Beating the Unbeatable

Did you ever have the experience of being in a great mood after a nice evening and then suddenly cringe about something you said or did?

 

Do you ever feel that just as everything is finally going the way you want,you suddenly become anxious?? "It can’t last," you say. "Something will go wrong." You become scared of losing something that you barely had a chance to appreciate.

 

Do you ever go through days of having nothing good to say to yourself, except how inadequate, incompetent, and deficient you are? Intellectually, you know you are all right. You are aware of all your accomplishments. You know you have good friends, and they are your friends for good reason. And yet there is something in you that is saying to you: "You are no good. Never were, never will be."

 

What is going on? Why cannot we just enjoy our lives and appreciate each moment as it comes? What is IT?

 

The Debater

 

Every culture knows about IT. Every culture speaks about IT. Every culture has developed techniques to combat IT. But no one knows how to become totally free of IT. Because it’s impossible. The sages of all cultures recognized that IT is indestructible. IT was. IT is. And IT will be for as long as human beings are endowed with free will. We can work at subduing IT in order to run our own lives, or IT subdues us and runs our lives for us.

 

Through the sacred texts, myths, and images found in the night dreams of various cultures, IT’s many appearances have been identified. But regardless of the form IT takes, IT’s essence is always the same. The essence of IT is the negation of life in every possible form. The essence of IT is the deliberate, consistent, and non-compromising movement away from IS - also known as TRUTH.

 

The Hindu tradition offers one of the best portrayals of IT. Shiva is one of three main Gods who symbolizes the primal rhythmic energy which animates the universe. Shiva dances and all things come into being and pass away. The three arms of Shiva represent the three aspects of the cosmic process: creation, maintenance, and dissolution. Shiva’s left foot is raised in the movement of the dance, the movement that perpetuates the continuity of life. But for stability Shiva needs strong support from his right foot. Look at Shiva’s right foot. It stands firmly on... not the ground, but a small dwarf. Surprise! With one foot in the air, and needing strong support, why not stand on the ground? Why on the dwarf? Because the dwarf is IT. The dwarf is "Man’s Forgetfulness" of God and his own nature. The dwarf looks meek and helpless under the powerful foot of Shiva. But if the "Lord of Dance" were to relax his vigil, the dwarf could grow strong and dangerous. If the dance of life is to go on, our inclination to forget who we truly are must remain under the firm foot.

 

Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa exemplify those in whom Shiva was able to tame the dwarf. Adolph Hitler was one of those in whom the dwarf was standing firmly on top of Shiva.

 

Most of us are locked in a ceaseless struggle with the dwarf. Sometimes we yield to IT’s power--negativity and criticism of the present, attachment to guilt and regret about the past, and the false glitter or anxiety about the future. Other times, quieting the voice of the trickster for a short time, we are allowed glimpses of the bliss and fullness of living in the "isness" of the moment.

 

Why is it so difficult to defeat IT? Because IT resides inside of us. IT is a part of us. IT’s very existence depends on us paying attention to IT’s voice. IT knows us better than anyone in the world does. IT is: "yeitza ho rah," as Hebrew sages called it, the evil inclination of forgetting our relationship with the Creator. And although we also have inside of us: "yeitza ha tov," the inclination of good, the voice of the Serpent is very powerful. Here is one of the major reasons.

 

In the struggle to gain mastery in life and attain inner and outer balance, each of us must become a "Jack of all trades." That is, one must learn the skills of how to eat, drink, walk, talk, and take care of one’s body. Then, perhaps how to drive, sing, work. How to be a son, a friend, a brother, a sister, a co-worker, a wife, a neighbor, a negotiator, a caretaker, etc. The list is endless. We all learn these skills to one degree or another, but it takes time and energy.

 

IT’s full attention is devoted to getting to know one person only: you. IT’s entire energy is spent on mastering only one area of expertise: convincing you to listen to IT’s voice. That is why I have named IT the Debater. When we feel weak and scared the Debater yells at us and threatens us. When we feel strong and confident the Debater lures our attention with admiration and the glitter of future victories, then inadvertently drops a phrase or two that creates doubt. One way or another, sooner or later, as long as we allow ourselves to become engaged in an interchange with the Debater we lose. Before we know it, we are living with what if, I had to, I never will, I always should, if only I would, maybe, why didn’t I, how could I, what I said was stupid, this is impossible for me to do, it will not work, I am ugly, this is too small, that is too big, there is not enough, there is too much...

 

The Debater seduces us into judging life rather then being within the experience of life itself. Before we know it, we are criticizing ourselves or others, consumed with guilt or regret about the past, frightened by or making up stories about the future. We are cut off from fully experiencing the present with it’s unlimited possibilities for growth and change.

 

It is easy for the Debater to command our attention. Most of the time we are not aware of how we slip into IT’s clever, inviting, and sticky trap of blame, anger, resentment, envy, judgment, guilt, fear, doubt, self-battery, megalomania. My good friend, and brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Vivian Lind, says, "You have no control over going." Indeed, we only notice what is happening when we are already in the experience. "We do have control," she continues "over coming back." That is, once we become aware of being engaged with the Debater, it is our responsibility to take control. But how does one take control over something so all knowing, so skillful, so powerful?

 

Taming the Debater

 

The Debater has an Achilles Heel. There is one thing that the Debater absolutely needs in order to use IT’s skill of debating, in order to take control over us. It is TIME. No matter how quick, slick, and convincing the Debater may be, no matter how suggestible and vulnerable we are, TIME, at least a short period of time, is necessary for the debate to occur. It only takes a moment for us to be sucked in ever and ever again into the logical and seemingly reasonable net of arguments.

 

Here is the way out. Do not give the Debater time! With no time IT has no power. I have developed the following simple, quick, yet extremely effective technique. When used consistently, this combination of awareness, will, and imagination can subdue the Debater.

 

STEP 1: Give IT a name. Preferably, the name should be no more than one syllable.

 

STEP 2: Close your eyes, say the name out loud and see if any image comes to your mind. You might see the face of your Debater. Some of my students find that once IT appears in a certain form, IT always appears the same way. Others find that the Debater appears each time in a different form. And yet another group reports seeing no image at all.

 

STEP 3: Any time you find yourself being critical or negative in the present, regretful or guilt-ridden about the past, fearful of or in the fantasy world about the future, recognize the experience as being the voice of the Debater.

 

STEP 4: At that very moment, say in your mind, "Oh, it's you, (name of the Debater)."

 

STEP 5*: See the face of IT (if you can). Then see yourself pulling the string (like the ones on old-fashioned toilets) and flushing the Debater with an avalanche of water down into the Earth.

 

STEP 6: Go right back to whatever you are doing in the present moment.

 

*Some students find it possible to omit this step and go right to Step 6.

 

The whole process must take no more then five seconds. Two seconds is the best. No talk. That is crucial. Some of my students who were habitual "self-underminers" found themselves in the beginning doing the technique four to five hundred times a day! That’s not too bad if the rest of the time you can live in peace and balance. After all, five hundred times at five seconds per time is less than 42 minutes. Is it such a big price to pay?

 

Here I want to repeat something I said in the beginning of this essay; but it is an essential element of this work. Please, do not trust me, trust your experience. The only way you will know if this technique works is if you try it out. Test it for one week only, but with an absolute commitment. Even if you get tired after a few hours or days, stay with the technique. If you stay with it you might find that with time not only will the Debater bother you less and less, but you will also be able to become aware of IT’s presence and IT’s intentions more and more quickly. And one day, just as you find yourself about to grant attention to the voice of the Debater, you will know at once who is bidding for your life, and you will smile. And, as you do, the Debater will disappear into thin air.

 

                             BEATING THE UNBEATABLE

                                                   Part II.

It’s been ten years since I first wrote about   the debater. Since then, I received a lot of positive feedback about the effectiveness of this technique that helps to beat the inner saboteur. And yet, again and again a question arose within my own mind and from my students: “Why would it be necessary for God (nature, ultimate reality, unified field of consciousness) to create something with an inherent self- destructive mechanism? Everything else in nature is geared only toward growth and construction.  Every cell supports the lives of other cells, and every neuron fires at the right time in the right place. Every blade of grass thrives to grow, even breaking through the cracks in the cement pavement.  The little bird eats from between the teeth of the alligator at the same time serving as a dental hygienist to the big fellow. And even a fallen leaf decomposes, only to become food for the tree that grows the leaf.  

Then I remembered the Bible. At the end of each of the five days of creation God saw “It was good,” and at the end of the sixth day after creating men God saw “It was very good.”  That which was very good (a human being) was born with something, which inside was not good at all. This seemed to be a major production flaw. Something, which constantly undermined the very existence of that which was very good.   It just did not make sense.

I was looking for an answer until I came across the following Talmudic statement: “Do as Satan does, not as Satan says.” Interesting… “Do as Satan does…” Isn’t it a call for Satan worshiping, for evil deeds? Of course not. The explanation followed in a typical Hebraic way-through a story.

Once there was a king who, as he advanced in age, wanted to know if his son, the prince was worthy to be a king. So, he called his most beautiful, most devoted, and most trustworthy concubine and shared with her his concerns. He asked her to go the prince and do everything she could to sexually seduce him. He then called his son and told him “My son, the following month I give you the reigns over the kingdom. You can do anything you wish except one thing. You can not have sex.”  The discourse goes; when the concubine tries to seduce the prince, does that mean that she hates the king or the prince? Of course not, she is a devoted servant of the king. She wants the prince to prove worthy of being a king, she wants the king to be reassured and happy, and that is why she will do her best trying to seduce the prince hoping that he passes the test.

The same is true for Satan.  Satan does not doubt God, but doubts the integrity and devotion of men and will do everything to test them, to lure them into following their personal will rather than the will of God.

So, “Do as Satan does, not as Satan says…” means, Do as Satan does- be a devoted servant of God, Not as Satan says- do not listen to his stories, they are there just to test you.

The wisdom of this story brought me to understanding that the Debater is not an evil impulse within us that seeks our destruction; rather, it is a part of us that propels us to grow by creating obstacles and detours along the way. Having the opportunity to choose life, peace, and connectedness with God or that which is opposite to life, joy, peace, and happiness allows humans the freedom of self-creation making us God-like.

I also found an analogy to the Debater (the opposing power) in nature. Every living cell has a positive and a negative charge. If both poles become positive or both become negative- the cell dies.

We need the Debater to keep going and growing. It is not a part of us that is evil. It is a part of us that challenges us to make the right choices. All you have to do to beat the Debater is not to try to beat it, not to resent it, and not to argue with it.  Just as soon as you notice any negativity, any judgment of yourself or others, any anger, or any thoughts that are not life-enhancing simply say to yourself, “Oh, thanks for the reminder.” Of course that means “I understand that these negative thoughts are damaging and have no value, they appear only to challenge my commitment to life and truth. Therefore I choose not to waste my life energy on fighting the evil, I choose to strengthen the good, by refusing to fight and saying yes to life.” But that is too long. So, you say a short version “Oh, Thanks for the reminder.”   

           And the Debater has no power over you. You are free to live in the NOW and to become the best you can become.

 

Doubt

Doubt, is the opposite of certainty. Doubt, literally means, to be torn in two.

    So often, we find ourselves, being of two minds; if I do this, so and so will happen, if I do that, this and this will happen, what do I do? We are confronted with choices on a daily basis. Small choices, that make us pause for a minute or two, and big choices, that sometimes throw us off balance, and paralyze us, with indecision.

    When needing to make a choice, that bears serious consequences, some people go through tremendous anxiety, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and the impairment in the ability to focus, and think logically. But logic, is precisely what is needed, to begin comparing, the options at hand.

    Some people are crippled by doubt, when inspired by an original idea. Can it work? May be someone already did this. What if it’s all a waste of time? Often these kinds of thoughts, become overwhelming, and a person gives up on the idea, only to find out later, that someone else carried out, what he or she conceived, but never acted upon.

    Another way, doubt may creep into our consciousness, is after we have made a decision. Did I do the right thing? What if I made the wrong choice? Maybe I rushed with my decision? These What Ifs, and Maybes, take away our joy and excitement, paralyze our creativity, and turn our attention, toward the past.

    There is a way, to live doubt free. We all possess an inborn mechanism that can eliminate doubt from our lives. We constantly used this mechanism, in the earlier part of our human history. Today, members of tribal societies, rely upon it, when making decisions in their everyday lives. And the most renowned people of our Western civilization claim that this mechanism is precisely the source of their continuous creativity.

It is known by many different names. Some call it Intuition. Others A gut feeling. And yet, others call it The Sixth Sense, The First Voice, or Messages from the Higher Self. Regardless of the name, it is there, it is real, and it has always been with us, always available. In fact, it comes before the chatter of doubtful thoughts begins. It comes as a faint, but unambiguous voice within us, telling us exactly how to act.

    Perhaps you have experienced a connection with this Voice. And when you followed it without questioning – you were, what many call “in the flow”. Things were almost magically working out. Everything was at the tip of your fingers, ideas were coming freely one after another. You were saying the right thing at the right time, and knowing what to do, and exactly when to do it.

    If you did have such an experience, take a moment to think about it: you may discover, that during that “flow”, not much thinking was done on your part. It was more like, receiving.

    Indeed, you were receiving messages from your First Voice, which 100% of the time gives you 100% correct information, on how to proceed in life, and what choices to make. It always does. But the many voices of doubt, have made it nearly impossible for us, to hear our first voice.

    The good news is, there is hope. We can regain the skill of hearing our first voice, and heeding its message.

    The first voice is, an immediate, clear flash of inner guidance. There are two distinct characteristics, that can enable us to discern the First Voice, from all others. You may want to write these characteristics down, in your notebook.

    One, is that The First Voice always speaks in the present moment, without references to past or future. It speaks right away, the moment we have an encounter, an idea, or an experience. It is always short and explicit. A thought flashes through our mind: Like: Yes or No. It’s right, or It’s wrong. Do this project, or Do not do it. He is right for me, or Be careful.

The other characteristic, is that, The First Voice is not only a mental message, but also, a physical experience. That is why, many call it, A Gut Feeling.

You meet someone, and suddenly, you feel tightening in your stomach. Pay attention. Your stomach never lies.

    Or, you are talking with a friend, or simply thinking about something, and an idea flashes through your mind. As it does, you take a deeper breath, your chest expands… Be aware. Your intuition is telling you, that you are on, to something important.

    Now, in order to trust our First Voice, and follow it without hesitation, (which, I believe, would save us, much time and aggravation), we need to develop a relationship with it. That is, we need to prove to ourselves, that it works, and that the First Voice, is the best guide, for living our lives with confidence and clarity.

    So, gain trust, in your first voice, by allowing it to guide you, in tackling small challenges at first, and then, work your way towards addressing, more difficult ones. Please now, take out your notebook, and record your next week’s assignment. It has many parts, so, please, listen carefully. For the first two days, set an intention to follow your first impulse, in doing something ordinary. Let’s say, one day, it is about what clothes to wear. Another day, what you choose to eat, or which friend to call. On the third day, write down any idea that comes to you, about creating something new, in your work, home or family life. The fourth day, make an effort to notice sensations in your body, when meeting new people.

    The fifth, sixth, and seventh day, experiment with following your First Voice, in making small decisions, concerning your home or professional life.

    I suggest that you record in your notebook, the results of listening to your inner voice. I am confident that your experience, will be quite profound.

When you practice, you may find, that at the instant you decide to follow your first voice, your habitual mind will interfere, by offering you many other options. It’s all right. As soon as other thoughts or images come, imagine placing them in a bubble, like a cartoon bubble, and then bursting the bubble with a pin. Do not start thinking about the content of the bubble. It’s gone. It’s unimportant. Just move on. Another doubting thought. Another bubble. Burst it again. Remember, you want to live the message of the First Voice, rather than spend time, thinking about other options.

What do I do, you may ask, if I missed, what the First Voice was telling me? Well, initially, this happens quite often. If you can, try to remember the first thought, impulse, or sensation you had, about this particular issue. If you cannot remember, drop it, and move on, reminding yourself of your intention, to remain aware of the First Voice, in the situations to come.

    If you have an important decision to make, and did not recognize your First Voice about it, you can do an imagery exercise, called Decision Making.

Decision Making

Close your eyes and breathe out gently three times. Long slow exhalations. Nice and easy inhalations. Breathing out twice as slow as breathing in. . See yourself behind a golden scale. Now, see two standard sheets of paper. Take one, and on it, write only the positive aspects about making one choice. Now, take the other sheet of paper and on it, write only positive aspects about making the other choice. Knowing that the one that outweighs, the one which is heavier is your correct choice, simultaneously, put them on the scale. As soon as you see one outweighing, open your eyes.

 

 

 

DreamWork

I. An Unattended Dream is Like an Unopened Envelope

 

Why do we have dreams? What do they mean? From where do those images come? Why do some dreams recur? Why do we have nightmares? How can we eliminate disturbing dreams?

 

Akin to imagination, night dreams are a universal human phenomenon which unites all people across the barriers of age, sexual difference, racial background, social and historical circumstance.

 

Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptians, Australian Aborigines and Hawaiians, Hebrews and Christians, Arabs and Malaysians all regarded night dreams as messages from the invisible reality to our conscious awareness about our physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual well-being.

 

Moses Maimonides said "Tell me what your dreams are, and I will tell you not only what you are, but what you are to become."

 

A night dream comes with a purpose of aligning us with the present moment and showing us- to us. When looking into a dream we are looking into a mirror. In our waking life when we look into a mirror we see quantities of ourselves; that is; one nose, two eyes… In the dream life we look into qualities of ourselves represented by characters in the dream. Any person, place or event in the dream holds tremendous significance for understanding ourselves. Nightmares are simply messages from the deepest part of ourselves to our consciousness calling for change. If unheeded, not only may we continue to suffer from the unpleasantness of a “bad” dream, but we run the risk of perpetuating negativity in our waking life.

 

By uncovering the language and symbolism of dreams we can learn about:

 

1. Our relationship with the world and ourselves around the time of the dream.

2. The “global” issues (physical and emotional challenges) that we face in our lives.

3. The condition of our body at the time of the dream.

4. Our unconscious beliefs.

5. How to solve our problems.


 

II.

 

First I will focus upon the subject of how “to work the dream” in order to gain insight about our relationship with ourselves and the world around us.

 

Here are some basic guidelines in “working the dream. You, in a dream, are qualities of yourself that you identify with. Other characters are the qualities that you consciously do not identify with. If you remember a dream upon awakening, make time to work on the dream, preferably right away. This is because the dream might be informing you about something that needs to be addressed during the coming day.

 

The first three questions you ask are:

 

1.How do I feel upon awakening from this dream? Determining your feelings about the dream will give you a sense of whether or not the issue brought up by the dream is resolved. For example, if you feel puzzled, the dream may be informing you that there are things in your life you are not aware of. If you feel happy or relieved upon awakening, perhaps some issue in your life was resolved and the dream reflects the change.

 

2.What was the setting? The setting speaks of where you are in your inner life. If you were traveling, the dream may speak about your journey in life. If you are in a hospital, the dream may be telling you something about being ill, or possibly recovering. If you are in the school, it may be about education, learning lessons in life. If you are in a foreign country, you are in a place that is foreign to you. Ask yourself how you feel about this country, why this particular and not any other country, what is the first thought that comes to you when you think about this country? That will tell you how you feel about being in this new place .

 

3.If this dream was a story, what title would I give it? This will reveal the general theme permeating the dream.

 

Remember, the meaning that you attribute to different events, places, or people in your dream is strictly individual, since each person has a unique personal history, attitudes, appreciation, and dislikes. Answering the questions above will immediately give you a sense of the issues with which you are dealing. Work on small segments of a dream first, identifying what qualities of yourself you experienced and how they related to each other, then see if there is any analogy (points of similarity) between the events of the dream and your waking life.

 

Here is an illustration of “working a dream” of L., a 36-year-old mother of an 11 month-old and 6-years-old sons. L. remembered a dream in which she was visiting a prison. There, in a cell she found B., an old friend from college whom she had not seen for ten years. B. pleaded with L. to get her out of prison, but L. said “No, no, I can’t, don’t tell anyone you know me.”, and ran out.

 

Upon awakening L. felt sad, guilty, and ashamed. The setting.. spoke for itself. The title L. gave the dream was “Betraying a friend.”

 

P.R.: Within 1 to 72 hours around the dream have you felt like a prisoner.

L.: Not really, I have so much fun with my little boy. He is such a blessing...

P.R.: What is the first thing that comes to you when you think about B., what kind of a person do you remember her to be?

L.: Oh, fearlessly independent and very creative.

P.R.: So, continue please, there is a fearlessly independent and creative quality of yourself that is in prison…

L.: This quality is pleading to me to get my spirit of independence and creativity out of prison. I don’t want anyone to know that I have anything to do with this quality. Though I feel guilty about it I can not help it to be free…

 

At this point L. had the “aha” experience. Yes, she is happy to have the second baby but she also has no time for herself and for doing things that she likes. Often she feels lonely, trapped, and unable to share with her husband about her feelings because “he works so hard so I could stay with the children.”

 

These realizations enabled L. to become aware of the issues she was facing and to make changes in her life that would benefit her and her family.

 

III.

 

Now we’ll talk about how to recognized physical and emotional challenges that you face in your life, and how to understand the condition of your body at the time of the dream.

 

As you begin working on your dreams always bear in mind that nothing in the dream is accidental and everything and everyone is first and foremost a quality of you. After you answered the first three questions (see the previous article) you may have a good idea of the message of the dream. The dream may reflect the changes occurring in your inner and/or outer life, or it may reveal conflicts that you are facing. In the first case, recognize the changes and see if they correspond with what you want in your life. In the second case, the conflicts must not only be understood but also “corrected” by going back into the dream, and then anchored with specific actions in the waking reality (read about making corrections in the next article.)

 

As you look for analogies between the events of the dream and your waking life, remember that the dream usually reflects something that happened in your waking life within 1 to 72 hours around the time of the dream. The theme of the dream may also be reflective of the totality of your life.

 

Pay particular attention to red flags, which usually come with a purpose of attracting your attention to the most important aspect of the dream. A red flag means that something in the dream is out of place. For example, you are your age, an adult, and you find yourself in your elementary school. You feel embarrassed because you are a grown person and have to study with children. This dream may be calling your attention to discomfort about having to learn something that feel you should already know.

 

Another example, you receive your monthly electric bill that is usually under a hundred dollars and it is $1100. You are shocked and outraged. This dream may be showing that you are overspending your energy without realizing the price that you must pay and also the conflicting feelings you may have about working so hard (for the meaning of numbers see below.)

 

If you find yourself in a dream speaking on the phone with a friend (who you know to be a very rational person) and you just can not hear him. The dream may be informing you that you started having a hearing problem but do not yet have conscious awareness of it. It may also be telling you that you are not capable to hear the rational quality of yourself. As you look at what is happening in your waking life around the time of the dream you may easily figure out whether the first, second, or both interpretations are applicable.

 

B., a 28 year-old newly married patient of mine had a dream in which a rodent made a house in her basement and started killing little kittens that lived there. Responding to a question “What is the first thought that comes to you when you think about kittens?” B. shared with her fantasy-image of her two children playing in the garden with little kittens. After considering a possible message of the dream B. decided to see her physician. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

 

Often in a dream we encounter quantities and numbers. They are of great significance.

 

A patient, C. after proposing to his girlfriend had a dream in which he was picking seven roses for his fiancée and two men in a store were giving him advice. Understanding the numbers (2 men, 7 roses) helped C. to realize and address the ambivalence he felt about marriage.

 

Numbers.

1- unity, oneness;

2- conflict, divided mind;

3- synthesis after having been divided;

4- construction, home, marriage;

5- creativity, love, sexuality;

6- reunion, health, construction at higher level;

7- ambivalence, possibility of growth and contraction or distraction;

8- something from past that hasn't being resolved;

9- completion, it's 3 on higher level;

10- perfection in everyday life;

11- conflict;

12- wisdom;

13- coming to oneness after being separated;

14-connectedness with others;

15- fulfilling all the possibilities;

16- death, rebirth

17- difficulties finding a way;

18- life;

19- grace;

20- trouble in marriage or relationship;

 

Larger numbers are simply to be reduced to one digital number by addition.

 

IV.

 

In this chapter I will focus on the meaning of colors, how the dream reveals one’s belief system, and how to make “corrections” in the dream if change is necessary.

 

Akin to images, numbers and quantities, colors are an innate language of all human beings. Colors appearing in dreams may be reflective of one’s physical and emotional functioning.

 

When there is “too much” of one particular color, it might b an indication of an imbalance in a particular physiological system. For example, a person dreaming of a bright red sky may be receiving a message that there is a problem with his/her cardiovascular system. And yet, it may also be a sign of him/her being very angry. Only the dreamer can intuit which interpretation is right. It depends upon the context of the dreamer’s life.

 

Here are the colors associated with bodily functions and emotions:

red- cardiovascular system, sexual energy, fury;

yellow- urinary system, energy, fear;

blue- thyroid, spiritual energy, detachment;

orange- liver, female strength;

green- gallbladder, growth, envy;

gray- brain, guilt;

violet- emotional life;

white- lymphatic system, purity;

dark black - death;

shiny black- rebirth, life;

 

A patient, A., dreamt of visiting his mother’s grave. Everything in the dream was just like in his waking life except that he was dressed in all gray, a color that he never wore. His work on this dream helped him to identify and address tremendous guilt about his relationship with his mother, which he had carried for years.

 

Dreams often reveals unconscious beliefs that govern one’s life. A patient, D. who was a chronic procrastinator, described a dream in which he found his friend, a talented inventor, crying out: “It just doesn’t work, I am a loser, I tried it eight times.” (Remember the meaning of 8—an unresolved issue ). D. recognized that the friend in the dream represented his unconscious belief: “No matter how hard I work, I will fail.” D. finally understood that his procrastination was only a symptom of his fear of failure.

 

L., a 28-year old woman who sabotaged any relationship with potential for marriage and/or children, reported a dream in which she was a young musketeer walking proudly on the streets of Paris. On one of the corners she encountered a prostitute who was pleading for money in order to feed her children.. The young musketeer dropped a few coins in the woman’s hand and walked away in disgust. L. recognized the young musketeer as the independent, proud, adventurous, and generous quality of herself. She identified the poor prostitute as being a reflection of her belief: “Once you are a mother, you are no longer free. You do anything for your children at any costs to yourself.” This realization helped L. to understand the reasons for her behavior in relationships.

 

So far I have discussed understanding the dream as it relates to your waking life. But understanding the dream is only the first step. The next step is making change.

 

If the dream clearly indicates that there is a physical problem, the best is to have a physical check up. If the dream shows emotional conflict, the conflict needs to be addressed.

 

Our night dreams are reflective of waking life. As waking life changes so do the dreams. By “correcting” a problem in the dream we can stimulate the change in our waking life. To make a correction in the dream you do not need to go back to sleep. The “correction” can be successfully made as an imagery exercise.

 

To make a correction, sit quietly in an upright position, close your eyes, and manually state your intention for the exercise. For example, if in the dream you were captured by enemies, you state: “I am doing this exercise with the intention to find freedom.” Then, go back into the dream to the moment of greatest distress and use your will to make a resolution to your liking. In the example above you can kill your captors, you can bring police and put them in jail, or you can make piece with them. Never preplan how you will act before the beginning of the exercise. Do what feels right in the moment. Remember, in the world of imagination everything is possible.

 

V.

 

The following is a complete case illustration of working the dream.

 

Case Illustration:

 

A., a 36-year old clinical psychologist who had been studying imagery and dream work with me, reported a dream and a subsequent correction of the dream that he did.

 

In the dream A. found himself working in a laboratory on a project of creating some sort of special food to end the word’s hunger. He knew that the pressure was on to quickly finish the work. The experiments were done on human subjects, and more and more subjects were required. Suddenly A. found himself strapped in a chair with electrodes attached to his head. His head hurt. A. started pleading with the chief researcher explaining how immoral their actions were. At first the chief did not want to listen, but then A.’s uncle appeared, a few researchers sided with A. and his uncle and the debate started. Debating was permitted in the laboratory. The two “camps” were equal in the art of debating. No solution was in sight and A. woke up.

 

In his waking life three months before the reported dream A. got engaged to a woman he had dated for two years and with whom he was “very much in love.” Shortly after the engagement A. started having light but frequent headaches. A. said that though consciously very happy, he could be unconsciously fearful about marriage, which was “a headache to consider”. A. was instructed to write down a question every night before going to sleep: “What do these headaches tell me about me?”

 

A few nights later A. had the night dream presented above. Upon awakening A. started “working the dream”. He asked himself the first question “How do I feel after awakening?” The answer was: “Concerned, unsettled. The debate was not resolved.” The second question was: ”What is the theme of the experience?” And he answered to himself: “It was about food, and the means of providing food to the world I dwell in.” The third question A. asked himself was: “What is the setting?” The answer was: “Laboratory. A place for learning, for experimentation. Experimentation with human subjects who are in demand.” The fourth question was: “Is there an between what I just experienced in the dream and my waking life?” At that point A. had an intuition about the connection between providing food, the pressure that everyone in the laboratory was under, the need for more subjects and his waking life.

 

A. realized that though happy about his upcoming marriage he was “secretly” worrying about how he would provide for the couple, since his fiancé was a student and did not have an income. He was thinking about the ways to expand his practice, was more reluctant to see patients with low income at a reduced fee, and generally was more concerned about how much he earned and getting more “subjects” rather than how much he was helping his patients.

 

The “two camps” (2—conflict), A. realized, were: the chief’s camp-- a quality of himself that is demanding, unscrupulous, and hungry for success; the uncle’s camp--(A. said that for him his uncle was always a symbol of uncompromising dignity and honor) a quality of himself which has faith and always knows what is right. A. recognized that he was making an error of predicting the future that “it won’t be enough”, and another error of responding to the “Pavlov’s bell” of social conditioning that he must provide for his wife. A. realized that he was facing two conflicting and equally strong pulls; one toward living in the moment, having faith, and being true to his love and the other toward fear of “what if”, and the desire to protect himself from possible danger/hunger at all costs.

 

After his insights A. decided to make a correction. He sat in an upright position, closed his eyes, breathed out three times, and mentally stated the intention of doing the exercise: “I am doing this exercise with the intention to be true to my love, and to live in the present.” A. entered his dream at the point where correction was needed. A. found himself strapped in a chair while the “camps” were debating. Using his will A. freed himself from the straps by kicking those who attempted to stop him. More people joined him and his uncle in subduing and arresting the chief and a few of his loyalists. Then the laboratory was blown up and the researchers decided to teach people of the Earth how to provide for themselves. Then A. exhaled once slowly and walking out of the mirror opened his eyes. The whole exercise lasted no longer than 30 seconds.

 

As a result of working with the dream and making a correction A. “knew in his heart” that he did not doubt his desire to marry the woman he loved, but that he was challenged by fear. He made a decision to “witness” his thoughts and to use his will to dismiss any concerns about the future as lies. A. also decided to discuss his financial concerns with his fiancé. Within a week the frequency of A.’s headaches diminished and disappeared.

 

VI.

 

The wicked queen looks into the mirror every morning and asks the same question: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Like the queen we all have an opportunity to look into the mirror of ourselves- our dreams. And once we do, then we are free to choose how to act upon what we see.

 

“Is that so, I have been asked?” “Are the dreams really that important? “

 

Well, unlike logic, philosophy, psychology, and other sciences based on the workings of the intellect and are man-made, the ability to dream is an inborn apparatus, just like respiration, digestion, and illumination. Since every inborn function has proven to be essential to our very survival (people can live without philosophy or psychology but they can not live without breathing), it is only logical to conclude that dreaming also has its purpose for our survival as a species. While the inborn physiological functions assure our physical survival, the inborn mental functions such as will, imagination, and dreaming help us to survive emotionally and socially.

 

Kilton Stewart characterizes the Sinoi People of Malaysia, who view dreams as guidance from the inner realm to the waking life, as a society with “absence of violent crime, armed conflict, and mental and physical disease.” For Sinoi the characters and forces in a dream are real. First and foremost they are reflective of different qualities of one’s own Self. When the images in the dream are threatening, the dreamer must fight with them. If the dreamer succeeds in winning the dream battle, the spirit of the adversary becomes a servant or an ally.

 

In Talmudic literature people are also advised “If one had a dream that caused him anguish, one must go back, and turn it to good.” Similar understanding of dreams can be found in virtually every culture, though not all have kept up with the tradition of “attending” the dream.

 

Sometimes the issue or issues in our inner life are so important that our unconscious sends messages over and over again. This is when we have repetitive dreams. The messages are often an invitation to deal with an issue. For example, if you find yourself getting lost in many dreams, you may be consciously unaware of the need to make a decision or “to find your way”. If you dream of doing something tedious, you may like wise be unaware that it’s time to move on. If you dream that you speak on the phone but can not hear the person with whom you speak, the message may be that you are not listening or can not hear what the world is telling you. And yet, it also may be a message that you are developing a problem with your hearing. When the dream involves any problems with bodily functions simply notice how you feel. Trust your intuition. Remember that a repetitive dream is only a call for attention.

 

A nightmare is another call for attention, but with greater urgency. Something frightening is happening in your inner life whether or not you are consciously aware of it. There is a conflict that must be addressed. The questions to ask upon awakening are “What qualities of myself do I see?”, “How do they relate with each other?”, “If this dream was a story, what title would I give it?” If you can answer these questions you may get insight into the issues you are facing in your inner life at the time of the dream. But even if you do not understand the full meaning of the dream it is still beneficial to make a “correction” of a disturbing dream.

 

Remember, a night dream is not only a reflection of what has been happening in your life till the moment of dreaming, but also a blueprint of what is to unfold in your life in the days to come. Do you like what you see? If you do not, make a correction!!! You have an opportunity to chart your life from within your inner world. Understanding of a dream is only half of work. The other half is making a correction if needed.

 

TO MAKE A CORRECTION:

 

Sit quietly in an upright position,

Close your eyes, and

Mentally state your intention for the exercise. For example, if in the dream you were lost in a dark tunnel, you state: “I am doing this exercise with the intention to find the way the light.”

Then, see numbers

5,4,3,2,1,0, see 0 elongating and becoming a tall mirror.

Step into the mirror and into the dream at the moment of greatest distress and use your will to make a resolution to your liking.

After completion of the correction, go out of the mirror, look back and see in the mirror the last scene of your triumph, and open your eyes.

 

In the example above you can make a torch, break the walls of the tunnel, bring a helper- someone you trust-to guide out of the maze. Never preplan how you will act before the beginning of the exercise. Do what feels right in the moment. Remember, in the world of imagination everything is possible. By finding a solution to a conflict in your dream you chart the course to problem solving in your waking life.

 

VII.

 

The focus of this chapter, the last in this series on dreams, is on children’s dreams. Researchers find that children begin to dream as early as at the age of three. These dreams are generally very short, and other characters carry out most of the dream activity while the dreamer remains a passive observer. There is an opinion that before the age of six a child’s inner world is intricately connected with the emotional world of his/her mother. The child’s often interrupted sleep and frightening dreams may be reflective of mother’s emotional distress.

 

At the age of five and six, dreams double in length and there is an increase in physical and interpersonal activities within the dreams, though the dreamer most of the time remains passive. Around this age children begin to report dreams with animals, monsters, and frightening figures which threaten their life and or lives of their relatives.

 

Just like adults’, children’s dreams, are “mirrors of the soul” that reflect child’s emotional development. They are also a stage upon which different qualities of the dreamer are displayed. And finally, they are an opportunity for parents to look into the drama of their child’s inner development and to be a gentle teachers and guides.

 

We are born with some character qualities and some we develop through our interaction with our environment. Regardless of whether one believes in genetic predisposition or experience that comes with us from our past lives, the fact remains that children are different from the very first days of their lives. All these qualities, impulses, and beliefs unfold in the child’s inner life- night dreams. Contrary to the common perception of dreams as always being reflective of one’s waking life, the waking life, in truth, is often a reflection of inner life of which night dreams are a part. That is, first we may have an opportunity to observe our potentials in a night dream, and then they are “lived out” in our waking life.

 

So, when children encounter a monster in a dream, it is their own fears or impulses they are facing. If a disturbing dream wakes them up parents should not dismiss the experience as “Oh, it’s not real, it’s only a dream”. The best way to transform the frightening images and fears of the dream into life enhancing forces is to teach a child how to make corrections within the disturbing dream. By utilizing will within imaginary exercise children are practicing the “muscle” of will and imagination for addressing issues in their waking life.

 

Alex, a six-year-old son of an eight months pregnant woman reported a reoccurring nightmare in the last three months. Since the nightmares started Alex began wetting his bed and acting out in school. In the dream Alex and his mother were attacked by a monster who was trying to open his mother’s belly and to take away the baby. Alex’s favorite cartoon character happened to be Spider Man. I told Alex that in the world of images anything was possible. He practiced first by imagining that I had two noses, that he was ten feet tall, that by becoming Spider Man he could make his way to another building without an elevator. Then, I asked Alex to close his eyes, become Spider Man, and go back into the dream with an intention to protect his mother. Alex defeated the monster, put him in a cage, and sent the cage by UPS to prison. The nightmares never came back.

 

Who was the monster in the dream? Was it Alex’s own fear of losing his mother to the new baby, was it his unconscious desire to destroy the newcomer, was he sensing his mother’s vulnerability and did not know how to protect her? Was it none or all of the above? We do not know. We do know that as he defeated the monster and sent him to prison the quality of his waking life changed drastically. Alex’s behavior in school improved and he stopped wetting his bed.

 

Guilt

Guilt literally means debt. If you are guilty, you are indebted. Most of the time it is easier to pay the debt than to carry the burden of the debt unpaid.

First you must accept that everything you did till this very moment was 100% appropriate.

    If you were at a different level of consciousness you would have acted or thought differently.

    Till this very moment you were who you were, and you could not be anyone else. If at this moment your consciousness is telling you to think or act differently, this is 100% appropriate to this moment.

    You can choose now how you want to think or act, and how you want to address the past thoughts and/or actions.

If you are certain that in the past you wronged someone, follow 4 steps outlined by Philo of Alexandria over two millennia ago:

 

1. Confession of the heart.Think thoroughly of what had happened admitting the degree of your responsibility.

2. Confession of the lips.Tell one person you trust about what happened.

3. Pay the accounts payable.Make a correction; if the error is of a financial nature- pay all that you owe, if you hurt someone emotionally- call or write a letter, admit your error, and apologize.

4. Make a commitment not to do it again.

Remember, as you pay the account you must make sure that the paying itself would not be harmful to the recipient. If the person to whom you are indebted is not alive or youcannot locate the person, apologize in your heard and make a donation he/she would appreciate.

After having paid the debt do the mental exercise below.

 

Breath out gently three times. Think of, or imagine a red ribbon. Take a pen and write on the ribbon all the things you felt guilty about.Go to a desert, dig a hole in the send, and throw the ribbon into the hole. Set the ribbon on fire. See it burn, disintegrate, and when only ashes are left cover them with the send. Walk away and see the wind of the desert erase any traces of where the ashes are buried. Any time in the future if the thought about anything written on the ribbon comes to your mind, as soon you realize what you are thinking about STOP, do not go into the content of the Guilt, simply close your eyes for a moment see the wind blowing over the send. Breath out one time and when ready, open your eyes.

If you doubt whether or not you wronged someone (it is possible that you have a tendency to assume False Guilt), discuss the issue with two or three individuals who you believe are impartial. If all of them tell you that you have no debt- trust their word. You have taken upon yourself False Guilt.

If you discover that you assumed False Guilt:

1. Write down on a standard sheet of paper the content of the False Guilt. Than, write “I acknowledge this ______ as a False Debt and release myself from it.”

2. Take the paper and fold it four times. Unfold it, cut the paper in 16 pieces, put it on a plate, take it to the bathroom, and burn it. Flash the ashes down the toilet, and as you walk out of the bathroom for a moment close your eyes and imagine yourself being a bird.

Any time in the future if the thought about this False Guilt comes to your mind, as soon you realize what you are thinking about STOP going into the content of the False Guilt, simply close your eyes for a moment and see the ashes going down the drain.

Do the following mental exercise one time.

Breath out gently three times. See and sense yourself awakening from a long deep sleep. You are on the bank of the river flowing to your left. Take the false debt (in any way you can imagine it) and through it into the river. Find before you a bridge that you are now ready to cross. Bring along with you only what you need on the other side. Cross the bridge and set it on fire. See it burn, disintegrate, and collapse into the river. Walk into your new life no longer looking back. Breath out one time and when ready, open your eyes.

 

How to Make All Your Relationships Work

Humans are social beings. We are continually in relationship: with our selves, our loved ones, our co-workers, friends and community at large.  The quality of our life depends on the quality of our relationships.  How are your relationships?  Are they a source of joy, fun, pleasure, learning and/or fulfillment? Or are they a source of frustration, hurt, disappointment, and/or anger?

If relationships are challenging for you, please consider the possibility that you, like many others, are suffering from a mistaken notion that the purpose of relationship is to love and to be loved.  So much is invested into “If she loves me how can she…?”, “Why is my friend doing so and so?..”,  “How could my friend say this…?”,  “Why is my boss so unfair?” Accounts payable and accounts receivable are held meticulously for every hurt and every infraction.  I am exaggerating. But not too much.

         

         Our purpose is to discover our true identity.

 

         Consider the possibility that our purpose in all our relationships is not about giving and receiving love, our purpose is to discover our true identity, is to find out who we really are. As we see all our best and worst qualities being displayed before our eyes, and nothing more than being in a relationship will do it so clearly, we have an opportunity to choose to “climb the ladder of ourselves,” to work toward becoming the best we can become, or not.

         The work on yourself in a relationship is quite simple. Keep in mind the principle underlying every spiritual tradition: “As above so below”. This principle of the mirror, in which inner and outer are reflection of one another teaches us that whatever or whoever we encounter in our lives, is the reflection of our own qualities, impulses, or beliefs.

Think of a person you really appreciate and most likely the qualities you like in this person are the qualities you like about yourself. Now think about someone you do not like. You may discover that this person possesses qualities that you do not like about yourself, or have not yet recognized existing within you.  People who possess those negative qualities will keep appearing in your life until you recognize the true message.  Once you do, you may choose to work to weed out the qualities of yourself that you least appreciate.

Does this mean that if you have been victimized, you are a person who victimizes others?  Perhaps. Or, it may mean that you victimize yourself, constantly criticizing yourself or not giving yourself enough credit for the hard work you do. When trying to understand meaning, look in broad terms.

If there is a thief in your surroundings see in what way might you be stealing.  Are you taking something that does not belong to you? Are you involved in a project that will take something away from someone? Are you making promises that you know you can’t keep therefore making others wait in vain? This last example is the most severe form of stealing because time is the only thing you can never repay.

         

         Making it work

 

         If you want to start improving the quality of your relationships, here is what you can do.  The next time you see a person with whom you have a challenging relationship here are four steps you can take:

  • Mentally say to yourself “Here comes my teacher.”

  • Become aware of what qualities in this person are most irritating to you and try to identify in what ways these qualities reflect your own tendencies.

  • Remind yourself that this person, though a “teaching tool” for you, has his/her individual journey, and was this way before you, is this way with you, and will be this way after you. So, do not take it personally.

  • After having an encounter with this person, whether planned or unexpected, find a quiet place to do this short mental exercise: Close your eyes. Imagine a beam of white light coming out of your chest. As it extends about two feet beyond your body, see it curving to your right till it makes a complete circle around you. See the person in the distance. Breathe out gently and see your circle of light expanding in all directions until it embraces the person, and as it does, see the person lifting his/her eyes at you and smiling. Then open your eyes. Do this exercise for one week.

Improving the Quality of Your Romantic Relationships

Those who have been in a committed relationship know that challenges always come up. And when you have children, there are even bigger challenges. Sometimes there are arguments and tension, but consider this. The moment there is a threat to a child’s welfare, all disagreements are instantly put aside, and you rush to save the child. Isn’t it true?

When two people enter a committed relationship there are no longer only two entities. The two give birth to a third entity. They give birth to a baby. This baby is the relationship itself.

And the only way this baby can survive, grow and mature, is if the individual ego of each partner is less important than the baby and are immediately cast aside when the welfare of the baby-- of the relationship-- is threatened.

One of the ways to help your romantic relationship thrive is to have regular “state of the union” dialogues. That is, once a week create a special time (it may be only 10-15 minutes,) during which you sit in front of each other and ask questions like “Where are we as a couple?” “Has there being anything that we must discuss?” If one or both of the partners has grievances the other is not to explain why they did what they did, unless they are specifically asked, but to say, “I am sorry this…whatever the problem is, made you feel uncomfortable, what can I do to make things better for you?”

A “state of the union” discussion will be most fruitful when sharing statements are used, as opposed to accusations. Try your best to focus on the following:

1. How you feel (not what your partner did to you).

2. What makes you uncomfortable (not how insensitive your partner acted).

3. Which of your needs are not satisfied.(not what your partner is lacking).

4. What steps you feel your partner could make that would make it better.

It is also very important to acknowledge your partner’s feelings and needs, and to offer ways in which you can meet those needs.

If you feel angry before speaking to your partner do the following mental

exercise:

Close your eyes and breathe out gently three times. Long slow exhalations. Nice and easy inhalations. Breathing out twice as slow as breathing in. Now, find yourself inside of your anger; in any way you can see it. Sense and feel yourself being totally surrounded by it. Breathe out one time. Knowing that anything is possible, find your way out of anger, and look at it from the distance. Decide what you want to do with it; you can burn it, you can burry it in the earth, you can sink it in the ocean, or you can let it be taken by the wind. Do it. Breathe out one time. Bring into the newly vacated space something beautiful. When ready, open your eyes.

Above all remember the mirror principle is true for any relationship, particularly for close ones. Most often your partner possesses qualities that you need to develop, and you posses qualities that he/she needs. Your partner is your teacher/student. Make your life lesson enjoyable.

 

Judgement

Virtually every spiritual tradition, in one-way or another teaches, “Judge not”. Why not?, one may ask. Do we not need to evaluate our thoughts, or consequences of our actions in order to see right from wrong? Yes, absolutely. Observe and evaluate- yes. Judge-no. Let’s look at both.

First-observation and evaluation. As we observe a thought, an event, or an action we can become aware of the consequences of that thought, that event, or that action. We may evaluate these consequences as satisfying. Or, if they are not, we may decide to look for alternative ways of thinking or acting in order to bring about different, more desirable consequences.

    Let’s take a simple example: Suppose you run a red light. As a result, you almost cause an accident. You did not intend to drive through a red light, it just happened. You made an error. You slow down, or maybe you even stop your car. Your heart is beating fast, your palms are sweaty. You calm down. You begin to think about what could have happened. You ask yourself, if this is a typical pattern in your driving. You make a conscious, serious decision to drive differently, perhaps to become more attentive, not to talk on the cell phone, while driving, or some other resolution. As a result of this experience, you learn from the consequences and move on.

    Now, let’s look at what happens, when Judgment enters the picture.

So, here you are, you have just run a red light. Your first thought is: Look what I’ve done, I could have killed this poor person and myself.! How could I be so reckless? Where was my head?! They should lock me up and throw away the key.

    Believe me, this avalanche of self-criticism, does not make you a better driver. Chances are, because in your mind you are still back there, at the fateful intersection, you stop paying attention to the here and now. And, this may cause you to make yet another mistake while driving. If this happens, your self-criticism will be reinforced even more, but your driving will probably not improve..

    Take another example. You witness some injustice. Perhaps, it’s injustice of global nature, or it is something local, happening right in front of you. You think: How can this be! Why is it happening? This is terrible, horrible, ugly. You go on and on, getting more upset, and more tense. You feel that your outrage is justifiable. Your fists are clenched. Your mind is racing. Your body is aching.

    Think about the effects of your anger. Your mental, emotional and physical state is weakened. You have less ability to constructively address the situation.

    Now, I would like you to consider an alternative way of responding.

You can remind yourself that Life IS, and People ARE. Life is and people are, not the way you wish them to be, but the way they ARE. Why, for example, shouldn’t people act in the way, that seems to you appalling or nonsensical? Perhaps they grew up in a different environment, maybe with a different value system, different teachers, parents. Perhaps, if you were like them, and had all their experiences, you would act or think in the same way.

You may want these people to be different, you may think about what you can do to help them understand your viewpoint. And finally, you may decide to take steps to initiate change, or to resolve a problem. But by judging, you run the risk of imprisoning yourself in a continuous cycle of anger, frustration, and apathy, all elements of stress, all of which can lead to physical illness.

    Judgment impacts more than just your emotions. Recent studies in the field of neuro-physiology demonstrate, that when we are stressed (which happens when we judge) a hormone called nor-epinephrine is released, that shuts down locus cerelus, the part of the brain responsible for creativity. When this happens, we lose our ability to constructively resolve stressful challenges. We fall back upon well-established habitual reactions of the past.             How many times, have you promised yourself, you would not reach for that cookie, or light up that cigarette, or raise your voice with your spouse or children- and yet, you find yourself doing so, time and time again.

    Judgment paralyzes our creativity and inhibits our ability to act in more positive ways. Judgment breeds such negative emotions as anger, fear, guilt, or remorse. Ultimately, judgment jeopardizes our well-being.

All right. Now that we have considering the effects of judging, why don’t we simply stop being judgmental?

    Just because we understand a concept, long-term behavior does not automatically disappear. In order to disown anything, we first must fully own it. That is, we must become aware of ourselves judging, acknowledge and accept the tendency, without judging ourselves for having it.

    So, here is your assignment: For the following week, become a witness, an observer of your emotional responses. Any time you pass judgment upon yourself or someone else, say to yourself “Here goes, say your name, Judging. In my case, I would say, “Here goes, Peter, judging. “That’s all. Not “Here I go again”, or “Stop judging”, no, just “Here goes X. Judging.” It is important that you do not try to stop yourself from judging, but that you only notice. Acknowledge. And move on.

 

Lifting the Burden. Notes on overcoming depression.

 

It is estimated that 18 million American adults suffer from depression every year. The suggested origin of this disorder ranges from genetic predisposition and neurological anomalies to inadequate diet and poor quality of sleep. The domineering theory about depression in contemporary psychiatry is that sufferers of depression have a chemical imbalance in the brain. This theory is supported by research that demonstrates how the brain chemistry of people who are depressed is different than the brain chemistry of those who are not depressed. Further research showed that this “imbalance” could be corrected by giving patients medication that would alter their brain chemistry and make it more “normal”. For this reason, medications such as Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Lexapro, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Zoloft and the like came into existence.

There is no question that the brain chemistry of a person who is depressed is different from the brain chemistry of a person who is not. But that “depressed” brain chemistry has not always been there. Most people were not born with this chemical imbalance.

Depression is a disorder that is experienced by people at different stages of their lives. People may have lived healthily for twenty, thirty, or forty years prior to having their brain chemistry change on them. As a result of this sudden change their bodies react by causing their emotions to go haywire. Such individuals fail to cope with this change and they begin feeling sad, unhappy, apathetic, remorseful, guilty, and hopeless. Does this outlook make any sense?

I share the belief held by such doctors as Peter Breggen, MD, Gerald Epstein, MD, and William Glaser, MD that there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance. Our brain chemistry is always in balance and corresponds perfectly with our emotional state. Imagine receiving a phone call informing you that you have received your dream job, or that you have won the lottery, or that you are being given whatever it is you desire most. What happens? Your brain chemistry changes instantly. And it is in perfect balance with your emotional state.

Now imagine receiving news about a great misfortune concerning someone you care about and love. Once again your brain chemistry changes but this time it corresponds with emotions such as pain, loss, and helplessness. But wait; let’s say you suddenly come up with an idea of how to remedy the situation. Your emotions change to hopefulness, excitement, and resolve. What happens to your brain chemistry? Of cause it changes, once again it catches up with your emotional state.

One’s brain chemistry may also change slowly as a consequence of continuous feelings of anger, dissatisfaction, disappointment, guilt, shame, jealousy, regret, remorse, helplessness, hopelessness and the like.

Most people return to their normal functioning and their usual mental and emotional disposition after having suffered “hard times.” Those who do not are the people diagnosed with depression. Having been labeled chemically imbalanced, or in other words flawed, they begin to take mood-altering medications. These people become chemically imbalanced after taking medications and their brain chemistry no longer corresponds with their emotional state. Nothing changed. Taking the medication did not create any positive change in their lives. They did not overcome the sadness of failure, the pain of loss, or the feeling of hopelessness. They did not learn new tools of dealing with their life circumstance. Rather their feelings were temporarily numbed. The medication does not have intelligence of its own and therefore cannot choose to numb “unsettling” feelings. Instead it disrupts the ability to feel so that individuals will no longer feel pain but they become incapable of feeling joy as well. If individuals that are taking medication stop doing so, their feelings of pain return but if people are kept on medication they do not feel at all.

The answer is not “knocking” people out of their depressive state as quickly as possible. It is in helping them find new and effective ways of coping with life's challenges. In guiding them to make peace with their losses, find meaning in their lives, and assisting them in the development of tools and strategies that they can use to pursue their goals.

If the theory that the faulty brain chemistry was responsible for causing depression and not the other way around, psychotherapy would never work in treatment of depression. Yet, numerous studies have demonstrated that Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy is as effective in treating all forms of depression as medication.

So, let us now set aside the chemical imbalance theory and consider other possibilities of treating depression.

What is depression? First, the term itself. The word depression comes from the Latin word Depression which translates to pressing down. If people are suffering from depression, something is pressing down on them. Whether it is guilt, remorse, longing for something that has not yet happened, or grieving about something that has happened, there is always a burden weighing them down.

Feeling sad or being depressed about a loss is a common occurrence in everyday life. Everyone experiences ups and downs; we all go through our mini-depressions, and mini-rebounds. The majority of people who go through days or even weeks of being depressed about their loss do recover. Their attention is drawn to other things in their lives such as, daily responsibilities, new goals, new relationships, and new opportunities. Shortly, the things that are meaningful to them require their attention and rescue them out of their sadness, or grief.

These mini-depressions and mini-rebounds happen to many people, but not all people. Some do not have rebounds that are strong enough to bring them back into the flow of everyday life. Finding out why some people recover relatively quickly from the shocks of life while others do not I believe is not a productive way to address the problem. Such an enquiry may take us away from attempting to help the person and throw us into the abyss of infinite guesses.

Each of us had a different genetic history, different life physiology, different health history, different life experiences…etc. All of these factors could play a role in why we respond differently to the same events. No matter how hard we try to understand why we will never know because the reality is that some individuals “get over it” and some others do not.

In some cases the event or circumstance that originally triggered depression may no longer exist or may become irrelevant, but for people who are suffering from depression, the focus on negativity and sadness becomes a deeply engrained habit. From the moment they wake up the “doom and gloom” of the present, the bleak events of the past or the grim perspectives for the future become an unavoidable focal point of their attention.

Unavoidable? Is it really? Let us consider a hypothetical situation. A depressed man is sitting in his room feeling sad and hopeless when suddenly he smells smoke. He then notices flames emerging from underneath the door.

What are the chances that after noticing the flames he would go back to his gloomy thoughts? More than likely he would take action of escaping from danger. During the time he would fight for his life, he would stay live in the present moment and he would not be depressed. Still, after the danger would be over, in the absence of another powerful stimulus he could go back to his depressive thoughts and attitudes. Or not. Some other powerful jolt could shake up his way of perceiving reality and he could develop a new attitude, new goals, and get absorbed by the excitement of new possibilities in his life. It would all depend on how powerful the jolt would be, whether or not he could afford to go back into the slumber of depression, and what kind of new possibilities would open for him.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Every night when I go to sleep I die, and in the morning I am born again.” Every morning we have 24 brand new hours to live. The way we go through these 24 hours largely depends on our thoughts. Our thoughts affect the way we feel, the way we feel determines our behavior, the consequences of our actions have an impact on our thoughts, and our thoughts affect the way we feel… And here goes another cycle.

People who are depressed may not choose to have sad thoughts from the get going. The thoughts develop. Although we have no control over which thoughts develop in our minds, we do have control over what we do with those thoughts once we become aware of them.

The way out of depression is through becoming aware of and interrupting the pattern of negative thinking, releasing the guilt and /or regret about the losses in life, creating a new vision of life, and moving towards fulfilling possibilities of a new vision.

Following is the six-step process of overcoming depression:

It is possible that as you attempt to carry out the following steps you may find that you need support in understanding some concepts and assignments. Than it is advisable that you seek counsel of a mental health professional, not for doing any kind of introspective psychotherapy, but simply helping you to clarify the concepts and tasks offered in this six-step process.

1. Look at the content of depressing thoughts and determine what issues can be addressed and resolved through deliberate action, and what issues are products of cognitive errors (making up stories).

2. Do the work of clarifying and/or finding meaning for living your life.

3. Identify and learn the tools you need in the pursuit of that, which makes your life meaningful.

4. Make an absolute commitment (a written statement) to do all that is necessary to fulfill your intention (maybe even a schedule with suggested “deadlines”). Write about the price you are paying and the price you will pay in the future (1 year, 5 years, 10 years) if you are not totally committed to succeed. Write about the rewards of succeeding (1 year, 5 years, 10 years).

5. Develop or strengthen your will power so you could follow through with your commitments.

6. Keep weeding out negativity and depressing thoughts from your mind

(A helpful tool is to read my article “Beating the unbeatable”, you can find it on my website: drpeterreznik.com under Articles).

 

Mental Imagery vs. Hypnosis

In the last thirty years both hypnosis and mental imagery, once recognized as powerful tools in the healing arts and then repudiated for centuries, have been finding their way back into the practice of health practitioners. While these two modalities share certain similarities, they are fundamentally different. They are different phenomenologically and they are different in their psychotherapeutic significance. The practitioner's skill in recognizing the uniqueness of hypnosis and mental imagery can significantly alter the therapeutic process.

 

Phenomenology of Hypnosis and Mental Imagery

Studies with electroencephalogram recordings reveal that hypnotized subjects show random alpha waves (mental and physical relaxation) with more prominent beta waves (a state of arousal to outside stimuli)(Hirai, 1974). Conversely, during the imaginal experience, there is predominance of theta brain activity. In this state the brain waves are of low frequency, which means that a person is minimally aroused by outside stimuli. And, according to Brown, during the mental imagery process a person is "..more likely than in hypnosis and meditation to lose the sense that he/she is actually creating the experience" (Brown, Forte, Rich, Epstein, 1982). That is, during the imaginal activity a person is inactive in relation to the outside world, but hyper-active and hyper-attentive in relation to his/her subjective inner experience. We see here two quite different phenomena. One (hypnosis) is of inner passivity and hyper-receptiveness to the outside reality, another (imagery) is of outer passivity and hyper-receptiveness to one's inner reality.

 

Out of this phenomenological difference of the two processes comes the difference in their therapeutic application.

 

Hypnosis

One of the masters of modern hypnosis, Milton Erickson identified hypnosis as a "state of intensified attention and receptiveness and an increased responsiveness to an idea or to a set of ideas." (Erickson, 1958)

Hypnosis has also been described as a "state of selective hyper-suggestibility.." (Weitzenhoffer, A. 1957)

Therefore, hypnosis is a particular state of consciousness in which a person responds to his/her own suggestions or those from others. A suggestion is commonly defined as an idea offered to oneself or another for uncritical acceptance.

 

The premise of this technique is that the suggestions will bypass the patient's conscious critical judgment and become a part of his/her subconscious mind. This a the part of the mind believed to motivate one's thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

 

In the case of substance abuse, for example, the patient may associate the use of a substance with pleasurable, carefree, confident state. There also may be such ideas as "I can not go without it", If I do not have it I will die, Without it life is boring..." The therapist gives suggestions to the patient about the negative effects of the substance on the patient's life and the positive consequences of giving it up. Through the use of suggestions the therapist also might create a conditioned response between a particular word and a feeling of a commitment to becoming abstinent. The suggestion may be: "Any time you feel the desire to... take a deep breath and say to yourself "freedom." A patient is asked to do this in the therapists office while he/she is relaxed and committed to becoming free, and then again whenever in challenging life situations.

 

The utilization of such techniques comes from the belief that once the suggestions reach the patient's subconscious mind they will extinguish the old conditioning (in the presented example: substance-pleasure, substance-carefree life), and create a new conditioning (in the presented example: abstinence-freedom, abstinence-self-respect...).

 

Mental Imagery

Mental imagery is a process of directing one's sense organs commonly used for the exploration of outer (objective) reality, toward one's inner life. It is "..a flow of thoughts we can see, hear, feel, smell, or taste." (Rossman, 1987)

While spoken words are a product of the intellect and can be used to edit, rationalize, fragment, deny, or misrepresent the reality, spontaneously appearing mental images always display a complete and unbroken reflection of one's inner experience. "Images may have a greater capacity than the linguistic mode for the attraction and focusing of emotionally loaded association in concentrated forms: Verbal logic is linear; whereas the image is a simultaneous representation. The quality of simultaneity gives imagery greater isomorphism with the qualities of perception, and therefore greater capacity for descriptive accuracy." (Sheikh, Panagiotou, 1975) In the imaginal reality a person "loses perception of creating the experience" (Brown, 1982), detaches from the outside objective reality, and silences his/her critical judgment. Therefore he/she is free to fully see, feel, and experience the inner reality.

 

"Imagination is the enzyme of the mind, analogous to a physical enzyme that catalyzes a physiological process. The inner mental enzyme speeds up inner transformation by showing us the way and giving us direction." (Epstein, 1994)

 

By discovering images appearing in response to a particular "journey themes" a patient can see his/her belief systems embodied in images. Once the belief system is discovered one can choose to "re-member the adverse images in a new way" (Epstein, 1994) and by doing so alter the emotional memory of particular experiences.

 

For instance, a woman who experienced childhood abuse can use the imagination to "stand up" to her perpetrator. Although her factual memory of the event does not change, her emotional memory of helplessness is transformed into a new emotional memory of self-reliance, courage, and confidence. After the imaginal correction, the woman is less likely to shape her current reality based upon the influences of the past. She has changed her past. With a different past she has a different now.

 

Mind/Body Integrative Approach to Healing

The mind-body principle has been at the foundation of every healing tradition of the world, for millennia. In the last 300 years Western Medicine moved away from this ancient principle. And yet, the father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, twenty five hundred years ago said, “I would rather know what sort of a person has a disease, than what sort of a disease a person has. He understood that people’s inner environment, their emotional, social, and spiritual life is as important as their physical symptoms. And a conflict or lack of balance on one level of being is always mirrored on all other levels.

 

Scientific research of the last two decades confirms this wisdom. Twenty six years ago Dr. Jankins, at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare of Massachusetts conducted a study on the factors that increase the risk of heart attack before the age of fifty. The factors that are commonly identified by modern medicine as being at the root of the problem are: smoking, diabetes, excessive weight, high blood pressure, and a high cholesterol level. To his amazement, Dr. Jankins found that 85% of over 900 people in the study who had their first heart attack before the age 50 did not smoke, did not have diabetes, did not have high blood pressure, did not have high cholesterol, and were not overweight. Dr. Jankins found the best predictor that a person will have a first heart attack before the age of 50 was…JOB DISSATISFACTION! This was one common feature that united them all.

 

The former chief of biological psychiatry at the National Institutes of Health, Candace Pert, said, “In every cell interpretations are registered as physical events.” Being unhappy with one’s job is hardly a physical problem, and yet the body does it’s own interpretation.

 

After reading this study on heart attacks, Dr. Muller at the National Institutes of Health did something that he himself called a crazy idea. Dr. Muller did a computer search on the distribution of heart attacks on different days of the week. He found that more people die on one particular day of the week. Guess what day? That’s right--Monday. This is a great achievement of civilized human beings. Apparently animals do not know the difference between Monday and Wednesday. What time, do you think, on Monday? Yes, between 8 and 9 in the morning. The MEANING behind this sad fact can be identified as people using their willpower to get up and go to work but their hearts literally said, “NO” or “I would rather be dead than go to work.”

 

It is no news that our emotions play a role in how we feel physically. We are much more than physical machines--bundles of nerves, muscles, bone, and blood vessels. We love, we resent, we regret, we forgive, or we have difficulties forgiving. We live in the emotional reality as much as the physical reality. But the link between physical and emotional realities is MEANING.

 

For example, imagine you are taking a shortcut through the park after a late night movie. Suddenly you hear quick steps behind you… A thought, “Someone is after me,” produces an instant response: digestion slows down, breathing becomes faster, and heart rate increases. Sugars and fats pour into the blood to provide fuel for quick energy. This physiological cascade is automatic. It is commonly called the" flight-or-fight" response. Now, think of a similar situation, but when you hear the steps you recognize, they are from your dear, long-lost friend. You smile. Your heart rate increases, but this time your blood is flooded with interleukins, which strengthen your immune system. The difference between these two responses lies only in the way you interpreted the meaning of the steps you heard behind you.

 

Remember, as Candace Pert says, “In every cell interpretations are registered as physical events.” Consciously or, most often, unconsciously we interpret the meaning of our life circumstances, our relationships, the obstacles that arise in our lives... And if our inner interpretations are registered by our bodies… think of what our body does if our mind is saying, “I have no way out,” or, “I can not live through this,” or, “it is heartbreaking,” or, “I can not take it, or swallow it, or digest it."

 

Our inner life is literally charting the course for the body to follow. The physical symptom most of the time is the last factor of the imbalance to be manifested. As Dr. Scott Peck said, “The symptoms and the illness are not the same thing. The illness exists long before symptoms. Rather than being the illness, the symptoms are the beginning of cure.”

 

How can it be, you may ask, that the symptoms are the beginning of cure? Simply because the symptoms not only tell you that something is off balance, but also reveal the meaning of the illness.

 

It is not too difficult to identify the meaning of the physical symptoms. One needs only to think of the meaning of the organs that are afflicted.

 

Let’s say THE EYES. What is the MEANING or the function of the EYES? To see. So, if one has problems with vision, there might be an issue about being able to see something in one’s life.

 

It has been my experience that people who have digestive problems often have in their lives circumstances or people that they have difficulties to stomach, or to digest.

 

Woman with breast cancer often have issues with nourishment (not having been nourished as children, not nourishing themselves in the present time, not having nourishing relationships, etc.). One way or another the issue of nourishment is often involved.

 

Ovarian cancer or prostate cancer often reflects the issues around children or procreation.

 

Heart problems are often associated with grief or issues around love.

 

Notice many times the word “OFTEN” is repeated. That is because since each person is unique–the meaning of organs, life events, relationships is also uniquely individual, and we have to look at every person and every illness within the context of their unique individuality and life circumstances.

 

It is absolutely important to treat the physical symptoms of the illness, preferably using natural, non-invasive methods. But it is my belief that when illness re-occurs, it is because only the symptoms were cured, the root of the illness was not addressed. Regardless of what modality for dealing with the physical symptom we chose, unless we identify and address the meaning that lies at the genesis of the illness, there might be a temporary cure but no healing of the whole person.

 

In the Mind-Body Approach to Healing, first and foremost, people are guided to find the meaning of their illness. Then, the are taught mental techniques necessary for making life changes, techniques that enhance the healing process of the body, and techniques that integrate physical and emotional healing.

 

This approach to healing is an ancient and comprehensive tradition. But then, how do we know that I can be helpful to you? We don’t. There is no way one can be taught about the process, unless one experiences it. So, you are invited not to trust the writer, but to trust your own feelings, your intuition. If what you just read about the MIND-BODY CONNECTION does not resonate in you as true, well, then you spent a few minutes on reading about yet another approach to health and healing. If it does resonate--I am looking forward to meeting you in person.

 

Staying Healthy In A Stressful World

Stress is one of the most critical health issues of our time. We are bombarded by pressure to perform well in our jobs, to meet our financial responsibilities, to spend more quality time with our families. And now, in this post-September 11th Era we worry about our very safety and the safety of our loved ones.

There is a price we pay for living in a state of constant stress. A recent study noted, that 80 to 85 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related. Medical journals are publishing a growing number of articles linking stress with virtually every physical illness. Although stress may not be the sole cause of an illness, it is almost always a major contributing factor.

Many of us have recognized that stress is a serious problem and have become increasingly health conscious. We go for regular check ups. We try to exercise and improve our diets. We take herbs and vitamins. These efforts, while useful, are primarily focused on our physical well-being. But despite our efforts, we continue to be plagued by high degrees of stress, and increasingly high rates of serious physical illnesses. Why is this so? Because we have forgotten, the age-old wisdom, linking the integrity of the body, to the workings of the mind.

The father of modern Western medicine, Hippocrates said, “I would rather know what sort of a man has a disease, than what sort of a disease a man has.” He understood that our inner lives- our thoughts and emotions, play as much of a role in our well-being, as our physical state or symptoms.

Stanford University researchers conducted a study of 1035 heart attack patients. 95% of the patients reported of having gone through a particularly stressful experience prior to their heart attack. All patients were divided into three groups. One group, was simply examined by a physician; the other was examined by a physician and advised on diet and exercise. The third group, in addition to receiving the aforementioned, was taught how to change their attitudes and behavior. After five years, the findings showed that this last group had 1/3 recurring heart attacks as did the “diet and exercise” group, and 1 /4 recurring heart attacks than those who just saw a physician.

What this study demonstrated, is, that 3 out of 4 people, could have avoided having a heart attack if they had learned how to change their attitudes and behavior.

Here are some tips for working on your attitude and behavior:

Do not judge.

No matter who you judge-- yourself or others—you pay the price.

Judgment gives birth to anger, and that, in turn, sets off a whole alarm reaction, known as a fight or flight response. Only, there is no one to fight, no place to run. So, your body turns against itself. Many hormones are elevated in the body during this fight or flight reaction. Two such hormones are norepinephrine, and cortisol. Norepinephrine has the greatest effect in increasing heart rate and blood pressure. When cortisol is elevated in the bloodstream for prolonged periods of time, it causes ulcerations in the lining of the stomach because of increased acid formation.

The Buddha also understood the danger of judgment and its offspring, anger. He asked, “Being angry at someone is like grabbing a handful of hot coals to throw at them. Whose hand burns first?”…Life is. Anything can happen and does. The question is, what action do you want to take?

Choose the right channel.

If you decide to watch television you can choose a channel with a horror movie or with a program about Mother Teresa. One will make you feel terrified, the other will inspire you go and make the world a better place. The same is with what you focus your mind on.

Watch your language.

Never say anything to yourself that you do not want to become true. From research on hypnosis we know- suggestions work. Do you ever say to yourself such things like “I am not good at this,” or “my memory is bad,” or “I am not smart”? Be aware… statements like these, when said over and over, are accepted into your subconscious mind as truth.

Do not ask “Why?”

Imagine going on a computer and typing in a question “Why doesn’t the economy of such and such a country work? The computer will analyze data and produce answers that will come will all be about why this country’s economy doesn’t work, very little about how to make the country prosper. If you ask yourself “What can I do to make my personal economy succeed, the computer searches for all possible answers to that question. So it is with our mind. So do not ask why something doesn’t work. Rather, ask what steps you can take to succeed.

Give yourself a break.

We are human beings, not human doings. Allow yourself to take short breaks during the workday. I have seen people in my psychotherapy practice who hate smoking. I say “So, why do you do it.” They say, “Well, it’s nice to have a break here and there.” In fact, our physiology is not designed to sit in chairs all day. But we don’t need to smoke to justify taking a break. Taking a short walk or doing some midday stretching will do wonders for your physical health and mental focus. And it will feel great.

For much greater guidance to combating the effects of stress and learning how to transform stress into a life-enriching experience, you may be interested in my CD, “Staying Healthy in a Stressful World: a Complete Manual for Self-Mastery and Freedom from Stress.

    

 

Waking Dream Therapy

The Waking Dream Therapy approach was first described by Dr. Gerald Epstein, and springs from the work of Mme. Colette Aboulker-Muscat of Jerusalem and Dr. Epstein's own work and studies.

 

A waking dream is a guided exploration of one’s inner reality through the media of imagination. The purpose of the waking dream method is to give people the opportunity to travel willfully and sensorially through world of the embodiment of their belief systems, which they discover as images. The experience of moving successfully through the challenges of this inner journey alters one’s beliefs and the significance of the past events, and creates new ways to meet experiences yet to happen. The waking dream experience “not only permits the seeing of possibilities but also the doing of possibilities,” the effects of which are brought back to concrete reality and are actively used to shape one’s existence.

 

Just as a night dream, a waking dream is a spontaneous flow of the events of appearance within the inner realm of human experience. And just as a short correction exercise of a dream, a waking dream offers the freedom to make changes. And yet, a waking dream is different from the night dream because of the added advantage to journey through various places at will. And it is different from the short correction exercise of a dream, because the correction exercise is a re-entry of a dream with a particular predetermined intention of making a change, while a waking dream is an exploration of “what is” within the realm of one’s inner life. A waking dream in a linear time lasts forty minutes to an hour and a half (as oppose to a short imagery exercise or a dream correction exercise which last no longer than 45 seconds).

 

A waking dream originates directly from the night dream of the patient at a particular chosen segment. The choice comes as a result of patient’s “working the dream” with the help of the therapist.

 

After the patient describes the dream the therapist asks the patient to see everyone in the dream as a quality oneself. The therapist also asks if an analogy can be seen between the events in the dream and in the waking life. Often one gets insight into one’s life and into what needs to be changed through a correction exercise and/or voluntary will exercise. If a patient cannot find any analogies or simply has difficulties with the dream and yet finds the dream disturbing, or feels that it's "something important" - the waking dream technique is utilized.

 

A patient is instructed to sit comfortably in an upright position, a 3-4 minute light relaxation is induced, and a person is offered to use any important point of the dream as a starting point of the exploration. What will happen during the journey is unknown either to the therapist or to the patient, since the images that appear after the patient enters the dream are a spontaneous flow of the “what is” of the patient’s inner life.

 

In this work the therapist acts strictly as a guide and nothing more. The therapist is there only to listen to the report about the journey and to assist the explorer with any frightening or difficult predicaments. An understanding of the symbolism of colors, numbers, and directions in space helps the therapist to be aware of when and what support the “explorer” might need. Because the events of a waking dream are very real to the “explorer”, the emotional challenge of the experience can often overwhelm one’s will in making constructive changes. The therapist reminds the "explorer" that one has the power to protect oneself and to make the needed changes. With the therapist's guidance, the patient confronts, overcomes, and resolves the problems that emerge in the narratives. As Francis Clifton wrote:

 

“Guided waking dreams are birthings, assisted by the midwife (therapist or guide), which take place in the emptied, at times terrifying realm of becoming which is the imagination."

 

The process of de-construction of old forms of existence in a waking dream creates the “window” of openness to new ways of existence in one’s waking reality.

 

Case Illustration

 

E., a thirty three year old, strikingly attractive and highly successful business woman complained of a pattern of falling in love with men and of them quickly becoming obsessive about and dependent upon them. The outcome of all E.’s relationships was inevitably the same: She was "dropped" by her lover, a man who was usually abusive, selfish, and intolerant of her neediness. E.’s relationships never lasted for more than half of a year. In between encounters she said, "it was enough for a man to say hello to me and I would screw him". Two times she attempted to commit suicide. In both cases she was brought to the hospital where she fell in love with her psychiatrists. In one case it led to termination of the therapy, and in the other, to another short and purely sexual affair with the psychiatrist.

 

E. grew up in an affluent family in France. Her childhood as far as she could remember was "like any other child’s'". Her parents loved her, she was good to her younger brother, and her family spent enjoyable summers in their second home in Southern France. But, E. reported, as long as she could remember she feared that one day her parents would leave her somewhere and not come back. Since her first romantic relationship when she was 15 years old E. remembered anticipating that her boyfriend would not want to date her for a long time. She felt needy, jealous and from there "it all went downhill."

 

E. told the author that her appointment with him was her last hope. She said that nothing worked for her and maybe she "could just be hypnotized out of this mess". E. agreed with the author’s recommendation that waking dream therapeutic technique would be more clinically indicated than hypnosis.

 

Since E. was still in pain about her last break-up she was given an imagery exercise called "Letting go of relationship". She was to imagine herself walking along the beach with her last boyfriend holding hands and laughing, then at one point they were to stop, say good-bye to each other and the friend was to continue his way. She was to go back the way they came but walking backwards, erasing her footprints on the sand.

 

E. was also given an exercise called "Burying the past," the intention of which was to let go of regrets and errors of the past (after they were discussed and patterns of self-defeating behavior were identified). In the exercise she was to walk with a heavy load of regrets and mistakes of the past on her shoulders and feel the pain, the anguish of carrying the weight. Then she was to stop, take off the load, dig a hole in the ground, bury the load, and see the rain fall washing away any trace, of where the load was buried.

 

E. was instructed to keep a dream journal and to do both exercises every morning for 7 days (each exercise to lasted no longer than 30 seconds.

 

When E. came back for the next appointment she reported that the exercises helped her to feel more relaxed, more hopeful, less “obsessed” about her last boyfriend. The following three sessions were devoted to dealing with E's anger toward men and also with her feeling of loneliness. For the fourth session she brought a disturbing dream that she said had been consistently reoccurring over the years.

 

In the dream E. was a child (she did not know the age) playing with her cat on the playground. She was throwing the cat up in the air and catching it. Then she got tired and wanted to go home, but the cat wonted to continue playing. She became angry and started hitting the cat while at the same time feeling sorry for the cat. Suddenly a big hairy man (like a monster) appeared. She got scared and started running. She heard his steps behind her, and as she was about to be caught, she woke up.

 

The intensity E.’s dream experience, the emotional impact that the dream had on her upon awakening, and E.’s inability to “make sense of it all” compelled the author to conduct a waking dream exploration.

 

After the induction E. found herself back in her childhood playground. She was alone. She was asked by the guide (the author) what age she was. She did not know. She was asked if she liked to be in the playground. E. said that she was bored without her cat but she couldn't see the cat anywhere. She was asked what she wanted to do. She said she wanted to go home to find the cat. As she described approaching the house she was asked to look in the window and to see her reflection, and to let the guide know how old she looked. E. described in great detail her appearance and said she was approximately seven. As she was about to open the door to her home, a big, hairy man appeared at the door step. E. was asked if she knew the man or if he reminded her of anyone. She said "No", but she said she felt very frightened. (E.'s breathing intensified, her legs move beneath her, and her hands tighten into fists.) E. was reminded that in her present reality she was free do anything to protect herself. Then she was asked what she wanted to do. She said that she was already running away from the big man but he was near. Than E. said she was in her school running down the stairs. Suddenly she was in front of the door that was open only a crack. The door was too heavy to move and the crack was too small to squeeze through. She heard the man behind her. E. said she did not know what to do. She was reminded that she could find a way, that where she was, anything was possible. She turned into a cat and slipped through crack. Finally she was in huge grotto. She was again a girl. Although her surroundings were beautiful, E. knew that she was facing a dead end. Suddenly the man was next to her. She wanted to run but he grabbed her legs and started dragging her to the center of the grotto. He started throwing her up in the air and catching her just before she would be smashed against the rocks. Finally he let her fall and she was lying there “all broken”. He took a sword and pinned her down to the ground. Then he became just a huge hairy head flying above her and hurting her in the stomach. Once again she was reminded that she could find a way to protect herself. At that point E. pulled the sword out of her stomach and as the head descended upon her she slammed it with the sword, splitting the head into two. Dark blood poured all over. She got onto her feet and started running away. As she reached the exit of the tunnel (with the encouragement of the guide) she threw a grenade into it, burying the remains of the monster. She was standing on an open field filled with beautiful yellow and red flowers. After she spent some time enjoying the freedom of the clearing she was instructed to quickly (like in fast motion movie) go back to the point of the departure into the journey. Then she was asked to open her eyes, still keeping the image of the field and the flowers in her mind.

 

E. was instructed to write down her experience, and to draw a picture or pictures illustrating the journey. (Once again, the symbolism of space, color, and numbers in the drawings would help the guide to understand the impact of the journey.) She was also asked for seven days every morning to do an imagery of the last part of the journey where she was blowing up the tunnel and walking in the field. (The purpose of repeating the last part of the waking dream as a morning imagery exercise was to reinforce a new “no victim” emotional memory.) Additionally E. was asked to buy yellow and red flowers (to anchor her imaginal experience to the waking life).

 

E. came for the following session looking very different. She was wearing a dress of light buoyant colors, and was smiling for the first time as she entered my office. She reported that the whole last week felt like she was recovering from a long, long illness. The session was devoted to discussion of E.’s journey in her waking dream and of her drawings. The symbolism of the use of space and color in her drawings was very encouraging. Because of the circumstances E. did not have any sessions for the following four weeks.

 

During the next session one month later, E. reported that for the first time in eighteen years she said "NO" to a man who wanted to sleep with her but in whom she had no interest. The following nine sessions were devoted to "cleaning up" or changing certain problematic habitual responses through behavior modification, and learning new ways to deal with challenges.

 

Two more waking dreams were conducted. In both E. was no longer a victim, and although there were challenges, she dealt with them in an assertive way.

 

All together E. underwent 14 sessions over a period of six months. The therapy was terminated because both the therapist and E. felt that the initial intention "to stop feeling a victim, and to stop being so needy of men" was achieved. After completing therapy E. did not have any intimate relationships with men for a year as she sought to learn how to be alone, - as "ALL ONE ". After one year she met a man with whom she proceeded to develop a healthy and loving relationship. After knowing each other for six months they moved in together. A year and a half later they married.

 

If we were to attempt to understand E.’s experience without engaging it, what would we find out? Was it a classical “fear of abandonment”? Was E. raped as a child and blocked it out? Was it a belief system of being a victim solidified in the image that traveled with E. from the previous life, or lives? Was the man in the dream a representation of the sadistic part of E.? Was it all of the above or none of them? We don't know. We do know though, that the quality of E.'s life improved dramatically when she defeated the monster in her waking dream journey.

 

Why Do We Not Need Self-Esteem?

Nowadays self-esteem is a commonly used concept. There are shelves in the bookstores filled with books teaching how one can improve self-esteem. There are seminars given around the country by so-called pioneers in the field of self-esteem. There are millions of tapes sold every year on how to improve self-esteem. Let us examine the concept of self-esteem and it's meaning and significance in the American society.

 

I was a newcomer in this land knowing enough English to ask for street directions in New York, but unable to understand the avalanche of words directed at me in reply. I was working as a bus boy in an Italian restaurant downtown. That was where it happened. A friendly waiter touched my shoulder and pointed at a customer, "I know this guy, he's a businessman, Steve X., he is worth 50 million dollars!" It was the first time in my life I had heard a human being equated to the amount of money he had in the bank.

 

Since that memorable experience I have heard again and again in conversations, "She is worth at least 20 million dollars.” On the radio, "Mr. Y. is worth 100 million dollars.” On TV, "Mr. Z. is worth 200 million dollars." So, let us place Mr. X. next to Mr. Z., an arithmetical problem for a first-grader--which human being is worth more?

 

There is no other society, as far as I know, in which such a concept is employed (although in England, in Australia, in New Zealand, in South Africa they speak the same language). So what? One may ask. The problem is that it is not just an occasional expression of a concept in a particular linguistic structure, but an ingrained part of our sense of self worth, or lack of it, reflected in our language.

 

The language, the expressions, the idioms evolve slowly over hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. At the base of the expressions are verbs carrying a particular pictorial meaning. The pictures, the images rooted in the words, have deep connection with our psychological, intellectual, moral, and spiritual make up.

 

The word "esteem" comes from Latin root estimare meaning, to set a value on. Setting a value on someone or something is a matter of comparison. It is a matter of creating a particular outside standard, comparing to which, will determine whether or not he, she, or it, is worthwhile or worthless. And if he, she, or it is worthwhile--to what degree? "People recognize themselves in their commodities," writes Herbert Marcuse in One-Dimensional Man; they have become what they own. They have become what they do."

 

As a psychotherapist in my office I have seen clients not take a low paying job that was of great interest to them, not because they could not pay bills, but because of fear that their self-esteem would be affected.

 

I have seen parents of a man who is a wonderful carpenter and loves his job. He is happily married to a kindergarten teacher. Both parents are depressed, "it hurts their self-esteem" to see what their boy did with his life coming from the family of doctors and lawyers.

 

"I was a mother," said a woman. She invested all her life into one thing only-- raising her children. Her children grew up and left. Mother felt empty, worthless, unneeded.

 

"I was a businessman," said a man. He worked day and night. He subordinated his whole life to building his business. He felt great about himself. He lost his business. His life lost its meaning.

 

In the pursuit of improving self-esteem women starve on brutal unhealthy diets, men spend hours building muscles in a gym, men and women become workaholics forgetting to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

 

It sees that the farther we go in the search of gaining more esteem, of having more than, being better than, being different from, the more alienated and unfulfilled we become. The more we will hear about teenagers committing suicide, unable to set a greater value on themselves.

 

I look for the answer to the self-esteem frenzy in the best manual for physical and psychological health I know--the Bible.

 

The Second Commandment states: "Thy shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness." Of course the thought of a golden calf comes to one's mind. Yes, that was a physical manifestation of a graven image. But, we are not physical beings only. So, any intellectual or emotional man-made standard (a particular level of achievement, a certain predetermined standard of living) is image making. What is it if not idolatry--creating a specific goal of how or where one is supposed to be and then subordinating one's whole life trying to align oneself to that image.

 

In the book of Genesis (I,26) we read: "And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Man is created to be in the image and likeness of the Creator. And, in the book of Exodus the Creator replies to being asked about his name: "I am that I am." Not, I'm the magnificent. Not, I'm the powerful. Not, I'm the creator. Not, I'm the eternal, but I am that I am.

 

So, as beings "in the image and likeness" of the Creator we are creators of our own lives. We can choose to continue the race for greater and greater estimated (value of ourselves), or we can choose to turn to confidence (Confidence--to trust, faith), Faith. Faith that we are that we are, without any label or comparison. We are free to do and to be what our hearts are telling us, not to be what is popular or approved by some outside standards or fashions. Then we might learn simply to be. Then who we are might express itself in its uniqueness and fullness. Then we might live our greatest potential in the vision of Nikos Kazanstakis: "I asked the almond tree, " Sister, speak to me of God, and the almond tree blossomed."

 

Who is REALLY running for President?

Read My Lips

In a few short months, we will have the opportunity to hire a new president. If only we could approach the election process the same way we approach important business decisions. A business manager would never land a highly desirable job without demonstrating whether what they say about themselves is accurate, that they can deliver on what they promise to contribute to the business, but, importantly, who they really are as people. The candidate would need to convince employers that they are strong enough to withstand the range of challenges the business may face. They would need to exhibit honesty, and even if they inspire trust, they still would need to convince employers that they are capable of delivering what they claim. It will also be important to know how they think, feel, and act when they are not the center of attention – are they collaborative or narcissistic? Of course, this decision-making process will be complicated by a candidate’s polished performance during the interview. Is it just a well-rehearsed act or an example of the behavior that could be expected day-to-day on the job?

Like it or not, this is what our electoral process is influenced by-- performance, a live show, designed to convince voters of the respective candidates’ poise, integrity, intelligence and wit. Like most talented performers, our candidates play to the audience, saying what they think we want to hear. Is this an accurate preview of their behavior if elected, or only a carefully constructed trailer to convince us to see the entire movie?

We are about to hire a new manager, not only to run this country but to directly impact all of our lives on a daily basis. This manager will make decisions that impact our health, the food we eat, the air we breathe, our incomes, our savings, our safety, and in some cases whether our children will be sent to war. “Read my lips, no new taxes!” How sincere and manly it sounded at the time!

Don’t we need to know who the new manager will really be, who is consistently and predictably there- behind the words, behind the appearance, behind the confident smile, behind the written (by someone else) and well-rehearsed speech?

Well, you can. You can literally read their lips, as well as their eyes, ears, nose, forehead and chin. A critical key to interpreting and appraising the candidates is available to voters by the art and science of facial morphology.

 

Who is Who?

 

Bilious Nervous Sanguine Lymphatic

The importance of understanding and interpreting the meaning behind appearance has been recognized by people of many different cultures, and over millennia unique ways of systematizing, organizing, and teaching this body of knowledge have been developed around the world. The systematic analysis of appearance and its correlation to character and behavior is known as the study of morphology (in Europe it is mostly knows as physiognomy). The word morphology simply means the meaning of the form (Morph. - form, Logos-word or meaning, from the Greek). Though the term morphology is generally used in relation to Western systems, the ancient Aryuvedic tradition in India developed a 3 body-type morphology; the Chinese tradition has developed morphology of 5 Elements, and the roots of morphology that have been utilized in the West date from ancient Egypt.

The prognostic value of western morphology is well-recognized in parts of Europe and is a component of the curriculum in both French and Italian medical and nursing schools. Morphology is also taught in Europe in private schools to laypeople to enhance self-awareness, improve communication skills, and inform job-seeking and hiring decisions. In my own practice, I teach and utilize morphology with students and clients to assess, strategize, and optimize relationships and interactions.

The underlying principle of morphology is the same principle that is at the foundation of all major spiritual and healing traditions in the world. This common denominator is the idea that the inner and the outer, the macro and the micro, the form and the function are mirror images of each other. This principle when applied to the science and art of human morphology states that OUR INNER CHARACTERISTICS ARE MIRRORED IN THE OUTER FORM. We are all born with different physical features, but the age-old question of nature vs. nurture is addressed by morphology, with the majority of the influence attributed to nature. Interestingly, morphological features can shift and “morph” in response to environmental events, and these changes can provide insight to how a person is adapting to situations and circumstances. You are not necessarily limited to the facial features present at birth.

We arrive into this world exhibiting one or more of four basic types, recognizable through distinct physical characteristics. This is reflected through our body type and the bone structure of the head and indicates a particular temperamental and energetic “type” known in morphology as Bilious, Nervous, Sanguine or Lymphatic. This discernible morphological structure accounts for about 90% of who we are, in the truest sense. The other 10% is contributed by our personality, embodied in the form of our face, of which there are twelve types in the Western morphological system, known as Earth, Saturn, Uranus, Mercury, Long Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, Moon and Neptune. The word personality comes from the Greek persona, which means the mask. Personality is what we develop in response to the environment; our parents, teachers, siblings, mates, etc. In short, it is our adaptation and survival face. What we know about people, unless we live with them for a long time and know them intimately, is what they show us -- their persona.

As a mental health practitioner and consultant to personnel departments of major international companies and investment firms, I use the science and art of human morphology to quickly zero on the strengths and weaknesses of my clients, to better understand the ways in which people think, the reasons for their behavior, and to help them identify the means to satisfy their needs.

What does morphology have to offer as we evaluate the candidates for the next presidential election? I will illustrate through morphology how you can have a clearer picture of the frontrunners for the job of the president of the United States of America; to see what really makes them tick, to see what is not on display, to know what is behind the appearance.

In the following analytical “snapshots” of the candidates I will refer to their temperamental types, but these observations are informed by a much greater body of information provided by facial features, facial muscles, and proportions.

 

Morphological analysis of the eight frontrunners:

Rudi Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, John Edwards, John McCain and Joe Biden.

Rudi Giuliani

Pure types in morphology are not very common, as most people are combinations of one or more temperaments and personalities. It takes experience to figure out which characteristics are dominant: which are only “nuances” and do not affect one’s decision making, which come out in crisis, and which predict routine behavior.

 

Rudi Giuliani is an exception to this rule because he is an example of a pure type. He is what in morphology is defined as a Bilious temperament.

Bilious is a positive pessimist. Rudy is and always was one of those who seek out problems. Problems do not scare him, do not discourage him, and do not overwhelm him. Problems make him angry and inspire him to make concrete changes. The greater the problem, the more Rudy is fueled. When Bilious types have no challenges to overcome they get depressed. That is why Rudy Giuliani is always in pursuit of getting yet another thing done, getting another accomplishment under his belt, winning another battle. Not surprisingly, he pursued law before politics.

Rudy is a natural introvert. He does not share what he really thinks and speaks only of what he feels is useful for attaining his goal. He thinks carefully before he speaks and uses his powerful will to tame his anger when it is appropriate. In the last ten years he acquired an ability to be more flexible and more detached from the outcome of his pursuits.

He needs his space physically and emotionally. His choices are governed by his mind, not by his heart. Do not expect him to pour his heart out when he is distressed, or to shed a tear when someone is in pain. He uses his mighty intellectual capacity to assess the challenge while being objective and logical. After achieving a clear vision of the “when and how” he uses his will to accomplish, conquer, build, destroy, learn, unlearn, make peace, wage war, or whatever he chooses to do, to make it happen. You can rely on him at work or play to have things done on time, without shortcuts, and without complaints.

Rudy is a long distance runner in every aspect. He is one of those people who wake up in the morning and go, go, go, like the Energizer Bunny. He is not afraid to be involved in a project that requires a long time and great amount of energy. With his energy, will, and sense of order he can do a lot of good, but the concern is about those he perceives to stand in the way of what he understands to be good.

Fortunately for the public, Rudy Giuliani lives in a democratic society where his views can be challenged in an open debate. When the will of people like Rudy is not challenged, they have the oppportunity become dictators. It should be noted that as powerful as morphology is, it is tempered by personal morality and individual choices that people make in their lives.

An example of diametrically opposed famous bilious leaders can be seen in Adolph Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi. Both leaders demonstrated the same formidable will, the same unwavering commitment to their cause, the same long term plans and visions. One governed by resentment, blame, and fear, the other by self-reliance, respect, and compassion. Both changed the world.

The fact that Rudy Giuliani has clear and unwavering spiritual beliefs gives me hope that if given great power, Mr. Giuliani will choose to emulate Ghandi, rather than Hitler.

 

Hillary Clinton

There is a joke from Bill Clinton’s presidency --,. Bill and Hillary are filling their gas tank at a rural Arkansas station. Hillary says, “You see this guy at the pump? I dated him in high school.” Bill replies, “Just imagine, if you married him you would be a wife of a gas station attendant.” Hillary retorts, “No, he would be president of the United States.”

By her temperament (inborn characteristics, remember) Senator Clinton is a combination of two morphological types: Sanguine and Bilious. These two temperaments embody cordiality, courage, spontaneity, and generosity (Sanguine characteristics) as well as will, endurance, and perseverance (Bilious characteristics).

If Hillary loves you, it is from the whole heart, giving without measure, standing beside you no matter what. If you are unfortunate to be out of her favor, watch your back. If it is useful for the cause, she may play the game and temporarily make friends with foes, if it is not she will dispense with you without hesitation. Remember what John Kennedy said? “Forgive your enemies, but don’t forget their names. Hillary never forgets.

Hillary Clinton can be spontaneous, charming, and entertaining but, if needed, she can become a calculating long-term planner with total commitment and unwavering will to achieve her goal. Compared to her husband, whose impulse to action at times is stronger than reason, Hillary is an example of internal order, deliberate decision-making, and self-control. Even if she believes in something passionately, she is able to step back, look objectively, and make a decision based on what is, rather than on what she wishes it would be.

Unlike Rudy, who will go head-on to fight his opponents and to stand for his cause, Hillary, if necessary, is willing to retreat temporarily, to allow her to advance later on and achieve her objective. She will keep her promises if she can, but if keeping her promises becomes too costly, she will not hesitate to change her mind and justify her action through logic and reason.

She has two natural inclinations: seeking social justice and protection of children. That is where her heart will play as important a role as her mind. Mothering the world is not something that Hillary chose as a political stance or a noble hobby, it is at the very core of her being and the underlying force behind all her pursuits.

If you admired Margaret Thatcher’s intelligence, clarity of mind, and inner strength but regretted her conservative political stand, on this side of the Atlantic you are looking at the “iron lady” wearing the blue cloak of a democrat.

 

Mike Huckabee

I will not write about Mike Huckabee much, not because there is little to say about him, but because to a great degree you have already read about him. He is yet another Bilious. Huckabee is strikingly similar to Rudi Giuliani. That means the energy, the will, the long term planning, the endurance, and the seeking out of challenges to overcome are all the same.

Let me focus on the contrast, on the differences between them. While Giuliani is a natural introvert, Huckabee is an extrovert. He does not need personal space. He wants to be out there. He endeavors to spend all his time with friends, admirers, critics, opponents, and anyone who will give him attention

Also, unlike the stubborn and inflexible Giuliani, the former governor is a diplomat ready to compromise, negotiate, and to take a few steps back in order to advance in the future. He is more sensitive and less straight forward, more intellectual and less anger-driven, more fun- loving, and less generous, more self-centered and less pessimistic than Rudi Giuliani.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama is the only candidate with a temperament (inborn characteristics, remember) which in morphology is called Nervous. He also has features of a Bilious that represent endurance and will, but nevertheless he is primarily Nervous.

 

If Bilious is characterized as a willful builder of the world, and Sanguine as a courage and spontaneity of the world, Nervous is the brilliance of the world. The most distinguishable characteristic of the Nervous temperament is their mind. The Nervous are the fastest and most creative thinkers of all temperaments.

 

Nervous have rich imagination and great creativity. These qualities may be “user-friendly” for a Nervous or quite self-destructive. At their best, they can use their imagination and creativity to envision a bright future, to come up with great ideas, to find ways of addressing challenging situations, and to sense new opportunities. At their worst, their imagination and creative mind can draft pictures of inevitable doom and gloom, which will pull them right down into the abyss of hopelessness and despair.

Nervous are very aware of their own feelings and are sensitive to the feelings of others. If they do dismiss how someone feels it may not be from lack of empathy or consideration, but rather because their own feelings are overwhelming them in the moment.

Nervous seek attention and appreciation from others the way flowers seek water. In spite of their need for feedback from their environment, they can often conceal their needs under the veil of bravado and artificial indifference, Nervous are a lot of fun to be with because they are very lively, charming, usually have great sense of humor, and are very accommodating and considerate.

While the typical Nervous gets overwhelmed by obstacles and tends to see things in a gloomy light, Senator Obama’s Bilious will makes him capable to face challenges and look at them as opportunities to create change. After the initial panic that he may experience internally (but never show to anyone), he may use his brilliant mind to find multiple solutions to a problem or creative ways for getting what he wants.

Obama is kind, sensitive, companionate, witty, and highly intelligent. He is also a perfect politician: a good communicator, able to compromise, willing to change camps if it serves the purpose, and has a great capacity to empathize.

The challenge for this potential president comes from two opposing inclinations: a tendency to be reactive rather than active, that is to wait till he must act or respond (qualities of a Nervous temperament), and a tendency to act decisively and willfully (qualities of a Bilious). Since the senator is primarily of a Nervous temperament, natural pessimism and anxiety may take their toll under long term pressure. Having a “pure” Bilious for a wife will definitely help (and probably always did) to balance his temperamental weaknesses.

 

Mitt Romney

 

Mitt Romney is another Bilious power house. He has the strength, the charisma, and courage of a Sanguine, as well as the perseverance, the endurance, and the will of a Bilious. If needed he is ready and willing to put up a fight, yet he can choose to yield if that serves his interests.

Romney’s facial features show that Mitt Romney is a natural introvert, is self-centered, and doesn’t really tell you what’s on his mind. There are also features that stand for generosity, extraversion, and sincerity. He is highly intelligent and intellectual. He knows what he wants in the long run, but also is capable of following a short-term impulse.

How do all these characteristics some of which are quite opposing go together and what does it mean for us? What can we expect from this man if he is elected to “run the show”?

The reason we refer to both the science and art of Morphology is because, just as in Medicine, though it is important to know the symptoms (in Medicine), or qualities (in Morphology), it is crucial to accurately interpret the symptoms or qualities to arrive at the right diagnosis.

So, let us make sense of this collection of qualities and try to see the whole man and how he operates.

A typical Sanguine is an extrovert, and tells you things as they are on the spot, but Romney’s deeply set eyes (a sign of introversion) and a thin upper lip (a sign that a person does not tell you what he/she thinks) are in direct conflict with the natural inclination to extroversion. It is not that the former governor is playing games with us, but he is likely to tell us one thing, then change his mind and as persuasively defend an opposite view. He simply follows the impulse that is stronger at that given moment. This war within, as with many intrapersonal conflicts, will subside with age. Chances are in 30 or 40 years we’ll a solid, confident, clear-minded, and unwavering presidential candidate. Till then… you decide.

 

John Edwards

John Edwards is yet another Bilious but with some Sanguine qualities. It is not surprising that most, if not all candidates at least partly are Bilious. In order to be a politician, run for an office, and then work as a congressman, or a senator, or a governor one needs a lot of stamina and an ability to make long-term commitments.

Edwards in many ways is a male version of Hillary Clinton. Comparing her features to those of Edward’s reveals that Edwards is a little less manipulative and a little more flexible, a little less willful and a little more fun loving, a little less enduring and a little more emotional, a little less divisive and a little more conciliatory.

There are a couple of features which are uniquely John Edwards. He is naturally kind and caring. He can be influenced by others. He can be frightened but wants to project courage.

 

With his great intelligence, compassion, flexibility, and the ability to keep commitments John Edwards could be a very good counselor, team worker, community organizer, and even a vice president.

 

John McCain

John McCain is a different combination: Bilious/Lymphatic with Sanguine skin. As a Bilious he is a willful, long-term player, solution-oriented, active, concrete, and detail-oriented. His Lymphatic side gives him an ability to see not only the tree but have a vision of the whole forest. Lymphatic are visionaries. That is why often you will see them as politicians, scientists, writers (the novel is their preferred form), long-term investors, judges, architects, and spiritual leaders. His skin coloring (representing one’s interaction with the outside world) is red, meaning that he can act courageously, impulsively, and once in a while explode in anger, which will subside quickly.

The combination of Bilious/Lymphatic is a very complementary one. The Bilious willful builder of the world in McCain is enriched by the Lymphatic Knowledge, Vision, and Tolerance of the World. The latter qualities act to soften Bilious’ somewhat harsh and intolerant attitude toward others.

Senator McCain is patient with himself and others (except for those occasional explosions), and respectful of other people’s feelings, qualities, and the pace of life. His moral values play a vital role in his entire decision–making process. Most of the time he has a clear idea of what he wants and does not get discouraged when others do not agree with him. If something is not working out but he believes it will, he will keep plowing till the problem is overcome or till he sees that it is not resolvable. When and if he does give up he can feel satisfied that he gave the problem his best effort.

These are the main qualities of John McCain at his best. At his worst he can be slow to act, hold grudges and resentment for a long time, and at times, explode in rage.

 

Most of the time, McCain is friendly and in a confliction situation is able to forgive, understand the other side, and find a way to make peace and find justice.

If you like order, integrity, passion for justice, and stability, and of course, share his vision for the country and the world -- McCain is your candidate.

Joe Biden

Of all the candidates, Joe Biden is the most complex and interesting person from the standpoint of morphology. He possesses qualities of all four temperaments -- the will and endurance of a Bilious, the charm, congeniality and courage of a Sanguine, the quickness of the mind and creativity of a Nervous, and the broad vision and benevolence of a Lymphatic.

Most of Biden’s qualities are complementary and do not create inner conflicts. He is ready to put up a fight if necessary, but able to yield when appropriate. His moral values are important to him, but do not cloud his reason and respect for opinions of others. He is stubborn when it comes to dealing with challenges, but his paternal tendencies help him to make sure that when he makes changes, everyone affected by those changes are safe.

In many ways, Senator Biden is similar to Senator McCain but with more charm and greater flexibility. The difference is that while McCain could make a good president but would have difficulties in the number two position, Joe Biden could make a good president and as good a vice-president.

Which Face Fits the Ballot?

Facial morphology can add a new and valuable dimension to analyzing the candidates for our next presidential election by helping us to see beyond and behind stage presence and public speaking skills. I want to add an important disclaimer : by saying a particular candidate has qualities like naturally kind or integrity, I do not mean to imply that other candidates are incapable of exhibiting the same qualities. My observations of characteristics associated with particular morphological features should be interpreted to suggest that for a person with certain features these qualities represent a natural way of being for him or her, while for others the same qualities may result from making a decision or an act of will.

To sum up, here are key characteristics of current politicians as related to their morphology. I have included a number of other figures to provide a basis for comparison and contrast:

Naturally kind: Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, John Edwards.

 

Driven by anger: Rudi Giuliani, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Fred Thomson.

 

Driven by ambition: Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson.

 

Driven by genuine caring: Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John Edwards, Joe Biden.

 

Driven by conviction: Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Fred Thomson.

 

People who will tell you the truth: Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Dennis Kacinich, Fred Thomson.

 

People with integrity: Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, John McCain,  Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Ron Paul, Dennis Kacinich, Fred Thomson.

 

People who are concealing: (you will never know what they really think): Rudi Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, Mike Gravel, Duncan Hunter, Bill Richardson.

 

People who will unite the country: John McCain, Joe Biden, Barack Obama.

 

People who will divide the country: Hillary Clinton, Duncan Hunter, Fred Thomson, Dennis Kacinich