The following is a list articles which I have written over the years. Some of the articles have been published in journals, some online. I will add to this list as I continue to address various issues which capture my interest! Enjoy...
"Suffering is in the mind. How we perceive
determines our suffering or not."
His Holiness The Dalai Lama
I am writing in reflection of a day I
will forever treasure. A few friends and I were honored with being able
to attend a teaching seminar by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. There were
only a few thousand people present so I was able to really feel his
energy and see the expressions on his peaceful face.
When entering the auditorium my eyes fell instantly upon the stage with
it's decorations in honor of The Buddha and the Buddhist tradition.
There was a line of hundreds of white candles glowing along the back
evenly spread from one end of the stage to the other. Hanging directly
over the row of candles were three huge tapestries with images of Tara
(the Tibetan Kuan Yin), The Buddha, and one other (perhaps Bodhisattva
Nagarjuna since his lessons were to be studied in this seminar.)
On the center stage was a magnificent golden statute of The Buddha, sitting high on a platform it must have been seven feet tall. In front of The Buddha was a structure for The Dalai Lama, six or seven stairs leading to a comfortable sitting- pillow from the right side capturing a dark red carpet. There was a small table or shelf on the left for the sacred tablets of teaching from which His Holiness would so gently handle as if they were his prized children. The tablets were long, about fifteen inches and six inches wide. They looked as if they were made of cherished light wood or heavy parchment paper. Each one fit together in a golden yellow cloth with a tie that wrapped around them tightly to secure their sacred contents. Each time the Dalai Lama came into the room he was given the cloth to unfold exposing the tablets for their instruction. Then before he left the stage, he carefully tucked them in again personally wrapping and tying them lovingly. Just in front of the seating structure for the Dalai Lama were two great bouquets of Calla Lilies, my favorite flowers.
On both sides of the platform where the Dalai Lama reigned sitting for hours crossed-legged sat his disciples or monks. There must have been two dozen in number. They were donned in their finest of cloths or robes wrapped respectfully in the Buddhist's tradition of respect. The robes were colorful in bright oranges and reds, just a few had chosen white which is unknown to me as to the custom of these colors. We were told by another student that these colors represented the planting and harvest seasons in Buddhism. Most had shaven heads, worn sandals, and a few carried prayer beads or prayer wheels. They sat in silence the entire time except for the very beginning of the morning’s teaching. At this time they performed a most magnificent chanting mantra that made my spirit soar to the very heights of the domed ceiling!
The outstanding interpreter sat close to the edge of the center stage with a small table which held a microphone and a few pieces of paper on which to write his notes as the Dalai Lama spoke. Not knowing whether Tibetan or Chinese language was being translated, it seemed to me this translator did an unbelievable job of getting each and every word spoken just as directed. Only a few times did the Dalai Lama interrupt him to either correct or add to what he was saying. At these times, it was as if to make sure we, the students, totally understood what was being taught.
What was said? What words of wisdom did His Holiness share with us? I have my notes to refer to; I have the thirty page booklet printed by the Buddhist Association that brought him for this one visit to the United States this year. The words in the booklet are written for those who find comfort in learning the wisdom from the past. But for me, the teaching came from inside like a blossoming of ripe fruit it spread within me as The Dalai Lama spoke. He spoke of suffering: "We create causes that give rise to suffering." He spoke of transformation: "Walk with the Nature of Reality when creating transformation." And, he spoke of intention: "The intention of what you do and say is what matters not the act itself."
I watched and felt the love in the large auditorium illuminate and fill each person with understanding that needed no words. The foreign words came to my ears as His Holiness spoke and brought a sense of aliveness that I had not experienced. The words in translation entered my mind but did not find a permanence that would endure my repeating their meaning. To give you an example of the intellectual teaching which took place the first stanza of sixty to be dissected read: "The minds of those who have transcended existence and non-existence and no longer abide realize the profound absence of objectification that is conditioned existence." No wonder my mind wandered as my soul left my body!
I do not know what I expected to witness when I decided to attend this seminar, however, every and each minute in the presence of this truly Holy Soul was such a gift I will treasure my entire life. The philosophical teachings were on a level far above my understanding but I know the few words of wisdom I did retain feel like jewels within my heart. Being in the company of The Dalai Lama and seeing his smile with slight embarrassment and a quick apology as he picked-up an orange sun-visor cap to shield his eyes from the glaring stage lights will always be the memory of this day that make my own lips part from ear to ear…
The conflict within women today surrounds three areas: Their body, their relationships, and their search for perfection. Almost every woman I encounter today complains about her body and that it is not as she would like it to be. These women go through daily feelings of failure when they look into the mirror not finding the perfect body they long to see. Many women are not happy in their intimate relationships as well. They say they are the sole provider of the emotional aspects of their relationship. They take on most of the resulting failure when conflict arises or if the relationship ends. The feelings of failure from the first two conflicts within women today automatically results in a lower level of self-esteem resulting in less self-empowerment. These feelings of “less than” can lead to patterns of co-dependence and cycles of depression. Along with the above, many women seem to be on a constant search for perfection, to become a "super-woman." These women are usually the working mothers, wives, care-takers, and home-makers of society. They take on the Failure Syndrome easily whenever one of their many roles do not meet their expectations of what a successful woman means to them.
How It All Begins
As children, women are taught many personal constrictive and self-limiting values, both verbally and nonverbally, by their parents, peers, religious leaders, and other significant people in their lives. These areas include but are not limited to:
not showing negative feelings--it may be okay to cry once in awhile, but never show anger or disappointment
developing their self-esteem based on what others think or feel about them
always be sensitive to nonverbal "clues" from others
trying to be perfect in all roles of life
using relationships as a measure for self-worth
being there emotionally, physically, and spiritually for everyone--being a Type E personality--Doing Everything for Everybody!
being a good care-taker and always be the provider of mental health (which most times is not returned), and
not asking for help from
others for yourself
This Is A Test
Make a list of what you think a woman should be like today according to your childhood upbringing. Then make another list of your true feelings of how you realize a woman can be today. Now make a list of all the Positive characteristics you possess (Yes, I said Positive!). Note all the similarities in the last two lists? Great. Keep working on adding to your third list of positive female characteristics; be sure to take note if they stem from past childhood conditioning, or are new beliefs you accepted as the mature adult woman you are today!
What Can You Do To Take Charge of Your Life and Improve Your Self-Empowerment?
Women can begin to look to ourselves for our self-worth and approval. We can teach our daughters along with ourselves to begin balancing our masculine and feminine natures and give ourselves permission to feel all our emotions. We can get in touch with our assertive-side and steer toward being more independent and initiate creativity into our daily lives. By redefining what a woman is for ourselves today, we redefine this for our society. When we can re-establish our true self-empowered feminine Self, we can then:
* Accept challenges and take risks
* Open to changes and look to the future
* Heal past wounds from childhood
* Stop protecting the men in our lives
* Think for ourselves
* Know it's what is Inside that counts
* Stand tall in our female heritage
* Take ourselves seriously
* Learn and teach more skills in problem-solving techniques
* Learn it's OK to ask for what we need
* Instill positive expectations to succeed
* Learn abilities to cope with stress
* Express all our feelings
* Leave the victimhood role behind, and
* Learn to say "NO"
Become the Woman You Deserve to Be!
Begin exercising these new found principles of womanhood and share them with other women and your daughters. Be true to your womanhood and become the autonomous woman you have a right to be. Autonomous means to possess an internal action based on your values, beliefs, and needs. Women activist Gloria Steinem once said, "We cannot be given freedom and self-respect. We must choose it." Take this opportunity to choose who you want to be as a woman, right Now! Remember, you have impact on your reality. Anything you choose to do makes a difference. Right now, choose ONE self-esteeming, self-empowering act to declare your value as a strong, free, autonomous woman--do this within the next 24 hours. This action may change your life forever! Stand tall in your right to be a self-empowered woman, and remember: We are all works in progress!
Addiction: Searching for Answers
We need to do more than
just tell our troubles to God. God already knows. What we do need to
learn to do is sit down with God and look for solutions: What actions to
take, choices to make, directions to turn. In our conversation with God,
we need to hear both the joyful and painful aspects of the situations in
our lives. This is what I believe is 'turning it over.' Far from sitting
and waiting for God to magically run our lives, turning it over involves
turning in a different direction. Sometimes, that different direction is
what allows us to discover and appreciate God in ways we never thought
Father Leo Booth, Unity Newsletter July 3, 2003
If you are not familiar with our national addiction to drugs, statistics from SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration) National Survey on Drug Use & Health (2007) show that there is an estimated 22.3 million persons with substance dependence or abuse within the past year. Whereas, only approximately, 2.4 million people received treatment at a specialty facility in 2007 and millions of others addicted to drugs and/or alcohol reported they needed treatment but did not receive help for their problem.
My motivation for writing Tales of Addiction and Inspiration for Recovery came as I was completing Addiction: What’s Really Going On? Inside a Heroin Treatment Program which is coauthored with my friend and colleague Deborah McCloskey. It also comes from my personal experience of living with an alcoholic father and again in my adulthood while coping with an alcoholic son. While researching the field of drug and alcohol addiction, it has become clear that more effort is needed to fully understand the plight of our addiction population, as well as, how this population can help guide younger generations toward the freedom of sobriety through the sharing of their own personal stories.
In the case of alcohol, most alcoholics are men but the incidence of alcoholism in women has been increasing over the past thirty years as has adolescent drug and alcohol abuse. Women tend to become addicted to alcohol later in life than men and it is estimated that 1.8 million older women suffer from alcohol addiction. Scientific advances over the last quarter century have established that drug addiction is a chronic brain disease. Alcohol has widespread effects on the brain and can affect neurons (nerve cells), brain chemistry, and blood flow within the frontal lobes of the brain. Researchers are particularly interested in systems of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain that are affected by alcohol. Some research is focusing on the way these neurotransmitters are employed in the brain after long-term alcohol use in order to adapt to the cravings and pain of withdrawal.
Key evidence for the view that drug addiction is a chronic brain disease consists of images of people’s brains taken during or following drug exposures. Brain imaging studies have provided information on individual drugs’ neurobiological effects; helped explain the causes and mechanisms of vulnerability to drug abuse; and yielded important insights into abusers’ subjective experiences and behaviors, including their struggles in recovery. (“NCE & Practice Perspectives,” April 2007)
A passionate advocate for addicts of all kinds is the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Dr. Nora Volkow. Volkow states that brain science is proving that we all have the potential to become addicted to something: drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, gambling, even food. Volkow states, "…researchers are learning that all addictions are more alike than was previously thought. Becoming an addict is more a matter of chance than we ever realized; mix the right combination of genetics and life experience, and anyone could find him or herself addicted to something." (“Newsweek” Dec/Jan 2006 Issue)
Dr. Volkow adds, “I have never met anyone who thought they would become addicted. They always say that this is the last thing they thought would happen to them… But this disease robs you of freewill. The challenge is to find a cure.”
Until a cure is discovered, let us proudly share our pain, struggles, failures and successes with one another in hopes that our children will not follow the addiction path. Whether sober, using, straight or in the process of recovery, everyone’s personal story can be a valuable insight for our younger generations, as well as, an awakening call to ourselves as adults.
There are approximately twenty million people in our
nation in recovery from a drug and/or alcohol addiction. There are also
approximately 22.3 million people living with a substance dependence or
abuse--that’s about ten percent of our national population. This is a
reality, not a viewpoint or someone’s illusionary judgment. These
figures are real. These lives are real: Over forty-two million
individuals are struggling with a drug and/or alcohol addiction.
The how our nation became so entrapped in drugs is an easier answer than understanding why drugs are so desirable. The drug marketiers, beginning with drug dealers on our streets to well-established doctors to the drug cartels in other countries, all contribute to the above figures and to making drugs readily accessible. Ask any child age twelve and older how to obtain prescription pills, dope, or heroin and they will tell you the name of a friend who bought some, or is selling it. No, it is not difficult to answer how our nation became so entrapped in drugs.
The question we need to be addressing is why are the figures above a reality? It is my opinion that in our society, busy with moving into the future, we have put aside or forgotten to process our past negative emotions and experiences. As children, we are taught not to cry too much, laugh too loud, scream when in pain, and to forget bad experiences almost as soon as they happen! We are not taught to cry until we feel better, laugh out loud with abandon, yell when it hurts, or try to learn from bad experiences. Where does all this type of conditioning lead us as we enter adulthood? To look outside ourselves for ways to relieve our pain, to help us cope with bad experiences, and to dull our senses. Drugs and alcohol become this outside choice for many, as the figures above denote.
We enter adulthood already locked in a prison. Our prison surrounds us with “do’s and don’t” handed down from our parents, teachers, church leaders and other people of authority. We learn how to pass-off our responsibilities, shut down our emotions, and hide in our prisons waiting to be rescued by someone offering the right message, miracle, or potion. We keep focusing on the view outside our cells for that illusive patch of greener grass, not thinking to focus within.
Widely known and respected spiritual author, Deepak Chopra offers these words, “Once a person has even a little courage to confront his old conditioning, he will find that turning inward starts to dissolve that conditioning. Presently, the prospect of turning inward is extremely intimidating to most people, but it is the only way the mind can conquer its built-in resistances. There is no cure from the outside. The lack of meaning we presently endure will only become worse, and in time humanity might get too sick of itself to recover.”
When we learn to accept our children as the perfect beings they are and allow them the freedom to express their emotions, fears, and genius, we will begin to fight the grip which drug and alcohol addiction has on our nation. As each child enters adolescence with a clear mind of who they are and allowed expression to pursue their dreams, they will enter young adulthood free from the prisons their parents may still be seeking release from. These young adults will not turn outside themselves for comfort or distraction, but instead, look within for direction and guidance. When these young adults mature and have their own children, perhaps then our nation’s addiction and recovery figures will dwindle.
Addiction in America can change. We all have the ability to re-direct our lives and our futures. It takes only one thought to change our direction from victim to victory. It takes only one thought to manifest a new reality filled with joy and compassion. As Chopra relates, “…it is possible to achieve the freedom to have any viewpoint you choose and therefore any reality. Once you return to this basic viewpoint, however, you will no longer see yourself as a passive victim of life--you stand at the very center of life and have the power to renew it at every moment.” In an instant, with a new positive thought, in the blink of an eye, you can become a new person and help our nation’s addicted population dissolve.
Are you ready to help change America’s addiction to drugs and alcohol? Take a stand to make sure all the children in your care are taught how to express their feelings, negative and positive. Share with them your experiences in learning how to grow in compassion for others and support their budding beliefs about their world. Learn about their desires, fears, and dreams by continually talking with them one-on-one. As they grow, answer their questions openly and thoughtfully. Teach them to become independent; teach them to explore their outer world and their inner emotions. Allow them to laugh out loud, cry when they need, and seek information from others. Also, instruct them how to seek inner guidance and to listen to the small voice within them. If you can do all these things with all the children in your care, and if you can successfully complete all these things yourself, then perhaps, addiction in America will not flourish.
Guest Post by Barbara Sinor, Ph.D.
on "Re-Writing Life Scripts"
We tend to create similar situations in our lives until we become aware that the same experiences keep "happening to us." When you recognize a particular negative circumstance seems to repeat itself over and over, or a certain type of person re-enters your life several times to your dismay, take a hard look into your childhood and search for the pattern or script which may be embedded in your subconscious mind which invites the same unwanted experiences into your life.
One obvious role we play in our childhood, which can display itself repeatedly throughout adulthood is our location in the line-up of siblings and the expected script it bestows. A significant portion of the roles we assume as an adult are based on what
was encouraged or discouraged in our childhood according to our position in the family system. If one of the youngest of the family, as in Emma's case, you may tend to feel "the world owes you and nothing is your fault." Living in a family system as one of the youngest children can have its benefits, however, in the long run many times one is left with feelings of "always needing to be taken care of" therefore not needing to strive for your best.
My younger sister, the baby of the family, was labeled "cute and artsy" which provided her with the script of becoming the sister with "so much artistic talent." Yet at the same time, this label silently implied to her that she was not as intelligent as her sisters. This label stayed with her through many adult years. She kept peace and received love in the family system by accepting her role as an artist and to not expect to be seen as a serious educational student. She began working with her child within and chose to break the bonds of being type-cast as the "artistic baby" of the family. To do this she chose to continue her education and allowed herself to follow her true Self's desire to become both a published author and a world renown sculptor.
Many times when one challenges the casting of the family scripting and ventures outside the accepted boundaries, it disrupts the accepted family system. When this occurs, family members do not know how to relate to the child/adult's newfound identity. This is why it is so difficult to move forward by trusting our own inner feelings of "who and what we want to be when we grow up." We continue to live in our programmed scripts, not venturing beyond the boundaries established so clearly by our family system. We subconsciously fear that to challenge our role in the family unit would consequently result in our losing their love. Many of us are so embedded in our childhood slotted-roles we live out our adult years content to stay the oldest, smartest, funniest, prettiest, dumbest, youngest, weakest, ugliest, strongest, or fattest child in the family to prove that we can be just what they all thought we would be!
If you find yourself relating to this concept of being slotted into a particular type of role by your family, it is now possible to re-create these influences. What your parents and siblings said and did to you as a child may have had a substantial effect on how you perceive yourself today. However, you can alter how you were regarded by your parents and others by re-creating (while in light meditative state called autohypnosis) what you believe they thought you should be into what you would have desired them to do and say to and about you.
As an example, you may have enjoyed playing the piano or painting as a child but this was discouraged by your parents. Instead, you were encouraged to enter competitive sports. As an adult, you may still view yourself as athletic but not artistic or creative. In a gentle autohypnosis, search your subconscious mind for a time in your childhood in which you were happy doing, or attempting to do, something you enjoyed. Feel the energy of this action as you begin to dance, play the flute, paint, jump the high-jump, throw the ball, or write the poem just like you wanted to when you were a little boy or girl. This exercise may bring back one of your hidden talents long forgotten and discarded. Now you can follow-through with your dream.
Let yourself explore the new possibilities of choice in your life. We have all heard of the person who developed a second career later in their life and became very successful. It is as if the desire and talent had been there all along just waiting to be discovered. This self-discovery can begin any time you choose. You can unlock these hidden talents and desires rather than continue to cheat yourself by believing there are limits to your abilities. Become who you know yourself to be.
A friend once told me that I work with people who have come to an "intersection in their lives." I like this analogy and have repeated it to clients when they tell me they need to make a decision in their life. Are you one of those people who wish to move past being a "victim of circumstance" and begin creating a new way of being? The choice-point to move in a new direction, to look at the intersections of your life, and to choose which path to take is a giant leap forward. As we choose to face our fears and self-doubts, we begin to see these intersections as mere skid-marks along our journey to healing and wholeness.
When we mention the word Unity, what often comes to mind in the metaphysical community is the wholeness, the unity of body, mind, and spirit. Of course the Oneness, the non-separation of body, mind, emotions, and spirit is one of the most unified aspects of our beingness. More and more literature and research is being presented in this area of Unity such as within psychospirituality; the body/mind connection; biofeedback and hypnotherapy. Also, there has been a great influx of interest in unifying the spiritual Eastern disciplines with Western psychology which is how Transpersonal Counseling Psychology was developed.
However, what I am going to address in this article is the "Unity of Timespace." It is Einstein's Theory of Relativity which tells us that there is no such thing as linear time as we know it; but that all experiences, all events, are actually happening simultaneously. This concept that there is really no time dimension as we have learned to understand it is a difficult one to grasp. This Truth was brought to my attention over twenty years ago and I am still trying to figure it out!
If we are to believe this Truth then all thoughts, feelings, experiences, actions and re-actions are happening at once. This is a lot of new information for our minds to comprehend, however with this concept in mind, it becomes clear how it is possible that we can touch and feel an event from our past, or even a past life event. Addressing the former: Have you ever remembered an experience so clearly from your childhood that it made you laugh or cry? Perhaps while visiting a certain location, or witnessing a certain act, it triggered your unconscious awareness and you were instantly there in your mind re-experiencing a past event? Or, if you have ever experienced hypnosis, or a deep meditative or altered state of mind, you may well know of the strong emotions which can be brought to your consciousness as you re-live a past event.
Addressing the concept of sensing a past life, I am sure many of you have touched a past life while in a dream or a vision, or in an actual Deja Vu' experience. Or, perhaps while deeply meditating you have seen a glimpse of a former or future physical body in which your soul was housed. When we look at both of these scenarios, we can begin to accept the truth that there is no linear timespace...that we can actually choose to glimpse an event whether past, present, or future within this life (including our birth and death) or in other past or future lives which unveils the unity of all timespace.
But, I am not going to stop here. If there is unity in all time, then we can also touch the interlife. The interlife is the space between lives, before physical birth and after each death of the bodies we have chosen. With the truth that how we have been measuring time is an illusion, and in fact all timespans are happening at once, comes the fact that all experiences, all emotions, all thought is available to any one of us at any moment--even within spirit form in the interlife. I would like to recommend a book by Michael Newton, Ph.D. called Journey of Souls for any of you who wish to delve further into the mysteries of the interlife.
While the concept of there being but a single timespace is very intriguing, let us look yet further at the theory that since there is no actual linear time--only unity in past, present and future--now jump to the truth that any remembered event from your life can be consciously re-experienced, the emotions attached to the event can be re-experienced, and that this event can be re-created to re-form that event the way you would have wanted it to have happened. This is called backward causation in time.
My counseling career has dealt with this theory that we can re-create our past painful experiences (in this life or past lives) just as we have the free will and ability to create our future reality. However, there is now unfolding factual evidence to sustain my work. The concept of the unity of all timespace is the basis of this theory and was brought to my attention by scientific research completed by Dr. Helmut Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt's research is proving that backward causation in time is a reality. I am sure more information will be generated in the near future regarding this breakthrough in the further understanding of quantum theory.
I once wrote a definition of the word Unity: Unity and oneness are terms used to capture the universal truth of wholeness. The universal truth of wholeness, what does that mean? If we are talking about the unity of body, mind, and spirit, it is obvious that the wholeness of being human is not possible without all three of these elements. If we are talking about the unity of past, present and future, it also becomes obvious that we cannot be who we are becoming without creating and re-creating all three of these elements.
Unity is wholeness. Wholeness is Oneness. Of course, we can choose to see duality in our world; it is projected all around us as heaven vs. hell, good vs. evil, spirit vs. matter, light vs. dark. I choose to believe in Oneness, the Unity of all, while at the same time each one of us individually is constantly moving toward becoming whole. I will leave you with one last thought: You cannot predict with certainly the outcome of any action, since that action changes the thing it acts upon. In your act of becoming, you change what you are. You can live today, create tomorrow, and re-create yesterday. For as we are beginning to understand: Thoughts, our conscious awareness, are made of energy and that energy molds reality whether present, future, past, or the re-creation of these.
References: Noetic Sciences Review, No. 34, Summer 1995. "The Journal of Parapsychology" Vol. 57, Dec. 1993.