The last sentence of my last blog almost a year ago was: “Oh, the discoveries that await!,” referring to the permanent walking labyrinth I was hoping to create the coming spring. Boy, did that turn out to be prophetic! I did create the labyrinth, last spring, and have been walking it, if not daily, regularly. It is one of my proudest creations because I was so convinced initially that I couldn’t do it.
It's the middle of winter. It's dark. It's cold. It's gray. The holiday festivities are over for another year. No need to fear! Fire Cider is here!
methyst is a stone of major healing. It is one of the most effective crystals for healing people, plants, and animals. From naturally healing plants that will not grow to soothing animals that refuse to calm themselves, it counteracts negative energies in any location that feels hostile or chaotic. (For this reason, amethyst is an excellent stone for highly trafficked spaces, like an office or family room.)
By Keith Copeland
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Ever feel stressed out? Do you ever feel like you're uneasy with what you have or who you are? There is a remedy for all these situations. It's simple. In fact, it's so simple, most people overlook this powerful principle.
By Darren Schmidt
When your immune system attacks your own tissues, that is called autoimmunity, or an autoimmune condition. It could be that just one type of tissue is attacked. For example, when the immune system attacks skin, you get a rash. When it attacks joints, you get arthritis. When it attacks the brain, you get Alzheimer's, etc.
By Nirmala Hanke
We all have a spiritual path. “Meditation is for everyone, eventually,” one of my spiritual teachers, Chetana Catherine Florida, used to say. Meditation is a practice of listening that helps us to move forward along our own particular spiritual path. You listen to the highest intelligence within, whether you call it God, your Higher Power, God/Goddess Consciousness, the Christ Light, the Buddha Nature, the Tao, whatever you wish to call it.
I had ended my last blog with the question: What are your hands going towards these days? So, I will start there today myself. I have been continuing to create little mosaic pieces on my son’s broken Taekwondo boards. What stands out to me this time around, rather than the materials, are the forms that have been emerging . . .
Forgiveness is sometimes thought of as a nice thing to do for others, sort of like giving a birthday present or a Valentine’s Day card. Of course, it is a wonderful expression to offer to another human being, but the fact is that it will always be a largely superficial gesture unless based on self-forgiveness. In my life, I find that it is not something just nice to do; instead, it is as essential as breathing.
Energy Psychology is a family of healing methods that balance subtle energy pathways to rapidly diminish disturbances in thought and emotion. Unlike conventional therapies, the person doesn't have to relive the pain of the problem over and over again.
by Julie Jeffery Peale
Hellerwork Structural Integration is a form of deep tissue bodywork and movement education designed to realign the body and release stress and chronic muscle tension. Whether from an injury, repetitive strain, or traumatic event in life, it is the belief of Hellerwork that pain is usually the result of an overall pattern of imbalance in the body. Rather than treating the pain or symptom of this imbalance, Hellerwork focuses on bringing the entire body into a state of balance and alignment, thereby addressing the source of the pain. This is achieved through three main components: deep tissue bodywork, movement re-education, and self awareness dialogue.
We are complex beings with layers of injury, emotional stress, and repetitive patterns, so it only makes sense that a complex and integrated approach is needed to sift through those layers of stress and strain. This is a process of awareness that touches both the physical and emotional patterns of our body.
Being a young woman in her early twenties with chronic pain and depression, I had only been offered solutions that compartmentalized me and disassociated the mental and physical aspects of my being. It is during this time that I sought out different forms of treatment. Hellerwork, for me, has been a convergence of my mind and my body; the integration of the mental and physical well-being. As these two came together the vitality and joy of moving through life had more meaning and continued to develop. Now, over a decade into my own professional private practice of Hellerwork, it is rewarding to facilitate that movement toward the integration of the mental and physical aspects being for my clients. It is a rewarding experience to be a part of and it also helps deepen my own movement towards integration.
Julie Peale owns Body Balance of Ann Arbor, L.L.C., where she practices a combination of Hellerworkand structural medicine in one-on-one sessions with clients. Body Balance is located at 708 W. Huron Street, Suite 3, Ann Arbor 48103. Contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (734) 395-6776. We interviewed Julie in our January- April 2014 issue. You can read that interview here.
By Monica Turenne, D.V.M.
Imagine if your pet was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and a specialist or your family veterinarian told you that your pet now has a very limited life span. This is a scenario that every pet parent fears.
In the art therapy stories I've shared thus far, I have explored various themes of change. The need/want for it, on the one hand, and the mechanism/process toward it, on the other
By Lenny Bass
In the two articles I wrote for the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal entitled “Swaying In The Sangha Of Trees” (the second one being “The Tree-quel”), one of the basic ideas I was hoping to convey through my conversation with the tree was the possibility, through meditation practice, of cultivating the ability to persevere through difficult situations, whatever they might be.
“When the storms come,” the tree told me, “we trees sway. In this swaying, the soil beneath us is loosened and our roots are allowed to grow.”
Human beings, of course, are very different than trees. When the storms come, trees have very little choice other than swaying. They cannot “get into their mobility carts,” as the tree liked to call it, and flee. Human beings, however, can do just that. They can get into their mobility carts and flee whatever storms come their way.
If you stop to think of it, the premise of this very country itself was built upon this simple formula. It is based upon a group of people — in this case Europeans — fleeing in their “mobility carts,” otherwise called boats. They fled the hardships imposed upon them by an uncompromising monarchy and sought to create a better situation for themselves elsewhere. Somehow, somewhere in this country’s DNA since the time of its inception, is the notion that the way to make things better is to get into a mobility cart and flee. There are umpteen bazillion versions of this, if we really look with any amount of depth and honesty.
It begins with a perception: what “is” is not good enough. What ‘“is” could be made better. What “is” makes us suffer. What “is” is unsatisfactory. And suddenly, we are off. In our mind’s eye, we have a strategy for improvement; a better education, a better job, a better marriage, a better house, a better climate, more sun, less snow, and on and on.
We create a plan — a life plan, if you will — and we are on a path to get there, wherever it is our mobility carts are taking us.
The true gift of a meditation practice in which we become adept at learning how to sway is that it shows us in no uncertain terms the fallacy of the formula. If we track the process from beginning to end, we see the very same progression of events manifesting time and again. At first, we are happy to have found a path through which life may be made better. We follow this path with all due diligence until we have achieved our goal. Suddenly, we have it...whatever “it” is. We have the better job, the better house, the better husband or wife, the better climate. And then...it is “honeymoon” time. We happily relish whatever it is we have accomplished to make our lives better. Everything is wonderful and new and exciting. Then, continuing to track it, it grows, over time, to become “common place.” The sparks wear off, the cracks start to show. The new boss is a jerk, the new wife has wrinkles. We’re sick of the sun and wish it would snow. The new house has that much more maintenance we hadn't counted on. And so...we’re back to square one. How can we make it “better”? What is our new strategy? Move back to the old climate? Get a another new job? Find a new country to call home?
On and on it goes....until finally, somehow, sometime, we catch on. Getting into our mobility carts just isn't working. The process is always the same. The outcome never lasts. We’re always, time after time after time, back where we started. Dissatisfaction.
It is from this place that I believe ALL true meditation practice is born. And, it starts with a kind of commitment NOT to flee. To hang in. To persevere with whatever it is that is dissatisfying. In sitting meditation for long hours, the mind does everything it can think of to try to get us to flee. It’s boring. Our knees are hurting. It is a waste of time just sitting here doing nothing. It is “unproductive.” It won’t make things better. On and on, the mind keeps sending us these thoughts hoping to get us into another round of the formula we know just doesn't work. Sometimes we acquiesce; it is a habit, after all, this perpetual fleeing we have learned to do. Learning to “sway” with our circumstance just isn't in our vernacular. It’s never been taught to us. It is counter intuitive to “do nothing” about a bad situation.
And yet, as we continue to sit with whatever our circumstance happens to be, a transformation begins to unfold and a whole new way of life starts revealing itself to us. The longer we hang in there, the more we see it. No circumstance in life will EVER make us happy, for it is in the very nature of a circumstance to always be the victim of impermanence. Everything is forever changing. Nothing lasts forever. We are simply on a wild goose chase if we think our lives can be made better through a ride on a mobility cart.
We awaken to the moment, whatever that moment may hold. We embrace the moment, with everything it has to offer, the goodness, the badness, whatever it happens to be. Our circumstance is just a circumstance. Whatever it is, whether we like it or dislike it, it will change. Suddenly, we are free of the impulse to flee whatever it is. We gain the capacity to simply work with it, deal with it, negotiate with it, dance with it. By doing so, the circumstance itself becomes more pliable, more receptive, more amiable and amendable. What we thought was so very awful transforms before our eyes. Likewise, that hefty pot of gold becomes “eh, so what?” That too will change.
This is the gift of learning how to sway that I think would make the world a “better” place to live in (there he goes again....I hear you say!) Okay, maybe better isn't the right word. There is a temporary happiness that comes from changing a circumstance in our lives. There is a permanent happiness that comes from going beyond circumstances and embracing the moment. There are a thousand strategies to be temporarily happy....but just one to find a way that lasts. May we all learn to sway....just a little bit longer!
Lenny Bass is a long time meditation practitioner with deep ties to the Zen Buddhist Temple of Ann Arbor. His essay "Swaying in the Sangha of Trees: The 'Tree'-Quel" appeared in the January through April issue. You can read the first installment here. Leave a comment for Lenny below or contact him at email@example.com.
By Julie Jeffery Peale
As we head into our third straight month of record-low temperatures and snowfall, I find myself torn between my love of the stillness and beauty of winter, and my yearning for the warmth and new growth of spring. I gravitate to soups, herbal teas, cozy blankets, and slippers to take the chill out of my body, and bundle up in warm coats, scarves, and hats to brave the elements.
By Sibel Ozer
The arctic cold has taken a toll on many of us. The psyche desires to retreat with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and a book in the other, preferably in front of a fireplace, all the while reality demands that we continue attending to our responsibilities and enter the cold over and over.
By Brian O'Donnell
I want to say more about what it takes to access this “inner doctor,” which can wisely guide us in whatever health crisis may come our way. In my last blog entry, I spoke about re-framing the issue from one of seeing the health crisis as an enemy to one of seeing it as an ally. In this perspective, I was pointing out a conceptual shift.
Today, I want to address the energetic or emotional dynamics and shifts that foster the emergence of the “inner doctor.” Basically, it’s how we meet fear. Learning how to meet fear in a constructive way is the medical school curriculum for accessing this “inner doctor.” This, obviously, isn’t only applicable to health crises but to everyday threats to our apparent security. So what we can learn about ourselves in meeting health fears can serve all aspects of our life.
Most of us have an unholy relationship to fear. We deny it, exaggerate it, project it, submit to it, revel in it, squash it…. Fear often elicits a contraction and a desire for control. We want to get on top of it, to rise above it, and to manipulate it. Cramping seems a better course than imagined annihilation, if we were to dare feel it. There are two basic energetic forms of manipulation or control that all of us use to defend from any undesirable feeling. One is to restrict the feeling. We attempt to control by squeezing the life out of it. The other maneuver is to amplify the pain, to make it larger than it is. We dramatize the pain or feeling as an attempt to force life, God, or the other to submit to our will. Our real task is to observe the emotional manipulations and to begin to allow the spontaneous flow of fear (or any feeling).
Fear calls for a sense of safety, yet true security is nakedness to the moment, not some constructed edifice of protection. We don't need protection from real feelings. Fear, sadness, anger — any expression of real feeling — cannot harm us. What truly harms us is our defending against pain, vulnerability, and helplessness.
To meet fear without defense or obstruction gets to the heart of our fundamental view of life. Do we see life in its ultimate nature as chaotic, destructive, or evil? Or do we possess a sense of life as wholesome, trustworthy, and loving? This is where our spiritual orientation shapes our basic response to life. My experience is that evil or destructiveness does exist on the relative plane of reality and that it is a function of resistance to pain and suffering. So to the extent we can allow all feeling — undesirable and desirable — without repression or exaggeration — we can enter the consulting room of the wise “inner doctor.” We also get a taste of heaven on earth.
I end with a quote from one of my teachers - the Pathwork.
“Through the gateway of feeling your weakness lies your strength;
through the gateway of feeling your pain lies your pleasure and joy;
through the gateway of feeling your fear lies your security and safety;
through the gateway of feeling your loneliness lies your capacity to have fulfillment, love, and companionship;
through the gateway of feeling your hate lies your capacity to love;
through the gateway of feeling your hopelessness lies your true and justified hope; through the gateway of accepting the lacks of your childhood lies your fulfillment now.”
— Pathwork lecture #190 ; © Pathwork Foundation
Brian O’Donnell, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Ann Arbor. He also teaches the Pathwork, a contemporary spiritual course of self development. (He was interviewed about his work in the January thru April 1997 issue of the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal, available at the bookstore.)
By David Lawson
Now that I have your attention, let me tell you what a wonderful practice it can be to acknowledge to yourself that you and everybody else in this world are going to die! You may say, “Well, of course, I already know that. Why is it necessary to dwell on such a morose topic?” But as it turns out, we don’t really act as if we know it, do we?
By Roshani Adhikary
Author John Green once said, “In the darkest days, the Lord puts the best people into your life.” I’ve recently started leading yoga classes at the Cancer Support Community (CSC) of Greater Ann Arbor and have seen this for myself — how, in one’s most trying times, comfort can be found within a sense of community.
By Brian O'Donnell
A fundamental shift of perspective is needed if we are to have access to the “inner doctor” that I referred to in the article Threading the Eye of the Needle. This “inner doctor” possesses a much broader and deeper resourcefulness than the limited and fragmentary perspective of the everyday egoic mind.
We are definitely a product/progress/accomplishment oriented society and most of our psyches are deeply craving the opposite as a result. The permission to enter and stay in the non-doing is often a gigantic challenge for most of us, let alone someone who has spent a lifetime doing what is expected of her, since it meant survival.