Healing Mind describes a way of organizing your thinking with the intention of awakening you to your complete self. Because our conscious and unconscious thinking creates our life story, the power of our thoughts affects us in profound ways-contentment and health or illness and turmoil.
In these pages, you become your own therapist. Using practical tools for healing a whole variety of emotional and spiritual ills, you approach the past and future in the here and now, which then heals your experience of life. Psychological and theological concepts merge more effectively than ever before to create an incredible inner peace for the religious and non-religious alike. The result is human freedom-a confident and unique way of being that has the potential to overcome the world through profound love.
Our unrecognized and forgotten reactions to hurt are stored in our muscles as stress that limits our ability to respond to our body or emotions, causing us to settle for less than our life's full potential. The majority of individuals prevent themselves from living happy, productive lives because they never address their stored feelings. Don't be most people! Be determined to experience your hidden unresolved physical tension and modify aspects of yourself that do not serve you. Become fully alive. Stand on your own feet and give your own free response to the call of each moment. Experience your life's deep inner satisfaction through a well-managed mind. Achieve ultimate healing.
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5 Steps to Ultimate Healing, 4 Rooms for Thoughts: Achieve Satisfaction Through a Well Managed Mind
By Janice L. McDermott
Balboa PressCopyright © 2015 Janice McDermott, M.Ed., LCSW
All rights reserved.
Uncomfortable things happen to all of us on our journey to becoming real.; as we drop our facade and allow our authentic self to shine in the presence of others. My journey, though I didn't recognize it as such at the time, began with an unfamiliar internal rumble the news of my father's unexpected death in 1973 initiated. The first time I knowingly set becoming real as a goal was ten years later in 1983 at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.
My anxiety, years of built up childhood fear, was going through the roof in anticipation of my turn on the hot seat. Each participant of the three-sessions-a-day, weeklong workshop randomly took a turn sitting in the hot seat in the center of the circle. The one in the hot seat listened as each member, in turn, commented on his or her experience with the person in the center. I was the last one. I revealed that in the past ten years since my father's death, I had been divorced, had married again, and was now in the process of my second divorce. My internal rumble had become an earthquake. I hurt but didn't cry; I was ugly when I cried. I didn't show emotions in public. As I listened to each comment in turn, I became aware that even with fifteen sets of eyes observing me, no one saw me. Having participated in relating anxiety-laden stories in groups, taking hot spring baths, and getting massages, I hadn't revealed anything. I was imprisoned by my body armor built by all the difficulties of childhood.
How did I get this way? All I was sure of was that I was afraid and that I had been hiding in the role of a good participant, which hadn't turned out very well. I began intense work to discover what lay beneath my fears. Who am I? How do I express my inner being? Answering these questions became for me a Spirit-directed journey using this process I'm sharing with you. The following stories will give you an idea of how I became so untrue to myself.
Each of us has childhood events that set us on a course of armoring ourselves against the world. Mining our childhood memories helps us discover the answers to how, when, and why we hide ourselves against the world. Even the most incidental childhood memory holds a treasure of information as evidenced by our remembering. Our real self lies under all the layers of physical armor build out of fear and others' expectations. We must remove this body armor layer by layer until we reach what is authentic, all our talents and spontaneous creative energy.
My earliest childhood memories begin in the middle of the Second World War. On Sundays, we attended service at a large Christian church. I remember being three years old and standing with five or six other children in front of a large congregation, awaiting my turn to say the Bible verse: "All we like sheep have gone astray" (Isa 53:6). When my turn came, I said, "All we like sheep have gone astray. Leave them alone, and they'll come home, wagging their tails behind them." Everyone laughed; cementing in my mind that church was a fun place.
My father was an airplane mechanic in the manufacturing division of the Ford Willow Run facility, which was a bomber aircraft plant in Michigan during WWII. He built heavy bombers, the B-24 Liberator. Knowing that all the construction teams were "learn as you go" people made him literally sick to his stomach with fear when he once had to fly to another city as part of his job. This was the only time I ever saw him sick. (Two weeks before his death, he made an enjoyable flight to Hawaii.) He modeled wellness and how to hide one's shortcomings for me.
An embellished education history and tenacity for survival through hard work secured him many jobs not usually afforded those with only a sixth-grade education and an inability to spell even the simplest words. Until his death at fifty-nine, he hid his embarrassment of not having an education and prided himself on his problem-solving abilities, math skills, good posture, ideal weight, and strength. He could outthink and outwork the next person and took pride in having the prettiest farm with the straightest fences in the county. Dr. C. Norman Shealy would describe him as living a "conscientious" life. From my father I learned perseverance and gained an appreciation for symmetry. In addition I learned to conceal my less admirable characteristics by unknowingly restricting my diaphragm.
By 1943 my family, along with hundreds of wives and children of servicemen, lived in Louisville, Kentucky, in the rows and rows of two-story yellow cinder block buildings, which had little to no grass, trees, or flowers and only one large asphalt playground for about two hundred or so children of all ages. At that time, government housing was a benefit afforded those whose fathers were involved in the war or war projects. Somehow, I was more privileged than other children were. My daddy was the only daddy coming home at night because he was building airplanes. However, I didn't mention that fact then because the other children wouldn't have liked me (maybe my mother told me that part), and I kept myself in fear through the imagery of his leaving. I built another layer of armor through tension in my shoulders.
The atmosphere in the housing project was always one of fear and foreboding. We were all trapped, waiting for that dreaded knock at the door that announced death; in turn it would necessitate a move for the remaining family members. Fear was so pervasive that I thought I could reach out and touch it, even though I was too young to know what it meant. I imagined it as a black fog rolling in to take the life right out of us when we least expected it — a real boogeyman. I saw the world as a dangerous, life-threatening place. Hence, I became forever hypervigilant and less trusting, a fear point on the Enneagram of personality types, more layers of armor.
My brother, two and a half years younger, was born in Louisville. His arrival changed my status from "only" to "oldest," a new role. Roles are evidence of armoring and serve to restrict our spontaneity. I became over responsible through self-denial.
I had to look out for my little brother, even more so after my father was drafted. Although Dad was deaf in his left ear since birth, the army still wanted him. My father's departure for boot camp at Fort Seal, Oklahoma, and the rationing of meat, sugar, and rubber increased my mother's fear, creating a domino effect in my brother and me. Our parents' fears become our own. My mother, raised with access to all the candy she wanted from her father's grocery, perceived a limited supply of sugar as a real security threat. She responded by keeping one hundred pounds of sugar in an army footlocker. Once when we were traveling by train as we made the move to Louisville, a train porter, noting the weight of the trunk, asked, "What do you have in here, lady? Pure gold?"
She replied, "That's right, pure gold." Her hand quickly reached around to cover my mouth, preventing me from saying, "No, it's sugar."
She'd acquired sugar by trading her meat ration stamps for sugar stamps. We could get meat without stamps from my uncle, who worked as a butcher but we didn't talk about that. My throat muscles took on a stiffness.
The war was over before my father finished boot camp. He returned home from training, unannounced, with a big box of Mounds candy bars for my mother. She placed the box atop the refrigerator to be doled out little by little. My body felt the release of long held anxiety with my father's return and that release became associated with chocolate. From that point on, chocolate and sugar could make anything feel better.
Now that my father no longer worked for the government, we were required to move from government housing. Even though we relocated, fear wouldn't remain behind. It had filled all the space around the cells in my body, the epigenetic home of my cellular memories. Our body remembers what our mind forgets.
My whole family left Louisville behind — and with it our car, for the tires had deteriorated. There were no tire replacements for several years due to the rubber shortage from the war. At his new job in Independence, Virginia, my father worked nights on an assembly line, making women's stockings. This was a big change from building airplanes. With the return of so many men and their flooding the job market, my father once again portrayed himself as a high school graduate. However, by doing so, his greatest real-self ability, learning quickly through hands-on experience, wasn't acknowledged. He did whatever it took to get himself hired; he was always hired. The lesson for me was act in your own behalf and don't expect others to save you from life's circumstance. The "toughen-up" armor appeared across my chest to protect my heart.
I liked living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They gave me a sense of protection as they wrapped the horizon in every direction. Nature became my foundation of hope. There were new things to play with and do. We made apple cider in the fall and watched little snowballs become giants as they rolled down the mountain for my dad then to stack into a snowman. My brother and I lay in our beds, piled high with colorful handmade quilts while listening to the mountain stories visitors told in the next room. We rode in the horse-drawn wagon over the mountain. We chased chickens and each other. I could run as far as I wanted and laugh as loudly as I liked. My real self grew. Fear didn't live in these mountains.
After a year and a half, my father followed his passion, which was to create a showplace from the farm and house in western Kentucky, where he'd been born. Moving back to Kentucky took a day and part of a night. The moving truck carried our furniture and us. My father and brother rode in the back, with our collie by their side and our two pet chickens in a coup. My mother and I kept the driver company. The message was to follow your heart's desire no matter what is happening around you.
Unlike Virginia country living, Kentucky country was a struggle for me. When we struggle, we hold tension in our bodies. Long held tension becomes armor. The environment was a little scary but exciting, elements of anxiety. The three-room house had a sweeping front porch with blackberry thickets, which crawled up and around the walls, and a yard teeming with copperhead snakes and rabbits. For the first time in my young years, there was no electricity or indoor plumbing. A galvanized washtub filled with water to warm in the sun became our bathtub. I felt exposed bathing in the yard.
It took a year for my father to clear the land. By this time, the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) had provided electricity and sprayed the houses and barns with DDT. The remodeling of the house, while we lived in it, took another year. A tarp over my bed was all that kept the rain out while the roof was being redesigned.
My father taught me life skills — to watch out for snakes, to distinguish a bull calf from a heifer calf, to raise baby chickens, and to know which animals we would eat or sell. I learned where and when to be attached and how to let go and grieve. I created mental and emotional boundaries. I learned to do what my daddy did to survive in the world. I armored myself even further. I hid my shortcomings (dyslexia being one) and acted bravely. I was pleased with my attunement with nature and my common sense. I felt like a native Indian.
At six I was very much aware of the Spiritual forms of life around me and the world of things unseen. Having no other living ancestors, other than a few aunts and uncles who lived too far to visit more than once every few years, I identified with my father's deceased Native American grandmother, as I imagined her. Her presence was a constant companion due to the isolation that forced me inward to an imaginary world of others. Her Spirit seemed to dwell just over my left shoulder. My connection with the Spirit world, though I never discussed it, seemed normal. I thought everyone had my experience. I found comfort in the silence of my mind through nature and my grandmother's Spiritual presence. She remained with me until I was fifty-two, departing at my mother's funeral. This became my avenue of strength and self confidence.
One memory stands out from that time on the farm. A red and white baby calf died two days after birth and remained stretched out for a whole day behind our barn, looking perfect in every way. Magical thinking served me well as a child. I believed that with enough concentration and faith, I would be able to perform miracles like Jesus. I could be Spiritually powerful.
Unaware of the finality of death, I sat beside the dead calf for half a day, wishing and praying, "Dear Jesus, please let the baby calf breathe and stand up." I expected that at any moment the calf would rise to its feet, alive. I could see myself clapping my hands, overjoyed, a hero. Time passed, the day grew warmer, and heat waves rose from the corpse of the calf. Magic was happening, and I was present to it. I could feel the glory of it inside me. Awesome!
After a while, my young perception began to understand that the waves were the calf's life leaving its body. I thought, This calf decided to go back to heaven, and so can I. I don't have to stay here. I can leave any time. After that, I imagined many times in the silence of the forest and in the dark of the night that my Spirit rose like heat waves to soar with the angels and dance among the stars. I didn't know that I was learning to read the energy vibrations of living things, a tool that all healers use.
By the time I was nine, my parents expected my brother and me to employ our learned survival skills, to achieve a level of independent living, ready or not. We worked in the garden, picked strawberries to earn money, did farm chores, and worked, worked, and worked ... from sunup until sundown. Play was the work we liked: feeding the cats, planting peanuts, and gathering eggs. Attending church, going to vacation Bible school, and occasionally visiting my aunt (my mother's sister) every year or so for a week were our entertainment. My sister was born when I was nine, and another sister was born eighteen months later. While my parents focused on my younger siblings, my brother and I were on our own.
I remember visiting with my aunt for a week at her sister-in-law's home. For the first time in my life, I had a large bedroom to myself. I stood in front of a tall, freestanding, full-length mirror to admire myself in my first pink, silky-feeling nightgown. Sewn to the right side was a round-cord tie belt. I tied it around my waist and could see in the mirror that one end of the cord was a lot longer than the other. I contemplated cutting it off but decided to wait until morning to ask for scissors. My mother's voice in my mind said, Don't make trouble. I went to bed thinking about how I was going to make the ends of the cord match when I tied them in front. Cutting the wrong one or cutting off too much would be a disaster.
The following morning I awoke, immediately having the solution. I had solved the problem in my dream. The long side of the tie went the long way around the back side of my waist; then when I tied the ends, they were even. More importantly, I was thrilled to discover my ability to solve problems in my sleep. Wow! My Spiritual awareness was awakening.
With each of these milestones in awareness, my excitement rushed from me with a need to share my new insights. Although my mother experienced intuitive dreams, she never put any value in her experiences or mine. Usually, she said, "Go take care of your sister" or "Would you hurry up and finish that?" My mother's response was the same when I reported an unusual experience at the age of twelve.
Twice a day, afternoon and evening, I walked the mile to participate in the weeklong church revival services held each summer at the Baptist church we attended. During the mile walk back home, I pondered the words of the daily messages. During one particular week in July, the "altar call," which occurred at the end of every service, made me feel disturbed. It pressed many of my young friends into a fear- and guilt-releasing "walk the aisle" response. However, I was determined not to let intimidation push me into doing something that seemed contrived. I just wasn't going to do that! There had to be more to a conversion experience than walking the aisle. I wanted it, but it wasn't happening for me.
Dishwashing became a meditative action as well, a time for listening for insight from the Spirit world. I liked looking out the open window that hung over the double sink. The green pasture of red and white cows called to me, and birds seemed to carry the message of love.
Excerpted from Healing Mind by Janice L. McDermott. Copyright © 2015 Janice McDermott, M.Ed., LCSW. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part I: The Journey, 1,
Step 1: Building Your Foundation of Support, 17,
Part II: Spiritual Motivation, 59,
Spiritual Wellness, 61,
Step 2: Mentor, 85,
Room 1: The Mentor, 87,
Step 3: Critic, 95,
Room 2: The Critic, 97,
Step 4: Nurturer, 123,
Room 3: Divine Nurturer, 125,
Step 5: Divine Child, 141,
Room 4: The Divine Child, 143,