Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Adversity Response

Adversity Response a la Tana Saler

What I do when something goes wrong, in ten steps. Add your own or subtract a step according to your own taste.

1 - Immediately say: “Oh f**k!”, “Oh no!”, “Oy vey” or any other alternative in your native tongue (unconscious reaction).

2- Go to your habitual coping strategy of dealing with conflict and stress. Mine is playing computer games on and on for hours, or browsing and shopping for pretty things that seemingly become urgently necessary in the light of the recent screwed-up events (unconscious reaction).

3 - Dissociate and project. Ignore anything going on from the neck down, and circulate your thoughts until the head, neck and shoulders become hot, pressured and stiff. Then blame your predicament on a guilty other - person, event or deity, in this particular order (unconscious reaction).

4 - Become curious and ask yourself some questions. Feel free to recycle old ones, such as: “Why me?”, “Why is this happening again?” And “What’s wrong with the world / other people / me?” Or skip this step and go to the next one:

5 - Awareness. (First conscious step of the bunch) Notice your body, your breathing, your sensations, your feelings and your thoughts. Take some time to merely stay present with that which arises inside and outside your skin. 

6 - Acceptance and inquiry. Say and ask: “It is what it is. Now what?” And: “What is the kindest, most useful thing for me to do about this?”

7 - Expansion and inclusion. Expand your attention beyond the boundaries of the self, in all directions, all the way to infinity, until all people, animals, plants, fungi, amoebas, sounds, sights - okay, you get the drift - are included within your awareness. Feeling at one with this expanded is-ness, look at the people, events and situations which had triggered you as mere external representations of your mind. Each person, dark cloud, loud truck, wayward conversation, is an externalization of an aspect of your psyche.

Warning!! Step #7 will come at a cost! You may experience loss of arrogance, righteous indignation, complaining rights, shame, and every other perk that comes with the separation between Self and Other. Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you! 

Maintaining expansion, proceed to the next step.

8 - Shadow work. Identify the bothersome or admirable traits, qualities and behaviours to which you had an emotional response, and embody them, giving them a voice, stance and gesture. Look for what is valuable in each such trait, quality and behaviour, and think of times and situations when they could prove valuable. Feel your heart warm, open and glowing, and think of yourself and the people and situations involved with benevolence.

9 - Identify needs. What would you like to see happen now? What matters to you? What does the other party (the other parties) need? What does the relationship need? What does the world that you and the other(s) are part of need, or need more of?

10 - Make amends. Assess what is reasonably possible, say what needs to be said, do what is kind and useful for you and for those involved, and what connects and expands.

When you’re done, congratulate yourself for your pshycho-spiritual growth, do a dance, hug someone, eat some ice-cream, go for a walk in the sun, and cuddle a furry friend. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Anxiety - causes and cures


What it is, causes, cures

The earliest memories of anxiety are from my childhood, when my mother would get ready to go out and I felt an unpleasant coldness in my belly, hands and feet. When I turned eighteen I had my first full-fledged panic attack, when my heart raced so hard that it felt like it was going to break out of my chest, and I thought that I was going to die. For many years after this first incident, I had numerous shades and grades of anxiety, and when I began to experience relief through healing arts and methods, I found out that there was a rich world of information laying  underneath my feelings.

Anxiety is an umbrella term for a set of feelings such as tension around the chest and the belly, cold sensations, heart palpitations, and pressure in the head. The experience can arise in response to a life event or situation, or it can be chronic and generalized.

To address anxiety, it is helpful to begin by looking at its possible causes and factors. A few factors to consider are:

  • An unresolved current life dilemma. For example: should I stay in my stressful job or marriage, or should I leave? Very often merely making the decision is all that is needed to have peace. Even if there are difficult consequences as a result of this or another course of action, resolving the dilemma through choice brings immediate and significant relief.

  • A parasitic - viral, bacterial or other infection. Parasites are known to affect the host’s mood in order to elicit a behaviour which ensures the reproduction of the parasite. For example, the rabies virus that has infected an animal causes its host to act aggressively and bite another animal, ensuring self-propagation through the infected animal’s saliva. A civilized infected person won’t bite another, and if emotion-type feelings are not being expressed in an embodied way, any aggression that the parasite causes remains internalized, causing anxiety. For the sake of peace of mind it is useful to get tested and rule out parasites.

  • Extreme fatigue, whether physical or mental, feels like anxiety. In the healing arts jargon, Qi / Chi / Ki (vitality) depletion causes an anxious feeling, and is usually treated with energy healing and by practicing a Ki management practice such as Qigong, Tai-Chi, Reiki, Yoga or some Martial Arts.

  • A nutritional deficiency can cause fatigue. Looking at the minerals and vitamins in the body could prove useful, as well as replenishing the deficiency while remedying its causes. For example, low vitamin D due to insufficient exposure to sunlight can be remedied either with getting more sun or vitamin D supplementation.

  • Say what you need to say! Holding back from articulating something important, such as a request for need fulfillment, creates a tension in the body which is interpreted as anxiety. There is no medication that can remedy this kind of tension other than saying what needs to be said. This is true for words that must be uttered today, or something you needed to say thirty years ago, but for some reason you couldn’t. 

  • Unfinished sensory business. Experienced meditators think that chronic anxiety and pain are merely experiences that haven’t been fully experienced, and that bringing that unfinished experience to completion is all that it takes to dissolve the solidified physical or emotional sensations into flow, and have peace.

  • Vicarious anxiety. When a person lives with someone who suffers with anxiety, empathetic resonance can cause the person to feel the other’s anxiety as their own, making it difficult and often impossible to tell the difference between what they themselves feel, and what their partner, parent or roommate feels. The remedy is either to move out or to practice specific personal protection and enhancement practices like the ones taught by practitioners of  Qigong, Reiki and Martial Arts. 

In regards to a cure, there are those of the opinion that anxiety cannot be cured, and one must learn to live and cope with it. Then there are those who hold the view that all anxiety can be cured by one single method or set of prescribed methods and remedies.

I personally disagree with both views, and think that each person and situation must be looked at, assessed and addressed according to the specific particulars and context in which the anxiety has arisen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Anxiety and Your Dog

A Reiki Alpha Bitch post

If your fur baby suffers with anxiety, her distress very likely causes you distress. And you'd like to help, and you've tried everything.

The problem is, your own distress goes right back at Pup and distresses him again. Dogs are highly empathic creatures, and very much tuned in our embodied and mental states. They can see micro-movements of your body, smell your emotions, and some say even see your aura - the energy field around your body. Smiling when you're stressed may fool some people, but won't fool your dog. She knows that you are stressed, and this stresses her more.

The solution is to tend first of all to your own self-regulation. Next time your dog is anxious, try this:

1- Belly breathing. Inflate your lower belly like a baloon with every inhale, and deflate it on the exhale. Belly breathing triggers the relaxation response and you will feel calmer in just a few breaths.

2 - Touch your pup. Place your hands on your dog's head or back and keep practicing the belly breathing. Feel what's going on with Pup: is she trembling? Are her back muscles hard or soft? Warm or hot or cold? This is called "presence" - your ability to witness your dog deeply. The touch with presence is soothing and reassuring.

3- Take a few audible sighs, making the loud sound "aaah". Dogs sigh when they are peaceful and content. Since Pup is looking at you for clues whether he should worry or be calm, your audible sigh will tell him that it's okay to relax.
I hope this helps. Let me know how applying these tips have worked for you below in the comments.
Hugs xo

Touching Upon Pain

It's hard. And it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Meditation, self-inquiry, and touching upon one's pain is neither easy, nor comfortable. Personal development work is not aimed at making you comfortable, but at making you better: kinder, stronger, more effective, more liberated, more fulfilled. 
Strength training is not easy or comfortable - if you already train, you're probably grinning and nodding, because you know very well this is true.
Training your mind to concentrate in order to develop clarity and focus is as demanding as muscular strength training, but you can train your palate to enjoy it. My first attempt at silent contemplation twenty years ago was a disaster: I was on a yoga retreat in a village, when the teacher took us participants on a silent twenty minutes walk around the property. He instructed us to notice what is, and not to talk. I looked up, and saw sky, looked down and saw green grass, then looked around and saw people walking, and then I asked myself, now what? I made faces and pulled out my tongue at the friend who accompanied me. Twenty minutes of silence were torture.
Twenty years later, after ten-days silent Vipassana meditation retreats and thousands of hours of mindful movement and bodywork, I look forward to my practice.
Recently, a healing client told me: "I have never had someone be so present with me before". The reason I am able to stay present with my clients' pain is because I am able and experienced at staying present with my own. Awareness heals, and the first step in addressing pain is to notice it, listen to it, and receive any information that it may bring. According to Shinzen Young, one of my favourite meditation teachers, pain is an experience that hasn't been completed. According to my healing experience, this is true. 
Willingness to touch upon pain is the ticket to peace in body and mind. The key is titration - neither completely avoiding the pain, nor overdoing with it. The is healing process must be gentle enough, and effective enough, merely touching on pain for a short while, drawing any information from it, then relaxing and letting go, then repeating the process in manageable bits in subsequent healing sessions.

Monday, March 12, 2018

You Are Imperfect

You are imperfect.

When you realize your own imperfection, and embrace all that you are, light and dark, you are free. 

You must break free from the oppression of expectations that you must always perform, entertain and please others. Break free from the fake photoshopped smiles, and fake photoshopped moods. Break free from putting up a face when you're hurting. Break free from your masks and pretences.

And when you've shown yourself to your mirrors and to the world in your full, glorious, naked imperfection, embracing yourself beauty and warts all alike, while cultivating those strengths that you value, your heart will have softened and open to make room for all those other gloriously imperfect people in your life.

Give a voice, a sound and a gesture to your darkest emotions, drives, urges and impulses. Grant them a life of your own volition so they stop getting a life of their own as your body pain and nightmares. 

Give also a voice, a sound and a gesture to your brightest potential so it takes shape in your life as an integral part of you. 

Friday, March 9, 2018


Loneliness is a plague afflicting not only the aging and bereaved, and single people.

Loneliness is a cultural epidemic where people living under the same roof fail to connect.

Lack of communication skills disconnects.

Unresolved trauma causes dissociation, which disconnects even where there are communication skills.

Disembodied living and a reluctance to touch one another leads to disconnect and loneliness.

You don’t have to turn the Internet off to experience loneliness. It is enough if you pay attention to your own heart and body.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

From Victim to Hero

Fighting Opression by Being Neither Opressor Nor Opressed

It starts with the Self.

It takes Healing. It takes Practice. It takes Power and Love.

I am broken, but not defeated.

There has been generational, inherited trauma, as the child of Holocaust survivors. There has been childhood trauma: Mother lost at first to mental illness, then to death. Father emotionally absent and harshly critical. I have been beaten with the belt and hit with the ruler. Immigrated twice, on my own, changing cultures and climates. Lived years of abuse with a cruel man. Gone through war. Lost loved ones. Lost love. Faced social isolation.

And here is why I’m not a victim:

I am alive. I am, and have remained curious to learn. I have done tons of work on myself. I’ve asked and received help and support. When losing track of my strengths and values, I asked my friends and helpers to remind them to me. I have never given up living, learning, striving to grow, even when regressing, and looking for what’s beautiful, good and true.

Most important of all, I have used adversity to ask questions and grow stronger, kinder, wiser, and better skilled at living. I have learned oodles, and still learning, about power: what it means and what it takes to have power, to position oneself in a place of power, the importance of embodying both power and love, and the practices needed to do that.

I used my spiritual practices to look at the most cruel, and most compassionate behaviours in others as mirrors of myself - I’ve done, and doing daily, deep Shadow work. I found the Angels AND the Demons in my own psyche, and befriended them with love, because if I am to live by my values of kindness and love the World, I have to start with all of who I am, and nothing less than that.

I have crashed in despair a thousand times. And picked myself up a thousand and one times. I’d like to tell you how, if this is useful to you.

There have been times of sickness that felt almost like dying. And times of renewed vitality and hope, and with it a renewed commitment to be of service.

I have promised myself, and am promising you, that when I have recovered and grown strong enough, I will show you how to recover and grow strong, and be well.

I chose to drop the narrative of Victim, and chose instead to be the Hero, the dragon-slaying Hero. I dance, and lift weights, and do comedy improv, and laugh, and hug people and pets and wear lipstick and take walks in the park when the sun is out. And I have head and body aches, and I cry often, and am slow to rise, because I’m wounded - because when you fight dragons, that’s what happens, you get wounded.

But what’s a few wounds and bruises, when you’ve slayed a dragon? Because fuck it, I am the Hero!