Years ago I learned something that I thought that I would share with you, the reader. On the Medicine Wheel there are 4 cardinal directions, one of which represents the Air element, the element of the Mind. The direction of this will vary according to the tradition one is following. So it really doesn’t matter which direction we are speaking of, the point is that this point on the Wheel represents the Mind.
The teachings for this direction have to do with Receptivity. There is an expression that goes, “The mind is like a parachute…it works best when it is open”. That is the essence of the teaching. Keep your mind open…open to possibilities, to new perspectives, to different points of view. As we do this we accumulate knowledge (information gathering), wisdom (the appropriate use of said knowledge) and abundance (the result of applied wisdom).
Then there is the direction that represents the Body. The teachings of this point are those of Holding. From the time we are born until the time we die, no matter the length of time between those two events, we all need to be held. Physical touch is ultimately important in our connections with each other, in our sense of love and stability in our lives, and in our physical healing. The physical body is a temple in which our souls reside and through which our spirits express themselves. In understanding the holding capacity of our bodies we enter into a state of introspection, which leads to personal transformation and strength.
Now that we have reviewed this part of the Medicine wheel…let’s get on to how this pertains to the title of this piece. There is a thing that many of us do in our daily lives. We brood. We toss the troublesome things around in our heads and allow them, in doing so, to gather more negativity along the way until what started out as a speck of dust turns into a giant boulder that weighs heavily upon our minds. We Ruminate until it becomes seemingly insurmountable. The thing is that when we are doing this we are forcing our inner Medicine Wheel to function a full 45 degrees off kilter. Ruminating is an act of HOLDING WITH OUR MINDS instead of RECEIVING WITH OUR MINDS. It is at the very least a bad habit that we get into. But it can turn quickly into a mental illness whereby the one ruminating becomes mentally OBSESSED. This adds even more mental stress to any situation.
The solution for this, when you find yourself doing this…and you will because, after all, you are human….is to shift to Contemplation. Rumination swirls us around in the problem. Contemplation helps us to formulate a plan to solve the problem or, as the very least, solve how we respond to the problem in a less stressful manner. So rumination will look like this:
Russin, frussin, son-of-a-@#$@^ how the heck could he think that is okay and then on top of that….and so on and so on.
Contemplation will look like this:
Okay. So that just happened. Now…in order for this to resolve we are going to need to (fill in the blank) and possibly do THIS so that we are okay while that is happening. And isn’t it interesting the pattern of behaviour that is being shown to me…
These are completely different methods of using the mind. Contemplation leads to receptivity so that one can move on. Rumination leads to quick sand that will suck us under the more we move. And when we ruminate we hold the tension and stress within the muscles and cells of our bodies…which leads to physical illness on top of the mental illness. People who hold grudges, for example, will be ruminating about whatever the offence originally was and building on that until they make themselves sick. People who more easily move on (because forgiveness is not always appropriate either) will be the ones who contemplate what has happened and make adjustments according to the situation…and perhaps leave the situation entirely for personal safety because they can clearly see that they are in danger if they don’t move on.
My invitation is to ask yourself, when you are thinking about things in our life, “Am I ruminating or am I contemplating?” If you find that you are ruminating, simply shift your focus to contemplation instead. You will find that your life becomes much less stressful if you apply that one simple tool that is now in your bag of tools.