Life Sometimes Can Be Truly Strange

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

I received an animation file from a director I’m working with and after playing it on my computer another file came up that I clicked to play.  It was of my late husband in a trip he had taken to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He was by beach being taught how to prepare a Caipirinha (our national drink).  I saw his face, I heard his voice and I again wondered “what happened?”

Most of us go on after losing someone who was very close and who we loved very much.   We make new friends, have new experiences, and maybe even fall in love again, but the space within us that a picture, or a recording can bring us back to, I believe never gets filled up with something else.

We are a thinking species and we want to understand life.  We write books, we research, we dialogue, but certain questions continue to go answered.   Death? Soul? Spirit? Consciousness?  Religion and science try to come up with explanations but so far nothing has really quenched our thirst for an absolute certainty.

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The Beauty Of Breathing

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Many years ago, when I was still a dancer, I took a workshop with a woman from Argentina about using movement as a tool to help us connect with our psyche.

One of the things I most remember about this workshop is how shallow we breathe specially being that breath is literally the fuel we need to create energy to live.

Ancients commonly linked the breath to a life force. The Hebrew Bible refers to God breathing the breath of life into clay to make Adam a living soul (nephesh). It also refers to the breath as returning to God when a mortal dies. The terms “spirit,” “qi,” and “psyche” are related to the concept of breath.  So why aren’t we more aware of breathing?

I think we are often in such a hurry and so disconnect from nature and our physical selves that we don’t even realize that we are oxygen depleted.  Also, it seems to me that whatever we can do without thinking i.e. breathing is one less thing to be worry about.   But we are missing out on a free and simple method to infuse ourselves with energy and calm.

For almost a thousand years, meditation has used breathing to connect with the self.  But we don’t have to be meditating to use the breath’s healing powers of the breath.  Remembering to take long and full breaths a few times a day will also do the trick, especially when we feel stressed.

So make a change and start breathing with awareness.  You will feel more relaxed, gain energy and be connected with our own body.


Celebrate Life

April 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Today I received an email from my sister in law with an attachment from a pen pal of hers in Australia whose brother had passed away a couple of days ago from brain cancer.

As I read the attachment – a letter written by the spouse left behind – my heart ached.  It could have been written by me.  In the letter the wife writes about her husband’s indomitable spirit in the face of incredible pain and loss.  Even as he lay dying he wanted to try one more treatment.  That was my husband as well.  The day before he passed he dragged himself to a restaurant to have lunch with my nieces; just the three of them.

I’ve learned a lot of things from my husband: courage, strength, and love.  And I have also learned that life is really precious.  Even when he had lost his hair, his physical strength and in return was left with incredible pain, he wanted to live.  He wanted to live so much that he would take life even if he had to look gaunt and couldn’t do most of things his 6’, 200lbs frame once did.

I try to remember that when I want to complain or feel sorry for myself.  I have life and because of that I have the whole world.  Think about it.


In Norman Lear’s Words

February 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

Norman Lear is the creator of such shows as “All In the Family”,  “The Jeffersons”, “Sanford And Son” “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” among others.

Norman Lear has long regarded the life of the spirit as one of the great human imperatives of our time.  In a series of speeches and articles over the years, he has urged a frank exploration of spiritual questions as a way to discover what human beings, despite their many differences, may truly hold in common.  As he once put it, “If we think of our many and varied religions as uniquely different trees along a thousand-mile river – and appreciate that they are all nurtured by the same stream – can we not agree to discuss that stream openly, freely, and anywhere and everywhere – as a common river of values?  It nurtures all of our spiritual traditions while uniting us as a species.”

Below is a letter from Norman Lear.

Dear Mr. Kohl:
Thank you for your invitation to join the Woodland Historical Document Collection.

At 65, I’m not sure that my ‘spiritual journey’ has yet begun. It seems to me that I have spent most of my life packing for the trip. At 650 years old, I might still think myself in the process of packing.

The big question, I suppose, is ‘What am I packing?’ Well, the life and words of Jesus, of course. Not Jesus as he has been interpreted, but the Jesus we know from his own words and by example.

I wrap carefully and take with me, too, the memories, taste, touch, and feelings for and from that handful of individuals over the years who managed to live and love in a small C christian way, so purely and uncomplicatedly, whatever their religion.

Finally, I take with me every great piece of religious writing I have the strength to carry, but especially the words of George Bernard Shaw and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Accompanying me, too, on the eternal journey to spiritual understanding, would be my own half-baked gleanings from what I have experienced, seen and read. Summing them up, I believe, first and foremost, that nothing in our world has or will occur as an accident of nature. Everything has meaning. At least, something has willed all that was, all that is, all that will come. If there was nothing before that will, then that will is God. And everything that exists is, at the time it exists, a silver of that same will, that God. Shaw believed that man provides the hands and mind to implement that will. To Shaw, the hands and mind of man now work in collaboration with God (that will) to complete the task of perfection ‘ perfection in the natural world and perfection of man.

I like that. It appeals to my sense of reason. Science tells us everything started with the big bang. If science is correct, we know that all those billion of years ago, the natural universe (or worlds of universes) was naught but chaos, all vapors, gases and planetary collisions. Today, science reports of an incredible, breathtaking order in the universe and among the universes. Quite an improvement.

Similarly, man began as some kind of amoeba and followed the evolutionary pattern from sea creature to reptile; to land creature on four legs to land creature on two legs; from the paleolithic age to the neanderthal age (in whatever order came first, I do not know) through all the other ages my limited background in science will not allow me to detail, until we arrive at man the way he is today. Man, with the mind and the hands to assist the original and divine will in the achievement of universe perfection. Quite an improvement also.

Ah, but if one accepts the above, the best is yet to come. Because granting how far man and his natural world have come along the evolutionary path and granting that he is only what ‘ 30%, 50%, 62% along the way? ‘ how dare he not believe that it gets better all the time and that man and his world will not ultimately reach perfection?

It is all there for us. Someone once suggested that there are spiritual currents on which man’s heart may soar just as birds fly on currents of air. The thoughts I have tried to express above cause my heart to lift whenever I care to think of them, and if I hold those thoughts long enough, I can feel my arms stretching out symbolically and my spirit begin to soar on those spiritual currents. Emerson said that we lie in the lap of an immense intelligence; that all truth, beauty and justice is in a sense part of the natural world. Man does not own it; his soul merely allows passage to its beams. I believe all of that, too. More spiritual currents on which to soar.

One more thought: Victor Hugo said that ‘to love another person is to see the face of God.’ That may be the straightest line of all to ultimate spiritual growth. But when you think of how Jesus loved, it may also be the most daunting route of all.

Lucky there wasn’t a window open in my study when I began to set down these thoughts or I might have flown out of the room before telling you have much I’ve enjoyed answering your query.

Yours sincerely,

Norman Lear


The Embodied Spirit

July 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Every now and then, some sort of experience comes floating our way that catches us up and takes us with it, transporting us, blowing us away like a dry leaf. It can originate in such disparate sources of experience – a powerful work of art, a story that conveys a brilliant facet of the human spirit, an encounter or experience that enables us to touch our own mortality, to feel it viscerally as THE fact that surrounds life on every side.

During the time that such an experience is in circulation in our system it can open a space, or a window through which we see the world from a radically different vantage. Our entire frame of reference, the valuations upon which it rests can be exploded, leaving an uncommon sense of groundedness in its wake, a sense of clarity and conviction that’s runs to the marrow.

Then, after a respite of unforeseeable duration, the world as we knew it closes in again, reassembling itself into an all too familiar picture. And we are left to wonder “How can I step back into the space that I was only just in, that has dissipated and drained away before my frozen eyes? How can I seduce another spasm of this enlightenment to offer itself to me? So compelling, so perfectly composed, it mocks this experience of the world I now carry around.” You would think that knowing this would be enough to spring you from the fetters that comprise your views, your realities, but there is just too much friction at work in these parts for things to go so smoothly.

The seed must know the soil, the man must know the shadow, the light must know the darkness, before it can know the sun. What can I say – the lot of an embodied spirit is a complicated one.