Integral eco-archetypal image

Integral eco-archetypal image
Integral eco-archetypal image

Saturday, July 31, 2010


As I am in the midst of making some major life decisions, I thought this excerpt from Joan Borysenko's book "Fire in the Soul" might inspire us all to look at our crises as initiations:

"What a difference it would make if a person in the throes of a life crisis were called, as in the Ndembu tongue, a mwadi - an initiate - and then skilfully led to a rebirth. Instead our psychological initiates are often labeled neurotic, psychotic, addictive or character-disordered, labels that create helplessness and low self-esteem. These labels reinforce the fearful story that we are damaged and less than whole, a belief that prevents accessing the First Stories of initiation that the universe provides to help us move out of liminality into rebirth.

Some of the power of twelve-step recovery programs comes from the context in which addiction is placed - the new stories that Bill W. created that echoed the truth of the First Stories. In anonymous programs, addictions are transitions between a life where the person was out of touch with a High Power and one in which the reality of that Power becomes not only the force for recovery but also a renewal of the meaning of life. Addiction as a mwadi experience, for those who are willing to see it in that light, creates a context of excitement, empowerment and even gratitude for the addiction as a conduit to a new, more self-aware and fulfilling role.

Psychological problems and addiction are not the only challenging life-events where context effects outcome. Psychiatrist Victor Frankl, in his moving book Man's Search for Meaning, talks about life in the Nazi death camps during the Holocaust. In those most terrible of times some people succumbed to the inevitable epidemics that swept the camp, dying before the brutality of the Nazis and the fire o the ovens could consume them. Others, those who were able to find some meaning in their suffering, were more likely to hold onto life. Frankl himself survived four death camps before liberation, and it was in those camps that he conceived of logotherapy, a system of psychological growth and healing based on the apprehension of meaning.

Frankl and others like him created ritual out of horror, growth out of destruction, by choosing to believe that there was some transcendent meaning to their suffering. When we set our sights on a higher meaning, we automatically cast ourselves in the role of a dweller at the threshold, an initiate in a Great Story. We are not powerless, trapped or worthless. We are passing through the fire on the way to a purification of sufficient value that our suffering becomes worthwhile when weighed against it. Part of the value of suffering and dwelling at the threshold is that it initiates or intensifies the search for what is most sacred, for only in placing our minds on the promise of that sacredness can we emerge from the liminal period not only intact but healed.

The late American psychologist Abraham Maslow spoke of the deep need to find in our lives not only personal meaning, but transpersonal or spiritual meaning. A need is like a biological drive, an instinct. It's part of the genes, part of the racial memories that form the collective unconscious that all people share. When a biological drive is thwarted the organism suffers in some way. The particular kind of suffering that accompanies a thwarted drive for transpersonal meaning is a feeling of emptiness, of meaninglessness about life that can progress to depression if the need is not attended to." (1993, pp. 57-58)

~Excerpted from "Fire in the Soul - A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism" by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Oliver Sacks, the renowned neurologist, was on NOVA's program "Musical Minds" today talking about the impact of music on the brain. He writes about some of his research in his book "Musicophilia":

"A Bolt from the Blue:
Sudden Musicophilia

Tony Cicoria was forty two, very fit and robust, a former college football player who had become a well-regarded orthopedic surgeon in a small city in upstate New York. He was at a lakeside pavilion for a family gathering one fall afternoon. It was pleasant and breezy, but he noticed a few storm clouds in the distance; it looked like rain.

He went to a pay phone outside the pavilion to make a quick call to his mother (this was in 1994, before the age of cell phones). He still remembers every single second of what happened next: "I was talking to my mother on the phone. There was a little bit of rain, thunder in the distance. My mother hung up. The phone was a foot away from where I was standing when I got struck. I remember a flash of light coming out of the phone. It hit me in the face. Next thing I remember, I was flying backwards."

Then - he seemed to hesitate before telling me this - "I was flying forwards. Bewildered, I looked around. I saw my own body on the ground. I said to myself, 'Oh shit, I'm dead.' I saw people converging on the body. I saw a woman - she had been standing waiting to use the phone right behind me - position herself over my body, give it CPR...I floated up the stairs - my consciousness came with me. I saw my kids, had the realization that they would be okay. Then I was surrounded by a bluish-white enormous feeling of well-being and peace. The highest and lowest points of my life raced by me. No emotion associated with these...pure thought, pure ecstasy. I had the percveption of accelerating, being drawn up...there was speed and direction. Then, as I was saying to myself, 'This is the most glorious feeling I have ever had' - SLAM! I was back."

Dr. Cicoria knew he was back in his own body because he had pain - pain from the burns on his face and his left foot, where the electrical charge had entered and exited his body - and , he realized, "only bodies have pain." He wanted to go back, he wanted to tell the woman to stop giving him CPR, to let him go; but it was too late - he was firmly back among the living. After a minute or two, when he could speak, he said, "It's okay - I'm a doctor!" The woman (she turned out to be an intensive-care-unit nurse) replied," A few minutes ago, you weren't."

The police came and wanted to call and ambulance, but Cicoria refused, delirious. They took him home instead ("it seemed to take hours"), where he called his own doctor, a cardiologist. The cardiologist, when he saw him, thought Cicoria must have had a brief cardiac arrest, but could find nothing amiss with examination or EKG. "With these things, you're alive or dead," the cardiologist remarked. He did not feel that Dr. Cicoria would suffer any further consequences of this bizarre accident.

Cicoria also consulted a neurologist - he was feeling sluggish (most unusual for him) and having some difficulties with his memory. He found himself forgetting the names of people he knew well. He was examined neurologically, had an EEG and an MRI. Again, nothing seemed amiss.

A couple of weeks later, when his energy returned, Dr. Cicoria went back to work. There were still some lingering memory problems - he occasionally forgot the names of rare diseases or surgical procedures - but all his surgical skills were unimpaired. In another two weeks, his memory problems disappeared, and that, he thought, was the end of the matter.

What then happened still fills Cicoria with amazement, even now, a dozen years later. Life had returned to normal, seemingly, when "suddenly, over two or three days, there was this insatiable desire to listen to piano music." This was completely out of keeping with anything in the past. He had had a few piano lessons as a boy, he said, "but no real interest." He did not have a piano in his house. What music he did listen to tended to be rock music.

With this sudden onset of craving for piano music, he began to buy recordings and became especially enamored of a Vladimir Ashkenazy recording of Chopin favorites - The Military Polonaise, the Winter Wind Etude, the Black Key Etude, the A-flat Polonaise, the B-flat Minor Scherzo. "I loved them all," Cicoria said. "I had the desire to play them. I ordered all the sheet music. At this point, one of our babysitters asked if she could store her piano in our house - so now, just when I craved one, a piano arrived, a nice little upright. It suited me fine. I could hardly read the music, could barely play, but I started to teach myself." It had been more than thirty years since the few piano lessons of his boyhood, and his fingers seemed stiff and awkward.

And then, on the heels of this sudden desire for piano music, Cicoria started to hear music in his head. "The first time," he said, "it was in a dream. I was in a tux, onstage; I was playing something I had written. I woke up, startled, and the music was still in my head. I jumped out of bed, started trying to write down as much as I could remember. But I hardly knew how to notate what I heard." This was not too successful - he had never tried to write or notate music before. But whenever he sat down at the piano to work on the Chopin, his own music "would come and take me over. It had a very powerful presence."

I was not quite sure what to make of this peremptory music which would intrude almost irresistibly and overwhelm him. Was he having musical hallucinations? No, Dr. Cicoria said, they were not hallucinations - "inspiration" was a more apt word. The music was there, deep inside him - or somewhere - and all he had to do was let it come to him. "Its like a frequency, a radio band. If I open myself up, it comes. I want to say, 'It comes from heaven,' as Mozart said."

Now he had to wrestle not just with learning to play the Chopin, but to give form to the music continually running in his head, to try it on the piano, to get it on manuscript paper. "it was a terrible struggle," he said. "I would get up at four in the morning and play till I went to work, and when I got home from work I was at the piano all evening. My wife was not really pleased. I was possessed."

~ Excerpted from "Musicophilia - Tales of Music and the Brain" by Oliver Sacks.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why should I listen to Simon Sinek?

Why you should listen to him: With an undergraduate degree in anthropology, most of Simon Sinek’s career has been spent in advertising. Although he began law school in London, he shortly left the program, moving to New York where he joined Euro RSCG, with a stint at Ogilvy & Mather, working on accounts for Oppenheimer Funds, MCI, NASDAQ and DISH Network. In 2002, he started his own company, Sinek Partners. His book, Start With Why, outlines the basis of his current work in leadership consulting.

Sinek also contributes to several efforts in the non-profit sphere: He works with Count Me In, an organization created to help one million women-run businesses reach a million dollars in revenue by 2012, and serves on the Board of Directors for Danspace Project, which advances art and dance. He writes and comments regularly for several major publications and teaches a graduate-level class in strategic communications at Columbia University.

"As an ethnographer, we are in search of why but we actually ask what."
Simon Sinek

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Aging is just a state of mind!

Oldest still performing showgirl-Dorothy Dale Kloss sets world record

PALM SPRINGS, CA, USA -- Dorothy Dale Kloss, an 85-year-old sensation of youth and energy is continuing a dance career that began decades ago, in the 1930s-stting the world record for the Oldest still performing showgirl.

She began dancing when she was three years old. As a precocious Chicago teenager, she taught a young Bob Fosse how to tap dance, won a tap contest herself at the renowned Miss Abbott’s Dance School and catapulted to stardom at the age of 15 with her own act in the Empire Room of the Palmer House.

She performed with the famed Eddy Duchin orchestra until his band members were drafted during World War II and then danced for the USO. Touring the United States and Mexico, she was on stage at various times with Liberace, the Mills Brothers, Mel Torme, Cantinflas, Howard Keel, Kay Starr, Frankie Laine and Chico Marx and was accompanied in her routines by such noted big bands as those of Ray Noble, Skinnay Ennis, Les Brown and Shep Fields (and his Rippling Rhythm).

In 1946, Dorothy became the hostess and dance instructress on television for Chicago’s WBKB and did the first tap numbers on the little screen.

She still does tap solos in her 14th season with the Fabulous Follies. Doting Dorothy has an admiring son and two granddaughters.
What is your favorite Route 66 recollection? “Driving with my mom, dad and two brothers on the historic road from Chicago to St. Louis, singing from a song sheet.”

* She was paid $35 for the first week of the Empire Room gig and still has the canceled check. She used the money to buy a dress for her mother, who created her costumes.
* Miss Abbott, who booked her, changed her name to Dorothy Dale (from Hunn).
* She isn’t shy about what inspired her to audition at 70 for the Follies. “Money, success and fame,” she says and adds with a laugh, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
* And she doesn’t worry about her feet and body aching after a performance. “I soak them,” she quips mischievously, “in vodka.”
* On a serious note, the most challenging experience of her life was being diagnosed with colon cancer two decades ago and making a full recovery after surgery. “I just never thought about it,” she says. “I just changed my thinking and my eating habits.”
* Personable Dorothy has also put on shows for the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and was director of guest services for the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Law of Attraction on Valentine's Day!


There must be a reason why I have resisted Abraham's Teachings on the Law of Attraction as translated by the vibrations received by Esther and Jerry Hicks.
It seemed too easy to accept, even somewhat fluffy, and yet I resisted these teachings for their simplicity. I have been preoccupied by chaos theory or complexity theory, so clearly I have attracted chaos and complexity into my life!

So, perhaps we can just open a little to these teachings and see where they take us.
Here's a taste:

"The Law of Attraction and its magnetic power reaches out into the Universe and attracts other thoughts that are vibrationally like it...and brings that to you: Your attention to subjects, your activation of thoughts, an the Law of Attraction's response to those thoughts is responsible for every person, every event, and every circumstance that comes into your experience. All of these things are brought into your experience through a sort of powerful magnetic funnel as they are vibrational matches to your own thoughts.

You get the essence of what are thinking about, whether it is something you want or something you do not want. That may be unsettling to you at first, but in time, it is our expectation that you will come to appreciate the fairness, the consistency, and the absoluteness of this powerful Law of Attraction. Once you understand this law and begin to pay attention to what you are giving your attention to, you will regain control of your own life experience. And with that control you will again remember that there is nothing that you desire that you cannot achieve, and there is nothing that you do not want that you cannot release from your experience.

Understanding the Law of Attraction and recognizing the absolute correlation between what you have been thinking and feeling - and what is manifesting in your life experience - will cause you to be more aware of the stimulation of your own thoughts. You will begin to notice that your own thoughts may be stimulated from something you read or watch on television or hear or observe from someone else's experience. And once you see the effect that the Law of Attraction has upon these thoughts that begin small and grow larger and more powerful with your attention to them, you will feel a desire within you to begin to direct your thoughts to more of the things that you do want to experience. For whatever you are pondering, and no matter what the source of stimulation of that you ponder that thought, the Law of Attraction goes to work to offer you other thoughts, conversations, and experiences that are of a similar nature." (2006, pp. 32-33).

~ Excerpted from "The Law of Attraction - The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham" by Esther and Jerry Hicks.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Coaching for Health


Having been proactive about my chest pains on this past Xmas Day by going to the ER at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and enduring the 5 hours of tests, I know a little something about coaching for Health. The chest pains were on a two to three on a scale of 1 to 10 and I was packed and ready to drive to Redondo Beach to spend the weekend with my sister. The fact that I made my health decision the priority and drove to the urgent care clinic and then the ER speaks well of my sense of values and personal responsibility. Health has to be our NUMBER ONE priority.

Of course, I did not think this was a heart problem. It felt like an esophageal constriction of some kind. But the hospital has to rule out any concerns about the heart, when it comes to chest pains. The conclusion was that I had some gastro-intestinal complications.

I still made it to Redondo Beach and spent time with my sister (another smart decision) because then the GI symptoms flared up and I really needed some special attention. We needed to look at the quality (bland), quantity (light) and frequency of meals. The other major decision was to not return to work until I was stable.

The next step was a follow up with my primary physician as soon as he was available. I remembered to give him the fullest history including concerns about the occasional constrictions in my esophageal area. He decided to order the gold standard in tests: an endoscopy and an ultra-sound of my abdominal area, both tests in the New Year.
He was actually very surprised that I had lost the weight he had asked me to lose.
I think a collaborative relationship with our MD is essential to our treatment. I was honest, open and willing to following his recommendations during my annual physical and clearly an MD likes to know that his/her patient is taking appropriate and timely therapeutic action.

Yes. I decided to use my PTO (personal time off) to focus on my heath and treatment.
I have been reading, resting, watching cable, calling friends, blogging and social networking - all necessary for my healing and self-care. Not to mention being creative with my diet!! And giving my body the rest it craves as well as the exercise it needs!

Of course, as a depth psychologist, I can hardly leave at it that because I know this all has a deeper meaning. In consulting Caroline Myss's "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can" it is clear that these gastro-intestinal symptoms are related to the Third Chakra:

"Within the Hebrew Tradition, the third energy center contains two forces intensely vital to our spirits - Hod, representing integrity and majesty; and Nezah, symbolic of the capacity to endure. In the Hindu tradition, this energy is presented as Manipura, meaning the "city of the shining jewel," and in the Christian tradition, it relates to the sacrament of Confirmation. All of these descriptions refer to the same essential spiritual powers: self-esteem, self-respect, and integrity.

Respect for ourselves is necessary to healing. A lack of self-respect, or a dishonorable character, is itself an illness. when we lack the fundamental spiritual qualities of endurance, integrity, honor and self-esteem, healing the physical body becomes a double challenge.

You can easily sense when you are entering the shadow side of the third chakra: it manifests as shame, inadequacy, self-consciousness, and fear of others. Negative feelings drain the energy you need to heal. Reflection on what undermines your endurance and integrity, on where your energy leaks occur. Integrity is not solely the manner in which you conduct yourself with others. Think of it as the manner in which you conduct yourself with yourself. Can you make a commitment to yourself and keep it with integrity? Can you promise yourself to change your personal behavioral patterns (a discipline associated with the third chakra) and then keep that promise?
To build endurance, can you commit to a shift of lifestyle and withstand the discomfort of walking that new path? Can you look at yourself and feel proud of your own honor code.

While all the chakras play a vital role in your healing, the third chakra contains the energy of endurance - the power to endure the journey. The commitment to yourself to go the distance can be considered the backbone of your healing challenge.

Your commitment to yourself gives you the capacity to endure what may seem psychologically, emotionally and physically beyond your limits. As a matter of spiritual honor and self-respect, your commitment to heal reflects your regard for the sanctity of your own life. Maintaining this commitment - day by day and hour by hour, actively and passively, in your dreams and in your thoughts - generates an intensity of self-esteem and self-awareness. " (1997, pp. 199-200).

Happy New Year!