves as selfish. No matter how wide my eyes and brain opened!
Beginning to understand why everyone else’s needs came before mine, I became more willing to extend myself for the purpose of nurturing my own spiritual growth. I started to welcome any breaks and changes of plans into my life and saw them as opportunities for me to rest instead of trying to fit another event in my schedule. And all of this while appreciating the fact that I need to feel the meaning of extending myself for my own self before I extend myself for others.
Going back to M. Scott Peck MD’s definition of love – how can I offer love to anyone without understanding what it means?
That’s why, in my own little world, I created a rule – No act will be regarded as selfish when eventually it will be teaching me how to apply it on others.
This rule allows me to activate my love towards my own self, without the fear of depriving anyone around me. This rule allows me to grow into the understanding that without a will to extend myself to nurture my own growth, I will never be able to effortlessly extend myself to nurture another person.
Love, by any definition we choose, should come effortlessly, without draining our energies. And only when we allow ourselves to turn self-love into an active noun (creating as many personal rules as we need to maintain our sanity), we can make the best use of our energies, and offer true heartfelt love to those around us.
ואהבת לרעך כמוך" ויקרא י"ט י"ח" (“Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” Leviticus 19 18) The topic of loving every person exactly as you love yourself came up in the Friday Zoom Services throughout the quarantine era in 2020 (led by Rabbi Avrohom Susskind director of Novi Northville Center for Jewish Life), raising this big question: How can I love myself to a degree that I will be able to extend the same love to every person? With the intention to promote health and healing within our congregation, along with mutually contributing to our own community, I would like to offer my Trad-Em@ sessions once a month – PAY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN – all proceeds will be donated to Novi Northville Center for Jewish Life. Click here for available dates and details
“Nothing is perfect” has been a statement that we may have heard too often, maybe too many times to the extent it became an apologetic axiom. This statement has become so widely spread, that it has become a reasoning (or maybe an excuse?) for the times we feel that we may have not stood up to some perceived expectation or to some measured appreciated values. Then, as widely as it is used, this statement must be correct. Right?
But what if perfection is not an external comparison but an internal reflection of what we really want to do? What if perfection is not about our perceived expectations? What if perfection is a bridge between our deep heartfelt wishes and our actions? What if perfection is the true meaning of who we are? What if we can meet ourselves exactly at the place we are at this moment?
Soooo many “if”s… What if we find the courage to remove all the “if”s above and turn all these questions into powerful statements? It may not be an easy process, but it is likely to show us a different perspective on how we want to live our lives, perhaps even motivate us to make some changes….
Perfection is not an external comparison but an internal reflection of what we really want to do.
Thinking about perfection, comparison is always a companion. It is very hard to separate these two. When we are trying to be perfect, we are seeking to be better than some external idea which we perceive as worthy. It may seem as if we are chasing something that has no connection to ourselves, trying to measure up to it, while disregarding our basic material – our dreams, our hopes, our values. Then, we keep being disappointed for not achieving this perceived perfection, simply because these external ideas keep changing with no connection to our being.
Taking the time to touch and reconnect to our values, hopes and dreams can help us understand how we want our lives to be. Shifting internally, taking the time to learn and appreciate our unique thoughts, ambitions and aspirations require some investment, which, many times, includes what we try to avoid.
Doing Nothing was a major thing I tried to avoid, simply because I grew up with amazing parents who do not regard any work as hard, and I have been taught to be productive and proactive: there is always something to do or someone to help, and it is never too hard to do everything.
As I started to do NOTHING for a whole hour every morning, It was astonishing to notice how, by the end of the day, I managed to finish all my planned tasks much faster and much more efficient than I did before.
I became more focused. I started to understand priorities. I understood what really requires my attention and what is just noise. I also realized that only when I learned the art of doing NOTHING I discovered that I exist. Discovering that I exist allowed me to look inside and understand what I really want to do, and it had no connection to what others around me aspired to do with their own lives.
Finding the courage to be who we are and understanding that no one can be like us, or we cannot be like anyone else, is the first step to allow perfection into our lives.
Perfection is not about our perceived expectations.
Don’t we all have this perception about how our life should look like? and perhaps this perception creates expectations for how our day should be going?
On one of his beautiful zoom coffee meetings (THE best coffee in town! even for those like me, who usually like tea…), a dear friend and wise man, Rabbi Avrohom Susskind of Novi-Northville center for Jewish life, talked about what makes a day a good day. According to Rabbi Susskind, the definition of a good day is not necessary when everything works as we planned, because in reality, most days do not turn out exactly as we thought they would. A day becomes good when we successfully turn the events to be productive for us, especially when they didn’t follow our expectations.
Allowing ourselves to look beyond our perceived expectations, lifting ourselves up from anything that has not followed these expectations, and appreciating what comes our way while accepting it as part of our lives requires us to shift the way we view reality.
Our perceived expectations from our bodies are that our bodies should function properly all the time, regardless to any external or internal conditions. Our body has its own way to communicate with us, but many times we are too busy to listen. When these messages turn lauder, we then might experience a cold, a pain, an injury, or something worse, anything to make us listen and change what we do. However, probably too often that we should, we do not really listen, as we try to continue our same routine while overcoming a condition. These conditions serve as our teachers, coming to educate us with our individual needs. Perhaps teaching us that our perceived expectations may not always be according to our abilities, simply because we never took the time to discuss the matter with our own body.
Creating the space and the opportunity to listen to our body and respecting its abilities will help us adopt real expectations that match our needs, without feeling disappointed by not achieving the perceived ones. And yes, a castor pack would be an awesome helper in this process.
Perfection is a bridge between our deep heartfelt wishes and our actions.
How many times do we find ourselves miserable because we are doing something that we didn’t really want to do, but “kind of” were forced into doing it? A dear friend and brilliant Oncology Naturopath, Dr. Jen Green ND, FABNO, mentioned a powerful statement – “when I say NO to others, I say YES to me”.
The ability to say “NO” is an acquired art, which requires plenty of practice. With every action we do, we face a choice, even when we are not always aware of it. Unless we are in a position that someone is actually pointing a gun to our heads, we are the ones who decide if we want to do or not to do what’s ahead of us.
It may not always be clear to us, but our job and responsibilities do not include rescuing the whole world. No one needs to be saved by us, even when we absolutely believe that we are the only ones who can help.
Taking ourselves out of the loop of being needed and allowing ourselves to ease peacefully in the awareness of what we really want to do requires work. Starting with small choices – for example asking ourselves simple questions as “what do I want to eat for breakfast?” and following our deep wish to eat exactly what we want. Practicing further with other small choices and growing from there – “Do I want to wear red shirt or green one?”, “Do I want to return this phone call?”, “Do I want to offer my help?”, “Do I want to meet this person today (or ever)?” – while mindfully being honest with ourselves and following our deepest wishes, without fearing the responses of others.
When I learned to say “NO”, I felt very concerned that the other persons would not be able to find another help and obviously they will be angry with me. To my astonishment, nothing happened. The earth kept circling around the sun, and these people moved on and found solutions. Whoa!
Repeating situations like these brought me to a wider thinking about the people I want to surround myself with. It was a slow and painful process realizing that our hearts work in both ways, which have to be balanced all the time: Our hearts send out blood and then receive blood back, and it cannot function properly if it would manifest only one of these tasks. Yes, we give from our hearts, and yes, we have to allow ourselves to receive into our hearts. No matter what relationships we are involved with – each relationship has to be balanced with both giving and receiving aspects. Each giving/receiving depends on the ability of the persons involved, and no matter how big or small the gesture is (a deep gratitude or a deep willingness to be there for us when we need is perfectly awesome), but it needs to exist.
And as Dr. Green mentioned, learning to say “NO” to situations that are not balanced means that we are honoring our own deepest wishes and heartfully saying “YES” to turn them into actions.
Perfection is the true meaning of who we are.
We are all different from each other in so many ways – the way we look, the way we think, the way we move… There is no way for us to be exactly like someone else. No matter how hard we try.
I recently read a quote, attributed to Albert Einstein: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Intuition is a very deep unique component within us, which offers us a direction in life, many times without a reasonable explanation. Following our intuition requires trust, that this irrational action, which we have no way to explain or reason with, is the best way for us to act upon.
Finding the courage to trust our intuition rises up from a commitment to an internal communication, since our intuition is not actually manifesting in words. Becoming aware of the sights our eyes choose to see, of the sounds our ears choose to hear, or of the direction our legs choose to move (or stand still) is the first sign of grasping our intuitive mind. Trust will follow as we allow ourselves to move further from the state of fight-or-flight which became a constant in our modern life, and relax into a calmer state. Castor packs? For sure! and any other way that can help us slow down to a peaceful state of mind.
Learning to trust our intuition and follow it, regardless to how our actions are perceived by others or how others decide to act, will help us connect internally with who we are and who we aspire to be.
We can meet ourselves exactly at the place we are at this moment.
As we tend to compare ourselves to others around us, we might try to match our pace and lifestyle to theirs, even if many times we are not fully capable of doing so at that moment. A dear friend and inspiring yoga teacher, Julie Stulberg, used to mention in her pre-Covid classes at the gym, that every yoga class is a practice. Each day, each hour, each moment is different than the ones prior to them, and we may not be able to do the same things as we did before – we might be able to do more or less, depending on our state at that particular moment. Forcing our bodies into something that is beyond their abilities at this moment might result in an injury.
Taking this statement out of the yoga room into our real life may help us meet ourselves exactly at the place we are at this moment.
Meeting ourselves at the place we are at the moment may even allow us to feel and express deep gratitude and appreciation to everything we are able to do at every moment of our lives.
Removing the final “if” out of the title question of this article and turning this question into a powerful statement reveals that perfection really exists. My definition would be completely different than the common one, yet, this definition is the perfect one for me. Our perfection has no dependency on anyone around us. Setting our minds to act from our own deepest intentions and not as a response to other’s actions will help us be as perfect as we can be. Statements like “Nothing is perfect” will become irrelevant since each and every one of us is perfect in their own way, and we cannot regard everyone under the same profile.
Taking the time to create an internal dialogue between us and our bodies, will allow us to appreciate our uniqueness and to understand that this is the only perfection we should be seeking. Only then, we can find the courage to take the “if”s out of our lives, and can clearly see that everyone around us is neither more nor less perfect than we are. And that vision by itself makes us the most perfect we can ever be.
Just before 2019 ended, I wrote my blog “What does it take to follow our dreams?“, where I mentioned that our family keeps a tradition of writing our intentions for the up coming year and revisiting them again by the end of the year, while setting new intentions further.
Then, 2020 began…
Reordering every familiar sense of security for so many of us.
I am pretty sure that none of us had the courage to dream the realities we have experienced through 2020…
By the end of 2019, we drafted our intentions for 2020, as we always do, but never got the chance to print them out to hang them on the wall. This process kept being delayed with different excuses until the drafted papers had mysteriously vanished, and we cannot find them anywhere now. 2020 turned out to be a missing year on our intentions wall, as no one of us remembers what we wrote back then on that paper.
Could this mean that none of our dreams would be possible to be achieved?
Or could this be a blank offering from universe which provides us with an open proposal containing endless opportunities, none of them limited to our personal thinking? And could dreaming be still regarded as an option within all the challenges we are encountering?
2020 has presented us with many challenges, rising from dealing with the unknown: uncertainties about basic security needs, health, money & human relationship concerns, fears, anxieties, limitations and many other issues as well.
During the summer of 2020 (and still continuing now), Rabbi Avrohom Susskind from Chabad Jewish Center of Novi, a very wise man who seems to say exactly what I need to hear every time he speaks, has been offering “Jewish Caffeine for the Week”, discussing weekly topics corelating to the Torah portion of the week. One of the topics, while we were still in quarantine was about the challenges we are encountering this year. Rabbi Susskind mentioned that the best way to overcome a challenge is by rising above it.
According to Rabbi Susskind, rising above the challenge is an acquired skill that requires a routinely practice of reflection. Practice of stopping our daily runs and tapping into our soul. By taking a pause from our busy schedule, we can reflect on our soul and understand what is really important to us. We can understand what has real value in our lives, and what is just a distraction. When we understand this differentiation between what’s important and what’s not, we will be less overwhelmed by any challenge that presents itself to us. When we regularly tap into our soul, we go slowly through a process of spiritual growth which activates our inner energy, giving us the permission and power not allow the challenge to define who we are.
With all the challenges that 2020 has presented us, this year also offered us this rare opportunity to stop everything and tap into our souls. Reflecting upon the differentiation between what we perceive as important and what really is. Reflecting upon what will serve us on our healing journey and what will just interfere. Reflecting upon our real selves – who genuinely we want to be.
This year we have been required to lower our social commitments, which threw many of us far away from our comfort zone. And yet, could this have been an opportunity to review our list of friends and make priorities according to our needs? Could this have been a window for us to discover nature, which many of us were too busy to benefit from the outdoors before? Could we have been granted a rare wonderful gift – the gift of reflection? The price of this gift might be on the higher scale, but would we really appreciate this gift if we would not have to invest so much effort receiving it?
2020 had provided me with a lot of time to do NOTHING (explained in my blog – What makes us care so well for others but much less well for ourselves). Few years ago, when I started to do NOTHING for a whole hour every morning, It was astonishing to notice how, by the end of the day, I managed to finish all my planned tasks much faster and much more efficient than I did before. I became more focused. I started to understand priorities. I understood what really requires my attention and what is just noise. I also realized that only when I learned the art of doing NOTHING I discovered that I exist.
Extending the time of doing NOTHING this year allowed me to deepen my understanding of my wishes and dreams. One of the most profound revelations for me was to realize that when I create a vision or a dream about the reality I wish to live in, I do not invent anything new. I simply open my eyes to see the opportunities universe has to offer me. And by allowing my eyes to open, I allow these opportunities to enter my life. These opportunities are waiting patiently for me, for the moment I will take the time and permit myself to seek for them. Understanding that every wish and every dream, that I dare visioning, is real, made me realize that the only thing that can stop those dreams from happening are my own closed eyes. My own closed eyes are the only thing which can stop my dreams of coming true!!! So why, on earth, would I want to keep walking with my eyes closed?
Opening my eyes to see a reality that I wish to live it, makes my life a great place to be in. This does not stop challenges from presenting themselves to me. This does not color every life event in bright light. But it does make my life authentic and real: allowing myself to experience the full range of human emotions without the need to hide my feelings, allowing myself to say YES to what feels right for me and to say NO when it does not resonate with my needs, and allowing myself to follow my intuition regardless of how it is perceived.
Embracing this phenomenal opportunity, which has been offered us this year, to start deepening our understanding of ourselves and start learning how to allow ourselves to accept who we are without judgement, may help us shift the energy and intentions we invest in any challenge.
Deepening the connection to our own selves can help us find the courage to open our eyes to the reality we wish to live in. The choice to open our eyes or to keep them closed is ours only. This choice has no dependency on anything around us. Ant yet, this choice is so influential that it has the power to establish our willingness to invest the energy to rise above and create an opportunity out of any challenge we encounter.
And yes, a castor oil pack would be imperial in this whole process……
May we allow 2021 to be as powerful as 2020 has been! May we allow our eyes to open and our hearts to receive all the opportunities universe has to offer, including those we ever dare to dream possible! And may we all enjoy everything we allow ourselves to see!!
Happy Holidays to us all!!!!
Happy, Healthy and Dreamy 2021!!