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12/21/2010

Healing into Immortality -- Part 1

Much of what I intend to write in the next days and weeks will be my own musings on the material that I am reading in Gerald Epstein's book, Healing into Immortality.  I've no intention of copying large portions of the text, although I may quote brief excerpts, so some may want to actually get a copy of the book.  That surely isn't a requirement, if you just want to ponder my own ramblings, but if you want to see the original material that I'm working from, then Amazon.com is your friend.  Here's the link:  http://www.amazon.com/HEALING-INTO-IMMORTALITY-Gerald-Epstein/dp/0553351915

I remember that the first time I read this book, I had an agenda.  A friend of mine was in the final stages of breast cancer -- it had metastasized after having been in remission for a number of years.  Her two young daughters were aged 8 and 11, and her husband was absolutely devastated.  In those days, I was interested in some sort of magic for my friend.  It was her healing that I hoped to effect, and when I didn't find the key to that miracle, I became disillusioned and disappointed.  Now, so many years later, I am fully aware that I can only walk this path for myself.  Much as I might want to work magic for those I love, that work is not mine.  

And so, to begin:

"The essential teaching of spiritual medicine is that we possess the means for healing ourselves through the use of our inner mental processes.  We make ourselves our own authority and take the responsibility for our health and well-being into our own hands."

For me, that is like a smack up alongside the head.  How long, I have to ask myself, have I been mired in thinking about my life, and our lives, as one long string of catastrophes?  How long have I cataloged the troubles and traumas, longing for the day, somewhere in the distant future, when we might finally come to the other side of all of it and be able to relax and enjoy ourselves?  How long have I patted myself on the back, and told myself what a good and faithful partner/lover/slave I've been for patiently and faithfully taking on the role of caretaker when I'd so much rather be taken care of?   And in between all of that fussing and whining?  I wonder how many lovely, delightful, joyful, special and entrancing moments have slid by me without a moment's notice precisely because I was so busy being miserable?

Actually, I don't wonder really.  I know.  I've played the victim and martyr really well, and in doing that I've let go of my own power and my own authority, and let circumstances control me and my responses.   I haven't been well-served by that descent into personal powerlessness, and I haven't been well-suited to serve the well-being of my loves; my family.  Now, in the grip of yet another crisis, I think I finally "get it."  I want to find the tools to heal myself; to achieve personal wellness; so that I might be better able to help heal my family.

Epstein writes:
The majority of people in the Western world hold to the belief that chance is the fundamental reality, ... and that it can perpetrate on us, at any random moment, some awful consequence...  Along with this belief comes the notion that there cannot be an invisible reality and that we are fundamentally enslaved, mechanical beings who operate in a determined manner, according to fixed cause-and-effect laws...
When we drop the belief in chance from our consciousness...we step onto the path of spirit... Human beings are born with free will and have the choice to create their own reality...  Nothing happens by chance ... Everything comes from the invisible reality and is made manifest through the actions of our will.

 Epstein proposes that we "create" our physical reality out of what we believe.  That is precisely the opposite of what most of us assume is the reality.  In general, we tend to think that it is our experiences that form our beliefs, and so we are forever looking for the "whys" that underlie our behaviors and reactions.  I've got a whole, elaborate story about my life and my experiences that I've used to explain and justify the things that I think and believe -- the ways that I react and respond in a wide variety of circumstances.  What, I wonder, would it be like if I believed in a reality that I could imagine and visualize -- and then made that vision into a physical set of actions and behaviors?  It feels like a slippery sort of understanding, but I think that I might be able to shift the way I respond in the world, and so create a far different sort of reality for myself and my family. 

It is all so very "new age."  So "woo-woo," that I am skeptical and suspicious.  I can imagine that I might stomp around in this stuff for awhile and get nothing much at all out of it but a chorus of "I told you so's."  That is surely within the realm of possibility.  On the other hand, there is that wickedly enticing, what if...

Sue

6 comments:

  1. I hope that you continue to explore this, since I see a lot of my own behavior in your words.

    I do worry about all of you at this time, and I hope that a new approach(?) will help.
    Sir's pet

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  2. It's not completely new age-y, Sue, on at least 2 points.

    1. The concept of free will is crucial to Judaism. We are here to make the world better. God (or whatever that word means to you) is not going to fix things for us.

    2. I used to work for an association of people like you. Family caregivers. A key concept in that field is that however much your loved one needs you, you have to look after yourself. First, in fact. Because if you come apart, you'll have nothing left to give anyone else. Some people see that as simplistic and impossible, but it is vital. Meaning yes. If you heal yourself, you have a better chance of helping to heal your family.

    I'm really looking forward to following your explorations.

    o.g.

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  3. Impish110:40 AM

    I'm a bit in the middle on the this. It's taken me a lifetime to arrive here, and it's hard fought and hard won, but I believe we have that which happens and our ability to make a happy life even in the midst of our circumstances if our most basic survival needs are met. No playing those mind games and moving up the hierarchy of needs. I have a good life that has been punctuated by some real crisis. Some resulted in pain and loss that could not be changed, some I could make my way through with the help of Drs, and the family I now have. Once while losing someone very close to me, I saw someone make the most, with something akin to joy and thankfulness, of dying at the age of 41. These things have taught me a lot, and not easily. When I'm unhappy, I'm concentrating on what's wrong, how I'm not getting mine: my attention, my understanding, my needs met, what I deserve, a break, downtime, better health,what's fair, etc. When I'm happiest I realize this is life; it's rarely fair, I have it better than most, and it's never going to be peaceful, calm and relaxing. I have some big family problems and responsibilities that are not going away until there is an even worse result so I better enjoy now because worse is the only other outcome for now. I have learned to step away, and find those little moments when I can, and make a little bit of celebration whenever or wherever I or we can. I light candles, make dinner pretty even if it's lousy, use good sheets, buy pretty napkins when they're cheap. Smelly handcream, wildflowers if I can find them, african violets flower constantly and easily if you move them 'til you find the right window. Each soul must find it's own little celebrations to fund little moments, and families must make them together, but they do help.

    I have those horrid times, everybody does, but I have to admit that they last as long as it takes me to admit what I'm saying inside my head, and it's always the same- about how I'm not getting mine and they're not doing what they're supposed to. I finally learned: they never will by my definition and not because they're bad people, they just are - people.

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  4. I've reread this post four or five times the last couple of days since you posted it and keep coming to the same ironic conclusion. The essence of this appears to be fairly summariazed as, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." This has been the supposed ethos of our lives this last decade. Can it be that this latest and most horrific crisis has been required to actualize these words in our (or your) life?

    I hope your search brings you healing and comfort.

    I love you.

    Mine Always and All Ways,

    Tom

    Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

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  5. swan, I can't remember what it was I said to spark your entried response to my comment way back when but I'd be willing to hazard a guess that this book will be your opportunity to see in your own way what I meant. I truly hope this is the case because it's a very powerful philosophy and can make a great things happen.

    It's actually far from 'new age.' If you'd like a more practical book (one Tom might enjoy as well -hinthint-!!! ;)), you can find one in Napoleon Hill's Think And Grow Rich. It was my first exposure to what you saw as my rosy view of the world - first published in 1937. I've been 'practicing' since 2003 and it's made an astonishing difference in my life. :)

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  6. I am very interested in this journey of yours, and will be following closely, hoping to make some discoveries about myself, also.
    Hope you and and your family find some moments of calm and enjoyment over the holiday season.
    HUGS to all of you...abby

    ReplyDelete

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