Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How Past Experiences Can Shape Us

Today I took my cat to the vet to get her teeth cleaned.  She's 8 1/2 and has never had them cleaned before.  They really need to be done.

But I'm nervous.  And I wouldn't be, except that about 10 years ago, I had a cat (probably a little younger than this one, although she was a stray and we didn't know how old she really was) and she needed her teeth cleaned.  Before getting the work done they do blood work to see if all the organs are going to work alright under anesthetic.  Well, it turned out she had chronic renal failure.  She didn't get her teeth cleaned, and I'm pretty sure she didn't last a year after the diagnosis.  We had to give her subcutaneous fluids and medication and in the end she was starving, but couldn't eat.  It was unpleasant.

So I know that a "routine" teeth cleaning can lead to a death sentence.  It probably won't, but my body is certainly reacting to the past experience.  I am worried.

Our bodies do that on purpose, you know.  To help us survive.

If you've been chased by a tiger before, you're going to do whatever you can to avoid it happening again.  If you've been hit by lightening (or close to it), you're going to seriously freak out in a thunder storm.  That's what our bodies do.

There are more subtle ways that our bodies, that evolved in survival mode over hundreds of thousands of years, react to stress.  If we had bad experiences as children - say a parent beat you - then whenever someone gets angry around you, you will get emotional - in whatever way you got emotional back then.  You will react.  In a similar fashion.

One of the most important things I've learned in my spiritual journey over the years is that my reactions to things in the present do not necessarily reflect the present, but they most often reflect the past.  The worry I'm feeling today for my current cat, is really past worry about my old one.

So to be in the present, you must face the past and deal with the past emotions.

Maybe today I should be remembering the other cat.  Honouring her memory.  Honouring my loss.  And not necessarily worrying about the current cat.  Because she will most likely be just fine.

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