Are you a monk?
This is a question that passes through my lips frequently in the treatment room. Pay attention to this one, it’s important. Emotions run high when you discuss your health. They run even higher when we discuss how your health is connected to your way of being, acting and reacting in the world. When my patients start to learn more about how their emotional states are affecting their physical states, they go through a few stages.
Stage 1 – Aha Moments
In this stage people are excited because they finally start to notice that when they have coffee, their anxiety levels are higher (oh, wait, that might be about me…). They also notice that when they bring a bad mood around with them, people treat them worse. Days are filled with realizations that they can shift the way their days feel by shifting their perspectives. This is also the stage where they notice that stress before bed leads to neck and shoulder aches in the mornings and so on. Most patients enjoy this discovery stage. It’s a fun way to reconnect with your body and feel like you actually have some influence over your health and wellbeing.
Stage 2 – Annoyance
After playing around in stage 1 for awhile, patients tend to get annoyed that they have a responsibility for their health and wellbeing. They notice that they cannot be victims and blame other people for their stuff. They have to take ownership and know that they have to work with themselves in order to feel better. Another level of annoyance gets thrown in when they notice that other people don’t connect these dots and therefore don’t work on themselves. Once you start taking ownership, it is easy to notice when other people don’t take ownership.
Stage 3 – Worry
Once they pass through the annoyance stage, there is a realization that they can work on their own emotional states without being too concerned with other people. So, they begin work again and then start being Judgey McJudgerton about other peoples processes – but they notice that and don’t like it, so they turn that judgement onto themselves. This is where my question comes in:
Are you a monk?
Most people laugh and then look at me incredulously. What is this question all about, they wonder? Why the heck am I asking them about monks?!? I usually follow it up with: “Do you live in a monastery?” and “Is your primary goal each day to send loving kindness to all sentient beings?”
My people, my lovely, lovely people… PLEASE, for the love of all the monks in the world… remember that you are human. Even monks have good days and bad days. Even the Dalai Lama struggles with jealousy and anger sometimes (here’s proof!). Buddhist monks generally have a goal of Nirvana (enlightenment) and part of the work they do to achieve this is to release attachment to emotions and build their ‘mental immunity’ through education and meditation. If they live in a monastery community, this is basically their primary job.
You, my friend, on the other hand… live in the world. You have partners and children and dogs. You have a boss and a grocery clerk and a local barista. You are bombarded every day with a myriad of colors, sounds, emotions and faces. Give yourself a little space to be imperfect. Remind yourself that you are living a human experience. Hold yourself accountable but make space for mistakes, even before they happen because they are bound to anyway.
So, the next time you get caught up judging yourself for your emotional state or your vibes that you are carrying around.. ask yourself this little question and remember your humanness.
Are you a monk?
Do you know somebody that needs the reminder that they don’t need to be perfect all the time? Please send this to them, it’s an important lesson and just maybe it’ll create a little sigh of relief for them.