Running

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More often than not we will find that our discontent with outer reality is a reflection of the neglected and unresolved yearnings of our soul.  Our displeasure with some aspect of our career often points to a conflict or unresolved dilemma of our life’s purpose;  a pattern of problems with particular types of people mirrors a hidden and ugly quality we would rather not face in ourselves;  or a preoccupation with trivial fears and phobias may be set off by failing to surrender to a greater internal battle.  A failure to engage in deep psychological work to find the origin of such external distress that really arises from within tends to lead us in an illusory path of seeking relief.  We may habitually change jobs, partners, places of residence, religions, friends, etc- all at an attempt to be released from the debilitating internal struggle of psychological conflicts that most times erroneously reflect external circumstances, people, and events.  These attempts prove to be futile in the long run as the person may seek release through extreme escape behaviors of severe isolation and compulsive habits.  When we perceive there is no where to turn to, when life gets incredibly uncomfortable to bear, the result is the beginning of addictive behavior.  Addiction is a desperate attempt to find release from external and internal conflict when resolution cannot be found- it is the mind’s most resourceful way of getting free from a build up of psychological madness that threatens to obliterate the little comfort that is left.

Addiction personifies a universal problem.  Society is on the go and yet so stagnant, so fast paced and yet ridden with a melancholic disposition.  We are going no where fast, tending to problems erroneously or superficially, fatally ignoring the cries of our psychological lives.  The end result always being a series of temporary departures from reality where our lives and structure remain unchanged.  Perhaps its time to reckon that we have missed the mark, that we’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places and as long as we continue in the same direction, we won’t find peace but a disruption, or even worse, an obliteration of life.

Healing begins when we are tired, when we stop to say there is something wrong here, and perhaps it’s within me.  Facing oneself honestly is painful-the mirror doesn’t change to our opposing responses or sensibilities.  However, it is only through the undertaking of swallowing hard truth about ourselves and deciding to take action is when the possibility of a better life is made apparent.

Shaman, Shamania

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Our ancestors sought answers by journeying far and wide, seeking spiritual leaders for guidance and answers to life’s most pressing issues.  Many times, they sacrificed their lives in order to listen to the wise counsel of the healer, the devoted shaman.  The shaman was the median between the gods and the people.  He would summon spirits through deep contemplation and rituals, receiving divine life saving knowledge from beyond.  The shaman wore clothing that distinctly separated himself from the community, wore specific painting designs on his face, chanted freely towards the spirits in language unknown to the laymen, and danced in a convulsive like fashion.  Among those that sought out the shaman was a universal understanding that this process was the way of attaining help, direction, and insight into specific issues.  This understanding was ingrained in those that came before us and is a part of our present day make-up.  The chanting shaman is a representation of hope, renewal, and rebirth.  The outcome of seeking these “medicine men” was always one of healing, or at least a consolation of some kind.  

Fast forward present day, the most influential form of entertainment is heavily populated with shaman-like artist drawing in millions of young men and women, who as many of us, are seeking genuine and concise answers to life’s most essential questions.  The “medicine man” effect lures in crowds through senseless chants, tattooed faces, belligerent dances, strange smoke, lanky bare chested men receiving their share of the gold from their performance-and those eager to find answers, while entertained- come empty and leave empty.    

By far, this art form is extremely damaging to the psyche because it taps into the human drive of seeking truth and direction.  While we have moved away from the primitive days of climbing mountains for divine wisdom to climbing stages at an attempt for the same, the result of the latter creates psychological and social decay.  The messages we wholeheartedly yearn have been completely distorted into those that promote violence, hedonism, drug use, promiscuity, addiction, objectification of women, the breakdown of family and community, and the devaluation of morality.  We must all stop to ask ourselves what effect the shift from “knowledge from above” to “f*** b******, get money” has on our youth.  

There is no doubt that such senseless music and artists should be banned from our society.  More importantly though, and more effectively, it would benefit the individual and society to carefully filter content that resembles anything that promotes social garbage and deceptively disguises itself in the images of the “wise old men” of the past.  

Turn

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Society demands the addict to “stop” yet has no real grasp on what recovery means to begin with.  To a lesser degree, we all play out escape behaviors, saturating ourselves with unreality and ideals, falling into the traps of fabricated definitions of humanity.  Yet we demand the addict to stop and do everything wrong to make him stop because the addiction, although more or less in all of us, is more visible in the drug addict.  The remedy for any addiction is reality, a reality that questions one’s purpose, what the world is, and who or what created us— and in turn live according to such questions.  But as long as we turn away from reality, we turn towards addiction and enable others to continue the path of a diluted and destructive existence. 

4 Words

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Shuffling papers, meeting with clients, crisis interventions, meetings, family contacts, documentation…Getting busy, staying busy, feeling productive.  And then a shadow emerges out of a corridor, a half-broken figure, contorted, confused and healing- to thank you but you can’t remember for what… a smile and then you remember you only placed your hand on his shoulder and uttered four words.  The smile is reciprocated and you realize that this whole time you’ve been busy with nothing and the most productive thing you’ll ever do is tell someone “I’m here for you.”  

Shattered

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We talk too much, often expressing what we think we desire rather than taking time to listen to ourselves… it’s no wonder we fluctuate between anxiety and depression.  Our default focus tends to be on the anxiety producing concerns of what others are thinking or doing, on what should be or could be, and on what appears as the accepting consensus.  All the while, the depressed soul withers from its unattended cries of purpose, identity, needs, and passions.  It’s hard to explain this to the disquieted person.  It seems it has become easier to increase dosages and wait in line for a prescription than to address the pressing matter of who we really are, what living is really about, and how to live according to our individual purpose.  We live in a sedated society, medicated by detached practitioners who themselves, through ignorance, evade the    real issues and causes of anxiety, depression, addiction, and other ailments.

Bottom and Birth

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I’ve come to realize that at the core of every relapse, underneath the distress and volatility of each craving, there is a sincere and desperate cry for reality… a reality tht lives out love, wisdom, and truth in its purest form.

All the rituals and practices of the major organized religions cannot parallel the moment a person hits rock bottom. There are no scripts, no pretensions, no rehearsed utterances…just a man or woman bearing their soul, pleading for healing, for answers- sending their cry into the void in hopes that Something or Someone will come.  It’s miraculous to watch.  You’ll never see someone as connected to their natural state as that.  It’s similar to watching the miracle of birth.  Being able to be a part of moments like this, I’ve discovered that there is something greater than ourselves watching over Its creation and I’m convinced loves us.

Smile Through Storms

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“Pick me up and throw me where you will.  Wherever I land I shall keep the god within me happy…” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I’ve heard many stories from people in recovery dealing with obstacles, some so severe I wondered how they were managing to stay clean and sober.  Some had lost their homes to foreclosure.  Some were laid off from work.  And some had even lost children to illness.  In every account, the same statement reappeared at the end of each share, “But I didn’t drink” or “I didn’t pick up”… “no matter what.”  These people were living proof that something profound had taken place within, a spiritual awakening.  Though the external reality of their lives were constant and difficult, there was a wise and directing consciousness beneath what they presented. This consciousness was impenetrable- although their lives were shaken, they were far from broken.  

Recovery is spiritual awareness.   People become aware of the divinity within and make a decision to honor it on a daily basis.  Outside circumstances such as death, divorce, and financial problems cannot influence the spiritual life within.  Many people in AA refer to this idea as the “98 Burn”, a statement made on page 98 of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book text which states “job or no job, wife or no wife…burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone.”  While our world may be shaken or everything seems to be crumbling down around us, we must acknowledge the god inside us, unfazed, smiling, and always willing to direct us towards the next step.  Stability, healing, and recovery depend not on what happens to us but on the reckoning and daily practice of honoring the divine life within. 

Stir

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Periodically, I like to meditate on a couple of things that help restore and elicit a sense of gratitude.  It constitutes a period of contemplation evoking powerful emotions of joy and a state of thankfulness.  First, I think of a difficult or frightening moment in the past I eventually overcame.  I think of how, by great fortune, I was spared of the worst possible outcome of the event.  For example, I once slammed on the breaks right on time in traffic avoiding a fatal collision with an 18 wheeler.  Or I was called to cover a different unit on the day I was scheduled to see a patient who had been caught with a shank in his cell.  On both such occasions, I was spared and I didn’t have to be.  Many people die everyday from such unfortunate occurrences.  I like to think that the time I’m given beyond these moments are added bonuses that I should embrace and do as much as I can with the “complimentary hours.”  

The second thing I contemplate on is recalling all the people I’ve known, both directly and indirectly, who are battling or have battled serious life conditions such as terminal and chronic illnesses, addiction, severe mental health issues, homelessness, incarceration, abuse, and other forms of prolonged suffering.  I think of how if there is a universal good that exists in the world then perhaps these people serve a great purpose.  Perhaps, through divine wisdom they are the ones chosen to bear it for now so that I won’t have to.  

As macabre and dark as it can appear, surprisingly these two exercises cultivate a genuine kind of gratitude where the effects are  immediately felt.  Suddenly, the coffee tastes fresh, people become more loving, and the possibilities endless.  

Addictive Nature

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It’s surreal to think of how a thing, a substance, sometimes so small, sometimes invisible or pleasantly deceptive to the human eye can utterly destroy a life.  Sometimes, these things appear to be beautiful in their rawest form.  A swaying cocoa plant or a vibrant poppy add beauty to the fields they inhabit.  It’s astonishing and at the same time unfathomable to accept the reality that these beautiful ornaments of nature-once they are separated from their original form and ingested-have the capacity to enslave and obliterate a person on every conceivable level.  

I think of these beautiful intricacies of nature in their true essence…I think of the lives that were once whole and later became separated from themselves and the world because of addiction.  This helps me understand that there is an objective and guiding principle pervading all living things:  Nature and people thrive and are at their most beautiful in their wholeness, and this should never be tampered with…

Be Still

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Man envies every least deserving thing.  He strives and dies for the things that should always be allocated at the background of reality.  The promotion, the size of his home, his bank account, the attention given by others, where his kids go to school, where he dines and gathers- all take center stage and consume the pathway to his purpose. And nature which seeks to teach him how to live, how to be happy, is altogether ignored, kicked away like an orphan who incessantly begs for loose change and crumbs.  He seldom ponders the trees that show him how to weather the inevitable storms, to stand strong through the turbulence, to accept harmoniously the place it’s been given, and to fall gracefully when it is time.  It’s tragic that we often fall prey to the erroneous escapes of life’s struggles-the pill, the powder, the bottle, the dollar, the relationship, etc- through self medication and yet, often ignore the guiding example of nature.   Nature stands still, stoically, through both the pleasant moments and drudgery of existence.  It doesn’t rebel nor complain about what should or could be… it stands and exists in perfect harmony with what is and what has been given.  If you’ve run out of answers, if there’s no more ways to escape left in you, switch your focus to bringing nature and life center stage and lessen your priorities on those things that hinder.  

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