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  • New from Bernie Siegel – Love, Animals & Miracles

    Introducing Bernie Siegel's new title, Love, Animals & Miracles: Inspiring True Stories Celebrating the Healing Bond . The stories in this new book offer funny and heart-touching, true-life experiences that convey loving connections, amazing rescues, and healing with (and by) animals — both wild and domestic. Learn more     Available now in bookstores everywhere. Order your copy online today at:  Wisdom of the Ages, Barnes & NobleAmazon or New World Library.
  • 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 #122 – Getting to Know You

    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.


    The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.

    ~ Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881, Scottish Historian and Essayist

    Getting to know yourself better takes courage. It is far easier to hide behind a mask than to see yourself as you really are. There are many who think they are perfect and need not change, who think they’re the center of the universe, and they have a problem.

    If you wish to know yourself and change for the better, you need to accept your inadequacies, fears, weaknesses, mistakes, and more. If you need others present constantly to entertain and distract you, then you are afraid to be still and know yourself.

    So spend some time being totally alone and see how you feel. If you are comfortable, then I would say you are in the process of knowing yourself. Knowing yourself means being willing to be with yourself. Once you can do that, the frantic search for distraction and escape will stop ruling your life and you can choose to fill your life with the things that bring you joy.

    Soulution of the Day

    Even if it feels uncomfortable, go away with yourself
    and spend some time together getting to know yourself.
    You may find that you are great company.

    - Bernie

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  • Fear

    If I asked you to explain the purpose of fear what would your answer be? We know there must be a reason for our brain to manifest fear or we wouldn’t be wired for it. The first obvious reason I can think of is that appropriate fears protect us. However, most of the fears we experience come from our view, or memory, of the future and not from any specifically dangerous encounter. It is obviously appropriate to fear high places, loud or threatening noises, and predators. Tests reveal that animals and infants have these fears wired in before anyone trains them to fear dangerous places.

    Studies also show we instinctively draw back when we see what we think is a snake on our path before we have the time to intellectually evaluate the object and whether it is a snake. One of our sons had pet snakes in his room and our daughter frequently screamed for help when she saw a snake in the hallway before she realized that it was a rubber snake and the boys were teasing her; though once in a while the snakes did get loose and always preferred to hide in her room. That reflex is built in to protect us, but most of the fear we experience in our lives does more harm than good.

    When I am counseling people with life threatening illnesses, I see how fear affects their daily life. The fear may be of treatments that are prescribed, death, disease, disability, what will happen to their loved ones when they are gone, pain, poor care, and more. Generally these people are giving up their power, visualizing the worst outcomes and letting the resulting fear affect their life even though these events may never occur. That is why I refer to fear and hope as memories of the future. When we fear, our reptilian brain is the focus of activity, and what that does to our body is not healthy when the threat is due to our thought and not a snake or tiger on our path.

    Before I finish this article I will share how to alter the brain’s activity and bring a feeling of peace to you and your life, even in the midst of threatening events, but first—a story. Several years ago my wife and I were visiting the San Diego zoo and saw a tiger walking around. I thought there was an invisible fence but as it approached us I realized it had escaped. I distracted the tiger so my wife could run for help and then headed for an embankment I could climb down to get away from the tiger. I grabbed a vine and started to climb down while the tiger stood watching me. When I heard a roar I thought it was the same tiger but he was standing quietly observing me. So I looked down and there was another tiger below me. I realized then that the tiger had climbed up the wall to get out and I was now hanging onto a vine between two tigers.

    Above me, the tiger of my birth and below, the tiger of my death, but I felt secure on the vine until something hit my forehead. Turns out there were two mice, one black and the other white, eating away at the vine. Here were night and day eating away at me. Well, now I was a little worried, to put it mildly, and no sign of my wife. What was I to do? The only thing I could do was to reach out and eat some grapes that were hanging from the vine. They tasted delicious and I truly appreciated the moment. Obviously my wife loves me, and showed up in time to help rescue me or I wouldn’t be writing this now. When dealing with fear I learned these steps:

    • STEP ONE is to enjoy the moment and “taste the grapes.”
    • STEP TWO is to define your fears so they are not vague statements like, “I fear dying.” I want to know the specific things that you are afraid of in detail so we can make plans to deal with those fears should they occur.
    • STEP THREE is to become empowered to make your own decisions, and to not do something because someone else prescribes it. Life is a labor pain of self-birth, but the pains you experience are not up to others to decide upon. This is your life and your choice; when you do the choosing, you suffer fewer complications.
    • STEP FOUR is to take steps to shift the brain’s activity away from the fear center by reprogramming your thoughts. Some simple ways that people can do this are through focusing your mind on what you are grateful for using meditation, visualization, saying the rosary, repeating a mantra, certain expressions, or prayers. To be more specific you can meditate and focus on your breathing, visualize a successful outcome related to what you fear or some pleasant experience in your past, repeat a word like love or peace, or the name of someone you love, or a spiritual figure that you have faith in.
    • STEP FIVE is my suggestion that you do what a wise Buddhist suggested. Many times each day say to yourself, “Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”

    I have done all of these things, and know they work because I can feel the change in my body as I change the focus of my thoughts. When you practice these things, you will come to the same point as a 90 year old member of our support group. When I asked her what she feared, during a very tense meeting, she stopped for a few minutes to think and then said, “Driving on the parkway at night.”

    This reminds me of the story of a young man who entered a dark cave and saw a precious pearl. As he went to pick it up, a dragon roared and he ran from the cave. His entire life he regretted not having the courage to confront the dragon. As an old man he went back to the cave to see the pearl again before he died. When he entered and walked up to the pearl there was a little lizard standing there. He picked up the pearl and took it home to his family.

    When you finish reading, visualize a crying infant. Go over and massage it and then embrace it and watch the change you bring about. Now embrace your greatest fear in the same way and watch what happens as the dragon becomes a lizard who no longer threatens you.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Add This to Your Life and Live a Longer, Healthier Life

    The other night I had a wonderful massage, acupressure session, sound therapy, and manipulation. It made me feel really whole, healed, and loved. Where did I get this great treatment, you might ask.This is what happened—after I got into bed, our two dogs jumped in beside me and realigned my spine. Then one of our cats jumped up and walked up and down my body touching all the vital acupressure points before she settled down on my chest purring loudly. The rhythm of her purr was very tranquilizing.

    Then, another cat who weighs more than the dogs, jumped up and settled in against my other side, vigorously working over all my muscles before settling in. Not infrequently he makes noise, when he knows I need to improve my finger and hand mobility, until I pull my arms out from under the covers and stroke his ears and make circles with my fingers on his head. In that way I also am learning massage techniques. This one for animals is called the Tellington Touch.

    Why am I telling you this? Because having a pet is good for your health, and these connections with God’s Masterpieces can keep you healthy. Let me give you some facts which, I hope, will get you to have a dog or cat or rabbit in your office—and as a co-therapist when you make house calls:

    • In a stressful situation, which is better: to have your best friend, spouse, or pet present? If I place your hand in ice water which of the above helps you to cope best? Well, studies reveal that your friend and spouse make your blood pressure go up higher, but with your dog it barely changes at all. The interesting thing is that when the dog is present, as well as friend or spouse, the negative effects of them causing high blood pressure are cancelled.
    • Another question arose. Is it simply that pet owners are different and less likely to have their blood pressure rise, or do the pets make a difference? Well, what they did next was take stock brokers with hypertension who lived alone, felt stressed, and were about to go on medication, and had them randomly assigned to adopt a cat or dog from an animal shelter. Next they were given stressful things to do including speaking to a client whose money they had lost. Those with the pets saw their blood pressure increase by less than half the amount of those without pets. In my family, my wife found that she could use the pets to help me calm down and lower my voice by saying, “Honey, you’re upsetting the pets.” They always have that concerned look, as if they did something wrong, and that’s why I am bellowing. Of course, I laugh and quiet right down. It really works.
    • Other studies in which dogs were brought into schools showed they lowered the truancy rate. In a nursing home the presence of dogs lowered the cost of medications by two-thirds and the mortality rate by 40 percent. I may add that it is the connections that make a difference. In nursing homes, residents having the responsibility of taking care of plants and goldfish had the same beneficial effects.
    • In Australia, a study revealed that those who went home after a heart attack to a home with a dog had a mortality rate of approximately 6% compared to a rate of nearly 30% in households with no dogs. The doctor doing the study said that if we looked at all the health benefits of a dog in every household in Australia, they would save millions of dollars a year. So I think we should petition our politicians to pass a law that every household must have a pet and care for it with loving appreciation as an equal member of the family.
    • When our kids were younger and could participate in the care of our pets many at home, we had every species known to man living in or around our home. They were all family and truly taught the kids a reverence for life. The ducks and geese would follow them to the bus stop, and be very upset when they weren’t allowed to go to school with the kids. So they would come home and then go back to the stop to meet them in the afternoon.
    • I won’t go on about all the creatures, but they even included an abandoned rabbit my wife rescued in the woods where someone had dumped her. So, I learned about rabbits and she became a wonderful, loving house pet. They can be trained like cats to use a litter box. Smudge became a member of the family, and lived in the house with our fenced in yard, which everyone gets to through the pet door. If you are interested in the story about how troubles can become blessings, get a copy of my book, Smudge Bunny. The kids love it when I go to local schools with our dogs and read to them about Smudge. The thank you notes always include comments about the fun of petting the dogs, too.

    In closing, along with the studies I mention above, other studies also reveal that petting a dog raises the levels of your bonding hormone, oxytocin, as well as serotonin. So we can see why we are changed by the experience of connecting with a dog through petting, which changes our body chemistry for the good by increasing hormones that raise a sense of well being within. Now, go down to the shelter and bring a friend home. A thank you note from one of the children and her dad who were in the audience when I spoke to her class, said that they went directly to the shelter after I spoke to their class.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Q & A with Bernie – September 3, 2018

    Question Follow-up for Bernie from Q&A of Last Week (August 27, 2018):

    Thank you, Bernie. Miraculously my dad was very alert tonight when I got here to the hospice, so I could tell him your message, and he was so comforted. It meant so much to him.

    We are not sure how much longer he will be awake, and so it was amazing that you replied so quickly and we could share that moment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Bernie’s Answer:

    Your dad will always hear you even in a coma, so keep talking to him and loving him. Remind him that his love will always be with you.

    Tell him that, after he leaves his body, he can send you signs that all is well, and he is together again with his loved ones.  You can also tell him that I told you pennies from heaven are special.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Q & A with Bernie – August 27, 2018

    Question for Bernie:

    Good morning Bernie,

    I am writing you because since March, I think I have forgiven myself about the death of Walter.

    This summer, in July, I went to Portugal to work for two weeks with some people from my family, and I met a guy who is a friend of my nephew. He was so nice with me. I was feeling something like love for him, but he has a girlfriend. So, I feel bad thinking about him.

    I respected his relationship with his girlfriend during the time we worked together, but on the last day of the two weeks, I told him that I liked him and was a little jealous about his girlfriend. I haven’t felt something like that since Walter’s death.

    I like some men, but when I feel that kind of jealousy, I feel sad because I like this guy, I wanted to know him better, but he has a girlfriend. He met her only six weeks before I met him when I went to Portugal to work, and I keep feeling that, “Oh, if I’d met him just a few weeks sooner, he would be free.”

    I hope God gives me the patience to wait for real love—for someone who loves me as I need to be loved, and who I can love. I wanted to tell you of my progress in getting over Walter’s death.

    Have a nice summer and thanks.

    Bernie’s Answer:

    You have worked through your grief and arrived at acceptance of Walter’s death.  Now, you are ready to do what makes you happy, and if you do that, you will meet your man then and there.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie:

    Dear Bernie,

    I wrote to you five and a half years ago when my father was first diagnosed with terminal advanced prostate cancer and given three years to live by his oncologist. It was so kind of you to look at some of his drawings and respond to help look at some of the issues.

    After five and a half years living life to the maximum, dad is now in a Hospice doing very poorly and suffering terribly. He came to America for treatment which helped him almost double his life expectancy. Dad has been the most exceptional cancer patient, and as he nears the end of his life, I wondered if I could let him know I’d told you how well he’s done, he’s always respected your work so much and I know it would mean a lot.

    I don’t want to take up your time replying so I wondered if it was okay if I said something like “I e-mailed Dr. Bernie Siegel and he has said what a truly remarkable cancer patient you are to have almost doubled your oncologist’s prediction. You are without doubt an exceptional cancer patient and one of life’s most determined souls to challenge accepted wisdom and inspire others through the way you travelled your journey.” (I am just trying to save time by drafting something as I know you must have so many e-mails).

    Thank you in advance from Windsor, UK.  I hope you are well.

    Bernie’s Answer:

    You may share whatever you like. Also tell him to speak to God, and to tell God that I sent him.

    Ask your father to tell God what he really wants—either to get well again, or to leave his tired body and become perfect again.

    Let your dad know that his love will remain forever and make him immortal.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Sounds

    If you want to be separated from people become deaf. If you want to be separated from things become blind. Sound affects us because it creates the rhythm we live or die by. So sound effects are real and can lead to healing or disease. Repeating the word Aum (some spell it Om), creates a meditative state. Try it for a few minutes and you will see what the sound and the vibrations do to you. So, the words you keep repeating to yourself become the script of your life and the mottoes you live or die by.

    What voices do you keep hearing? Are the messages from your past mottoes you live by or mottoes you are dying by? The words of the authorities in our lives, whether they are parents, educators, or clergy, keep being replayed and are hypnotic for children. The hypnotic effect may kill or cure depending on the messages you get. If those messages told you as a child that there was something wrong with you and that life was a disaster, then whoever conveyed those messages to you did not know the truth—sadly they were just perpetuating the poor parenting they got.

    You can silence these negative voices by abandoning the past nonsense they dumped upon you. What you hear from the voices of your past is only what you are willing to listen to. You can edit them out and censor their comments. You must believe in your intrinsic value and divine nature to do this. So listen to your true Father and you will be redirected by the Word.

    How do you help troubled friends? If you had to be blind or deaf tomorrow, which would you choose? When we give advice to people who are not prepared for it, or who are unwilling to change, nothing is accomplished except frustration and separation. Helen Keller made it very clear that deafness is darker by far than blindness. We are separated from each other by the deafness we choose by not listening to each other. Instead, always choose to listen.

    I have learned that when people in my family come to me for help and I tell them what to do, they always say, “You are no help.” But when I listen and say, “Mmmmmm” with varying inflections for twenty minutes, they always say, “Thank you. You have been an enormous help.” Why the difference?  Because when we are willing to listen to others, we allow them to hear themselves, which makes it possible for them to realize and describe their needs, and then see where their solutions lie.

    There is only one thing we control—our thoughts. We cannot control what happens in our lives due to other people and various afflictions. We can control how we react and what we do with the events and thus establish rhythm in our life.

    Rhythm will vary from person to person. Some like a loud and fast paced life and others are comfortable with a slow, quiet pace. So some of us are sleepless because of the noise of a city and others lie awake listening to peepers filling the country air with the sounds of nature.

    Find your rhythm. It is not an accident that a trained athlete’s heart will beat at 60 beats a minute, or that there are 60 seconds in a minute, or that slow baroque music such as Pachelbel’s Canon relaxes everyone in the operating room. Listen to that pace and you relax. How would you feel if your clock was ticking at the rate of one hundred seconds a minute?  So find your pace and live it. Life is a marathon, but you don’t have to finish first to be a winner.

    The loudest sound I have ever heard is silence. Take the time to listen to what is going on inside your mind and body. Silence your intellect and listen to the wisdom of the ages which are available to you. For centuries the saints and prophets of the past have heard the word of God.

    As it is written, “There was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”

    That word is available to us all if we use our remote control properly and tune into the correct channel. The choice is yours, so know the Lord and get plenty of creative advice.  The cost is less than cable or satellite but can be more frightening to those who are unwilling to silence their intellect and put aside their fears and just listen.

    Go out and let nature surround you and bring peace to all your senses. Listen to the sounds of water, wind, birds, animals, and more. Then listen to the sounds of society. Horns, engines, and sirens, and then tell me which heals and which sickens you? Which brings you peace and which brings you anxiety? Which reminds you of who you are and where you are, and which reminds you of what you should be doing and where you should be doing it?

    Nature is in harmony, but man is not. So create your orchestra, and then orchestrate your life as the composer of your own symphony.  Here are some exercises to get you started:

    • Spend the day listening to the voices inside you and write down what they have to say.
    • Act as if you are blind today and deaf tomorrow and watch the effect upon your life and   the people you meet.
    • Find your rhythm. What sounds, noises, and pace enhance your life and improve your  feelings, and which of those sounds detract.
    • Take a walk in nature and ask it to reveal an answer to your problem. Observe and listen, and it will be revealed to you.
    • Spend a day in silence and listen to what you hear for the first time.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Finger Painting

    Sometimes my reaction to common terms is more intense and I question their meaning.  One of the terms that struck me recently was ‘finger painting.’ Others were ‘handmade’ and ‘rubbed the wrong way.’ When we touch another life we are creating a work of art. If we view other people as blank canvases then we can create a finger painting and provide them with a sense of beauty and trust by our touch.

    Those who have been marred by life can be repainted, repaired and touched up. The wounds and scars can be covered by hands of love finger painting on the wounded body and soul. I may be getting a little melodramatic, but I don’t think there is anything more potent than the touch of love. Look at what studies demonstrate on the newborn of every species. They develop and grow faster when they are treated creatively, like works of art, and touched lovingly.

    We are all “handmade.” We are made by the touch of those who have cared for us. For some, the touch is like plastic surgery making us feel beautiful and loved. For others, the absence of touch or exposure to abuse is destructive, and what is created is a vulnerable human being who will have to struggle to survive free of disease and addictions. Such a person will have to recreate him or herself by his or her own hands.

    When you have been abused it is hard to accept the touch of another person until the abuse has been dealt with and trust reestablished. When you have been rubbed the wrong way every touch reminds you of that painful experience. Our bodies store it all and the painful memories are brought back by a touch. Even a loving embrace may bring back memories of physical abuse. Our past history must be dealt with in order to be healed.

    Once trust is reestablished touch is welcomed and healing truly begins. So many people have been hurt by their experiences that they are afraid of developing relationships that make them vulnerable to pain again. They don’t want to risk a relationship, or loving another, because they fear the pain of rejection.

    Only by persistently loving and embracing these wounded souls can they can be brought back to trusting and relating to others. As a physician I have seen this happen to many individuals only when their lives are threatened. Then they stepped forward and accepted the challenge that life presents to us all. To become hand made works of art. When you accept that you are a work of art you can accept being vulnerable and expose yourself to the difficulties of life.

    A work of art is not about perfection but material in the process of being made into something of value. Just think of seeing everyone before you as having the potential to become someone talented, creative, beautiful and more. Think about poor Dumbo born with ears he tripped over. Funny looking, teased by the other kids, and with little to look forward to. Who could love such an unsightly child you ask. My answer is—someone who sees his potential and teaches him to fly. He is now no longer disabled but enabled.

    “Handmade” individuals don’t let their bodies limit them. They participate in the Special Olympics, paint with a brush held in their mouth, and more. Don’t let the body’s limitations limit your potential to become someone unique and a work of art.

    We have so many mechanical aides that we forget what we are capable of without them. So keep touching, finger painting, and reminding people of what their potential is. There is no limit to what the inspired artist can create. The universe came from the undifferentiated potential to create. So don’t accept limits, and if you find the inspiration, then proper instruction and practice will lead to creating some beautiful finger paintings commonly known as human beings.

    Let us hope we can incorporate finger painting into parenting, and teach parents to rub their children the right way as they create handmade works of art. Until people awaken to the importance of touch, keep teaching them one work of art at a time.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Attitude

    “Being normal is only a satisfactory result for the inadequate.”
    Carl Jung

    We are never told that the odds are 100% we will die. We find so many ways to deny our mortality with statistics about varying diseases, and never using the word death, but when you add up the numbers, there are no other options. So one word of advice, don’t do things to not die—it doesn’t work, and you will be very upset about the time you wasted trying to avoid dying. Now, enjoying life is another thing, and it will change the odds; it can even change the odd and the abnormal into special people who enjoy being authentic characters. So do not seek to be normal or average at anything. Look for the odd ways and beat the odds in the process.

    Many years ago I thought one of our children, then aged seven, had a malignant bone tumor and the odds were that he would be dead in a year. I was very depressed by what I thought I knew was going to happen and tried to communicate this depressing news to the family. One day

    He walked into the room where I was sitting and said, “Dad can I talk to you?” I said, “Sure what is it?” My son’s answer to me was, “You’re handling this poorly.”

    He taught me what every child and animal knows. Today is the only day which exists. The future is unknown and we are here to enjoy the day and not let what we think will happen destroy our lives with fear and worry about what may never be. As my wife says, “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” Our attitude is what creates our life no matter what the circumstances are that we live in.

    Again no matter what the odds, love and laughter are always appreciated. When I was speaking to a group of people with bladder control problems I mentioned how lucky they were. They wanted to know why I said that and I responded, “Every time you see a sign that says ‘Wet Floor’ you can do it. They laughed and I think I gave them something to smile about in the future.

    I have mentioned before how a man helped me by coming up to me and telling me I had an angel and he knew his name. He said this after I shared a story about an accident I had and that I had no explanation for why I wasn’t killed or seriously injured. I asked, “What’s his name?”  He asked me, “What did you say when the ladder broke and you fell off the roof?” I told him what I said. “I said, Oh Shit!” The man said, “That’s his name.”  I can’t tell you how many times in the midst of a disaster I have yelled out my angel’s name and ended up laughing and avoided disasters because of how relaxed I became at that moment.

    The greatest force available to man is love. It makes us blind to faults so we can heal relationships. It eliminates enemies and does so much more. I believe when one does what one loves and loses track of time, aging is avoided. I think this is the fountain of youth. Do what makes you lose track of time and you lose all awareness of physical and emotional problems. You are now a divine creator and time and matter do not exist. It is similar to an out of the body experience.

    When you want to drive your enemies crazy, love them and torment with tenderness. I know from experience with people abused as children what can happen when they decide to love the unlovable, and forgive the unforgivable. What happens? They become free to live in the moment and not suffer in the past. So abandon your past and use your passion to create a future.

    Women with the same cancers as men live longer. Married men with the same cancers live longer than single men. Monkeys given AIDS who lived in a cage with friends lived six months longer than monkeys with AIDS living with strangers. You are not a statistic and please do not die on schedule because of what a doctor may say. If you offer to bet a doctor that you will live longer than predicted they don’t take the bet. One doctor found that people who drove more than fifteen miles to receive his cancer treatment did three times as well as those who lived next to the hospital where the treatment was given.

    Now if you are a male, engineer or lawyer this may be a problem for you. But stop thinking and start feeling. As I said, don’t deny your mortality, accept it and go home and live your chocolate ice cream. You may be amazed at what that does to the odds. As one woman wrote me who went home to die and started doing everything she loved to do before she died, “I didn’t die and now I am so busy I’m killing myself.” My advice to her was to take a nap. Resting is an activity which will allow you to burn up and not out.

    Joseph Campbell said, “The world’s a mess. It will always be a mess. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” The Bible tells us, “He who seeks to save his life will lose it while he who is willing to lose his life will save it.” I know identical twin sisters and one is a devil who drives mom and dad crazy, and the other is an angel who makes them happy, and tries to please everyone and internalizes anger.  Who do you think is more likely to develop breast cancer? If you answered “the little angel” you are right.  Being “good” by internalizing anger all your life will make you sick.

    So please go ahead and be odd, and do not lose your life to the wishes of others. Live your life and save your true self. Suicide is not the answer. The answer is to eliminate the untrue self and save your life. And don’t wait until you develop a life threatening illness to give yourself permission to tell the world to back off and let you choose your way. As my mom said, “When you have a decision to make do what will make you happy.”

    Exercises

    1. Study statistics and discuss them with successful people and see what role they play in their lives.
    2. Bring a sense of meaning into your life. Think about why you are here.
    3. Imagine you are placed in a concentration camp while suffering from a serious illness and if you can’t work you will be executed. What do you think you do?
    4. Enhance your relationships and connections and see how you feel each day. If you don’t have a pet, plant or person who depends upon you, get one.

    Wear a bandage over your eye and act as if you love everyone you meet today. No exceptions. Watch what they reveal to a wounded soldier in love’s service.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Fill Your Life with Inspriation and Meaning

    We need to know that life is about more than impressing the neighbors and having more than the next guy. Who is your employer? Who are you working for? What are you working for and what do you hope to achieve in your lifetime?

    How many parents, teachers and clergy really get you to look at those issues in a healthy, inspiring, and meaningful way? As Joseph Campbell said, “You climb the ladder of success and when you get to the top it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”

    God breathed life into Adam through his nostrils. The word for spirit and breath are the same in several languages. There is a message for us here. If we are to live, we need to be inspired and find a sense of meaning in our work and service to the world. Information and material things are not the path to happiness; 95% of the time lottery winners tell you winning the lottery ruined their lives.

    So find what inspires you and fills not only your lungs with life, but your every activity. By doing so you become a co-creator and begin to realize that a perfect world would be meaningless, giving you no choices or possibilities. Undertake the possible and even what seems to be the impossible. The inspired have nothing to fear. As Maude says in the movie Harold and Maude, “Reach out, take a chance—get hurt even. Play as well as you can. Go team go.

    Give me an      L.

    Give me an      I.

    Give me a        V.

    Give me an      E.

    What does it spell?  What do we yell? LIVE!

    Otherwise you’ve got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”

    Having role models can help you behave like the person you want to become. Look carefully at the title of this exercise and you may find my hidden message. What makes up three-fourths of a lifeline? If you said FELINE you are right on target. And what is God spelled backwards? That’s easy, DOG. So now you know where I look for guidance.

    Animals are complete and can be excellent guides and models for us all. If none are available, an infant can help temporarily, but once children grow up and start acting like adults, they are no longer good role models. They just don’t see where the true wisdom is because of how they are parented. Our home was always filled with animals, and they were wonderful teachers about love, reverence for life, how to live in the moment, and how to be a survivor.

    Why are you living this life? Did you ever stop to think about it? Or are you too busy complaining and whining to stop and ask questions? What action performed in your lifetime would make your life complete, and would allow you to die knowing you did what you came or were sent to do? I saw a cartoon which showed two animals standing over the grave of another animal and on the headstone it said, “Return to Sender.” On my father-in-law’s headstone it says, “He Just Fell Up.”

    So what do all the religions and philosophies try to tell us about our job. I’ll save you some time. It is this: The only thing of permanence is love. So if you want to be immortal, display love. Your body will perish, but your love will not. So make use of your body and demonstrate your love.

    Who do you help? When do you help? How do you help? How would you answer each of those crucial questions? The answers are simple. Who you help is the person in front of you; how you help is just by doing what they need done; when you help is now, or when they need it done. As you start living in this way, you get on the Universe’s schedule and many things begin to happen that benefit you, which are good side effects of your actions. Remember, everything in the Universe is subject to change and everything is on schedule.

    I always keep an eye peeled for pennies when I am out and about in the world. They are not of great value but their message is—Liberty, In God We Trust, and Abe Lincoln looking toward the east and the sun. So if you start finding pennies, know that you are on the divine path.

    Think about not trying to know God, but about imitating God. Now there’s a role model! And think about the poor ugly duckling who struggled to accomplish what most people are unable to do on their own. How many children rejected by their parents ever look in a mirror and see a swan?

    So, learn to reflect God’s love and you will become beautiful, too. If I asked you to tell me what you would hang in every school lobby with this sign over it, “Look at How Meaningful and Beautiful Life Is,” what would your answer be? I once asked this of several thousand personal health trainers. All of them were beautiful men and women in excellent condition and yet their answers were rainbow, flower, baby picture, etc. They felt like ugly ducklings despite their beauty. They had no one to reflect their beauty back at them. Those enlightened by loss, or illness, or loving parents answer, “A Mirror.” Yes!

    Exercises

    1. Find what inspires you and go out and make the world a better place today and every day.
    2. Find a role model you admire and go and live the message.
    3. Act like a loving grandparent and let your eyes be like a divine mirror to everyone and help them become the grand- child.
    4. Count the pennies you find as you follow your divine path, not your intellectual one.
    5. Find someone to help, or ask for help, and watch how you feel due to your actions.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Living with Humor

    Life is difficult but it can become intolerable when the child in you dies. When that child dies, so does your sense of humor, and your ability to laugh at life. I know from experience how easy it is to focus on what is troubling you versus what heals and sustains you. We must be willing to make the effort to see through the darkness and find the light. As Helen Keller said, “If you face the sunshine you do not see the shadows.”

    Many years ago, when I was in pain trying to deal the many emotional aspects of being a physician that we are not trained to handle, I began to write about my painful experiences every night before going to bed. It was before I knew this was therapeutic. It was just something I felt compelled to do to help me deal with the events of the day and not just bury them within me. I kept it hidden from the family because it was not a pleasant thing for anyone to read. One night when I was very tired I forgot to hide it and my wife Bobbie, found it. The next morning she said, “There’s nothing funny in your journal.”

    “My life isn’t funny.”

    “You have us laughing at dinner every night.” Then she went on to tell me stories I had told her and the children that had me laughing but that never got into my journal. From then on I made notes not just about the painful events in my life but also about the humorous and healing events. In this way what is stored within is not just the pain but the joyful events too.

    When I am out in the world I sense it through the eyes and ears of a child. I follow directions exactly as they are given. So sign here gets me to write, here, on the slip. Sign in at the doctor’s office, gets an in from me.

    Let me share a few comments from children about the Bible. A Christian should have only one spouse. This is called monotony. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption. Moses died before he reached Canada and David was the Hebrew king who was skilled at playing the liar. Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night. I could go on but I think you get the message.

    I will conclude with a word from our son Jeff, “Life sucks. Most people suck and if you wake up one day and the world is beautiful and everyone loves one another, you’re dead.” I think there are other options too.

    It takes courage to be a clown. One must have self-esteem and not worry about what others think of you. Simple examples in my life are a mail box at the bottom of our driveway that is twelve feet in the air and painted on the side it says, AIR MAIL. Everyone knows our house at the post office.

    When people ask, “How do you deal with stress?” I answer, “Drugs and alcohol.” Most people know I’m kidding. The truth is I learned to handle stress by not leaving anything unfinished. The other day before leaving home I finished the Kahlua, red and white wine, Valium and Prozac. I can tell you I haven’t felt so freakin’ good in a long time.

    When you act like a clown you will meet other clowns and children of all ages.  Especially when you enter an area that says, “Nobody allowed here,” and tell the guard you are “a nobody.” One guard earned my respect and a hug by telling me he was making me somebody and so I had to leave.

    I have embarrassed our five children for years and it has saved me a lot of money. When we dined out and the waiter asked, “How’s everything?” I would answer, “Why are you upsetting me in the middle of dinner. If you read the papers you would know what a mess the world is. So please let me eat in peace.”

    At an Italian restaurant I would order Chinese food to confuse the waitress who was never quite sure if I was kidding, confused or retarded. The last time I went to pick up a pizza my wife had called to order they had three containers of Chinese food waiting for me on the counter. And the whole place had a good laugh. We all became kids again.

    The greatest benefit our children now realize. When they do something a bit bizarre they hear people say, “Do you know who his father is?” And they are off the hook.

    The other day I called our oldest son, Jonathan at his office. He is an attorney. I told his secretary I was an FBI agent who had to discuss an investigation with Jon. She interrupted his meeting to insist he answer the phone. He said, “It’s my father.” The secretary argued with him that it was an FBI agent. He said, “Okay, hand me the phone.” He then said, “Yes Dad, what is it?” His secretary now knows better.

    The ultimate benefit of all this I observed at my father’s death. If I asked you what would you have your family talk about when you were ready to die so you could die laughing what would you answer? The right answer is for them to tell stories about you and hopefully you will give them enough material so you can die laughing as my father did.

    The first story my mother told ended with the fact that my dad he lost a coin toss and therefore, had to take her out. From then on things got worse and I have no idea why my mom kept dating him but those events let him go looking joyful and free of fear. It was a gift to everyone in the room.

    Here is how to add the power of humor to your life:

    1. Keep a journal of whatever makes you smile for the next week, from emails too events. Reread it every evening at bedtime.

    2. Act like a child today and perform or ask questions just like a preschoolers would. Sex is a good topic if you are at a loss as to what to do.

    3. Embarrass someone you know today by your actions. Example: If you are invited to a black tie only event wear only a black tie.

    4. Dress like a clown today and act as if you do not notice anyone’s reaction and as if you are normal as you point out any problems apparent on them.

    5. It’s never too early to prepare to die laughing. So start accumulating material and giving your family things to talk about that will make you laugh. Start asking them to share memories now.

    Just remember—when you laugh you lose an awareness of the physical aspects of life and transcend your troubles.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Consciousness

    When I was four years old, I was home in bed with one of my frequent ear infections. I took a toy telephone I was playing with and unscrewed the dial and put all the pieces in my mouth as I had seen carpenters do with nails, which they then pulled out to use. The problem was that I aspirated the pieces and went into laryngospasm. I can still feel my intercostal muscles and diaphragm contracting forcefully, trying to get some air into my lungs, but nothing worked and I was unable to make any sounds to attract help. I had no sense of the time, but suddenly realized I was not struggling anymore. I was now at the head of the bed watching myself dying.

    I found it fascinating to be free of my body— and a blessing. I never stopped to think about how I could still see while out of my body. I was feeling sorry my mother, who was in the kitchen, would find me dead, but I thought it over and found my new state preferable and intellectually chose death over life.

    Then for no apparent reason, the boy on the bed vomited and all the pieces came flying out. He began to breathe again, and I was very angry as I returned to my body against my will. I can still remember yelling, “Who did that?” My thought as a four year old was that there was a God who had a schedule, and on that schedule, I wasn’t supposed to die yet. So, the way I would describe it today is that an angel apparently did a Heimlich maneuver on me.

    Because of experiences I continue to have as an adult, I really do believe there is a schedule that we create unconsciously. Twice I have had my car totaled by people driving through red lights, and once I fell off our roof when the top rung on my wooden ladder snapped off. In none of these incidents did any significant injury occur to my body. A friend told me it was because I had an angel watching over me, and he knew the angel’s name. I asked what the angel’s name was, and my friend asked, “What did you say when the ladder broke?”

    “I said, Oh Shit!”

    He said, “That’s his name!” I will add that this angel always shows up when I call him in an impassioned way.

    My next experience was with the healer Olga Worrall. I had injured my leg training for a marathon. It was very painful and not responding to rest or therapy. At an American Holistic Medical Association conference Olga was a guest speaker. My wife told me to ask her to heal me. I was embarrassed to ask and very frankly a non-believer. Never the less my wife pushed me forward and Olga sat me down in a chair and placed her two hands on my leg. The heat from her hands was incredible. I remember putting my hands on the opposite leg to compare the heat sensation. There was no sense of warmth from my hands coming through the dungarees. When Olga was done I stood up and was completely healed. The pain was gone and I could walk normally.

    Another time Olga and I spoke at the funeral of a mutual friend. After the ceremony we were standing in a deserted hallway when she asked, “Are you Jewish?”

    “Why are you asking?”

    “…. because there are two rabbis standing next to you,” she responded.

    She went on to tell me their names and describe their garments, which included their prayer shawls and caps. Her description of them was exactly what I saw in my meditation and imagery sessions when I had met these figures while walking on my path.

    Another evening after I gave a lecture, which strangely felt like someone else was giving it and I was simply verbalizing it for them, a woman came up to me and said, “Standing in front of you for the entire lecture was a man and I drew his picture for you.” Again, I was stunned as she drew exactly the face and features of my inner guide. I still have the picture hanging in our home.

    My next experience came when I was telling a friend about how busy I was and she said, “Why are you living this life?” Her intention was to get me to slow down and travel less, but her question sent me into a trance in which I immediately saw myself with a sword in my hand killing people. My first thought was that I had become a surgeon in this life to use a knife to heal and not kill.

    I spontaneously went into a trance again a few days later, and I saw myself living the life of a knight who killed because he feared what his lord would do to him if he didn’t carry out his commands. As the knight in my trance, I killed my wife and her dog, and I was devastated by the experience. But the real message that this trance revealed to me was why my wife’s face has always had a hypnotic effect upon me, and why I am so involved in rescuing animals. Ultimately it taught me about having faith in the true Lord, and like Abraham, Jesus, Moses, Noah, and others, to understand that what our Lord asks of us is for the greater good, and that if I had said “yes” I would have not been asked to kill anyone.

    Most recently one of our cats disappeared when a door was left open. After several weeks with no sign of her, I was sure she was killed by a predator. A friend of mine, Amelia Kinkade, is an animal intuitive who lives in Los Angeles. We live in Connecticut and Amelia has never been to our home or near it. I pestered her to tell me where the cat was and one day I received an email from Amelia. Without even sending Amelia a picture of the cat, her email detailed the house, yard, other animals, and people who were involved in the cat’s life. The next day I went out and found the cat exactly where Amelia said it was hiding.

    She told me in the email, “The cat is alive because I can see through its eyes.”

    If that amazing experience didn’t make me a believer, nothing will. I totally believe that consciousness is non-local and not limited to the body. I also have experienced this through the drawings and dreams of patients I have cared for, which allows them to know their diagnosis and what the future holds for them. As Jung said, “The future is unconsciously prepared long in advance and therefore can be guessed by clairvoyants.”

    I believe it is this unconscious awareness which we each bring with us when we are born. So I do not believe we literally live many lives, but that we bring with us the experience of previous lives. Thus, the wiser we get, the better the future will be for those who follow us.

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