Listening to Your Own Inner Wisdom

October 1, 2010  |  brain, imagery, pain, relaxation, thinking, wisdom
While thinking of others who are wise can help us access a certain amount of wisdom, it is even more powerful to go inside and invite input from a deeper, quieter, wiser part of our own brain. After all, our brain has been with us through everything we have ever experienced, and its main job is to learn from these experiences.
In addition to what has happened to us directly, we’ve also observed others solving problems, read books, watched movies and television, perused magazines and newspapers, and followed current events to gain a tremendous wealth of knowledge. We have also inherited brain patterns that have evolved over millions of years of human life. Periodically slowing down our ordinary thinking brains through relaxation and imagery can let us draw from a huge interior reservoir of intuitive wisdom that can help us in unexpected ways.

Madeline, a 28-year-old secretary, came to see me with a severe migraine headache. We had worked together before, so I guided her through a simple progressive relaxation technique, asked her to focus directly on her pain, and urged her to invite a wise, friendly image into her mind that could tell her something useful about the pain.

She pictured a large mynah bird sitting on her head and pecking away in the area of her pain. "Why is he doing that?" she asked, and I suggested that she ask him, and imagine he could answer in a way she could understand. To her surprise, the bird answered, "Why not? You let everyone else pick on you!"

Madeline started crying, and told me that the day before, she had accidentally overheard a fellow employee making fun of her in the coffee room. She started to get angry, but then got nauseous, and started to feel a migraine aura. She went home for the day and the migraine developed  to the point that she came to my office.

In her imagery dialogue, the bird agreed to work with her to better understand and prevent her headaches. She left feeling 90 percent relieved with no other medical intervention.

Continuing internal dialogues with the mynah revealed Madeline’s long-standing pattern of low self-esteem and passivity. The mynah told her that holding anger inside led to her headaches. I referred her to a good therapist and after a while she was much better able both to recognize and to express her needs and her feelings. Not only was she relieved of headaches, but she was much happier and heading in a more successful life direction. Her discomfort had led her to look inside and when she did, she found the wisdom she needed in order to move forward with her life.

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