Sunday, March 6, 2016

Peace on Earth

With all of the discord and danger we find, especially in the past two decades of war, terror, oppression and prejudice, I find myself attracted to expressions of peace, more and more every day.

In my present position as the president of a small college, discord inevitably arises as every sentient being conceives their own unique worldview, well, uniquely.  Students want to be heard, faculty want to express themselves in the classroom in their own voice, employees want to self-actualize.  Everyone wants to be able to live their life, to be honored for their contribution in whatever way is most important to them, and to have a life.

I have found, sitting in my chair, that you cannot make everyone happy all the time.  Mostly it is an unpopular position, but one that I took on willingly.  I help to hold the space to create healing, peace and opportunity for each individual to grow and become fulfilled.  Alone? way.  As a community, our employees and students manifest as a family, aimed toward support, mutual respect and equity.

Years ago, when my sister’s son first came to them (he was eight, they adopted him), we took a trip up to Pacem In Terris, peacemaker, author and artist Frederick Franck’s non-sectarian healing space in Warwick, New York.  We watched the 8 year old who was still learning English (he is from Russia) skipping gleefully up and down the stone steps of the space while his Mom and Dad and I just acclimated ourselves from our outer worlds to this inner space.  Pacem is open from May to September every year.  Though Franck died in 2006, and his wife Claske Franck passed in 2013, friends and benefactors continue to maintain Pacem.   I am not sure how much longer this special place will remain, but I do know that when I stepped into the beautiful cathedral, a deep peace settled over me. 

I crave this feeling of ease and placidity. More than ever, we need peace on earth.  The space in Warwick, New York is one place where all are welcome, where peace reigns.

I hope that those of us who walk the earth will create our slice of peace wherever we live, work, travel and create.  I believe that in this way, we will overcome the culture of fear, anger and terror that causes many to shelter in place, the common term for an emergency preparedness technique for keeping students inside during a terror threat.  Many people are beginning to shelter in place in their everyday lives, living in fear and isolation, afraid to trust.  This is so sad, but some feel it is the only way they can live.

Let’s create world where shelter in place becomes unnecessary.  It truly is up to us, every day.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year! May the way be open to you.

On New Year’s Day many of us stop and reflect on how we want the coming year to be, what we want to accomplish, how we want to live, and what we want to do for others.  We want the way to be open for ourselves.  With that in mind, I’ve put together a popular phrase list for myself, that I want to share here.

It’s all small stuff.  I always loved the phrase from Richard Carlson, PhD;  “don’t sweat the small stuff --- it is all small stuff”.  Though Dr. Carlson passed in 2006, this teaching of his continues to permeate philosophical and therapeutic discussions.  While this is a good edict, I also know that there are sometimes situations that come up that seem insurmountable.

That is why I also love another suggestion; “Expect Miracles!” 

Expect miracles.  The whole concept of a miracle is appealing to me.  When something good happens against all odds, a miracle is born.  Miracles don’t require any special belief system.  They do not require that you ask for a miracle, but I also believe that positive thought and positive intentions can help.   While I am not sure if Joe Vitale wrote this phrase, he popularized it through his books, workshops and coaching sessions.

Think positive thoughts.  Positive thoughts help ease our minds.  As an hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, I have watched lives transformed by changing our thought patterns.  We can change the way we think.

Be open to learning about yourself.  Being critical of others may give us insight into our feelings about ourselves.  It is so easy to be critical of others.  I remember attending a weekend workshop many years ago, and have read many things since about what is really happening when we are critical of others.  It is often the things we feel that we lack ourselves that cause us to be critical of others who stir up that recognition in ourselves.  This brings me to my next phrase…

Be gentle with yourself.  I always have to remind myself as I remind my clients to put yourself on that list of people you love, people you take care of.  My sister Nancy gave me a little frame that holds the phrase “I love myself unconditionally at this moment in time” which derives from the key phrase of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), more popularly known as Tapping;  "Even though I have this ___________, (whatever the condition or difficulty) I deeply and completely accept myself."

How good is that? – or How bad can that be? My sisters and I quote the fabulous Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, ALL THE TIME!  It always puts a smile on my face.

I find that using these and other positive little phrases help short circuit negative thought patterns.

Fake it till you make it.  And one of my very favorite people to quote is Dr. Bernie Siegel, champion of those with catastrophic illness, and founder of ECaP (Exceptional Cancer Patients). Dr Siegel encourages people to fake it till they make it.  He says, “at first, it won’t seem real that you can heal, but after a while you start to accept your ability to live and heal from your illness.”

Do the dishes to do the dishes.  Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese philosopher, author, peace activist and founder of Plum Village (in France), dedicated to unity and peace throughout the world.  In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Master Thich says “do the dishes to do the dishes”.  A loose mindfulness interpretation asks us to be present in what we are doing, all the time, rather than losing ourselves.  To be present, mindful, is to be awake to ourselves and to experience life.

Be here now.  Mindfulness Master Ram Dass, who has since passed away, kept it simple.  He was a man before his time.  He suggests, as does Thich Nhat Hanh, that we be present in our own lives.

The moment is in our right brain.  Jill Bolte Taylor’s Ted Talk, My stroke of insight, ( )  shares the mechanics of our brain and how we tend to reside in the left or work part of the brain, when we should try to enjoy being in the pleasurable right brain, which is of the moment.  During Dr. Taylor’s stroke she observed the joy that is available through being in the moment.  As a brain scientist, Dr. Taylor is uniquely suited to explaining how the brain works, and was able to observe the effects of stroke in her own brain, mind, body and emotions.  Dr. Taylor suggests that we need time to rest in the moment, and enjoy life.  She contends that the neural pathways can be rerouted to happiness, peace and joy.

Love one another.  Though this teaching is attributed to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, it is a philosophy embraced by people of every walk of life, of every faith, and by those who do not believe in God.  By loving each other, treating others with love, we love and respect ourselves and make the world a better place.

May the way be open to you!