Prime Directive

You probably know that I am a student of the integral model of understanding the plight of human that shows humanity is still developing, becoming more and more complex and able to solve problems that are becoming more and more complex. I’m seeing that some systems that we have taken for granted for many generations are no longer adequate to deal with complexity of twenty-first century problems. Because of this I am believe that we humans have a prime directive and that is to intentionally engage in practices that stimulate and precipitate personal development. The scientific community might say it as “Evolve or die out.” The religious community would understand this as a call to become more and more like the One who created us – to fulfill the will of the Creator.

You may not know that I am also a fan of Star Trek, not that I am wowed by the great acting, but by the underlying message and theme of the show. The original series displayed great diversity in its crew and its willingness to engage with diverse cultures and life forms, even if doing so sometimes created problems. Both Voyager and The Next Generation versions of the show emphasized commitment to what is known as the Prime Directive: To explore the universe in search of unknown life forms without interfering with those life forms, their culture or development.

I recently watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which problem to be solved was the legal question of whether the android Data was or was not a sentient being. If Data is only a machine, “it” then is the property of the Federation and must submit to being disassembled with the possibility that much of “its” experience with sentient beings could forever be lost. If Data were a sentient being, then he would not be required to submit to that demand. The purpose of disassembling Data was that it seemed necessary so that more Datas could be created. The long-term implications were the Federation could create a race of beings which it owned and could use or sacrifice as it wished, a race of slaves, so to speak. All the empirical evidence, history of having been made, not born, super-human mental and physical abilities, etc. seemed to point to his being certainly not human.  It fell upon Captain Jean Luke Picard to demonstrate that Data was more than “just a machine” and he did so by showing that Data could and had established relationships with other beings, he also had self-awareness and other qualities that complied with the definition of a sentient being. The judicial decision was, “I don’t know whether Data has a soul, whatever that is, but I cannot condemn him to destruction without knowing that he absolutely does not.” Data was saved or spared.

Humanity has the capability of destroying the world in or on which we live. (Don Beck says the only things to survive a nuclear war would be cockroaches and viruses.) The problems we face will not go away or become easier to solve. Nuclear war is not the only way we may destroy ourselves. There are environmental issues, physical and mental health issues that outpace our ability to deal with them, and economic issues that continue to divide and create conflict.

Yes, we have the ability to destroy, but we also have to ability to use our collective intelligences to create flexible systems that can adequately address the hard issues at hand. But it will not happen by accident. It will be intentional. It is up to each of us to grow up, wake up, clean up and show up. We must mature intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. We must wake up to our true nature and our Oneness. We must face our own prejudices, biases and blindness. And we must join with others in whatever way we can to help make a difference.  This, I believe, is the Prime Directive of our time.

Small Works of the Spirit

Marie Kennedy

Small Works of the Spirit, a collection of small mixed media paintings inspired by the idea of various aspects of “spirit” as perceived by the artist Marie A. Kennedy.

Drop by to see the opening on
Friday, April 13th, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Guitar music by Todd Juengling
Meet Marie and connect with new and old friends alike.
Wine, tea, and nibbles provided.

Show open from April 13th to June 2018

Artist Statement: Marie has been a working artist since her first two years of college at the Howard University (Washington, D.C.) Fine Arts Department. Since then, she has shown and sold her work at both private and public art events in Hawaii, California, and Ohio. One of her sculpture pieces was selected for the 2015 National Black Heritage exhibit at Central State University’s National African-American Museum & Cultural Center. Her work is held in several private collections.

Dream by Marie Kennedy

Dream by Marie Kennedy

Marie’s artwork reflects her multi-cultural heritage as well as the spiritual connections she finds in symbolism, literature, nature, and humanity. Texture, atmosphere, and color are important elements in her work. In addition to paintings, drawings, and small sculptures, she makes one-of-a-kind costume jewelry in mixed media, three-dimensional textile objects, and wall hangings.

 

The Magic of “We”

We had a really good time during the “Lightness of Spirit – Blessing of Gravity” retreat in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. One of the amazing things that we experienced was the number of “we’s” to which we belonged. There was the we that formed our group and the we that formed either the leaders, participants, and retreat staff.

Surprising was the automatic formation of a we as we rode the bus to various parts of the community. Ajijic has approximately twelve thousand residents. Of those twelve thousand, around four thousand are American or Canadian citizens. On almost every bus ride, walk down the street, or shopping experience conversations would break out between and among the we that were English speaking. Conversations that would never have happened, had we been in the states. We were easy to spot and, at the very least, there was a nod of recognition of our we-ness.

We-ness is a rather remarkable thing. Our diverse group, mostly strangers to each other, chose to become a we. One participant said, “Who knew this would be a heart opening experience?” The act of coming together with hearts open was a part of the spiritual experience. The more we develop spiritually, the larger the we becomes.

Early on in our development we consists of only “me and mine”, perhaps the immediate or even extended family.  The process of maturing widens the boundaries of we. We begins to include my school, or of all those who are in school. We may include my colleagues at work, or the entirety of those who work for a company, in an industry or all the business in a community. As Red Green says, “I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”

One way of monitoring one’s spiritual development is to ask who are those that make up my we? How close can we come to moving from thinking just of “us” to thinking of “all of us”? The maturing process is one of transcend and include. One does not quit thinking about what’s good for me and mine, but progressively includes more and more diversity within the we.

All the great spiritual leaders indicate that ultimately there will be no them, there is only us. Our thoughts and anticipation is that, in the words of Star Trek’s Jean Luke Picard, “Make it so.”


Intelligent Skeleton Solves Problems


Cog or toothed wheels have been credited as a man-made invention starting somewhere around 100 BC. The interlocking teeth, allowing one wheel to propel against another, led to many of man's greatest inventions for locomotion and the industrial revolution.

It turns out humans can't take exclusive credit for this invention any longer. We were beat out by a bug called Issus (similar to a grasshopper). This insect's skeleton evolved to solve a  need for jumping at instantaneous, hi-speed, by developing legs with an interlocking system. How smart is that!

You know I am crazy about our bones. I got pretty juiced a couple of years ago when research came out highlighting the importantance of bones in diabetes and obesity, labeling the skeleton as part of the endocrine system.

I talk quite a lot about the way we use ourselves impacting the structure of our bones, literally reshaping them--not just the quality of their composition, such as bone mineral density. But how we now know that the bone is talking to our metabolic system. Making my work in Movement Intelligence, Bones for Life, and the Feldenkrais Method all the more important.

Anyway, you might like to see the video of the Issus in action and one of the leading Cambridge scientists in the study explaining his grandson's involvement in the discovery. It's a great video even highlighting collaboration with senior citizens and nine-year old's.

 
 

A Story of Hope after PTSD

I have the privilege of helping many people find their internal resources for leaving trauma behind.

Traumatic experiences can be life disrupting events. For some trauma not only is a horrifying event but also eventually causes interpersonal conflict. Jobs can be lost, and relationships terminated. For example, we know that automobile accidents can interfere with a person’s ability to drive, and many returning from combat find it exceedingly difficult to re-enter civilian life. Night terrors can be or become common place. Characteristic of PTSD is that one is continually relieving some past trauma as if it is in present time. There really isn’t a past. There is only the trauma, literally happening in the mind and body again and again and again.

Recently one of my clients, Gloria, wrote down her journey out of PTSD for us to share. In this article, I will share some of her inspiring words and then talk a bit more about the process.

“I came to see Larry because of the nightmares and PTSD I suffered after my husband took his life. I couldn’t walk into my basement without seeing his body lying there on the cold ground, right in front of the washer and dryer I had to use once a week. At night, I relived that terrible night in my dreams and would wake up wailing or screaming. I could barely get out of bed and go to work. I considered moving from my home of 22 years at that time, but it felt wrong to just try to run away. And since I would have to take my mind and memories with me anyway, it seemed pointless to put myself through another major life-change. I even considered ending my own life. I was dubious about the treatment at first, I admit. I’d been to see several therapists and psychologists, and was taking valium and anti-anxiety medications at the time, but nothing helped, and I was afraid of getting addicted to them. I wanted to try something different. ANYthing that might have a chance of working.”

Gloria’s experience is unfortunately typical in terms of how treatment can go wrong. Much of modern therapy reinforces and amplifies the trauma. Some years ago, we got a phone call from a Vietnam vet that has stuck with us. He wanted to try out my services, but he was scared. Really scared. A year earlier he had decided to finally seek out therapy. He was functional. He had a wife. A pretty stable life, but he was also navigating the trauma on a regular basis. After several months in therapy, he was having violent nightmares. His wife was scared for him and her.

He went to his therapist and said, “Look if I continue therapy, one of us is going to end up dead. You or me, I’m not sure but someone is going to die.” And according to him, the therapist readily agreed that he should quit therapy. He did not come in for that appointment with me. Like Rosanna, he was dubious. His experience just couldn’t allow him to have hope for something different. What happened in his therapy that led to this outcome?

Exposure Therapy. The idea behind Exposure Therapy is to continually expose the client to the traumatic experience with the hope that eventually the client will become so used to the stimulus that it no longer triggers an unwanted response. It’s like saying, we’re going to subject you to rape so many times that it no longer seems so bad. Or the belief that if you hit your thumb with a hammer enough times, it will no longer hurt when it happens. The practitioners of Exposure Therapy believe that after a few months of therapy symptoms will subside or even disappear. I celebrate that some people do get better with this approach, but regret that the client must replay, relive the trauma over and over. It appears that one cannot know in advance which clients will benefit from this therapy and which clients will actually experience an increase in intensity and frequency of symptoms.

There are other therapies which aim to reduce therapeutic trauma while helping to overcome PTSD symptoms. Among them is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. This therapy guides the client through a series of eye movements (eyes up right, down left, across left, etc. as directed seeming to pretty much in random order) while thinking about the traumatic event. All experience is stored in memory as a set of pictures, sounds and feeling. Our eyes must move in a particular direction to recall picture, a different direction to create a picture, a different direction to recall a sound, still another to imagine a sound etc. EMDR attempt to create a synesthesia so the pictures, sounds and feeling get mixed up or mixed together. This confuses the brain and it no longer responds to the memory in the way it once did. For some people this works very effectively. But for some the trauma is so intense they cannot stop reliving the experience when asked to think about it.

More from Gloria.

“During my first session, I told him about what was happening to me. He was very compassionate and kind, and I felt safe and understood. Even being in his presence was relaxing to me. He made several suggestions using visualization about the basement where my husband died. I also said goodbye and told him I loved him. The very next day, when I went down to do my laundry, I no longer “saw” him lying on the ground. I thought of him, but in a different way. I felt free and at peace. He was free, too. After only one session with Larry.”

Image

What did we do in that first session? Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP avoids re-exposing the client to the traumatic experience. Rather it uses a double dissociation process by which the client watches themselves watching a movie of that past event. They may or may not actually see the imaginary movie. They simply know when it is over when the movie lights quit flickering. From there the client then goes through a re-wind process during which the brain/nervous system unlearns the unwanted response.

The suggestions used during the visualization that Gloria mentioned are really the suggestions taken from cues about that way she talked and acted. Based on that information, I can tell if the client is seeing pictures, hearing a script, or is overwhelmed with a feeling state. This allows me to lead them in a process that matches their style and harness their best resources.

One NLP process that I have used effectively quite a lot is known as the “Fast Phobia Cure.” Since its inception the use of the process has been expanded and used for resolving PTSD. It was used in a group therapy session with 23 participants who had witnessed genocide in Rwanda. With only one group session all participants experienced PTSD symptom reduction which continued through the end of the study. While phobias and trauma might seem different, it turns out they are almost identical in the nervous system. There was a learning that was so overwhelming that the system is unable to stop replaying the event.

Not everyone fully recovers in just one session, but everyone with whom I have worked experienced major relief in one session and I have never seen a client for more than three sessions for relief and recovery from traumatic experiences whether it was a single traumatic experience or a series of experiences. And none of them re-experience the trauma during the process.

What was next for Gloria?

“I went to see Larry again several times after that, including once 3 years later, when I was considering beginning a romantic relationship with an old friend who was courting me. I was afraid and anxious again, this time about opening my heart to another person. I also felt unfaithful to my late husband for some reason. Larry’s kind and wise words helped me overcome my fears and doubts and gave me clarity. I was able to reach out into life and love again, and accept the gift being offered to me.”

In a culture where everything is hard work, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, this kind of recovery can seem unbelievable. But humans are very resilient. But when we get stuck, we get really stuck. And no bootstrap pulling alone is going to turn that around. We need some way to quit playing the stuck record.

If you would like to read Gloria’s heart touching words without interruption, you can do so here. I am thankful to her for taking a risk and allowing me to partner with her. I’d like to partner with you to find freedom from the past and the opportunity to live in the present.

Integral Practice Group Start Up

HERE WE GO!

­­­­

Never before, in the course of human history, have we understood enough about human progress and development that we could actually participate in and take responsibility for our own development. Thanks to the work of such people as Ken Wilber, Don Beck and Chris Cowen, Said Elias Dawlabani, Genpo Roshi, Michael Murphy, Howard Gardner, Robert Kegan and many others we now know that we can do just that – participate in our own development – our evolution. Regular participation in practices designed to develop mind, body, psyche and spirit, can accelerate one’s development. That’s the goal of an Integral Practice.

We are happy to announce that the interest has been quite good for the proposed Integral Practice Group. Over the course of six months, participants will experience together a number of practices that when combined create an integral approach.  Each participant will choose which practices they want to incorporate into daily life. As mentioned in previous articles, the practices will include practices to help us to:

  • Grow up – stimulate us mentally
  • Wake up – spiritual practices
  • Clean up – shadow work (the darker side of our self)
  • Show up – become more of who we really are
  • Kata – a daily practice that taps into the body, mind and spirit

Not every session will address every area, since that would allow only 30 minutes per area. In addition, some of the information to be shared may be done in advance via email or video.

There will be an informational meeting on Thursday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss starting date, best day of week and time for the meetings.

Please click here to register for this free informational meeting.

Investment: $780.00 for 13 meetings over six months. A limited number of partial scholarships will be available based on need.

15 Exercises to Save Your Back in the Kitchen

Cooking projects in the kitchen can be a day-long workout. In fact, standing for long periods can be challenging, period.

The 15 Feldenkrais exercises in this free video can help tremendously, and not only in the kitchen. This video can help you in any place or situation where long-term standing is involved, such as waiting in line or standing for long periods at work.