Prescriptions for the Soul
by Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.
Prescription #2: Slow Down
There is more to life than increasing its speed.- Mohandas Gandhi
My wife is always telling me to slow down, but my years of medical training have taught me to do things quickly to be prepared for emergencies. Although it's been hard to stop walking fast and gulping down meals, I keep trying!
The other day a policeman waved at me to slow down as I passed a construction site, and this led me to think about my wife's message.
Then, a few days later as I left my of?ce and started walking toward my car, I heard a woman say, "Slow down!" So I did. As I started to walk slowly, I heard another woman start laughing. I turned to see what was funny, and it was me. She pointed out that the person saying "Slow down" was the mother of a little boy who had run into the parking lot as they left the building. I said, "Now you know what my wife and mother have been telling me for years. So I follow orders when I hear a woman's voice say 'slow down!'"
Sometimes the Creator works in mysterious ways. If the same message is coming to you from many different directions, heed it!
Soulution of the Day: As the Su? poet Rumi says, "Your criticism polishes my mirror." When we hear the same suggestions over and over again, they may begin to feel like criticism. But if you stop to listen, they might just help you to slow down and smell the roses.
Prescription #32: Form and Essence
The more you depend on forces outside yourself, the more you are dominated by them.
- Harold Sherman
When I work with people in assisted-living facilities, I ask them to draw a picture of themselves today and twenty-?ve years ago. I almost always get a picture of a fat, unhappy person now and a slim, smiling one of earlier days.
The truth is that everyone, regardless of their age, tends to draw the same two pictures. I can recall looking at old home movies of our family and being amazed that I didn't look as bad as I remembered. Everyone else looked good too. I rarely ?nd an individual who appreciates herself as she is now and as she was then.
Most of us get caught up in our form and appearance and spend a great deal of time and money to make ourselves look younger and more attractive. We are critical of the form that appears in the mirror, but within that human form lies something more, our essence. It is only when we see the beauty within that we come to know our true selves. When we realize that our essence is divine, we will see beauty wherever we look.
Although both are components of the same physical entity, form and essence are two very different things. Our form is a gift that allows us to manifest our essence. We need our body and all its problems to carry out the work of the divine. When our focus is constantly aimed at our outer world, it prevents us from spending our time cultivating that which nurtures our essence.
Soulution of the Day: Honor your total self. Life becomes meaningful and your purpose more clear when you come from a place of wholeness. Notice how much time you spend doing things that support your essence.
Prescription #50: Survival Behavior
With love anything is possible. - Anonymous
A friend of mine learned she had a short time to live. To have some company for the last few months of her life, she adopted a stray cat. She took it to the vet to be sure it was healthy. Lo and behold, it had feline leukemia and had a year to live. Upon returning home my friend was devastated and depressed, but the cat wasn't. Thank God she learned from the cat because, as I write this, it is fourteen years since that day, and they both have survived.
Animals respond to love, live in the moment, express feelings, and in general know how to be survivors. I know of a cat in renal failure that was taken home to die and given special attention and love in preparation for his departure. Four years later he is still living.
I have gone through this with our own pets. When our children wouldn't let me have one of our pets euthanized, I saw ?rsthand what love can do. Our vet said, "I have never seen a dog this sick survive." Yet Oscar did for three good years. What can we learn from this? To never give up and never stop loving.
Soulution of the Day: Live in the moment and love with every breath. Your life will have meaning, and you'll help lead the way for others.
Prescription #120: Be Kind to the Wounded
In love's service only the wounded soldier can serve. - Thornton Wilder
Many years ago, when I was working as a counselor at a day camp, I saw a boy in my group emptying his locker one Friday afternoon. I didn't know why he was taking everything home, but before I could ask, a group of boys came over and started teasing him. In a flash they scattered his things all over the ground. I ran over to help him. Afterward I asked him where he lived. When it turned out he lived near my house I offered him a ride home. He accepted, and the head of the camp had no objections, so off we went. He was awkward and uncoordinated and no one ever wanted him on their team, so I was surprised at how bright and humorous his conversation was on the way home.
I invited him to come to the game I was going to be in the next day, and to make a long story short, we became close friends. We drove home together each day, and I'd always pick him for my teams at camp.
Years later I was invited to the boy's graduation from high school. He was the valedictorian and very different from the chubby young man I had known. He spoke of the day we had met and said, "I was emptying my locker because I was planning to commit suicide and didn't want my parents to have to go through the emotional strain of picking up my things. Then someone intervened to help me. Never underestimate the power of your actions."
Soulution of the Day: Remember, we are all wounded. Be an angel and when someone is having trouble with their wings, lift them up. You will be uplifted too.
Excerpted from 365 Prescriptions for the Soul: Daily Messages of Inspiration, Hope, and Love by Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. Copyright © 2004 by Bernie S. Siegel. All rights reserved. Excerpted by arrangement with New World Library. $18.95. Available in local bookstores or call 800.972.6657 Ext.52 or click here.