Question for Bernie:
I have a friend who has been chronically ill his entire adult life. His symptoms include facial pain, depression, fatigue, sweats, gastric issues, and many more. Over the years, he has self-diagnosed and has been treated for many things from sinusitis to candida to hypothyroidism. He even extracted several teeth, believing they were causing his systemic illness.
At 60-years-old now, my friend wants to change his approach to the Mind-Body connection and stop self-diagnosing, but doesn’t know where to start. He remains debilitated by pain, discomfort and fatigue. He is also a recovering alcoholic. He hasn’t had a drink in over 30 years. Where should he begin to seek medical and spiritual guidance? And how can I, as a caring friend, help him?
From my book, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, here is Prescription #235:
REFLECTION AND AFFECTION—We are disturbed not by things, but by the view which we take of them. – Epictetus
and the “Soulution of the Day” Every day greet your reflection with affection and acceptance. – Bernie Siegel
Your friend should begin by reading some of my books. Along with having 365 Prescriptions for the Soul providing an inspirational short reading daily, I recommend starting with Faith, Hope, & Healing as well as 101 Exercises for the Soul: Divine Workout Plan for Body, Mind, and Spirit.
I think he should also see a holistic therapist and work with guided imagery and meditation practices. There is an excellent guided imagery CD of mine that could be an excellent beginning entitled Guided Imagery and Meditation with Dr. Bernie Siegel (2 CDs with a total of 89 minutes).
A naturopathic physician using energy healing, acupuncture, and other holistic treatments would be an excellent choice for your friend.
Remind him that he doesn’t need to be sick to ask for love and attention. Many people get that message very early in their lives and get stuck in this negative mindset through no real fault of their own. But when they can make a choice to live more positively, more fully, and seek out help to get there, the rewards include the gift of love coming to them just because they are who they are—not because they have to justify that affection by being in need.
As a caring friend, you can pose suggestions and even gently challenge the negative responses you might initially get. I call it carefrontation.
AA’s slogan of “fake it till you make it” expresses the same idea I suggest to people searching for their authentic selves—rehearse the role and then begin to live it as if in a play. It doesn’t take long before you actually are that authentic self you found within. Finding that authentic self is helped immeasurably by practices like meditation and guided imagery, or creative visualization.
Talk to him about sharing his life with a pet if he is at a point where he can enjoy the sense of responsibility that brings with it—having a loving being totally reliant upon him for its survival. Pets are wonderful because in addition to that heart-melting unconditional love, they can also show us just by that instinctive behavior how to “live in the moment.”
If he can find that holistic therapist, your friend can begin to listen to himself. When he truly hears what he is saying he will change. He will be able to abandon his past, understand and forgive, and finally be free to live.
Question for Bernie:
I just finished reading one of your books and have listened to your wonderful meditation CD. It was just three days ago that I received your CD, but I already have a better feeling about my thoughts.
It has now been more than a year since my partner left me. He was my great love and I thought him to be a very honest and wonderful person. Now I know, however, that he left me because of another woman, a woman he was seeing quite a while before he finally left me for her, but all during that time, I did not know about her. My heart is broken, and I still have problems getting him out of my thoughts.
I would like to live without being so sad. Can you offer me some advice on coping with this very big disappointment?
I thank you most sincerely in advance.
You have the strength within to abandon that part of your past which is making you sad. The choice is yours. Just by finding my website, reading one of my books and starting to meditate, you show great strength and determination to take back control of your life.
As you’ve already discovered, meditation can help to bring you peace. It can teach you how to “live in the moment” which is the secret to happiness.
Many people like to use a mantra when they meditate—a special, short word that has a soothing effect on them when they say it while meditating. You can try that and see if it helps deepen your meditative state—if not, just go back to concentrating on your breathing as a way to relax into a meditative state. Make your mind quiet like a still pond.
If your lifestyle has room and time for a beloved pet, I recommend that as a way to have unconditional love around you daily. Taking care of this loving, dependent being also pulls you out of yourself which helps prevent dwelling on the past—and pets instinctively “live in the moment.” They teach us by example.
The great Chinese philosopher, and Father of Taoism, Lao Tzu, has a wonderful quote that you might find helpful:
Rejoice in the way things are
Be content with what you have
And when you realize nothing is lacking
The whole world belongs to you.
– Lao Tzu