Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Inside You There Are Worlds

Today a guest blog by Therese Doherty

Through cyberspace I came across the work and writing by Therese Doherty. Our thoughts and experiences and views of the world: the world of illness, creativity, nature and writing are following in a similar path. Although worlds apart geographically. South East Ireland for me and the Blue Mountains north West of Sydney for Therese. 
Enjoy these wonderful wise words.

Inside You There Are Worlds 

The flight of the imagination. The inner landscapes which have no limit. The seasons of life.

These things are liberating, wonder-inducing, life-enhancing.

It took me a long time to make these discoveries, however. Living with CFS from a young age disturbed my development, such that I have been embarrassingly slow to learn many things. Illness clouded my mind and made me withdraw from life—a necessity, perhaps, until I was ready to re-emerge.

But, what I have found is that it is never too late to begin again. At any time you can start to rewrite your life story, and change the details, so that you come back out into the light, the heroine or hero of your own tale, rather than remaining in the shadows.

The most powerful way to rewrite your life story is, literally, to write it. Ask yourself: Who were you before you got sick? Who did you become afterwards, willingly or otherwise? Who would you prefer to be now? Write it down, draw pictures, record your voice—make a document that is part-memory, part-dream.

I wrote my life story, and it changed me. It helped me to make sense of many things, and it was as though I grew up, put away bad habits and negative beliefs, and got closer to who I am meant to be.  I began to understand myself better, which has made me kinder and gentler with myself. This is not a cure, by any means, but it is a necessary step on the way to healing.

Writing can be therapeutic. You can rant and rave as much as you like, and because it is private, no one will ever know. But at least your angers and frustrations and negativities are out on the page or computer screen, instead of festering inside you. This is step one.

Step two is to take things further, to turn negative thoughts around. This requires believing in the power of words. So, if you find yourself writing (or even thinking) about being weak or hopeless, or any of the other thoughts and feelings that can come to us when we are not feeling well, then start to reverse them. You are not weak, you are strong. You are not hopeless, you are full of possibility. Write them in the present tense: ‘I am strong’ (rather than ‘I will be strong’). Try it. You might be surprised just how much effect writing, or saying, such things can have on how you feel.

Step three is just to keep going. Keep writing. It will help. Just give it time. If you keep up with it long enough you may find you get to the point where stories emerge, or poems; at the very least, you will come across solutions to problems, or wise insights that bring you to a better understanding of yourself and the world. This is when you will learn, as I did, that there are worlds inside you.

I mean this. I really do.

Scientists now say that our bodies, like everything else on earth, contain atoms from the beginning of time and the origins of our universe. The elements that form our physical makeup are the same ones that constitute the earth as a living body—seawater and volcanic ash, circulating air and the spark of life that is fire—and they rank among the most powerful agents for healing … (Kat Duff, The Alchemy of Illness, 1993, p. 25)

Our bodies and minds—which are not separate entities, but intertwined—contain their own landscapes, ecologies, seasons and wild creatures—and their own wisdom, often unbeknownst to us. We are as old as the universe. We are part tree, part mountain, part cloud, part bird, part star—and all of these elemental parts can help to heal us.

To discover this is truly liberating. For when I am not well, and unable to spend as much time outside as I would like, to connect with the more-than-human world, I can at least journey inwards to connect with the places and beings within. My inner worlds are nothing less than an extension of the outer world. That we are made of the same stuff as the rest of the universe, those same ancient atoms, should make the connection obvious. We are all seperate threads woven into the universe’s tapestry, connected to everything else, and by recognising this it is possible to tap into new sources of inspiration, creativity and wisdom. It is all right inside us.

We can learn to fly on the wings of the imagination. We can go exploring. We can learn to better understand our own inner seasons and rhythms, and then make the most of them in the outer world.

All of this can come from writing, from the power and magic of words. And so it is never too late to begin. Find a notebook, put some loose paper in a folder, or open a new document on your computer. Label the top of the page with today’s date, and write.

Keep writing.

Just remember: Everything you need is already inside you.

Therese Doherty

links and further reading

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