Monday, December 21, 2009

Spiritual/Existential Therapy

A mode of therapy that has gained followers in recent years is spiritual/existential therapy. That’s when traditional therapy comes together with spiritual reflection. Spiritual/Existential Therapy posits that our lives are brief and precious. It proposes that a frank engagement of meaning in one’s life and/or an equally frank discovery of spirituality that may only become obvious through some psychic discomfort – can be deeply liberating. Theorists that have supported this approach to psychotherapy include Victor Frankl, Eric Fromm, Ernst Becker, Carl Jung, Irving Yalom, James Hollis, Seymour and Sylvia Boorstein and Jeffrey Rubin among others.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life:
and man became a living soul
Genesis 2:7

This verse from Genesis, which describes the creation of man, reveals something about the relationship between God and man. God created man in the most intimate way: by breathing life into his nostrils. He did not create man through uttering a command, as He did with the rest of creation. But He created man through a physically intimate act. The image of God breathing into man’s nostrils is an image of a lover, of a caring parent, of closeness.

When we pray to God and try to get close to him, we can hold in our mind this image of love, and intimacy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prayer can be liberating.

It requires letting go. Letting go means allowing yourself to experience vulnerability before God; allowing yourself to be weak and uncertain; allowing yourself to feel that you are being held by God.

When people complain that prayer leaves them unmoved, I remind them to let themselves feel small for a moment. I remind them that life is short and fraught with danger. Acknowledging God and asking for His support can bring solace and serenity.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What are we?

We live life everyday as if we own it. When we are young and even into middle age, most of us feel well and make our way through life with little problems. We feel invulnerable.

But that’s just an illusion.

An old Hassidic teaching tells us to write down two notes.
The first is that Man was created a little below the Angels. The second is that we return one day to dust.

The instructions?
Put each note into a two different pockets. When you feel invulnerable, look at the note that talks of your temporary stay here on Earth. When you feel bad, look at the note that reminds you of human greatness and the importance of your particular life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thoughts about Halloween

In the midst of the changing seasons, when summer gives way to colder weather, comes that peculiar celebration called Halloween. Halloween, with its customs and costumes, mocks the Grim Reaper and Father Time. It is the night when all disquieting things, decay, fear, horror, disfigurement and our essential vulnerability, are held in check.

And who performs this mocking?

Mainly children, who laugh at the scariness of long shadows, gruesome faces and dark cold nights.

Led by our children, Halloween allows us all to rise above nature, with its cycle of life and death and, for one night, laugh in its face.

Our kids on Halloween night become the Grim Reaper; they become Father Time. By identifying with symbols of horror, they overcome fear and become, for a short time, bigger than decay, bigger than death. Our imagination triumphs over the forces of fear and darkness.

In the end, Halloween turns from a night of horror to a night of joy and treats. The pleasure of life chases away the fear of death. For adults, the treat is that we get to witness yet another generation of children who take pleasure in this dark magical night.

There is something in the cycle of nature that does allow us to have a modest victory in the end. It is that our seed, our ideas, our passion, our imagination and our goodness do get carried on by generations going forward. This is our immortality. This is our mocking and our truest response to the cycle of life and death.

Happy Halloween