“The essence of the DOC process is simply chilling out and moving on. One cannot happen without the other. This is a corollary of the other basic principle that it is important to move forward with your life with or without your pain. If you are waiting for your pain to abate before you live your life, the pain is running the show. Paradoxically, as you move forward there is a much higher chance your pain will decrease or disappear.
The final and most important thought is that there is no goal to the DOC program. People often become overwhelmed with all of the exercises and other books to read. The “goal” of this journey is to connect with day and moment you are in with the tools you posses. You will become more skilled with them over time but there is also no endpoint. You can fully engage right this second by simply placing your attention on what is in front of you and becoming aware of your reaction. Welcome to your new life.”
These are the last two paragraphs of the new edition of my book. Several years ago I was struggling with my ongoing quest to become a better person. I was intent on fixing myself, but it suddenly occurred to me that there was no endpoint. The picture that jumped into my mind was that of the repeating circus mirrors where there is no end to the images that are produced just by the angles of mirrors reflecting off of each other. I was continually judging myself and looking for the one answer that would permanently change my life. I was an “epiphany addict.” I realized that the answer to my conundrum was that there was not an answer. I had to live my life with the tools I had at the moment, regardless of my pain. I began to heal – really heal. I had to give up, let go, and enjoy my day.
The endless climb
Another metaphor that has come out of my journey is that of climbing a high, steep mountain and at the peak is the ideal version of me. The problem is that this rendition of me is unattainable. I had been climbing for many years, which was consuming much of my life’s energy. The other picture that arose in my mind was that of a bunch of balloons tied to a railing. The strings represented the numerous reactive patterns that kept me tied to the past and blocking me from enjoying the present. I realized that the DOC process was effectively cutting the strings. I was able to break free and float upward, which consumes no energy.
Patients frequently ask how how long it takes to become free of their pain. It can happen in the next five minutes or in a year. It depends when you are able to re-connect with best part of who you are. I did not understand that this was possible until my wife, a professional tap dancer, my daughter, an expressive arts therapist, Dr. Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good, and I put on several five-day workshops at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. It was based on structure, hope, forgiveness and play. Within a day or so after we began to relax to the point of laughing with each other, most of the participants had a significant decrease in their pain. The Cup Song Some had a delayed response months later. Everyone went back into their pain pathways when they returned home to their triggers. But many continued to practice the tools to stay connected with themselves and have remained out of chronic pain for years. Many of the turnarounds are dramatic. Your play pathways are right there. You can find them in the next few minutes, pain or no pain. Anger disconnects; play connects.
I still have good days and bad days. Good months and bad months. I am steadily getting better at using the tools that I present to others and also realize it is a lot easier to talk about them than practice them. My issue is that I take myself too seriously and there is only so much that I can do. I have not been great in taking care of myself and that is my first responsibility, as it is yours.
Begin your new life – NOW
Take five or ten minutes and become aware of your current approach to life. Start with active meditation and place your attention on sensations and relax. Remember a time when you were happy and free – even if it was for a short period of time. Then decide to connect with that part of your brain for the rest of the day. You may not initially succeed or perhaps it may happen for a few moments. It is an exercise that will improve with practice. Then contrast this energy with your life when you are justifiably angry about your circumstances. Think about how you appear to your family and friends when you are upset versus when you have a big smile on your face. Most of us cannot change or control the majority of situations we get stuck in. We are able to choose our responses. The mirror maze effect can drive you and your family into the ground or carry you forward to a great life. Protect your family from your pain
These concepts have existed for thousands of years and are are universal truths. I feel privileged that I have had the opportunity to pass my interpretation of them to others.