Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Saturday, August 15, 2020

In Memory of My Husband

When we met twenty two years ago, Jeff told me stories of his life and work in the Canadian Arctic.

He was a great storyteller, with a sense of the ridicule and a wildly sharp sense of humour. His stories and funny sayings and remarks sent me laughing until I folded and my cheeks were sore. Jeff and I shared more hurts than values and strengths; humour, together with our love for dogs, was probably our most precious shared gem. Jeff would say things like: “I’m busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest” or “Busier than a one-armed poster-hanging man” and the mental visuals ensued would render me laughing hysterically.

I listened mesmerized to Jeff’s stories from the North - of spotting a polar bear on one of his travels, or stories of a grumpy hotel owner who’d ask his guests: “Sir, how do you like your eggs?” And when the guest would reply “Scrambled”, the owner would reply between his clenched teeth: “Well, we only make them fried”. And he’d add: “You have two choices: take it, or leave it”. 

“My work is my TIKKUN OLAM” (Hebrew for “Healing the World”) Jeff once told me. The Canadian Government has been making ongoing efforts to make repairs for the wrongs done to the indigenous people and Jeff’s work with the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada was profoundly meaningful to him. He was passionate and proud to be part of the amends and development for the Dene and Inuit people. His clients had appreciation and affection for him, and Jeff treasured the Aboriginal Art pieces he was gifted by them. Each piece of art had a story and Jeff’s eyes often got wet when he’d relate it to me.

Jeff’s humour, passion, work and eventually health and life succumbed to tremendous suffering. Together with his remains, a lifetime of dreams, hopes, memories, stories told and stories untold, are being buried. As a healer, I look back at this life of the man I shared a long, rocky journey with, and I grief the lost opportunities for healing the wounds of the soul and the ills of the body. Trauma, the philosophical views of separation, and disease can rob a person of his ability to do his life’s work, and of his ability to love and relate. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger; and if you don’t address it, sooner or later, it does kill you. 

The man I once loved, had dreams about, hopes with, and later feared and resented has left an imprint on my psyche that is shaping who I am today. Walking this leg of a journey with him I have learned about myself more than I had ever imagined possible; I learned about the importance of healing one’s wounds, what it means to grow up emotionally, what are the skills and the strengths necessary to relate with a mate, the importance of saying the truth, the meaning of kindness, the necessary dance between autonomy and communion, and the power balance in relationships. I learned that opposites attract if it’s Yin and Yang, and while some things should be different for a couple relationship to work, others, such as world views, meaning and values, should be shared. I learned that navigating relationships without a good map can crash you, and fortunately I eventually came across and learned a good map. 

I learned that projecting one’s unrealistic expectations and assumptions upon another makes relating impossible, and that a marriage is never to a prince, nor to a monster, but to another human being with strengths and flaws, like all of us. I learned that kindness is a choice, and how I think and speak to and of another depends entirely on who I am and who I choose to be, and does not depend on the other’s behaviour. This marriage has left me shaken, but it also left me wiser, kinder, better equipped, skilled and able to contribute to others’ well-being and growth; more mature psychologically, and more awakened spiritually. For all this, I am deeply grateful. 

I pray with all my heart that Jeff is remembered for his good deeds, his strengths, and his contributions. And I pray that his soul journeys in peace, renewed and cleansed from this life’s burdens and contaminations. May goodness and beauty emerge from the dark mud of suffering like the delicate, fragrant lotus flower, and may all the pain and suffering endured be worthwhile, and eventually lead to greater compassion to our souls and to our world. 

Good bye Jeff. May you be at peace. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Advantages and disadvantages of a daily morning routine of meditative embodied practice (QiGong)

I depend on my morning routine of embodied meditative practice for a minimal state of well-being. One skipped morning, like yesterday, throws me in debilitating sickness. I use therapies for trauma recovery (therapy is needed while sick and ceases with healing) and practice for maintenance.

An embodied meditative practice routine has advantages and limitations if you are recovering from trauma or illness:


- No need for props. Unless you follow YouTube workouts, in which case have your phone around and, if practicing in the park like I do, have your dog's leash to hang the phone from a tree branch. Otherwise, you don't need equipment.

- You can practice anywhere, anytime. If you have a variety of workouts in your repertoire, you'll have enough to practice sitting, standing in line at the store, walking the dog, watching Netflix. 

- It's financially attainable. Trauma programs cost thousands of dollars, which, if you have PTSD and money, you're covered. But trauma hits hard the people who struggle with money, and happily there are many open or affordable sources for you to learn.


- Time consuming. Any idea how many pain killers a person can take while you're circling your arms around in the park, under the tree, for a whole hour or more?

- You miss one day of routine, it's like missing your antidepressant or your morning shower: you'll feel yuck. You'll need to schedule your day's activities around the self-care routine if you're to reliably function. 

- Outside of China QiGong practice looks weird. I'm in a conservative North American culture in the Canadian capital, and I've seen people taking snapshots of me, people shaking their head, people stopping to stare. You'll feel like the fool on the hill - I know I have.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Humanizing the other: how to neither idolize, nor demonize the other

How to not demonize another person:

- Imagine the person as someone's little son or daughter
- Picture the person having food cravings
- Try to envision them as a school boy or girl, learning to read and write
- Ask yourself or, if available, the person. what is this person's greatest passion? How about their greatest fear?

How to not idolize another person:

- Imagine the person peeing, pooping or picking their nose.
- Think of the person performing household chores, like you do: peeling potatoes, throwing the garbage, washing the floors
- Picture the person having food cravings
- Ask yourself or, if available, the person, what scares or startles them

Those you are bothered by, and those you admire, are human beings, with strengths and flaws. Just like you  #rehumanizetheother

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Two possible scenarios for addressing body pain

Here are two possible scenarios for addressing body pain:

1) Listen to the pain. Notice the emotion arising. Allow any mental images to surface with the source of the emotion. Complete any 'unfinished business' with body movement, voice, breath, and words that needed to be uttered. Examine any views contributing to emotional pain, and change them. Identify internalized voices that don't belong to you, and release them. Integrate and own your own internal voices.

2) Take a pain killer. Ignore the pain. Suppress the emotions. Repress the memory. Do not examine the views. Believe everything you think and everything you hear. When pain becomes chronic, take more pills.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Typical Mind-Body Intervention for Heart Health

Typical Tana Saler scenic road to (heart) health:

In a phone interaction I declined a solicitation of the caller, and while I spoke I felt my heart and chest shrinking to an ache. I was quite sick for a few days after, with literal heartache and shallow breathing, and a normal person would see the doctor and get an ECG done. 

Instead, I meditated, journaled and did Shadow work until I had my insight and took the solicitor's perspective. 

Then I wrote that person, apologized, made amends including a donation and well wishing, and heard back from them with their gratitude. 

As I wrote my apology and made amends, the heart and chest opened, the tension and aches released, and my breath softened and deepened. 

That's it.

Learning to say 'no' has been a big lesson for me. Now learning to say 'no' kindly is a skill refinement, and I'm still working on it. The heart and body don't lie, and there's no answer in pharmacology or surgery for unkind speech and action. 

The body-mind is not a concept, idea or philosophy - this is reality, if you know how to pay attention, access your body's wisdom, do your homework, and aim at addressing health problems from the root cause.

This doesn't imply that you shouldn't see the doctor, or follow a good diet, sleep, exercise etc. There are many factors to health, and the thought-speech-action determinant weighs more that a spoonful of sugar on the body health.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Balance and the Healthy Sense of Self

A major scope of personal development work is "Balance" - neither excess, nor deficit; neither total chaos, nor rigid order.

It's the same with the sense of self: the middle path is being neither fragmented, nor fused, meaning you don't want to be cut-off from your own traits, qualities, drives, impulses, emotions and feelings, nor do you want to be fused in your identity with either of those traits, qualities, drives, impulses, emotions and feelings.

A healthy sense of self is both integrated and fluid. That's easier said than done, but possible with both therapy and practice. Voice dialogue and elegant, embodied forms of Shadow work are useful and effective in developing a coherent sense of self. Any spiritual pursuits must follow this work, and not precede it: you have to have a sense of self before transcending the self.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Deepest Longing Holds the Greatest Brilliance

I'm a lonely outgoing extrovert and a natural people connector. I have introduced couples, helped save marriages, people who met through me became friends, and business collaborators, and I am the initiator of parties, groups (now virtual), and of lately, teacher of the art of human connection.

And my only live-in companion is a dog.

Sometimes I feel like Moses who led the people to the Promised Land, but he was banned from entering. Is this longing to belong that moves me to be of service towards connection? If I were fulfilled and secure in a couple and community of my own, would I still be as good as bringing people together? 

A Romanian saying says 'Hunger is the best Chef'. Maybe our deepest pain and longing holds our greatest brilliance.