Some kids love to go back to school, they have lots of friends and socialize well! They love the ritual of new sneakers and new pencils; they rebound from disappointments and defeats and learn from their mistakes, in class and on the playground. Some kids have a more difficult time. They may be shy, they may not fit in with the crowd, they may be different somehow. . . Some children hate going back to school.
We need to pay attention to our children, we need to be mindful of the ones who don’t fit in; in grade school, middle school, high school, college and beyond.
Children and adolescents who feel isolated and alienated are often lonely, sad and sometimes, angry and volatile. They all grow up. They grow up and very bad things can happen when their mental heath needs are not diagnosed and treated.
We need to make young people’s mental heath a priority, because for some, back to school is Back to Stress, Peer Pressure, Bullying and Performance Anxiety. This desire to fit in with a group doesn’t change as we get older.
If we could cheerlead our community’s mental health with as much gusto as we cheer for our sports teams, club teams and celebrities we would go a long way toward eliminating the kind of violence we have seen so much of the last few years.
Dylann Roof, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church South Carolina, 2015. 9 dead.
Elliot Rodger, UCSB, 2014. 6 dead, 14 injured. Shooter commits suicide.
Adam Lanza- Sandy Hook, 20012. 28 dead. Shooter among the dead.
James E. Holmes-Movie theater screening Aurora, Colorado, 20012. 22 dead, 58 wounded.
Seung-Hui Cho- Virginia Tech, 2007. 32 dead. Shooter commits suicide.
“The FBI found that education environments were the second-largest location grouping for active shooters, totaling 39 incidents at K-12 and institutes of higher education from 2000 to 2013” ( Washington Post).
Maybe if someone—a teacher, a parent, an Aunt or Uncle, or family friend— had intervened; maybe if these shooters had been treated or hospitalized, this terrible legacy would never have begun. Because sometimes, those who didn’t fit in during childhood, grow up to commit atrocities as adults.
Let’s be mindful not just of ourselves, but of one another, for yes, when it comes to mental health, we are each other’s keepers.
What is it in your life that you keep pushing back under every time it surfaces?
The greatest accomplishments, the sweetest victories and even the pinnacles of success cannot be reached, thoroughly experienced and enjoyed without “Knowing Thyself.”
What good is it to be wealthy if you are alone and unloved? Where is the fulfillment of your gifts to the world if you are struggling everyday when you know you have so much to give?
We all have submerged wishes, desire, fears and faults.
If we are brave enough to take the journey into the deep
If we are brave enough to swim with them and give them a voice
If we are brave enough to face our deepest-selves, our own brokenness, and mortality
Then fear dissolves. Then real growth, movement, and fulfillment are possible.
You cannot say yes to the adventure and no to the dragons, they are the same thing.
Late in the evening on August 18th, I lost a dear friend. She had suffered a difficult previous six months with hospitalization, surgery, and rehabilitation. And, as I had found out the night before she passed, a very difficult life. Her children, a few good friends and I talked that night before… we shared a meal and memories of her through the years. I found out so many things I had not known about her. She spent her childhood with an abusive, “crazy” mother, living in the deep South; a difficult place for a free-spirited young girl to grow up. She suffered an abusive marriage from which she kidnaped her own children to escape. There’s more, including rape, the death of a child, escape into alcohol and drugs, a second divorce and still more. The terrible laundry list goes on, but that is not the point.
The soul has an inner capacity to rise from the ashes, that is as life-affirming as the smell of rain after a long drought. The woman I knew was my mentor and spiritual teacher, a woman of love and values, who never once complained to me about her life, what had happened to her and her family, or what had been inflicted upon her. Amazing in retrospect. She was a strong woman, with a strong personality. The woman I knew and studied with for fifteen years had a meaningful life and she was loved.
Though I had known her for about thirty years, we did not spend as much time together in the last ten. She had moved in with her son and his big family and I was busy raising my own. She was moving from 65 through to 75 and I was moving from 47 through to 57. She began to suffer from dementia in the last five years of her life. Her son would follow her in his car when she was driving, as her memory seem to be failing, to be sure she could find her way home. She was unable to remember who had called and who she needed to call, so she would write it down. Then she would lose the paper.
This was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around. Her mind was so strong. I knew her in her prime. She had a fantastic mind. For her to lose that intellectual edge must have been horror filled. To look up, out the windshield and not know where you are, to be truly lost; Terrifying.
The sadness I feel at her loss, is not about her dying. Well, part of it is, but I believe that consciousness lives after death. I don’t know what form it’s in, or how, but I know in deep places that it does. Love is the only thing that is eternal. In the end, she was suffering, her body was done; it was time for her to go.
My sadness is for how difficult her life was, for how much she had suffered and how she had weathered so much abuse and betrayal, in her personal life, her family life, and her spiritual life. My sadness is in recalling what she had been in my life, and what life itself, through aging had taken from her. What life, if we are privileged enough to live to a ripe old age, will do to all of us.
My sadness is for all the words of love and forgiveness left unsaid. For the “thank you for all that you have taught me, showed me, given me-s”, left unsaid. For her grandchildren who won’t have their grandmother at any graduation. For her un-celebrated 76th birthday. For relationships that now can never be healed, unless by grace and forgiveness from within the wounded, who remain.
My sadness is for how we rush through life and the everyday banal moments, that we will treasure so deeply one day, pass unnoticed. Moments, that even for those without dementia or Alzheimer’s, most of us will struggle valiantly to recall. The sweet memories of my adult children as babies, the memories of my parents, now gone, and my childhood all swirl together in my soul, spiraling out behind me, like a trail of star dust, as I move forward into the unknown future.
I am of an age, where my sadness at the brevity of life, what I miss and missed are all only half an inkling away from conscious thought. Each rose smells sweeter, each jasmine tea more fragrant, each hug is more meaningful, each argument and sharp word more dangerous, as we each approach our own death, that will spiral us out into pure consciousness.
I still have so many goals and dreams for my life. I just finished a Master’s Degree and am going on for my Ph.D. I want to use what I have learned to help others live mindful, bountiful, love-filled lives. I also don’t want to be distracted from the life that is right in front of me, teeming within me and chaotically unfolding in the world. I find I am a vessel with plenty of room left for filling. The more love you pour out the more you can receive, the bounty is endless. Try to love everyone, say everything, forgive it all, every day. I’m working on it.
My sadness is the eternal fruit of wisdom growing, as my spiral widens.
“It’s important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and of your own mystery. This gives life a new radiance, a new harmony, a new splendor. Thinking in mythological terms helps to put you in accord with the inevitables of this vale of tears. You learn to recognize the positive values in what appear to be the negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth
If you haven’t read any Joseph Campbell, check out The Power of Myth, it’s a wonderful easy read, very inspiring! Take a look here! The Power of Myth
Registration Now Open! Workshop starts September 29th!
“All people go through psychological rites of passage, trials, triumphs and transformations in their lives. The very real, physical, psychological and spiritual changes that occur from one stage of life to another, from the day we are born to the day we die, are natural and normal, you are not alone. EVERYONE is experiencing or will experience the changes you are navigating.
There is a treasure map within the human psyche that can help us prepare for these changes, weather storms and plot a new course for the future. I hope that you will join me for this life changing workshop, and learn new skills that can help you become the co-creator of your future!”
For more information and to register go to
SEX. Sex sells, sex traps, sex creates, sex liberates.
Sex is all around us, unless you happen to live in a conservative Muslim country. (Even there, where women are entirely covered, I would venture a guess that sex is on the mind.) The hijab, the burqa, and all the other garments are meant to conceal a woman’s image, face, body and gender from from any men other than her husband. It’s very existence makes one “imagine” what is underneath. This alone must give rise to sexual thoughts. What is hidden is mysterious and desirable.
Here in the West nothing is hidden and nothing is mysterious; we attempt to make everything desirable. Why? So you will buy something, consume something. We are shameless about the use of sexual imagery in advertising. We use it to sell everything from hamburgers, to bras and panties, from cars to cigarettes. But what does that mean, shameless? The Oxford English dictionary defines shames as:
- The painful emotion arising from the consciousness of something dishonouring, ridiculous, or indecorous in one’s own conduct or circumstances (or in those of others whose honour or disgrace one regards as one’s own), or of being in a situation which offends one’s sense of modesty or decency.
Is shame the same as embarrassment? The Oxford English dictionary defines embarrassment as we understand it usually in common term as:
- Intense emotional or social discomfort caused by an awkward situation or by an awareness that one’s own or another’s words or actions are inappropriate or compromising, or that they reveal inadequacy or foolishness; awkwardness, self-consciousness. (Now the usual sense.)Freq. associated with particular bodily reactions, and expressed in terms of e.g. blushing (cf. quots. 1863,1947), squirming (cf. quot. 1911), or wincing (cf. quot. 2008) with embarrassment. Typically distinguished from shame in being caused by something that is socially awkward or inappropriate rather than morally wrong or debasing.
The shame is the corruption of sexual intimacy. We are shameless, or Madison Avenue is shameless, or our engine that drives vapid consumerism is shameless, because it has cultivated no collective consciousness. It would have to acknowledge a conscious self-awareness in order for there to be an instance in which which a painful emotion might arise and be transformed. But is that really true? Do all the “Mad Men” & Women executives in the advertising agencies have no idea that their campaigns effect how women and girls view themselves? Sure they do, they just don’t care. Why? It’s all about money. They will not own the conscious awareness that exploiting women and girls as sexual objects to sell a hamburger, or a bra, is in the long-run, detrimental to our culture, our country and the world. Giving credit where credit is due, there are some brands that are trying to counteract this destructive trend, Dove soap, for example.
There are many examples of people and organizations who have spoken out against this damaging trend. The female image of unattainable beauty and physical perfection sets up all women for failure. The damage to the psyche of the feminine is deep and ugly. All of this debasement of our very natures leads to a few damaging mind sets-
1. Women as objectified sexual objects. Check out this article, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-leo/five-trends-the-advertisi_b_149354.html
2. The removal of the sexual act from the context of a loving, supportive, mutually beneficial relationship.
What is wrong with sex? Nothing! What is wrong with wanting to enjoy sexual pleasure? Nothing! It’s all in the context. The Human body is magnificent. So, let’s liberate sex and sexual relationships, the desire for sex, and the need to be and feel desirable, from a sales technique. ” If you wear this bra, all men will find you as beautiful and desirable as a Victoria’s Secret model.” “If you eat a huge hamburger while sitting on a car with a hose shooting forth water like ejaculate, you will be desirable and men will lust after you and want you.” This is where we have gone horribly wrong. By commodifying sexual attraction and the sex act itself, we belittle it, invert it and corrupt it.
Sexuality and it’s expression is natural. As a concept, that is true. Perhaps a little Romantic, but true at it’s core. However, in the living of it, it is no where near that simple.
The release of the film 50 Shades of Grey, is causing quite a stir. Have I seen it? No. Will I go see it? No. I am not eager to support a film that glorifies an abusive relationship on any level. I’m not talking about what two consenting adults like to do together in the bedroom, I’m talking about psychological abuse. Again, there is plenty written already on the pros and cons of this film. And yet the “bruh-ha-ha”, it has caused, brings again to the forefront the struggle of women in our society to have pride, self worth and agency, of any kind.
Why has sex become this HUGE THING in our collective consciousness? Maybe it has always been so. If we think about the beginnings of human kind, primitive man and woman lived in time of survival of the fittest. Anthropologists disagree about the finer points of human societal development. Did women band together and make demands of the men? Did they withhold sex for the food from successful hunts? Did men fight to assert primacy over one another for their females? Was the urge to protect ones young, (in males), the pattern of nature protecting its gene pool? I’m not sure when the family unit as we know it evolved but much of the moralistic and shame thinking regarding the sexual act of intercourse came from religion. Here in the land of Judeo-Christian founding fathers, sex was/is looked on as a sin outside of marriage and sometimes even as a sin in marriage, unless for the sake of procreation. Masturbation, a sin. Same sex relations, a sin. Multiple partners a sin.
On the other side of the spectrum we have the Buddhist and Hindu traditions of Tantra. The studying and practice of the sacred tradition of sexual union as a way to evolve spiritually and transcend the lower worlds of karma and illusion. There have been great texts written on this tradition. Lady of the Lotus Born is one. There have been great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas who have transcended through this path.
Could these two cultural ideals of sexuality be any further apart?
Could the time have come for us to look at our sexuality differently? Is it time to evolve again? Primitive man evolved into societal groups, tribes and peoples. Each of these cultures comes with its own mythology, with rituals, and rich histories of cultural identity. Each culture with its mythologically prescribed rules, taming sexuality. Perhaps this time it is our consciousness that must evolve. We must out grow the idea that sexuality and sex between consenting individuals is “something dishonouring, ridiculous, or indecorous in one’s own conduct.”
Our ideas of human sexuality, it’s expression and the container of marriage are due for an upgrade. Let’s take sex out of the dark closet of sin and honor it for the beautiful union it is. If sexual relationships are undertaken with mutual respect, safe practices, kindness and attentiveness to the needs of the partner, with love and compassion, we might make a great leap forward. That which is burdened with guilt would be set free. Is it possible to have multiple partners, to love more than one person in a lifetime? Perhaps we could explore different models of life, commitment and love? Could we have more than one commitment at a time, i.e. one to whom you bind yourself to have children and raise them, and others who fill unmet needs for companionship, love, or camaraderie, without all the guilt? Could we build a new set of relationship structures that free the ” guilty pleasures of sex” from thousands of year old constructs of traditional marriage?
By freeing sex and love from religion, we free ourselves from the hidden, dangerous, forbidden, and sinful perspective. What would happen to human sexuality when all this guilt is lifted? That which is no longer forbidden loses much of its fear and guilt. What is freely given cannot be stolen and cannot not be hidden.
Ginnette Paris, Ph.D, a practicing psychotherapist, wrote in a paper that she delivered to The Dallas conference on “Marriage, Intimacy and Freedom,” “. . . one of the things wrong with our marriage—myth besides its psychology and its sociology, is its theology: one yin, one yang, and one God! It blurs the conscience. It is responsible for the fact that we ask of one man, or one woman, to be all, to be perfect, impeccable. . . .” In her papers she proposes three sacraments of relationship. “One, an intimate ritual, no contract, no witness, a private celebration of the eternal union of two bodies in lovemaking. A ritual as renewable as the sacrament of communion.”
The second, a public ceremony with contractual obligations and legal agreements. ” . . . a sacrament that would unite . . . mother and father, forever linked to the child that is being conceived. Thus it would be clear that the making of a child is a lifelong commitment for which there is no divorce. And it would also be made clear that procreation implies the union of two families, two clans, two branches of ancestors that become forever part of the same family tree.”
Her third sacrament. ” It would clarify not only matters such as inheritances, family names, property titles, insurance benefits, scope and limit of the partners mutual financial responsibilities, but would also address the more profound aspect of the king and queen metaphor: that of the sharing of powers between two partners of equal strength and abilities in building their financial empire.
I for one am all for these kinds of marriage. It eliminates adultery. Leaving it to the partners to decide the boundaries of their relationships. It takes sex and sexual relationships out of the hands of the church , who reduced them to unnatural, of the devil, full of sin, temptation and the resulting guilt.
These ideas, radical as they may sound, still do not solve the problem of the images of women in the media and the cultural beliefs that tell us we are not enough, just as we are. But…. changing our deeply rooted, inverted and shaming notions of sexuality, relationship and marriage, will go along way to transforming our collective consciousness about each other and ourselves. I think that’s a great start.
(Photo:Kandariya Mahadev Temple, India)
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