It was after 9pm when Hank pulled into the driveway. He could see his lovely Katrina through the kitchen window standing at the counter, fixing her whitesauce spaghetti. He had called her on his cell phone twenty minutes ago to let her know he was on his way home. Kimmie and Tanya were spending the night with their friend Alex, tying up the city's phone lines with conference calls to half of the eighth grade girls of Morton Junior High School. Hank knew that Katrina was looking forward to spending some alone time with him, and he felt guilty about having to work so late on a Saturday night.
There had been problems at the job site: the paint supplier had made a mistake in the color formulation of the last thirty gallons of wall paint, and Hank's crew was working through the weekend to repaint the entire second floor of DelCom's new office suites. Twenty-five man-hours down the drain, not to mention the embarrassment he felt when the error had to be pointed out to him by the job superintendent. He should have noticed it himself. Instead, he had been called on the carpet in front of the other contractors, making him feel like an employee again. It was the same feeling that had led him to start his own company five years ago, a move he felt good about, as long as he could steer clear of these large commercial contracts. He much preferred working with private homeowners. He was good at that-he had a personal touch that was neither appreciated nor needed in the commercial end of the building industry.
Hank saw that Katrina hadn't noticed his truck in the driveway. He sat there wondering how he could muster the energy to be good company to a woman who had been patiently waiting for him most of the evening. What he really wanted was to lay his head in her lap and retreat to the safety of her warmth and tenderness. She had done that for him many times in the past, but now it was getting old. He knew that if he wanted the freedom of self-employment, and the other perks that it brought, he would have to "reach back and get it", as his dad used to say, to look within himself for the strength he needed to be there for his wife.
Hank turned off the engine and leaned back into the headrest. He closed his eyes and began to visualize how he wanted it to go when he walked into the house, how he would take Katrina into his arms and give her his whole attention. His body began to react to this imagery. "This isn't what I really want!" he said to himself. "I want to rest - I need to rest!" Trying to overlay an image of vitality onto the reality of his fatigue was not working. He could no more deny his need for rest than he could deny Katrina's need for companionship. The classic double bind.
"To hell with it!" he thought. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to sink deep into the driver's seat. For the moment he would block everything out and find the rest he was looking for. His mind drifted to a summer day when he was a kid at the beach in San Diego and how his dad had buried him in the sand leaving nothing but his face exposed. The weight of the sand, combined with the love of his father and the trust in the universe that only a nine year old could have, he had let himself fall into the very arms of the earth, feeling nurtured and protected in a way that no mortal human could ever provide for another. The blue of the sky, the sound of the surf, the warmth of the sun on his face, the solid grip of the sand around his entire body: all this had given Hank his first spiritual experience, the feeling-no, the knowing-of his oneness with the Cosmos. At once, he could feel the center of the earth as if it were his own skeleton - columns of granite in the temple of his being. And he could sense the distance to the sun as though it were the stage of the amphitheater in the park, a distance simultaneously near and far, the "Intimate Infinite" as he would always call it.
His entire universe became filled with light - he was swimming in an ocean of light - the eye of the sun and the eye of his being locked in a powerful love-stare. His breath turned to pure life force, ebbing and flowing with solar magnificence, inseparable from its source forever. The experience had lasted only a moment of time, thirty-three years ago, but was now the background of Hank's spiritual life. He felt connected, like he belonged, that he was in the universe and not merely on it, or of it.
The experience in its entirety now flooded Hank's consciousness, and the strength and power of it began to fill his body. The fatigue that he had felt only moments before was now miraculously gone. He had honored his true feelings and had sought the thing he most desired. And now, having received it, he was ready to give. He got out of his truck and breathed in the cool night air. Above him he could see the "Intimate Infinite". Around him he could feel the trees and grass breathing their microscopic breath. Below him he could sense the deep sounds of the earth as it held him to its breast. "Ah, Mother...I love you."
Hank walked in the back door. Katrina turned to him and smiled. And he thought to himself, "God, she is so radiant!"
Reflections on "Hank"Our thoughts are the floodgates in the river of the life energy that flows through our bodies. Thoughts of anxiety and obligation close off the life force; thoughts of freedom and joy allow it to flow. The myriad microscopic structures in our bodies - the blood vessels, lymph channels, glandular ducts, nerve fibers and many others, when left alone, tend to keep us in perfect health. The less we entertain thoughts of worry and obligation, taking a momentary "inner vacation" from them, the more these structures are allowed to do their job. We have more vitality, and our lives begin to flow more smoothly. We start to feel on top of things again rather than being buried by them.
Thoughts of being overwhelmed, and their subsequent feelings, show up in different parts of the body. For some, it's in the muscles of the neck and head; for others, it's in the small of the back, the bowel, or even the feet. When feeling overwhelmed becomes an habitual state of mind, the long-term effects on our health can be serious. Nothing new about that - negative thoughts incorporated by the subconscious mind cause the body to involuntarily shut down some of its vital functions.
Many of the relaxation techniques developed over the centuries utilize forms of self-talk designed to help us relax. But if we command our bodies to relax, or to let go, our subconscious mind will hear it as yet another obligation, the net effect being more stress. A much easier and more effective way to get the body to relax is to tell ourselves, "I'm ok - everything is all right", or, "It's ok - I'm all right right now." These are non-specific "root" suggestions that tell the body that it's ok to release its stress. The microscopic structures begin to open up, allowing vital substances and energies to get where they need to go. Everyone's happy.
Nothing saps our strength like stress. As adults, we sometimes feel that our whole world is held together by our will power alone, and, like Atlas, we dare not put our burden down, even for one second. If you are tired, like Hank was feeling at the end of his long day, try embracing in your mind the thing you are longing to get, namely rest. If you try to tell yourself that you are filled with energy, you are in effect trying to push your fatigue back out of the door it came in by, instead of letting it pass through you. Resisting it only makes it worse.
"Resist not evil", as Jesus said. We cannot go against natural law -- fatigue cannot be magically wished away, but we can definitely speed up the process of rejuvenation. By allowing the body to run its course, to handle its fatigue naturally, we get out of its way and let it do what it has to do. These are processes that we simply can't interfere with.
The only unreal factor in this equation is "time". This we are not bound to. Healing, whether of disease or fatigue, takes as long as we think it has to. Our ideas about this come from others who have told us, "Things take time." And, it's not like we're going to say, "Ok now, hurry up!" Instead, we stop resisting and let the thing touch what it's trying to touch - "home base". We let the internal electrical switches make contact with each other and allow the current to flow.
How often do we find that a five or ten minute catnap enables us to recover our vitality. As long as we can slip over into a state of deep sleep, if only for a moment, the body is refreshed. The famous Confederate general, Stonewall Jackson was legendary amongst his men for his ability to go for hours and hours by taking brief catnaps throughout the day. He could even sleep while riding on his horse!
We cannot superimpose contradictory conditions onto our bodies or our minds. We must allow natural laws to run their course. We can, however, alter the amount of time they take.
We can also alter their form of manifestation. In upcoming INTU articles, we will explore the idea of "what goes around, comes around" and how we can manage the karma in our lives. Until then...