We sometimes think that we are alone with our story, but that is far from the truth. In fact, we can only really find our true story—so that we are telling stories about ourselves that support, instead of hurt us—with the help of others.
We might think that getting our story straight is no big deal, but in fact, it’s utterly crucial—and revolutionary.
Christianne Northrup, a pioneer in holistic medicine and in women’s empowerment and wellbeing, talks about the importance of story in her groundbreaking book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing, (While Northrup is talking specifically to women, I think her message is helpful for everyone, men and women alike.)
Northrup lists twelve steps for healing.
The first step is: Get Your Story/History Straight.
We might want to jump over our story/history. But we can only truly move forward in the direction we want to go in if we accept our reality, and ourselves, for who we are and where we have come from. Often this work is best when we do it with the support of others. We must learn to be our own best witness, but usually we can become our best witness, if we have the help of other loving witnesses first.
The second step is: Get Your Beliefs Straight.
Included in this section Northrup asks the question, Are you following your life’s purpose? and Do you regularly acknowledge your strengths, gifts, talents, and accomplishments? If you’re not, get the support you need to pursue your own fulfillment.
If you don’t get clear on our beliefs and your own source of strength and life force, your own health may suffer, because our life force is cut off if we are not living from our authentic center.
Sometimes we may think that following our purpose and our gifts is self indulgent—but if you have this belief, it may be time to change that. After all, our life strength is what keeps our energy flowing and our immune system working and allows us to help others.
To live fully is to inhabit our strength, our “courage,” the root of which comes from the French word “coeur,” or “heart.”
Last week I wrote about how comfort and courage can go hand in hand, and each support each other. I know this is counter-intuitive in many ways, but it all depends on what we mean by comfort.
Yesterday, I listened to Krista Tippett’s interview with John Lewis as I made dinner.
On Bloody Sunday, as one of the freedom marchers in the civil rights movement, Lewis was one of the first people to be beaten unconscious. But though he was beaten, he and everyone else trained in nonviolence did not fight back. Instead they were trained to look the people beating them in the eye. Can you imagine? And instead of dying, and instead of growing bitter, Lewis continued to grow and to share his wisdom and strength with others.
When I hear John Lewis talk, my own heart gets bigger. He is an example to me of courage. And also of comfort.
Now, of course, when he was beaten, his body was not comfortable! But the only way I can imagine being beaten and not wanting to fight back, and willingly putting myself in that place is from a place of such comfort within myself that no matter what happened I would not lose my courage, would not lose my own center.
Often when we think of comfort, we think of going to a spa, of relaxing our bodies. We think of self care as those times that we step back from the hustle and anxieties of the larger world, when we take a break, a time out to replenish. Taking time out to practice and support our well being is very important, but ultimately this time we practice is just that: practice for living our lives.
When we learn how to carry an inner comfort—with ourselves, with our values, with our resolve—into the world with us, that is our true measure of comfort. Because if we are not really comfortable with ourselves, no matter how comfortable we make our bodies, we will not really be comfortable. But when we are comfortable in ourselves, that is something that no one can take from us. People like John Lewis teach us this.
And we don’t need to risk our lives to be courageous. When we show up in our lives with our values and with our whole selves, that is both courage and comfort. True comfort, it seems to me, is being in alignment with oneself; it is having the tools to know one's own values and live accordingly. That doesn't mean one needs always to speak out; there are moments for speaking out, and moments for waiting. It means we get to make our own decisions from our own centers and from our own values, from our own strengths and honoring our own boundaries. And this goes beyond self care to the transformative experience of self-realization.
I’d love to hear what you think. I find that in writing these weekly messages, I’m exploring and deepening my own ideas about how to live and how to create, and I’d love to hear your reactions/experiences/feedback.
My goal in my work—as in my own personal life—is to help my students and clients come into greater alignment, creativity, courage, expression and ultimately the comfort of self realization.
I’d love to see you at any of my upcoming events. I also have a few more spaces for one-on-one clients.
As I said, I always like to hear from you, so please feel free to write any time.
March 11: Om Namo Center, 1:30-4. Embrace and Let Go: Writing and Yoga Workshop
Inner Evolution for Women: March 28. 1:00-4:00pm with Jessica Ronalds, LMHC, Acton, MA
Mid-April: New sessions of my online and in person classes will open. Contact me for more information and to be put on a list. See more at www.nadiacolburn.com
Friday April 28th: Grub Street, Boston. 6-9pm. A Larger Purpose: Why Your Writing Voice Matters
August 18-20 Copper Beach Institute. Take a full weekend to integrate mind, body and spirit and come into your aligned center. https://www.copperbeechinstitute.org/center
Emotional Healing & Mindful Writing Blog | Nadia Colburn
I blog about creativity, writing, yoga, meditation, justice, women, the environment and integrated well being for the individual and society.