Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: alternative lifestyle (page 1 of 5)

The Healing Power of [Insert Modality or Company Here]

In my world of virtual (and real) friends, I have some who proclaim the wonders of essential oils. I have those who found healing in particular pro-biotics. There are a few who turn to herbs and even more that have changed lifestyles around ways of eating and experienced transformation. I’ve used all of these things in a season of my life – or even all of them in a given day – and have nothing negative to say about them. Use all of the things, I say.

I’m starting to wonder if effectiveness is not only in the science (and I do think there’s evidence to support any of them). I think the particular gift of any life-changing supplement lies in the gift of returning one’s personal power. We get to play a role in deciding the direction for our lives.

Listen to the stories of the believers (even my own testimonials) and you hear the undertones: “I had tried everything.” “I spent millions of dollars visiting all of the doctors.” “I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning, but now I have the energy of a thousand racehorses.” Finally, something worked, and that magic sparked a belief in a new power at their fingertips.

I’ll maintain that it is partially about the product. These are not placebos. But if you’re wondering why your FB friends won’t just get over the magical snake oils already, the reason is partially their regained health and a whole lot of they reasserted their own power to decide. They’re no longer victims to this fallen, eczema-induced world, but co-conspirators to its transformation. I’ve noticed that the most financially successful products are the ones that remind people they can also earn a living while helping sound the bell for other people to regain their freedom. (This isn’t a bad thing. The world needs more free people.)

We feel powerlessness in our bodies. Illnesses that won’t go away. Babies that won’t stop crying or start sleeping (God, save us all). We feel hostage to our thoughts that won’t subside and havoc-wrecking habits. When you feel rotten, the powerlessness is nearly as overwhelming as the expressing symptoms. (Ahem, grief. I’m looking at you, October.)  Modalities that say, “hey, you have a choice” have the the double-positive effect of not just easing symptoms but reminding us of our voice. We’re no longer dependent on someone else to give us what we need*.

As the body, so the soul. 

What if our issues aren’t just skin deep? Maybe it’s actually reversed. Perhaps we feel so powerless in our life that it begins seeping out of our skin. Treatments, products, even yoga practices – they help our illnesses and they restore the soul because, Oh yeah!That’s right, I’m not a puppet in someone else’s play.

This, my friends, is the power of faith. I wonder if this might be what is behind Jesus’ repeated words, “Your faith has healed you.” I have to wonder about his tone of voice. Did he say it with an air of “do you see what you just did there?”

Like my oils and herbs, I’m not about to erase the power of God in these healing stories. Yet, I’ve been reading the gospels with this lens,  and I have to pause. When looking at people living in political- and religious-induced victim situations, Jesus gives them courage to assert their power, without demanding  they necessarily upend the entire structure of society. I hear his words in his most famous sermon telling people that when someone punches them in the face, they have the power to turn the other cheek, and with it challenge the character of the man who strikes him. When forced by political oppressors to carry the luggage, they have the volition to keep going, which would bring about reprimand for the soldier who issued the mandate.

There’s something about Jesus and the way he reminds people of their worth and their own intrinsic, given-by-the-act-of-being-born power. He seems to tell them Your response is your birthright. No one can take that away.

We don’t get to choose many of our circumstances. We don’t get to choose other people’s behavior. Certain institutional structures seem to be out of reach. But we do have our response. Even choosing not to respond is a choice we get to make.

And if you really want to exert your power, love anyways.

 

 

*Unless we become dependent on a product or practice. Then we mistakenly hand over our power again. Don’t do that.

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All In

A few things that people who know me well will attest to:

  1. I hate cold and rain. I choose my OSU football game attendance based on these things.
  2. I’m a fair-weather runner. See above.
  3. I love food.

Based on the evidence above, my current state of bliss seems unmerited.

This week I’ve been taking on a seasonal reset, enjoying a mono-diet of kitchari and juice and little else. I even went All In and gave up the coffee and subsequently gave myself the side eye. Can I tell you about the first 2 days of such cleanliness of eating? Misery. Anger. Haze. Tiiiiirrrreeeeeddddd.

I reminded myself that everything is temporary, that I would soon eat foods I love again, and stopped checking Instagram. (Y’all post a lot of food. Please stop.) I ranted to all my closest (and even furthest) friends about my dissatisfaction.

Last night I turned a corner after the last dose of green juice. This morning I was slated to run hills for an upcoming half marathon for which I’m training trying to prevent myself from dying. It was 48°, overcast, and I hate running anything but a straight, flat line. Yet here I was, per my sister’s training instructions, running the same steep hill 10 times.

By hill #3 I was tired. And then, it started to rain. You guys. I hate cold and wet. Instead of quitting, like I wanted to do when denying myself a sandwich, I decided go All In.  To simply be present to each step. Instead of zoning out with daydreams and my music, I tuned into the push/pull action of my hamstrings and quadriceps. I told myself, “it’s just rain.” And eventually, it stopped. Or, I stopped noticing. To me, it’s the same thing.

 “What we discipline is not our “badness” or our “wrongness.” What we discipline is any form of potential escape from reality. In other words, discipline allows us to be right here and connect with the richness of the moment.” – Pema Chodron

I love this new take on discipline; I’m not just training myself to crave better things, though it is a delightful side effect. And I’m not just preparing my body to run faster or farther, although that, too, will come in handy on April 29. The discipline is to bring myself into my body, instead of believing everything my mind tells me, such as “this is hard” or “I’m going to dissipate if I don’t eat something else!”

The food I missed, the ease of flat trails – these are things I use to avoid feeling the moment. They’re familiar and I’m able to live on autopilot while I engage them. But limiting my intake (this week included the media and the social/emotional stimulus as well as food) gave me a chance to process. It had a chance to move through me, and I felt it. I couldn’t numb it with familiarity. And letting it go, working through it instead of around it, provided me new freedom.

I feel really good today. Sore, tired, and a tad hungry – but good. I’ve remembered what it was like to feel. I gifted myself the experience of now, knowing full well that now is fleeting.

This week has become a deeper glimpse into what I’ve meant by, “listen to the inner wisdom of your body.” The discipline goes beyond craving familiar and comforting and into the world of being present to what is real. Right here, right now.

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The Crack in the Middle

I went to bed before Ohio had even 1% precincts reporting and awoke to some minor chaos. My best commentary comes from Krista Tippett’s new book, Becoming Wise, in a section highlighting her interview with Francis Kissling:

“You have got to approach differences with this notion that there is good in the other. That’s it. And that if we can’t figure out how to do that, and if there isn’t the crack in the middle where there’s some people on both sides who absolutely refuse to see the other as evil, this is going to continue.”

This is our work. If your preferred candidate is going home or to the White House, change will only arise if we keep that crack in the middle, the people – of both sides – who refuse to see the other as evil.

Those who voted for Trump might be tempted to gloat and use victory of evidence of right-ness. Those who voted for Hillary or any other party might be tempted to question the moral character of their neighbor or our collective  nation. Both of these reactions create space in the mind to believe that the people we live with and among are not in some way good, which will get us nowhere. In another four years, we will find ourselves at the exact same place of divisiveness and anger.

Those who voted for the next president are not evil. Those who did not vote for the next president are not evil. In times of question, concern, frustration or celebration, the hardest place to be – and in my opinion, the most vital to humankind – is the crack in the middle.

 

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