Is what we see and/or experience a true reflection of what we are thinking? A recent visit to a physical therapist highlighted this reality for me in a very interesting way.
I was standing in front of a wall of mirrors while my physical therapist was talking to me about my walk. Actually she was helping me perfect my walk to alleviate some leg and foot pain I’ve experienced.
She asked me to look at myself in the mirrors as I walked towards them, focusing on the placement of my feet and the distance between my legs. I did this once and stopped a foot from my reflection looking at my legs the entire time. I turned and walked back while she explained what I needed to change about myself to reach my goal of living a pain free life. I stood next to her again looking at my body’s reflection.
As we stood side by side and I listened to what she was saying her words began to fade to a dull buzzing noise. I looked towards her trying hard to hear her words and my focus became blurred, my eyes were tearing. Without putting too much into what was going on I began a quick mental check of what my body was experiencing. Blurred vision, buzzing noise in my ears, tightness in my throat and dizziness all added up to a panic attack. I placed my hand on her shoulder drawing her attention back to me and asked her to give me a minute telling her I was having a difficult time focusing on what she was saying. She turned towards me wide eyed and asked if I needed to sit down, to stop. I shook my head and smiled at her. I quietly told her I knew what was going on and understood that it would pass if I just allowed it too. Standing there within seconds the wave of panic was gone.
She continued to look at me expectantly so I smiled and explained briefly my history of suffering Panic Attacks stemming from years of poor self-image coupled with low self-esteem. I told her that I suffered from Anorexia in my early adult years and now I do not spend a lot of time staring at myself in full length mirrors. I quickly explained that I realize I suffer from a distorted vision of my reflection and compassionately do not force myself to dwell on those thoughts. Gratefully this entire episode lasted less than a few minutes.
I am someone who has suffered from what is commonly known as Panic Attacks for most of my adult life. Although this one was small it still surprised me a bit. I’ve suffered Panic Attacks normally when I was either physically not feeling well and/or in a distressed state of mind. That day I didn’t immediately recognize that old familiar feeling of doubt or fear because I’d assumed that I was feeling fine about what I was doing. Apparently according to my body my thoughts weren’t feeling okay at all.
Thankfully though I now know not to try and do anything about these “attacks.” I’ve learned that the doing only intensified the entire experience.
What is a Panic Attack? Within a common definition the explanation states we have thoughts, “…of intense fear or apprehension [which] usually begins abruptly [and] is triggered by a situation from which the sufferer desires to escape…” What I know from my own past history these attacks by themselves are extremely frightening and the idea that I might die from a heart attack in that moment was very real. Now I know even more profoundly that although my heart feels as if it might burst from my chest I am not going to die and, even more importantly, I am bringing these attacks on by the power of my own thoughts.
What does power of my own thoughts mean in a situation such as this where your body is giving you every indication that you’re not okay and noticing a thought is the last thing you’re thinking is possible?
Before I would suffer through these attacks noticing every awful feeling especially how scared I was. My mind, my body felt out of my control. It felt as if I was somehow tied to an extremely awful nightmare I was trying desperately to escape from.
Today I know differently. I know where these physical reactions come from; they come from within me via thought. Knowing this one simple thing has enabled me to compassionately and lovingly not do a thing about it. I’ve come to recognize that I am having a difficult time and that my thoughts are in a particularly low place. I also know that since I am the creator of this experience I have the ability to do with the accompanying feelings as I will.
Lately my will is to do nothing. I recognize we all have the ability to feel our thoughts.
Sydney Banks, a profoundly spiritual gentleman and author of The Missing Link illuminated for all of us where human experiences stem from. He speaks of the gift of the 3 Principles; one of those being thought. He explains beautifully that we have all struggled believing that life and how we feel about it causes us to think a certain way but that this belief is an innocent error that causes us all to suffer needlessly.
“Many people make the mistake of believing that their moods create their thoughts; in reality, it is their thoughts that produce their moods.”
Apparently my mood that day in the therapist’s office took a tiny nose dive while I was critiquing my legs in front of those full length mirrors. Knowing that it was just my thoughts didn’t change a thing; doing nothing while my thoughts took a small trip down memory lane is what made the difference between a small hiccup of a human experience and a major breakdown.
I have been blessed many times throughout my life while also surviving terrifying, life threatening situations. Always and without fail I’ve known that I am attached to something greater than what appeared before me. I was never able to put a name to it for no words seemed to suffice. This is what I now know as my innate Wisdom, a gift of the Principles of Mind, Consciousness & Thought. I do not feel the need to question this connection even now and I am grateful for this. I’m now able to be thankful even for those moments when I’ve again emotionally bit into something I know deep down is not real.
So I return to the physical therapist knowing she will ask me to do things that may create an uneasy feeling. I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not a big deal. I recognize that if I do feel any unpleasantness it’s just me doing my thinking thing and there is nothing in this life that can take from me my ability to tap into my innate Peace of Mind.
After all what is a reflection anyway but a distorted shadow of the true beautiful person that is each and every one of us!
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