Conversations With Health
By Christopher Hassett
I actually think my diet is quite good. I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I get enough protein. I exercise. I’m at a great weight. Yet with all of it I still don’t feel right. I feel stuck, run down, uninspired, lifeless, alone. Not sure where I’m going or what to do. –Anya, West Village
There’s a point in any conversation on health when the discussion of diet becomes secondary, and I think this might be that point. Diet, in my opinion, runs second to our primary needs, which are first to be cool with ourselves and then to ultimately be engaged in enough healthy relationships that we’re happy with the entirety of our lives in general. When we’ve reached that pinnacle we can pretty much be eating anything we want and still feel good.
But this isn’t how it is for many of us. In today’s micro-managed, work-driven culture it’s become quite normal to find ourselves trapped in a whole series of relationships that suck us dry or reduce us to lifeless embers. Work is the perfect place for this to happen, and since so many of us spend countless hours at work it’s easy to see how the end of the day leaves us feeling lifeless and alone. But then it’s not always better when we leave our jobs. These same energy draining, life-depleting relationships happen with our families, friends, lovers and the community at large. When everywhere we turn is absent of support or absent of any acknowledgment of who we are as interesting and important individuals, then this might be the universe’s way of pushing us toward fundamental change.
One powerful way of setting change into motion is through art, though I’m not speaking here of art as that full-on, large-bodied, outwardly-driven, personality-defining endeavor. Rather, this is a more intimate expression that’s best begun through writing, though in truth it can take shape in whatever form feels right: painting, sculpting, photography, sketching…
The purpose here is to generate movement from the inner to the outer, to open channels from that inner landscape (however dark or unacknowledged it might be at the moment), so that the long-dormant inner self finds its way to the surface and is given full license to shape itself into the world in whichever way it chooses. It is an artistic endeavor because what you are doing is bringing into existence an incarnation of yourself that is dramatically different than the one you’re presenting now.
Writing in my opinion is the best way to begin the process because it allows not only the creative mode but also the critical/analytical mode, which is important in bringing clarity and understanding into the current moment. More importantly, together the two modes allow us to write into existence a far healthier and more joyful future than is perhaps the one we’re currently heading towards. With this in mind, know that your ultimate intention in writing, beyond artistry, will be to rewrite the very story and trajectory of your life.
Don’t dismiss or minimize the power of even a single word. Language and our use of it should be elevated, seen as sacred, employed with the greatest of care and with the best intention, for it is the very fuel for all that comes into being. We use it lazily or thoughtlessly at our peril. As a powerful tool for change, language can used to our great benefit, if not total transformation. It is not coincidental that so many spiritual traditions see language as the epicenter of our entire existence. “In the beginning was The Word,” according to the Christian tradition. Word is energy, empty yet full of potential. It arises from nothing and instantaneously becomes something. It becomes an idea and ideas carry intention and from the two come form. “Emptiness is form,” according to the Buddhist tradition. From nothing comes something.
If you are yet unable to articulate your future — what you want from it and how you see yourself in it — then it is going to arrive on its own terms. But if you begin writing it the way you want it to be, bringing in detail and dimension while being clear about what can remain and what must permanently exit from your life, then that future will arrive in the very shape you dreamt it to be. In that sense, you become a cartographer as much as an artist, for you are as much mapping out your future as you are creating from nothing something of incredible beauty and worth.
Begin by writing in a language that is most natural and true to the voice you hear every moment in your head. This voice you can never censor, never judge; instead, you must always trust it. Nurture and support it by making it the primary narrator of your developing story, and let it take on that role as creatively and imaginatively as it would like. Let it wander in any direction, through every territory, but especially inward to those areas that until now have remained hidden and silenced. In moving inward you’ll also be moving into the dimension of poetry, where language has no rules and no real structure. Explore that dimension at length, at its most expansive, for this is the realm where everything in your future resides, including your future self. Spend time here and let the language of poetry be your guide.
At the same time, document and comment on everything that happens in your world today. Penetrate the darkness of confusing relationships. Explore them with fearlessness and a determination to understand. Document your thoughts, especially those thoughts that seem old, repetitive, dismissive and self-disparaging. These you’ll want to be particularly conscious of because they’ll want to trip you up in any movement towards creating something new. Write out those thoughts word for word, then symbolically strike them through. Follow up by rewriting your ideas fresh, in the new language of how you actually want things to be.
This last idea ties in nicely with perhaps the most important part of the process, and that is to begin stating in very clear terms how you’d like your life to be now and what you want your life to look like in the future. Who are the people you want to spend time with both now and in that future? What are their specific qualities? Perhaps more importantly, who is the person you want to become? Don’t be shy about the details here because if you skimp then only the rough brushstrokes will come into being, with perhaps only a few of the specifics you had hoped for. Be specific! Be clear. Describe every detail of the world and existence you want to create for yourself, for each word will bring with it the energy and intention needed for that future world to manifest, which I should add will be sooner than you expect. Writing with this kind of intention tends to bring on swift results. Don’t be surprised to look back a few months from now and see tangible evidence of the change you’ve asked for.
Wake up every morning and before doing anything else write for fifteen minutes. Or stop in a cafe on your way home from work and, with a glass of wine or tea, write. Sit in a park, taking in the fire energy of the sun, the expansiveness of air and space, the rootedness of earth, and write. The time alone with only your thoughts and without any pressuring demands will be worth it.
Do this daily and soon enough you’ll begin seeing the slightest shifts taking place in your universe. Know, though, that these small shifts, should you continue to follow through, will lead you towards a destination that is entirely different from the one you’re heading for now. It will lead you instead to a life that’s been radically transformed by mere vision alone, by the very words you chose to honor and bring into being so many years before, point zero being now.
Christopher Hassett is a life coach and teacher of self awareness. You can reach him through his website at www.threeperfections.com. Do you have a question you’d like Christopher to respond to in his column? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.