When I began my own retraining, it was a mixed experience to draw upon memories of health, because I had been ill so very long...
When I started the Gupta Program at age 53, I had been ill for 28 years. I went far back in time to harvest memories, running down a trail in the forest in my 20s, swimming and riding my bike as a kid, snorkeling on a reef in my 20s. I chose active memories, some solitary, like the running one, but mostly ones with friends.
Any chronic illness can be isolating, when not part the normal routines of work, school, and/or community activities, but that was particularly the case with chemical sensitivities, since the advice was to avoid exposures. That was especially hard for me as someone very drawn to community. In my 20s I had lived in cooperative households and spent five months on a kibbutz before the viral onset chronic fatigue that later spread to the related Neuro-Immune Conditioned Syndromes (NICS) of chemical sensitivities, electromagnetic sensitivities, food sensitivities, and fibromyalgia.
I had been living by myself for years when I started the Gupta Program, and my visualizations included living in community again. After I got better, I started attending dinners at a cooperative house and also hosted people through Airbnb to get used to sharing a living space. I was drawn to live in Ajo, Arizona for a year, and enjoyed living in a historic school that had been remodeled into apartments for artists. I had my own apartment, but organized a music jam and attended writing and art events organized by residents. These were paced steps into community, because if there is anything that can stir our old issues, it is living with other people!
I feel so thankful to be living in intentional community again. As I write, I am nurtured by the sounds of children playing as a neighborhood sewing class is happening in my cooperative house’s living and dining rooms.
Earlier today I spent time working with some of my old stress patterns stirred by challenging interactions with people in my community. I spent time with some scared younger parts, orienting them to current reality: that I am in community with people who all have their issues, me included, and sometimes we get triggered, or argue or are frustrated with each other. And also, I have managed to be with a group of people who are all people of good intent, who wish the best for each other, who seek consensus, a decision that is good for all concerned, as we learn the skills of direct democracy. My safety seeker can relax! My approval seeker and achiever can curb the impulse to do too much to prove my worth. My helper can see that attending to my own needs and receiving help are also important in living sustainably.
I needed the tools of the Gupta Program to calm my system through relaxation and retraining. And I needed that third aspect in Ashok’s metaphor of the dove; re-engaging with joy through my love of community. The joy of connecting deeply with people energizes me and gives me the courage to continue to retrain old stress patterns as a healthy person, in the ongoing growth journey of life. My dreams deferred are being realized on a daily basis.