Alternative Medicine
Seasons of Life: Harvesting Change

As the clock ticks to 12:01 am. January 1, 2008, we welcome a New Year, celebrate the old year, and after a good night's rest, most of us consider “resolutions.” These often involve the intention to lose a certain amount of weight over the next 12 months. Of course, as the old year slips away, many of us quietly forget about the resolution to lose weight, made one year earlier. We all move through “seasons of change”. Spring and Summer “phases” are those periods when things are emerging and changing. Fall and Winter phases are times when we are conserving, stabilizing, and preserving. Our life cycles through these two phases over and over again. While January 1 st tends to signal that it is a time for change, each of us “cycles” differently. Before you proceed with what is a Life Assessment, ask yourself if you are currently in a phase of change . . . or of stabilizing.

I would suggest that “weight loss,” diet, and similar fad resolutions don't tend to move our lives forward, don't make us happier, and usually create more of a burden than an inspiration. In this article, we will look at all areas of our lives, simply becoming aware of each area, seeing if we want to change or modify any one of the issues raised, or not. If we decide to make one positive change in life, no matter how small, our entire lives will change over time. If you make one small change now, and another small change several months later, having made two changes in your life, you are on your way to transforming your life.

Awareness is power. If you become aware right now that your current “season,” for example, is Fall or Winter, a time of stabilizing, and not trying to change, you will become empowered (immediately) to accept things as they are. If you are in Spring or Summer, you are in the right season to take action on many of the questions in this article. All too often, people believe that, in order to change their lives, to be happier, healthier, and wealthier, that they must make enormous changes. A long journey begins with just one step. The resolutions that follow will often be posed as “questions to self.” By answering, “Yes” or “No” you are not committing to take action. Taking action only arises when you have become aware of the roots of action, and inaction. There is no pressure to take action. In this article, there is only the quest and the request to become more aware.

Human Values

According to one Eastern spiritual system, there are five universal core human values, namely: truth, right action, peace, love, and non-violence:

1. Truth .

a. Do I want to know the truth about myself—my emotions, thoughts, and behaviors? Do I want to know more about what makes me tick?

b. Do I want to understand more about the larger Truths, those Truths that apply to all people?

c. Do I exaggerate or alter the truth, the facts, in order to please others or obtain some personal benefit?

2. Right Action. In Sanskrit, the term “dharma” means “powerful right action or super integrity.” Dharma means, “doing the right thing, no matter what.” Once you know the truth and the Truth (which are never known at a 100% level), the dharma automatically becomes clear.

a. In what parts of my life do I know what the right thing to do is, but I have been avoiding doing it?

b. Why am I avoiding taking certain right actions?

3. Peace

a. Am I as peaceful as I could be?

b. Do I want to become more peaceful?

c. Is my mind running my life or is my mind the servant of something higher within me— the Witness or the Soul?

4. Love

a. Do I love myself totally and unconditionally?

b. Do I love all living creatures?

c. Do I want to love myself and others more deeply and more completely?

5. Non-Violence

a. Am I angrier than I'd like to be, given certain situations?

b. Do I respond too quickly to challenges with anger?

c. Do I bring too much anger to intimate relationships?

d. Do I want or need to resolve conflicts with anyone?

e. Is there anyone in my life, past or present, whom I need to forgive? (for my own sake).

The five core human values form the foundation of human character. Any human value you can think of is a sub-value of one of the five. For example, “Compassion” is a sub-value of Love, and “Courage” is a sub-value of Right Action.

Social

1. Is there more I could tribute to society?

2. Do I want to contribute more to society?

3. Are there aspects of society that I feel are in such great need of change that I must take some kind of action?

This “social” issue refers to support and activity groups, politics, religion, schools, and country.

Knowledge

1. Are there areas (fields of knowledge) I am interested in and would like to study, read about, and explore?

2. Are there any things I am afraid to learn more about, whether within myself, or in any of the hundreds of major fields of knowledge?

3. Are there places I want to visit or travel to?

4. Have I put off taking a vacation for too long?

5. Would I learn anything and enjoy myself simply by exploring parts of my own city and surrounding areas where I've never been before?

Breath

1. Can I spend more time focusing on deep breathing a few times a day, in order to perfuse my blood with oxygen, and to help me relax?

2. Do I want to put any extra energy into breathing?

Movement

1. Do I want or need to exercise more?

2. Do I have the flexibility I'd like?

3. Do I engage in enough “movement activities” that I enjoy?

4. Do I feel too stiff for most movement? If so, do I want to look into changing that?

5. Has the thought of yoga entered my mind?

The above topics and questions are inspired by the first 4 steps of the “8-fold Path” of Patanjali, who lived in India around 200 BC. Questions about vacation and travel reflect the Dalai Lama's recommendations for people to travel yearly to new places.

Play

1. What is fun for me?

2. Do I “really” want to have more fun in life?

3. Do I want to play more?

4. Do I want to discover new things that are fun to do?

5. Do I spend the time I'd like to on creative/artistic pursuits or hobbies?

6. Do I have special gifts or talents that I know about but have not yet tapped?

7. Did I have joyful, perhaps special, talents as a child that no one supported or encouraged?

Eating

1. Do I enjoy eating?

2. Are there foods I would like to eliminate because they decrease my vitality and overall health?

3. Are there foods I would like to add to my diet that would add to my energy and overall wellness?

4. Do I love and accept my body, including my weight, as I am — now?

Work

1. Is my work meaningful and purposeful?

2. How can I change my attitude about my work?

3. How can I make my work more meaningful?

4. Do I want to change jobs?

5. How can I change jobs?

This question does not ignore the current financial challenges in America.

Communication

1. Do I take things personally when, maybe it's not me? The other person is just the way they are.

2. Do I make assumptions and judgments about what the other person said or did?

3. Do I need to take more time, gather more information, and ask that person why he or she did or said what they did (which I took personally and reacted to by becoming mad, sad, or afraid)?

4. Do I frequently find fault with others? Do I find myself blaming?

5. Do I find myself comparing myself (my words, actions, health, wealth, etc.) with others?

6. Do I need to take more responsibility for difficulties and challenges in relationships?

7. Do I need to take less responsibility for challenges in relationships, and see what part of the challenges is the other person's responsibility?

Many of the above “Communication” questions relate to The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Sexuality

1. Am I satisfied with my sex life in terms of frequency, quality, and emotional connection?

2. Is my sex life creative and fun?

3. Is my sex life boring or an obligation?

4. Do my partner and I repeatedly have “good reasons” for a lackluster sex life?

Connectedness

1. Is my connection to my Self deep and solid?

2. Do I want to spend more time in Nature?

3. Do I feel connected to Nature? Would I like to feel more connected to Nature?

4. Do I feel connected to others at the level or depth I would like?

5. Do I have a social support group in which I can give and receive in a safe way?

Spirituality

1. Do I feel a connection with God or a Higher Power?

2. Do I want to deepen my spiritual connection?

3. Am I satisfied with my spiritual journey?

4. Do I need to clarify my spiritual direction, and spiritual goals?

5. Are there ways in which I can practice gratitude more frequently?

6. Does it matter to me why I am here, where I came from before birth, and where I will go after death?

Health Check-Up

I will make a few direct suggestions to help you attain optimal health and energy.

1. If you have a medical or psychiatric emergency situation that you are avoiding dealing with, deal with it — now!

2. Dental. Get regular dental hygiene.

3. Musculoskeletal. Incorporate a chiropractic evaluation into your overall health plan, and if you already have a chiropractor and know you could use his or her treatment, set up that appointment.

4. Nutritional/Metabolic. Incorporate visits to a nutritionist or nutritional doctor to help optimize energy and wellness.

5. Each of us is attracted to different treatment modalities. For example, if your acupuncturist is your main healer, return to him or her to get back in balance, and to open energy channels.

6. Relaxation. Regular massage feels good, and helps shift us out of fight-or-flight (stress) physiology, toning down the sympathetic nervous system, and increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Rest, massage, yoga, and barefoot contact with the earth all enhance the PNS.

Rather than providing you with a series of suggestions for the New Year, in general I have chosen to use the Socratic, Talmudic, and psychoanalytic tradition of asking questions, rather than providing answers. I have attempted to cover all or most of life's main arenas. By simply reading the questions, you are highly likely to be struck by some of them as being true for you. Once you have identified one question, one part of your life that you would like to improve, that desire for change will open your eyes, and solutions to that particular issue will present themselves.

Expect the unexpected! When you tell yourself, “I want more of that (or less of that),” the tools, techniques, locations, people, and means of attaining that desire will show up in your life, often when you least expect it. Once you have determined a goal, fire up your intention to move toward that goal.

Rather than looking at New Year's resolutions as a process of “giving something up” that you enjoy (like food), aspiring to attain a goal is a more positive way to approach life than “avoiding a negative,” and it makes change simpler than you might imagine. Striving to remove a negative is useful, but striving to reach a goal will take you much further in life.

Change and Conservation

At this moment in time is your overall phase in life: 1) that of conserving, stabilizing, preserving, and solidifying one's gains and losses, or 2) a time to shake things up a bit, rattle the cage, and open up to change? There is a time for keeping things the way they are and a time for change. Stabilizing and “Change” are both essential and natural phases. They are the two main seasons of life through which we alternate.

Spring and Summer are about Change.

Spring: Time for planting the seed. There is new growth, movement, and the beginnings of change.

Summer: Energy pours in and activity is at its peak, growing the seed into a tall, strong tree, whose fruit ripens.

Fall and Winter are about Conserving and Stabilizing.

Fall: Time for harvesting the fruits of our labor; a time for consuming the fruit or preparing to place it in storage for hibernation. It is time to conserve. In the Fall, we are preparing the earth for next spring, stabilizing the changes of Spring and Summer, and preserving the tree. The high-energy changes of Summer give way to a sustained phase of life. We are starting to rest now and are not planting new seeds or initiating change.

Winter: Time to fully rest and relax. The bear is hibernating now. Winter's deep freeze is simply about keeping things the way they are. Stabilizing and conserving are taking place during Fall and Winter. But we know about the seed lying dormant beneath the snow. Its time will come next.

If you are in, or approaching the Springtime, there is a feng shui principle that will help initiate change. If you move 9 -12 objects in your home from one place to another place, it will help break up stagnant energy (inner and outer energy), “inviting” change into your life. Not being a feng shui expert, I believe more in the concept of moving quite a number of things rather than being tied to a specific number, like 12.

Life's seasons may ebb and flow at any speed. Some people cycle quickly between Change and Stabilizing. Knowing which season you are currently experiencing provides you information that tells you whether now is the time to put energy into trying to change, or if this is a time of waiting and consolidating. By tuning in to this simple principle, throughout your life you will have a better sense about “what” needs to be done, “when” it needs to be done, and “how” life is to be lived.

I invite you to let these questions and ideas sink in. If a question angered you, you might want to read it a few times. You may want to return to this list of questions in a week or two, and see if your initial impressions are the same as they are now.

If you were to take action on every question and all the suggestions, you would not have any time or energy left just to live your life — to watch the sun rise and set. Choose to change or take action on the questions that really grabbed you. But first ask yourself if your current life phase is springtime or fall.

Have a terrific year.

David Gersten, M.D. practices Nutritional Medicine and Integrative Psychiatry out of his Encinitas office and can be reached at 760-633-3063. Please feel free to access 1,000 on-lines pages about amino acid therapy at www.aminoacidpower.com, mental imagery techniques at www.imagerynet.com, and information on Earthing at www.earthingusa.com.

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Dear Louise

Don't Miss This Month's Feature on Louise Hay:
LOUISE HAY: Learning, Teaching, Enjoying & 81

Dear Louise,

I looked up in your book Heal Your Body what you say about brain tumors. While I accept and sense what most of the affirmations and causes suggest, I don't understand how the word computer works. I assume you meant “thought input” when you say to “reprogram the computer” of the mind—is that correct?

The affirmation I do is: All of life is change, and my mind is ever new. Do you suggest anything else? Thanks.

I.N., Los Angeles, CA

Dear I.N.,

I think of our minds as computers. The thoughts in our minds are the files. It's always a good idea to go through these files on a regular basis, deleting any negative thoughts or beliefs. I have the feeling that the “rules of the house” were very rigid during your childhood. This often results in a person who grows up to be quite untrusting of Life.

The affirmations I recommend are: I am deeply loved by Life. Every part of my body is healthy and whole. I think only thoughts of love. Love heals me. Life loves me. I am safe. All is well.

 

Dear Louise,

I'm writing today seeking your help, as I have a semi-rare disorder. Since my childhood, I've been mildly allergic to the sun. In recent years, it's gotten much worse. I can't go outside in the summer even to mow my lawn. A 15-minute ride to work leaves any exposed skin covered in a horrible, itchy rash. I don't want to be confined to a prison the rest of the summers of my life.

What thought pattern causes this? Any affirmations you have would be most helpful. Thank you so much.

P.C., Detroit, MI

Dear P.C.,

On a physical level, I would like to suggest that you explore a few things. First, nutrition. Food can have a marked effect on allergic responses. Next, acupuncture often rebalances a body that has gone out of balance. Next, homeopathy is another natural form of rebalancing bodies. Even hypnosis could help your condition.

The thought patterns that contribute to all dis-eases are anger or fear. And the answers are forgiveness and self-love. Forgive those whom you feel have harmed you. Forgive yourself. Remove every thought that keeps you from loving yourself. Love your skin. Caress it and tell it how much you love it. Look in the mirror often and say, “I love you. I really love you.” This can work miracles in your life.

 

Dear Louise,

I've been trying to work on my finances for six months ever since I lost a job. I've been getting by with the help of jobs that don't pay nearly as much as I used to make and through assistance from my family. I also crave romance in my life. I'm just looking for a woman to hold in my arms and kiss at this point. I haven't had that happen to me in more than five years. What do you suggest?

C.R., Atlanta, GA

Dear C.R.,

As you move through your days, keep repeating to yourself: I am lovable, and everybody loves me. Look in the mirror and repeat this often. Love yourself so much that you even put a smile in your liver. The love you're seeking is also seeking you. These affirmations, if repeated often and with joy, will bring good experiences of all kinds into your life. And please take the expression “Yes, but . . .” out of your vocabulary. Just stick with the positive affirmations and see what happens! All truly is well.

Louise L. Hay is a metaphysical teacher and the bestselling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life , Empowering Women, and I Can Do It! . Subscribe to the Louise Hay Newsletter! Call for a Free Issue: (800) 654-5126. Questions for Louise? Write to: Dear Louise Column, c/o Hay House, Inc., P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100 (letters may be edited for length and clarity). Visit Louise and Hay House at: www.LouiseHay.com or www.hayhouse.com.

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