The Power of Change : The Machines of Mind and Heart

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It does not think or reason independently; it merely obeys the commands it receives from your conscious mind. Just as your conscious mind can be thought of as the gardener, planting seeds, your subconscious mind can be thought of as the garden, or fertile soil, in which the seeds germinate and grow.

Your subconscious mind is an unquestioning servant that works day and night to make your behavior fits a pattern consistent with your emotionalized thoughts, hopes, and desires.


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Your subconscious mind grows either flowers or weeds in the garden of your life, whichever you plant by the mental equivalents you create. Your subconscious mind has what is called a homeostatic impulse. It keeps your body temperature at Through your autonomic nervous system, it maintains a balance among the hundreds of chemicals in your billions of cells so that your entire physical machine functions in complete harmony most of the time. Your subconscious mind also practices homeostasis in your mental realm, by keeping you thinking and acting in a manner consistent with what you have done and said in the past.

All your habits of thinking and acting are stored in your subconscious mind. It has memorized all your comfort zones and it works to keep you in them. After time, staying productive and focusing on all of your goals will become part of your comfort zone. Your subconscious mind causes you to feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable whenever you attempt to do anything new or different or to change any of your established patterns of behavior. The sense of fear and discomfort are psychological signs that your subconscious has been activated.

The tendency to commit to these patterns is one reason why habits can be so hard to break. However, when you learn to purposefully create such patterns, you can harness the power of habit and purposefully instill new comfort zones to which your subconscious will adapt.

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You can feel your subconscious pulling you back toward your comfort zone each time you try something new. This is why time management tips may be tougher to implement at first, but once they become habit or routine they will stay in your comfort zone. Superior men and women are always stretching themselves, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.

They are very aware how quickly the comfort zone, in any area, becomes a rut. They know that complacency is the great enemy of creativity and future possibilities. For you to grow, to get out of your comfort zone, you have to be willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable doing new things the first few times. Unlocking the power of these behaviors will put you one step closer to being able to make the same things happen in your life.

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But more importantly, doing so will train your brain to be in line with your true desires, dreams, and life goals. The more in tune with your subconscious you become, the closer you will be to breaking through to success.


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Eileen has breast cancer. The lump was removed last year. It was chemotherapy and radiation for the next six months. Eileen lost weight. Her skin burned. She vomited every day. Her hair fell out— First wisps, then tufts, then clumps. Her daughter couldn't stand it— She was only thirteen— Seeing her mother pull out her hair. Help me. Take a pull. So she grabbed another and another then a clump and out it came. Then they put on music and danced and grabbed hair. They played Chaplin and burlesque.

Hitler had a funny moustache. They put sideburns on Jews.

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Eileen became a billy-goat. They bayed at the moon. When Eileen became bald, they laughed, then they wept. Then the daughter pasted patches in her armpits and a tuft between her legs. I'm a woman now! Up and down the women jumped and screamed until they were exhausted and Eileen's scalp turned red. Then they laughed and hugged and went to bed. Could you see the images and feel the experience of witnessing the transformation? I want to be the stone and tell how she held me in the palm of her hand rolled me between her fingers slipped me into her mouth tasted my salt tumbled me around.


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The poems need not be about illness specifically, but might otherwise embody themes that confronts the patients. Twelve years ago, I myself was going through personally difficult times. One of my patients, a 32 year-old woman who was a wife and mother of a 2-year old daughter, died.

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At the same time my father was beginning his terminal decline from diabetic multisystem failure, and a friend of mine was dying from a cancer that had metastasized to her brain. In addition, I had recently had reconstructive knee surgery to repair torn ligaments, following which I was disabled for months. I had never written much before except a few poems in earlier times of crisis.

I developed ways of writing as my own healing practice, and I listened to the voices of other poets and writers doing the same Our voices are saturated with who we are, embodied in the rhythms, tonal variations, associations, images and other somato-sensory metaphors in addition to the content meaning of the words. Our voices are embodiments of ourselves, whether written or spoken. It is in times of extremity that we long to find words or hear another human voice letting us know we are not alone.

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They represent a progression of my experience: from a dreamed awareness of my father's death as he began his terminal decline, through the realization of what the three year process had meant to me, to overwhelming grief in the aftermath of losing both my father and my friend, and, finally, an attempt to come to some resolution. I rose in his wake. A dream crossed my eyes— My father lying still in his tub. I throw my arms around him yelling Daddy, wake up! Bubbles are bursting everywhere. We sit on the bench in the hospital corridor next to the cafeteria, and we wait.

You know what waiting is. If you know anything, you know what waiting is. It's not about you. This is about illness and hospitals and life and death. This is about the smell of the disinfectant that hits you in the head. In the bathroom you look in the mirror. What do you see? Your father's sad face?

Your mother's eyes? You catch the water cupped in your thickened hands, splash it on your face, and hope against hope you can wash it away— the aging brown spots, the bags, the swelling truth of waiting— So you go back to that bench. Maybe your mother is there or your wife who is waiting for your father who is waiting for the news from the surgeon or the morphine for the pain or the nurse who cleans bedpans who is waiting for her shift to change while another man's hand clamps white as a claw to a clutch of bed sheets, and you wait.