Your brain changes every second and will evolve in whatever direction you choose. The term for this phenomenon is called, “neuroplasticity.” It is important to decide what you want in your life and what you want it to look like. As you pursue your vision, your nervous system will respond in kind. If you want to spend your energy trying to fix yourself, that is where your attention is focused, and you might as well stick your hand into a hornet’s nest. Another metaphor is driving down the freeway looking only into the rear view mirror.
Where is your attention?
Do you want more play in your life? Are you sure? Many people become so used to pursuing a cure or fix for their pain, that it becomes such a habitual behavioral pattern that you may not be aware of how attached you are to it.
There are two parts to this story. The first one is that you can’t fix yourself, because your focus is still on the problem. The harder you try, the worse it will become. It’s a consistent experience. Your body chemistry will remain out of balance, and there are many physical symptoms that stem from the effects on the various body organs. The second, and most critical aspect of healing, is learning the methods to auto-regulate your body’s chemistry, which also has profound effects on your organ systems resulting in a marked decrease in physical symptoms and improves your over sense of well-being.
One of the most effective ways of achieving this state of being is to nurture a sense of play in almost every aspect of your life. It is a choice you can make daily with or without your pain. If you are waiting for the pain to disappear first, you’ll be waiting a long time. The pain is center stage and where your nervous system will experience an increase in the complexity and strength of these unpleasant circuits. (1)
We discovered the play concept many years ago during our annual Omega Institute workshop, “Relief from Chronic Pain.” We held the first one in 2013. It was before I had any concept of how the body chemistry had such a profound effect on creating mental and physical symptoms. I did have a basic understanding of neuroplasticity, and also knew that social isolation creates similar symptoms to those of people suffering from chronic pain. The seminar is based on awareness, hope, forgiveness and play. The intention was to create a structured, enjoyable shared experience.
Re-connecting with play, people and life
My wife, Babs, is a professional tap dancer. Rhythm is second nature to her. We didn’t attempt to dance, but worked on some basic rhythm in the form of “The Cup Song” and a few other simple steps. Most of us were rather inept at learning these skills (there were some notable exceptions) but we began to laugh. It was clear that this wasn’t a high-stakes game and we just had some fun. Many participants had a shift in mood, and some experienced a significant decrease in their pain. Even more had improvement months later because I think their nervous system had reconnected with having fun. Fun gets buried in the morass of pain. They were able to practice the tools unique to them to get back to that spot.
The healing process is paradoxical. Before you can move forward you have to let go. You can’t truly play if you are angry and the more legitimate your anger, the harder it is to process it. So, a significant part of the weekend is focused on forgiveness.
Both play and forgiveness are processes that have different roles and impact on a given day. Even if you can’t forgive for a while, make an empirical choice to play. We do know that actively engaging in fun will change your mood – whether you want to or not. This poem was recently sent to me and reflects some core healing concepts.
When I Dance
“When I dance
I cannot judge,
I cannot hate,
I cannot separate
myself from life.
I can only be joyful
That is why
~ Hans Bos
That is why
When I judge
Separate myself from life
I cannot dance.
Reply from my friend
We would love to meet you this year at our 2019 workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY being held from Friday evening, June 7thuntil Sunday noon, June 9th.
So whatever form it takes – just dance!!