Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Serious Illness - A Blessing in Disguise

“Matter is Energy. Energy is Light. We are all Light Beings."
Albert Einstein

Thank you for that profound statement, Albert Einstein. And thank you, Helen Keller, for: “The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

I had a stimulating discussion with a very wise friend recently. He had just read many of the writings from my blog, and though he appreciated them, he also felt that I wasn’t being specific enough. He opined that at times I glided over serious issues a bit too nonchalantly. I must admit that in re-reading some of the material I’ve noticed a glibness of sorts and, of course, that was never my intention. Perhaps in my enthusiasm to share information that had been life saving for me, in which I’ve been immersed for years, and which ever thrills and inspires me, I stated my case too perfunctorily.

Mainly what I write about is my own experience of the energy that we all share – that we all are – and the acknowledgement and embracing of that energy in its myriad guises. And I can hear my wise friend saying right now: “What do you mean by that? Most people won’t understand what you’re talking about. What energy?" Let me explain.

What brought me to my life focus on ‘energy’ was a challenging battle with cancer I had about thirty years ago, which entailed multiple surgeries and three years of chemotherapy. I spent the first four years of this seven-year journey in bewilderment, asking my doctors what I was doing wrong. “I take very good care of myself, why am I in the hospital every twenty minutes?” They didn’t have an answer to that one but were wonderfully skilled and kind and helped me immeasurably. Finally, around the time I was beginning chemotherapy, a deep insight awakened in me. I had to take responsibility for myself in this situation – something in me needed to shift into another gear. Out of the blue, wondrous guidance showed up. In retrospect, I see that I was led to all manner of healing modalities. We’re talking the 70’s here so a lot of this was really foreign to me – acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, rolfing, rebirthing. I was guided to health care professionals, seminars, books, and ultimately to my spiritual teacher, Hilda Charlton, who taught me and thousands of others about ‘energy’.

Our scientific community has been telling us for years that the Universe and everything in it – including every cell and atom of our bodies – is energy. Before Quantum Physics became part of our vernacular, Hilda was a living, breathing expression of the Universal Energy that has been the foundation of sacred teachings for all of recorded history. God, The Light, The Source, The Force, Divine Presence, Higher Power – however we wish to label It – that’s what she was sharing. She had us feeling with our hearts. She had us experiencing The Light. She was the catalyst through which many of us were healed. Though Hilda is no longer in her body, she's very much alive through her recordings and books (http://www.hildacharlton.com/) and through the many she inspired to go forth and share their own work in our world. I'm honored to be part of this list which includes Alan Cohen, Rick Jarow, Ron Young, Rita Heap, Lionel Fernandez, Garnette Arledge, Larry Heisler, Linda Cali, Jed Schwartz, Lois Slade, Allen Levy, David Pomerantz, Richard Shulman, Kathleen Donovan, and many more too numerous to mention. We're all so grateful to her.

Becoming attuned to this energy and how profoundly it is affected by our thoughts and feelings ultimately brought health back to my body and changed my life forever. I really ‘got’ that life is lived from within out, and that it's all about being ever-conscious of this connection – a connection to energy that we can’t see or touch or taste or smell – only feel. It has become my deep conviction, and the core of my work, that every arduous experience we attract to our lives is to serve that purpose – to usher us in to our own hearts and souls where this energy, despite any current physical disability, is alive and well and beckoning us to feel.

I realize that when we’re in the throes of critical illness, our natural reactions are to be angry, sad, depressed, and hopeless. And I don’t ever want to negate the value of those reactions. It's vital that we allow ourselves to experience these emotions. We can’t move to the other side of any situation until we accept what’s there. But I’m also encouraging acknowledgment of not only what’s there, but rising to the invaluable challenge that this scenario has presented to us. We are not simply these bodies. We are body/mind/spirit beings.

Rahm Emanuel very aptly states that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”. Whether we like it or not, illness provides a time-out from life as usual which strikes most of us as really bad news. However, the good news is that, if we rise to the challenge, there's a hidden agenda here that can open us up to a part of ourselves that, I promise you, longs to be embraced. This difficult, painful, intrusive dis-ease is grist for our life mill. It’s not an accident. It’s meaningful and purposeful. It has the potential to bring us to unfathomable riches within that will enhance every aspect of our lives.

Ok, so how do we get to the riches? First, it helps a lot to accept, and have the experience of, our bodies being energy systems. This can be accomplished by just getting still for a few moments and noticing the beating of our hearts. Our amazing hearts start beating about twenty-two days after conception and continue unceasingly until our physical bodies die. Their service to us is priceless, and I suggest that right this moment, we all feel great appreciation for our beating hearts. Notice energy pulsing all through your body as the result of this beating heart. Feel such appreciation. Next, acknowledging our breathing – take another few moments and slowly notice the inhale – the exhale – so natural, so automatic. Feel appreciation for this breath of life that breathes us every moment, day and night. Allow yourself to feel - really allow yourself to feel love for your very own body. I'm very big on tenderness these days. Feeding ourselves tenderness. What elicits tenderness for us? Holding a baby, a puppy or kitten – just thinking about the vulnerability of a baby bird? Feel the tenderness that lives within you and then offer yourself this tender love and compassion. Just let tenderness flow through you like a soothing river. This is oh so healing for us. This is one of the riches.

Then there’s the continuous flow of energy pulsing through all the vital organs and systems that are working relentlessly to sustain our lives. Even when they’re compromised, our bodies are magnificent and functioning tirelessly to re-balance and heal themselves. I refer to our bodies as healing machines. And for this I say “Thank you”. Thank you every organ ­– heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, gall bladder, spleen…. every system – digestive, respiratory, reproductive.... Thank you, my body. Thank your body every day. Thank it for being your vehicle throughout this life adventure. Gratitude and appreciation are enormous contributors to our overall well-being. Even when our road has become outrageously bumpy, consciously being grateful for as many things as we can think of each day is immensely salubrious. Feel gratitude.

Having started to feel the precious energy of our bodies, and the gratitude inherent in that experience, the next step is taking responsibility and totally committing ourselves to our own well-being. Commitment is essential for our success in any endeavor, particularly in regaining our good health. As soon as we're truly committed, guidance kicks in and it can open us to the vast array of healing modalities available. I'm not talking about eschewing traditional medicine. I'm suggesting that when critical illness has arrived at our doorstep, it behooves us to pull all the bunnies out of the hat – to try anything and everything that has the potential to make us well again. Modern medicine is astounding, surgical procedures, stunning. But, from my viewpoint, to make our recovery lasting and this whole process as transformative as it is meant to be, this is the moment to take to heart Hippocrates' wise words spoken over 2000 years ago: "Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease." This is the moment to claim the healing energy that resides within us all, always. This is the moment to realize that there's a wellspring of power within our bodies that would have gone unnoticed if this crisis hadn't crashed into our lives. This is the moment to embrace a new philosophy and thought process regarding our bodies and the way we've been living our lives. Commitment and taking responsibility mean rising to the challenge and using all the tools available – traditional and alternative – to set the stage for our own healing. Reading/listening to any inspiring information to which we’re guided is most important, as is enlisting the assistance of someone well versed in the mind/body/spirit connection. These few things are a fine start on the road to our inner riches.

In the midst of my own health crisis I was drawn to, and immensely nourished by, reading Ralph Waldo Emerson. The veracity in his quote “The first wealth is health” is undeniable. He assures us also that: “We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us organs of its activity and receivers of its truth.” Lying in the lap of immense intelligence and receiving truth there is always available to us. All we need to do is get still enough to feel – to quiet our breathing – to listen and marvel at our beating hearts and the Life Force moving through our bodies – to open to the heart and soul food ever-present in this stillness. Relax – Release – Receive.

I know that my illness drew me into a place of great blessing. It was a gift of inestimable value – a gift that truly does keep on giving. For anyone hosting serious disease, it is my ongoing prayer that this "illness opportunity" be grasped and inhaled and imbibed as the gift that it is. May it usher you in to finally feeling and relaxing into your precious connection with the Immense Intelligence – Universal Energy – Love – Light – God. "We are all Light Beings."

"True happiness is in the love-stream that springs from one’s soul; and he who will allow this stream to run continually in all conditions of life, in all situations, however difficult, will have a happiness which truly belongs to him, whose source is not without, but within."
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Sufi Teacher 1882-1927

Friday, July 03, 2009

Meditation - Delicious

As I've mentioned here before, I occasionally have the opportunity to lead Raven Keyes' Healing Light Meditation class at Equinox Fitness Centers. Recently there was a NY Times reporter in attendance. She was investigating unusual classes offered at health clubs. She was not a meditator but was looking forward to the experience. Afterward she spoke to a few of the class members and me. She had apparently enjoyed the hour, regretting only that she'd had to interrupt the flow to take notes. I thought it was interesting when she asked one of the women if she was ill in any way and needed healing. The woman responded that she wasn't – meditation just made her feel so good. I suggested the word delicious (how it feels for me) and she said: "oh yes, delicious". Another woman shared that she loved the feeling she got in the closing minutes when we were sharing all the Love and Light we'd gathered into our bodies with our world. She felt empowered (I think that was the word) to be doing that. Also there was a woman way in the corner of the room who beckoned me over after the class to ask: "Can we do it again?" Meditation is wonderful!

I woke up the next morning saying 'hello' to Spirit as usual (Wayne Dyer says in the morning to be sure to say "Good morning, God" not "Good God, morning!"), and I realized that all the people that come into meditation classes all over the world, or just sit quietly in their own practice, are taking the time to connect with Spirit, the most helpful and healthful thing they can do for their body/mind/Spirit system. They're also contributing to the health of the planet. Just by being willing to relax deeply into the Life Force, God, Spirit, the Divine Presence – whatever we wish to call It – we're uplifting the vibration of the world. We're connecting to this Energy that permeates all space and pulses unceasingly within every cell of our bodies. As I say in my previous blog – we're being Peace-breathers. It truly is delicious.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I closed my last blog with Paul Trueblood's lyrics from And Peace Begins: "An open heart, an open mind, just being kind and Peace begins". (I notice I'm always capitalizing Love and Peace these days - they're such sacred words to me.) And musings about Peace have been popping ever since. I'm reminded of Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, author of many books including Love Is Letting Go of Fear and Teach Only Love, being queried on a talk show about what really makes us happy. He replied very simply, Peace. I remember thinking at the time, what an interesting response that was. I'm reminded of Michael Beckwith on Oprah's Spirituality 101 show last week, responding to a women suffering in despair over the havoc in her life caused by her current financial losses. He asked her what quality she would have to birth to bring herself Peace of mind.

Then there was the Embrace Life group. Years ago I co-hosted a group for cancer and AIDS patients with a lovely and wise woman psychologist. It was a very intense and fulfilling experience for all concerned. We called it Embrace Life because we both agreed that, though critical illness is an important chapter in our lives and we have to take responsibility for doing whatever is required to assist ourselves through the process, we also need to be heartily involved with our lives, our loves, our interests above and beyond our disease. The men and women attending were all in treatment and a few of them did die during the course of our gatherings. It was always sad, and we would sit with such gratitude at how undeniably blessed we were by the meaningfulness of this person's life to ours. One evening, a group member arrived and shared that she had gotten results from her latest tests and that the cancer had metastasized. She was a thirtysomething woman and as we silently sat and received the blow, she went on to say that all was fine. She was so grateful to have been with us and had learned so much from the group, that she felt totally at Peace. It was perfectly OK - It was fine. She was fine.

Then there was the woman who approached me to make a personalized tape for a friend of hers who was dying. Embedded in his favorite music, I think it was Mozart, I lead this older gentleman in a guided meditation taking him deeply within to the place of profound Peace that we all share. He feebly reported to his friend before he died that he finally knew what life was all about. Peace.

In the light of the stunning outbursts of violence recently causing the deaths of Dr. George Tiller and the security guard at the Holocaust Museum, Stephen T. Johns, I'm reminded about being a 'Peace-breather'. Shortly after 9/11, Ryan Kelly of the NYC Ballet wrote: "I'm trying to breathe peace more than ever this year - like rain forests that oxygenate the earth, peace-breathers might pacify the planet ..." I feel that the healing balm of Peace is mandatory to defuse the very prevelant upset in our world's energy field at this time. And surely, committing to being a Peace-breather is a great way to birth and anchor within ourselves - Peace.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

What to do?

I woke up this morning feeling a little queasy and when I questioned that within myself, I flashed on President Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Elie Wiesel speaking at Buchenwald yesterday. Clearly they had all been profoundly moved by their tour of this place of unspeakable horror. And we were all reminded of the potential within we humans to perpetrate such despicable acts upon each other. Moreover, we became sickeningly aware that such brutal behavior still holds sway in many pockets of our world. When will this cease? What can we do? I'm reminded of my musician friend Paul Trueblood's song "And Peace Begins" which opens with the lyric: "An open heart, an open mind, just being kind and peace begins". So simple, so obvious, so needed from all of us.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Run The Light

This phrase has taken on new meaning for me recently. To many of us it's always referred to zooming through a traffic signal that's morphing from yellow to red. Now, to me, Run the Light means something totally positive and invaluable. I Run the Light while meditating, while walking down the street, actually whenever it occurs to me to do it.

Running the Light is a precious tool because when we're upset, depressed, worried, anxious or just plain exhausted, the energy in our bodies contracts, and things are not easefully pulsing away in there with the harmony and balance that is native to our systems. If we're out of this orientation for long enough, we usually get sick. I'm sure this is coming up for me right now because during the holiday season I usually succumb to overwhelm and get laid low by some form of 'not feeling well'. The upside of this is it reminds me that I need to Run the Light. This year I've been fine and think it's because I'm automatically doing just that.

First and foremost, running the Light requires us to acknowledge that our bodies are energy systems. Just stop reading for a moment and notice your beating heart - notice your breathing - take an energetic deep breath and then exhale it slowly as if you were ever so gently blowing on a big candle to watch the flame flicker - begin to notice pulsations all through your body. As Deepak Chopra says: "Our bodies are rivers of energy." See if you can feel that. All the cells of our bodies are alive with energy. Feel a flow within you.

OK - so what is running the Light? I'm a heart person so my inclination is to go straight to the heart. In metaphysical terms, the chest cavity is referred to as the heart center. It makes sense because that's where our physical hearts are housed and where we feel love, joy, peace and gratitude and conversely, at times, profound sadness and grief. It is considered the gateway to our spirit. So I ask you right now to come with me - come home to your heart. Obviously, closing your eyes wouldn't be appropriate, but as you're reading, see if you can imagine taking your awareness gently down into your chest cavity. When I say gently I mean as if your awareness were a leaf wafting to the ground in autumn - that kind of float and ease. Allow yourself to come to rest in the center of your chest cavity in what seems to be a vast expanse of Light. This Light is dazzling bright, shimmering and glistening and there's a surprising calm in Its luminescence - you are enveloped in It and soothed by It. It's a very welcoming feeling. Stop reading for a moment and imagine that. Feel It. It really is home.

Now assign healing properties to this Light - that It is tender, compassionate Love (It is.) and then imagine that this wondrous Light is liquid Light and that It is easefully starting to run through your entire body. We've all seen enough graphics on film to imagine this for ourselves - healing Light bathing our lungs and rib cage, all our vital organs being embraced and suffused, liquid Light flowing easefully though our intestines, our sexual organs, our pelvic girdle, down our legs and into our feet. You're glowing with Light from within from your chest cavity to your feet.

Now bring your awareness, again gently, back to your heart center - and notice that the liquid Light is flowing up into your shoulders and down your arms into your hands. Then see and feel It in your throat and up your neck into your head - Light/Love compassionately easing and releasing the tensions, fears, doubts, worries - any dis-ease. Know that this Light can spread throughout the body in moments. As you become more attuned to It, you can see and feel It branching out from your heart center in every direction at once. This wondrous tree of Life/Light is streaming healing Light to every nook and cranny of you. This process can become the most natural thing in the world for us to do.

For millennia sacred teachings have told us of God being omnipresent - there is no place that God/Love is not. Running the Light is an acknowledgement of this Divine Presence being here constantly - in every cell, every atom, in every sub-atomic particle of us and everything else. This kind of surrendering to the Presence, which is our own innate healing ability, is the perfect antidote to the relentless, wearying and often destructive distractions of our daily lives. It's time to bless ourselves regularly with this Light - to remember and rejoice that It is ever-present with us - that we are one with It.

It goes without saying, that every time we engage this Light, we're raising the energy all around us and inadvertently blessing others. The next logical step then is to very consciously Run the Light to our beloveds, to anyone or any circumstance that is currently challenging us, to all beings on this planet, to Mother Earth and, ultimately, to the Universe. See all embraced in the Light - being soothed and healed by glorious Light.

As the New Year begins, let's make Run the Light a daily practice for ourselves. We can do it anywhere, anytime, though it's particularly delicious when we can sit or lie down and embrace stillness at the same time. It occurs to me now that maybe the yellow light morphing into red has real symbolic resonance here. Maybe, as 2009 commences, it's time to embrace Barack Obama's "audacity of hope" and move through whatever cautiousness stops us in our lives, and regularly Run the Light to the freedom, joy, fulfillment and vibrant well-being that are our birthright. Let's do that! Let's Run the Light!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waiting Room

Last week I accompanied a friend to the hospital. She was to have surgery that day, and I'm a great believer in people having a loved one with them when they embark on this particular journey. All the pre-surgery agenda seemed to be handled smoothly, and she went off to the operating room 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I took myself out for some lunch and then joined a large, diverse group of 'the anxious' in the Family Waiting Room. I'm always so touched by the way we humans interact when sharing a common drama. Surgery's a biggie and the impact on everyone involved is enormous. I was acutely and gratefully aware of the communal compassion alive in the room that day.

It turns out that it was an extremely busy day at this major Manhattan facility, and, though my friend's surgery was completed in two and a half hours, all the recovery rooms were full. She had to wait in the operating room until a slot opened up in Recovery. Everyone on my side of these happenings was in the same boat. As all these patients remained stacked up somewhere in the vast labyrinth of this gigantic edifice, we were assigned to waiting mode for hours. The room was furnished with comfy sofas and chairs and coffee tables thoughtfully arranged in seating patterns to accommodate family groups or little niches where one could be more private. It was slightly overheated and airless, but everyone hung in quietly chatting or reading, with an occasional furtive dash to the restroom or Starbucks so as not to miss the surgeon's anxiously anticipated arrival. One by one they all came to inform us of the surgical outcome, though just when we could actually see our person was unknown. So we waited. There were lovely, dedicated volunteers attempting to keep us posted, but even they didn't know exactly where some of our people were. So we waited.

Through all this, I was greatly assisted by having inadvertently brought my very own support system. That morning I'd put on my iPod the Pre Surgery and Post Surgery Healing Support Programs from the Better & Better Series we'd produced a few years ago. I'd taken them to relax and inspire my friend as she waited for her procedure and subsequently to assist her in the healing process thereafter. She listened to most of the Pre before being whisked away, and seemed to be very touched by it. Then later, as I sat in this emotion-packed room, iPod in backpack, I was prompted to play the programs for myself. Since the post-production phase of the Better & Better project, I hadn't listened to them, and though my MO is to be highly critical of my own work, they really got to me. Despite all the upset in the air, I was able to succumb to the beach sounds, music and meditation (Pre) and the joyful, renewing ambiance of a waterfall in Spring, music and meditation (Post). It created my feeling so great that I found myself wanting to stand on my chair and proclaim to all the worry-wearied beings assembled before me that there's a better way. We can take a few moments, close our eyes and go to the beach in our minds. We can be comforted by soothing music, calming, inspiring words and the uplifting sounds of nature. We can take ourselves out of the tension and pain of this room. We can relax and de-stress ourselves. It's so wonderful and healing for us. This surgery thing is an arduous journey but taking care of ourselves in the process is mandatory and priceless. Clearly, we can't be the caregiver to anyone else if we're so exhausted and emotionally shot that we become ill ourselves.

Through my own health crisis (six surgeries in four year, then three years of chemotherapy), I was guided to, and subsequently gifted with, life transforming/saving insights. For the last twenty years it's been my joy to share these gifts with others. It's no news flash that stress creates most of our illnesses. Our bodies are simply not designed to be contracted and tight and harbor upset in them. Anything we can do then to get back to breathing and relaxing and connecting to the Peace within - and it is always within - always! - is our responsiblility to embrace. Life does not provide a wise counsellor at our side at all times, so it behooves us to awaken to the fact that there's boundless wise counselling to be had within. And there are myriad ways to guide us to this wisdom.

Having experienced this day, it's more clear to me than ever, that caregivers need healing tools as much as patients do. And they're ubiquitous. Of course, I'm partial to the Better & Better Series, which is for both patient and caregiver - but there are many others. Furthermore, even without crisis mode, do yourself a favor and discover the delights of your own inner self. It's the gift that keeps on giving. The Love, Joy and Peace of the ages are there for everyone. Day by day, let us become our own best caregiver and enjoy an ever-expanding experience of life lived from within-out. It's time!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let's Start Getting Serious About JOY!

On November 4, 2008 at 11PM EST the pilot light of joy was ignited within the hearts of many beings in the USA and around the world. This was more than the incredible high of a World Series win or moving into the house of our dreams. This was a much deeper, substantial and potentially life-transforming plunge into the infinite well of joy, love, hope, faith, compassion and peace that ever-dwells in us patiently awaiting our acknowledgment.

Many of us have long felt disheartened (Webster's definition - "a weakening of spirit" could describe us for sure) about our great country. The unjust and immoral policies that had been implemented by our government were so far off our personal radar, that we were stunned, incredulous and dumbfounded. At the same time, on some level, we had to feel that, wittingly or unwittingly, we had aided in the creation of this toxic scenario in the first place.

But a new day is dawning. And now each one of us has the opportunity to be very consciously responsible for getting our country (and ourselves) out of the proverbial ditch - for resuscitating it - breathing wondrous new life into its currently compromised state.

We were all gifted with an infusion of joy and hope and such love in the late evening of November 4th. We were gratified by Senator McCain's concession speech and then profoundly touched by President-Elect Barack Obama's purposeful and determined acceptance of this grand honor and awesome responsibility. We were delighted to tears by the adorable Malia and Shasha and by being witness to the genuine love and caring that flows between Barack and Michelle and their beautiful girls.

There remains great joy and hope in our air. Let us revel in them at this time, and let us commit to sustaining this deliciousness within ourselves that it may become our daily expression to the world. When the going gets rough and challenging, as it surely will with the rebuilding tasks ahead, let us be like exquisitely trained actors and call forth the sense memory of that November evening. Let us remember it - remember where we were, with whom we were celebrating - re-live the joy. Breathe it in. Breathe it out to the world. Be re-inspired. Let us refuse to let negativity highjack our country or us ever again. Refuse! Let us stand firm and tall and determined in that decision.

Joy is our birthright. It is within us every second of every day, regardless of the outward appearances of our lives. It wants to be acknowledged, embraced and become our constant companion. Let us, finally, and not a moment too soon, start getting serious about JOY!