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Friday, May 27, 2011

36 Turquoise Beads

Beads resting upon a reproduction of a painting by Pat Thompson

I once bought a string of 36 turquoise beads that felt so good in my hands, each one sort of the size and shape of a piece of Chiklet gum. They now hang from a hook, here on my desk, always within easy reach of my hand. When I am frustrated, sad, or struggling, I reach for this strand of 36, each stone unique and cool between my fingers, and slowly work my way around the circle.

I begin where the line is knotted and caress the first piece of turquoise, saying thank you in my heart for something...anything. On certain days I can only begin with a thank you for the cup of tea just made but, as each pale stone comes between my thumb and forefinger, more comes to my mind to be grateful for. There is always the view out over Joe's Bay, whether sun shines or rain pours. There's always a tide coming or going to soothe my gaze, always more shades of green than one can fathom. Each turquoise bead pulls me to the next and my heart begins to ease, my mind coming into this beautiful moment.

Due to my daughter's chronic Lyme disease and its neurological involvement, I have wanted to study a bit about our human brains and recently bought a small book recommended by friends called, "My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. Dr. Taylor is a brain scientist who, at 37, suffered a massive stroke. Amazingly, she was able to study herself during the event and, after years of recovery, wrote this book in layman's terms for those of us not brain scientists. She begins by explaining our two brains, left and right, how they work and communicate together to make up intricate and individual minds. Then the good doctor takes us through the day of her stroke from the inside, a fascinating study. She wraps ups with the meaning of her title, simply and powerfully. I leave it to you to read her book for the full journey, but here is something that lit up the page for me.

Dr. Taylor explains how a feeling, say of anger or hurt, runs its physiological circuit in about ninety seconds, and then, she says, we can choose to keep running the circuit, which the left brain would be happy to do...or we can slide to the right (and this time I mean in a good way, wink-wink) brain and experience the feeling of peace, in the present moment. Now, you ask, what is one way to make this break in the circuits and move to our right brain? Well, Jill goes on to say that gratitude is one of the fastest ways to make this transition.

So I come back to my 36 turquoise beads on a knotted loop and realize how precious they are to me, how they first cool my frustrations, stop the anxious circuits of worries beyond my immediate control, quiet the mind and return me to the gift of this present moment. Where turquoise is found in the earth, it is thought to be pieces from the Some days may be difficult, but I do have some choice and ninety seconds goes into 36 turquoise beads of gratitude for my peace of mind.


claudia Patchen said...

Thanks Lorraine for your your thoughtful comments. I can feel my right brain lighting up with gratitude. I needed that, sweetie. Claudia

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lorraine, for an interesting and helpful article. Dr. Taylor states that "gratitude" is one of the fastest ways out of a feeling of anger or hurt. I've noticed that Christians, after great disasters (such as losing a house) praise and thank God. With both Dr. Taylor's thesis and with Christian action, there's a commonality of gratitude as the preferred reaction to ills. Rather than dwelling on hurt feelings in the left side of the brain, the right side cheers us, grateful that it wasn't worse and that we're alive.

Lorraine Hart said...

...and Muslims will thank Allah, will say Insh' Allah wills it.

Buddha certainly moved to the right for enlightenment.

Human beings may just have that coping mechanism in the brain to 'pull' us into the right brain after great disasters. The recognition of the fragility of our existence must lead us to say thank who or what, an individual movement for what makes each feel comfortable and able, once again, to put one foot in front of the other.

It's all still worth the price of admission, I'd say.

JosephMcG said...

I began relaxing as I read this. I am looking at my colorful rosary with white, black, and red beads, right now and I am going to start using it more!
I have a wonderful friend, based at the Matt Talbolt Center, Dr. David Scratchley, who taught me an awful lot about the brain. Might goggle him and check him out...
Also check out brain waves music I use various types of brain waves music daily to keep me moving positively through the day.

Lorraine Hart said...

Thank you Joseph...boy does my brain ever have to go slow to understand about the brain!

I have to admit, I like the non-structure of coming up with things to be thankful for in that moment, rather than learned prayers, or mantra.

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