A bit of Buddhist philosophy…


I’m in a funny sort of a mood, you know the one where you get a strange sense of nostalgia which drives a longing sensation deep in the pit of your stomach?

I finally sold a house I have had since university days (15 years ago). It has taken almost a year to sell and my anxious frustration had been bubbling under the surface for sometime. So it was strange to me when completion of the sale provoked an emotional response such that I almost burst into tears.

Memories of my Grandfather who enabled me to get the house, recollections of university days all flooded back to me. And with that, I couldn’t help compare the then with the now and recognise how time and life have evolved in good and difficult ways.

With the release of responsibility and term coming to an end, the busy frenzy of life settles and my brain has time to reflect and at the same time, open its mind to new possibilities and opportunities! The ying to nostalgia’s yang…optimism and curiosity for what may come to be.

I went on a course yesterday to learn how acupuncture can help affect our emotional state! Letting go was the starting point of conversations.

That brought home to me how much energy my brain had expelled thinking about the house. How much space I now had to be creative just because I’d let it go. The house is a physical entity but use it as a metaphor for the host of thoughts that the cortex houses. How many things do we ruminate on? Over and over, energy wasted, staying bound to the same spot. How humans have, at times, just a little too much cortex!

Negative thoughts and emotions are in themselves not bad, they allow us to assess risk, evaluate and make informed decisions. It is the persistence of these thoughts and feelings that create an anxious or depressed “emotional state of being.”

All too often physiotherapists are challenged by how best to treat a client where effecting someone’s state of mind may be more of a priority than addressing their physical condition. We recognise that without changing the psyche we will not change their physical presentation.

Some will scoff at the thought that a physio’s role can lie closer to the psyche rather than the soma. More than three hundred years of Western Medicine has fragmented these concepts, but to me, the idea that mind, body and spirit can be separated is absurd! Emotion can generate pain is as obvious to me as dawn is to day!

On the course we began to unravel and discuss the theories that underlie Chinese Medicine, a philosophy that seems more in tune with my understanding of health and well being. I found myself among fellow physiotherapists classifying our personality types into wood, fire, metal, water and earth types.

Rather than laughing at this, 17 clinically and scientifically trained therapists came to a common understanding about these classifications and determined acupuncture points based on our personalities!

Perhaps, explaining these theories is the content for another blog! But whether you have wood, fire, water, earth or metal characteristics, at times, we need to find balance between them all. In my opinion, forged from scholars and Buddhists far more enlightened than me, suggest moving through emotions freely, letting go quickly and allowing for transition from one state to another is more primal, more natural and leads to a happier existence.

So what is my point to all this? On Easter Sunday, I ask you to notice how your mind generates thoughts. Have a go at conceptualising a thought in a different way?

The Dalai. Lama’s example of the sorrowful gardener pining over the inevitable death of the most beautiful and floral scented rose to ever exist was advised to consider that the rose was in fact more beautiful because of it’s transience. There was more reason to appreciate and celebrate it’s beauty! The situation is the same but the conceptualisation of the thought evokes a very different emotional response.

Another example I love is Billie Jean King, the tennis player, who famously said, “pressure is a privilege!” Completely flipping the emotional response to pressure on it’s head.

So, don’t let your cortex stick you to a spot! After all “change happens through movement and movement heals,” Joseph Pilates.

Happy Easter!
Rachel@ Phoenix Freedom

Rachel Changer