Thursday, September 27, 2012

Movie Premiere - The Joy of Sox

"Amazing things happen when large crowds gather to share positive emotions...I was the guinea pig to test whether the heart energy of joy is contagious..." Eric Leskowitz, MD

Seven years ago, on September 26th, 2005 I was reading the Boston Globe and an op ed editorial caught my eye. "Can Weird Science Save The Sox?" It was written by Rick (Eric) Leskowitz with whom I trained at the VA during the 1983-1984 season ahem academic year. I felt this energy coming from him across the conference room at 17 Court Street which was then the home for the VA outpatient clinic. When I saw the op ed piece, I felt a jolt of energy go through me. We have to get Rick to come back and do an in service for social work I pleaded with the chairs of our continuing education committee. They pooh poohed the idea saying it wasn't relevant to clinical social work practice.

Fast forward to 2007. I leave the VA and I begin sharing my journey on the world wide web. A polio survivor from Texas emailed me asking if I could help her find resources. Another bolt of energy went through me and I reached out to Rick who is the director of Integrative Medicine at Spaulding Rehab which coincidentally is where I received my post polio treatment. We reconnected and met for lunch. Twenty five years later and we felt like old friends connecting with each other. We have had many synchronicities happen with each of our journeys - Rick with his Joy of Sox movie and me with my post VA life journey.

At the premiere of Rick's movie Sunday night at the West Newton Cinema, Rick talked about the energy streams that were in the room; how we each contributed in some way - either through the energy of money or the energy of being a fan or the energy of being a friend to the completion of his movie - 7 years in the making.

But this isn't just Rick's movie nor is he doing this for fame or ego. Rick is a holistic psychiatrist with a passion to share knowledge for the good of the whole on how we can live more joyful, compassionate, loving and peaceful lives. He explores the science behind the field of energy medicine using the Red Sox as a 'case study.'

We are all a case study participating in amazing phenomena every day. We only need to awaken to what Rick calls 'the intangibles.' I had never been to a movie premiere before. The celebrities on the red carpet at the West Newton Cinema included fans from Red Sox nation who appear in the movie, staff from Spaulding Rehab Hospital including an energy healer who supported me during my Boston Marathon run who I had not seen in a couple of years, and supporters of Rick and his stellar creative team who helped create The Joy of Sox.

From the moment I stepped into the theater I began to smile.

I turned to my husband and said, "I have a really cool life." I thought about all the twists and turns and amazing coincidences that brought me to that moment and all that aligned for Rick to be able to bring The Joy of Sox to the big screen. The energy was infectious. The collective joy was contagious. Open your heart and your mind to embrace the science and possibility expressed in this film. Join the joy. "There's magic in the air."

For more information about The Joy of Sox and to purchase copies of the book and pre order your copy of the DVD visit the Joy of Sox website.

Enjoy my previous blog posts about Rick and The Joy of Sox journey
Joy of Sox book review

Count Your Blessings for a Happy and Healthy Heart

Opening Day

The Discovery Channel or You Can Teach an Old (Downward) Dog New Tricks

On Being a Champion

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mindfulness and the Internal Revenue Service - I Am Free

Sitting on my lawn on a beautiful late summer's day, the mailman smiled and handed me our mail. I smiled, wished him a good day and as we all tend to do, flipped quickly through the envelopes to see what he had delivered. I stopped and my stomach clutched. A thick envelope from the IRS. I breathed. I have a 'history of feelings' triggered by seeing those three little letters.

We received a notice of "underreporting" our income saying we owed $3000 in back taxes. As I observed myself going through a gamut of emotions, I began processing the information. I knew what happened. Several weeks after filing our 2010 taxes we received a "1099" from the brokerage house. I ignored it because I didn't know what to do with it especially since it only reported the total amount of our security sales as opposed to the much smaller profit we had made on the stock transactions.

I filed it away and forgot about it especially since not only did we receive our refund for that year, but we received a correction from the IRS granting us a bigger refund than what we had filed. And yes, I did have a major anxiety attack when I received that letter until I opened it and saw that they were making a correction in our favor. Hmmm so now what to do?

My husband and I, to quote Dr Seuss, puzzled and puzzled about it until our puzzlers were sore. I couldn't let go of it instinctively knowing something was just not right. I asked Tom to call the brokerage house because frankly, I was immobilized to ask the questions. It had nothing to do with the money. This was a result of deep seated trauma. He was exhausted and still had more work to do in the evening before we were going to meditation class. In the 'old days', I would have hounded him to call right then and there but with yoga and meditation, I was able to quiet my mind rather than displace all of my angst onto my dear husband wanting him to call and straighten out 'the mess' right then and there.

Amazingly, I was able to fully participate in meditation class and had a wonderful night's sleep. The next morning, Tom told me he'd call when he got home from work. I got still and I allowed Spirit to move through me. I acknowledged and cozied right up to my fears as Ana Forrest would say, calling first our brokerage house and then going right into the belly of the beast. I called the IRS.

I had amazing customer service with the brokerage house. The first person I spoke with at the IRS was gruff and accusatory. I held steady "pleading my case" letting him know I accepted responsibility for not reporting the profits on our taxes but was clearly not a scoff law. He softened a little and then transferred me to the branch of the IRS that had sent us the letter.

I was blessed to speak with a person of compassion and kindness. We sorted everything out and he told me the next steps I needed to take letting me know that many people actually make this same 'honest mistake' as we had. Prior to his saying this, I accepted full responsibility and apologized for not attending to this before now. He saw that instead of owing $3000 we'd owe maybe an additional $45 and we were clearly not tax evaders.

This experience, as I previously mentioned, really had nothing to do with the money although I am extremely grateful we don't owe $3000 plus penalties and interest. It was a soul lesson for me. Patience, maintaining calm while being put on hold for 40 minutes; no longer blaming Tom for my own discomfort asking him to take action to relieve it and moving beyond fears to feel empowered, experiencing and breathing through all of my at often times powerful thoughts and feelings that arose.

In Fierce Medicine, Ana Forrest calls this experience a dharma joust: moving out of a habitual pattern of reacting to a situation. I am so grateful to the IRS for providing me with this wonderful learning opportunity to practice mindfulness and move beyond my fears. I am free!

Fear - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

Once my shroud
the walking dead
the veil of trauma shreds.

I walked with fear today
she cast a long shadow on the path
crevices and pitfalls hidden in the darkness
I stumbled and fell listening to her song in a minor key
a haunting shrill refrain echoing a funeral dirge.

Living in fear is death
she ruled my life when I believed her seductive lies
stripping my integrity
robbing me of my freedom
somehow if I allied with her I'd be safe.

But her power pales in the light of Truth
Breath the antidote to her venom
cleansing the mind numbing slumber
as strength and courage fill every fiber
hydrating my once shrunken self.

I rise from the rubble with grace and gratitude
awakened by the power of love in the sangha
daring to soar to new heights
leaving fear in the dust.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,

May All Beings Be Happy and Free! Om Shanti

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Places That Scare You - Book Review

The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron took me to places within myself that I was reluctant to visit. Yet these are the very practices she offers in order to become a boddhisattva (one who has the mind of enlightenment called bodhichitta) where we live in the present moment, cultivating the seed of kindness.

“Each time we drop our complaints and allow every day good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world,” writes Chodron. What are the places that scare us? Chodron takes us beyond the obvious universal fears we experience in our humanity to the more subtle fears that inhibit our true freedom; the illusion of separateness that manifests when we judge ourselves and another. Chodron offers us a guide to connect to the basic goodness that resides in every sentient being using her own stories to guide us to be patient, use humor, warmth and kindness as we inquire into our own patterns of thought and behavior. It takes a warrior spirit to go into the places that scare us; the essence of our very humanity and pain. At the heart of our pain and suffering, when we have the courage to abide with those experiences, however, is the tender spot, the sweet spot of loving kindness, compassion and love. She suggests that we soften rather than harden our hearts in response to the challenges life brings and enter into a state of groundlessness where everything we once held dear no longer has meaning.

Chodron awakens us to what causes our suffering. She offers meditation practices/aspirations and the activities of the boddhisatva warrior to take us out of our limiting beliefs and feelings to experience the limitless qualities of joy, loving kindness, compassion and equanimity. Suffering happens when we close our hearts with emotions such as jealousy. Suffering is the result of an aggressive mind. Reactions, strategies and story lines are what keep us all prisoners. Chodron invites us to abide with the physical sensations, appreciate the present moment and soften rather than harden our hearts to allow limitless joy – basic goodness to shine through.

Chodron shares with the reader a wonderful story about a cook at the Abbey where she resides. The cook was feeling unhappy and fed the gloom with her actions and thoughts growing darker and darker by the hour. To ventilate her feelings she baked chocolate chip cookies which she burned. Rather than dump the burned cookies, she stuffed them into her pockets and a backpack and went out for a walk. She questioned where is the beauty and magic she keeps hearing about when a little fox walked toward her. The fox sat down gazing up expectantly. She offered the fox her cookies and he ate them slowly and then trotted away. When she returned to the Abbey she said, “I learned today that life is very precious. Even when we're determined to block the magic, it will get through and wake us up.” The message that is consistent throughout The Places That Scare You is to remain in a place of loving kindness, compassion and patience for ourselves as we journey through life and then from this place we are able to open our hearts abiding with all the suffering, the joys and freedom that life has to offer.

Reading Pema Chodron's, The Places That Scare You has given me a new repertoire of awakening tools to help me continue to evolve out of my beliefs and stories that came with heartache and trauma to the tender hearted, joy filled, grateful Being I am in Truth; a fearless warrior with courage and patience to breathe fully into my life. It's a daily practice, a lifetime of hard work with the sweet rewards of living a life wholeheartedly, completely alive in freedom.

“This simple way of training with pleasure and pain allows us to use what we have, wherever we are, to connect with other people. It engenders on-the-spot bravery, which is what it will take to heal ourselves and our brothers and sisters on the planet.” We train not only for ourselves but for the welfare of all beings. This is a book that I will reread awakening to its wisdom over and over again.

A Song of Freedom - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

Penned many poems
let Divinity shine
Still not free.
Body memories' cling tightly
Stinging tentacles sucking life force
The simple act of breathing
Not simple
Not easy
When terror fills the heart.
Unnamed--unclaimed heart trembling fear
Dark secrets the padlock on prison cell door.
A yoga mat
Holotropic breath
Flood of tears
Body's free to rant
Sweat pours from every pore.
Divine Sweet Love and Light
fill the room
Heavenly Voices serenade rebirth
We are all ONE
Illusion of uniqueness GONE
Healing bathes each human
Until all that remains
is The Soul.

From my heart to yours
May all beings be happy and free
With love