Getting to the Root

Solar Term 21 | Dec 6 – Dec 20

Low Expectations

It was a grey day, windy and cold, with just a dusting of snow on top of ice. It was the kind of day where it was hard to be outside. Even walking was a challenge on the trail after being beaten up with frozen footprints from a repeated freeze/melt cycle.

As I walked along, I was aware of how little nature had to offer at the moment, with its short days, weak sunlight, and bare branches. But I was slightly surprised when I checked in with myself about these qualities. I felt at ease with the simplicity of low expectations.

Stripped Bare

We live in a time of high expectations. In the clinic, I see how high expectations can cause great suffering. Listening, I observe how they tie people in knots, causing them to lose perspective about what they want and need.

At these moments, I think of returning to the qualities of nature. Like the trees, I had a sense of stripping bare down to my essentials. What do I want? What are the beliefs I have around high expectations? Are they healthy? How do they influence the world around me?

Belief Systems

Our overall health is often the result of our interaction with the outside world. In the clinic, I talk with people about where our inside meets the outside. This interaction happens physically with the immune system, including our skin and the mucosal membranes that line our sinuses, mouth, and entire GI system.

However, it is primarily the interaction of our Minds and our “Belief Systems” that have the most influence. What we believe, what we consider reality, truth or fact profoundly impacts how we perceive and respond to the world.

Belief systems and mental structures are the stories that we tell ourselves. These beliefs result from inheritance, conditioning, and personal emotional history. In the clinic, I hear a lot of opinions expressed about the body – for example, bitterness, resentment, and anger towards the body for no longer functioning at the level it once did.

The Root of all Disease

These beliefs, stories, and opinions become the root of all disease because most of these emotional experiences are retained in the body, causing further energetic and organic disturbances. The words penetrate deeply and create subtle wounds that fester over time. One day we are triggered by an emotion, a virus, a vaccine, etc., and we are riddled with disease. While treating the physical body is essential, ultimately, we must remove the initial cause – the mental structure and belief must be changed. This is called “Mindfulness” or “Cultivation of the Mind.”

What is most important in the treatment of an individual is
the cultivation of the mind. Zhang Jiebin (17th c.)

Transforming Your Mind

One aspect of cultivating the Mind is examining our belief systems. This is the process through which habitual mindsets are transformed. This allows for the emotional experiences that are retained in the body to shift. It also offers a broader view of reality.

The first step is to notice the stories you tell yourself or the language you use to refer to your body. Looking at the stories, notice if they are rooted in an inherited expectation or belief. Perhaps it is a conditioned belief based on the influence of the world around you. Or does it come from something that happened in the past that you continue to feel victimized over?

The next step is to drop it like the trees drop leaves in the fall. Let yourself become stripped bare of all stories, expectations, and beliefs to see what you really want based on who you are at the core.

Influencing the World

When we suffer, it is easy to lose sight of how it affects others. The bitterness, resentment, shame, rage, fear, or whatever emotion you are experiencing impacts those around you.

The trick is that you have to get to the hard stuff. Some beliefs are easy to recognize and change, but the ones you hold onto dearly are the ones that matter. It can feel scary, induce panic, or make you pissed off when thinking of changing and letting them go. This happens because you have to feel the emotion associated with it, which is triggering. I have held onto a belief that I know is detrimental for weeks because I cannot soften enough to accept the emotions around it. It seems easier to wall it off, store it somewhere, and move on with life. But it has a way of rearing its head in the body as pain, discomfort, and disease.

What would the ripple effect be on those close to you
if you dropped or changed one story about yourself?

Healing Disease by Transforming Beliefs

Healing is a process that involves all aspects of who we are – our Mind and psyche can drive our body, just like the health of our body can drive our Mind. Observing the Mind and the language you use can be the most crucial step in the healing process. It can also be a nice break to have low expectations for once.

Tools for the Mind

Step 1: Examine Your Belief Systems

Habits are primarily fueled by belief systems that are reinforced when we continually respond to the presence of a belief with specific behavior.

Beliefs are purely mental constructs, and it is essential to perceive them as such.

Step 2: Examine Habituated Thought Patterns

Notice your self-talk, particularly around reactions to how your body feels.

Step 3: Break Habituated Thought Patterns by Using Language to Engage the Mind

When your habituated thought patterns come up, here are a couple of things to do to gain a perspective that empowers the freedom to act spontaneously rather than merely in unconscious habituated responses:

  • “thank you for sharing” – thank your mind for having the thought
  • “no” – saying the inner no to our beliefs
  • “its ok” – sometimes we need to reassure ourselves that things really are ok

Step 4: Look for the Ease that Comes After you Release the Thought Patterns

When you change these beliefs and thought patterns, the block from healing disperses, and now you can heal, receive blessings, feel the ease and share the joy.