My friend and co-author Paul Brenner has a new book out called Buddha in the Waiting Room (Beyond Words Publishing). It is a moving and inspiring autobiographical book filled with stories that reveal the clarity and wisdom of patients and of what they have to teach doctors, and us, about health.
Dr. Brenner says that health has nothing to do with illness. Rather it is the acceptance and appreciation of life that makes someone healthy. The book recounts an incredible journey through the making and unmaking of a medical doctor trained in traditional Western medicine, his discovery and practice of acupuncture and energy healing, and his realization of his inadequacies and gifts.
The cover of the book is filled with praise from people like Deepak Chopra, Larry Dossey, and Christiane Northrup, author of Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom. She writes that "this book will change the way you think about health and healing and will also help you trust yourself and the wonder of your own life more fully." Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom, says that this book "will take you through the heart of Medicine and into the heart of Life".
I love the way Paul Brenner has disclosed the difficult parts of his unconventional life path and the beautiful ways that his patients have been his Buddhas and teachers on this quest to understand the nature of health and healing. He writes, "The only thing that health demands is that no one take us away from love of self, love of others, the experiencing of the experiences of life." The book is dedicated "to my patient-teachers whose lives have been an inspiration to me and who have provided me with a compass to direct me home to a life of health."
No one has been a more important, more inspirational, and more loving friend to me in this life than this wonderful man, Paul Brenner. I hope you, dear reader, will give yourself the wonderful gift of reading this little gem, Buddha in the Waiting Room. Ask for it in your local bookstore or go to amazon.com.
As a personhood development consultant and facilitator, I have had the opportunity to travel all over the continent to work with groups of people in many different settings. This work is the culmination of years of personal growth experience, including an extensive background in teaching yoga and meditation, stress and pain management, and bodymind therapies such as the Hakomi Method. Most recently, the focus of my work has been on exploring and developing "personhood". As the Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa pointed out, the basic task of helping professionals in general, and psychotherapists in particular, is to develop what he called "full human beingness", both in themselves and in others. People from all walks of life are now discovering, through personhood development, that their greatest potential is to be found in being their own best self.
Personhood refers to the essential, authentic, and unfettered aspect of each person, the part of us that can most effectively relate to others, to the world around us, and to life itself. Long-term studies in the field of psychotherapy, for example, have shown that this is the most significant factor influencing the ultimate effectiveness of therapy. The "personhood" of the therapist is evidently at least eight times more significant than any method used. This is only one example of the fact that, when it comes to human interaction, it's not what you do but who you are that counts. One aspect of this was described in Daniel Goleman's bestseller, Emotional Intelligence. His book clearly makes the point that emotional intelligence, including such characteristics as self-awareness and empathy, is a far better indicator of a person's potential for success than IQ. Who you are being, much more than what you are doing, according to Goleman's research, influences your work, your relationships, and your life.
The who you are that really makes a difference is your personhood. It is not personality, although your personhood can shine through your personality. We can think of personhood as the true spirit of who we are. Personality is often a set of habitual behaviours and constructs that we created over time to help us cope with life. Personality can also be shaped by someone else, parents or older siblings, or by the circumstances of our birth (culture, birth order, economics etc.) Personality often has more to do with the person we try to present to the world than with our essential self, more a "cover story" than the real thing.
Personhood is the real thing. Personhood emerges when we relax, feel nourished and inspired, get really interested in something or someone. Personhood can be nurtured and cultivated, like a flower. The seed is already within us, but may be hidden under layers of old attitudes and habitual reactions. Developing our personhood allows us to be more creative, and more compassionate, both with ourselves and with others.
Working with people, whether individually or in groups, to develop personhood has been very satisfying and nourishing for me It is both fun and inspiring. The approach I use is playful, experimental, almost totally experiential. We have hundreds of simple practises that are done in pairs or small groups which help to reveal the unconscious and automatic ways we are organizing ourselves, our perceptions, our beliefs and assumptions, our thoughts and our reactions. When we become aware of some of the habits that are limiting us, the doors and windows of possibility open up and we become free to discover whole new ways of being.
In the process of exploring and developing personhood, most individuals find themselves moving from old ineffective thought patterns to newer, more creative ways of thinking and expressing themselves. Groups that work together find themselves appreciating each other at new levels, and, feeling more appreciated, functioning far better as a team. Couples often move to deeper levels of honesty and intimacy and love. Personhood development invites everyone to discover more of their own creative potential, and to find increasing ways to be nourished by work and by life.
Personhood development programs involve an exploration of:
1. who we think we are
2. personality vs personhood
3. how we see the rest of the world
4. what we imagine others want from us
5. what we typically do when we're stressed
6. relaxing our habitual reactions to life
7. creating alternative responses
8. counting our blessings
If you or your group is interested in hearing more about personhood development, or having a presentation or seminar, please call Donna at (250) 374-2514 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Love is a calling. Love is called forth from within us by certain circumstances and special people. When it emerges, it opens us. Love expands us and shapes us, like a pregnancy. We are so much in the habit of doing that we may imagine we are loving when we are doing something for our beloved. And we may imagine we are loving successfully when our doing accomplishes something. Perhaps we are actually given opportunities to be helpless in order for us to remember that behind all our doing, with its successes and failures, is our being· our presence. Loving presence is a return to our true nature. It is the flower hidden within the seed, that emerges magically in the right circumstances. It is the seed in the womb that when nurtured and given the space to grow, demands to be birthed. Loving presence is our very beingness imbued with the love that Life calls forth in exquisite moments.
When you have the privilege of knowing someone who is very ill or dying, you may be challenged to step past the frustration of feeling helpless and the fear of accepting that nothing can be done. Some of you will fight that idea to the end and refuse to admit that there is no way to change things. Some of you will feel, at times, like giving up in despair. This is when loving presence is most needed.
My friend Nancy was 39 years old when she died last week after a long struggle with cancer. She had endured everything from chemotherapy and radiation to multiple surgeries, pain, paralysis, and seizures. In one six week period alone she had three brain surgeries. She was in and out of the hospital many times, leaving it to her husband and friends to mother her two small children. Three weeks before she died she left the hopital for the last time and came home.
Nancy called forth love. You couldn't be around her without feeling it. There were times she was in so much pain and agony that she wanted to die. Mostly, she wanted to live. Even when doctors described her as "dying", she was more alive than most people I've ever known. She sparkled like sunshine. It touched everyone. If she invited you on her journey, you came willingly, gratefully, with awe, with love. She summoned forth awesome depths of love in those of us around her.
I have never felt the gift and challenge of loving presence so much as when I was with Nancy. In the hospital there were many times we'd talk for awhile and then just be together in prolonged deep silence. There was less and less need for conversation, more and more need for simply being. At home, when she could no longer talk we moved into even more profound depths of stillness. Loving presence was all I had to offer. It was not even an offering. It was called forth so simply, so naturally, sometimes painfully, but with such beauty, that it seemed to be Nancy's gift to me.
Loving presence is not a doing. It emerges when we stop doing what usually gets in the way of it. For me, it has meant allowing the habitual questions about what and how and when to subside. It has meant a release from ego-centered thoughts ("maybe I can help") and unnecessary actions. It has demanded a shift from thinking in terms of good and bad, right and wrong, this and that, to a kind of spacious mind that, like the sky, is merely a background for whatever passes by. And mostly, it has asked me to stop being afraid to love unquestioningly, without comparisons, and without reference to past or future.
The great Tibetan teacher, Patrul Rinpoche, when asked to sum up the teachings about how to become enlightened, offered four instructions:
1. Don't prolong the past.
2. Don't invite the future.
3. Don't fear appearances. And
4. Don't alter your innate wakefulness.
I once shared these in a workshop and was asked, why are they all negative instructions. At the time I answered that it was because there really is nothing to do. Enlightenment is our innate nature,according to Tibetan teachers. I also realize now that the four instructions could be put this way, in the affirmative:
1. Stay present.
2. Stay present.
3. Stay present.
4. Stay present.
The great Indian teacher, Nisargadatta Maharaj, encouraged his students to "be what you are: intelligence and love in action." Wherever you feel most helpless in your life may be the very place calling you to be in loving presence. Whoever you find it hardest to be with may be inviting you to stop your habitual ways and move into a more spacious state of mind. Whenever you feel your heart in pain, it may be the signal that your capacity for love has outgrown the old container and is ready to expand into new dimensions. However you experience the challenge, it is the call to loving presence. It is your calling. Heed it.
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Healing can be thought of as the process of our innate wholeness unfolding. There is wholeness and perfection in every moment of that unfolding, just as there is perfection and wholeness in the seed, the bud, the blossom, and the death of the flower. To be truly healthy is to have an acceptance and appreciation for Life.
The Chinese yin yang is one symbol of wholeness. The circle of wholeness encompasses and embraces both dark and lightduality. In the light is a spot of dark, in the black a spot of whitenothing is completely black or white. Duality is not separate from wholeness, just as death is a part of life and destruction is an inevitable part of every creation.
Wholeness is not an end point. It is a process. Therefore, change is an integral part of wholeness. With change, we move from the familiar (status quo) through an experience of separation and loss and often into discomfort or pain. Stress is defined as our response to change. Resistance to change creates distress.
Buddhism teaches that attachment is the root of all suffering. Aversion is another form of attachment. Both our attachments and aversions result from our resistance to change... to Life.
The Sanskrit word "yoga" implies both the concept of wholeness, or oneness, and the process of connecting (which implies separateness). In the practice of yoga we are intentionally remembering the interconnectedness of body and mind, bodymind and soul, ourself with another, the individual and the collective, humanity and divinity. Similarly, the word "religion" comes from a Latin root meaning to link, or re-link, to reconnect.
Bodymind approaches to therapy, such as the Hakomi Method, are based on this belief in intrinsic wholeness. Hakomi identifies this as the "unity principle". Healing is built-in. The inner wisdom within each of us is what Hakomi calls "organicity". A bodymind approach to therapy pays attention to the many ways that both the body and the mind signal what is needed for the person's healing. With a certain quality of attention, called mindfulness, a state of presence is created that is non-judgemental, aware, non-violent, and spacious.
Tibetan teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, said that "the basic work of health professionals in general... is to become full human beings and to inspire full human beingness in other people." How do we become full human beings who have the kind of energy, attitude, and presence that inspires healing?
The practice of mindfulness is one that embraces and supports healing, as wholeness unfolding, in a way which is nourishing to the soul. Remembering wholeness heals the soul.
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...requires that the therapist:
- is balanced and relaxed (relaxation)
- is receiving as much as giving (nourishment)
- has good boundaries (codependency)
- stays in touch with self (mindfulness)
- stays present and in the present
- appreciates whatever happens
- trusts the client's "core self"
- has faith in a Higher Power
... is difficult if the therapist:
- works hard to make something happen
- feels responsible for the client
- questions, advises, explains, worries excessively
- ignores own body, feelings, needs
- avoids certain issues, feelings
- has a need to do it "right", understand, fix, know
- has a need to be liked, accepted, believed
- feels unsupported, hopeless, helpless
- is operating with one or more of the four universal addictions:
(intensity - low tolerance for boredom;
perfection - low tolerance for mistakes or vulnerability;
the need to know - low tolerance for the unexpected;
what's not working - negativity)
Psoma Therapy / Hawaii / Workshops / Books / Articles / Poetry / Letters / Complimentary Sites / Home / Contact Donna Logos & Text Copyright © 2000–2019 Donna Martin
Psoma Therapy / Hawaii / Workshops / Books / Articles / Poetry / Letters / Complimentary Sites / Home / Contact Donna
Logos & Text Copyright © 2000–2019 Donna Martin