Monday, May 25, 2015

Rivers of Love

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them
pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
                                                                                 -Winston Churchill


The rivers are flowing freely; our hearts are filled with love as this beautiful and flowery month shows us. It is the spring of our nature cycle, and a time to fill our own well springs. If we look at this analogy and connect it with our own growth in life from childhood through all the life stages: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, midlife, older adult, and crone, we can see many similarities. I learn so much from nature. In nature, when we don’t get enough rain in the spring months, our earth dries up at a time of planting. This affects our food bounty and also the very water that is so necessary for life. The same effects happen with our life growth. When we don’t have enough love, or our needs aren’t met when we are little, or we are abused, and the cycle of love isn’t able to be freely passed on, we don’t have enough. This affects our inner bounty; our inner resources. 

I see this a lot with my patients, and of course with myself and my family. None of us are immune; in some way all of us are affected by our early upbringing. One of the ways this lack affects us is by some of us feeling like we can’t get enough…..food, for example. Some people literally don’t know what full feels like. They keep eating beyond their satiety. They confuse their hungers for love and attention with hunger for food. A beautiful story is with a young client. He is a young man of ten. For most of his life, he could eat and eat, way beyond his physical hunger, and was still hungry for more. His mother tried to help him to understand his physical hunger, but what ever she tried didn’t help. He couldn’t get enough. He was adopted, and was taken away from his first mother very young. His adopted mother is a single mom who works full time. In addition, as with all of us, she struggles with her own issues from her mother who was depressed most of her life and wasn’t able to be present for her. She can’t do very well with what she didn’t experience. She found herself repeating her own experience, even though she didn’t want to. She has now gotten help for her son and for herself, and she is learning how to change this pattern and to see her son more clearly and be there for him in a more full and consistent way. The difference is stunning. This boy, young man of 10, now stops eating when he is full and states he is full. He feels his physical fullness and doesn’t need to keep eating. More of his needs, his internal river is filled. 

I also see this dynamic of not having enough inner resources in other ways. There are people I work with who are service oriented and in the service profession; nurses, doctors, therapists, massage therapists, and so on who feel very drained after their work. Sometimes they feel it physically through aches and pains, and sometimes emotionally by feeling exhausted or drained. After they work with their patients, they come home exhausted or develop symptoms of illnesses like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. If we don’t fill ourselves with what gives us life, we tend to give too much, maybe hoping to receive something we missed when we were young children. Our parents were our first well spring in life. We learn to nurture ourselves, or not, through our parents. When they weren’t available for whatever reason, we can grow up having an open wound, and unconsciously looking for others to heal it, by their taking care of us and us getting ill, or by our over care-taking of others, hoping by giving, we will finally receive enough. 

My father taught us to care and give to others; probably too much so. He could do this because of his need to save others. He could give and give and this gave him a purpose. This purpose was for him as he needed to be saved. So he gained strength; sometimes at the expense of others. He unconsciously took something from them by saving them instead of helping them to help themselves. As a result, he gave, and had enough of a river inside of him. Neither extreme is helpful. Becoming conscious of our inner wellspring or river, and learning how to replete it without taking from others helps us to live whole, healthy and vital lives. 


Shift Your Story: Guided Visualization/Meditation

Get yourself comfortable. Place your feet gently on the floor in front of you and take 2 or 3 deep breaths. Close your eyes and breathe. Imagine yourself traveling down your inner self. As you are traveling open your mind’s eye and see around you. You are traveling beside your inner river or inner wellspring. See the spring as you would a creek or river or spring on a walk in nature. Travel along its path. As you walk, imagine yourself stopping and kneeling down beside it and taking a sip of its water. How does it taste on your tongue? Feel its fullness and depth. Watch its gentle ebb and flow and its natural curves as you walk. Stop and breathe in its scent. Take a minute as you stroll and thank it for being there for you even when you take it for granted. Ask it if it has anything it would like to tell you; is there a message for you? Remember it, and if it doesn’t, that is okay too. It just likes to be seen and recognized. Tell it you will be back to visit it again, and thank it for being there. Walk along its shores for a couple more minutes and then breathe deeply again. Gently become aware of your surroundings in your body, and open your eyes.

Write down what you remember as soon as possible, and especially the message it had for you. Remember to visit your river again. 

If you feel like sending me a message please do, and what you might have learned from your river of love.


Effects of Illness On The Family

“There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed.”
-Napoleon Bonaparte

This year I have been focusing on BodyPresencing™ issues as presented through my work, and as they relate to what I have learned from my family and my father. Our families are great feeding and learning grounds for us. They present as opportunities for us to learn and to grow; very rich soil. The more I work with people the more I see how in many ways the issues, illnesses of physical, emotional and spiritual nature, impact us. When one person is ill in some way, the whole family is ill; in some way. This is one of the reasons that families present as such fertile learning grounds. We can change how their illness and issues affect us when we are conscious in our lives, and that can be done with a lot of work.

We can see this dynamic in obvious ways, as in when a family member has a mental illness, or when a family member has a chronic illness of some kind, like Cerebral Palsy, or severe rheumatoid arthritis, or long term cancer, etc. That we are taking on their illness occurs in small ways that often can go unnoticed.  As we age, other illnesses impact us, as in Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and such. 

My father came from a line of men who cheated others in some way and felt guilty. His grandfather came to America in the early 1900’s as a successful bookbinder. He bound books for Kings and Popes in Europe. When he came to America, he didn’t work. He spent most of his time listening to Opera music and his wife didn’t respect him. No one knew that he had money; especially his family, until his death. At his funeral many people came to pay their respects and thank him and his family for helping them financially in their time of need. This came as a great surprise to his family. Dad’s grandfather had a great secret, which remains secret. Dad’s father then disappeared for a few years during the Great Depression. The secret of what happened to him remains a secret, and in his whole life he was never able to support his family financially very well. Dad supported his parents in their later lives and allowed his father to retire from work as a printer that he never enjoyed. Later in my father’s life, he suddenly began to take great chances with his money and ended up giving all of his money away to scammers who specialize in taking advantage of the elderly. In fact, he also unintentionally lost other people’s money who he talked into giving money to him for a promise of a good return for their money. He continued this pattern, and became entranced in the family secrets. In an unconscious way, he couldn’t allow himself to succeed when his father and grandfather couldn’t. He became ill in the way he thought of money and value and gave everything away. 

I came from a visit with my sister and my father. One is dealing with the effects of cancer and the other with the effects of dementia. Our whole family is reeling from their illnesses. One very important thing we understand more as we get older is that their illness is theirs; not ours. It is their learning lesson. We can care about them, be sympathetic, and be there, but we can’t take their pain or their illness from them, or even make it easier. That is their work. However, we can easily become confused as to whose work is whose. When we are young, we want to step in and help our parents or our siblings when they are suffering in some way. That instinct can come up again and kick us when this occurs as we get older. It hurts to see people we love suffer. We want to do something, and the best thing we can do is to be there as we can and when we can. It doesn’t help anyone when we suffer too; feel stressed, get ill, feel guilty, and so on.

Often an unconscious effect of illness in the family is not doing well ourselves. If our father, in my case, doesn’t do well, or our sister, or mother, in some way we can’t allow ourselves to do well either. When this is unconscious, the “not doing well” can rule us. The not doing well can look like not succeeding in life; not writing the book we want to write, not being successful in our business or sabotaging ourselves in some way, carrying a skin disease like psoriasis, failing in relationships, etc. We can also feel like we have to take care of them and that they need us, and their need takes precedence over our own needs and lives. 

I find I have to work to consciously live my own life and leave dad’s fate and my sister’s fate to them. What good would it do them for me to become ill? What good what it do me if I gave my life over to taking care of them? I can hold them in my heart and love them. I can allow myself to live a healthy, whole, conscious life so their patterns don’t have to repeat. A question we can all look at in our lives is how, if any, do we allow other’s illnesses to affect us? As we can see clearly, we can have some control over our own lives, but not theirs.  Here is to a life well lived of wholeness, vitality and health!


Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Bit Results:

Let’s take a minute and look at our lives and our families lives. Is there a way in which a family member struggles? Take a look at their struggles. This could be in failed relationships, failed business, a physical illness, a chronic illness, etc. 

What do we do in reaction to their struggles? Do we try to take care of them physically, or emotionally? Do we think we can help change them? Do we feel guilty in some way when we do well, or by not stepping in when it would be difficult for us to do so? Do we do things like them? Do we feel badly about doing well when they aren’t or they can’t? Do we feel in some way that if we get too close we will catch what they have? 

Take a few moments and write down how you might act in reaction to their illness or struggles. Ask for help in seeing these things if it is hard for you to see. Maybe ask a good friend what they see in this situation that you might not be able to see clearly. 

Lastly, read this over to yourself so you can continue your work in understanding your part in other’s illness. This is an ongoing process. What we want in life is to live our own lives as fully as possible. If you would like to share what you find, I would appreciate a little note if this would be helpful to you.


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Poetry of Life

“Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.”
                                                                                        -Groucho Marx


To me, life is often felt as a poem might be felt. Life is poetry in motion and I often feel poetry in my heart and soul; as I feel life. How about you, and how do you feel life?

Often my morning time as the remnants of night is still with me, is a time when I feel poetry move within me. I have what I call my morning window, an east facing window overlooking my yard and trees and the neighborhood. I sit there first thing in the morning as I watch the sun rise or move on its path across the sky, and I meditate, or write, and spend time communing with my soul. I look out my morning window and depth of feeling; usually inspired by nature wells up in me. An example of what wells up in me is below.

The Golden Morning:

The sun’s rays roll over the leaves and branches casting golden hues through the tangles of leaves.
My mind playfully tosses words around in communion with the joyful riot of shapes and colors coloring my day with gladness and tickling my tummy with the happiness of life.

One of the things I have in common with my father is my love of writing and especially writing poems. He loved to write poems. As I am inspired by nature, he was inspired by limericks. As he was growing up he learned a lot of “dirty” limericks which he took great pleasure in reciting and singing. When as a family we would take road trips to places like Chicago to visit his family he would sing as he drove and we all learned many of those limericks. When we, his children, grew up and had children of our own, he loved to sing them to his grandchildren especially as they were going to sleep. They grew up on those nights he put them to bed, with those sounds in their ears as they went off to sleep. My niece remembers many of them verbatim and recited one in tribute to him at her wedding.

As a result of his love of limericks, he grew into writing poetry in the form of limericks. Here is a couple of limericks he wrote.

Fifty Eight is Truly Great

You entered a world full of troubles
From tornados to bursting bubbles.
We left Topeka twice
A place we found so nice
Then settled in St. Louis with all its snobles

Yet as much as you struggled
You never ceased feeling snuggled
The years came and flew by
You raised a wonderful child without being shy
Found a mate who was thrilled to get unchuggled

In the past there were doubts
Unmistaken terrible shouts
This time it is cleared
There is nothing but to be cheered
Anything feared has disappeared.


I would love it if any of you are so moved to share one of your poems with me, or a story as to how one of your parents’s influenced you.


As we remember things we like about our parents, more of our memories can surface.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Do We Carry Other's Fate?

“Fate is like a strange unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”
-Lemony Snicket


We all come from dysfunctional families and we all come from families who carry secrets. The problem is that the secrets come back and haunt us. They haunt us in ways that cause illness, or failure to succeed, the vague and not so vague fears we carry, and the way we often are compelled to repeat patterns that don’t suit us. Think about how often we find ourselves doing the same things and saying the same things and making the same mistakes even though we don’t want to. This is the definition of crazy: doing the same thing and hoping for different results.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon. One of the blind reasons is that we often live the same fate as our parents, their parents, and on down the line. We have trouble succeeding if our parents didn’t, we divorce or separate or fight like our parents, we are angry like them, we are sad like them, we live messy lives like them, and so on. We find ourselves attracted to people who aren’t good for us over and over again, with similar dynamics. We do know that on a deep level this keeps occurring so that we can finally see clearly what we are doing and make different decisions. But many times we can’t and we don’t know why. Does this sound familiar? Have you ever had the thought that this might be tied to things that happened, secrets maybe, that were not resolved or healed, or some situation that was never accepted? So over time, what happened may be forgotten, but the results live in us and haunt us. We find ourselves living a similar fate and not knowing why.

I see this repetitively with myself, my patients and my family. In my father’s case, he became obsessed with money around the age of 70. Looking back, I see that as the beginning of a type of dementia he lives with. At that time and continuing to this day, he keeps giving everything he has, including money he borrowed from others, to what we call elder scammers. He doesn’t see them as scammers. He sees them as his friends and is compelled to give money to them with the promise of lots of money in return, or a car, or whatever they think he needs. When I look at this from a lens going back over generations, I see a pattern that he is repeating. He is not the first man in his family to lose and end up with nothing. He is, in a way, living the fate of his own father, and his grandfather. 

His grandfather was a bookbinder for kings and the pope. He lived in Germany and came over to America around the turn of the 20th century with his family. He was very successful. When they left their homeland, they did alright, but they didn’t have the money and resources that they had had in Europe. And, at that time, grandfather stopped doing anything other than listen to opera. He was extremely quiet and very dominated by his wife. His wife, grandmother, disrespected him. Upon his death, many people visited him whom his family didn’t know. They all came to thank the family for his help and support. Unknown to the family, he had been giving them money for years. It became clear at that time that he had been atoning for something he did while in Europe. What that was is a secret. He had one son, my father’s father, Abraham. He also lived and felt disrespected by the women in his family. He never did well in life, and wasn’t happy and never made much money. He struggled. During the Great Depression, he left my father and his wife and went to another city and was gone for a year or two. No one talks about what happened. This is another secret, which my father asked his aunt about, and she told him the secret would go with her to her grave. 

Now comes my father who did well, but never saved any money, kept spending it, and then later in life, lost everything, and would continue to give everything away if we let him. He is repeating a pattern, and living a similar fate as the men in his family. The problem is that he is blind to it. He is in the throes of that family trance. What can we do about this dynamic for us in our lives? We can look at our repetitive patterns that don’t help us with an eye towards who came before us: our parents, their parents, and as far back as we can imagine. Sometimes it is very messy back there with divorces, alcoholism, loss, hurt, trauma of every kind. We can acknowledge their pain, care about them, but consciously choose to live differently. This is not easy, and takes a lot of work, because we often almost instinctively think, feel and live like them. If we can look clearly, love them in a way, but separate from them, accept them for who they are and give us permission to be successful, to be happy, to have good relationships, and step forward in a new way, we can live our fate and our own lives. 


Shift Your Story: Guided Visualization/Meditation

I have a very simple yet powerful visualization which can help us to live our own fate and create a new legacy.

First of all, find a comfortable place and rest your feet gently on the floor in front of you. Breathe deeply two or three times and tune into your breathing. Close your eyes. Think of a pattern you find yourself repeating, and it could be words you find yourself saying over and over again, or an action. Is this pattern similar to those in your family; your parents, grandparents, etc? Maybe you become aware of words you say to yourself that you heard from your parents. Maybe you recognize that you too have trouble succeeding, or give your money away, or have failed relationships, and so on.  See in your minds eye your parents standing behind you. See their parents standing behind them. Continue this “seeing” a few more generations. See and feel yourself standing in front of them, with your back to them. You are literally putting them behind you. Now step forward away from them and facing front for a new and open future. Imagine what that future would look like; or keep it open with possibility. Stand there feeling this image inside of you for a couple of minutes. Now become aware of your breathing, and slowly open your eyes.  

How do you feel? Was this empowering at all or helpful? If not, why was it not? If so, stay with this feeling for a few minutes. You are stepping away from old patterns and moving towards something new you yourself are creating!



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Entitlement Part II


“Knowing too much of your future is never a good thing.”
-Rick Riordan

Last month I wrote about one aspect and dynamic of feeling entitled. This month I am writing about another dynamic of feeling entitled. This dynamic involves how it can manifest and where it comes from. Even the best of us with our limitations, are not able to provide fully for anyone. We can want to and intend to, but their needs may be such that in combination with our limitations or weaknesses, we aren’t able to give them something basic to what they feel they need. As a young child, ideally, we are given enough so that we can flourish and feel loved and lovable and valuable. Life isn’t fair, so many of us feel like we didn’t get enough, and we feel wounded. That then becomes our work; to heal, to plumb the depths to get to the root of our wounds and to make them our friends and our strengths so we can know how wonderful we truly are. We have to earn our inheritance, so to speak.
What can happen and does happen is many of us feel cheated emotionally and spiritually and we feel we are “owed something.” Life “owes” us. The truth is we owe us. But it doesn’t feel like that. So we grow up feeling angry and resentful and entitled to everything. Not only do we see this dynamic in some cultures, we also see it in individuals. A cultural example is what has been going on in Ferguson, Missouri. What began as a crime of robbery and guilt and over reaction by the policeman and the young man (perpetrator), Michael Johnson, became a completely different entity. This crime became an old racial tension of unresolved hurts and pain. The “crimes” became a black culture feeling entitled to everything after generations of unfairness and of crimes perpetrated against them and a suburb, Ferguson, where unfairness has continued. This event became an excuse to riot and pilfer and demand different treatment. 
An individual example lives in my family with my sister and her adopted son. This boy has very dark skin and lives now in a very white culture, knowing he is different and feeling often that he was taken away from his family. He and his adopted mother are bonded deeply but they also have great difficulty with each other at times. A huge factor which affects him in addition to this is that his mother has difficulty hearing and seeing. These deficits also affect her ability to process her surroundings in a quick manner; her processing is slowed down. This boy needs both physically and emotionally to have someone who sees him and literally helps him to do the step by step process involved in daily activities. You can see the difficulties inherent in this scenario. Here is a boy who has real needs that his mother wants to provide, but has physical limitations in providing them the way he needs them. In giving this a thumbnail sketch, a dynamic which is ongoing is his resultant feeling of being “entitled” to things. He feels cheated in life; first by being taken away from his birth mother and family and second by being in a culture he inherently doesn’t understand and then not having his needs met in order for him to feel safe. He needs to feel safe, as we all do. If we feel cheated by life we are in a reactive state of being a victim much of the time.

Being cheated in life is a mind-set. If we set our minds to a way of thinking, we can equally unset our minds. This takes a willingness to look inside and to begin to love ourselves. Being and feeling “entitled” keeps us from becoming the vital, whole and healthy people it is possible for us to be. Healing is an inside job. 

Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:
Find yourself a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Write down something in your life which you feel entitled to, or a way in which this manifests for you. This could be feeling you have a right to be taken care of, or have a right to be right, or have a right to be heard, or feeling angry at life, or resentful of something or someone, or feeling entitled to a certain relationship, and so on.
Write down how this acts for you as completely as you can. 
Now, write down what you could do for yourself to change this feeling. In other words brain storm with yourself, and with a friend if this helps, what you could do differently to help you to know that everything you really need is possible for you to accomplish through you, loving you, and through connection to self, others, and God, or the universe, or however you think about what is greater than us all. 

Read what you have written over the period of a week and see if more comes to you and see how this helps you in your life.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Entitlement

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body.
It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
                                                                                                          -Winston Churchill

How many of us know folks in our lives who act entitled to things? We talk about it, and so, in some ways we probably all have some feelings of being entitled to something or someone. Yet, some folks carry that feeling with them a lot of the time. There is an aspect of entitlement which is helpful for us to have; feeling entitled to loving parents, to being and feeling loved. Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Not only is it so very important, it also brings up much of our unfinished or unresolved issues with and within us and our caretakers. In addition, we carry within us unresolved issues across generations that get passed to us in the womb and live in us as if those traumas happened to us.
Many children act as if every toy and gadget that comes out is their right to own. When we are 2 or 3, those actions can be cute. When we are 10 and older, it is not cute. There are adults we know who do the same thing, just with a little more sophistication and with bigger toys and bigger consequences. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? One of the places it comes from is being given too much; too many things without earning them. My son went to a fairly affluent high school. I remember when one of the young men he knew had a car accident and destroyed his Mustang that his parents gave him. After this accident, of course his parents felt that their son needed a car; they replaced their son’s car with a BMW. Did he earn that car in the first place? And in the second place, did he earn an upgrade?  The answer is no, he didn’t. How can this young man ever make this up to his over giving  parents? He can’t, and some part of him feels badly about it, but is so used to getting things that he only knows how to take from them and then feels he is entitled to those things. His parents may not be emotionally available to their son and so give to him through material possessions rather than through real life affection and nurturance. In other cases, some parents aren’t able to give to themselves much less to their children, emotionally and/or financially. Some parents want to be available to their children but don’t know how or don’t feel they can from some deep underground wounds of their own. Or from some unknowing loyalty they carry to something deeper within them. An example of an unknown loyalty is when we unconsciously feel we can’t have something or be successful because our father wasn’t or lost his business or went bankrupt. We unknowingly carry a loyalty to our father by not doing well and/or by trying to make up to our children what we didn’t have. Whether we are given too much without earning what we are given on some level, or whether we aren’t given what we truly need, we do grow up with some sense of entitlement. 
My father was born in 1927 and grew up during the Depression. His parents were struggling. His father couldn’t find a job so his mother had to work. Before that, his mother had physical issues from his birth and had to be hospitalized right birthing her son. She had many unknowing alliances within her, which came first before her son. She was merged with her mother’s feelings, and those came first. One of the ways she was merged with her mother had to do with her having a son. Her mother lost a baby boy by accidentally suffocating him by rolling over him at night with him by her side in bed. Then, dad’s mom’s first child was a boy. How difficult this must have been for her, without her consciously knowing it. She became sick a lot through his young years. My father didn’t get enough from his parents. His father was jealous of his son for having his wife’s attentions, and he wasn’t able to provide for his family or take care of his wife the way he wanted to. He took his anger out on his young son. My father didn’t get love the way he wanted or needed. Most importantly, he never came to terms with his life with his parents and never forgave them. He has rejected them for most of his life. To love them was too painful. As a result, he to this day filled with his dementia, feels entitled to everything. He has to be the best, he has to feel appreciated, he has to come first, and he has to win. He feels entitled to all that. So, he also unconsciously makes up stories based on truth to make him feel like he has it all. He is the best at Bingo, at bridge; everyone loves him, and so on. For many years with his stories, I did think he was one of the best bridge players. I called the organizer for his bridge groups when he was being moved to an assisted living facility in another city to see which group in his new city would be best for him. She told me he would be best in the beginner group. She had nothing at stake in telling me the truth. That was a true eye opener for me. He feels entitled to everything and being the best at everything. 
He never received the love he wanted; he didn’t get enough and so went through life being angry when things didn’t go his way. Do any of you know anyone like this? Do you have aspects of this type of feeling entitled inside of you? Again, we all have some. The important thing is to recognize when this happens inside us and to find a way to make peace with this and with what happened with us in our lives. As we find some peace with our entitlement and can see it clearly, we can develop our self love and fill these needs inside of us with us and by us. We can’t get all of our needs met. We can look at our parents with a larger lens and find some compassion for them and find some for ourselves so we can earn our own place in our hearts.

Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:
First of all, let’s get out some paper and a writing utensil. Let’s keep this exercise simple. On this sheet of paper, at the top, put four columns. 
Column one write, where I feel entitled in my life.
Column two write, where I feel I didn’t get enough.
Column three write, who wasn’t able to provide my needs, and how.
Column four write, where and with whom I need to find some peace or resolution.
Take a few minutes early morning, or before bed, and write out what comes to you. After writing what comes to you for a week, then read back what you have written a few times so you have a greater understanding of this dynamic in your life.
If you would like to share your reactions and what you have learned, and you feel this is helpful for you, I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

End of Pain and Suffering

“Find a place where there is joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
                                                                             Joseph Campbell

I went to an event for a Jewish holiday called Roshashanah. This holiday is part of what we call, the High Holidays. These holidays consist of Roshashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. RoshHashanah is a time of letting go of all the negative thoughts and actions we have accumulated from the past year and it is a time of celebration. I celebrated this Jewish New Year with thousands of other people of all religions from all over the world. Have you ever celebrated something, not including a sports event or concert with thousands of people? If you have you know it is quite an experience. Not only was I part of this event, but this event itself brings people together for the purpose of ending our pain and suffering individually and throughout the world. 

Can you imagine yourself living absent the pain and suffering you usually carry with you? I was somewhat skeptical upon arriving. And upon leaving after a two day experience, not only did I feel lighter, I also felt more positive and very aware of my internal energy in relation to others. By that I mean that as I engage with others I feel how their energies feel within me and what their energies bring out in me. When I am near or with someone with negative energies brewing inside of them or with very divergent energies within them, I feel an uncomfortable feeling within my guts. I then notice what I do with my feelings. I often am tempted to help them and to bring them out of their inner funks. I am tempted to do this for them, but also for me. So now I notice this and instead of trying to raise their consciousness, I leave them alone unless they ask for my assistance. I realize that what is going on inside of them is theirs to deal with; unless they ask me for help. 

Secondly, I find certain people are hard for me to be around. I just don’t feel good around them. Instead of making myself, I now can allow myself to not engage, to not try to please them, and I can walk away. I used to try to please them and disregard my own inner self and feelings of disease and uncomfortableness. What I am doing now is not taking responsibility for others, and I am not ignoring myself. I am honoring them and me. Do bad and painful things happen to people? Yes. I am learning to be aware of their pain and suffering and allowing them to find ways to deal with theirs. This frees me to work with my feelings rather than ignoring, stuffing, delegating, or spewing them onto others.

On another level, the Jewish New Year, RoshaShanah, was a holiday my father hated. He never saw it is a celebration, but as a painful experience. When he was growing up, being in a very religious Jewish family, everyone spent the whole day in Synagogue and seemed to him to be suffering. He neither saw nor experienced any joy or happiness or celebration. Everyone looked unhappy. They fasted for the whole day and were in a devotional place. His family’s particular Orthodox community didn’t see this holiday as a celebration. It was serious business. As an adult, he and mom decided that they didn’t want to be part of this holiday. They had joined a Jewish synagogue in case any of their children wanted to learn more about our heritage and our Jewish traditions. At our home we only celebrated the holiday of Passover and Chanukah, as dad had a special relationship with his grandfather he called Zadie, who taught him the significance of Passover on both a global and personal scale. 

My personal experience of this holiday first began as an adult. I joined a synagogue so my son and I could learn more about our religious heritage. Recently, it has deepened to a fuller level with my experiences within a spiritual philosophy called Kabbalah and their approach to life as well as the significance of certain meaningful holidays. 

Bad things do happen and we do experience pain. And, as we approach these things differently and learn to love ourselves and others on a deeper level by listening to and honoring our inner selves and feelings, the experience of pain and suffering changes. It no longer is that, but more importantly is learning. Here is to a life of growth, inspiration, learning, health, wholeness, and vitality.

Shift Your Story, Shift Your Life:

Try this interpersonal exercise and see how it helps you.

‘Go to the grocery store, or a coffee shop, or a drug store, or any place you go to where you are around others. As you go, become aware of centering your thoughts and feelings and become in tune with your inner thoughts and feelings. How do you feel?

Now, as you get ready to enter the store, keep your awareness of self with you. As you come near others pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel good, or bad, or uncomfortable or anxious suddenly? Is there a change in your inner feeling or attitude? Just notice. Now, as they or you walk away, notice how your inner feeling changes; if it does.

Do this consciously another time or two. It slows down your whole shopping experience… so don’t worry. After you have done this with 2 or 3 people, let it go and just continue as you usually do.

This exercise is designed to help you to notice your inner life in a new way. Honor the feelings and see if you can become more aware of them throughout your life, one step at a time.