Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Singing his jaguar down from the tree

"...I remember observing one of these shamans, Don Ramon, during his nighttime healing ceremonies, as he would load his pipe with jungle tobacco and turn to one of his patients and 'sing his jaguar down from the tree." I asked him what he meant, and he explained that like many people, the patient lived in constant fear and that this fear was the result of a trauma experienced early in life that had not healed.  He said, 'This man's soul is like a terrified cat who escaped danger and quickly clambered up a tree, where it remains, hissing at anyone who comes near. The cat must come down, relax, and resume walking on the terra firma of the rainforest, or there will be no healing of the illness this fear has engendered in him."

Villoldo, A. (2007). Jaguar Medicine. Alternative Therapies, 13, 14-16.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hardy of Mind & Spirit

"Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was less.  They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom. Only in this way can one explain the apparent paradox that some prisoners of a less hardy make-up often seemed to survive camp life better than did those of a robust nature." (Frankl, 2006, p.36).

The Carrot & The Stick

The more whole you feel and the less you crave, the harder it is to be manipulated.
No one can hold a carrot to entice and mislead you. 
And you don't have to be afraid of anyone's stick.
Your faith makes you brave.
The efforts of others to control you will be futile.

"...No one could yet grasp the fact that everything would be taken away...At that moment I saw the plain truth and did what marked the culminating point of the first phase of my psychological reaction: I struck out my whole former life...While we were waiting for the shower, our nakedness was brought home to us: we really had nothing now except our bare bodies - even minus hair; all we possessed, literally, was our naked existence (Frankl, 2006, p.14-15).

Essential Freedom

"They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way...in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp...the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom - which cannot be taken away - that makes life meaningful and purposeful (Frankl, 2006, p. 66-67).


Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day Weekend!

What follows is a lovely passage from Viktor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning. If you are not familiar with this book, it is about a Jewish psychiatrist's first person account of his experience in a concentration camp. Here he writes about his beloved:
...But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise. 
A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth - that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist of enduring his sufferings in the right way - an honorable way - in such position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory."...
My mind still clung to the image of my wife. A thought crossed my mind: I didn't even know if she were still alive. I only knew one thing - which I have learned well by now: Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.
I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out (during all my prison life there was no outgoing or incoming mail); but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the image of my beloved. Had I known then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge, to the contemplation of her image, and that my mental conversation with her would have been just as vivid and just as satisfying. "Set me like a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death."... 
"Et lux in tenebris lucet" - and the light shineth in the darkness. For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong; she was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.