Recently I've been working really hard at creating positive memories to replace the old, negative memories. I seem to have developed a system that is really working for me. I decided to make any positive experience a memory by extending it by as much as 5 or 10 seconds. When I notice that I am experiencing something pleasant, I bolster it by choosing to think hard about a positive feeling such as gratitude, love, or comfort. It can be as simple as noticing a beautiful flower...then I add one of the above feelings to my experience and hold onto it for a few more seconds and let it seep into my soul. As I have practiced this, it has lead to positive feelings and pleasurable memories in many many places. For example, I really didn't like the boardwalk here in Alvor after about a month of seeing it every day as my only place to go walking. My energy was very low for a long time and I dreaded the 'arms' of the boardwalk because they had slight inclines and my legs were so very exhausted for months after arriving here. So, now that I have short periods of time alone, I have thus far chosen to spend them walking this same boardwalk. Even the sound of my feet walking on the wood triggered memories from teh early days here. I plugged in my music to drown out the sound of my footsteps and noticed that I was taking in beautiful images of the quaint fishing town and gentle ripples in the water; then I leaned towards focussing on a feeling that comes easily to me such as gratitude. I imagined being with people who made it possible for me to get to this place where I am experiencing healing; I thought about an old friend giving me a giant hug without words; I just 'thank you for this moment' in my head and felt myself filling up with what I can only identify as joy. It bubbled and bubbled until I felt like I was going to burst and I savoured that moment, that pleasant feelign of fullness. The next time I went to the boardwalk, a few steps into my walk I felt this now familiar feeling starting in my stomach...tickling me from the inside out - out of no where! It is not really the boardwalk per se that has any specific memory attached to it that I could put words to and explain but it is what I have done with that experience - I have created what I needed, I have replaced the old negative memory of dread that I affiliated witht he boardwalk with one of psotivie anticipation.
This is a pretty classic example of the 'power of positive thinking' - a phrase of which I dislike because it is so over used but it does encompass what I am discovering.
I am eager to take this skill back to my home environment (wherever home is...somewhere in Canada) because I truly believe that it will help me deal with 'triggers' (another overused word) and I can change places that are affiliated with negativity and sickeness and pain and replace that familiar experience with one of peace.
It really is a type of neurological pruning. I'm clipping off those dead old memories and letting the new growth be closest to the sun and extend right from the trunk or core of what is me.
In other news, I am having a little bit of freedom these days to be by myself. I am learning quite a lot about how I feel in my own company, where and if I am safe with myself, and also discovering that it is not me being 'needy' by wanting friends and family near me, it is simply that I am a people person. That said, I am also good company for myself and that is going to be a crucial element in keeping me well for the rest of my life.
More on the practical healing of my relationship with exercise and possibly a touch more on body image to come...