Hay House Radio Episode Recap
- Episode Name: “Are You are Wired for Success, Health & Happiness?”
- Live Broadcast: July 31st, 2018 at 12:00 pm Pacific Time
Episode Summary Re-cap
Trauma, injury, and serious health diagnoses often involve fear, anger, anxiety, depression, and other challenging emotions that can get in the way of your healing.Today, we examine the story of your trauma or health issue and learn to honor its message, along with a strategy to take that message and turn it into a story of strength, courage, love, and emotional freedom. Find out how to use this new story to transform your health. Joining Heather is Dr. April Wilder, an expert in mindfulness, meditation, and crafting stories for wellbeing. Special Guest: Dr. April Wilder
April Wilder holds a BS in math from UCLA, an MFA in fiction from the University of Montana, and a PhD in (existential) literature and creative writing from the University of Utah. She is a former James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow from the Institute for Creative Writing in Madison, WI. Her short fiction has appeared in literary journals such as McSweeney’s and Zoetrope and she has contributed essays to O Magazine, one of which appears in the recent anthology, O’s Little Guide to the Big Questions. Her debut story collection, This Is Not An Accident, was nominated for the NCBRA Book of the Year Award.
April has taught creative writing at various universities, both undergraduate and graduate, in addition to working with writers one-on-one. For fall of 2018, she will be teaching in San Diego State’s MFA program as a Visiting Writer in Prose.
April is currently working on a novel, I Think About You All The Time, Starting Tomorrow, and leads a mediation group on Sundays in University Heights, where she lives with her daughter.
Breaking the Silence: Why Sharing Your Story Matters
I used to be silent and hide my stories. Little did I know that in hiding my stories, I was also hiding who I was. I was afraid that my story wouldn’t be accepted. That another level of shame would open up and swallow me. That in order to survive and fit in, I had to hide my truth.
Part of healing is embracing and telling our stories. Trusting in who we are and how we see and experience the world. Recognizing that what makes us different is not the problem, it’s the solution. Embracing what’s different, weird, unlovable, unrefined…it’s what helps us heal.
Healing is not just about the body or overcoming a diagnosis. It’s surrendering the part of you that is hiding from the world, wanting desperately to fit in. It’s sinking into who you are and what matters to you, even if it means you lose what you once thought was important to you.
Healing Improves by 35% When You Share Your Story
Studies show that when you share your story, you increase your chances to heal by 35%. That’s pretty huge. At the same time, we have to remember NOT to hold onto — or be identified by — the stories that hold us back. You know, the ones that re-traumatize you in the retelling or in the memory. Because when it comes to your story, you are more than one thing that happened to you. You are also the healing that is ready to come forward. You are the courage that asks you to take the next step. You are the resilience that gets you back up off your knees. You are the hope of your ancestors. You are the joy that’s whispering your name. You are part of the circle of life, that is ever changing and taking you toward your healing.
Meditation: Removing Language and Listening
Dr. April Wilder believes that meditation is critical to giving yourself space to see the words and stories that make up your life. “I like to think of my brain as a word hole,” April says. Words are the smallest denomination of a story. These words come into your brain carrying meaning that you judge, respond and react to. So what happens if you – for a few minutes or an hour – stop the flow of words?
April teaches her students that meditation can be practiced in many ways to silence the words, stories, and beliefs that come with the thinking brain. One of her favorite methods is to detach from language and focus on something as simple as sound. “Sounds of birds, for example,” April suggests.
What if you just listened for bird sounds, with the perspective that you don’t need to understand the sounds, you only need to receive them as they show up. What would you learn about the tone and quality of the sounds? What if you were simply open to what showed up, without having to “know” or “figure out” what they meant?
April equates this to looking at everything with childlike eyes and ears. Small children haven’t learned everything or figured it all out, so they are open to experiencing things as they come, for the first time. This wonder and curiosity helps to still thoughts and open your mind to all possibility.
Defamiliarization: Forgetting Everything You Think You Know
April describes defamiliarization in art as a technique to present something familiar in a new, strange or unusual way. When you do this, you are asking the audience to look at something common in a whole new light. This is a great way to bring creativity or new ideas and perspectives forward. If you’re trying to solve a problem or you want to find hope in something that feels hopeless, this is a great technique to use.
Perhaps a doctor has diagnosed you with an illness that is considered “incurable” by medicine. Now, what if instead, you were told – as we do in Native American medicine – that part of healing is discovering where you have unfulfilled desires of the soul. And you were sent home to meditate, listening to your body and learning what wants to come forward in your life. In the first case, you are told you have no options. In the second case, the door is open for whatever could show up in your life and support your healing transformation.
The Hero’s Journey: A Call to Adventure
April teaches that the most interesting and inspiring stories have many challenges along the way. Think about it. You go to movies and read books, not to read about perfect people with perfect lives, but to read about imperfect people finding ways to navigate challenges in life.
In mythology, the pattern of a hero’s journey is that the hero is going through life and suddenly, there is a call to adventure. This call often comes up because there’s something in him or her that they’ve wanted to change anyway. Something needs to change and a struggle comes up to invite the hero to transform. Many struggles present themselves and along the way, the hero and his/her helpers find ways to move through them.
In the end, we don’t see a story of this perfect person with perfect courage and faith. We see an imperfect person digging deep to gather strength to keep moving forward. It’s hard. The hero may even give up temporarily, feeling like all is lost. Then, there’s that moment when the hero surrenders and opens his/her mind. New strength, courage, and resilience are found. New skills are realized.
Old thinking is left behind, so that new beliefs – new stories – can emerge. This is how healing happens.
April’s Steps for Changing Your Story
Here are the steps April recommends for making your own life a hero’s journey of courage and breakthroughs.
#1 – Stop
Most of the time, when you’re scaring yourself with your thoughts or getting caught up in a cycle of fear or anxiety, you are focusing on the worst words, thoughts, beliefs and stories. Maybe you got a diagnosis and you’re Googling all the symptoms, getting more and more scared about what’s to come. Maybe you have a symptom and freak out because you think it’s related to a disease.
Instead of getting caught in a cycle of worry, stop. Take several deep breaths. Stop the flow of words, language, information, beliefs, judgments.
#2 – Listen
Drop your attention into your body and just listen. Listen to the symptom or the emotion. Where is it in your body? How intense is it? Notice how you’re feeling without judging it. Don’t find words to describe it, just sense and feel it. Be curious about it, rather than jumping to a conclusion about it. What is it here to tell you?
#3 – Meditate
Now just let go of the symptom, the message, everything. Focus on something that requires no knowledge of words or language. Listen for the sound of birds. Or listen for silence, or focus on your breath. Allow yourself to have this space. To detach from time – what’s happened or what’s about to happen. Just be where you are now, without thought. This helps your body reset and allows you to detach from the fear. It automatically calms your body down, reducing that fight or flight response that contributes to more fear, anxiety, and symptoms.
#4 – Become aware of the perspective of your narrator
Now that you’ve given yourself space from the words, beliefs, and story, continue to observe yourself as the narrator of your life. How are you describing your life to yourself? Are you focused on what you can’t do? Where you’re not good enough? Where you’re scared to take the next step? Where you’re incurable, untreatable, different, weird? Are you focused on how tired you are? What would happen if you changed your perspective?
Instead of waking up and telling yourself how tired you are, what if you listened to your body for where you might have energy? Maybe getting out of bed shows you have energy. Maybe when you nourish yourself with certain foods and supplements, you feel a surge of energy. Maybe when you engage in self-care, you feel more energized afterward. Where are all the places you could be fueling your energy? How would you notice them if you told yourself a story of being tired all the time?
April teaches that as you open your mind to what could be – what you want to create – your mind will automatically start reaching for opportunities to show it to you. If you focus on what you’re grateful about, for example, your mind reaches for more things to be grateful for. And you find more ways to engage in activities that promote gratitude.
#5 – Take things others say with a grain of salt. Even experts!
When I first began my healing journey, my doctor told me I’d never recover unless I got my gallbladder removed. It scared me so much that I began asking myself, “what if there’s another way?” Just opening my mind to this question allowed me to find the answers to healing my gallbladder, my mind, and my body with nutrition and visualization.
April shared that when she was in therapy, her psychologist tried to diagnose her with PTSD and suggested she was genetically wired for self-destruction. None of this came true for April. Instead, she questioned these concepts and found ways to change her thoughts and behavior. She used meditation, visualization, and changed the story she was telling herself.
#6 – It’s not supposed to be easy, but it could be easier than you think and it’s always miraculous
The bottom line is, you are wired to heal. That doesn’t mean healing is easy. Just like the hero hears a call to adventure, your body and life are getting the call to change. You are getting ready for a breakthrough. Change and transformation can feel painful and scary at times. Meditation, visualization, and being aware of your story allows you to be in the driver’s seat as you navigate these transitions. The way to bring balance to this situation is to be aware of the stories you’re telling yourself and the perspectives you’re taking as you tell them.
Remember, you can always ask yourself: “Is this the perspective I want to take, or could there be another way to look at this?” In this way, even something that seems tragic could actually be seen as funny by looking at it differently. I always remember the scene in the movie, Steel Magnolias, where M’Lynn (Sally Field) is crying about her daughter who died and Claree (Olympia Dukakis) tells her to hit her friend, Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine). This takes us from despair to laughter in one scene. What if your internal narrator could see the opportunity to shift your emotions, just by shifting your perspective?
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Tune in Next Week
Tune in next week to 21st Century Medicine Woman, You’ve likely heard of the gut-brain connection, but did you know that the system connecting your gut and brain is part of the pathway to higher consciousness? Tiffany Barsotti, Masters of Theology in Energy Medicine with special emphasis in Medical and Spiritual Counseling, joins Heather to reveal how the gut, brain, major chakra system and nervous system interact to bring you to higher consciousness.
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