THE HEALING POWER OF NAMING

The ability to name was God's gift to Adam.  It was his "job" to name and identify all the creatures in creation.  We have continued that tradition not only in the sciences but in our daily lives.

Names tell us something about the "other".  Moses needed to know God's name at the Burning Bush.  And Jews do not pronounce the revealed name of God in Hebrew,  the tetragrammaton YHVH because of its spiritual power. 

In fact the Name [know has Ha'Shem to some Orthodox Jews, which means 'the Name'] was only pronounced by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. Supposedly he entered with a rope around his body, in case he would die in the encounter with God.

When you know someone or something's name, you possess some of its essence. You have obtained an element of control, an element of knowledge.  You have become empowered to face and deal with the "other".

 When it comes to our emotional states, we very often react to them without knowing their name.  We fear their power over us to such an extent that we fail to name them as they arise in our consciousness.

One of the characteristics of mindfulness meditation is to develop an inner silent voice.  While observing the in and outflow of the breath, thoughts and feelings that arrive on their own to our awareness are observed.  We recognize that we are the witness of those thoughts and feelings.  We are not them.

In fact we are capable of naming them.  "I am having anxious  feelings about….., I'm having feelings of being worried about….., I am having feelings of fear  about….."   Then return gently to the breath.  The naming of that feeling, the witnessing of the named emotional experience, defuses it.

It is also important to name the feeling as something you are experiencing rather than something you are.  To have  the feeling separates it from your essence.  You are not afraid, you are having feelings of fear.  The use of naming, of language is important.  It can lead to a more serene and productive approach to your emotional life.

We will clearly return to the emotion later, hopefully after the meditation is complete.  But having named it allows us to deal with it in a nonreactive manner.  We acknowledge it by name.  We do not attempt to reject it, ignore it, avoid it or numb ourselves from it.

We gain strength by being able to face the terror by name and move forward.  Hopefully by naming what frightens or upsets us we can apply some rational approach to dealing with it as well.

This process is known as mindfully witnessing our mind's state of being.  It is a powerful personal tool for healing.

THE BUDDHA & PROZAC

There is much wisdom in Miriam Greenspan"s  HEALING THROUGH THE DARK EMOTIONS.  I was particularly taken by her depiction of a society, our society,  which fears the expression of negative emotions. 

In particular men are dissuaded from an early age to show sadness, upset or despair.  Crying is definitely for babies, or so each male is reminded when he begins to sniffle or shed a tear when hurt.

She points out that if we read he life story of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, we realize that he suffered a tremendous emotional crisis when he first left his sheltered existence in the palace.  Facing disease, death, poverty and despair he left his wife, family, child and worldly possessions.

There is no question that if this had occurred today in our culture, we would have declared Siddhartha as having "flipped out" suffering a catastrophic mental breakdown.  If he would have gone to a therapist, he might have been given prozac to "treat" his emotional turmoil.

Siddhartha was forced to work through his personal crisis.   In the process he became Enlightened, uncovered the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.  An entire metaphysical, spiritual and psychological perspective would possibly have never  been developed.

Thankfully the prescription pad was not an option in his day.

Working through our dark emotions, hopefully with the tool of meditation and time might just be more rewarding for many of us in the long run.

ROSH HASHANAH & the NDE — Where’s the Champagne and Confetti???

 

It began with my questioning–why don't Jews celebrate the Jewish New Year like the secular New Year?  Where's the champagne and confetti?  Why no Times' Square bash?

The reason is simply because Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the ten day period which culminates in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  There is a bit of celebration at that point.  But it is clearly muted compared with the secular New Year.

The Ten Days of Awe are supposed to be a period of powerful introspection and contemplation.  We are about to be "judged" by God and our fate inscribed for the following year.

An analogy popped into my mind regarding the NDE [near-death experience].  Many who claim such an experience describe the "life review".  It is an indescribably powerful and intense rapid review of every feeling, emotion, encounter with other beings during our lifetime.  Apparently we actually feel and experience all our actions from the perspective of the other human being.  The result is an incredible awareness of the interconnectedness of all beings and the power of our actions on others.  It is described as truly humbling and often leads to greater compassion for others and a change in our behavior.

We "judge" ourselves.  This is consistent with the reports from hypnotherapist Michael Newton's patients during deeply intense hypnosis when they apparently described an after-life review.  The karmic implications are astounding and future reincarnation choices are often based on these reviews.  Apparently our souls cannot make excuses for their deeds and judge themselves severely.

In a much watered-down version, the Ten Days of Awe should be seen as an annual life review.  We do need to be honest with ourselves regarding our choices.  We do not do this to inflict punishment on ourselves or others.  It is purely to recognize, seek forgiveness  and to make amends. 

It can be seen as a gift to our souls if taken seriously.  Are we judged by God on Yom Kippur?  Who can say for sure.  But the God within us, our soul, if given the opportunity, can do the job quite well.

 

THE NATURE OF MIND III– Mindfulness Meditation as Healing

After the previous two postings discussion of the nature of the mind, it is time to offer some sort of solution.

The notion of mindfulness meditation casts a new light on the functioning of the mind and perhaps healing of difficult mind-states.

Attention to the mind's changing pattern of thoughts/feelings allows us to understand that it is an ever changing entity.  How we perceive the mind's nature will allow us to deal better with its content.

Meditation–slowly focusing our attention to the breath entering and exiting the nostrils allows to gain more control over the process of thinking and feeling.  We need to know that the mind IS trainable in order to continue the slow arduous process of meditation.

We can relax into the breathing and observe thoughts and feelings as they arise.  We do not attempt to deal with them at first–merely observe them float into and out of awareness.  We return to the breath.

The result is that we begin to gain confidence in our ability to handle difficult thoughts/emotions.  We observe them without reacting.  We take not of our reactions to them as we witness them, observe them from a distance. 

We soon come to realize that we can tolerate difficult emotions without attempting to dismiss them, hide from them or numb ourselves.

We see them more clearly as inconstant mind-states.  We can face them and survive. 

The process of healing begins when we stay with the suffering and survive.  We are able to make more rational decisions about how to deal with the problems when we have less emotional turmoil.

THE NATURE OF MIND II– The Soul versus The Mind

Some may question the existence of a SOUL  but for those whose experiences and/or readings lend support to such an entity, the following distinction may be of interest.

When a highly talented medium was asked to differentiate between the MIND and the SOUL, he hesitated, went into a meditative state and returned to the issue.

The soul incarnates and observes, the mind creates and reacts.

Knowing the intellectual capacity of this medium, I "knew" that this was not his personal statement.  It clearly came from a higher intelligence.

The notion that the soul incarnates is an ageless religious doctrine.  The observational component is reminiscent of the writings of Michael Newton who has written about past-life regression and what happens to the soul.  According to Newton's clients, their soul intelligence coalesces with the physical brain of the individual to create the individual's mind.

At times the human being's brain may be perfectly fine and the synthetic mind has minimal difficulties adjusting to life as we know it.  If the physical brain is impaired in some way then the resultant mind will encounter difficulties.  Autism, psychological issues, retardation, ADD etc are examples of a challenged mind.

But in any case, the mind does seem to create its reality and then react to it.  We often drive ourselves into a vicious cycle of fear–worry–despair–fear and so on.

THE NATURE OF MIND I

What iis the nature of mind?  Why do we need to know?  We need to know because it is where we 'live'.  It is our consciousness, 24/7.  It is all our thoughts and feelings, the source of all pleasure and pain.  It is where suffering and joy take place.

We associate ourselves with our mind.  In our daily lives, 'we ARE the sum total of our thoughts and feelings'.  When events transpire to bring us suffering, WE suffer.  The same with happy events.  We associate ourselves so completely with our minds that we overlook the possibility that we are WRONG. 

Buddhist philosphy clearly states, "we are NOT our minds".  That belief is a dangerous and punishing illusion.

Is it possible that the Buddhists are actually correct?  If so, what is the evidence?    It may be as simple as observing our thoughts/feelings over a period of time.  They change from moment to moment.  Even the thoughts/feelings that occur after some horrific shock are not constant.

We may recall that the intensity of horrible feelings ebbed and flowed.  If we thought about the situation we might even have developed physical symptoms that coincided with thoughts/feelings of dread.

During any particular period of suffering, we might have even felt "OK" for periods of time.  And this despite the fact that nothing changed about the outside circumstances.

Our fluctuating mind-sets, our feelings about events are what constitutes our minds.  They are not constant or continuous.  We can even alter the way we perceive life's events, re-frame to be less painful.

SELF-AWARENESS PRECEDES SELF-HEALING

All true healing is self-healing.  Whether it is physical, mental/emotional, spiritual  I do not believe that another being can heal us.  But to do so we understand our true nature.

Clearly, there are gifted healers.  What they do is to activate [or re-activate] our intrinsic healing mechanisms.  They are gifted because of they skills and empathic abilities.  But true healing requires tapping into our own healing potential.

When it comes to emotional healing, it is crucial that we have self-awareness, that we understand who we are.

I am speaking of the spiritual core of our physical being.  As the French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said  we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.

And this human experience can be quite difficult.  Yet without understanding this metaphysical truth, it is even more difficult to overcome the adversity that life presents to us.

Our 'true selves' are that spiritual being, the soul which [according to one gifted medium/psychic] 'incarnates and observes' while our mind 'creates and reacts'.

We live with our mind's interpretations of the events that surround us.  The soul is that spiritual being which observes the mind's activities.

We need to be aware that all of our suffering arises from our mind's choices and reactions to those choices.  We need to recall that our journey here is precisely to deal with the mind's perceptions and overcome adversity.

If we experience a failure of will, of poor choices and subsequent suffering, our soul may, by necessity, need to return in another lifetime to face the same lessons that were not learned this time around.

Mindfulness meditation calls upon the 'witness' perspective by which we can view our suffering,the emotional storms that accost us, and persevere.  It involves experiencing all the drama of our life's challenges from within the context of a meditation practice. 

It represents the soul's perspective–and will help us face and deal with life's trials and tribulations successfully.

KABBALISTIC BREATHING EXERCISE— A MINDFUL MEDITATION

I am re-acquainting myself with the concept of mindfulness.  It is ancient Buddhist meditative tradition with many interpreters and incredible ramifications which I will discuss in future postings.  Its benefits transcend all cultures, all religious and spiritual backgrounds.

At present I am preparing a talk on KABBALAH 101 and am reminded of a particularly compelling breathing meditation introduced by Rabbi Stern in one of my earliest encounters with Kabbalistic thinking.  I do not know the original source of this concept but it has arisen in my field of  awareness at this time for a reason.

It is simple as all breathing exercises are, but profound.  It involves focusing one's awareness-concentration on the simple exchange of the breath, in and out of the nostrils.  It does not involve forcing any type of breathing or any particular rate of breathing.  But usually when we pay attention to breathing, it slows down.

We sit with the mindful attention to the air coming in the nose, the rising of the 'belly' and the exiting from the nostrils.

While  watching this for a few moments in our field of awareness, we begin to visualize God or Ein Sof or The Universe, purposefully directing air into us as we inhale.  As we exhale, we 'give ourselves over' to God in an act of relaxation and serenity.

We contemplate the time between breaths as the eternal moment–timeless in its essence.  We understand that the Universe exists from moment to moment as an act of continuous creation by a Will greater than our own and we accept this truth.

Then,  we once again mindfully thank God for the next breath and continue the process.  We experience a feeling of gratitude for the gift of each breath, for the gift of life.

We understand that several Hebrew words for soul contain the concept of breath or wind, ruach, neshamah.  We may choose to see the breath as that Divine energy that unites the God who is transcendent in the world with the spark of divinity within, the immanence of God.