Lets say you have a pot on the stove….and that the water is boiling. But you don’t want the water to boil. So you look at your fridge and you say, “hmmmmmm….I think I’ll add some ice to that water so it stops boiling.” Will this work? Sort of. It will temporarily drop the temperature just below the threshold of boiling. The water will, in fact, stop boiling. For a little bit.
A few minutes will pass and, yeppers, you guessed it, the water will boil again. So, this isn’t a great sustainable solution. BUT….you have plenty of ice. So, again and again, we keep putting ice into the water. Its not boiling. The water is hot, but at least its not boiling.
And how many of us do this? We have pain of any variety: headaches, we are tired (all the time), our backs hurt, we procrastinate, we feel disconnected, we have digestive problems, we can’t seem to complete tasks, we feel unfulfilled as if we are trudging through the motions of life wondering where that child-like sense of curious playfulness went. It feels like our gas tasks are empty, but, we reason, this is what it is like when you have lots of stress. Oh yeah, and this is just “getting old.” So, to stop the discomfort, we keep the water from boiling over. We keep adding ice to the pains and discomfort of our lives. In a way, it keeps us together. In its own way, we survive and push on. And if that is all you want, great. You can stop reading here. You can get really fancy ice and have fun.
And yet, there is something more, isn’t there? What would it be like to simply take the pot off the burner, turn down the stove, and let the water easily and naturally, without effort, return to room temperature. Sure, it might take a while, but eventually the water will cool….and it will stay that way. Unless you have some freaky water that boils on its own, it will stay cool. And, lets take this a step further, what if that was what we could do with our lives. What if we could actually completely stop masking the deeper problem and completely change the game? What if it is the unresolved physical, emotional, and chemical stress that is the problem and all the “problems” that we see are just signals from our body and brain begging to get our attention TO TAKE THE POT OFF THE STOVE!
The challenges with TAKING THE POT OFF THE STOVE are many. Lets be real. First, this means we are responsible. We are responible for our life and our health and to take responsibility takes courage. It takes trust. And it means that we might have to make changes that we don’t want to make. Second, it might take some time. It might take some investment of energy, time, focus, and maybe even money. Yikes. Third, it means that most external solutions are not sustainable….and yet, that is contrary to what we have been taught by our doctors, teachers, and preachers. We learned that health + happiness comes from outside. Our whole economy is built on it. Its a very convenient un-truth. Its convenient becuase we can couch surf through life…until that way of doing things breaks down.But at least its convenient. Until its not. And it will break down. Because you are so much more than that. By Many orders of magnitude.
Keep playing this out. What happens if this keeps playing out day after day, month after month, year after year. Eventually we get to a point where we either run out of ice or it stops working and we can’t manage it anymore. Or, perhaps we just get so tired of having to constantly manage our lives to barely keep it all together. After a while its exhausting. And its not very fun either. We get sick and tired of being sick and tired. We don’t want to keep going back to the ice, but we don’t know what to do next.
And then there comes a point where through pain or grace or meeting someone like me where you see there is another way. We get it that if we change ourselves and our accumulated stress that we become different people – that we heal the damage at the source, we stop recreating problems in the future, and we start to have a pretty unbelievable quality of life. We stop doing, thinking, and believing the things that were literally shooting us in the foot…and the water comes right back to its normal temperature.
Fundamentally changing how we relate to stress – literally upgrading our body and mind – is analogous as taking water off the flame. When we listen to what our body is saying rather than throwing distraction, medication, or any variety of ways to numb out, then something profound happens. Not only can our bodies heal themselves, but our minds and emotions can also come into a great balance. We CAN feel the joy of a healthy, flexible pain free body and a worry free mind. We can live with what Joseph Campbell calls, “The Rapture of Being Alive.”
And here is the punch line. Unlike adding ice, this IS sustainable. Sure, its a decision to stop and do something different, to really do the great work of healing your life, your body, and your mind. Yet, this is where sustainable happiness, health, and growth comes from. This is TRUE convenient truth.
You may think me crazy, but I submit that every challenge any of us have is a call to change. To grow up, grow out, and grow in. And the beauty of it is that in the process of the fundamental change required you can find everything you were actually looking for all along. In the final analysis, this IS the easier, softer, and happier way to go. And the foundational solution is the same, right here in Charlotte NC, whether it is for sciatica, headaches, neck pain, or chronic fatigue.
Bottom line – we have two choices. Option one: Keep doing what we have done and I promise you you’ll get what you have always got. Option two: Stop. Pay Attention. DO something different.