Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Enlarging Your Perspective

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I traveled into Minneapolis for the purpose of looking at the curriculum of a class that will be offered at Pathways Health Crisis Resource Center.  Anyone who has regularly followed my blog since its inception may recall that I referenced this organization early on in my writings.  I took some courses at Pathways when I was first actively focusing on my conscious healing process in 2013.

Pathways is a non-profit organization created in 1988.  The mission of the organization is to "provide resources and services for people with life-threatening illness to explore and experience complementary healing approaches."  I feel very fortunate to have discovered Pathways in 2013.  It was a haphazard discovery actually.  I found a copy of the bimonthly listing of course offerings in the waiting room of my therapist's private practice office in Roseville.

I made a fun discovery today while visiting Pathways.  While looking through the curriculum for the course in question I found a visual rendering that helped me to understand my sadness in a whole new way.  The imagery actually reminded me of an activity I did in the morning outpatient program several weeks ago.  In one panel there was a sequence of three containers.  All three were the same size.  Inside each of the three containers was a ball of different sizes.  You could think of the ball as representing some unwanted thought, feeling or experience.  The other panel also depicted three containers.  But there was a difference.  The ball was the same size in all three containers.  But all three containers were different sizes.

I found myself considering my sadness once again.  And I realized the imagery could give me some guidance in how to relate to my sadness.  I could see my sadness as a 'bad thing' and try to eliminate it.  This is symbolized in the left image where the ball becomes progressively smaller.  So in essence I can spend a lot of time and energy attempting to eliminate that which I do not want.  I can place my attention on the unwanted thing and focus my energy on eliminating it.  Eliminating illness, hardship or persistent feelings such as sadness isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It's perfectly fine for us to all want abiding happiness.  But making any other experiences an evil thing is a recipe for upset.  The right panel offered a different approach.  In this scenario I could choose to enlarge my perspective.  Rather than focusing on getting rid of the ball I could enlarge my view.  My allowing myself to entertain a broader perspective the relative space the ball occupies shrinks.

I would rather allow my sadness to diminish by taking a broader view than spend a lot of energy trying to forcibly eliminate it.  By placing experiences, thoughts and feelings in a broader perspective we can find relief from feelings of overwhelm, frustration and irritation that may arise when we are faced with undesired situations.

This imagery also reminded me of the work of Viktor Frankl.  Frankl was a medical doctor as well as a survivor of the Holocaust.  I recall reading some of his writings regarding this period in German and European history.  He wrote of the significance of man's search for meaning as a vital source of inspiration in overcoming painful experiences.  In other words, people can tolerate or overcome most any horrific thing if they can set their minds upon an image of something that brings them such peace and joy that it makes enduring pain in the short term tolerable.  Something as simple as the prospect of seeing a loved one, witnessing a beautiful sunrise or taking a walk in the woods can lighten our perception of pain and hardship.

Cultivating a healthy perspective is such an important skill in the process of healing.

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