When I worked at a mental health crisis program, I engaged myself in a movement to truly help the clients that we served, to not just put them in a bed with a roof over their heads, but to also connect with them in a way that sent them on their way ten days later with some essence of hope, some little kernel of healing. It was, at that time, an impossible task, mainly due to the opposition from the insurance entity that paid for their care. It was too "mystical", and not "best practices." It was seen by the medical/pharma powers that be as a threat, as if someone might actually get well, and god knows we don't want to effect profit margins.
We decided, I think in a moment of despair, but likely with a true awareness, to try something different. What we were doing was fine, putting mentally ill humans, often homeless, and scared, in a bed for ten days-safe, warm and dry. That was a good thing. But what was the effect on their illness. Absolutely it was positive, for ten days, then we sent them back to the environment that was so responsible for that very illness, without truly having addressed the symptoms.
We began to apply some of the principles of Acceptance and Committment Therapy, never imagining that this could possibly have any real effect in such a short time frame. More importantly, we began to use a creative visualization that we called a "Wisdom Journey." This were based on the theories of our program manager (and therapist) Dean Schlecht, whose work with those with Multiple Personality Disorder had discovered a mediating, protective presence in those patients that could be accessed through this type of active imagination.
There was no specific plan, but it became rather than sitting in the office waiting for clients to come to us, a couple of us went looking for them, any client willing to talk about ACT (Acceptance and Committment Therapy) principles or do a Wisdom Journey. At first we stumbled, but as we got better (more connected, more able to facilitate a visualization) we began to see results. At first minor, barely noticeable, but gradually profound. And while many clients could not relate, many experienced nothing, some experienced improved well-being, a very few, in my humble opinion, experienced a healing, and left the program ready to move on with their lives in a very positive manner. As I mentioned, this period of success was short lived. The insurance providers were uncomfortable that those of us doing the actual visualizations were not therapists, concerned that we might do damage to some, this despite the positive experiences that were being reported to us. Not too long after, the program was closed leaving a great void in community mental health treatment.
But, as is often the case, I am off topic, at least from the perspective of my intention for writing this blog. I titled it BE YOU, be yourself. Why? I am concerned that as a society we are losing our uniqueness, our individuality, that which makes the genuine being that we came to this existence to be. You might very well ask how we do that, as if we had any certainty of just what our intended being was. I don't have a great answer for that. So much of what I believe depends almost entirely on perception, not on any known truth. I live in a very liberal community, and today was one of those days where we close the streets downtown, and encourage people to be different, to "fly your freak flag." However, the more you watch people, the more you realize that there is not very much different anymore, in fact not for a long time. How many colors can your hair be? We seem to model ourselves after about ten role models. So many men have either a beard or a gotee. This, however, is simply cosmetic. The biggest problem has become our fixed, and inflexible opinions. We have divided ourselves into two political camps, as if there weren't those with either liberal or conservative opinions in either party; and we are not any longer able to dialogue about our differences. And, in the mean time, the powers behind the powers, those who seek control of the planet, laugh, misdirect us, and pull off geopolitical moves without our noticing that they have deprived us all of some basic freedom. I suppose that I am afraid. Afraid that an all out war on planet earth might be the end of humanity. Yet, we continue to allow, or support those who seek war with Russia, or China, or North Korea, or Iran. Dammit, make war with somebody.
So who are you really? Are you the person who loves your family, your children, your grand children, or are you the person who gets upset on Facebook, and un-friends a friend because they have a different political opinion than you do, all of which plays right into the hands of those who would imprison you and worse. My belief is that with each passing day, it becomes more and more important that we re-discover who we are, our essence, and let it shine forth in the most honorable way possible.
Yet, as I have all ready implied, it is a nearly impossible task to discover this real self (Self), this essence, the core of your being.
Another part that I played in the efforts we made to heal our clients was to facilitate an ACT group once per week. I eventually had to change the name to Mindfulness group due to objections by that insurance entity. I often started the group by asking a question of the group: "What really, really matters to you?" This was designed to help group members discover the mediating, inner presence that we were finding, often, in our wisdom journeys. The group was meant to be an introduction to these visualizations.
My own answer to the question is honor. It seems that it is something that I have always been without being taught to be that either directly or indirectly. As a child, the adults in my life just were not.
Now people give many different answers to this question, and usually these are right. But it does seem that no matter what the answer-loving my kids, caring deeply, doing the best I can-all tend to categorize into two groupings, either honor or sincerity. Sincerity is a quality often used in Buddhist literature to mean a deep genuiness, or what to me seems like a sincere honor, deep to your core, your basic identity, or as near as one can come to identifying that which you are.
This brings us to a second problem. When you say "I am Jane," who is this "I" and who is this "Jane?" Is it your brain, your thoughts? Is it your heart? Just where is this "I?" Without getting to far into metaphysics, this search for the real "you" can be rather elusive. In the final outcome, I guess that I would say that I am this consciousness, without grasping too tightly to this definition. I am this part that doesn't do the thinking, the feeling, but rather notices these aspects of "me." It is the part that is awareness. This, in a sense, is rather freeing. If the deeper self simply notices, is not tied to thinking or feeling, is not tied to expectation and results; there are then no worries. We spend so much time in our heads, mulling over this, worrying about that, planning tomorrow, regretting the past; perpetually doomed to never be in the now.
I am not suggesting that you become a thoughtless, unfeeling shell, rather that we simply notice, and.....accept that which is. The most profound statement anyone has ever told me is: "That which is, is!" Now this sounds like pure foolishness, and yet, it is the one and only truth. All else is perception. And just because we do not recognize that which is, does not make it not so. On this level what happens, happens. Shit happens. Just because it is dependent on other things happening to happen, does not mean that it did not happen, it is simply empty. Sounds like Zen BS doesn't it?
Well, anyway, we, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, need to be a little more responsible for our space. Others make decisions for us. What we think. What we say. How we behave. It is reaching a dangerous place. Your child needs you to step up. He is asking you to "be you." His well-being depends on it, the air that he breaths, the water he drinks, whether he will have the autonomy to live as a free being, free enough to discover who he is.
On several occasions doing a wisdom journey with someone, I have had a profound experience, that of being in the presence of something deeply sacred, a higher Self. It was enough to make the hair stand on end. This presence is powerful, and yet, is you at your deepest level. It is you. Just because we do not see it does not mean it does not exist. Find a way to embrace it. Be it. Be you. You are enough.
I know that someone will ask: "How do I do that?' My first answer is meditation. This is like practicing being this presence. To find that presence, this website has a visualization on the front page by a man called Mooji. It will surprise you. And finally, for the experience of a Wisdom Journey, Dean Schlecht has a website with recordings of several inner journeys. As the French say: "Bon Courage."