You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.

Since I arrived in Colorado, I have had this enormous sense of meaninglessness. I don’t question that coming back to Colorado was the right thing to do. Sitting in my recliner and looking at Crestone Peak, Challenger and the other Fourteeners, watching the sunrise over the mountains at 6:30 every morning and lately watching the monsoon winds and rain come through the desert with frequently resulting rainbows is where I want to be. I just don’t understand the sense of meaninglessness.

Not long ago , I would often touch at least twenty people’s lives during one day and I didn’t question that I was making a difference. I even compulsively took care of my caregivers emotionally, and their lives and their familys’ lives improved. Now it feels like a rare occurrence to make a difference in someone’s life. Who am I if I am not impacting lives in a big way? Perhaps this is similar to how a mother feels after the last child leaves home. Is it merely an identity crisis? If so, I can do this. I have survived an “empty nest” before. I remember the years of soul-searching and preparation. However, this time I feel totally unprepared.

What I know about transformation is that you have to fall into the place where there is NO HOPE and only by letting go into that state can the new way of being become manifested. This knowing is merely mental at this point. Viscerally and spiritually, I am in the place directly before the abyss, where one’s greatest sense of suffering can occur. From experience, I do know that this state is transitional.

During my first impending “empty nest” experience, I used certain technology to cope. I got a Great Dane puppy, I moved to a horse farm, remarried and developed a whole horse community. I forgot about my son’s needs at a time when he was not yet finished with high school. This has been a source of his greatest disappointment and resentment toward me. I didn’t handle the empty nest transition very well.

In all fairness I should mention that it was around this time that I received the MS diagnosis. How this fits in I am not sure, but I’m sure it does.

When I was working with Stan Grof, M.D., at breathwork training, I worked on the deepest level of my life. Dr. Grof is a psychiatrist and a prolific researcher and writer in the area of transpersonal psychology. He and his trainers travel all over the world to produce transpersonal workshops and trainings, where I have witnessed people’s deepest healing imaginable. For three years, I traveled around the United States while in this transpersonal training program. During one particular training module, I awoke from a nightmare at 4:30 AM. I was crying hysterically and totally inconsolable. It was the kind of dream that felt completely real–not a dream at all. The dream was set in Nazi Germany during the 1940s. Jordan was my son, and somehow I knew that the SS soldiers were coming for us. I put Jordan in the closet and ran for safety. I suddenly realized that if I were to return to get him, I would surely be killed. If I ran forward I had a slight chance of survival. The weight of the decision was devastatingly heavy. I made the choice to go forward, and simultaneously I realized the enormity of my decision to live a life that would end up being marginal.

After the hysteria began to subside and I got myself reasonably together, I went to speak with Stan and recounted my dream. He felt that it was clearly a past life memory surfacing to be cleared. For people who have never had such an experience, it is important to understand the context of the training. The mere presence of Dr. Grof and his most experienced trainers created a setting for the deepest healing imaginable. For the less experienced in this work, these controversial themes could be considered to be a symbolic story. Whether this experience was a true memory or a symbolic story doesn’t really matter. Even if it were a symbolic story, there was a reason for this particular story to emerge.

As a brief digression, I want to mention a very interesting book on this subject. It is called BEYOND THE ASHES, and it was written by a Rabbi who started doing research into situations where people had seemingly irrational memories of the Holocaust. He found that some memories and other happenings were able to be validated by research. He posited that people were being born at this time to clear the trauma of that period in history. I should note that he was originally a cynic, and when he began to validate information and present it, he became flooded with people who had had these experiences and couldn’t understand them. I should also note that a small percentage of the people with memories were in the role of a Nazi soldier.

Ever since returning to Colorado, I have been almost obsessed with watching movies with Holocaust themes. Is there a connection between the sense of meaninglessness and the imprinting of abandonment? Did I “leave” my child before I got “left,” therefore handling the “empty nest” unconsciously? With the level of reaction on Jordan’s part, I clearly mishandled one of the most sensitive times in his life. When considering regrets in parenting, this is probably top on my list. Most parents have something they have done that they regret, perhaps to the extent where SHAME is involved. Once shame is involved, it takes a lot of maturity in the personality to clear the pattern.

And if I were to attribute validity to the dream at my training module, one could say that if there is an extreme infraction of that magnitude, the imprint of abandonment might recur in a significant way in my life in order for the pattern to be cleared emotionally. Where the multiple sclerosis diagnosis fits in I am not sure. Whether this pattern informed the illness or the illness exacerbated the pattern isn’t clear. What I am sure about at this time is that healing is happening on a level that is beyond where my mind can go at this point. And as always, forgiveness becomes a central part of the healing process, both with other and with self.

Advertisements

I’m beginning a new protocol this week. It is called the Budwig Protocol and it was developed in Germany by Dr. Johanna Budwig. Budwig was a biochemist, healthcare practitioner and researcher for chronically ill patients primarily with cancer for over sixty years. If I had been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s disease or any other autoimmune issues, I would surely consider this protocol. Although the etiology of multiple sclerosis is unknown, as with all illnesses there are gross imbalances that need to be corrected. If followed conscientiously the protocol can yield a 90% efficacy in treating cancer, and it doesn’t seem to matter how advanced the cancer might be. I suspect that the efficacy is lower with multiple sclerosis as there seems to be much less research in that area. Common sense tells me that the earlier you catch autoimmune illnesses the less complicated they are to treat, but Dr. Budwig was known to take people from a hospital where they were deemed hopeless, begin the protocol and elicit a positive response in many cases involving cancer. One has to be judicious, however, when using “common sense.” Common sense could also present a case that chronic, life-threatening illnesses are hopeless, so one has to be discerning when dealing with such a complex issue.

I have been on many protocols over the years and many of them were helpful to a point. The main issue I was consistently unable to overcome was that I ran into difficulty detoxing, as my body would become inundated with toxins as I began to kill off the microbes triggering the autoimmune reaction. Contrary to general belief with MS, the immune system is not simply attacking itself for no reason. This has been the justification for immune modulating therapies that actually suppresses the immune system. I could never subscribe to suppressing my immune system. The metaphor I use to understand this type of treatment is that when the engine light comes on in an automobile one takes the fuse out. That is the reason that billions of dollars are accrued by the pharmaceutical companies for prescription medications for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. If one were to subscribe to a conspiracy theory, one could say pharmaceutical companies are more interested in treating diseases with mediocre efficacy and less concerned with finding a cure. This may or may not be true or perhaps it may be partially true. This hypothesis has led me to explore the imbalances illness reveals as a more effective treatment approach.

Some of the causes of the complex that some people call multiple sclerosis are hormonal imbalances, inadequate digestion of enzymes which leads to mineral deficiency, environmental toxicity including dental treatments involving mercury, root canals, etc., multiple opportunistic infections, poor vascular circulation, and oxygen deprivation, just to name a few. Dr. Terry Wahls has written a book focusing on supporting the mitochondria of the cells, which resulted in her recovery from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. She is extremely committed to conducting research to support patients in the recovery from this illness for this increasing population. It is always important to explore the psychological and energetic level of illness as well. In this entry I am providing an overview of the physical components of illness and some of the treatment approaches I have employed and the rationale, but know that the other levels previously mentioned are equally as important to explore. My particular focus on the psychological, spiritual, and energetic levels far outweighed the physical in time spent. Early on, I began to believe that my unconscious informed my healing process through dreams, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Since I had a listening for this information, I became a captive and very proactive audience.

After being diagnosed with MS in 2003 and Lyme disease in 2004, the revelation of multiple opportunistic infections stimulating my immune system became my focus for many years. I know many people who have recovered from an MS diagnosis and Lyme disease through aggressive treatment. Unfortunately, twenty years later I still have bacteria overstimulating my immune system as per the dark field microscopy exploration of my blood last week. On a positive note, my blood revealed many strengths. After nine months of taking antibiotics nonstop, there is virtually no Candida (yeast) overgrowth which would have been unheard of if I were on a standard American diet. My diet is anything but standard. I have been following Dr. Wahls diet for eighteen months;  Paleolithic diet, dairy free, gluten-free, soy free, corn free, sugar-free, legume free, grain free and additive free. My blood revealed very little heavy metal toxicity as well which has been a problem in the past. It did reveal however an over active immune system which leads to extreme fatigue as well as the excessive death of many healthy cells.

The Budwig protocol floods the cells with healthy omega 3 fatty acids while eliminating all animal fat and all cooked oils. I am also following a protocol for detoxing as per a local naturopathic doctor and friend. After the ankle fractures, I was unable to stand the way I had been consistently doing every morning for an hour. Finally, last week I began to stand again and I am up to fifty-seven minutes per day. Throughout this illness, after each backslide, I had to keep finding a new baseline on which to base my recovery. Sometimes I feel like a theme for describing my healing trajectory could be “throw everything at the wall that is consistent with my intuition and see what sticks.” Well, here comes another protocol with much promise, recommended by a very caring friend who is cancer free from Hodgkin’s lymphoma after just a few months. I have no doubt that the protocol will support my well-being, but will it alter the trajectory of the illness? I suspect that I need to implement the protocol and let go of any expectations.

Welcome to my world.

It was a revelation when John, a significant spiritual teacher in my life, told me that parenting was not about making your children’s lives comfortable. I probably looked at him like he had three eyes. My raison d’être as a parent was not about making my children happy and comfortable?! He explained that being a responsible conscious parent was about raising our children to be courageous, spiritual warriors to deal with the complexities of human existence. Once again my worldview was turned inside out. As Sid described working with John; you opened your mouth and he put his hand down your throat, grabbed you by your balls and turned you inside out. Sid also has a way with words and that about described it.

If I hope to pass any wisdom down to my children, it would be to do the absolute best you can, love the most you are able, forgive yourself for your limitations and know that it is all just the way it is supposed to be. if I could counsel myself at an earlier age in my life, the greatest wisdom I would impart is to add that we really have very little control over anything. However, faith has taught me that there is order in the Universe, and that this order has much better plan than I would have devised.

From a young age, I reminded Casey that she chose me to be her parent. Granted, I would mention that when she was feeling terribly victimized by being my daughter, so it probably wasn’t the best timing. But I think the message was received. I would never have consciously chosen my parents, but it had certainly worked out perfectly, and yet I cannot take any responsibility for the perfection. Reasoning and experience tell me that there has to be a greater wisdom or, as my brothers say, “a higher power” in the Universe.

What John did that day was to thrust me into the bigger picture perspective of parenting. I would not have taken that leap without his urging. Then again why would we choose spiritual teachers if we could do it on our own?

It is hard for me to grasp who the teachers are and who the students are in the parent-child dyad. Often as a parent I felt like one of my heroes, Mr. Magoo, while precariously venturing on in life. It was Mr. Magoo who blindly walked forward and was mysteriously kept safe.

I learned quite a bit from my children during their early years and as they have matured to adulthood, that learning has accelerated. It really doesn’t matter who is learning and who is teaching. Both are a sacred precious ritual for which much gratitude is to be gleaned.

Whether it be through your children, a shaman, or a cartoon character, being open to Life’s teachings on life’s terms certainly makes for a more interesting way to live.

I have been watching many documentaries on Netflix, once I realized that I can view movies on my computer immediately. When you begin to rate the movies that you view and make subsequent selections, the process of subjectivity becomes much more refined. What an effective marketing plan. In the last twenty-four hours I watched a Holocaust survivor forgive all of the Nazis including Dr. Mengele who experimented on her and her identical twin in Auschwitz. I watched a boy with down’s syndrome prepare for and perform his bar mitzvah with much support from his family and community. I also watched the documentary of a Palestinian girl who flirted with becoming a terrorist prior to sublimating those impulses. What an interesting venue for trying out different roles in life and experimenting with different evolutionary paths. Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., was brought to Israel to work with Israelis and Palestinians in order to create a bridge for communication and resolution of conflict. Dr. Rosenberg’s work is called nonviolent communication or compassionate communication, a tool I believe is desperately needed in our present circumstances–one which has the potential to spread world peace one person at a time, one group at a time.

My latest selection on Netflix was the life and legacy of Werner Erhard. While watching this biography I realized how much influence he had on my life and on others who had subsequently influenced me. It is interesting how many of my former teachers have been demonized by the general public. The common denominator was that the teachings were esoteric, less mainstream, and they were way ahead of their time. The context of controversy leads to distortion by those who don’t understand the teachings or aren’t ready for change. When someone like Werner Erhard, who touched so many lives and  lived as an example of bald-faced courage and integrity gets taken down, it is deeply troubling to me. I suspect that he would be the first one to take responsibility for contributing to his fall, so I won’t see him as a victim. Now that I think about it, I believe he could have been one of many significant influences for me not feeling like a victim of this illness.

I think that there are many tools available to people in order to keep us honest and working toward expansion rather than contraction along the greater trajectory of our human experience. Of course there are contractions along the way; healing is not linear, although at times part of me would like to believe that it is. At this point in our human development, I believe everyone has a responsibility to move humanity forward. The way to do this is to work with our limitations consciously bringing more awareness to the human system. In my opinion, the way the planetary changes are happening are an external manifestation of the consciousness that has to be raised. (Of course, this is my blog so it’s going to be my opinion.) If we look at our political system and are alarmed by what we see (the political system is the densest form and the slowest to change in our culture), I believe it reveals the entrenchment and the intransigence of the human psyche. We all need to do our share in moving humanity forward, whether it is watching documentaries or dramas that move us on Netflix or attending meetings that enlighten or enliven us, or whatever form one is drawn to in order to go beyond our limitations. If I am not challenged by whatever tool I choose, I will not change.

I have been in a group for three years with four other people who come to my house to practice nonviolent communication bimonthly. Paradoxically, these are the most psychologically violent interactions I come in contact with. If most people including myself do not want to walk out at least once during the meeting we have likely not pushed our self-imposed limitations far enough. The meetings can be raw at times, but the metaphoric container is what allows for the ultimate safety. The intention of the group is to work through psychological violence in order to transform this primal energy into Love. The level of violence that we as a society live with, yet are virtually unaware of, is astounding to me. The way the transformation occurs is to recognize that the deepest need we humans have is for connection. It is with this understanding and a very clear technology developed by Dr. Rosenberg that we move from violence to reconciliation. Each success in our group increases the level of trust and therefore expands the human container. As our group continually practices this technology successfully, and more groups are created in the community, I feel a growing sense of hope for humanity.

As a teenager, I went to secondary school at Scranton Central High School. There was a rival high school in the area called Scranton Technical High School. Why did I end up at Central? Was it the luck of the draw or was it arbitrary? Did my parents choose the school specifically for me and my needs? Was it divinely inspired that I would attend this high school or was it random? When our football team played against Tech’s football team, a fierce competition was engendered. The cheers were, “Fight fight fight.” Some football players prayed to God to beat the other team. Is God listening to prayers for one team to beat another?

As I was growing up in a Jewish family in a Jewish community, I was sent to Hebrew school for part of the week. I studied Hebrew, where they tried to indoctrinate me into the old structures from the Old Testament. But I was very rebellious and non-compliant with the teachings which brought up tendencies toward anarchy in me. In his utter frustration, my Hebrew school principal once accused me of being a con artist. Perhaps the split of being raised Jewish in a virtually atheistic home caused  this conflict, or perhaps it was my willful, rebellious nature. When I became a teenager, my family told me that I was only allowed to date Jewish boys. Was it then that the seed was planted to never marry a Jewish man? It wasn’t just being told NO that possibly contributed to this eventual decision. I know that from deep within my soul there was some inequity that did not sit well in my Being. My astrological chart suggests an individual who can be a revolutionary on steroids. Was this the ingredient that caused the seeming intractable lack of compliance?

When I was fifteen years old I went on an eight week tour to Israel. During my travels I met many Israelis and many Arabs, but I was clearly on the Israeli team. After all, I had the hair, the uniform and the cultural foundation to prove it. When I traveled to Eilat at the southernmost tip of Israel, I had a life-changing experience. It was a momentary event that would’ve been unnoticeable even to me, except that I have referred back to that moment many times as a time where my consciousness shifted. I was sitting by the edge of the Red Sea at the Gulf of Aqaba looking through binoculars toward the Saudi Arabian peninsula. It was amazing to me that another country that was so different culturally and politically could be so close. When I explored this country through my binoculars, I had a vision of a fifteen year old Saudi girl looking right back at me with her own binoculars. In an instant I realized that this just happened to be the team I was on this time around, that I was not special nor was my team special, and more importantly that I was no different from a Saudi Arabian fifteen year old girl. This revelation blurred the boundaries of self and other, and even the concept of self and enemy.

When I was a freshman in high school I met a boy who I adored from the moment I met him. The fact that Michael was Jewish must have been an oversight. I boldly asked him to the Feb Sophisticate, a formal dance where girls were the initiators. After two years we were relatively exclusive; Michael was the love of my life. After high school, somehow I was able to tear myself away from Michael and go to the University of Miami for college. I can remember incidents involving Michael which were beyond my understanding. One such example  was when I was meandering around the college dorm and I suddenly felt panicked and ran full speed to the elevators and to my room. The moment I ran into the room the phone was ringing and it was Michael. This didn’t surprise me, because our connection was so strong. When he and I discussed the future there was a disparity in our visions; we both saw us together, but he was visualizing a busy urban experience while I was visualizing a quiet rural life which included many animals. In retrospect, I see that this was a fissure that could not be overcome and our destinies would be taking us in completely opposite directions. His would take him to New York City to be a vice president of a major pharmaceutical company and mine would take me to the deep South to become a psychotherapist in and near New Orleans working with cultural diversity.

Other experiences in my early adult life that helped to accelerate my undeniable yearning for inclusivity with diversity was during my college years. After leaving my relatively homogeneous cultural experience in Scranton and going to Miami, I dated boys from as many different cultures as I could meet; Korea, African-American, Japanese just to name a few. In retrospect I can see that to initiate the unavoidable separation from Michael, I had met a handsome, intelligent young man who happened to be African-American and would shift my worldview 180°. The feelings I had for Burgess were more than I could reconcile and once I realized that it was significant, I informed Michael in order to be honorable with my Beloved. This was not received well and I paid the cost of being excommunicated as a significant girlfriend in his life, but in retrospect I consider this turn in events an acceleration of my quest for a more multicultural expression in my life. By entering into an interracial relationship I learned a lot about prejudice and judgment from the inside out. Although painful, this would give me much more insight and depth into the complexity of intolerance.

Another significant contributor to the quality of reconciliation with conflict/diversity was developed in a large part after my divorces. Screenwriter Nora Efron had said, “marriages come and go, but divorce is forever.” Probably my greatest teachings were acquired after my divorces. When the well-being of my child depended on completing ill feelings toward their biological parent, that added a whole new urgency to the forgiveness process. Whether I had a predisposition for this sort of tolerance/forgiveness or whether this was part of my evolution, it was clearly a large part of my personality style. This quality would serve me well in my future vocation as a psychotherapist as well as in my avocations, especially my participation in the interracial gospel choir after September 11th. This quality prepared me well to take a stand against racism and sectarianism when my choir went on tour in Ireland espousing tolerance and reconciliation.

The concept of enemy was a difficult concept for me to hold onto for very long. As angry as I could be at former friends, husbands, teachers or rivals, I was unable to hold onto that concept of adversary without moving into forgiveness. As much as I loved Jerusalem and my team, I equally had room for the Palestinian people. I didn’t know how anyone could read Queen Noor’s autobiography and not feel empathy for the displaced peoples no matter what team, tribe or culture they were born into. I learned a great deal from that fifteen year old Saudi Arabian girl that day in Eilat and I suspect that she learned a great deal from me.