I was visiting with a patient who reported that she had yet to started looking into the dietary recommendations that I had made for her. I was curious about what prevented her from moving forward in the recent health goals she had set for herself. So, I asked her about her inner voice and the dialogue that ensues; “What does that voice usually say to you?”. She replied, “That I will fail.” I then inquired where that voice of criticism and fear of failure was coming from and she responded, “From me”. I asked her to go deeper and find out if that voice was a critical one from the past. She immediately said, “From my mother.”
This came from a woman who sat in front of me with flat affect, sunken, downcast eyes, and drawn in shoulders. I asked her, “When was the last time she had felt joy?” She could not remember and replied almost as a question, “Sometime… maybe as a child?”.
I then asked her to start observing her inner dialogue and what it is saying, without judgement or criticism. Just observe. “Be gentle with yourself”, I instructed. With this she started crying and her shoulders relaxed. I also asked her to start practicing being in the present moment and not in the past or the future; in the now. She started laughing with familiarity of being in the former states. We discussed the practice of observing her surroundings and being grateful for the things in her life that give her joy and peace. We looked out the window and I pointed out how I practice being aware of the beauty of nature and, in this case, the deep green lustrous leaves of the holly tree outside my window or the robin sitting on the downed tree branch beside the holly. We discussed taking deep breaths while observing these things and being grateful for our breath and beating heart.
I visited with her about finding and seeing that deep inner beauty that makes her uniquely her. The light within which brings her peace and joy, that is free from judgement, criticism, and fear of failure. We discussed that through observation of her inner dialogue (her minds chatter processing past, present and future) and becoming aware that this was not her true, deep self, she could then distinguish herself from her mind and begin hearing her true inner self. This would be her state of perpetual joy.
I love the quote, “Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God.” It is my experience and observation that becoming truly aware of this stream of infinite energy, creativity and life, that peace and joy can exist deep within.
Anna Colombini, ND