Looking for support in your healing process?
A H.O.P.E. Group is a safe place in which we come together to find wellness by sharing our story and listening with open heart and mind to the other stories in the room. In our H.O.P.E. Groups we learn the practice of compassion and the release of suffering—the engine of forgiving. Join us at one of our six locations in Maine to see for yourself what a difference a H.O.P.E. Group can make.
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Welcome to H.O.P.E.
…where you find out who you really are… where we know that at the core of our being all humans strive to be healthy and whole—a process called healing; all of us are persons; and because no two of us are alike, we are all exceptions to each other…. Moreover, an intense, indomitable curiosity about life, health, and our spirituality has brought us to see that we are alive because the whole marvelous Universe is alive, and It’s not in the business of repeating Itself… we are, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin told Jean Houston just before he died in 1955, “spiritual beings immersed in the human condition!”
Freeing oneself of hatred by practicing compassion…
You may well ask how hate, compassion, and Tonglen could possibly relate to each other… a single word will do… fear! Hate is a simple, animist, survival response to fear. Compassion transforms that response to peace. Tonglen is a specific practice of the breath that comes from the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and which makes that transformation a physical process.
Now, you may well ask how I might be familiar with all of this… my answer… my healing traditions; my choice to become a physician; my fascination with physiology (the study of bodily functions); and 40 years of helping myself and others with what can well be called “attitudinal healing”, especially that aspect which makes it possible to become peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside. I have been shown in many ways that compassion is the attitude which makes the action of cutting attachments—forgiveness—possible. [click to continue…]
I invite you to come with me on a journey to love, honor, and respect all women. I share with you a segue of two quotes, the first from Carl Sagan: “The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalism are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.”
The second comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”
I began working on this post, “Love, honor, and respect all women” shortly after I had posted the one concerning our evolution from violence through nonviolence to peace. [click to continue…]
About three years ago, I had a “key dream” (the kind I remember forever), a Dream of the Future. It developed around an off–the–track train wreck that I saw happen, but in which I was not involved as a passenger. After it had passed, I scrambled through the wrecked trees into the still–standing trees of a deep, dark forest that called me to walk through it, on the other side of which I saw a beautifully clear image of where we humans are going. [click to continue…]
My December 31, 2014, blog post, Shame, Blame, and Guilt is a segue to this one: Violence, Nonviolence, and Peace: our past, present, and future. That first triplet, which I call “the cruel offspring of judgment” is the primary cause of all violence. In it, I pointed out that all harm comes from the misapplication of knowledge. From that we can imagine a beneficial application of knowledge. What then might the future look like were we to find a way to describe a beneficial application of knowledge and then to use it? I call that second triplet “our way home”. I invite you to explore this with me.
We cannot change anything unless we accept it.
[click to continue…]
A shaman is a healer of soul wounds. S-he is a human being who is able to travel to the realm of the soul of an individual or a community and heal the deep spiritual wounds of trauma—soul wounds—by retrieving the fragments of soul that have fled trauma to hang out in another realm, draining the host of life energy—Chi. By simple ritual(s) the shaman instills the fragment(s) back into their true home, restoring that energy to the rightful host. This simple description of a remarkably diverse set of healing practices found in virtually every corner of the earth comes to me from two masters of shamanic work here in America: Michael Harner, PhD, author of The Way of the Shaman, and founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies www.shamanism.org
and his protégé, Sandra Ingerman, MA, author of Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.
Sandra grew up in New York City, a chronically depressed New York teenager whose depression disappeared quickly when she went to work with a New York shaman. She was already familiar with Harner’s work, and in one of her deep depressions, a friend reminded her of her familiarity with him, saying (if I remember Sandra’s words correctly, nearly twenty years later), “Sandy you know Michael Harner… for G—d’s sake, go and get your soul back!” She did; she healed; she became active in his organization; and now has her own rich experience to share at www.sandraingerman.com/. I suggest you pay her a visit there to see how broad and rich her shamanic experience has become.
A participant in the Portland (Maine) H.O.P.E. Group that came together in 1987 recommended that I read Harner’s book, because she felt that the work we were doing was soul work and, to her, Harner was a “soul worker”. When I read it, I could see how she made this suggestion… I had a strong sense that a lot of the suffering that we call “disease” had a spiritual component.
That “sense” came from the fact that I was born into a family of medical, spiritual, and social healers, and it was a part of my nature to look at all three of these aspects of healing as having equal importance. Healing was my spiritual call. Allopathic medicine and General Surgery were my professional call. Listening with open heart and mind made it possible for me to get a strong intuitive sense of what lay at the actual root of a physical or mental disease or disorder. Reading Harner’s book helped me to get a much deeper appreciation for that same sense. [click to continue…]
… the cruel offspring of judgment.
Shame, blame, and guilt are cruel expressions of the practice of judgment that have been with us for many thousands of years… just look at the Old Testament to get an historical perspective of the ways through which we have sought to control self and others. Just look around you today… the cruel triplet is virtually everywhere in practically every news broadcast, and not uncommonly with several examples in a single broadcast! History tells us that the longer we spend focusing on this the more we are going to find of it and it’s evil stepchild, violence. Let us keep in mind that the more we focus on something, the bigger it becomes. This is a situation that is crying for change. I have the strong sense that today we are changing our addiction to believing that we can control our violent nature by more violence. I ask you to look at the harm that this practice has produced over these eons. We are so addicted to judgment and punishment that we have a difficult time even considering that there might be an alternative. There is… perceiving rather than judging and restorative justice rather than punishment… and I think it helps to know that we already know the alternative to violence—peace. [click to continue…]
Kindness has been with me for most of my life, growing in my appreciation of its healthy power all that time, and especially of late. Kindness came forward with a bang when I learned that Anne Herbert, writer and peace activist from Marin County, California, had scribbled this on a paper napkin in 1982: “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” I first met this wise piece of advice very soon after it first appeared, five years before the first H.O.P.E. Group meeting. It caused a tingle then, and the tingle reappears still, given the occasion. This is one such occasion, comprised of four parts: human stories of very different situations that all came to me within 24 hours, giving me cause to get a shiver up my spine and see how powerful kindness becomes today.
The first was learning of the assassination of Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig, 26 year-old US aid worker murdered by an Islamic State militant. He was known for his kindness and devotion to helping humans in Syria. The following day, the evening news contained a segment about the Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who had gone to Sierra Leone to help treat people caught by the Ebola epidemic there, became infected with Ebola, and died shorty after coming to the US for treatment. His words in an earlier TV interview came from a human whose facial expressions were those of a kind and caring Human. The third was the TV interview of Daniel Menz, a Cape Elizabeth (Maine) High School senior student, president of his class, and known for his kindness. He is kind to everyone without exception and never appears to be above any of his fellow students.
http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/local/morning-report/2014/11/18/kind-kids-week-daniel-menz/19207265/ [click to continue…]
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extremely challenging mental disorder that has reached high levels of human interest because of its frequency in combat veterans. It truly is Soul Loss… marked by nightmares, hallucinations, and behaviors destructive of self and others. In short, though, it has been with us for centuries, triggered by participating in or observing horrifying events. It is associated with changes in the brain that can be found with today’s sophisticated technologies. Its effective treatment has seriously challenged the mental health community. However, it has not been recognized as a psychospiritual condition, even though it has been recognized for centuries in indigenous nations that see its expressions as “soul wounds,” especially, “soul loss”.
Lately, though, Edward Tick, PhD, a psychologist working with veterans of all of our current wars, starting with the war in Vietnam, has written a groundbreaking book about this called, War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. (Quest, 2005). He is Founding Director of Soldier’s Heart, “(whose) goal is to prepare families and communities in supporting and healing veterans—both those returning from current wars and those who fought in past wars.” . I have read the book and find myself in deep sympathy with, and appreciation of, his thesis that PTSD is a misnomer for what is really soul loss. Meet Dr. Tick at http://www.soldiersheart.net/index.shtml.
I use that word, “soul” deliberately, knowing that it is commonly confused with “spirit”. We, in the West, have the confusion because the philosophers of the 17th century Age of Reason decided that the soul’s existence could not be scientifically proven, and, for that reason, the soul does not exist. Prior to that time, we tended to believe that we were made a four–part being comprised of body, mind, soul, and spirit. It is easy to to see an ascending order to this rising from the body to the spirit. In this order, the soul can be seen as the bridge between the material body–mind and the immaterial spirit. [click to continue…]
Are H.O.P.E. Groups “therapy” groups? This is a question that has come up in various ways over time, and my answer has always been, “Not in the conventional ways of looking at ‘therapy’ which implies the treatment of a disease condition by a professional, especially when one considers that the ancient Greco-Roman meaning of the word is ‘healing’ or ‘curing'”. [click to continue…]
When is a HOPE Group not a HOPE Group?
Simply put: when it is not a safe place in which to share your story and your concerns… to be who you really are. Has this ever happened? Sadly, yes, but rarely… to the best of my knowledge, less than ten times in a total of over 6000 H.O.P.E. Group meetings. And because it has happened, I publish this blog post to help you recognize danger and how to respond to it. I am very healthy because of H.O.P.E. and H.O.P.E. Groups, as are hundreds of other human beings, and it is my desire to share this rich experience with you. [click to continue…]