MIND MATTERS , BY DR BERNIE SIEGEL

                                                                                                                      

Dear Everybody,

    Hello again everyone. Before I get in deep here’s a question: What do you use to mend a jack-o-lantern? Seems obvious, a pumpkin patch. And I told a patient he needed to walk two miles every day. Several months later he called me. “I’m in Philadelphia. What should I do now?” 

    I truly believe we are all here to repair the world. The Jewish New Year makes this point and I believe it is a meaningful one and one that can be very practical too. For a couple of weeks I have noticed that the door to my neighbor’s mail box was broken off. I could see her mail and the broken door in the mailbox as I walked our dogs every day. I kept wanting to fix it and forgetting. Well this morning I went there and took the door and removed the broken parts and made some replacement parts and then went back and installed it. This article may let her know who did it because I felt rewarded for having repaired it and don’t need a thank you. The gift is that I did something for someone else. For me repairing is not about my imposing my beliefs or will on anyone but about doing something for some other living thing. Last night I watered outdoor plants I could see were all drooping and shriveling up. This morning they greeted me with full leaves and standing upright. I felt good again. So find a way to water this dried up world and the people dehydrated of love and help them to bloom and blossom. Think of how different our headlines would be if we made that choice all over the globe and instead of burning down buildings we repaired them.

    I found this next paragraph on someone’s web site and realized I had written it when I saw my name at the end of it. I believe what it says. Love and laughter are required to build and hold our lives together. For me love makes up the bricks which we build with. Ask yourself what you are capable of loving and you will know what your life is about. But what holds that life and the bricks together? We need mortar and the mortar of life is humor. For me this represents childlike humor that isn’t offensive and doesn’t hurt or upset anyone. Humor of this type heals lives. It is very hard if not impossible to not relate to someone who loves you and gets you laughing. The love and laughter breaks down the walls which separate us and builds walls which protect us as we become family. I will add if you want to define your life answer these: Who can I love? Who can I hate? What is evil? Who is the enemy? Then compare your answers to Gandhi’s and Mother Theresa’s and Buddha’s and Jesus’.

    Next a quote from Carl Jung: “This proud picture of human grandeur is unfortunately an illusion only and is counterbalanced by the reality which is very different. In this reality man is the slave and victim of the machines that have conquered space and time for him.” Yes, we keep reading about how all these devices are now the rage and what are they doing to our lives when we are more involved with devices than other human beings. I think we should have national holidays where we are only allowed to talk to people or communicate via handwritten letters to them. I don’t deny the benefits of devices and how they may help us educate students and improve our homes and health and more but we must remember to focus on the people and not the mechanical devices which make us into robots too.

    Next the words of Eknath Easwaran: My grandmother, my spiritual teacher, used to tell me that the pain we associate with the great change called death arises from our innumerable selfish attachments. One day she illustrated this in a simple way by asking me to sit in a chair and hold tight to the arms. Then she tried to pull me out of the chair. She tugged and pulled at me, and I held on tight. It was painful. She was a strong person, and even though I held on with all my strength, she pulled me out. Then she told me to sit down again, but this time not to hold on anywhere, just to get up and come to her when she called. With ease I got out of the chair and went to her. This, she told me, is how to overcome the fear and pain of death. When we hold onto things – houses, cars, books, guitars, and our antique silver teapot – we get attached and tied down.

    I think this relates to life as well as death. When we fear change and letting go we die a little every day. Think of changing jobs, moving, divorce, disabilities, loss and more. Survivors can let and have faith in themselves and not fear change. Learn from those you admire because of their attitude towards life. I am working on my gratitude every morning and instead of getting angry at our children when they need my help I am learning to become grateful for the fact that I am able to help them.

    It is not enough just to put your foot forward and touch it lightly to the ground; you must put your weight on it completely. When we do take that step – by bearing patiently with those around us, or by changing some unhealthy habit – we can be sure that he will run toward us. But we must take the first step. 

    When I read the above I recalled an experience I had in a local cemetery. I was out jogging and ran through this area repeatedly. After a snow storm I had to struggle to run through the deep snow but the next day I could use my previous footsteps and it was easier. Then it all froze, due to a temperature change, and I realized I could break my ankle if I didn’t step directly into the previous footprints. So I changed my direction and began a new path to run on and learned that there are times we can follow the steps others have taken and times in our life when we need to create our own path and I wrote the following poems.

FOOTSTEPS

I trudged through the snow finding my way

deciding where I will go on this day

the snow is deep

the path a struggle

and then I see 

someone has walked this path before

I follow his footsteps

the walk is easier

I realize god doesn’t have to carry me

there are many gods who precede me

and create one set of footprints where many may go

FOOTPRINTS

it snowed

I left one set of footprints

I remember the story of god saying, ‘I carried you.’

to a troubled man who looked for two sets of footprints

his and god’s

and he understood why there was only one

god carried him

I see how deep my prints are

I am carrying someone too

lovers do that

FOOTPRINTS

the snow has turned to ice

the footprints are rigid

unyielding

I leave the path

to find

my way over

the treacherous ice

sinatra will be happy

and god too

when they see that

I did it

my way

Peace, Love & Healing

Bernie Siegel, MD

Each day is a little life; every waking and rising a little birth; every fresh morning a little youth; every going to rest and sleep a little death.                                                   – Arthur Schopenhauer.

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