It Begins With You

The Graduate Institute Commencement 2012This post bears the same name as the commencement speech I gave this past weekend in graduating from The Graduate Institute’s master’s degree program in Integrative Health & Healing. You can watch the video of the event. Although I already spoke on the topic, I feel it can’t be stressed enough that happiness and healing, and really all the good in our lives, comes from within.

Happiness is a Choice

I have known for several years that my happiness is dependent on my own attitude, perceptions, and choices. Sometimes all it takes is writing what I am grateful for in the beautiful journal that my friend and colleague Debbi Tyrrel gave me. Other times it requires a snuggle with my cats, or a good long laugh with a friend. If that fails, I could just venture outside to commune with nature or pop on an uplifting playlist. Regardless of the tool I use to get me there, the truth is I am happy at my core, and I can tap into that whenever I want. I have the power to be happy – ALWAYS. You do too!

Health is a Choice Too

The happiness choice wasn’t so hard to understand. It just makes good sense that if I want to evoke an emotion, I have to nurture that feeling and it will become habit. However, after years of chronic illness which felt as though it was spinning completely out of control regardless of what I tried, I certainly didn’t believe I had any say in that matter.  For so many years I had focused on trying to control the situation only to make things worse. It wasn’t until I surrendered to the idea that I am not in control – none of us are – that I could finally ride the wave of life. The Universe takes us where it sees fit, and sometimes there are lessons being shared that we may not want to accept, but we have to just go with the flow and see where life takes us. I never wanted to be sick. In fact, the desperation of illness was one of the major forces that drove me to begin the Integrative Health & Healing degree. Still, I never truly believed that I could fully heal. When I first heard the quote, “there are no incurable diseases, just incurable people,” I was angry, insulted. But, as my education advanced through The Graduate Institute it all became clear.

I Have Everything I Need

It wasn’t until I was nearing the completion of the IHH degree that I realized that I have everything I need within myself. All the tools for healing, happiness, confidence, success – they are all there just waiting to be brought forward. The first inkling of that notion came unexpectedly when I was presenting my internship on Emei Qigong to my colleagues. I had found a great healing tool in that practice and I was very eager to share it in our January class weekend. However, as is always my nature, I was very nervous about speaking. I had prepared a hand-out for my classmates and thought through just what I was going to say. I had also practiced Wuji Gong (the active form of  Emei) right before class to calm my nerves. Yet, for whatever reason, perhaps the calming Wuji energy had overtaken me, I went completely off script. I started out sharing the basics of the Emei Qigong and the core philosophy that all health is about balance.  Then I showed everyone my mala bracelet, an empowered object that had been infused with prayers. Although I had been wearing the bracelet faithfully since receiving it several months earlier, when asked if I felt its power I replied without hesitation, “Yes, I do believe it has power. But, I also believe it could be a placebo effect, because Qigong reminds us that we have everything we need within us.” I had never made such a declaration before.

Butterflies Hold the Answer

Blue ButterflyI then, somewhat unexpectedly, launched into a story about how I had been to the butterfly conservatory in Massachusetts a few days before. As soon as I walked into the room with all the butterflies I became mesmerized. I was especially transfixed by the vivid blue butterflies that flitted about. I hadn’t been there long before a butterfly landed on my left shoulder blade. I could see that it had greyish wings that it kept tightly closed as it moved about the room with me. It must have travelled with me for at least twenty minutes as I explored the entire room taking pictures galore. All the while I kept saying, “I wish one of those blue butterflies would land on me.” Tired of standing, and interested in just taking in the sights, I sat down on a bench in the far corner of the room. That is when I finally got the time to inspect my friend. As I craned my neck, the gray butterfly began to flutter its wings revealing its inner beauty. My eyes welled as I saw a flash of beautiful blue and realized that I did in fact have a blue butterfly. As I told my colleagues this story their eyes lit up with joy. Without pausing I proclaimed, “This reminded me that everything I want and need, I already have.” It was virtually the same message delivered twice – in my own words. I couldn’t help but hear it. Incidentally, I had also told that story to my Qigong instructor and she shared that butterflies tend to be drawn to areas that need healing. The butterfly’s attraction to by scapula indicated that I may be having trouble assimilating things into my life. Message received blue butterfly, message received.

See the Signs

Baby DeerAs I began writing this blog this morning, I looked out the window to see the sweet gentle eyes of a baby deer. If you read (or heard) my Commencement Speech you know that deer have had a special significance in my story of awakening. It was particularly fitting to see one’s presence today. The sweet little animal made me smile as it reminded me again that the synchronicities or signs are everywhere reminding us of life’s beauty and interconnectedness if we just take the time to look for them. You have the power to see – it begins with you.

3 thoughts on “It Begins With You”

  1. Beautifully said. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful, heartfelt thoughts and feelings~ after reading the above, I felt happy deep down inside. You have such a gift Michelle, thank you for sharing it with all of us! Blessed and grateful~Debbi

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