“The Silence” references the view from my cottage and how it relates to health. Read this excerpt here and enjoy the view.
If we can’t see the divine
where it is visible,
how can we see it in ourselves,
where it is
-Leonardo da Vinci, Painter, Architect, Engineer, Musician
Frequently, I have referred to the inner voice. I am often confronted with disappointment and/or confusion when discussing the inner voice with patients. Some patients tell me they have never heard an inner voice, and others tell me they are unsure what their inner voice is telling them.
I explain that I think of the inner voice as inner guidance, and I suggest that many people have learned to smother or ignore that guidance or voice. For example, I ask if they have ever had a strong gut feeling about something. That is an inner voice. I then ask if they have ever noticed that when they are indecisive, the educated mind tries to make a list of pros and cons – but making a list is rarely effective in making a decision. That is an example of the educated mind inadvertently smothering the inner voice.
Do not confuse inner voice or guidance with inner dialogue. Inner dialogue is what one tells themselves or what the educated mind is thinking. Inner voice is what one is feeling or receiving. Some call this our conscience.
Indecisiveness is just one example of the educated mind controlling thoughts with a resultant stressor of the nervous system producing a myriad of chemical and physiological processes that can be damaging to health. Other examples of the educated mind controlling physiology are fear, greed, and jealousy when the innate mind would prefer love, compassion, or forgiveness. It became obvious to me that patients needed guidance to finding their true inner voice.
Busyness of life makes us deaf to our inner voice. The innate mind can provide direction and calm and relief if it has an environment where it can flourish. I believe that prioritizing solitude creates the habitat the innate mind requires to thrive.
Rolf was a patient who needed help in this area. He would start each day “running” from one task to another, barely having time to breathe, and one day he said, “This is the world we live in; we can’t do anything about it.”
I challenged him to take time every day to just “Stop and savour.” I asked him to look at the autumn colours. I asked him to just enjoy the beauty while waiting at a red light, instead of looking at the clock and anxiously waiting for the light to change. I dared him to turn off his cell phone when he was waiting for me to enter the treatment room. His response was, “But I enjoy playing the fun games on my phone while I am waiting.” I understood, but explained that fun games are still another stimulus to the brain, and it is not the same as closing your eyes and connecting with your inner self.
I suggested “daydreaming” being good for him, because it would give his innate mind a chance to sort things out and basically reorganize itself. Rolf began to do that while waiting for my entrance in the treatment room. His nickname became “the dreamer”. He said that our conversation had healed his source of interference called “impatience”.
At the moment of greatest confusion, when there is the least clarity of thought and direction, you need to open up to the wisdom of the innate, inner voice. This is a time to sit quietly in contemplation for the receipt of messages from within. Close your eyes, meditate, pray, or take a walk on a beach or in a forest. The innate mind’s preferred voice is silent. It is not something to follow. Rather, it is something to receive, and so you need to put yourself in a place with good reception. Trying to listen to the inner voice while being in the midst of visual and auditory sensory bombardment is like trying to listen to a radio station with static and poor reception.
It is a universal truth that spending time in nature is one of the most effective ways to quiet the confused, educated mind. In fact, the word physician means “naturalist”, and originates from the Greek word for nature. Hippocrates, who is often referred to as the father of modern medicine, philosophized about the value of nature over twenty-five thousand years ago when he said, “Vis Medicatrix Naturae” which translated means “nature heals – the physician is only nature’s assistant.”
Nature slips, checks, and corrects. A tree is a perfect example of the wisdom of nature’s innate intelligence. Branches grow out in many directions looking for light, but balance persists. All trees are unique, and nature supports that individuality. There are seasons of blossoming and seasons of shedding. Similarly, there are stages of our lives when we are thriving and growing, and stages when we are learning or discarding.
The poster most prominent in my work office reads, “To everything there is a season.” The poster most prominent in my home office reads, “Come to the woods for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods.” Both of these posters serve as reminders for me that bodies are in cycles, as is nature. Bodies need rainy days too, and we would never see rainbows without the rain.
Many people are uncomfortable with or dislike solitude, and rarely explore nature. Enlightened, healthy people crave solitude. I paraphrase Einstein when I say that one needs solitude to create space to wonder, search for truths, explore curiosity, and make decisions to design a life worth living.
Interestingly enough, Einstein spent time in nature, and it was seeing sunshine rays through clouds that enlightened him to develop the theory of relativity. Similarly, a walk in nature inspired Beethoven’s famous pastoral symphony.
Nature is my foundation and my need to connect with it grows with age. Thirty years ago I met an owner of a golf course that is majestically hidden in nature. Early in our friendship we were enjoying a late evening sunset view while deer frolicked on the fairway. One of us, I don’t remember whom, turned to the other and said, “Smoke some of this.” We have enjoyed weddings, birthdays, tournaments, and celebrations at this gem in nature throughout the years, and it is rare that one of us doesn’t turn to the other to remind about nature’s beauty and say, “Smoke some of this.” Nature is my favourite drug.
I enjoy a simple cottage. It has few modern comforts and my experience changes little when the electrical power is disrupted. In my youth, I enjoyed being there when I had idle time. Now this place occupies my priority time. It has a spectacular view – a feeling, a presence – that is intoxicating for me within seconds upon my arrival. Nature is my favourite drink.
Nature is a place where evidence of a Supreme Being is visible and tangible. Nature influences my thoughts, builds compassion, provides understanding, and removes confusion. It recuperates my spirit and strengthens my soul. It is my hope to live in such a way so that those who know me and don’t know nature will come to know nature by knowing me. Nature is my religion.