This is the third blog in the “spiritual safe space” series. In order to do the exercises in this blog, you first need to practice the exercises in the previous two blogs: creating your spiritual safe space and defending your spiritual safe space. Practice and discipline are of the utmost importance when it comes to learning meditation and visualization exercises and implementing them into your daily routines.
Many people are wholly unaware that when the body is suffering, the soul can do a lot to help it through the healing process. Although many things cannot be healed by faith alone, you can combine spirit and science quite easily. The things I’m going to teach you here are exercises that I have developed for myself over the last nineteen years (yes, I am only thirty and have been doing it that long). I began learning about non-medicated pain management from a nurse in the Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, when I was 6-years-old and I developed my own routines based off of her fundamental help. Exercises like these are especially helpful if you’re like me and have gone through addiction to narcotic painkillers and you cannot take them anymore or you’re hesitant to depend on them so much. I’m not advertising these exercises as a magic cure all. I am saying that you can be proactive in controlling your own pain and illness. Every doctor I’ve ever worked with agrees that healing the body is just as much about your mental constitution as it is your physical constitution.
So let’s get to it. Just as we did with every other exercise, we begin by getting into a comfortable position and focusing on our breathing. It doesn’t matter where or what position, just as long as your body is able to relax to a degree. First you want to begin by closing your eyes and taking slow, deep breaths. I’m an anxious person by nature, so this step takes me longer than others. There is no time limit. Focus on your breathing. Let yourself experience the rhythm of breath in your body, how it fills your limbs with life, and feel your lungs filling and deflating with each breath. As you feel your body beginning to relax, take further deep breaths. Each breath pulls you further under a warm blanket of comfort and further into your spiritual self. The noise of the tangible world fades away with each breath. You sink away from the physical and emerge into the spiritual safe space that you built for yourself. You should be very familiar and comfortable with this space by now. It’s yours. You’re safe and nothing can touch you here without your permission.
The breathing exercise that I was taught as a 6-year-old going through multiple surgeries is like this: take in a slow, deep breath and count to five, hold it for three to five seconds, and then exhale slowly like blowing through a straw as you count to three. Repeat as necessary. This is called square breathing. It’s an exercise often taught to people who suffer from panic attacks but I also find that it’s helpful in coping with intense pain because the rhythm forces your brain and body to slow down and relax. If you can’t get into full on meditation, this is a good quick fix that will help as well.
When you’re in your spiritual safe space, create a moving source of water for this visualization. If you’re indoors, create a sink, shower or bathtub. If you’re outdoors, create a river, stream or waterfall. This is going to be used to wash away the substance causing your body harm. Think of the place on your body that is causing you pain or illness. Just for today’s example, we’re going to use my kidneys because they haven’t been functioning well lately and I need some tests soon. I’m visualizing my kidneys in my body. I’m giving the pain and illness a face – something I can fight – and it looks like black sludge invading the organs. Whatever causes me pain at any given time is represented by black sludge. You can choose any other negative representation of pain or illness that you want as long as it registers in your mind as being negative and unwanted. Now you want to visualize your hands in the source of running water. Think about pushing the black sludge through your body, through your arms, your hands, and release it through your fingertips. The pain, the illness, the suffering is being expelled from your body under your own control. It’s leaving your body and going into the current of water or the circling the drain. Take time to feel relief from your symptoms and announce your intentions to the universe: “This pain and illness will not dictate my life. I heal my own energy and I heal my own body. This pain and illness is expelled from my body and not allowed to invade me again.” Once the black sludge is gone, cleanse your hands and arms in the water. You should look clean. Remember how it feels to be relaxed and carry it with you.
Aside from the physical pain, sometimes there are illnesses that suck the life out of us. These can be energy related illnesses like chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia or things of that nature. I’m anemic due to iron deficiency from prolonged use of over the counter drugs like ibuprofen, which causes fatigue, an inability to concentrate, grumpiness, etc. The fatigue brought on by anemia was very intense for a while before I was diagnosed – I could easily sleep eighteen hours per day – so I learned and developed an exercise to help boost my energy at different times in my day.
If your spiritual safe space is indoors, you’ll need to step through that door in your room and go outside for this one. Don’t create a vast outdoor space. Keep everything very contained. A little courtyard with grass, dirt, leaves, flowers and trees will be enough. If your space is already outdoors, make sure you’re facing a tree. Feel your bare feet on the cool, damp grass. Feel the dirt beneath the grass. Become very aware of the earth and the cycle of life. Now as you look at the tree, visualize the roots pushing through the earth drinking up nutrients and water from the soil, going up through the trunk into the branches and into the tiniest leaves. Energy from the earth is given to that tree to keep it alive and flourishing. Once you understand earth energy, return your focus to your bare feet on the grass and visualize that energy coming into you from your toes up through your legs into your torso, your arms and your head, like that tree. Inhale and draw more energy into your body. Inhale again. And again. Give yourself enough energy from the earth to continue moving along throughout your day. This is also an exercise that you can do in the physical world if you have the opportunity to go outside for a barefoot walk.
Just like before, when you feel a greater sense of peace, you will notice a sensation of being lighter as well. You may begin to return to the physical world at this point. Use the same method we talked about in the last blog. Coming out of it is the opposite of going into it. Focus on your breathing again and with each exhale, feel yourself rising up to the physical world. Start to hear the sounds around you, become aware of where you’re sitting, etc. Sometimes it can take a little longer to reconnect with the physical world, sort of like waking up from a long nap, so let your body re-acclimate slowly. Move around where you’re sitting, stretch your arms and legs, and so forth. You’ll feel more relaxed after you’re finished.