Recently, I reviewed research regarding how to manage worry. The researchers observed that those individuals that spend 10 minutes a day writing their gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness to another significantly reduced their worry.
The article is from Health Psychology, August 11, 2016. Effects of a randomized gratitude intervention on death- related fear of recurrence in breast cancer survivors.
I was working with a couple that had marital issues that both wanted to resolve. In the course of a session, the husband apologized for his past hurtful behavior toward his wife. He communicated how he imagined his wife being hurt and impacted by his actions. His wife in response to the apology had two reactions. The first reaction was to say that the most important part of an apology is to change behavior. Her second response was to look deeply in her husband's eyes and say, "Today is a new Day!"
What impressed me so much with this interaction was the husband's intention to be responsible and accountable for his past misdeeds and to make amends by being with her compassionately in her pain and to express an intention to change. What impressed me about her actions was that she did not say, "I forgive you", which could have sounded trite, obligatory and insincere. She indicated her capacity to move on and be in the present. This reminds me of something written by Rumi, in the poem, The Guest House.
"Every morning is a new arrival".
I spoke to the Shaman about this interaction and he commented by reminding me of the similarities and differences between "Amnesia" and "Amnesty". He spoke about that both share a lapse in memory. However, amnesia speaks to forgetting while amnesty relates to choosing not to remember. He went on to say that in the Judaic & Christian tradition, when one asks the Lord for absolution for their sins and forgivesness, when it is granted, the Lord chooses not to remember. The Lord's approach seems to be, "Today is a new Day!"
IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT A WISE MAN NOTED, BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS.
HE DID NOT SAY, BLESSED ARE THOSE THAT THINK THEY ARE RIGHT.
AGAIN THE FUNDAMENTAL DECISION IS, WHETHER YOU WANT TO BE AT PEACE OR TO BE RIGHT.
The buddhist teacher, PEMA CHÖDRÖN refers to "Shenpa" as complicating our life by one becoming ensnarled by an urge, by a hook, that triggers our habitual tendency to close down and resist letting go of a thought, a feeling or behavior.
One way of understanding Shenpa is to view it as an acronym:
S) Stuck to a thought, feeling, emotion or action;
H) Hooked by a thought, feeling, emotion or action;
E) Ego in the sense of being hooked by our idealized image of ourselves;
N) Nutcase, becoming distraught by being stuck, hooked by Ego;
P) Peace is realized by recognizing "Shenpa";
A) Acceptance by graciously accepting how easy it is to be hooked.
Imagine on a car bumper, it would say the following: I am the proud parent of a compassionate child.
In Tai Chi this morning, the question came up about, "why do we hold tension in our body?" Other questions that may provide insight into this interesting observation are:
"How is holding onto tension working for you?"
"Do you resist letting go of tension?"
Two months since my heart was opened,
Hopefully it won't close.
It seems that what Hyppocrites said a long time ago, is still applicable today.
"Health depends on whether a person is able to maintain a state of harmony between their inner selves and their outer surroundings".
Cardiac Rehabilitation is progressing.
Mindlessness is to be over dramatic.
Mindfulness is to be over, dramatic.
Mindlessness is to be overreacting.
Mindfulness is to be over, reacting.
Today is an opportunity to be kind.
Have you caught someone being kind. I have!
Healing comes from taking responsibility: to realize that it is you - and no one else - that creates your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions.
— Peter Shepherd
It is 45 days since the surgery. But who is counting?
I have been going to Cardiac Rehabilitation three days a week as well as participating in Cardiac Yoga. I have been asked to teach Tai Chi for the cardiac patients when I complete the program. One of the lessons that I have learned is that all doctors need patience. In this instance, I would walk 40 minutes to the Cardiac Rehabilitation and was informed that I need to stop doing that as my workout needs to begin in the actual facility. I am working on being Patient. I am working on being a patient.
When teaching a puppy, it is common to say: "Sit, Stay and Heel!"
In meditation, it is common to say: Sit, Stay and Heal!
Adapted from Tara Brach
I have completed four sessions of Cardiac Rehabilitation. The program entails 24 sessions.
My heart is healing.
The serenity to accept the things I can not change.
A month since surgery.
"In the midst of winter,
I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
While on medical leave, I am spending more time with my granddaughter.
Today, we were focusing on something attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt,
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
If you are feeling a little extra positive vibes,
there's a good reason for that - It's coming from me.
Starting Cardiac Rehabilitation this week.
Back in Cincinnati.
Thank you for your encouragement.
On the road to recovery.
Dr. Bassman met with his surgery team today and is progressing in his recovery.
The Right of Passage vs. the rite of passage. A story within a story.
“Steeping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman." - Maya Angelou
She was arguing with her mother. She appeared to be 13 or 14 years of age with soft brownish blond hair, tall and thin. She was ready to talk to anyone about how her mother didn’t understand anything and how they fought daily about everything.
She was fed up with the struggle and quickly got on any elevator that was available.
The elevator operator looked deep in her eyes and remembered a long forgotten story. In a distant land and long time ago there was a rite of passage for all women in a village. When the girls entered the age of 14 in order to demonstrate their formidable courage and inner nurturance as well as independent spirit they would be required to climb a mountain. The most challenging part of this task was a small and perilous bend near the peak. Because this path was treacherous at this point, inevitably each young girl would slip and hurt herself. But then one day, something different happened. One young girl who embodied the essence of the three desired qualities came forth. She boldly announced that she was not going to take this “trip”. The entire village was stunned because this was the first time anyone had protested and emphatically said “NO”. She said that the challenges of what this test is supposed to emphasize are being negated by the insanity of each young girl being hurt again and again. A young girl who stood next to the girl spoke out loudly and proclaimed, “why don't we have a doctor and nurse wait at the bend where the young girls will enviably fall?”. The village hummed with thoughts and reactions to this new idea. However, it was the young girl who had spoken up previously that announced, “how about instead of doctors and nurses at the spot where the girls fall, why don't we build a fence there so that the girls could truly learn how to navigate through treacherous paths with support?”
The young girl had listened to the story because what else could one do in an elevator? Of course, one could listen to the music but there was something about what he said that was intriguing . At this point, she kept on repeating, “a fence, a fence. I like that.” Then she went on to say “somehow I need to learn to apply that to my mother. Somehow I need to mend a fence with my mother.” And then, as quickly as she entered the elevator that's how fast she exited.
It is not uncommon to hear someone in the next room when you are in a hospital.
I heard her pressing her father to walk. He in a low voice that was barely audible said he couldn’t.
I remember a story from many years ago that I am not sure whether it is fact or fable or still a consequence of my anesthesia.
The little boy from all the medical tests could theoretically walk. But he couldn’t. His parents didn’t see it as couldn’t but wouldn’t. Frustration and heated exchanges would commence but to no avail. He wouldn’t walk.
After several years, the mother heard of a Shaman that could help people to heal.
The parents met with the Shaman and shared their plight. The Shaman in a benevolent manner explained to the parents that they have confused the boundaries of what they could and could not do. They could walk and they have personalized their son’s struggle. The father assertively stated that this is his son and he won’t allow his son to be a cripple when he doesn’t need to live like that. Quietly, the Shaman produced a thread from his pocket and said a similar thread would help the father’s son. The parents agreed to allow the Shaman to proceed.
The Shaman met with the youngster in a long room in the Shaman’s house. The room was bare except for a place for a wheelchair and the walls had mirrors on either side. It was the ceiling that was most interesting. Attached to the ceiling was a long tract across it and about six inches in diameter. One would assume that tract lighting would be attached but instead of lights was one long rope. It looked like a rope that one would see near a stream or lake in the woods so that one can use to swing across it and fall or leap into the cool waters beneath them. Yet, there was no stream or lake on the floor. The floor was made of hardwood and offered no cushion if you were going to sail through the air.
The Shaman pushed the wheelchair with the boy sitting in it and showed him the room and most importantly the long rope. The Shaman explained that he would continually push the wheelchair but would not push him. All the boy will need to do when he is ready is to grasp the rope. After several repetitions of going back and forth across the room, the boy began to touch the rope and then eventually began to hold the rope. Whether it was from curiosity or boredom, he seemed genuinely interested in the rope. The Shaman explained that this is what other youngsters use to jump from the land into lakes and streams. The boy shook his head in understanding and he proceeded to close his eyes and seemed to be imagining himself as using this rope to fly through the air. The Shaman explained that when the boy is ready, he could use the rope to stand up by leaning on it for balance and security. The Shaman wanted to know when to stop pushing the wheelchair so the boy could stand up for himself. To some, it would have seemed like hours but for the Shaman it seemed like minutes before the boy put up his hand to signal that he is ready to stand. The boy tried several times to stabilize himself so he could stand but each time he collapsed back into the chair. Then a determination took hold of the youngster and he stood with a broad beaming smile. Over the next few days the boy would continue to repeat the prior sequence but each time he would be able to stand quicker and stay up longer. Then seemingly out of nowhere, the boy announced that he wants to walk holding the rope. The Shaman smiled and said that as the boy walks, he would remove the wheelchair from his path. From tiny clumsy steps to a more progressive cadence, the boy began to go back and forth from one side to the other side of the room while holding the rope in his hands. At this point, the boy’s father burst into the room and wanted to see what was happening. You could see the astonishment and delight in his face as he saw his son walking. Yet, the father was not satisfied with the progress and said to his son, “You don’t need the rope. You can walk without it”. He then quickly tore it from his son’s hands. It was as if an earthquake erupted in the room and the boy collapsed on the floor. The father tried to convince his son that he didn’t need the rope but to no avail, as his son stayed on the floor. Begrudgingly, he gave his son the rope from the ceiling and now his son stood and began to walk again. Yet, the father could not stop trying to convince his son and proceeded to cut the rope halfway between the boy’s grip and tract on the ceiling. The boy saw that the end of his portion of the rope was dangling on the floor but that did not stop him from continuing to walk dragging the cut piece behind him. Exasperated the father said to the Shaman that he was delighted that his son was walking but he needed a cut-off piece of rope to stabilize him. The Shaman patiently looked at the father, as the boy was now able to walk all over the room, as the ceiling tract did not limit him. “My work with your son is not complete yet. We will continue to shorten the rope until one day he will keep a thread in his pocket as a reminder of where he was and where he is now”. Then, once again the Shaman showed the father his own thread.
The physical therapist came to my hospital room and stated that I was now ready to walk. I looked through glazed eyes and saw his nametag. I said his name out loud, “Pastor”. “Yeah, that’s right. I’m Pastor. I am not related to the scientists, Marie and Louis Pasteur. Nor am I a chaplain. My parents just liked the name.” Although still hazy from the surgery, I still remembered my love of the derivation of words. Accordingly I told him that the word "pastor" derives from the Latin that means, "shepherd". He laughed and said he didn’t know that but it was time to walk. I smiled as I slowly got out of bed and imagined a sheep dog appearing and keeping me on the path. My shepherd presented me with an elaborate walker so I can learn how to have my feet underneath me again. I wobbled and held on tightly to the contraption as it had been days since I walked. I shared with my shepherd that when I teach Tai Chi, after bowing we begin by walking. He ignored my chatter and commanded, “Look up. If you are going to walk, you have to look up and look ahead. Looking down and looking back is not necessary.”
That morning, I learned a valuable lesson from my shepherd. That is, in order to move ahead and to progress in life, it is important to look up and look ahead without looking down or back.
The Illusion of being “stuck” and thus the madness of trying to get unstuck.
While resting in the hospital room in New York City, occasionally, I would overhear someone using their car horn. Loud sounds would appear followed by additional glaring noises.
I wonder if the person who is using their car horn is really hearing the words behind the sounds and noises
Are they confusing their internal gridlock with the external gridlock?
Do they believe the illusion that they are “stuck” and pounding their horn can unstick them?
Does the horn have some magical qualities that can be unleashed by using it like a wand?
Does believing this illusion help in anyway?
In addition to venting one’s frustration as an expression of resisting powerlessness, pridefulfulness and personalizing, can one hear the car horn sound as a sign of danger ahead?
It is my understanding that a car horn is a sound-making device to warn others of their presence, or to call attention to some potential danger.
Perhaps, this is what really needs to heard.
The importance of being present by recognizing the dangers of believing one is “stuck".
Tales of the Shaman
Stuart W. Bassman
Have you noticed that within the word, "GROWTH" is "OW"?
Do you want to be bitter or better?
Perhaps PEACE WILL BECOME MORE REAL FOR ONE,
when one recognizes their increasing attachment to personalizing, pridefulness & pecfection.
I AM BREATHING
I AM CENTERING.
The Rule of "G's".
Perhaps, you have heard of the Rule of "G's".
GET off their back;
GET out of their way;
GET over yourself;
GET on with your life with GRATITUDE.
The Rule of "P"'s.
There are three obstacles to being at PEACE:
PERSONALIZING, PRIDEFULNESS & PERFECTIONISM.
Perhaps, recognizing when one is succumbing to one of the three may be helpful.
Perhaps, reframing these obstacles as opportunities.
Perhaps, using patience, pardoning and presence may be more kind.
The Rule of "P"'s.
PERHAPS, PATIENCE, PARDONING & PRESENCE
Someone has a message for you.
Have you exercised your heart today?
What are you grateful for?
Who are you grateful for?
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Today I was fortunate enough to complete the 5K Heart Walk
at the 36th Annual Mercy Health Heart Mini.
As the song says, "You gotta have heart!"
Someone shared with me the following questions:
Can you imagine letting go of your expectations for others?
Will you allow those who are closest to you and misunderstand you, to be as they are?
Will you give them the freedom to be who they are?
Will you let go of the need to manage their lives?
Can you allow yourself to wish and then let go of your wish?
If not now, when?
I spoke to a colleague of mine this week about my open heart surgery. As a physician she had many questions about the surgery and the tumor that was behind my heart and attached to my pulmonary artery. She indicated that it was quite positve that the tumor was removed when it was. She explained that a tumor in that place can continue to get bigger and bigger as it feeds off of the heart. Further, that this tumor can at some point engulf the heart.
How many of us have something feeding off of our heart, that if we don't get help, can take over our heart?