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Alternatives For Healing

101 Exercises for the Soul

by Dr. Bernie Siegel

Bestselling author Dr. Bernie Siegel is a well-known proponent of alternative approaches to healing not just for the body, but the mind and soul as well. In 101 Exercises for the Soul: Simple Practices for a Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit he offers simple exercises for the soul, a divine plan for healing yourself and transforming your life. Here’s a sampling of the guidance and wisdom he lovingly offers:

Exercise 29: Let Your Heart Decide

Questions & Answers

Sometimes we get into a rut and find ourselves constantly tired or depressed, so that even taking time off or resting doesn’t seem to change the way we feel. The reason is that we have stopped paying attention to our feelings and are no longer listening to our heart. Our inner child wants to be heard and do what makes it happy; it wants to burn up its energy and not burn out.

For this exercise, you will need to meditate. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed so you can relax and listen to your inner voice. When comfortable, begin by taking deep breaths; focus on the motion of your chest and completely relax. Ask these questions of your heart: What do you love to do? What do you want to do today? Now open your treasure chest and listen to the answers.

Be open to whatever your feelings tell you. If you need help to accomplish what your heart tells you to do, ask for spiritual direction, too. Your answers will be revealed by how your heart feels, not what your mind thinks. It may tell you things that surprise you, so be ready to begin the journey of transformation.

Exercise 44: Give Compliments

Say Something Nice

If you want to lift people off the ground — compliment them. Compliments are the helium that fills everyone’s balloon; they elevate the person receiving them so he or she can fly over life’s troubles and land safely on the other side, to be received with open arms.

When you motivate others with words of kindness, you will receive a surge of creative energy, too. I am not talking about giving false compliments to make someone feel better; I am talking about giving people the en-couragement to face a challenge rather than submit to their fears. If someone you love is singing or performing in any way, your kind words can inspire the person to share his or her talents with the world. Sometimes it is the small things in life that truly help us to feel empowered. For this exercise, dedicate at least one week to giving out three genuine compliments a day, and watch how this changes the level of enthusiasm you feel toward yourself and others.

I carry pins with me that say “You Make a Difference” and give them to people I see acting in a way that is life-enhancing. Recently at the grocery store, I gave an employee a card I received as a valued customer. The card said she was special, and her smile rewarded me.

Also, remember to say thank you when compliments are sent your way. When we circulate our thanks and our compliments, the world becomes a better place.

Exercise 44: What Are You Afraid Of?

Experience Fear & Embrace It

Face and embrace what you fear and it will become smaller. When you confront fear, the monster that seems to be threatening you will become a little lizard. But if you keep running, the monster will never cease chasing you. Don’t wait for a life-threatening illness to give yourself permission to take a chance and face your fears.

For this exercise, think of something you have always feared doing and do it. This could be something you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid to fail at — such as a sport like skiing or an activity like singing in public — or it could be something that directly addresses a phobia. If you are afraid of heights, then skydive, ride a roller coaster, or fly in a small plane. If you are agoraphobic, just going out in public might be a heroic act.

Once you’ve decided what it is you will do, first take the time to visualize yourself doing the event successfully and fearlessly. See yourself taking part in this activity comfortably. Some relaxing music in the background can help. As you see things occurring, experience the feelings that come to your awareness. At the end of the visualization, see yourself smiling and feeling successful.

Then put your plans in motion. Follow through and do it. Take a chance. Become a kid again, free of the inhibitions and fears imposed by adults. You might just enjoy it!

Excerpted with permission from 101 Exercises for the Soul © 2010 Dr. Bernie Siegel. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

About the Author

Dr. Bernie Siegel’s multi-million best-selling first book, Love, Medicine & Miracles, was published in 1986. He is the author of multiple other books including Peace, Love & Healing, How to Live between Office Visits, and Help Me to Heal. Dr. Siegel lives with his wife and their dog, Furphy, and bunny, Smudge, in Connecticut. They have five grown children and several wonderful grandchildren.

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