by Bernie Siegel, MD
Forgive me if in this column I simply share with you some of the things that fascinate me and teach me about myself and life. I was reading about the problem thinking is. Our thoughts and ability to think are what separate us from each other and the true nature of life. When we think we know the truth we become closed minded and very unscientific. A true scientist has no fixed beliefs and so can experiment in the hopes of learning the truth.
We need to truly be open and gain insights into the nature of life so that we can participate fully in the healthiest way. I know our ability to think offers us options but sadly too often the options we choose are destructive ones rather than unifying and healing ones. As we look at our common genome we will see how much we have in common and how we share the same ancestry. What do we need to pay more attention to then thoughts? How do we become rational, sensible human beings?
The song Touch Me from Cats gives us a clue. How do animals think and communicate without words? Not to mention their miraculous physical accomplishments that we cannot come close to. Can you make a spider web? Do you know why it is so strong and adhesive? How do slugs and snails create lubricants that allow them to slide over razor blades without being cut? A lot better than a quart of oil does in our car. I could go on but I think you get the point.
They have wisdom and can be taught language but they know that symbols and feelings are more important then thoughts. When we think we become irrational. ‘Think’ how often your thoughts have gotten you into trouble. The times you knew what your mate, friend, boss, coworker, relative etc. was thinking only to learn you were wrong and what ensued because of your mistaken beliefs.
What do I recommend? What the song tells us and what I always finish my articles with. Keep in touch. Touch is about feelings and feelings can’t be wrong. They are simply feelings. How we react to them may be a problem because when we start thinking about our feelings and why we are feeling the way we are and who is responsible etc. we are back in trouble. You are responsible for your feelings. No one else makes you feel what you do. You have choices and options but most of us would rather blame someone else for our problems then empower ourselves and take responsibility for our feelings and move on.
If you want to take charge of your life and live in the moment then accept your feelings as your creation and let them guide you. You will find that living that way gives you a different sense of time because you will change the way you live when you live in your body and not your head. Do we need to think at times? Yes, when we are evaluating experiments, options and choices that our feelings open us up to but my response is that when you are making decisions let your feelings be your guide.
Your choice in difficult times is to change your attitude or your life. When you do you will no longer feel badly about whatever it was that had been bothering you. Even your pain will be something that you learn from and meaningful pain is always controllable. I only ask that you give it a try and see how your life works out when feelings become more significant than thoughts. I know that for some that will be difficult. Jung classified four types thinking, feeling, sensing and intuitive. However, we are all capable of being aware of our bodies no matter what personality type we are. So feel and touch and live fully.
One word of caution from a lesson I just learned. I was feeling a bit depressed, lacking in motivation, experiencing headaches and was wondering what was wrong in my life that had me feeling this way. Hey, that’s my thing to evaluate and learn from my problems. Well I came up with some ideas but that didn’t change anything.
Then I noticed a sensitive spot on my anterior thigh enlarge and become purple in color. I thought I must have bumped against something but when it enlarged further and I continued to feel poorly I went to a doctor friend because I was getting suspicious about the diagnosis. Sure enough I had Lyme Disease and one days worth of antibiotics had all my symptoms and feelings reversing themselves. I now feel better and realize that there are times that physical problems can lead to feelings that make us aware of an illness or affliction.
My word of advice is to pay attention to all your feelings and evaluate them. Don’t think you know all the answers. There is a wisdom of the body that exceeds the wisdom of the mind. Like our animal friends the intuitive wisdom comes more from our feelings and their communication then our thoughts.
If you don’t think your thoughts and feelings transmit intention to others and are felt and known by others you have a lot to learn. A friend and animal intuitive in California was able to locate our lost cat in Connecticut by getting into her feelings, thoughts and the sights she was seeing but that is another long story that has helped change my relationship and ability to communicate with living things how I feel about them. It has helped me get along much better with our chickens, cats, dogs and rabbits. If I keep at it I’ll soon be able to do the same thing with my wife, children and their families.