TED Conversations

Shane Lynch

Student,

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How do you make the realization that you are not your body with out something dramatic happening or slowing seeing it break down?

This would be a very helpful realization I believe, that would help you discover who you really are and help deal with physical ailments and conditions. It seems to happen often for people who are forced to realize this and for those who live a healthy life and have to watch there bodies deteriorate it seems to be a painful realization.

Topics: death illness life
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  • Dec 3 2012: Hi Shane, and everyone who has commented...excellent question indeed! I asked myself how I would approach this if I had not been through my accident. Even though this was my experience, it is not necessary to go through trauma to come to the realization that we have a body, but we are more than our bodies. What is important is to go into the process of enquiry, ie to sit, close your eyes and drop into yourself, asking the question, Who am I if I let go of my beliefs, thoughts, feelings, emotions? These things come and go but what remains? Then ask the question, Who am I? and see what appears.
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      Dec 3 2012: Dear Janine,
      Your experience, and how you move through it, is very inspiring....I'm glad you stayed in the earth school because your demeanor, joy, humor in the face of challenge will no doubt influence many people.Your spirit is indeed unstopable:>)

      When I regained consciousness from the near fatal head injury, and was told I would never function "normally" again, I thought.....what the heck does THAT mean for me the rest of my life? I also asked the question....why me? And it did not take long to move to...why NOT me? I also perceive life as an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve as an individual, while contributing to the whole.

      As I was moving through the challenge, I often read books and listened to stories like yours, from people who faced UNBELEIVABLE, life threatening challenges. This gave me courage to face my own silly challenges...near fatal head/brain injury...a few cracked ribs...cancer at the same time.....that's nothing compared to what some people face!

      I was diagnosed with cancer the month before the head injury, and was supposed to have surgery. We had to wait to see if the body was going to live before schedueling the cancer surgery! Five months later, they figured the body was good enough to face another challenge, so we did the cancer surgery:>) I had also ended 24 years of marriage 3 months prior to the head injury, emergency craniotomy, and cancer diagnosis.

      Many times, I asked the question...who the heck am I....what am I? The experience of looking at the body in ICU while I was unconscious, on life support systems, simply added to the question and confusion....who the hell am I? What's going on here? While the body hovered between life and death clinically, I was watching it from another place. When the energy that powers the body came back into it, the condition of the body stabalized, and I believed on several levels that I was going to be ok...I didn't know what ok meant!

      We are not ever alone....thanks for your insightful talk:
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          Dec 3 2012: Thanks Mark,
          I did not "skip over" anything at all...thanks for the reminder though:>)

          You may notice in my first comment on this thread I wrote...
          "I was in a child-like state emotionally/physically and started over again:>)"

          I'm not attached to my beliefs at all Mark....I've "started over" several times in my life adventure, and I've expressed that very clearly on several TED sites.

          You might want to let go of your belief that you can discredit and/or educate me?
          I "take it" as harrassment at this point...you are only discrediting yourself.
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          Dec 3 2012: Mark,
          I would like to remind you of a very insightful comment you made on another thread recently.

          "Mark Meijer
          3 days ago: Why should we ever presume to know what's best for someone else. Moreover, why should we ever presume that the best thing for them is that we lie to them. And finally, why do we believe ourselves when we tell ourselves that the reason for lieing is to benefit someone else, rather than to benefit our own unacknowledged agendas. There is honesty towards other people, and there is honesty towards yourself, which is called integrity. And to my mind, the latter is the important kind of honesty. If we take care of that one, the former will take care of itself."
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          Dec 3 2012: Yes, you probably DID see "that coming", because on some level, you are very perceptive.

          I'm glad you are "getting over" yourself....as you say, and learning more about how to recognize your own "stuff".

          Thank you very much, if indeed you are putting an end to the harrassment. The things you say are not true...that is what makes your comments simply harrassment. YOU might take a look at why YOU need to do that.

          I did NOT say you have discredited me. I wrote, clearly...
          "You might want to let go of your belief that you can discredit and/or educate me?......you are only discrediting yourself."

          I do not perceive you being "ruthlessly honest" with yourself. I observe you trying to "fix" everyone else with your lecturing. WALK YOUR TALK...."BE" what you talk about!

          If you really think/feel that I have NOT explored myself with the life/death challenges I have faced, you are only deceiving yourself. When someone is sharing what is in his/her heart, and you have a need to lecture and correct them (which I've observed many times here in TED discussions) that is about YOU, and no one else.

          I KNOW that whatever you say has no bearing on the calls I make about myself....I've been trying to tell you that your harrassment is YOURS....it is not mine.
          Best to you as well Mark.
      • Dec 14 2012: Thank you Colleen for sharing your story with everyone and your insights also. I do believe we all need to share our stories, for it is only in that context can we have true understanding of our own lives and the collective human condition. :))
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          Dec 14 2012: Thanks for your reply Janine. I wholeheartedly agree that sharing our stories connects us, and hopefully reminds us that we are all together....not alone. I appreciate you very much.....thanks:>)
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      Dec 4 2012: Janine,
      I have a question....
      I forwarded your video to a friend, who was just as amazed and inspired as I am with your story. He asked me when your accident happened....he was interested in knowing how far out (years?) you are from the accident and surgeries. Now I am curious too, and cannot find that info here in your bio, or on your web site. Do you want to share that information? Thanks
      • Dec 14 2012: Hi Colleen, my accident was in 1986, I was training for the 1988 Olympics. My surgeries are ongoing...my body is always in need of a grease and oil change! Of course, there is more to my story than the accident, but I only had 18 minutes. There is a movie on my life, named after my first book, Never Tell Me Never. :))
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          Dec 14 2012: Thanks again for replying. I LOVE your reference to a "grease and oil change"! I compared my body to my Ford Ranger on this thread...being a "vehicle" which carries me through the earth life experience, which was not well received by one person who apparently got his knickers in a knot about it! LOL :>)

          I will get your book and movie....can't wait to read and hear more of your story! One thing I noticed right away with your presentation, is your sense of humor, and that is one thing that helps sustain me with life challenges. I feel that it is helpful to sometimes "surrender" to the reality of the situation, and simply know that the best thing I can do at the moment is simply "BE" to the best of my ability.

          This is a quote that I had posted around my house, and read hundreds of times, which brought me back to the reality of the situation, what I could, or could NOT do in the moment....
          "Out of its abysses, unpredictable life emerges, with a never-ending procession of miracles, crises, healing, and growth. When I realize this once again, I see the absurdity of my belief that I can understand, predict and control life. All I can really do is go along for the ride, with as much consciousness and love as I can muster in the moment".
          (Molly Young Brown)

          While some folks may think/feel that "life" is over with life threatening challenges, with an open heart and mind, as you have, we may discover that another kind of "life" is beginning.

          Thanks Janine....love to you:>)
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    Nov 30 2012: I think every time we look at a loved one and see that we love them for something other than their physical appearance or capabilities, the idea that we are not defined by our physical capabilities and disabilities is apparent.

    Most of us see easily past the wrinkles and fragility of our aged parents and find that how good or bad their knees may be does not affect how we feel about them.

    I assume this is the sort of distinction to which you are refering rather than the level of linking all our behaviors and feelings to neurons firing.
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    Dec 4 2012: In my mind I am my body.
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      Dec 4 2012: Hi Greg,
      I am confused by your statement, and I'm curious....If, in your mind you are your body, what part does your mind, or other parts of "you" play in the "I am"?

      I notice on your profile, that you are an "Activist, Artist, Atheist, Athlete, Change Agent".
      Is it only your body that you feel when participating in these activities? Apparently not because your "mind" is working to recognize the body?
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        Dec 12 2012: Colleen, I thought he was saying that we eventually realize that we're more than just physical material, that we're also "spiritual." I tend to downplay the spiritual thing, thinking everything we do is "just physical," "just chemicals." No, I have a brain as well as a body, but my brain is just a mass of physical substances like my body, chemicals and tissue, etc.
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          Dec 13 2012: Hi Greg,
          Thanks for the reply. I tend to "downplay the spiritual thing" as well, because it appears that often, the word spiritual is connected to religion, which I do not agree with.

          I agree with what you say about the body/brain being a mass of physical substances, chemicals, tissue, etc.

          I also believe that the substances, chemicals, tissues that make up the body and brain are "fueled" by energy. It is scientifically proven that energy runs through the body. I believe that the body is a "carrier" for the energy which is our conscious, subconscious, imagination, instinct, intuition, etc.:>)
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    Dec 3 2012: Have you ever heard of a floatation tank? It is also called an isolation tank, or a sensory deprivation tank. I believe this is a tool that could help answer this question.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEjTXX2rHgA
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        Dec 4 2012: I don't believe it is just helpful for relaxing. That is not many peoples intention "just to relax". It is like meditation. Do you believe meditation is just for pure relaxation? I don't. The tank is like being in a very deep meditation.
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          Dec 4 2012: Hi Haley,
          I have heard about floatation or isolation tanks before, and just now explored a little more. I think/feel it could be a way to help answer this question, and I also think Mark brings up a good point...intent.

          As I looked at the videos, I learned that it can indeed be a relaxing/meditative experience, and it can also produce stress/distress in some folks, after a period of time? So, it probably depends on the person and his/her intent and comfort zone, whether or not s/he could use this practice to learn more about themselves and the body/mind?

          For me personally, relaxing is very much a part of the meditative state, and I've been doing it for so long, it is not difficult to achieve that state whenever I choose.
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        Dec 5 2012: Valid point!
        I agree Colleen it probably does depend on the person.
        You have also definitely cleared things up for me Mark, thank you.
  • Dec 1 2012: That's a really great question. It seems that it is the human condition - to adapt, primarily, through experience....our brains learn and wire through repetition. So how could we truly & deeply learn these sorts of lessons without having these types of experienced ourselves? One interesting perspective on this is that of Tibetan Buddhists, who have a multitude of practices around training for death....by definition a once-in-a-lifetime experience (and the ultimate loss of personal identity :-) The Dalai Lama, in his introduction to the recent translation of the complete Tibetan Book of the Dead, says "Normally, in our lives, if we know that we are going to be confronted by a difficult or unfamiliar situation, we prepare and then train ourselves for such circumstances in advance, so that when the event actually happens we are fully prepared. As I have outlined, the rehearsal of the processes of death....lies at the very heart of the path... These practices are part of my daily practice also and because of this I sometimes feel a sense of excitement when I think about the experience of death. At the same time, though, sometimes I do wonder whether or not I will really be able to fully utilize my own preparatory practices when the actual moment of death comes."
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    Nov 30 2012: Hello Shane:>)
    One thing that is good to remember, is that the body is very much a part of us as long as we are in human form.

    At age 30, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc dis-ease in the spine....generally, a progressively disabling dis-ease. Although I had taken good care of the body, it seemed to be failing. That was the first time I really looked closely at my relationship with the body.

    I was in traction for awhile, wore a neck brace, took perscription drugs for pain (only for 3 days.....couldn't stand being drugged), and finally, the doctor suggested that my spine, in the area of the neck be fused.

    I faced the question....did I want to live life with limited mobility? I researched wholistic practices. Yes, I spelled it differently because I believe the exploration is about wholeness. It is about genuinely knowing ourselves, our body, and how everything about it functions in balance and wholeness. Like my Ford Ranger, which I maintain well so I can continue to travel, it is also important to keep the body well maintained to continue to travel the life experience. I do not feel that it is good to say we are not our body, because it is an important peice of "equipment", which is a valuable part of the human life adventure.

    In using a wholistic approach for the purpose of dealing with the DDD, I learned a LOT about my "self", and with that process, discovered more about balance, which of course helps manage the dis-ease, so it does not imobilize the body. For ten years, I learned, grew and evolved to a point of being very content, and felt stronger emotionally and physically than I had ever felt.

    One day I went horseback riding, sustained a near fatal head/brain injury... not expected to live, then not expected to ever function "normally" ...when I regained consciousness 2 weeks later, after an emergency craniotomy and life support systems, I was in a child-like state emotionally/physically and started over again:>)

    Know and accept thyself:>)
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        Dec 1 2012: Dear Mark,
        I used a little metaphor there...sorry you missed it. There are no beliefs being manipulated in my life....and I face life with truth....how about you?
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        Dec 1 2012: No Mark....nothing manipulated there....that is my belief. I did not say it is my identity, and I am not lieing about anything. Perhaps it is not YOUR truth, and that is ok...we are all different. To pop in here and tell me I am lying, however, when I share what is in my heart, seems rather odd. The fact that you are trying to argue over a little metaphor seems odd...does that seem odd to you Mark? I care about you and have no desire to argue with you.
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        Dec 1 2012: Thanks Mark,
        I appreciate you caring about me and what I need to look into:>) Call it what you will Mark. I don't mind if you want to tell me that I am "selling myself short"....it's ok Mark.

        I have been exploring many aspects of life and death for over 60 years Mark, and I KNOW there is still a lot to learn. However, you apparently think that telling you I care about you and I don't want to argue is turning the tables on you because of my own sense of righteous indignation? I'm sure you've heard of projection...look in the mirror, and in yourself darlin'. :>)

        Edit:
        Mark, regarding your comment below....yes, I am indeed "doing it again"....addressing your accusations with respect and love in my heart...thank you for noticing:>)
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        Dec 1 2012: Mark,
        I notice that you added to your original comment after I responded.

        No, I in no way, ever said anything even remotely suggesting that "Janine has got it all wrong"
        YOU think about what you are doing here, and why you need to try to create an argument.
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          Gail . 50+

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          Dec 2 2012: May I jump into this conversation? I think that I may be able to bridge an apparent gap in communication.

          I am not my body, but I need my body to be here. My body is the steering wheel of the greater me. The steering wheel may be a small part of the vehicle, but without it I could not control the vehicle. If it doesn't function properly, it doesn't serve the "me" that is not my body.

          Essential, but a very small part. Not to be discounted in any way, but not to be elevated to a position of superiority.
  • Dec 6 2012: Hi Shane.
    In my experience, no one can "make realization" happen.
    But I'm really speaking for myself.
    It is something that does or doesn't happen.
    So too, does the realization of it.

    This is true for me and that is how I meditate.
    Meditation isn't something I "do". Rather it is something that happens to me
    or for me, and being aware of it, I simply find myself in it.

    Sometimes it can help by using what is known as "self-talk" such as telling yourself you are not your body until
    you find yourself really paying attention to the words, and then examining their meaning in a way you had never done or had never been able to do.

    People who pray, but are not used to praying, can find themselves doing this. They sort of pray with resistance, rambling quickly through the prayer and suddenly realize, "hey, that wasn't really praying," so they slow it back down and become more focused on the words, their meaning and so on, and suddenly find themselves in a different place, perhaps mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically.
    Then, they notice the change that occurred and how it occurred and what they did, and they can remember to try it again.

    Thus, you may find it or something like it, like a doorway through which you may more easily and readily pass, without so much effort (as time and practice pass)

    Remember that not only are you not your body, but you are not your mind.
    Now what are you?

    I seem to have spent most of my life in the body of a leaf.
    Even though I can see, I have been blind it appears, all my life.
    I've lived by my intuition all my life, but haven't trusted it when I did it intentionally. Strange. I understand why today.
    I have no idea what any of it means. It has just been pretty mean.
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    Dec 4 2012: Dissociation can be cause by drugs or meditation.
  • Dec 1 2012: Hello Shane,
    You posed an excellent question and without getting philosophical or spiritual, Janine Shepherd experience is proof of one of the statement’s by Napolean Hill “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, It can achieve.” Evidently speaking, Janine’s body followed her mind and therefore achieved what she desired.

    What helps me realize that I am not body is, looking at the results I have in all aspects of my life and if I don’t like the results. I question my way of thinking and what it is that my mind is consciously and unconsciously conceiving.

    Sending you positing thoughts,
    C Cabrera
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    Nov 30 2012: The body (physical) is simply temporal packaging for the soul (spiritual). If one denies the existence of the spiritual then the body becomes the entirety of who and what one is. The realization you ask about comes only when the supernatural realm is accepted and understanding of it is sought in earnest.