We are in Rapid City, SD. We left on Thursday in two cars because our daughter is taking one of our extra vehicles off our hands. The plan is doing two days of workshop and our granddaughter is graduating from high school. Work and fun.
It was odd to drive over 700 miles alone in the car with only my thoughts and no Milt to toss them around with. I get bored easily but had my little Mp3 player with some interesting things on it. I don’t get that tiny piece of equipment very well–I manage to get a play file up and at some point it just switches to another. So, I was listening to an interview we did with Larry LeShan many years ago in New York City. I count Larry as one of the great thinkers of our times and also as one of my teachers. He is considered by many as one of the forefathers of alternative methods of healing. I hadn’t listened to this interview for many years and I was very much enjoying his words. Larry is a psychologist trained in the Freudian method, but many years ago he was working in a terminal cancer ward as a therapist. He discovered that his best methods of psychoanalysis did not seem to be helping his patients live any longer. In time he realized that his patients had lost something important—in his words, “faith in the future.” He began slowly to work not with what was causing his patients great suffering but what gave them “zest” in life. He said it was not a quick transformation, but he relied on his belief that within all living human beings there is a spark of life that needs to be fanned. He began to look for and work with that spark. As time moved on, he noticed that some of his patients actually went into remission. Some of them were even discharged back “into life.” Over a decade or so, he got to the place where instead of 100% of his terminal patients dying, about 50% were no going into remission, some of them long term remission.
This is a lot of explanation, but I love Larry’s work and suggest “Cancer as a Turning Point” to anybody interested in his research and practice with terminal patients. Eventually, he took some apprentices and they began to teach others how to work with the spark or the zest with equal results. One of his students, Ruth Bolletino, even does 5 day intensives with people facing a terminal diagnosis. During the five days, they work together to find out not where the person is dying but where they live.
My point. I am driving alone across South Dakota listening to Larry’s words and suddenly the interview ends and a beautiful, uplifting east Indian chant begins to resound in my matchbox Mp3 player. Suddenly I was alone in the car responding to the chant, singing alone, feeling my spirit lift higher and higher. It was wonderful.
The two experiences so close together brought me to the sharp realization that I was going to teach Saturday’s workshop in a new way. I was no longer going to focus just on the nasty patterns that stop us or bring us down, but focus on the reason we want to change them in the first place. We want to live. We want strength. We want voice. We want to make a difference. We want to be the very best me that we can be.
I decided to take a risk. I would begin my See Me Beautiful workshop by having people enter the dull hotel room hearing that same chant. I bought a pot of beautiful pink lilies and put them in the center of the room. I handed out the words to the chant and when the workshop began, I told everybody that today we would not only find out what was wrong with our thinking patterns, but what was right with who we are.
It was an amazing day. All the “old” tools that I have taught so many times suddenly felt infused with the idea that we could have, be, do all the things that we were meant to do. This “therapy” had a reason beyond just getting out of pain or discomfort. It was to rediscover our “zest” and purpose for living.
I had a wonderful, exhausting, learning-packed weekend. By Sunday night my eyes were “blurry” from looking and seeing so much. I wish you could have all been there. It was amazing.
Now, I am working with individuals through this week with the same future orientation, the same search for zest. A mind is like a naughty puppy. It has to be trained.
All for now. Be sure to share what you like with others or subscribe to my weekly posts by adding your email below. My berry plants are missing me—my garden waiting for my return, my seeds loving the ida of finding their bit of soil, but for now, I am content.
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