Archives for posts with tag: awareness

Busy Bee July 2015

Photo by K. Farwell

It is that time of year when everyone is taking a trip of some sort; after all, it is almost August.   I’ve spent several days now trying to figure out another kind of trip that for lack of a better word, I will call life review. I just happened to mention to a friend a couple of days ago that I’ve been having a series of dreams all about traveling through the different times of my life and meeting/dealing with people from my past. Surprisingly, she related she had been having similar dreams.

When I first retired, most of my dreams were about working. Now they seem to be about traveling—–always trying to get others as well as myself somewhere,  either to visit or to find a suitable place to live. Then, too, the setting is often in houses I’ve lived in before at different times in my life.  Sometimes, the setting is a hotel where I am staying for a conference only I never make it to any of the meetings because I am always interacting with  or trying to help others who are with me in the dream. Sometimes I am stuck with friends or family in an airport or on an airplane.

I just realized today all these settings have a common denominator—–and that is my interactions with the people in my dream. The people are mostly from my past, and I think the interactions I have with them is about working out conflicts I still have about those past relationships. For instance, last night I dreamed of being with both my mother and my father at different times in the dream. What stands out about my interaction with my mother is that I found myself hugging her tightly while I told her how much I loved her…..something I never did enough of in reality. My father is usually in the background but last night, he was enjoying a driving/touring trip with me and laughing and joking.

These activities seem simple enough, but my heart feels like I have gotten “closure” from those dream interactions I would not otherwise have gotten. Now I know my mother knows how much I love her, and I know I am beginning to come out of the grieving process I’ve been going through since my father died last October. Other interactions have been with previous spouses or roommates and friends from the past…..interacting with them as I now am rather than as  I was during the time I spent with them. These interactions are rather non-remarkable, and that in itself is a small miracle because in my past I would meet some of  those folks in my dreams and unload pent up angry feelings on them.

Perhaps Maslow was going through a similar aging phenomena late in his career  when he realized there was a stage beyond self-actualization—-the one of *self-transcendence where one transcends self and ego and focuses on serving others. “At the level of self-transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside, to a great extent, in favor of service to others and to some higher force or cause conceived as being outside the personal self.”

After reading about this little-known construct of Maslow’s this afternoon, I think these recurrent dreams are allowing me to re-visit past relationships and  life experiences within the context of my newly emerging  self-transcendent perspective.  This is work my soul needs to do. It is a final “cleansing of self” to support my  evolving transcendence . It doesn’t matter that I never ever get anywhere in my dreams, that I am never on time, or that I never seem to finish anything——it is all about the journey and helping one another. God bless and keep you.

* Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, “Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research, and Unification”, in: Review of General Psychology 10(2006)4, pp. 302-317; quote from pp. 306-7.  (http://academic.udayton.edu/jackbauer/Readings%20595/Koltko-Rivera%2006%20trans%20self-act%20copy.pdf)

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Greeting Life

Image courtesy of  graur razvan ionut/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today’s blog is focused on the following quote:

“Please, Lord, teach us to laugh again; but God, don’t ever let us forget that we cried.”

Friends in Recovery & Jerry S., (1993). Prayers for the Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey, p.51, Curtis, WA: RPI. Inc.

This morning when I read this prayer, I knew it was what I needed to write about in today’s blog. I have, on occasion, had students assigned to attend an open Alcoholics’ Anonymous meeting question why they encountered so much dark humor in the meeting they attended. They do not understand the alcoholics’ need to use humor to remind themselves of where they’ve been in order to reinforce where they are and where they are going in their journey of recovery. The above quoted prayer explains our need to remember the pain and suggests one means of doings so is through laughter.

In the “Sermon on the Mount” so many of us are familiar with, it is reported that Jesus said, ”  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 5:3, KJV). I am participating in an 11th step discussion group focused on the content of this sermon, and, so far, we have spent two weeks discussing this first beatitude. I think we will be spending more time trying to appreciate the true meaning it conveys. One thing we have all agreed upon is  those of us who are alcoholics were mired in the despair of hitting bottom before we became willing to seek and receive the gift of recovery. People in recovery often have to realize they are “poor in spirit” before they are willing to commence their  journey into and within recovery.

Do people have to experience opposites to appreciate or improve their experience? I have often heard the argument people have to be sad before they can appreciate being happy. Another version I have encountered is that without experiencing evil  we cannot appreciate experiencing  good. The list could go on and on—–we need to experience the current polar vortex coldness that envelops us in order to appreciate the warmth that will surround us in July; without being alone, we cannot appreciate the comfort of being in relationship, etc.  Are these just  convenient yet commonly held beliefs  we use to explain the inexplicable?

In a little less than two weeks I will hit the 65 year old milestone in my journey through life, and, in my experience, it is the sad, painful times in my life that have taught me the most, spiritually speaking. One of the things, though, that I am currently trying to do is to learn to focus my awareness and attention so that I can notice the blessings, the “positives,” the miracles that are embedded in my day by day life experience so that I can appreciate them in the present moment without having to experience their painful counterpoint. It is my intent that if I can learn to do this I will no longer repeatedly need to be miserable before my Higher Power gets my attention and motivates me to change something within myself to make things better.

One closing and loosely related thought has to do with perception. Over and over again, I have tried to teach my students that we perceive and interpret what we expect to perceive and interpret. Now the teacher has to learn to change her  own expectations, perceptions, and interpretations. I am grateful that I do not have to face this challenge or any other by myself. My Higher Power is guiding me through this as he has guided me through everything else. My biggest part in this is to be willing to allow this part of my journey to unfold. So, yes. I am going to make jokes and laugh about some of the painful experiences in my past so that I will not forget them and they will continue to support my journey  The laughter helps me revisit my life’s pain in a healthy way—-a way that keeps me from returning to and getting mired down in past despair and supports my current recovery.