I was reminded recently of a metaphor I’ve used before, of peeling away layers of an onion. Where the layers of the onion represent the physical form of our experience – how we feel, what we think, what we do. As human beings we are continually learning from our experiences and when faced with similar situations we respond in familiar patterns that reflect this. There is a ‘me’ memory and identity within the layers that is experiencing but there is also a deeper ‘I’ that is constant and unchanged by experience. In the absence of experience, I know that I still exist.
What appeared to be new and insightful, about the way I’m seeing this metaphor, is the inclusion of my physical body as a layer of the onion. I am not my body although experiences come through it. Let me give you an example. I recently had shingles. My understanding of shingles was that it would be very painful – how would my body cope with it? I noticed that when I woke in the night, I was acutely aware of the pain and during the day when I became aware of it, but at other times, particularly when I was engaged in something else, the pain was not part of my experience, it didn’t exist. It was my body (surface ‘me’, a layer of the onion) that was experiencing pain and this enabled me to have a different, gentler relationship with it; deeper ‘I’ became compassionate and interested in what I might learn from it. The pain was still there when I was aware of it but it didn’t consume me. At one point someone suggested that I must be having a mild dose because clearly it wasn’t as debilitating as it should be! Interesting… and I can’t explain it physically.
A couple of days after the shingles diagnosis, I experienced a debilitating pain in my hip. I couldn’t even turn over in bed without crying out. We have a family history of hip problems; my mum and dad have had 8 hip replacements! My first thoughts were ‘you’ll need a hip replacement, what do you expect…’ Then I remembered that I am not my body, again I experienced a gentler relationship with the pain and options of what to do next appeared. Within 24 hours the pain had disappeared. Interesting… and I can’t explain it physically.
We can always consciously learn from our experiences. I’m now seeing how useful this is, particularly with those experiences that we find most challenging, such as physical pain and heartache. It provides us with the opportunity to gently peel back the layers of form to the very essence of who we are – unchanging, rock solid, love.
What could you learn from your experiences? If you were to gently peel away and reflect on the messages within the physical nature of an experience, what might you see? What if a pain or a discomforting feeling held an important message for you to learn? How could a different perspective on something help you to have a different experience of it in the future? This is not about thinking positively or changing how you feel about something, this is about understanding and accepting the role that your thinking has on your experience. It’s about seeing that you are more than you think. In a world full of ‘noise’, it is useful to see that the ‘noise’ is your own unique way of interpreting what’s going on; it’s the nature and role of thought, and your brain and nervous system are beautifully designed to give you a felt experience, HOWEVER, once you see this as just how the mind works, it frees you to see the power behind your experience. You are so much more than a brain and behind the noisy thinking you are a powerful, loving, rock solid source of intelligence. And the clarity of this understanding is a great place from which to start living the best version of you. How far you take it is up to you.
Curious to explore this further then why don’t you read about it in my book, “More than you think”.
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