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  • New from Bernie Siegel – The Art of Healing

    Introducing Bernie Siegel's new title, The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing. This long-awaited follow-up to his bestseller Love, Medicine & Miracles updates Dr. Siegel’s insights into the healing power of drawing, dreams, and intuition. The use of drawing in Bernie’s practice has helped patients discover the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of healing and guided them toward the best choices and options for their particular situation. Learn more     Available now in bookstores everywhere. Order your copy online today at:  Wisdom of the Ages, Barnes & NobleAmazon or New World Library.
  • Bernie’s Video of the Week

    Watch a free video today! Learn more about art therapy. The free video will be available for viewing in the next weeks free of charge. Please share it with your friends. http://lumenznetworks.com/siegel/watch/positive-experience/
  • Ask Bernie a Question

    Have a question you would like to ask Bernie? Use the message box below, and be sure to include your e-mail address. Bernie will answer questions each Monday on his blog (see below). Thank you for sharing your question!

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  • Today’s Prescription for the Soul – Prescription #193 – Good Friends

    I hope that my “365 Prescriptions for the Soul,” will be a welcome and healing addition to your day. The prescriptions I ask you to fill are designed for your total well-being. They come from hard-earned wisdom and experience with the difficulties of life. They are dispensed “as written” with love. At the end of each prescription is my “Soulution” to help you develop healthy self-love, self-esteem, and self-worth. Please take the prescription I have written for you here and fill it right away.

    Friendship improves happiness and abates misery,
    by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.

    - Cicero

    What is a friend? To me it is someone who knows our faults and still sees the divine in you. A friend will love you despite your imperfections. A friend is someone who is there for you when you have the courage to ask for help. A friend is also someone who can say no to you and still remain a friend.

    A friend points out your imperfections, not to blame you for them but to help you become better at what you are doing, just as a coach would talk to an athlete. A friend always answers your calls even when you are driving them crazy.

    A friend never talks about who is right but rather listens to how you are feeling. A friend will not judge without taking the time to understand and can forgive, let go of the past, and continue to love. Probably the most important thing a friend does is never to abandon you, no matter what you do.

    Soulution of the Day

    Do something to acknowledge a good friend today
    and remember to be one as well.

    - Bernie

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  • Q & A with Bernie – December 15, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    I read Al Siebert’s book, The Survivor Personality, after I healed myself from anxiety disorder and maybe also mild depression w/o the help of medication.

    It hit me that how I healed myself was also by working on the three selves mentioned in the book, which are self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-concept. I now feel better about myself, my life, and am happier. I’ve also been reading a lot about personal development, and I see that the traits of a happy person and/or a successful person are common with that of a survivor’s!

    Therefore, I’ve came to the conclusion that, on any given day, people who are strong in these three selves are happier people and tend to be successful in their endeavors, and when life hits a rough patch, they are also the ones who survive better compared to those whose three selves are weak.

    I’d love to hear your views about my deduction.

    Thank you so much for your time!

    Bernie’s Answer

    Absolutely—look on my website at Immune Competent Personality (go directly to that page at http://berniesiegelmd.com/resources/organizations-websites/immune-competent-personality-test/

    There are common patterns to survivors as our emotions create our internal chemistry. Growing up feeling loved is a very important element, too.  If that is the case, then you are for and about yourself.

    You must always remember that the body believes what the mind imagines and pictures.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    I love your work and agree wholeheartedly with you. I found I had breast cancer seven years ago.   After the diagnosis, I did a lot of questioning, and I found that my internal talk had never really been supported by personal love. I thought I was a happy lady (and was for the most part) but had a lot of negative energy that I believe lead to my development of breast cancer.

    I have this belief that cancer is an epidemic of lost personal love and respect. Take breast cancer for example. Why does it manifest in the breast—the very seat of femininity. I believe it is because we women repress our beauty, our sexual energy; we buy into “original sin” and believe we are not worthy…and cancer grows in the very nurturing, life-giving part of our bodies.

    We know that the energy within our bodies is influenced by our mind and emotional state. My personal experience with breast cancer has taken me through a journey that I believe can open another new door.  Thank you for taking the time to read my ideas.

    Bernie’s Answer

    You are right on, and this is not about blaming one’s self, but about understanding what contributes to illness—and how the body reflects these issues. Poets and others share these things about growth gone wrong, and becoming an outlet for foiled creative fire.

    Feeling loved as a child is an very vital part of all this, and not just trying to please everyone and lose your life but instead to find and be your authentic self.  Read on my website What Does Every Woman Want?  Go directly to it at the following link:

    http://berniesiegelmd.com/resources/articles/what-does-every-woman-want/ .

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    If you think you could help me interpret a dream, please e-mail me back. I hope I can get some relief from this.

    Bernie’s Answer

    Describe what is in it and what that means to you and you may understand it.

    Peace,
    Bernie

    Continuation of Question above

    Sure, since I fainted after recovering from the flu, I started to fear, and dream, I may faint again. What I did was to keep ignoring this thinking it would go away. It turned out to be worse and kept happening until one day I had a horrible dream of me fainting and dying on the floor.

    I have had dreams of dying in the past, but this one was very scary. The next one was an event in which I appeared behind a grave and saw a relative bringing out corn, which is a tradition in my country for people to do. Then I heard a voice mentioning a date that I would be visiting this place, as the place she is in was the place my grandparents were from. Then this voice said that I would die on that date.

    I am glad that the date has passed, but this was a very disturbing and scary dream for me. I was able to find out some interpretations of what it means to die in a dream, but was too fearful to even browse for more specifics.

    I really never want to dream of such similar things again, and I would appreciate if you can give me any advice. After that event, I had become very scared of dying and dreaming of such things, especially of the ones with voices and more exact things.

    Even writing about it is scary, but I guess I have to let it out somehow. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it. I really hope you don’t think I have gone out of my mind after you see this message.

    Bernie’s Answer

    You need to feel that you are in control of your life, and your thoughts are the only thing you control.

    Death is a new beginning, too.  In dreams it often doesn’t mean physical death, but the death of something in your life that is unhealthy for you.  Eliminate what is “killing” you along with what you fear, and save your authentic life by starting to live it now.  Here are some other ideas to help you realize that there is, of course, physical death, but most often in dreams, death signifies releasing things in your life that are no longer helping you find your true self and finding where you really belong to do the work of your life.

    DEATH

    I die a little each day.
    One dies many times in a lifetime
    before the liberating death.
    The many deaths are the events which plunge us into darkness,
    a difficult time and journey, until we enter the rebirth canal
    and climb back into the light to be born again.
    It gets harder to do, the larger our ego gets,
    and the more we accumulate.
    But each death brings an opportunity for our rebirth if we have the courage.
    Dying is easy.
    Living can be difficult and painful.
    One day there will be a gift for us all—death.

    THE GREAT TEACHER

    Death, what a great teacher you are
    Yet few of us elect to take your class,
    And learn about life.
    That is the essence of death’s teaching.
    Death is not an elective;
    We must all take the class.
    The wise students audit the class in their early years
    And find enlightenment.
    They are prepared when graduation day comes—
    It is your commencement.
    Until then, I will keep crawling to the light each time I die.


    Question for Bernie

    I know you may be retired, but have you ever thought about writing a book on self-esteem? A lot of us “older people” would benefit!!  Thank you, sir.

    Bernie’s Answer

    I will think about your suggestion.  It all comes from feeling loved by parents or not.

    All the violence we see happening is about seeking revenge.


    Question for Bernie

    I read your book 25 years ago and it made a great impact on my life.  Thank you! My question is this:  Do you think you can develop or grow self-esteem?  I’ve been working on mine for years but it still seems fragile. Sending love and light to you and your family.

    Bernie’s Answer

    Yes, if you reparent yourself and abandon old messages which have hypnotized you, the building of a lasting, authentic self-esteem can happen.

    Put up photos of yourself as an infant, toddler, teen, young adult, and as you are now.  Every time you pass one of those pictures in your living space, say “I love you” to that kid.
    You are a child of God.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    The Unity of Life

    Dear Everybody,

    Once again this week let me share some of the wisdom I keep encountering. While I wonder what will I write about next week I also know my problem will be solved by the greater consciousness. So here are some more words of wisdom and remember what I shared last week.

    The fragmenting of our concept of the world comes from how we are raised and so-called educated. When the message we get is about our separateness and I am better than you the cohesiveness is interrupted and we become like the Ebola virus and parasites within the structure of life. Society has an immune system too but we have to give it the message that we and our universal body love life and creation so it works effectively and not like life is a series of Monday mornings.

    I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and enjoyed the lifestyle and family like feeling of all the people who lived on our street. There was no discrimination felt related to race, religion, color or nationality. I took days off from school on Carmine’s religious holidays and he on mine. When his mother fed me bacon for breakfast, before I knew what it was, my Orthodox Jewish grandfather almost fainted but was not bitter or resentful. He lived the message above and didn’t try to circumcise Carmine. (Just kidding.)

    When I grew up and went to Cornell Medical School in Manhattan my feeling about the city changed. My wife, Bobbie, taught school on Long island and I took the subway into Manhattan from our Queens’ apartment. I needed to use the travel time to study and people were mad at me for taking a seat from a senior citizen. When I put the book I was reading into a smelly gross anatomy book I brought with me, and held in my lap, they backed off. The people, the noise, the lack of respect, crowding and more made me see New York City in a negative way until I got to know Norman Vincent Peale.

    When I discussed the above with him and that I preferred the quiet country to the noisy city he said, “Bernie it’s not about quiet or noise it is about the rhythm.” He got me to see that what I complained about many creative people found energizing and his words helped me to accept life in a healthier way. I have learned that the symbol of self-induced healing is a rainbow colored butterfly. It represents the transformation and creation of harmony and rhythm; the butterfly and the rainbow are the symbols. So find that harmony and your life’s rhythm and you will feel the energy within you and dance your creative and unique way through life.

    At the same time the body of the universe will feel the change and strive to survive now that life is evolving into a universe of love. The warming, or fever, will cease and our bodies and universe will heal and achieve their potential and immortality through the one thing of permanence: love. That is what it is all about folks. So get busy being a love warrior and bring humor and love into all the lives of every living thing you are connected too. To repeat last week’s closing words of Einstein’s comment: “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

    I do not know where I found the following. Perhaps it came from God knows where: Man is God’s needle to sew the patches of creation into a single garment for His glory. At one end sharp, to squeeze through the ordeal. But the other end must have a vacant hollow, a nothingness, with which to hold the thread. With the world we are firm and sharp within; we know we are nothing before the infinite.

    This  is a quote from Helen Keller (and I’ll share more of her teachings in the future). “The inner or mystic sense, if you like, gives me vision of the unseen.” Those who prefer “facts” to vision want a scientific explanation. “Science with untiring patience traces man back to the ape, and rests content. It is out of this ape that God creates the seer, and science meets spirit as life meets death, and life and death are one.”

    “We can now meet death as nature does, in a blaze of glory, marching to the grave with a gay step, wearing our brightest thoughts and most brilliant anticipations, as nature arrays herself in garments of gold, emerald, and scarlet, as if defying death to rob her of immortality.”

    Peace, Love & Healing,
    Bernie Siegel, MD

    As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know when it will be too late.”

    As Bernie Siegel said, “Do not live your entire life as a green leaf to please the family tree. When you accept the reality of the Fall of your life you uncover your beauty, uniqueness and authenticity.”

    We currently have a cancer support group the second and fourth Tuesday evenings of the month at Coachman’s Square at 21 Bradley Road, Woodbridge. If interested contact Lucille Ranciato lranciato2@yahoo.com 203 288 2839; or myself bugsyssiegel@sbcglobal.net

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    Q & A with Bernie – December 1, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    Do you think a lack of self-love is behind addiction?
    Thanks for all you do!

    Bernie’s Answer

    Yes, it is grounded in growing up without parental love.  This absence of parental love accounts for not only addictions of various kinds, but all unhealthy, self-destructive behavior.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    I heard you on 12radio today and loved the show. Thank you for all that you do.

    I am an artist and want to be able to help people through their art. I am hoping you can guide me to the best place to gain the critical insights and practices for being most effective at it, in service to others.

    I am also an Intuitive by profession so you can see the marriage of my interests. Thank you for any insight and assistance you can offer. You are brilliant bright light for me today!

    Bernie’s Answer

    Read my latest book, The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing. There are more than 60 drawings from patients that you can study.

    Also, learn human anatomy and you will see even more in the drawings, as well as help people with their own expression in drawing.

    I recommend that you also read two other books I mention in my book, which are Life Paints Its Own Span by Susan Bach, and The Secret World of Drawings by Gregg Furth.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    Thank you for replying so quickly. I will order your book today.  Even though we have begun with visualization and sending him healing light, our worry is that he is so far along in the pain cycle, that at this point he seems less receptive to these modalities.

    He typically falls off to sleep after all of us have listened to a guided meditation together, and then wakes up within half an hour and doesn’t go back to sleep for hours. Do you have any thoughts on how to help alleviate his pain?

    While doctors suggest to him that he can continue with drinking, smoking, and doing as he pleases, homeopathy and other more integrative practices suggest a change in diet is important. While he has become more open to a diet change (for example, he now has a lemon shot in the morning, turmeric and warm water, coconut water, and a more plant based diet).

    Smoking is a touchy topic. This is a real dilemma for us as we see a direct link between smoking and his pain, however,  having been a smoker for the better part of his life (at least 20 cigarettes a day), he may at the most drop it down to 8-10 cigarettes a day. If you were working with him, what might you have suggested in this case and at this stage?

    Bernie, I wanted to check with you if you offer the possibility of Skype sessions for people like us living outside of the U.S.?

    I appreciate all your help.

    Bernie’s Answer

    He needs to love himself.  Ask him what he would do if he had a beloved pet dog who was being made sick by the cigarette smoke?  Would he smoke outdoors or quit smoking?

    If he doesn’t love himself due to his early life and parents, all you can do is love him and hope he realizes someday that he is worth loving.  Then he will start to care for and about himself.

    Remember, he hears the meditation even if sleeping, and talk to him in positive ways while he sleeps.  He needs to want to talk to me himself rather than talking to me just because you want him to.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    The Power of Words

    Most doctors are not trained to communicate and understand the power of their words as they relate to a patient’s ability and desire to survive. Doctors are not the only authority figures who impact patients’ lives and their ability to survive a diagnosis of a disease. Parents, teachers, clergy and physicians also have the ability to change lives with their words. It can be hypnotic for a child or patient to hear an authority figure’s words. As I am fond of saying, “wordswordswords” can become “swordswordswords,” and doctors have the ability to cure with either “words” or kill with “swords.”

    Up to the age of six, a child’s brain wave pattern is similar to that of a hypnotized individual. To quote a woman I know, whose mother gave her only failure messages and dressed her in dark colors, and who as an adult has more trouble with her mother’s words than she does with cancer, “My mother’s words were eating away at me and maybe gave me cancer.” We know from recent studies that loneliness affects the genes which control the immune system. So it is incumbent upon doctors to ask the right questions and know what patients have experienced and are experiencing in their lives.

    I recently received two emails; one from a woman who had a recurrence of her cancer and had decided to not undergo chemotherapy again. Her doctor told her, “Then you might as well go home and commit suicide.” The other email came from a woman who asked her doctor if they could become a team. He told her no and that he was the doctor and in charge of her care. She packed her belongings, walked out of the hospital, and has found a caring oncologist with which to work. She is a survivor and not a submissive, sufferer, or from the doctor’s perspective, a “so-called” good patient.

    Doctors need to listen to their patients’ words and treat their experiences. Helen Keller said it very well when she stated, “Deafness is darker by far than blindness.” Doctors also need to understand that patients do not live a disease — they live an experience. Doctors need to ask how patients would describe their experience and then treat them accordingly. The words patients use, like draining, failure, denial, pressure, gift and wake-up call are always about what is happening in their lives. So doctors can help patients to heal their lives and improve the chances of curing their disease.

    I did a great deal of children’s surgery earlier in my career. When I meet many of these children today, as young adults, I am amazed at how vivid their memories are. It is obvious how important this event was to them and the details they recall. I learned how powerful my words were when I began to notice children falling asleep as we wheeled them into the operating room. One boy turned onto his stomach and fell asleep as we entered the O.R. I turned him over on the operating table and he said, “What are you doing? —–You told me I would go to sleep in the operating room and I sleep on my stomach.” I replied, “I needed to operate on his stomach to get to his appendix.” So we reached a compromise.

    Often I would rub an alcohol sponge on a child’s arm and tell them it would numb his or her skin. A third of the children would not feel the needle and ask why other doctors didn’t do that. I called it deceiving people into health. Give someone who has faith in you a placebo and call it a hair growing pill, anti-nausea pill, or whatever, and you will be amazed at how many respond to your therapy.

    Doctor Milton Erickson, from his childhood experience with polio and hearing his doctor’s dire predictions to his mother that he wouldn’t see the sun rise, knew how important words were. As a child his anger led him to defy the doctor’s predictions. As a psychiatrist, and hypnotherapist, he knew how to talk to patients to achieve the best outcome. There are many books about his work. One by Dr. Sidney Rosen is entitled My Voice Will Go With You. And our voices do. At the conclusion of an operation, while patients were still under anesthesia, a time when they hear their surgeon’s words, I would say, “You will awaken comfortable, thirsty and hungry.” I did that until I noticed many of my patients were gaining weight and so I added these words, “but you won’t finish everything on your plate.”

    One last story. Erickson would write in a patient’s chart and then excuse himself and leave the room. Of course he expected the patient would get up and go look at what he had written, so he would write, “Doing well.”

    So give your family mottoes to live by such as “Do what makes you happy” so they pay attention to their feelings and keep an open mind about the future. And don’t be afraid to remind your doctor that his or her words have the ability to hurt, but also more importantly, to heal.

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    Q & A with Bernie – November 17, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    Do you think a lack of self-love is behind addiction?
    Thanks for all you do!

    Bernie’s Answer

    Yes, it is grounded in growing up without parental love.  This absence of parental love accounts for not only addictions of various kinds, but all unhealthy, self-destructive behavior.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    I heard you on 12radio today and loved the show. Thank you for all that you do.

    I am an artist and want to be able to help people through their art. I am hoping you can guide me to the best place to gain the critical insights and practices for being most effective at it, in service to others.

    I am also an Intuitive by profession so you can see the marriage of my interests. Thank you for any insight and assistance you can offer. You are brilliant bright light for me today!

    Bernie’s Answer

    Read my latest book, The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing. There are more than 60 drawings from patients that you can study.

    Also, learn human anatomy and you will see even more in the drawings, as well as help people with their own expression in drawing.

    I recommend that you also read two other books I mention in my book, which are Life Paints Its Own Span by Susan Bach, and The Secret World of Drawings by Gregg Furth.

    Peace
    Bernie

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    Jekyll and Hyde – Mind and Heart Matters

    Why can’t we live the sermon? What is wrong with the human race? In the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll believes that there is good and evil in everyone and that he can bring them out through chemicals which affect the brain. He creates a serum which brings out his alter ego Hyde.

    We do the same thing. We change our chemistry by our thoughts and attitudes towards life and other people and the various drugs and toxins we expose ourselves to. Would Abraham, Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, my Father, Schweitzer or The Good Samaritan expose themselves to or create that kind of chemical environment within themselves? I think not. Why then does a high school student turn into a Hyde and kill others for revenge only to have Jekyll pop up again and create enough guilt to then cause even Hyde to commit suicide?

    Why can’t we live the sermon we are all exposed to in our formative years? The basic answer is that words are not the solution but our actions towards one another are. If you grow up with indifference, rejection and abuse, reading the New or Old Testament is not going to solve the problem. I was going to write this article based upon Biblical messages until Jekyll and Hyde came on our TV via Turner Classic Movies and the themes were so in line I had to mention it. Again I repeat, it is all about love and feelings of self-worth and the worthiness of all living things.

    Now here is a very clear and simple list, I found in my readings, we are to follow and live by as explained in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b), they are: 1. Do not murder. 2) Do not steal. 3) Do not worship false gods. 4) Do not be sexually immoral. 5) Do not eat the limb removed from a live animal. 6) Do not curse God. 7) Set up courts and bring offenders to justice. Maimonides explains that any human being who faithfully observes these laws earns a proper place in Heaven. So you see, the Torah is for all humanity, no conversion necessary. I have to add that Maimonides’ words of wisdom have helped me to understand many things like disease being a loss of health and we should help our neighbor find what he has lost. Nine hundred years ago he said, “If people took as good care of themselves as the do their animals they would suffer fewer illnesses.” We are more likely to be Dr. Jekyll with our creatures and Mr. Hyde with ourselves and our families.

    For Gandhi it was Ahimsa, interpreted as non-violence, but being more meaningful related to how we treat each other in our relationships. Mother Theresa was in favor of peace rallies and not anti-war rallies. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves presuming we love ourselves and feel like a child of God. Obviously the Hyde in us doesn’t let this happen in a compassionate loving way. Not only that his beautiful words, beliefs and actions are taken by others and made to add to our problems with guilt, shame and blame via the Hyde approach and internal chemistry. True love would never let these things happen.

    Several years ago I was invited by the clergy of Tupelo, Mississippi (The birth place of Elvis Presley.) to come there and give a lecture. I accepted their invitation and shortly thereafter a Baptist minister, via radio and the newspaper, declared I was satanic and occult and no one should attend my lecture. The other clergy were shocked and fortunately this minister was willing to talk to me and explain that I do guided imagery with people and Satan could take over the images. How he could conceive of people not knowing God and Jesus from Satan, or Jekyll from Hyde, amazed me. I told him that I would base my talk upon quotes from Jesus and not say anything that Jesus wouldn’t say. That seemed to help him at least be willing to talk with me again even though I was not enlightened. The best thing that happened was, due to the effect his criticism had on the community, to have a luncheon with all the clergy in Tupelo attending. They realized how they really didn’t know each other and what their beliefs were. It was a meaningful session and of course everyone in town came to my lecture, including the Baptist minister, once they were told they shouldn’t come and it was a healing experience.

    Our son Jeff had an interesting thought he shared with me when I told him about this topic. He said today parents and computers are the serum Jekyll is talking about. We are detached from each other; playing violent, destructive games via images which I am sure the minister would say are Satanic and occult. The Bible tells us God speaks in dreams and images and I know how true that is from my work with dreams and drawings by patients and children. But if parents and computer games distract us, expose us to violence and separate us from each other, they are helping to make this a Mr. Hyde world. If that is never to come to pass we need to create a Love Potion for ourselves and our children and help them to understand that aggression can be used in healthy ways too. We can fight for our lives and be love warriors.

    Peace, Love & Healing,
    Bernie

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    Some Inspirational Poems

    For those of you who haven’t had a chance yet to read the Inspirational Poems on my website, I thought it might be enjoyable (and inspirational) for you to read them now.  And for those of you who are inspired to submit a poem yourself, please do so.

    Cancer patients who laugh live longer. This poem, and her response to her disease, is survival behavior.


    If Bilateral Mastectomies Can’t Be Fun, They’re Not Worth Having
    by Suzanne Fenske

    I feel that I must make a clean breast of it
    and say that life has given me the booby prize.
    I know that this time my tit is really in the wringer
    and I feel like such a boob.
    Depression dwells deep in my bosom as I sit here like a lump
    and stare uncaring at the flickering boob tube.
    My life feels like such a big bust,
    and it is hard to keep abreast of what is happening around me.
    Inside I feel as cold as a witch’s tit,
    and I know my career plans to be a waitress at Hooters is definitely foiled.
    Let’s face it—I’m not just broke, I’m flat busted.
    Well thanks for listening.
    It felt good to get that off my chest.


    This poem shows us that we are all works of art. But we are a work in progress and not to be thrown out if imperfect, but to be reworked until we become who we want to become.

    Canvas
    by Unknown Author

    it is not as though I lost my breasts to surgery
    perhaps they were erased or painted over
    as if the artist changed her mind
    but see there are other changes, too
    the head held higher
    the shoulders back
    the brightness in the eyes
    the air of expectancy
    listening with keener ears
    observing with greater insight
    do we perhaps shed things as we go through life
    that other features may be enhanced
    the canvas isn’t finished
    there is more color on the palette


    There are natives and tourists. When you have experienced something, you are a native and can share the experience with others, helping to guide them. Remember, however, that everyone’s experience is still unique to them.

    Scars
    by Unknown Author

    in the east a railroad track
    running from the valley of my arm to the hilltop of my breast
    in the west a creek bed
    curving along the ridge of a rib
    it is not a perfect landscape
    unfit for calendars, postcards or brochures
    but my husband is blind to the surface flaws
    and I see myself through his eyes
    the eyes of a native who overlooks things that only a tourist would notice


    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
    by Bernie Siegel, MD

    My first sense was to get Lassie to write about beauty, since the animals know more about completeness than people do. If you were loved as a child and feel loved as an adult, you will still feel whole and not incomplete or imperfect. A two legged dog learns to balance, run, and enjoy life—not sit home worrying about what the other dogs in the neighborhood are thinking.

    I know young women, from our support group, who, after their mastectomy went out and had sexual affairs with men to prove they were still acceptable and attractive. It is sad that they had to prove it that way because when they looked in the mirror they saw an ugly duckling, not a swan. But remember what you reflect back comes from within you, so love yourself and your image will remain beautiful.

    A woman I know said after her mastectomy, “Cancer made me take a look at myself and I like who I met.” A curse can become a blessing when it makes you more complete. And being complete is not about the condition of your physical parts, but about the integrity of your spirit.

    I received a letter from a woman veterinarian who said at 3AM the night before her mastectomy she couldn’t fall asleep because of worrying.

    Then she remembered all the animals she operated on:
    “I amputate a leg or a jaw
    and when they wake up they lick their owner’s faces.
    They know they are here to love and be loved
    and teach us a few things.”
    From that moment on she was fine.

    When a dog has his leg amputated you don’t start calling him Tripod and focus everyone’s life energy on what is missing, and when you have a mastectomy, don’t change your name to Tomy and put all your energy into what is missing and wrong about your body and life. What follows is about survival behavior.

    Happiness
    by Bernie Siegel, MD

    I will not give my power away
    It is my happiness, mine
    I create it, not you
    I decide to be, not you
    You can come into my happiness,
    but you cannot create it or destroy it.
    You can only enlarge it.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Q & A with Bernie – October 27, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    Hope you and your family are happy.

    I just wonder if what you say is true about the power of the mind. I have had a number of health issues for many years.  I tried to live with them, but the quality of my life was just terrible with psoriatic arthritis/vitiligo/recurrent UTIs/asthma/thyroid, etc.  So two years back I threw everything into healing, e.g., I no longer eat sugar, gluten, and am 100% organic.  I do yoga and meditate.

    I even did the Hoffman process to forgive my parents.  I’ve had tons of therapy, gone on meditation retreats, and seen nutritionists.  And what happened?  I didn’t feel better.  I eventually had several relapses on the arthritis, and after six steroid jabs, I am now back on the maximum dose of Azathioprine.  I had made a decision that I really don’t want to live anymore if I am continually ill.  It’s just exhausting and not fun. I am, however, giving it another try and am embarking on a full-on leaky gut healing program, but I wonder if it is the other way round—it is my body affecting my mind. Your thoughts would be interesting.

    Bernie’s Answer

    You cannot separate mind and body.  Emotions alter body chemistry and immune function.  When you decide that you don’t want to live, your body gets the message and your immune system weakens.  If, instead, you love your life and your body, the immune system gets the message that you want to LIVE, and then things change.  Don’t make your body the enemy.  Love it just as it is.

    It is important to identify and then eliminate from your life what is killing you.  An easy way to do this is to write down the words that describe your health problems—think of words that describe the physical feelings (like pain, difficulty sleeping, no energy or whatever is true for you physically), but also write down the words that describe how your health affects your life (like restricting, annoying, frustrating, anxiety-producing, etc.)  The next step is to identify the people and situations in your life that fit any of the negative descriptive words you have listed.  Then, resolve to eliminate as many of these destructive, negative relationships and/or situations as you can from your life and restore a positive atmosphere around you.

    It is not about blame, so abandon your past and what your parents did to you by getting the anger out.  As long as it is stored within you, it plays a negative role, interfering with the strength of your immune system.

    Peace,
    Bernie

    Question for Bernie: (response from questioner above)

    What a kind response.

    I will think about what you say and get back to you…

    Bernie’s Answer: (to questioner’s response above)

    Here is a mantra/affirmation to say every few hours:

    Thank you for everything
    I have no complaint whatsoever
    I am happy
    I am healthy
    I love my life, body and family
    I am content with what i have
    I rejoice in the way things are
    Nothing is lacking
    The whole world belongs to me

    Also, see a naturopathic physician for help.  Finally, recall times that made you laugh out loud in the past, and enjoy laughing again several times each day.  Do all of these things and watch what happens.

    Peace,
    Bernie

    Question for Bernie

    Good morning Dr. Siegel,

    I thought I would quickly relay this story to you and let you know that I successfully employed what you spoke about in an interview you gave Tony Robbins.

    I was recently in charge of a number of attorneys reviewing documents in an old warehouse.  Because of the lack of space in our storage room, we utilized some common area hallway space (about 10 people with tables, chairs, and little lamps).  Really, no one was using the common space and the warehouse was very quiet.  As life happens, the landlord stopped by to show the property to someone.  He completely freaked out at the people who were there.  I was not there when he initially started yelling, ranting, and threatening people.  One of my trusted staff was calm and tried to talk to him, but realizing that to be impossible, called me and said “GET UP HERE ASAP!”

    I met up with the landlord just outside the building.  He continued to rant, calling me an idiot for not checking with him before using the hallway.  I let him yell, sat down in front of him on a little stoop (so as not to be threatening in the least) and let his energy go.  At one point during the yelling he said, “Well, I’m not going to kick you out,” so I thought we’d be OK.  After he calmed down a little bit, he told me about an alternate space I could rent.  Fine, I needed the space as I had few options.

    Then using lessons from my dad to try to get people smiling, and remembering a story you told about nurses calling you if a patient was ranting and raving (the nurses saying you’d probably like the guy) you relayed that you would talk to someone threatening the nurses by saying “Violence is not productive, but use the energy to get well.” You said that you liked the person’s energy. I made one more statement to the landlord.  I gently tapped him on his chest and said, “You know what, I really love your energy.  If I had one person with that much energy on my document review, I’d be done in no time!”  Well, he started laughing and the rest worked out.

    It was a situation that could have gone terribly wrong, but in using something you said, it really worked out.

    I just thought you would enjoy knowing you made a difference in my life.

    Bernie’s Answer

    You made a difference in my life by telling me how something I said worked so well for you.  It is a great lesson to pass on.  It is very difficult to go through life without enduring confrontation, but it does not have to be a negative stand-off.  It can be, as you experienced, a great lesson in positive communication leading to positive outcomes.

    This is what it is all about. Life is a school and you are learning.  In that respect, I feel like I’ve won the lottery of Life!

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Information and Inspiration

    Most medical school applications of today state that the candidate for admission is interested in and fascinated by the human body. The problem with seeking medical help in the U.S. is that people come in with their mind, body, and spiritual beliefs, but this complete human package is immediately divided and categorized leaving patients feeling frustrated and often like they have not been heard or examined properly. This sense of estrangement disturbs physicians who have been given a great deal of medical information, but not a medical education. An education teaches you how to deal with and care for the human experience of illness and not just determine and treat a diagnosis. There is little more demoralizing for a patient in the exam room than to have the doctor staring at the computer screen while asking questions—no eye contact, no reassuring facial expression, and ultimately no understanding at all of how that individual patient might not fit perfectly into the information category the physician learned in medical school.

    A medical education should not just teach the skill of communication, but emphasize it because doctors are communicating with people in distress or who are coping with a major disease or disorder, and being indifferent to the emotional state of the patient or using outright uncaring words have the very real risk of a seriously negative outcome of care. When we choose the vocabulary we use as doctors to talk with patients about their concerns, our words should help heal and not harm patients, just as we heal and do not wound when using a scalpel. One of our sons showed me how wordswordswords become swordswordswords when the words we choose exclude the feelings of the patient who is listening.  Whether the patient has come in for a routine check-up, or with a devastating diagnosis, the words a doctor (or other healthcare provider) uses in conversation with those patients directly impact the outcome of care.  Patients are individuals, and individuals are not statistics.  They are unique unto themselves.

    What I have found is that information does not change people. The obese, alcoholics, smokers, and non-compliant patients all know their behavior is not good for them. So why do they do it? It gets back to a lack of messages from parents, teachers, clergy, and other authority figures of love for the individual. Ugly ducklings rarely find out on their own that they are swans. In one study a loved child had one fourth the illness rate of an unloved child by middle age. I see pet owners who have lung cancer or asthma smoke outdoors to save their beloved pets. Killing yourself is not questioned. Nine hundred years ago Maimonides stated, “People would suffer fewer illnesses if they took as good care of themselves as they do their animals.” Times haven’t changed.

    I have found that approximately 20% of patients are what I call “respants” which is word I created meaning Responsible Participants who are interested in learning survival behavior. What I do for the other 80% is love them and ask them to make return appointments which they can either keep or not.  For those who do keep their appointments, I find that with time, and my love, some begin to realize that they are worth loving and caring for and so begin to care for, and about, themselves. In a sense they realize they are swans too, and are divine children. Then the information I present to them, in the context of their uniqueness as a person, and choosing words that heal and do not harm, can be accessed and used by patients to improve their health and survival outcomes.

    As I said, I can’t sell them on the idea of being a respant, or cite better statistical outcomes if they follow my treatment plan because some patients simply aren’t interested in working at living. They have grown up hearing there is something wrong with them. So guilt, shame, and blame are what they are dealing with, and if you ask them to fight for their lives, in their minds, it is just one more thing they won’t get right—sad but true. I often ask people to answer questions, join support groups, and draw pictures of themselves, their treatment, and the disease. That eliminates many patients because they do not see themselves as artists and so again, in their minds, all they see is that “they could do it wrong.”  And there are some patients who simply don’t want to work at surviving for reasons that do not come forth in talking with the doctor.

    If I can inspire them and breathe life into them, then changes will occur. If my attempts to inspire them work, they wake up to life and are able to articulate what makes them happy. This is not about self-interest, but about paying attention to their bodies and what feels good for them to do. Studies show that on Monday mornings there are more heart attacks, suicides, and illnesses because of how we feel about our meaningless lives, often including the work we don’t want to do but feel we must do in order to make a living. I help people reclaim their lives and be reborn so that every cell in their body is given a message about the joys of life each day. Have I seen people expected to die in months cured of their disease by living in this new, positive way? Yes. Do I recommend it as the sole treatment? No, because I know how hard it is to “live in your heart and have magic happen” and to “leave all your troubles to God.”

    I do, however, point out the benefits of love to patients and those around them.  If patients are unwilling let me help them try a new perspective that could improve their health and outcome of their disease or disorder, I still let their families know that they, as observers of their loved one’s illness, must not let their own natural worry and despair deepen, but instead start practicing loving themselves, staying strong, and prioritize taking care of themselves. Why? Because there is something called Siegel’s sign in physical diagnosis. When a family walks into the doctor’s office and everyone looks sick except one person, you can be sure the one who looks well is the one with the illness, and he/she is using it to manipulate everyone else in the family. In these cases, I always guarantee the patient a cure on their next visit. They never come back to my office again, instead arranging future meetings with physicians in the ER or other safe places where a cure is not available.  Take a good look at how you were parented—did you get the attention you craved from your mother and/or father only when you were sick?  Often this is the root of developing into a patient who will not get better because that attention remains a priority for the rest of his/her life.

    Remember this: The medical system in the U.S. is disease-oriented.  There are some efforts to promote wellness and prevention of illness, but our system remains overwhelmingly disease-oriented.  Many patients express guilt for wasting the doctor’s time if they come in and don’t have anything wrong with them.  Instead, they should be congratulated by the doctor for staying well.  The doctor should ask what they are doing to stay in good health and continue to emphasize that all through the time a patient comes to that doctor’s practice.  This also makes it much more likely that if a disease or disorder does begin to develop, it can be caught early.

    What do respants do that represents survival behavior? They take action, seek wisdom, perform meditation and visual imagery—and have spiritual support. Spiritual support may come from a religion, but some religions are based on tenets that create guilt and lead to feelings that one deserves God’s punishment. Disease is no different than when one loses one’s car keys. You don’t say “God wants me to walk home.” You look for your keys. When you are ill, it is not a punishment from God.  I believe that spiritual beliefs give you the tools to be a respant if you have lost your health, and support you on your healing journey to restore wellness.

    Respants live a life with meaning, express their feelings including appropriate anger, ask for help when it is needed, learn to say no to things they do not want to do, make their own decisions about treatment that is offered, bring play and humor into their lives, deal with feelings of depression and learn from them, and do not live a “role,” but instead, by looking deep within live as their authentic self for the rest of their lives. In essence, life becomes a labor pain in which we give birth to our authentic self, and because we are respants, fully participating in making the choices as mentioned above, the delivery is less painful and comes with fewer complications and side effects, if any.

    About 20 years ago, I met Susan Duffy who had developed scleroderma and was not given much time to live. She was an enraged lady over her illness and her difficult life. Her parents and sister were alcoholics who committed suicide and were angry at her for not following their destructive path. When I met her, all I could do was listen, and her story brought to my mind a quote from the inspirational Helen Keller who said, “Deafness is darker by far than blindness.” When Susan emptied out her rage in 1987, she wrote me a letter telling me that she had let love into her prison and it had touched every negative item in it, transforming them all into something meaningful. She is alive today and, as member of our support group, was one of my teachers. Susan’s love extends outward with her desire to share the comprehensive and wonderful List for Survivors that she created from experience and knowledge which you will find at the end of this article.

    Eight years ago my phone rang and the caller asked me for Jack Kevorkian’s home number. I learned from the caller, Becky, why she wanted to die. First, I told Becky that she is a child of God, and then I asked her to send me some drawings. I don’t tell people “don’t smoke or commit suicide.” I say, “I love you and God loves you,” then I ask, “Why hurt a child of God?” Becky and I have worked on her pain, and she is alive today. I volunteered to be her CD or Chosen Dad, and she allowed me that privilege. What is my role as her CD? It is to love her no matter what she does. I don’t have to like her behavior while I continue to love her. Telling someone that you don’t like their behavior or actions is very different than saying that there is something wrong the person him/or herself…and withdrawing your love.

    Becky has helped me with others who are considering suicide.  Her help motivates me all the more to call for medical students today to be comprehensively educated about the issue of suicide.  They need to be taught that being severe and judgmental is cruel and certainly not the path to saving a life. They need to learn how to say to patients in a suicidal crisis that they, as a physician, may not like the action contemplated by the patient, but that doesn’t change the fact that they care deeply about the patient as a fellow human being and that they, as a physician, will do all in their power to assemble the resources to support the patient as that patient learns to understand and love themselves.

    When I ask medical students to draw themselves as doctors, the majority of the drawings are totally depersonalizing. Some show no human beings—only computers, instruments, diplomas, and books. But one drawing from a medical student that is in my collection shows a young man kneeling and handing the patient a tissue.  When Becky saw that one, her comment was that when someone responds to her needs, she regains the will to live. And that response may be as simple as finding a tissue for someone who needs one.

    I do not criticize people for their choices, but try and help them find what is right for them. In doing so, I help them find new options and paths to healing their lives, and hopefully their illnesses as well. Death is not a failure and it is inevitable. I remind people to change the focus from one of trying to avoid death to one of enjoying life to the fullest. I believe this perspective leads to happiness whether you are ill or not.  If you are ill and spend all of your time trying to avoid dying to the exclusion of loving yourself and your life just as it is, you will end up being very angry when you do fully realize that life has a 100% mortality rate.  But whether you are in good health or coping with a debilitating disorder or disease, when you enjoy life and love your body just as it is, the bonus is a longer healthier life.

    We each need to find our path and way to heal. The messages are age-old and can be found in the literature of great spiritual leaders, the U.S. Marines training manual, the writings of children with cancer, the incredible and inspirational stories patients have related to me and permitted me to share in my books, and other resources from Laughter Workshops to Meditation Classes and support groups.

    Two things are key elements on a healing journey. One is being inspired by the knowledge of your genuine self and being surrounded by positive people in your life who love and believe in you. The second is one’s behavior in which you disassociate your newly discovered genuine self from the “old self” and begin to behave as if you are the person you want to be. You rehearse, practice, and find coaches to help guide you. That is the role I see myself in today—as a coach for the inspired respant who wants to learn and practice survival behavior.

    How will you know a good coach(s) for you when you meet them?

    Ask these questions:

    1. “I am taking you to dinner—what do you want?”
    2. “How would you introduce yourself to God?”
    3. “What should I hang in the lobby of public buildings with a sign above it that says,

    Come and See How Beautiful and Meaningful Life Is?”

    The correct answers are:

    1. The response should be within 5-10 seconds demonstrating they are in touch with their     feelings and not thinking about fat content, cost, or what you want.
    2. The introduction is that you and God don’t need an introduction you are a child of God.
    3. You don’t hang a picture of a baby, rainbow, or flower—but a mirror.

    As promised, here is Susan’s invaluable list for survivors—those who practice survival behaviors.  You might want to post it someplace you can see it many times every day.

    THE FOLLOWING ARE FROM SUSAN DUFFY’S SECRETS OF LIVING FOR SURVIVORS

    1. Trust yourself enough to become your own teacher.
    2. Cultivate your own sense of being and spirituality.
    3. Trust in your own instincts, intuitions and leadings.
    4. Learn to flow with your own ideas concerning searching and seeking answers.
    5. Choose to have faith in yourself and your place in life.
    6. Discipline yourself to love the positive more than the negative.
    7. Let go of everything that you can’t change.
    8. Change yourself through self-acceptance and love then what happens around you won’t matter.
    9. Learn to forgive the unforgivable and you will become free.
    10. Forgive God, others and yourself.
    11. Allow yourself to feel anger, pain, joy and sadness.
    12. Express your feelings and don’t feel so alone.
    13. Everything changes.
    14. Look to other people for guidance and inspiration but not answers.
    15. Other people don’t have all the answers they are learning too.
    16. Nothing so bad ever happened to you that didn’t happen to someone else.
    17. No one is unique we all suffer the same joys and pains of life.
    18. Our problems may come in different shapes and sizes but the solutions are the same.
    19. Embrace life it will hug you back.
    20. Don’t have a need to control.
    21. Allow the order of things to take place. God knows what He is doing.
    22. Enjoy the peace knowing someone bigger and stronger is in charge.
    23. Don’t make too many schedules you will go crazy.
    24. You can’t fix everything; you are not the creator.
    25. Have faith and trust in the things you don’t understand. Life will become easier.
    26. Nothing ever happens to you that is not for your good in the bigness of things.
    27. Deal with grief, pain and loss when they happen and you won’t have to relive them.
    28. Don’t make too many plans for the future life may step in.
    29. Love is the greatest healer there is.
    30. The less you need someone the more you can love them.
    31. Rest when you need to no one else can do it for you.
    32. Never stop learning you will become bored.
    33. Behind every cloud of adversity is a silver lining. Have the courage and faith to find it.
    34. Good and bad events are the pieces of the puzzle that make life complete.
    35. God heals. Doctors get paid for it.
    36. Letting go of those we love is the greatest gift of love we can give them.
    37. Live each day as if it were your last. You will have a lot of great days.
    38. Don’t live a life of confusion you will get lost.
    39. Love unconditionally those unable to love back and you will be set free.
    40. Pray, meditate, sit quietly, take walks.
    41. Look up to something bigger than you are, life, love, God.
    42. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Then move on life is too short.
    43. Live a life of prayer and you can get through anything.
    44. Learn to laugh at yourself and you will make friends with yourself.
    45. Know you are a child of God.
    46. God loves you even when you think no one else does.
    47. Be your own person in all things.
    48. When you know yourself other people will know you too.
    49. Learn to accept criticism, advice and suggestions. They can help you.
    50. Be humble when you receive praise.
    51. Don’t get stuck following one religion, group or person move forward.
    52. Life holds the wisdom, answers and solutions that any person could ever need their life.
    53. Have the courage to explore.
    54. Open to life. Feel it, experience it, live it and you will learn to fly (transcend).

    I know you join me in sending many thanks to Susan.  And let me end with a very positive action each and every one of you can take to turn your life around and commit to being mostly positive. Learn to live in the moment as children and animals do. You don’t have to have children and animals to do this—just go to a park, a good friend’s house, or out with a sibling who has kids or grandkids and/or pets and observe the joy these little humans and pets have playing right in the moment without thoughts about the past or the future.  Your immune system will thank you for the respite from negativity and respond by getting stronger.

    To put it in the words of one of my patients, “I want to be dying forever.” If we live with a sense of time that allows for healthy humor, observing the beauty all around us and within us, and giving and receiving love, we learn how to spend our time wisely—and that it is everything, because ultimately what is immortal is not our body, but our love.

    Blessings to all,
    Bernie

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    Living Up to Loving your Partners “in Sickness and in Health…”

    The quality of the rest of your life and your partner’s life will be what you want it to be—the decisions are yours and your partner’s to make. If you both agree that you want  is “to let the sun shine in” on a shared positive perspective, you will each strengthen your immune systems;  when Life’s inevitable pop quizzes come up, you will both be ready to get an “A.”

    If you are a married couple, at some point along the way, you will hear everyone from your mother-in-law (usually on the eve of your wedding day), to a therapist who is helping you through Couple’s Therapy sometime later in your marriage, say, “…good marriages take a lot of work.” I prefer to say that “…along the way, spouses have chances to grow even closer as they create positive solutions to the challenges that come to us all.”  I don’t want to make being married sound like a 9-to-5 job by describing it as work.

    Here are some suggestions for keeping the romance and heartfelt understanding in your marriage instead of likening marriage to the workplace.

    • Get at least one guided imagery CD and use it together. Focus on what each of you loves      about life—and then do those things.
    • Help him love his body—it will respond favorably through the strengthening of his immune system. Tell him not to think of his body or any part of it as “the enemy.” Self-induced healing does occur when your body knows you love it and you love your life.
    • Get at least one meditation CD (if neither of you have learned meditation techniques, get a “beginner’s” CD and then move on to a more advanced CD if you wish).
    • Learn the art of massage using healing aromas; you can also talk about beautiful visions of life that you both share like the waves on an ocean beach, the towering trees of the forest, etc., while you are massaging neck, shoulders, legs, and feet.
    • I believe we sleep to rest and communicate with that part of our brain that is responsible for this intuitive wisdom and our survival behavior so make sure your husband’s sleep (and you own) is restorative—before sleep (nap or before bedtime) have a ritual of saying some affirmations about gratitude and loving your life together as it is; you can also say affirmations that any dreams that come during sleep will be beautiful, positive, and/or answers to your questions and concerns.
    • When we get tired of our bodies, we turn the switch off and “fall up.” But for now, you can create a quality of life that is loving, positive, and beautiful.
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