Spirit Leaves: How to Gain Balance in Thirty Days

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This month’s Edge topic asks that we “think outside the box.” Venturing forth from our comforting cardboard confines involves thinking and perceiving differently. Often we find it difficult to disavow timeworn habits and traditions, but letting go is usually the best way to move forward. In releasing old wounds, old patterns, old habits — in short, all that is familiar — we set foot on a new path of healing and wonderment.

The journey begins by switching from the negative to the positive. The brain is actually quite a resilient and resourceful organ. It constantly manufactures new cells, forges new pathways and secures new connections. I can actually feel something “shift” when I remember to say affirmations aloud and with conviction, so I know, experientially, that my brain is being reconfigured. Within days, even the most trenchant maladies have subsided.

It’s the same with dieting. By speaking negative pronouncements to the mirror or focusing only on our wobbly bits, we perpetuate the status quo. All that does is feed self-loathing and ensure the perpetuation of chronic metabolically driven conditions. The same applies to any bodily ailment, for dis-ease is merely an imbalance. Practice mind over matter. Try complimenting yourself. Love yourself. Make all your declarations positive. Slowly, things change.

Some of us really need some deprogramming. As a child, I overheard my mom on the phone with my aunts recite a litany of inherited illnesses — conditions the women in her family endured that were now besieging her: high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, hair loss, and cysts. My dad had his own empathic response to my childhood physical complaints: “Jan, you got that from your FAH-ther — a deviated septum and sinus trouble!”

He was trying to be kind and sympathetic; both parents were. Instead, they were unknowingly encouraging me to self-program the cells of my body to foster familial maladies.

One day, it occurred to me to disavow the expected array of malaises. Now, whenever an “inevitable” condition crosses my mind or is broadcast as news, I say aloud, “I’m not going to get cancer,” or “Diabetes is not part of my life plan.” Pharmaceutical companies badger us with ads in an effort to scare us into profligate pill popping, to which I retort, “For every symptom or condition, there exists an herbal, nutritional or lifestyle change I can effectuate. I prefer to avoid the inevitable side-effects of pills.”

Through this clever strategy, I have been talking aloud to my body’s intelligence, the system that carries out directions to every cell; my body is beginning to listen and respond. I further reinforce well-being through common sense, avoiding things like poisonous tap water, refined sugars and chemically laden foods. Still, my best insurance of a healthy life has been to stay positive. I realize I am not a prisoner in a war zone, shoring up defenses, primed to “do battle.” My wise philosophy professor, Ellery B. Haskell, used to say, “We don’t really want to kill anything, even cancer. We just want the viruses to go play in their own backyard.”

Please don’t misunderstand me: I am acutely aware that many of us have struggled (valiantly!) with conditions that are very real. This is simply my personal journey that I am sharing. It is always a matter of one’s free will to decide whether the information is a good fit for your personal situation. I’m still moving toward greater mastery of managing the physical somatization of thoughts and fears; but I know in my heart that, one day soon, I shall be dis-ease free and in radiant health.

As Cedric Red Feather and the Mandans have taught, there are four parts to every human, of which the physical is only one. “Treat the spiritual first, and all the others (mental, emotional and physical) will align.” That is what Cedric would explain to us in doctoring ceremonies. We can meditate, eat sensibly, exercise and the like, but the most important parts to change are the mind and heart. All of this is greatly enhanced and most likely to succeed once we make keeping the body healthy a spiritual practice — whatever form that takes.

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Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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