Spontaneous art is the most effective in a safe setting, where there are no interruptions and ideally a guide to contain the experience. Lyrical, rhythmic music – ideally with words not in a language the participant understands – enhances the process greatly.
Why no interruptions, a minimal amount of speaking and rhythmic music? When we are quiet and still within, we enter into a slower brainwave pattern, called an alpha state of consciousness. An alpha state neutralizes the stress hormones of adrenalin and cortisol and enhances the neurotransmitters of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. This creates a more relaxed physical body and a stronger immune system. This state enhances the creative and intuitive functions. Greater emotional stability and resilience follow.
A stable structure, with clear boundaries and instructions, is provided so the participant is able to let go and trust in the magic of the creative process. For e.g. where does the participant wash and dry their hands? How long will the activity go on for? A compassionate, accepting atmosphere is provided where the subconscious and feelings have the safety to come out. Classical analysis and interpretation are left at the door and participants are encouraged to trust themselves through the meaning they give to their creation, through integrative exercises after the activity.
What are the qualities that a facilitator of CRT™ possesses? The facilitator needs to foremost be able to hold space with centeredness and an open, accepting heart. A competent facilitator understands his or her capacities and limitations and knows who to refer the participant to for deeper emotional work if it is needed. A wise facilitator also has an understanding of the potential to project out any of his or her own triggered and disowned material onto a participant. The facilitator for example works behind the scenes to process any impatience wanting to leak out with a particularly participant, away from the art activity, with a professional, supervisor or with himself/herself.
Creating a safe, non-judgmental, non-directive atmosphere has outstanding benefits in the immediate. Letting the participant paint a flying dog and holding back the urge to joke, “Come on…dogs don’t fly!” can be all it takes to begin to reap the benefits of this technique. That flying dog is expressing a rich exhale from the participant’s psyche, key to coming into greater wholeness. Trusting this, even if the facilitator does not understand the specifics or meaning in that moment, is highly supportive to the participant.
Finally a good facilitator will paint, model clay, make collages, exchange face mask making and create mandalas as often as possible, so to know inside out the process any participant could likely be experiencing.
I love creating mandalas. I also love spirituality and stillness, but have a lot of excess energy. Whenever I do mandalas, they take me into a dependable state of calm and centeredness, while focusing my energy.
I love color. I love having an array of good quality colored pencils or a large selection of small bowls of colored sand in front of me for the choosing. I love taking my time and really feeling into each color and observing where there is a resonance. I feel like a dolphin sending out sonar waves, attentive to which colors will echo back and how each color’s echo will be qualitatively different.
I always have loved making cards for people- whatever the occasion may be. Since I have been creating mandalas the last several years, I now choose a mandala image that feels perfect for that person’s energy or what would serve them at the time. I then set the intention to choose the most effective colors. I use my body and felt sense as a proxy to feel what is best. It is as if I am superimposing my loved one’s energetic essences onto my own subtle energetic and physical body, for the purposes solely to know what would best serve. If I make the time, the real gift for the recipient, is to make the mandala with my left hand.
I have practiced spontaneous painting with my left hand for 28 years. The process of painting with the left vs. the right hand is day and night. When I paint with the right hand, immediately the process is stilted and riddled with increasingly louder self-criticism. When I paint with the left hand, I am in a flow and the process is highly intuitive and trusting. I effortlessly know what color to choose. My hand movements are free and connected. I feel like I am inside the painting, dialoguing along the way with what wants to emerge. When I paint with the right hand, which is very rare, I feel like I am on the outside and doing something to the painting rather than expressing the painting. So, when I began creating mandalas regularly, I had the idea of trying out the left hand. My painting style is usually with larger strokes, making the lack of exact dexterity less of an issue with the left land. However, coloring or using sand to fill a mandala, requires more precision. Nevertheless, I carried on and gave the left hand a go.
The first 5-10 minutes were slightly awkward and stunted, unlike the painting process, which is generally fluid from the start. I stuck with it. I was slowed down. I couldn’t speed up. I put on gentle, rhythmic Indian Kirtan music in the background. However, as I stayed with this slower, measured way of creating the mandala, I was obliged to stay fully in the present moment. All that Eckhart Tolle and the brigade of spiritual and mindfulness teachers before him admonished me to do to be in the Now, was being fast tracked when working with a mandala with the left hand. If I create a mandala with the right hand, I observe that I am most of the time in the future…hurrying up to “get there” and complete. When I use the left hand, there is nowhere to go or be but here, in the Now. And if I start trying to speed up and hurry up and finish, invariably I go out of the lines, I lose concentration and my pencil or spoon goes wayward, an immediate feedback that I was not in the present moment, but in the perennial dance of trying to redo the past or anticipate the future. So, I surrender and resign myself to focusing and being mindful in the present. Sometimes, I can’t wait to finish. I watch this and see what is going on. Dependably, there is a fear thought that is causing an emotion of anxiety. I come back to the breath. I exhale deeply. I search within for the feeling and the content. Sometimes an affirmation will neutralize the fear. Perhaps it’s about forgiving the other…or myself. Sometimes that is not enough – I need to pause and let out the strong emotions arising. I move the emotions through and am called back by the compulsion to complete. So I return to my mandala, continuing to fill it in with colored pencils or sand, and further build Now muscles in one of the most enjoyable processes I know.
As adults, children or seniors, it is important for us to have outlets of pure play. Play is freeing, relaxing, joyful and satisfying. This technique supports this with a free atmosphere, all the while being contained. It is all much like a supervised playground!
Being In The Present
It is known that when we are able to truly be in the present moment, without dwelling on the past, or anticipating the future, we strengthen ourselves in this surrendering to whatever is. The technique supports this staying in the present.
When we express ourselves in this fashion, we are highly encouraged and supported in expressing whatever we want to in each moment. There is a sort of unconditional acceptance that is created that has far-reaching healing implications. More importantly, this unconditional acceptance is fostered in oneself. This is all very important because the inner child in all of us wants to be loved for just who we are. This technique accepts all of ourselves, and brings light to where we have accepted certain personal and societal taboos that in fact, cut us off from certain vital facets of our being. In conclusion, there is a sort of homecoming where we embrace all of our self. Healing the Trauma of Past Art Classes- Many individuals have dreaded art classes, they having been an atmosphere of judgment and conditional acceptance for something so innate in us. Especially in the developing child, it is important that the child feels confident in their creative expression. This technique gives an unconditional acceptance and an encouraging environment to express whatever we feel called to.
Trust In Self/In Our Intuition
As we continue to experiment with this spontaneous technique, we learn to trust our intuitive promptings. We enter into an intimate dialogue with the art piece and an instinctive knowing in each moment of what the object “wants or needs”. All of these directives from the art piece or the self are later confirmed in making a whole story or message in the form of the completed work. Resolution of certain “unfinished emotional business”- Certain psychological wounds and traumas may appear in the art creation. The actual process of expressing them, recognizing them and relating to them allows not only a cathartic release, but also an eventual integration of their wisdom contributing to a more mature, healed self.
Inner Healer Is In Charge
We have an ‘Inner Healer’ that will not give us something already integrated, nor too difficult to process.
The paper, canvas, mandala, plaster or clay we create on is a mirror of our self. Sometimes its reflection is frivolous and easy, other times it reveals a pained, inner struggle. Regardless of the content, we come into a greater wholeness as we accept within this outer reflection. It is like the process of projection: as we re-appropriate inner content that we have projected onto the outer world, we become more whole, grounded, contented, self-loving beings.
My first travels throughout the West Bank in 2007, introduced me to Palestinians living in Palestine and what it means emotionally and practically to live under Occupation. In 2015, I returned, meeting dedicated Palestinian and Israeli peace activists. I spent time with the Parents Circle, or known also as the Bereaved Family Forum, where bereaved Palestinian and Israelis who have lost a family member due to the conflict, share their grief together in a structured, safe container. This brave, evolved initiative, inspired me as I saw applied the same tools I have used in my counseling work with discordant couples or resentful family members – truth-telling, listening, bearing witness, really seeing the other and fostering the inevitable compassion that eventually results. One of the biggest obstacles many faced was being perceived as betraying their own communities by relating to the ‘Other’. I witnessed this ‘Us vs. Them’ evolve progressively to what is called, a ‘We-space’.
A visit in early 2017 led me to know of Thomas Hübl and his then upcoming Pocket Project Training in Collective and Intergenerational Trauma Integration, which was about creating such We-spaces. I signed up immediately.
The training took place over this last year, with two in-person weeklong intensives, in Jerusalem, at the beginning and the end, with monthly teaching sessions and weekly online triads in between. We were 150 participants from 39 countries, including a Palestinian psychologist from Gaza and a Palestinian art therapist/family constellation facilitator from the West Bank, several Israelis, many Germans and Americans and a multitude of others.
Why Pocket? This refers to a pocket of consciousness holding space within the traumatized field for the purpose of integrating and healing Collective Trauma and Intergenerational Trauma. Its mission is to stop the cycle of recurring collective and intergenerational trauma, contribute to its healing, and reduce its disruptive effects on our global culture. How? Drawing on the latest body-oriented trauma release therapies, …….
What is Trauma? Trauma describes the self-regulation system of any mammal going through a threatening experience, or what is perceived as threatening. The nervous system responds with timeless survival mechanisms, including the hyper production of adrenaline and cortisol to support one of the following functions: Fight, Flight or Freeze. After a traumatic experience has occurred, one needs the time and resources to process it, like a gazelle who shakes and trembles on the ground after managing to escape the hungry lion. Every inhale, needs an exhale, or we suffocate…in this case, on unreleased trauma. If there is no exhale allowed by the society, the family or oneself, the trauma will likely stay suppressed, and not only the individual, but the collective will suffer. Suffering often takes the form in trauma symptoms of frozenness, depression, numbness, hyperactivity, emotional outbursts, anxiety, illness, diseases, violence and addiction. Palestine is a pod of trauma, manifesting in excess many of these symptoms.
Collective and Transgenerational or intergenerational trauma is the ‘passing on of the trauma and its negative consequences throughout one’s community and down through the generations.’ Aside from environmentally, emotionally and intrapsychically, this can happen through Epigenetics, where the DNA methylation marks are directly damaged by unprocessed trauma, and trauma is passed onto the next generation, as seen in both Israelis and Palestinians.
The relieving news is that trauma can be healed in present time, the DNA can be restored and healthy genes can then be transmitted onwards. We can even heal the trauma of our ancestors or the collective. Family and Systemic Constellation Work and Trauma Release work are methods I had trained in that support such integration of the past, as it supports the exposing of the trauma, gives the long denied its exhale through expression and release, and fosters eventual forgiveness and healing in quite transformational and inspiring ways. The Pocket Project gratefully expanded my repertoire.
I came away from this training with a greater understanding of shared collective trauma, one right outside the training’s Holy City’s doorstep, its symptoms before my eyes and what would be necessary for its healing. I understood not only the Palestinians on both sides of the Separation Wall, but also the Israelis – as communities heavily traumatized, and still unhealed in the processing of both of their colossal trauma and its far-reaching effects. And what happens if the conflict in ongoing? It adds to a greater challenge, but one calling on greater resilience, innovation and competencies to be developed and mobilized. Every problem contains within itself, the seeds of its own solution. Stanley Arnold. However, every challenge needs the intervention from a level of consciousness superior to the one in which the problem was created or perpetuated.
Despite the current Palestinian/Israeli situation that can appear despairing and overwhelming, I carried hope, with the grounded, leading-edge tools we were given, in even the very midst of further ongoing collective traumatization. I saw in our own experiential, raw, group processes how essential such tools are, to prevent collapsing or disassociating from the trauma symptoms, so to feel into them and shine a compassionate holding on what is underneath. Such presencing is the beginning of being a pocket of consciousness that holds space within the traumatized field.
These tools, or what Thomas calls, competencies, include….
Do the 3 sync process. “3 sync” means that mind, emotions, and body are synchronized. I take a physical, emotional, and mental inventory without any self- judgment, in general or when I am activated. Whatever I perceive, first I see it, feel it, listen to it, and then eventually let it go. Sometimes just staying still to what I am feeling is frightening. Letting Go may be even more of a daunting task. I may need accompaniment in the form of a trusted confidant or a professional to be able to do so.
The capacity to embrace change and go from feeling victimized to being co-creators of the change. This is a tall order for a Palestinian kicked off their land.
The capacity to feel discomfort. How do I host those feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment, shame, and humiliation and stay connected to my body and my environment?
Multi-perceptivity or the capacity for holding contradiction, paradoxes, without rejection or confusion.
Innovation. True innovation requires resonance between multiple minds with the resources of their environment.
The ability to service collective trauma is another important capacity emerging at higher stages of awakening.
The ability for the one traumatized to synchronize to a coherent field is a distinctly We ability.
Another competency is “looking” into the very field that is traumatized; having the overview.
In meditation, we practice unhooking consciousness from the object of awareness. Through practice, we discover the inner witness, a silent, non-judging observer.
By nurturing our capacity to hold witness, we lend support to areas such as emotional regulation and stress tolerance. We become more conscious and awakened.
When we become social global witnesses, we hold active presence and engaged awareness of our world, observing all that arises around us while simultaneously observing all that arises within us. We remain aware of our internal responses to our exterior world, whether our response is resistance, shutting down, or even a sense of going numb. As attuned social global witnesses, we create an expanded interior space from which we begin to recognize the self-sense of the collective.
The paradoxical truth is that, to be global witnesses, we must remain conscious of current events in our communities and in the world, but we must learn to do so with all capacities online – where no part of us has checked out or become dysregulated. We must be willing to consciously feel and accept all that has been split off, dislocated, and denied. We must choose to be present witnesses for pain, for terror, and for trauma. We must be willing to consistently and consciously resolve those energies that have been left stored and undigested.
I heal my past, because whatever trauma I carry belongs to the collective shadow and acts as a filter, preventing me from seeing the world and from witnessing clearly. My own healing and integration becomes an act of service.
I must awaken to the degree of pain and unprocessed energy I carry. Psychotherapy and other healing modalities offer healing for the restoration of traumatic wounds, liberating me from patterns of retraumatization, initiating a life of greater choice and freedom. By holding onto unresolved and unprocessed energies – past traumas and conflicts we dare not face – I doom humanity’s children and grandchildren to carry this trauma for me. It becomes a moral imperative that I reclaim these disowned traumas in my lifetime.
I am a proactive global citizen. The more regressive I am, the more I externalize my ‘stuff’ and wait for ‘them’ (governments and institutions) to do it instead of me taking responsibility and participating. They’ll be solved by all of us.
I open beyond my rational, smaller mind to allowing the space that hosts our world’s most intractable problems, to become alchemistic ground for transmutation and for innovation to appear.
Interaction between the two parties is very different when there’s a third party witnessing that the parties don’t feel judged by and can trust. Witnesses create a container that can hold things when someone feels like leaving or destroying the container. You’re putting two elements together that have been incredibly opposed. There could be a kind of explosion. The mediator creates the container in which the parties do the magic themselves.
I hear that you need to hold the presence space and also to be so connected that you can find a way into moments that seem shut down or when a person wants to leave. What is the power of enough of us truly witnessing with a felt sense of awareness and energetic connection so that more and more people will serve like a third party for life’s global stage?
The core of his work is simple though not easy:
1. making the collective unconscious conscious,
2. integrating the strong unexpressed emotional energies.
3. expand my consciousness, my perception and my embodiment to hold a higher presence.
We were trained over the year, to then brave the chaos with all the reinforcements necessary, of surrendering to the process of collective trauma integration and healing. The last week of our training we tackled first Colonialism, including the colonizer and the colonized. The room went into the expected wave of resistance, heaviness, then exhaustion as deeply stored trauma was releasing itself. We then collectively released strong emotions through anger, tears and verbal release, all so expertly contained. There was neither too much rigidity nor too much chaos, allowing a progression to significant resolutions that appeared in the field, like spontaneous apologies from an oppressor to a victim.
Our container was secured enough to go into the risky territory of- the elephant in the room- the Palestinian/Israeli conflict… the pain was on the surface and palpable. For all who were able to remain with the process, we rode the wave- both eager and reticent inside a shared container of trust, presence, and non-judgment. A few in the room were unable to bear the process for a period of time, and required the attention of one-on-one counselors. Such work demands a sophisticated process and conscious facilitation, as well as time carved out for support during the integration of group shadows, including the terror felt, the admissions, the emotional requests of forgiveness, the acknowledgement of the pain of the other. It was perfect in an imperfect way. We dared to approach this active canon. Our group process that day is still being intregrated by many, particularly the Germans, Israelis, Americans and Palestinian present, given our direct connection to the conflict. A resilience resulted. The We-space was restored, where the capacity to relate and bond even more was created. We came out on the other side, with the agreement to go in again, under skilled facilitation, because we know that to engage healing at an individual or group level, a degree of coherence, intimacy, and transparency is required.
The Pocket Project not only works with individual and group processes, but also :
Advise organizations, institutions and governments on how to deal with the after effects and cultural symptoms of massive collective traumatization.
Train and build individual and cultural competencies and trauma resilience in crisis areas.
Create an online platform that provide the latest research and knowledge on collective and intergenerational trauma.
“If world governments are unable or unwilling to handle five million refugees, fleeing war-torn countries and flowing into Europe and abroad, how will they handle the mass migration of humans from global climate catastrophe?” Hübl asks. Understanding trauma and its relationship to the unconscious is more important now than ever, whether for the climate crisis, the radical displacement of millions or the breaking down of capitalism. We are called to collectively activate the contemporary technologies of trauma release, emotional self-responsibility and spiritual attunement.
It is the aim of The Pocket Project to lend healing in as many places around the world as possible, so the effects of these scars—the effects of imperialism, colonialism, war, slavery, human trafficking, greed, poverty, and man’s inhumanity to man—will bear fewer effects on succeeding generations. The ‘sins of the fathers’ can no longer be inherited by their sons.
Once Cupid has brought two earnest souls together, Aphrodite takes over, bringing romance, love and sexual union. But there is the Angel of Death who inevitably wants to tag along for the ride of love. Will we welcome her, too?
Every relationship will end, either by death or separation. Very rarely do both partners die together. Sometimes the Angel of Death will show up immediately as one wants to put the brakes on a new gush of love, so frightened by losing it or wanting only the honeymoon phase. Within an active, enduring relationship, there will be flow, ebb, and more flow again, requiring ego deaths along the way. When we befriend the Angel of Death and make permanent room for her, the relationship becomes more mature and alive. If not, it will be plagued by anxiety and codependency.
Codependency shows up when we are scared to tell or live our truth. We shun from the difficult conversations on how we really feel – on where we go on the next summer holiday, that we want to go alone on a holiday, about our sex life, or about child discipline styles, fearful it will cause a sulking for god knows how long, or worse – leading us no option but to leave or be left because we have upset the other so much. We walk on eggshells. Slowly and inevitably the life force drains from the relationship. We begin to go to bed at different times. We are bored. Sex is less frequent. We may even entertain someone else.
How do we make a welcoming room for this inevitable Angel of Death?
Where have we already lived great loss? Separated at birth for an inordinate time? Loss of a dear family member early – parent, babysitter or older sibling off to university? Moving away from a best friend or the loss of a dear pet?
We accept that the life-death-life cycle comes with all things, including intimate relationship. This includes embracing Ego deaths – the relinquishing of control and attachments of our little personality self. We come to trust them.
We spend quality time alone regularly, coming reliably back to our center, which becomes a go-to, rather than relying exclusively on the relationship as a source of support. This may include a spiritual connection or simply be a deepening to one’s own connection to self.
What are the benefits of befriending the Angel of Death?
As Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, this Angel of Death has the role of the oracle who knows when it is time for things to live and when it is time for things to die. We trust her within the mini-deaths of our relationship and in the bigger looming death or separation to come one day. We trust ourselves. We also trust the jewel death is, clearing what is no longer alive and true, imposing a gestation of what will come next and giving birth to a new version, so we and the relationship can be juicy, vital and creative once again. Yes, there will be fear and grief and the wild Unknown. But if we try to stop her unavoidability, we die a half-death within the relationship, living a grey, depressed existence. If we can accept her in intimate relationship where the stakes of devastating emotional and lifestyle loss are so high, we will live all of life with a greater daring, risk and fervency. Our family connections, friendships and life purpose will upgrade to greater authenticity and motivation.
Is it really worth making this Angel of Death a permanent friend? We can look for the proof in certain role model relationships that are alive and enduring – including some ex’s – whether couples you know or on the celebrity stage (the Obamas, Sting and Trudy, Jada and Will Smith, Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin). It is guaranteed that they have died before they died, took humble time alone and surrendered to the tempering of their rebellious egos to show up wiser and sound and loving in that unmistakably attractive way.
Fasting is one of the best reset buttons I know of to regain physical vitality, emotional balance and spiritual reconnection. Some go to it for health reasons, some seek its spiritual benefits and many go for both. Health professionals have long recommended different forms of fasting as a physical detoxification or for treating acute illness or disease. Many spiritual traditions recognize the benefits of the physical and mental detox that lend to inner mastery and higher states of consciousness. They also recognize its important preparation in performing a ritual act or rite of passage. Interestingly many of these traditions fast on the full moon, which is exactly when this blog post is being written.
How are we designed?
We are homo sapiens, much like monkeys in the way we are designed to eat. We are designed for eating fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and occasional protein. We are not designed for pasta, bread, cookies and caffeine.
Purpose of Food?
Food is to be nourishing physically, emotionally and spiritually. The aim of our food is to enhance our vital life force energy and pass waste via principally the intestines and bladder. Junk food and excess intake oblige the liver, kidney, skin and lungs to also work in eliminating; they then can become overloaded and blocked. Tumors, abscesses and cysts form when this excess waste is stuck.
Fasting when Sick
Hippocrates said: “To eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness.” The adage, “Feed a cold, starve a fever,” comes from the idea of the body detoxing and supporting it to do so. All animals, when sick, stop eating and even sometimes stop drinking water.
What Happens When We Fast?
Psychology of Fasting
Feelings of deprivation may arise, which can be a process of grieving the love, protection, presence or nurturance from ultimately our primary caretakers that we ideally should have received, even if that is projected on a current partner (a related article), friendship or community.
Frustrations, anger, loneliness and disappointment that we usually assuage with food and comfort eating will be naked in front of us and demand an alternative to working them through. Usually the bottom line is that we have not grieved something fully. In facing it, and processing it, we will develop emotional resilience and spiritual strength.
Tools to use to process strong emotions we usually eat over, include writing letters we don’t send to the person(s) we are activated by, writing a letter to oneself, speaking to an empty chair of our unsaid and unexpressed, doing a Forgiveness Meditation (here is a link to one I lead), meditation, yoga, walks in nature, listening to music and taking time for long, deep breathing.
“The spirit needs to be so free [of anything, so that the soul] may hear the deep and delicate voice of God which speaks to the heart in this secret place.” ― St. John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love, Stanza 3
Physiology of Fasting
We have two sources of physical energy:
8 hours after a meal – when fasting begins – the body enters fasting mode.
The body then starts using the glucose/carbohydrates
In modern times, there is too much intake to store, so cholesterol results.
After 24 hours, the body uses up the storage, going from carbohydrate burning mode to fat burning mode.
There is a 65% drop of insulin; the body feeds on toxins and stored energy.
The body is then put in a post-absorptive phase, converting fat to glucose production by the liver and a switch from glucose utilization to fatty acid and ketone utilization by most tissues.
Once fat reserves are depleted, the body begins to synthesize proteins from muscle tissue. As blood glucose drop, the rate at which the body secretes insulin slows and the pancreas begins to secrete glucagon.
When glucagon is released it can perform the following tasks:
Stimulating the liver to break down glycogen to be released into the blood as glucose
Activating gluconeogenisis, the conversion of amino acids into glucose
Breaking down stored fat (triglycerides) into fatty acids for use as fuel by cells
KETOSIS results 2 days later.
Ketone bodies are produced and used by the brain; they go through the brain cell membranes.
Cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimers diseases are supported in greater healing.
Ketosis begins 48 hours of fasting for women and 72 hours for men.
Natural loss of appetite.
Ketosis feeds on fat deposits and abscesses.
A greater energy is available when we begin to burn fat.
Ketosis breaks down diseased tissues, cells and tumors, using them to feed on! (This is why certain treatments of cancer and other diseases respond well to fasting and the raw food diet. This is to only be followed with competent medical supervision.)
Ketosis repairs cells and amino acids are reused.
Stem cells are regenerated. This is why the more youthful look appears.
4 Days of Fasting
75% of energy used by the brain is provided by ketones
5 Days of Fasting
The fasting process goes into tissues and extract the toxins and fat
High levels of growth hormones maintain muscle mass and lean tissue.
The toxins of fat stores are used up.
The body doesn’t burn muscle until all fat reserves have been used.
Fasting should be stopped when “Wolf” hunger returns.
Will I gain the fat back? An Invitation for a cleaner diet.
Reintroduce food gradually
Types of fasting
30 days for serious medical condition
10 days – a “reboot “
2-3 day reset
Nutritional Fasting – includes juicing, black grape fast, apple fast; bringing in nutrients.
Low Intake – for e.g. 600 calories a day
Intermittent Fasting – Ramadan* or alternate fasting. Time restrictions – eight hours only of eating for e.g.; gives time for detoxing. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity observe forms of this.
*Ramadan is not always practiced as it ideally was conceived to be, given the excess food consumed, the cultural and social pressure to overeat and the lack of support in certain settings or lifestyles to manage the emotional content that emerges.
For any health concerns, one must consult with a physician for any fasting. Epilepsy, diabetes, pregnancy, children, the elderly, mental issues, malnourishment and other sensitive health conditions are obligatory considerations.
“In a fast, the body tears down its defective parts and then builds anew when eating is resumed.”
― Herbert M. Shelton, Fasting for Renewal of Life
To Support the Fast
Use Detox teas.
Drink copious amounts of water to flush toxins.
Flush the intestines with colonics.
Use magnesium salts with enemas.
Rest – sleep, nap and just Be, to allow for the integration of all that arises.
Gentle exercise – Walking, yoga and stretching are excellent.
To Break Fast
An Islamic saying to remember: “It’s not the fast, it’s how the fast is broken.”
Warm water (optional with lemon)
Enzymes to break food down
Juices: ideally 20% fruit, 80% vegetable, so sugar is minimal
Rumi quote:“Fasting is the first principle of medicine; fast and see the strength of the Spirit reveal itself.”
Worldwide Traditions of Fasting
Hunters and gatherers would eat periodically and go for long periods of fasting. 1 billion Muslims fast a lunar month. Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert. Buddha and Mohammed also fasted for extended periods of time. When one fasts for these longer periods, the ego is starved and the Higher Self is permitted to take the lead. Insights, visions, dreams and inspirations come when the heightened states of consciousness are enhanced with fasting. The brain goes more readily into Alpha and Theta brainwaves.
Yom Kippur is a culmination of a ten-day process with 24 hours of fasting.
The Focus is on Forgiveness and Atonement, which are significant ways of detoxing and cleansing emotionally and spiritually.
There are 74 mentions of fasting in the Bible.
When one fasts, it is believed God reveals his purpose for you.
Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert, wrestling with the Devil or the Ego within.
Lent is a period of 40 days of restrictive fasting (no meat and other items) in preparation of Easter, or symbolically, a Rebirth.
Islam –Ramadan fasting is one of its required five pillars
Ramadan was inspired by the influence of Yom Kippur, originally 10 days, extended to the entire lunar month.
Taqwa, or God consciousness, is gained.
Fasting promotes chastity, humility, patience and self-control.
For my podcast interview and article on my fasting Ramadan as a non-Muslim, please go here.
The Middle Path is encouraged in fasting, avoiding total deprivation or gluttony for the non-monastics.
Theravada monks and nuns abstain from eating solid food after noon; many eat one small meal per day.
In certain meditation retreats, there is total food fasting.
Lay practitioners fast alongside monastics on the “uposatha” day, or the full moon. One day per week, many lay-practitioners avoid eating meat or eating after noon.
Water is always permitted.
The goal is to understand craving in an experiential way and to reach a state in which the mind is at peace in spite of the body’s discomfort. The goals are to purify the body, increase mental clarity and cultivate wisdom while experiencing the effects of craving on the mind.
Ekadasi is the 11th day after the New and Full Moons, where fasting, worship and meditation are practiced. The moon’s position during Ekadasi, puts the mind at optimal efficiency, giving the brain a better capacity to concentrate.
Purnima (Full Moon) and Amavasya (New Moon) fasting days are from sunrise to sunset. Water is usually not drank in that period. The influence of the moon’s cycle can cause restlessness, irritability and ill-temperament. Fasting reduces the acidic content of the body, restoring the body and mind balance. One is lent more to prayer and meditation, bringing greater body, mind and emotional control, facilitating greater spiritual illumination.
On the full moon, the ‘yagna’ or ‘havan’ ritual is practiced, which culminates in asking for forgiveness for any misdeeds since the last ‘havan’. A physical, emotional and spiritual detox takes place.
Karwa Chauth is when married Hindu women completely fast for the prosperity and longevity of their husbands from sunrise to the first sighting of the moon on the 4th day after the New Moon in October-November (or the ‘Karthik’ month). In its most evolved form, I see it as a form of devotion and support of a wife’s husband and symbolically to her Divine Husband. Diwali, the Festival of Light, follows 9 days later.
Fasting believers are required to wear bright clean linen clothes and to change his or her food.
Fasting is encouraged for a set time during the mourning of a death, to help evacuate the strong grief.
In many indigenous groups, shamans, who conduct healing ceremonies, may prepare themselves by fasting.
Puberty rituals also include a major fast without food or water.
In the Native American tradition, during a Vision Quest, fasting is the primary means to stimulate ecstatic experiences. A Vision Quest, traditionally four to eight days, is a rigorous, sacred ritual of purification and realignment. The ego is quelled and the person is opened to the higher messages of the Quest they seek.
For two articles on Vision Quests in a modern day context, please go here.
“Fasting from any nourishment, activity, involvement or pursuit—for any season—sets the stage for God to appear. Fasting is not a tool to pry wisdom out of God’s hands or to force needed insight about a decision. Fasting is not a tool for gaining discipline or developing piety (whatever that might be). Instead, fasting is the bulimic act of ridding ourselves of our fullness to attune our senses to the mysteries that swirl in and around us.” — Dan B. Allender, PhD”
Overall Benefits of Fasting
Mind is clear
Intuition is more accessible and refined
Buzzy, zippy energy
Diabetes – regulated insulin
Growth hormone doubles
Growth of new stem cells
Repair of DNA – there can be 90 percent of bacterial DNA when on a bad diet
Allergies improved or eliminated
Life span extended
Age-related diseases are retarded
BDNF increased – Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor
Blood pressure lowered
Depression, anxiety and neurosis are alleviated.
Schizophrenia had a 80% success rate where 7000 patients cured in a study by Yuri Nikolayen
Body chemicals rebalanced
Agoraphobia – known to be cured in 9 days of fasting in Russia
Emotionally – once the body begins detoxing, the unhealed emotions rise to also be detoxed. Forgiveness results.
Spiritually – higher, clear vibration; an open channel
“If your prayers remain unanswered, start fasting” ― Sunday Adelaja
“I believe that there is no prayer without fasting, and no real fast without prayer.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Yesterday I received a phone call from a friend, distraught. Her Mother’s Day, which had begun with joy, came to a disturbing close. She had discovered that her ex-husband had secretly taken their 22-year old son on a long weekend to Bangkok, Thailand for his university graduation gift. Realizing the trip was kept from her and knowing her former husband’s history in the underworld of sex, she could only suspect why Thailand was the chosen destination.
She tried to contact them both, to no avail. I encouraged her to email a letter to her son, who was still in Thailand.
I am inspired to share what she wrote:
Dear Son, I see that my messages to you and your father have not been responded to. As a woman, my innards are in deep suspicion, pain and panic. And as a mother, I asked myself on the end of Mother’s Day, where did I go wrong? I also have had to do a lot of self-forgiveness for being the woman I was back then, who married a man who could potentially model that kind of behavior. But for today, as the adult that you now are, I want to appeal to your sensitivity and integrity. You have two sisters, and every woman working in the pay-for-sex trade is someone’s daughter, sister or mother. I want every man to ask himself if he would want another man to engage in that kind of behavior with his sister, mother or daughter. But deep down, I know that such questioning is not enough, or this underworld trade of flesh could not flourish to the extremes it does. Most importantly, to any degree you would use a woman or girl in the sex trade, is somehow a violation of your very own self. And I am sorry for wherever I am responsible in having modeled the acceptance of disrespect in my marriage and for not having set the necessary limits when I should have. I am also sorry that I never dared to discuss the reality of the sex trade with you, because I just didn’t want to go there.
My greatest wish for you is that you develop a sexuality that is of mutual discovery, respect, tenderness, love and delight, because you so deserve it. May you heal anything that hinders this. My prayer is that whatever you lived, if indeed you have lived anything, that it be processed with the deepest awareness and self-honesty. I wish you all the support in this world and I am here as your number one supporter, whether directly or from afar, in helping you to become the best version of yourself. I love you, Mom
The spiritual masters tell us that every encounter is a holy encounter. In the sex trade, some of these encounters are consensual. Too often, they are not, as helpless children and disadvantaged adults are trafficked in a sophisticated, slick, international operation. At first glance, it is next to impossible to see the sacred in such forced ‘encounters’.
I have counseled several women over the years of various nationalities that have escaped the sex trade industry – some had gone in willingly, some had been tricked into it. Some had developed cynical and tough facades, some had drunk and drugged through every ‘encounter,’ and some had worked as high class call girls, living a more plush psychodrama of the same disconnect and exploitation. As children, they were all emotionally abused, neglected and/or sexually traumatized. The majority realized after a lot of healing work, that they were in a psychodrama with their childhood abusers through the pimps that controlled them and clients they had sex with. Some even came to the mighty feat of forgiving all involved, including themselves, as they mastered the art of Bold Forgiveness.
I have also counseled many men who have gone to this underworld for sex. In every case, they, too, were in a psychodrama – out of either the damage of being sexually abused, the craving for love and connection that they didn’t know how to obtain any other way, or the unconscious frenzied dance of their own unclaimed, turbulent emotions and defiant sexual energy.
I trust that my friend’s son upon his return, with whatever experiences he comes back with, along with his mother, will have an initiation into the challenge of engaging in adult, transparent, heartfelt dialogue.
I breathe in a measured, deliberate manner as I begin to read last month’s NYTimes article, “ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape.” I initially brace myself. I then open to and accept the spasms of horror ricocheting through my uterus, heart and throat as I take in the searing reality of these innocent preteens, teens and women so far from my own daughter’s university life amongst ocean waves and articulate, savvy feminists – men and women – of an ethnically and sexually diverse population. Given my travels and interviews of late in Palestine and Israel, I’m reminded of the dissociated, psychopathic behavior of any oppressor- the Nazis, Pol Pot, the Hutus, the South Africans or Americans for starters- that leads to the boomerang chaos and injustice rattling innumerable societies today.
I read the article again. I prayed this time to read it with the greatest spiritual seeing. I read it mustering up every possibility of taking in this article beyond my expected, understandable human, female reaction. I read it trying to imagine any of these females getting to a point of genuine, thorough forgiveness. I know that in order for this to happen, any of these victims would need multiple opportunities to cathartically release such extreme sexual and physical trauma embedded within a crazy-making ideology. She surely would not be spared chilling nightmares, eating disorders and self-hate along the way. And when such probable self-attack couldn’t continue another day, hopefully the first trickles of illumination will come to this blessed survivor. Maybe she will see beyond her own pain and its extensive fallout and catch a glimpse of the very same pain of the young Saudi fighter who was once repeatedly raped by older cousins or house servants, or the suffering of an Iraqi homeless trafficker who was once blown out by an unknown abuse of equal horror- whether sexual, social, physical, psychological, militaristic, religious or spiritual. Maybe in her abuser’s deluded self-convincing, no different than that of a Chilean, Israeli or Hamas soldier dutifully following orders or a factory owner dumping deadly chemical waste in his own community’s river, he will crack under the pressure of seeing his own reflection in the devastated, real female with a face – and heart – beneath his crushing body. Maybe he won’t relent in his barrage of unleashed thrusting, but that crazed unyielding in itself will be the revelation that something is very, very disturbed within. To the degree one is savagely disconnected from the abuse they are wielding, is the degree that they are ravaged by a trauma of equal abuse.
As George Eliot reminds us, “There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.” We have a category 10 typhoon on the loose here and monumental doses of questioning, understanding and compassion are needed to comprehend why. This unleashed storm is begging for a firm, loving embrace, much like a delinquent teen would, as he brazenly vandalizes the neighborhood’s sports cars he can never imagine owning.
A Course in Miracles, Ho’oponopono and Radical Forgiveness all remind us to take this violent storm even further- that once it comes into our awareness, to take responsibility for true seeing and where we have created this.
Even me as the bystander reading about it in the New York Times.
An attack is a call for love. ACIM.
I Love you.
I am sorry (for what is unhealed in me that has attracted this).
Please forgive me (for what is unhealed in me to attract this).
From Colin Tipping’s The Radical Forgiveness Invocation:
May we all stand firm in the knowledge and comfort that all things are now, have always been, and forever will be in divine order, unfolding according to a divine plan. And may we truly surrender to this truth whether we understand it or not. May we also ask for support in consciousness in feeling our connection with the divine part of us, with everyone and with everything, so we can truly say and feel – we are ONE.
Two points from Colin Tipping’s A Radical Transformation Worksheet, Applying the Strategy of Radical Forgiveness to World Events:
I realize now, too, that what was happening ‘out there’ was a reflection of something that needs, or needed, to be healed in me.
In forgiving the [world] situation, I have automatically forgiven myself. I am grateful for the healing.
The odyssey to go from understandable ego-identified victim to benevolent, merciful empath is defined as a miracle in A Course of Miracles. It can be an arduous, grueling journey to get there as the ego resists and holds on to resentment and self-righteousness with all its feeble might. The relinquishing of blame and the embracing of the ‘other’ or really ‘self,’ leads me to say this is so not okay for you ISIS rapists, nor for me, to inflict such unchecked devastation upon another – in my version of emotional abuse in certain personal relationships for example, and may its origins of collective and personal pain be brought into the highest transformative healing for every single one of us.
My next blog post will be on The Parent’s Circle in Jerusalem, an organization that is composed of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians who have lost a family member as a result of the conflict and grieve together. They use the Truth and Reconciliation process poignantly and respectfully as carried out in South Africa, Northern Ireland and Rwanda as well as many other international communities.
As a child, JFK’s famous quote played on me: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” It was also a time when the older siblings of my friends were off to the Peace Corps, a service organization still active today that helps others help themselves. Even then I understood the value of giving to one’s community and the healthiness of sustainable service rather only rescuing those in need and rendering them dependent on the volunteers. I also liked how the Peace Corps emphasized a mutual understanding of another’s culture: World Peace with one encounter at a time. In the 1980’s, when Co-dependency Recovery came onto the self-help scene, relationships and families followed this trend of more evolved relating and mature giving.
Abdelfattah Abusrour or ‘Abed’
My recent meeting with Abdelfattah Abusrour in Palestine showed me a man offering exactly this same kind of healthy sustainable service to his own people, with the long-term goals of empowerment and mutual cultural exchange. Abdelfattah, or Abed, is a Palestinian, born and raised in the West Bank’s Aida Refugee Camp. The UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) created Aida Refugee Camp in 1950, sheltering Palestinian refugees who had been chased out or fled in fear from their surrounding villages after the UN Partition Plan of Palestine in 1947 and Israel declaring itself as a state in 1948. Aida started out as tents and now is a series of brick apartment blocks in a small area next to Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Key over entrance to Aida honoring the many Palestinians who have kept the key to the homes from which they fled or were chased from. Many still hope to return one day in peace.
Immediately impressed by this bright, articulate man, I was not surprised to hear that he had first earned a scholarship to study at Bethlehem University, and then in the 1980’s, earned one of three available scholarships to study in France, where he pursued a Biological and Medical Engineering doctorate and eventually stayed on and worked in research. While in the cultural epicenter of France, his love for and involvement with theater and painting grew. However, with the stateless refugees in Aida heading into deeper despair and the endless violence that comes with, he felt called to come back, serve and eventually created the Alrowwad Cultural and Theater Society. “Alrowwad,” means “the Pioneers” in Arabic and this center is truly cutting edge for its mission and activities. Abed explained, “I started with the philosophy, ‘Beautiful Resistance against the Ugliness of Occupation,’ as a way to show another image of Palestine. But Beautiful Resistance is mostly a way to give children in refugee camps, with no playgrounds and green spaces, an opportunity to tell their story and hopefully build peace within, so they can eventually build peace with others. I believe if you are not truthful with yourself, then you cannot be truthful with anybody else. And if you are not at peace with yourself, how can you make peace with anybody else? We start with theater because it is one of the most amazing, powerful, civilized, direct, truthful and non-diplomatic ways to express oneself and build peace within. And hopefully these young people can grow up and believe that they can change the world and create miracles instead of needing to carry a gun and shoot others or explode themselves up. At the end of the day, we as parents or as human beings simply want to see our children grow up. We want to celebrate their lives and successes. When the time comes, they should be the ones walking in our funerals and not the other way around. No parents in the world want to live the day where they bury their own children, and we are fed up of burying our children. So the sense of Alrowwad was initially how to save lives, inspire hope and give possibility to our children’s beautiful expression as a way to promote peace in our communities. It would then lead these young people to believe that they can resolve their issues without the need to shoot or kill each other, or anyone else.” While talking with Abed, I was reminded of Steve Karpman’s downward pointing Drama Triangle, which depicts the co-dependent dance between three key players: the Victim position is at the bottom, the Rescuer or Hero is at one top corner and the Persecutor or Bully is at the other. Lynne Forrest terms it as the Victim Triangle, each role feeling victimized ultimately. The goal for any of us, regardless of whatever position we find ourselves in, is to get off the triangle. In order to do that:
The Victim has to move to assertiveness, empowerment and problem solving.
The Rescuer needs to come to a place of facilitating or coaching with trusting detachment rather than rescuing and caretaking in a co-dependent, controlling, disempowering manner.
The Persecutor needs to face buried pain and shame that makes him or her lash out abusively, which usually eventually means grieving a disowned, unhealed inner child. Respectful, egalitarian relating follows, rather than the previously used domineering and humiliating approach.
Abed is clear and adamant that Alrowwad be a center for empowerment and equal exchange, not a charity case, nor a tool used for a donor’s own agenda. He clearly is not falling for the victim-rescuer dance; he is determined to not even engage this drama triangle at all. He shared that in the beginning of Alrowwad and its financial challenges, he was resolute and firm in serving with or without money so as to not compromise its mission. He aligns with no political party to avoid being subject to its agenda. He is also clear in its intention to be an active partner in exchanging with other international youth groups each other’s cultural heritage and creative expression. Abed generously gave me a long interview, a viewing of a documentary on Alrowwad filmed and edited by the center’s kids, and concluded with a tour of the extensive center. Shortly into the interview, it was clear that I was in the presence of an intelligent, astute, selfless, deep man in the likes of the nonviolent greats. He sees his role as one who provokes complacency and challenges violent lashing out by giving the youth and community viable tools instead. He stated, “We create changemakers so they help themselves, instead of getting used to things. If you practice violence, you lose part of your humanity.” Abed has understood the only way out of the vicious cycle of violence is nonviolent, beautiful resistance using not only theatre, but video, photography, animation, graphic arts, drawing, painting, a media center and a mobile Play Bus, bringing games, play and art to the communities throughout Palestine. Alrowwad even has its own Internet-based radio station as well as a women’s fitness center and the first girls’ soccer team in a refugee camp. The focus is on experiential, hands-on learning as evidenced by the young children and teens I saw cheerfully playing and learning around the center. Abed is not interested in static libraries that he terms “cemeteries for books.” The kids were either playing interactive games, working on computers or taking pictures with a state-of-the-art digital SLR. The atmosphere was upbeat, collaborative and enthusiastic – all cultivating the sense of belonging that Abed is committed to as part of beautifully resisting.
Hands-on SLR digital photography class
We as humans recognize healthy relating, life-affirming enterprises and a good leader. We are attracted to where trust wins out over fear, where hope wins out over despair. I was immediately moved to support Abed and Alrowwad and I’m in good company. Friends of Alrowwad in the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, France and Germany have eagerly supported Alrowwad to support itself, as well as creating joint youth partnerships and exchanging creative art forms. What’s next? Abed is aiming to build a larger space to manufacture interactive games and create a training center, so that games and creative skill building become an integral part of the educational process. With the goodwill he clearly possesses, I have full faith that he will attract the resources necessary to manifest this next stage of training dynamic changemakers in his community and beyond.
Part 2 of this blog series will follow soon, where I interviewed key leaders of the Parents’ Circle in Jerusalem, composed of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost a direct family member in the conflict. Instead of turning to vengeance and violence, these bereaved families take on the delicate challenge of grieving together, committed to stopping the dead-end cycle of violence.