Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Life Purpose

Adversity poses obstacles. To overcome adversity, tools are needed.

But before tools, one must have a reason - a WHY - to fight the fight.

Self-preservation is rarely enough. Overcoming adversity requires a leverage as something greater and more meaningful than the self: one's circle of care, perhaps family, friends, loved ones, children, animals, community. 

The greater the adversity faced, the stronger the sense of belonging one must have in order to gather the strength to cope, overcome, and triumph. Coming out of dark times and adversity myself, and after having brushed with death, I wondered what has kept me going (besides caring for my dog Kinook). I never gave up even when I had thoughts of suicide. I don't have children to raise, or other dependents. The only sense of belonging has been the greater sense of spiritual connection of all things, that I am a drop of water in the sea. The only purpose that made my personal fight worth fighting during impossible times was the thought and the drive to turn my own overcoming and triumph into service, which is why I am writing, teaching and facilitating. 

Mild adversity, such as boredom, is as dangerous as any other kind when living without purpose and meaning. An aimless soul will try to fill the void with empty distractions, stuff one's body with useless foods and substance, and flood one's mind with useless information.


Friday, December 1, 2017

The Scenic Road to Well-Being: Reading the Signs of How You Are

Reading the Signs of Well-Being

Taking the scenic road to well-being means that I use therapies and practices which take time, some of which are short-term, and some of which are long-term; some methods bring immediate results, while other methods work like a snowball effect, with noticeable changes occurring much later in time. Some methods work synergistically with each other; other methods overlap and thus some become superfluous. And as with anything we do, some methods are more effective than others. 

When I relied solely on medical science for my well-being, things were simple: take the pill, watch the effect. End of story. It helped or it didn’t. The holistic approach is a complex world view with complex choices and outcomes. Looking at all the subjective, objective, individual and collective factors at play in health and well-being demands taking actions that cover all the bases, according to priorities and the available resources. The holistic methods are not institutionalized - how can they - even if more organizations and disciplines are becoming integrative. The ultimate responsibility befalls on you: you decide what methods, practitioners and practices to engage, and you monitor your health and well-being to see what works and what doesn’t. 

Part of being less than well is a dissociation from the body. Some jargon calls this being “ungrounded”, others describe a feeling of being spaced-out. A disembodied lifestyle, living from the neck up, as well as unresolved trauma, cause disassociation - a lack of awareness of one’s own body and feelings. When you are unaware, you don’t know that you don’t know how you are doing - it’s very much like being drunk. So you need sign-posts to point towards your current state of being - like the time when I threw away the kitchen sink strainer together with the garbage immediately after an accident that gave a blow to my head.

Here are some of my sign posts that I look at on my own personal journey to well-being. The list is not a set of instructions to adopt and follow; nor is it a complete list of possibilities. It is what has been guiding me, according to my personal subjective preferences and sensitivities, and objective circumstances and resources. I hope this gives you an idea where to look as you navigate your own scenic road to well-being.

  • Mood

How often do you laugh? How do you wake up in the morning? I know that I am doing well when I wake up with a reflexive stretch and a smile on my face. How is the quality of your dreams - pleasant or unpleasant? When I laugh in my dreams, I know that I am doing very well!

  • Stamina and endurance

How much of your “to do” list are you able to accomplish on a daily basis? Do you workout or practice some kind of embodied practice? And if you do, do you force yourself do it because you should, or do you look forward moving because you have all this energy that prompts you to? How long can you be active before you rest - take a nap, or even sit down? For me this last question is quite relevant to my current levels of stamina.

  • Balance, Coordination and Agility

What I can and cannot do on the yoga mat is highly illustrative of the state of well-being: can I balance myself on one foot and stay relaxed, without wobbling? There are days when I can, and days when I can’t. 

  • Sexual drive

It’s as simple as that: your libido is your vitality. An unusually low sex drive compared to what you know your normal to be indicates a decline in well-being. Your drive is high, and the juices flow? You’re doing pretty well!

  • The mirror

Bad hair days are in fact “unwell” days. Look at your face in the mirror, and watch for the shine and shape of your hair - is it dull and frizzy, or shiny and smooth? Are your eyes dull or bright? Is your skin pale, or is there colour indicating good blood flow? Are your lips dry and chapped or moist? 


  • Spaciousness and mobility

Chronic contraction of the body leaves the joints stiff and painful, the movements clunky and rigid, and the breath shallow and confined. I find my own breathing to be speaking clearly about how well or unwell I am: if it’s rapid and shallow while at rest, I am not so well. If my breathing is full, slow and soft on the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale, I am doing well!

  • Creativity and Intuition

I like doing things with my hands: painting, drawing, cooking, doing crafts. And I like writing. When I sit in front of my computer screen and nothing comes out of my fingertips resting on the keyboards, or when I sit in front of a canvas or paper, and nothing shapes up that I like, I know I am off balance, off centre, and doing not so well. Creativity comes spontaneously and compels expression - when you’re well, you write, dance, cook, paint, create and innovate new ideas and things because a compelling creative drive from within you.

Intuition is “knowing things without knowing how you know them” - it’s the gut feeling that steers you towards what’s nourishing and sustaining for you and that which you love. Both intuition and creativity require clarity of the nervous system.

  • Relationships with people and pets

There is a saying in Romanian, my native language: “When two people tell you that you’re drunk, go take a nap!”. Your interpersonal interactions will mirror your state of well-being to you: is there a flow of harmony between you and others, or conflict? Pets reflect this even more truthfully: my dog was an easy, sweet-tempered girl, with just a touch of stubbornness. It didn’t take much for me to lead her, but I had to be balanced. If I called her and she didn’t respond, I knew I something was not quite right with me. In my good days, she’d happily come to me and follow. 

  • Decisiveness

This is an easy sign post to observe first thing in the morning, when you decide what to wear! My difficult days would find me standing in front of my wardrobe, doors open, clueless about what I wanted to wear that day. I find decisiveness to go hand-on-hand with creativity and intuition: easily accessed when balanced, centred and well, and blocked when unwell.

  • Flow

Can you think of times when bad things seem to come all at once? That’s when you are not centred or well, and that series of mishaps are telling you about it. 

Can you think of times when everything seems to flow for you, and one good thing leads to another, and another? Everything that you do seems to go easily and naturally, sometimes synchronistically - and when that happens, you know that you are “in a good place” - you are well.

Whenever I adopt a new practice or engage in a new therapeutic method for my well-being, I look for the changes that follow the practice of therapy sessions. Sometimes there is a worsening of symptoms, like the homeopathic aggravation or a healing crisis. A healing crisis is usually intense and short-lived. If it lasts long, it points towards a worsening of the state of well-being and flashes the alarm towards something going wrong. 

I know that whatever I am doing for well-being is effective and useful when I can easily name a noticeable change in my mood, stamina, balance, libido, aesthetics, mobility, clarity, decisiveness, relationships and flow. 







Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Reiki and Unconditional Love

Reiki training and practice was a major crossroad in my life. The days and weeks following my first attunement brought about experiences that left me in awe: spontaneous cessation of addictive behaviour (cigarette smoking and drinking coffee); unexpected resuming of artistic creativity; mending broken relationships; closing debts; and knowing things without knowing how I knew them (intuition).

One remarkable experience that marked me, and possibly the most important one, was the experience of unconditional love. And I know exactly when I first encountered it.

As soon as I was initiated and trained to be a Reiki practitioner of the first two levels of Reiki, I (finally, at the age of 38) knew what I wanted to do with my life: healing! I laid my hands on everyone who would let me, and watch in awe headaches disappear, moods lifting up, and a variety of such other changes that fascinated my mind and challenged my Inner Skeptic. 

One person who came to my home for a few Reiki sessions was an older gentleman who suffered with diabetes. He was a difficult man, cranky and displeased with everything. I lived in a modest apartment building, and he complained about the messy staircase leading to my apartment. I would normally get defensive in the face of such complaints and respond with resentment. But something really unusual happened while this man was lying on my treatment table, while I touched him with Reiki hands: I felt a kind of benevolence towards this man, a felt emotion which resembled the affection I knew and had towards my mother, when I was a child, and towards my dogs. I wanted to hug this man and I wished him healing and happiness, and I felt all this moving inside me. This feeling was in stark contrast with my regard of the man’s personality: I wanted nothing from him, and it didn’t matter to me whether I would see him again or not. I felt the same benevolence towards my friends and family members whom I treated with Reiki, but I attributed my feeling to my relationship with them, which was already based on affinity and intimate connection. 

This body-felt benevolence towards a man whose personality was unpleasant surprised me and left me in awe. Some people discover unconditional love after years of sustained spiritual practice. I had Love drop on my lap just like that, with Reiki practice. It surprised me, it moved me, and it informed my drives and motives. I wanted to do good, to help and contribute to the well-being and happiness of people (and animals, and plants!). It was different than the romantic love that I had sought so far: in seeking the “perfect” romantic love, I sought, in fact, fulfilment of my needs. Romantic love was about having my emotional, sexual, sensual, and social needs met, it was really about me. This Reiki-induced love had me orient towards another - the person on my treatment table - and there were no questions asked, no needs to be met, nothing requested or required. 

The old man left my practice mumbling and muttering things about my building’s messy staircase, and I doubt that I helped him cure the diabetes. And I was touched nonetheless, and left to explore, grow, lose and reconnect again with a kind of love that gives colour and purpose to life, making it strong, and making it worth it; a love that brings all living things closer together, with no condition, no questions asked.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Why Affirmations Don't Work and When Do They


Language reflects one of the four mental faculties:

1- Remembering
2- Planning
3- Fantasizing
4- Noticing

Remembering is recalling sounds, images and feelings from past events.

Planning is placing one’s thinking efforts towards the future. 

Fantasizing is making things up using imagination.

Noticing is paying attention to what is real in the present moment.

Of course, the four faculties are building upon each other. You can plan for the future based on what you remember from the past, and on what you are aware of in the present. Fantasizing is also using mental memories or things noticed in the present. In order to imagine a blue flying giraffe with yellow polka dots, you must have seen what a giraffe looks like, the colour blue, the colour yellow, polka dots and flying things / animals.

Planning for the future is based on one’s values, desires, needs, drives, urges and impulses, on memories of the past and on envisioning what is possible through fantasizing. Planning begins with intention: what are you seeking to create, and what are you intending to do towards your future. Intention gives direction to your actions. 

Prayers are an upgraded version of intention: they open a door for that which is generated from beyond the conscious mind and decisions. Prayers are either petitionary, addressed to a deity in second person perspective “Please dear [Deity] restore my health!” Or they are uttered as a neutral way to open doors for favourable possibilities: “May I recover fully and restore my health”! I personally tend to favour the latter.

What are affirmations?

Affirmations are used in lieu of prayers, as a way to affirm the individual’s responsibility and part in creating a desired future. “I have fully recovered and I enjoy total health!” Affirmations are positive statements in the present tense, which are used to describe a desired outcome as if it is already happening. 

For affirmation to work, they have to be rooted in reality or a possibility. 

When do affirmations fail:

1- Affirmations describing factual events that do not depend on an individual’s behaviour. Examples: “It’s raining!” Or “The storm has already stopped” 
Unless you are an effective psychic and Expert Rainmaker, this type of affirmations are useless. If everyone were a powerful psychic, humanity would shape the world’s climate, stop hurricanes and tornadoes, make rain in the Sahara and make Ottawa tropical. 

2 - Affirmations describe personal traits or behaviours that are not true. “I’m blonde with blue eyes” or “I’m tall and thin”. These are blatant lies and apart from their entertaining value, uttering them has no purpose.

3 - Affirmations that describe future outcomes which are highly unlikely to happen. “I have become Queen of England” or (a favourite of the naive) “I won the lottery jackpot”. 

When do affirmations work:

1 - Affirmations are useful when they describe an individual’s trait or behaviour which is already true but not yet or currently expressed. By affirming a strength, one can shift the mental focus from a deficiency to a resource, change their mental and body state, and express it. 

As an example, think of two polarized traits that you know yourself to possess, like being mean (come on, admit it, we all know that you and I can be mean at times, so own it!) versus being compassionate. You want to cultivate and strengthen your kindness, which you already possess, otherwise you wouldn’t recognize it or value it; so you affirm it: “I am kind and compassionate!”

2 - Affirmations are useful when paired with the individual’s ability to sustain a vision for a desired future. If you can imagine yourself fully recovered, then the possibility for your recovery is real and alive within your imagination, and affirming it will help you connect with it. Hope is a glimpse into possibilities. When affirming something that you are truly and sincerely hopeful for,  which is possible and credible, it has a chance to work. This bit is often employed by effective healers. There is a video clip on YouTube depicting two Qi Gong practitioners performing healing on a woman who has a tumour (bladder or another organ, I don’t remember the details). There are two cameras, one inside the woman’s body, focusing on the tumour; the other camera focuses on the practitioners. The two men use body movement and chant something translatable as “It’s already gone!” The camera shows the tumour shrinking until it completely disappears. 

3 - For affirmations to work there is a need for congruence between the person’s body-mind state and the content of the affirmation. Movement, voice pitch and volume, breath and posture must be aligned with the declared words.

4 - It is easier to see results using affirmations which describe a relative process then an absolute outcome. A person who is recovering from illness is more likely to benefit from affirming: “I am getting stronger and more radiant each day” than saying: “I am strong and radiant”

To sum it up: affirmations are positive statements which are used in the present to create a desired future, engaging existing strengths that have not yet been expressed and towards an outcome which is envisioned as possible by the person who is practicing the affirmations.  Their effectiveness depends on truth, sustainable vision, and congruence.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Many Hats of Education

The many hats of EDUCATION:

A good Teacher tells you WHAT to do, pointing towards an ideal to aim for, and possibilities to consider. Teachers inspire you.

A good Instructor tells you HOW to do it, with clear, doable, easy-to-follow instructions. Instructors help you build skills.

A Role Model shows you how it’s done, and teaches you by example. A Role Model points towards which possibilities have already been embodied and enacted.

A good Trainer supports your practice, so that you get experienced at what you have been learning from the Instructor. Trainers help you refine your skills.

A good Coach will ask you well-directed questions which elicit your insights about the What of your ideals and possibilities, as well as about the How To’s. Coaches help you connect with your intuition and develop wisdom.

Anything you would add?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Politics, Free Speech and Chronic Pain

There was a joke going around during my youth behind the Iron Curtain in communist Romania, one of the thousands of jokes of victim humour that the oppressed thinkers used to whisper to each other in order to cope during the tyranny of the political regime of that time and place: 

Question: “What is the difference between a Russian journalist and an American one?” 

Answer: “They are both free to write whatever they want. But the American journalist is also free afterwards.”

I grew up in a world of lies and play-pretend, making believe that all is well when it was not, applauding the politicians whom we loathed and feared, masking our pain to compose poetry and songs about how happy we all were to live under the communist regime in our beloved socialist republic. 

The day I arrived in Israel as a new immigrant, on a hot May evening in 1985, when I was 24, a Romanian-speaking clerk welcomed me on the Ben-Gurion airport, and filled out a questionnaire before sending me to my new home, an immigrant centre in Ashdod. 

“Have you arrived here with family?” The clerk asked.

“No, I’m on my own” I answered.

“Where are your parents? Mom, Dad?” He went on inquiring.

“They are staying behind in Bucharest” I replied.

The clerk chuckled and said: “Oh, they’re staying behind with Ceausescu!”

I panicked. Someone might hear us talk about Ceausescu! People have disappeared and ended up in prison for mentioning the Romanian leader’s name in disrespectful ways, and that included political jokes and all kinds of innuendoes and humour. For a few moments I forgot that I was on a new, free land. A short flight of two hours and twenty minutes from Bucharest to Tel Aviv was not enough to erase the fear of speaking truth, of speaking up. It took me a few moments to realize that I was now free. I took a breath of relief. 

At the Romanian Intelligence quarters, a Securitate officer asks Yitzik:

“Yitzik, why do you want to immigrate to Israel?”

“Because there I can go to a central square in Tel Aviv and yell out loud that the Israeli Prime Minister is an idiot!” Replies Yitzik.

The Securitate officer shrugs and asks: “So what keeps you from going to a central square in Bucharest and yell out loud that the Israeli Prime Minister is an idiot?”

***

I am recovering from PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My treatment is what is usually referred to as “alternative” therapy: classical homeopathy, mind-body methods, mindful meditation, and conscious movement. Things get worse before they get better, as bottled pain, physical and emotional, is being unleashed and bubbling up to the surface of my awareness, sometimes in quite intense ways.

In the past few weeks I dealt with a particularly intense bout of rage mixed with anxiety, so intense that I was pushed beyond my ability to self-regulate, which I am otherwise quite skilled at. The emotions were so strong that my thinking was clouded - you could call that “foggy brain” - the same kind of cloudiness one experiences when drunk or otherwise poisoned, and I was physically sick with nausea and fatigue to the point of almost fainting. There was also a sense of being contracted and self-absorbed by the intense pain, unable to focus around me, to my immediate surroundings. This entire experience leaked out in several of my relationships, and caused further pain.

As I pause my treatment to integrate what’s happening with me, and the clouds of fog dissipate, I am able to see a bigger picture of the emotions within the context of what has triggered me. As PTSD sufferers know, triggers are present events which elicit a response, and the emotional intensity of the response is intense and out of proportion with the trigger, which indicates a memory response from something painful that happened in the past.

One of the incidents took place at my Comedy Improv training. During an exercise exploring status, one partner having a low status and the other high status, my high-status character partner corrected my language: “It’s called lemon zest, not peel!” When we switched roles, and I played a high-status character, I playfully paraphrased my own English language limitations and said to my partner: “And by the way, this is called lemon zest, and not peel”. To make my line humorous, I added drama, rolled my eyes and said: “Some people don’t even speak good English!” And scoffed: “Those immigrants!” (I am an immigrant with a strong Romanian accent and after seventeen years of living in Canada and speaking English, I still make mistakes)

Every one of my colleagues laughed, except the instructor, who said: “You don’t say that, which you said in the end”. She refrained to even utter the word “Immigrants” but referred to the Improv school’s rule of “Punch UP!”, meaning, don’t laugh at the -quote- “disenfranchised groups” and do laugh at those in power. 

The instructor’s intervention left me shocked, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. It took me a while to understand that what has happened was censorship on my language which unconsciously threw me back mentally to the memory of my childhood and youth under the communist regime. As I have been listening at quite a few talks on YouTube on the topic of free speech, mostly talks with Jordan Peterson, Jonathan Haidt, and Gad Saad, I became aware of the ideology of language censorship prevailing in today’s academia, which is what I was dealing with at my Improv class. The instructor herself lives in fear of uttering taboo words, including “immigrants”, and extends that fear to the students. Even as an immigrant I am not allowed to utter the word “immigrant” in a humour context, not even to laugh at my own immigrant self. And as I am writing this, I am well aware that publishing this article comes with a risk, and might cost me participation in the theatre’s Improv classes and jams. 

But I have learned that keeping silent comes at a risk too, and one major risk is body pain. When my holistic reflexology therapist performed the intake foot analysis (based on the Avi Grinberg method) back in January 1999 in Israel, she looked at the signs of imbalance in my feet and told me my life story from what she saw: the Water element is over-represented, and this is the world of your emotions. You have water retention, and this body fat is not from food, but from all the insults you swallowed throughout the years. She was painfully accurate.

Every time something, a truth, needs to be spoken and isn’t, failure to say what must be said causes tension in the body. In time, tension becomes pain, and a life of chronic lies leads to a life of chronic pain, and often extraneous body fat and water. I know this from my own life, experience, and body. As I write this, I am aware of sharp shooting pain through my muscles, in my neck, arms, legs, and back. Emotions are emerging, as a part of me is still scared of telling the truth, and arguing against publishing this article, while another part of me would rather speak truthfully and live with the consequences.

In New Age jargon, chronic pain is sometimes explained as the result of living in misalignment with one’s soul purpose. I have thought about this a lot, wondering what I should do to align my life with my soul’s purpose. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me that alignment with one’s purpose must begin by telling the truth, first to oneself (truth about what matters most to one’s self) and then to others. I value kindness, and believe that the truth should be spoken kindly, but also fiercely, if any positive changes are to be made, even with, and in spite of any discomfort caused. Growth is not comfortable - have you seen children growing teeth? Imagine how uncomfortable it is to be growing a spine (metaphorically, how you stand up in the world).

***

The Biodanza weekly classes I participate in always begin with an hour of “circle sharing”, where participants talk about their experience with last week’s dances. Most of the talks are expressions of gratitude to the teacher and the other dancers, and to the beauty and benefits of the exercises. Most of my speech has been outlining my own appreciation of this practice, which is a truly joyful, uplifting and enlivening practice that I have been looking forward to every week. There has been one aspect that at times I have difficulty with, and that’s the bad odours emanating from some of the dancers’ body and breath, particularly during dances of intimate embrace where we literally breathe into each other’s face. I have always had a sensitivity to smells, or, as Jordan Peterson calls it - a sensitivity to disgust. Reaction to disgust is embodied and involuntary, ranging from nausea, to stomach spasms and breath-holding.

The Tuesday night Biodanza group is a closed group, the participants are the same people each week, and we dance with each other as a tribe, a friendly tribe. I get ready for the dance like I’d go on a date,  I shower, put on beautiful clothes and jewellery, brush my teeth and put on perfume. Some of my fellow dancers do the same, and I see this as a way to consider each other, and make each other’s dance a pleasurable experience. Other dancers care less about their appearance’s effect on others, and last week a tall dancer had raw garlic for dinner before our dance, and as this dancer and I ended a dance exercise in an embrace, I felt a wave of the raw garlic breath down on my face as it nested at his chest, and I became sick and distressed. But I said nothing, and did nothing about it, which is my usual conditioned response to distress: “freeze”. Determined to change in ways that are good for others as well, I decided to talk about my experience in the sharing circle, and request the said dancer, and all dancers in our group, to not eat raw garlic before our dance. 

As we sat in the circle, I spoke as kindly as I could, feeling clumsy and awkward about my request, trying to be playful about it, but causing discomfort nonetheless. There were two responses to my request: one, beginning with the teacher, was to invalidate my disgust and proclaim the benefits of natural smells (she said something about how our sense of smell changes, indicating that I should change my sense of smell, while she encouraged the dancer to keep eating garlic if he wanted to). The other response was whispered from the sides, from fellow dancers who congratulated and thanked me for the courage to speak up on a topic that was as relevant to them as it was to me, but they hadn’t been willing to risk by saying anything about it.

Again, speaking the truth might risk my membership into this tribe; but I dare to think it will also cause change, and at least some of the dancers might be mindful of the way they get ready to move with, breathe with, and touch other people. 

Is there a better way I could have spoken and addressed the bad smell topic? I am sure. Speaking the difficult truth is new to me and I am clumsy at it, and I have so much to practice. 

Also, speaking the difficult truth is neither encouraged, nor promoted by the culture that I am part of, so I go not only against my own fears, but against the so-to-speak cultural grain.


But it’s the best alternative that I have to living with chronic pain, in a web of lies and play-pretend. And I am inspired by those who do speak up, and speak well, and I am trying to learn how it’s done.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) 2017 Musings

Why is it so difficult to realize that body, mind and spirit are one and the same? That self and other, individual and collective, person and world, are the same? That the falling of the Temple, that which is most sacred and valued, is the same as the falling of that which is most sacred and valued within the self?

The Enemy destroyed the precious sanctuary of prayer and community. Inside the psyche, the forces of the darkness, perhaps unconscious habits and reactions, perhaps ignorance, perhaps weaknesses and lack of appropriate resources or appropriate timing, led to the destruction of one’s most praised qualities - maybe intelligence, or physical beauty, or youth, or strength, or loss of home, of land, of culture. Loss of parnasa, or work, or business. 

My own personal temple has fallen in the hands of an enemy that I have regarded as being external, a harmful and and cruel other whose upper hand in home, society and money has led his violence to be abuse. But the raise of such enemy was only possible through that inside myself which led me to choose him as consort. This was by far not an act of God, but the doing of another in relationship with self, another that I was attracted to, and wish to live with. 

The falling of the Temple led to loss, grief and suffering - in the Jewish people, and in my own personal story. A story of being wronged and victimized - and yet, here we are, and here I am, on this day which commemorates the falling of the sacred, not just offering our forgiveness, but primarily asking for forgiveness for our own wrongdoings. I do not see the confessions of wrongdoings as punishments but as means to awareness, to bringing the inner enemies to the light, and expose them, and by exposing them from their dark hiding, to use our conscious, intentional choice of performing TIKKUN - making amends. This is not a process unique to Judaism - you have the Tibetan practice of ‘feeding the demons’ and turning the inner dark forces into enlightened allies, thus growing strong. This is the essence of Western psychology and the integration of Shadow elements. There is nothing punitive about this process, but everything is integrative, restorative and healing. It’s not about returning to a goodness lost, but growing into goodness. We had what it took to build a Temple (twice!) but we lacked what it would have taken to defend it. And now we’re learning to grow strong, and as the country of Israel is demonstrating, we have developed enough strength to defend borders and that which we value.

On my personal level, I have endured great losses and pain, which have revealed to me my own areas of growth. I am exiled and ailing, but I am kinder, wiser, stronger and more skilled for living, loving and being of service than ever before, and certainly than before stepping into that difficult marriage.

———————

Why is there such a widely spread assumption than others are more knowledgeable than we are? On my way home from the synagogue, I stopped at the park. When I left, I drove to explore a path, curious to see if there was another exit from the park, closer to home. The young woman who pulled out of the parking spot next to me followed, and when I turned around as we both realized there was no exit after all, our cars crossed and we looked at each other and laughed. She may have assumed that I knew what I was doing - there was no way for her to know that I was exploring, and not knowing.

It makes me wonder about how many instances we give up our inquisitive aspects of our minds and our openness to explore and trade it for the false reassurance that another can show us the way better than we can find it ourselves. I am not talking about competence-based expertise, but about big and small life dilemmas at literal and metaphorical cross-roads where we ask the counsellor, the doctor, the rabbi, or the angel communicator to tell us where to turn. We could explore, or check in with our embodied intuition, but we trust our gut less than we trust another who appears to be poised, confident, and knowledgeable. We’d rather run to experts in telling us what to do rather than coaches who instruct us how to uncover and access insights.

I’m thinking particularly about the Angel communicators - and channellers of sorts.

Are Angels beings of light who are separate entities from us, humans, who have a mysterious reason to want to help us with guidance, protection and healing? 

Or are Angels potential archetypal qualities awaiting to be embodied? What is peace, love, harmony, curiosity, generosity, humour? Are these traits that humans develop through some kind of bio-chemical and physical reactions? Or are they pre-existing energies waiting and wanting to inhabit conscious beings - and we call them “Angels”? Do Angel communicators connect with someone outside of and separate from the self? Or do they draw wisdom from their own inner qualities, in their own language?

Where do any qualities come from, anyway? Not just human qualities, but traits of all and any conscious and sentient beings? I sat on a bench to eat an egg and some almonds (this year I’m not fasting, as I have been feeling weak and unwell). A seagull approached me vociferating his interest in my food. I gave him almonds and watched him fly low and abruptly towards other gulls, to shoo them away. He was clearly the strongest and had the highest status. How does that happen? How do little gull chicks break their egg and emerge out, one powerful and fierce, and another shy and submissive? This little guy had no fear. He walked so close to me, he almost touched my feet.

Where does this courage and strength come from?

I doubt he read the books, participated in the seminars and trained with black belt masters. What makes him courageous and strong, and earning of respect?


And what does this say to us, humans about our traits?



(C) Tana Saler September 2017