Have you ever taken a walk and had your mind run rampant with thoughts? So enveloped in them that you couldn't even tell if you were breathing? All you knew was that it was a beautiful sunny day and that you should be outside. So you went. You got in your car, you even put on your favorite song, and you drove. You didn’t know exactly how long it took or what you may have passed along the way, and you just arrived at the park. You got out of your car and you started walking. You walked, occasionally having to share the path with another person or an occasional bike. Your thoughts were still there, your breathing... who knew if you were even breathing? Then midway through you started to notice colors: greens and browns. You started to slow down a little and convinced yourself to take a moment to look at the sky, then the trees, then the grass. As you slowed down your steps and your thoughts, you became more aware of the warmth of the air and the smell of the nature around you. Then colors, you see the colors, all around.
I have always loved the beauty, unassuming nature, and resilience of wildflowers. On a recent trip to Rome, I stood outside the Colosseum and, sprinkled amongst the collapsed remnants of once fantastic, grand structures, I saw bright, red, and beautiful poppies. Nature reminds us in so many ways of the persistence of quiet beauty among destruction, specifically through poppies. There is even beautiful symbolism associated with these flowers from around the world. My favorite is the association with restful sleep, recovery, peace, beauty, success, and passion.
Many of the patients I see are like these beautiful poppies. So many come tired, with only fragments of the understanding of their condition. Their minds are often distracted with to do lists, jobs, family, and senses of lost balance as they sit in front of me, frustrated and defiant. Defiant and ready to take control of their medical condition.
I invite my patients to take a walk with me and to slow down their chaos one step at a time. In taking the time to help the patients settle those rampant thoughts infesting their minds, we begin to see change. We see restful sleep, recovery, peace, and radiance, just like the poppies that grow defiantly and radiantly among the ruins of Rome.