Words of Wellness – November 2013

When Opportunity Knocks

By Bera Dordoni, N.D.

A wild month, indeed.

It started with a freak snowstorm on October 10 that froze our Ramah gardens with high winds actually blew the trains off the tracks in some places!  Here on the mountain our power was knocked out for almost 24 hours and our phones for nearly six days.

Was it the storm or just fate that made my computer choose this exact time to get corrupted? I suppose everyone and everything can catch a virus. Maybe its hard drive got chilled, or one of its wires got shocked. Perhaps I should have put a hat on its monitor until things blew over – which they were literally doing outside.

Our precious special-needs rescue dogs weren’t ready for winter to hit so early. 21-year-old Zeus fell down a flight of icy steps. Don’t worry, he’s okay. You don’t live to 147 without learning how to weather a storm!

But wait, there’s more . . .

The icy waters flooded our garage, destroying many of our building materials.  As the challenges piled higher and my mood grew darker, a promotional ad flashed through my mind: “Come to the BASTIS Health Retreat to relax, learn about your immune system, and help dig out the living room . . .”

Was I short-tempered with everyone and everything?  Oh, yeah.  As a former nightclub entertainer, I take amps blowing out, wires short-circuiting, and static-ridden stage monitors in stride. I handle drunken fans, overly friendly owners, and late sidemen without batting an eye. But this?! This nature-gone-wild can’t be fixed by hauling out an extra piece of equipment or firmly removing somebody’s hand from my butt. My subconscious aligned with the storm and started shooting out its own rowdy energy:

Dr. Bera Gallup Journey

. . .when I let the reins of inner strength and courage slip out of my grasp, fear swept in and made me doubt everything I knew to be true . . . (Photo by sukanto debnath)

What if this happens again?
What if we freeze to death out here?
What if something happens to my nearly 95-year-young father and he can’t reach me by phone and I can’t be there for him?
What if we have another bear break-in?
What if one of my critical-care clients needs me and can’t reach me?
What if? What if?? What if??!

But then it hit me: this frightened, kvetchy perspective wasn’t the truth about me! I had forgotten to live in the now – the moment – the only time that actually exists. I was allowing fear to control my state of being. And my fear ran roughshod over my logic, my intelligence, even my innate “knowing” of reality. I was suddenly afraid; for example, that I was getting so far behind I could never catch up – as if having an empty inbox matters in the grand scheme of life!

I was afraid the upcoming winter would be so hard no one would be able to travel up or down our road and my dogs, my husband, and I would all freeze or starve to death – as if we were lost in the wilderness with no one knowing where we were!

Fear, fear, fear.  Ridiculous, wasn’t it? But it was all I was putting out into the universe, so it was all I could hope to get back. Bread cast on the waters may return soggy bread, but fear cast on the waters only returns more fear.

And it sucks.

Fear is paralyzing. We get so wrapped up in our “what ifs” that we can’t move forward, can’t progress or advance in life. Think about it: how many people do you know who’re stuck where they are because they’re afraid of the possible consequences if they do something different, if they dare to think something their parents wouldn’t agree with, if they want to try something that might fail?

Fear is a baby’s first and most primal emotion, after all. It arrives in our life even before love. And if we do not consciously and actively counter it every day, at every moment, it can stop us, hold us in one place, and even push us back – as if things were all that much better yesterday or a decade ago or back in the 1800s.

And it had gotten to me. When I forgot to live in the moment, when I stopped consciously and actively holding onto self-love and acceptance, when I let the reins of inner strength and courage slip out of my grasp, fear swept in and made me doubt everything I knew to be true. Every religion and philosopher since the beginning of recorded history has said the same thing: our lives are a mirror of our thoughts and beliefs. I was living in resistance, so I was bound to experience more resistance. I’d fallen prey to the “what if” terrors, so I was inundated with more and more terrible “what ifs.”

Fortunately, I knew better. I’ve read and I’ve studied and I know in the depths of my soul that I have the power to release any negative thought or feeling I don’t want. Aha! Time to turn this fear state into an opportunity to re-balance my life!

Then, as calm acceptance began to flood my being, I started thinking about all my clients who always express their fears to me. After all, what is the most natural thing to do when a doctor gives us a horrible-sounding diagnosis?  Fear, of course! Paralyzing, thought-obliterating, illogical, unknowing fear. Good grief, we’re gonna die!

Yup. Three out of three of us will. It’s the dash between the years of birth and death that matters: all moments spent living, breathing, loving, doing, singing, laughing, simply being alive.  Time isn’t infinite.  We’re not immortal.  So, why not live as fully as possible until we die?

My journey as a naturopath exposes me to every kind of health condition imaginable: indigestion, cancer, heart disease, crippling arthritis, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, addiction and more.  Most of the people who come to me for help are frightened to the point of submission by their diagnosis. They want to get rid of it by whatever means is fastest: cut it out, burn it out, drug it out; whatever it takes. “Do whatever you need to do!”

What I need to do is help them recognize that their fear is stopping them from thinking, analyzing, researching, and reacting calmly. Their fear is creating the kind of panic that precludes self-actualization or self-direction. “I don’t know enough – you do it!” is the default reaction throughout most of our society. We’ve been taught to give in to our fears and hand over responsibility for our own thoughts, bodies, and even lives to someone else – anyone else who isn’t afraid and therefore probably knows more than we do about how we should live, how we should act, even how we should feel.

Phooey. The knowledge is there if we can release our fears and take back our own lives.

Instead of being frightened by a scary diagnosis like high blood pressure or fibromyalgia or even cancer, suppose we looked at it as an opportunity to change what’s not working in our life or body.

What if:
We approached it as the chance to get some balance back?
We relieve some of our stress?
We get a bit more sleep?
We eat less sugar?
We did a combination of them all?

We can help heal our bodies and re-balance our lives simply by taking positive, conscious action to eliminate the underlying causes. Submitting to the fear of a condition – hurry, hurry! Cut it out, burn it out, drug it out! – only reflects the worst, which is then mirrored back to our lives with more negative conditions and circumstances to fear.

I’ve seen this reality play out over and over again; I’ve lived it over and over again. Enough! That storm and all its challenges and inconveniences – no one here died, after all; nothing was permanently or irreparably damaged – made me sit down and recognize life’s real truth.

When we live in fear, we have cause for fear.
When we live in resistance, we have cause to resist.
When we release our fears – one by one, every day, as they crop up or creep in or peek around the corners of our subconscious – we have the freedom to accept.
When we accept hope, we have cause to hope.
And when we accept joy and comfort, we have cause for joy and comfort.

It took an unexpected, unnerving, isolating weather anomaly to bring home the full blessings of my life, the truth about who I am and the powers I hold.

The powers we all hold.

The storm was a gift to me – an opportunity to stop and breathe and release all my nagging fears, my what-ifs, and remember one of my favorite quotes from Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.:  “Fear is the stumbling block to life’s agenda.”

So, when opportunity knocks at your door, which you know will eventually happen, will you run and hide in fear, missing out on your life’s agenda, or will you embrace this opportunity to bring harmony and balance back into your life?

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