Rising Fog by Susan Hintz Epstein

I’m exploring lifestyle changes for reasons of health maintenance and liberation from old habits of thinking that prevent me from living in a most satisfying way. For example, managing type 2 diabetes led to an hour or more of walking every day that is also satisfying in terms of getting out of the house and experiencing Nature directly. This morning I took some photos on my cell phone of the beauty of the sun reflecting off the rising fog, and I thought of the Norns spinning the Web of Wyrd out of the fog of human emotion and desire.

Managing the thought process is a tinge harder. I notice that a continual low level of thought noise arises randomly without much generation from my cognitive thinking process. People who meditate bump into this process continually, a process which has been termed “monkey mind” for its obsequious nonsensical chatter. One technique is to allow these random thought to arise like clouds in the sky -or- like my observation this morning, of the fog arising from the land. If there is an important thought among them, it will return at need.

What is demoralizing among these thoughts, however, are the negative self talk. “You’re fat,” or “You’re ugly,” or “You’ll never get these pounds down,” my busy mind is fond of telling me. “Why work so hard? Surely there must be a medication for this,” or “My bones hurt today, why keep on?” when I push to lengthen my walk, master a new stretch, or increase my weight routine.

Then there are the voices of the past echoing down the canals of time to my present day hearing. If I accept other people’s voices as truth, and allow them to drown out the voice of my own intention, I cannot hold the vision of the person I want to be. I want to slim down. I want to feel comfortable in my own body. I want to avoid the worst problems of diabetes, and to do that this exercise routine and mental discipline is important. I need to make it fun. I need to make it fun to shut up the inner critic who is judgmental and just plain WRONG.

Between my body and my mind is my emotional state. Habitual negative emotions started for me very young, when my grief over a pet that died was not acknowledged. Eating became a way to comfort myself, and it was from that age that I developed the emotional patterns of overweight. But I have found a faithful best friend in my Journal, to whom I can tell everything and confess everything. I can say anything to my Journal, because my Journal will not backbite me or take anything I might say off gossiping to people who could be hurt by the retelling. An added bonus is that I can read what I wrote down years ago and measure the progress of my life process. I believe that we all come into Earth life to perfect ourselves in the sense of Being, and my Journal gives me a great taste of how far I’ve come -a taste I don’t need to eat!

I can feed myself on positive self-talk. One of my facebook friends just posted that she has kept a log of positive things people have said about her, and this log she turns to whenever her inner critic is too loud or too feisty. She is a kind, giving, wise person, so this idea is not coming from a narcissistic overlarge ego. I think many of us need this kind of a boost. Some of the most successful people I know have confessed to me that on the edge of their success, they looked around certain that their audience was at any moment going to denounce them for a fraud. These folks have taught me that the ideas we hold of ourselves are often wrong and not at all how other people see us.

Uncovering personal psychology can take years of work. Some people seek talk therapy, but this does not get me into the real meat of how I am feeling. I like to start each morning by taking a Susan inventory – “How am I feeling today?” Very often very quickly I can turn a bad mood around by reminding myself of all the good things in my life – work I enjoy, a husband who treats me like an intellectual equal, my home, my dog whose needs keep me active when I’m feeling lazy. There really is a lot to be Grateful for.

When a Gratitude practice is not totally effective, I can always turn to Beauty. Sunrise, sunset, the clouds rising up after a rain, the busy squirrels in the trees, the birdsong, a kind word from my spouse or my son, the memory of faraway days with my horses, the river that runs through the valley, my dog running in her joy – all of these are among those things that lift my spirit. As an artist, I can always find something new to see. Curiosity and wonder are part of my spirit, and gifts I am happy to have.

When even these don’t work, I go deep within and listen for the Still Small Voice. You know the one. The one that says, “I am God, be still and know Me.” I bask there, restful and at peace, until my spirit is calm and I can face the day’s challenges again. One of the most useful things I have finally learned -and I don’t know why it took me so many years to learn this- is that life is always in motion. There is no static finality in anything. Even death has its renewal like the colorful leaves of Autumn giving way to the rest of Winter before a fruitful Spring and industrious Summer. There are no endings, only changes of form, the most beautiful kind of renewal.

So with this in mind, I set out on my afternoon walk, ready for new insights, inspirations, et cetera to pop into mind along with those other continually arising “monkey thoughts.” I think maybe I’m changing my form. My jeans were a little looser this morning.


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