The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Gift Of Forgiveness

 

One of my favorite places to volunteer is Gilda’s Club, which is a world wide, non-residential cancer support community for those living with cancer, as well as for their family and friends. Created by Gene Wilder, Joanna Bull and Michael Radner (the husband, counselor/friend and brother, respectively of Saturday Night Live launched comedian extraordinaire Gilda Radner who died of ovarian cancer in 1989), Gilda’s Club’s red door has welcomed through it, amazing speakers, teachers and musicians to educate and entertain its members. One such wonder is Jon Michaels; a singer-songwriter from Nashville. He was invited to perform by Philadelphia based culinary Goddess Christina Pirello whose natural foods cooking show Christina Cooks is now on 150 PBS affiliates and on Comcast. Jon is now a sweet addition to her show and accompanies Christina as she whips up yummy and healthy treats.

One of my favorite songs of Jon’s (and there are so many:), is called The Gift Of Forgiveness

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmYvcvI6uo4

So often, we self righteously cling to anger and resentment, thinking that it somehow protects us from future pain, or makes us feel like we bear no responsibility for our choices. It also renders us victims of other people’s actions…or so we think. Forgiving doesn’t excuse or justify inappropriate or deliberately hurtful behavior, but it does free us from the chains that drag us down.

So, what are the benefit of forgiveness?

According to About.com:

  • Forgiveness is good for your heart — literally. One study from the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found forgiveness to be associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as stress relief. This can bring long-term health benefits for your heart and overall health.

  • A later study found forgiveness to be positively associated with five measures of health: physical symptoms, medications used, sleep quality, fatigue, and somatic complaints. It seems that the reduction in negative affect (depressive symptoms), strengthened spirituality, conflict management and stress relief one finds through forgiveness all have a significant impact on overall health.

  • A third study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that forgiveness not only restores positive thoughts, feelings and behaviors toward the offending party (in other words, forgiveness restores the relationship to its previous positive state), but the benefits of forgiveness spill over to positive behaviors toward others outside of the relationship. Forgiveness is associated with more volunteerism, donating to charity, and other altruistic behaviors. (And the converse is true of non-forgiveness.)

When people offer forgiveness to others and to themselves, they have happier relationships, reduced feelings of stress, feel lighter in general.

One exercise that may help you to engage in the forgiveness process (and for many, it is indeed a process), is to visualize the person you wish to forgive, as a young, innocent child. See them as being a bundle of love that they were at birth. Allow feelings of love to flow through you, splashing over onto them. When you experience warmth toward someone else, it comes through you first, so you reap the benefit as well. Even if you never tell the other person what you are doing, you may be surprised at the outcome.

Grudges get heavier the longer we carry them. Are you willing to lighten your load today?

Christina Pirello www.christinacooks.com

Jon Michaels www.jonmichaelsmusic.com

Gilda’s Club www.gildasclub.org

 

An Unending Love

 

In the early 1990′s I happened upon a man whose words captured me from the pages of a book that had literally fallen off the shelf into my waiting hands. It was about a Jewish approach to 12 step recovery. At the time, I was living in South Florida and my husband (a recent convert to Judaism who we laughingly referred to as a “JBC-Jew By Choice”) and I were searching for a congregation that met our hippie leanings, and open minded approach to spirituality. As I turned the book over, I called out in delight since the author, Rabbi Rami Shapiro led a congregation in Miami (Kendall actually) called Beth Or which translates to “House of Light” I knew I needed to attend a service there and was delighted from day one that the taste of Judaism that Rami offered was seasoned with influences from other traditions as well. Not surprising, since one of his mentors is Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi; one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal Movement. Reb Zalman is now a hale and hardy 86 year old who still teaches and writes and advocates for deeper understanding and unity among those of various faiths. His organization is called The Reb Zalman Legacy Project, a motto of which is “The only way to get it together…is together.”

During the few years we were members of Beth Or, I delved ever more deeply into my spiritual practice, appreciating my Jewish roots in ways I had not when growing up in a congregation that focused, for the most part on rote memorization of prayers and traditions, ‘just because that’s the way we always did it’ and one rabbi in particular who didn’t value women as equal members of the congregation to be counted in a minyan (a gathering of 10 needed to say certain prayers). How refreshing to experience a ‘both/and’, rather than an ‘either/or’ approach to spirituality.

Years later, I remain in touch with Rami whose writings can be read in many places on the internet and whose books continue to astound me with their wisdom and sharp insights.


Today, I am visiting my Mom who is on hospice and I read her my favorite of all of Rami’s writings. It speaks vibrantly to the truth of what we are.

An Unending Love

by Rabbi Rami Shapiro

We are loved by an unending love.

We are embraced by arms that find us
even when we are hidden from ourselves.
We are touched by fingers that soothe us
even when we are too proud for soothing.
We are counseled by voices that guide us
even when we are too embittered to hear.
We are loved by an unending love.

We are supported by hands that uplift us
even in the midst of a fall.
We are urged on by eyes that meet us
even when we are too weak for meeting.
We are loved by an unending love.

Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled,
Ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices;
Ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles;
We are loved by an unending love.”

Reb Zalman Legacy Project www.rzlp.org

Rabbi Rami Shapiro www.rabbirami.com

Soulshaper: Jeff Brown

 

Jeff Brown is a sculptor and his medium consists of nouns and verbs that he lovingly carves with finely honed tools. The results are exquisite word creations that truly belong in a museum. I am in awe each time I read his postings and when I moved through the pages of his book entitled Soulshaping: A Journey of Self Creation.

 

Jeff lives his bliss  “by excavating and honoring my divine purpose. At the heart of Soulshaping is a quest for those soul-scriptures that we came into life to humanifest. Those scriptures are a combination of callings, lessons and archetypal transitions that are unique to my Soul’s journey. When I am honoring them, that is, when I am on true-path, I feel blissful. When I am diverting, bliss-less.”

I found Soulshaping to be a wrenchingly personal and sometimes painful expression of Jeff’s life journey. I wondered if when he reads it now, it seems as if it is someone else’s story.

 

Jeff poignantly responded, “It IS someone else’s story, and my story as well. Often now, I look at it and it feels foreign to me, primarily because so much has changed inside of me since it was published. My lens has been re-clarified, my emotional body more solidified, so my perspective has shifted. Still, though, I recognize the consciousness that experienced the journey as my own, I identify myself within it, but now there is more- a new soulshape that includes but goes beyond where I was when I embodied those stages.”

Jeff has two ancestors/guiding spirits that allowed him to survive the traumatic events in his life. They are his loving grandparents that he refers to by the Yiddish terms: “My Bubbi and my Beela breathed life into me when my lungs were breathless. They stood beside me, within me, and around me every step of the way, giving me the love I needed to stick around through the horrible early years. They gave me reason to believe that there was another way of being loved and supported, another path worth working towards.”

He intends for the book to “express my own life force by honoring my calling to write, but also to help liberate others from the egoic ties that bind.”

Jeff has a particularly engaging way of mapping out his text…a word wall that is a canvas for the verbal paint splashes that find their way into his writing.

I wrote Soulshaping in the back room of my house in Toronto. At some point, I felt the need to write on the walls themselves, particularly when some of the language in the Soulshaping dictionary started coming through me. That wall is now a video on my Soulshaping channel on You Tube that is called Chaotic Magnificence. This wall reflected my own belief that it was essential that I take my light out from below its bushel of shame and express my truth everywhere. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVlgwm9F2Hw

A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of “Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation,” recently published by North Atlantic Books. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser and Ram Dass, “Soulshaping” is Brown’s autobiography — an inner travelogue of his journey from archetypal male warrior to a more surrendered path. You can connect with his work at www.soulshaping.com

Celestial Chimes

 

Sitting on my Mom’s South Florida screen porch mid afternoon. Light breeze is wafting through the fronds of my favorite palm tree that stands like a guardian at the door. Engaged in conversation, imagining that we are on the beach that she no longer has the energy to get to, as a result of the Congestive Heart Failure that has turned this once active octogenarian into someone who some days, sleeps more than she is awake.

On this day, I am reading to her from Karen Drucker’s book Let Go Of The Shore and she smiles in recognition at some of the concepts expressed therein. Two ducks are listening in, wagging their tail feathers as they perch in front of the porch.

Above us are two sets of wind chimes that respond randomly to the gentle wind that moves through them. Their delightful song serenades us as we chat….we who are mother in the 8th decade of her life and daughter in the 5th decade of her own. Kindred spirits who share a history and a destiny.

What gifts can you appreciate this day? The sights and sounds? The company of a loved one? Or simply being moved by life like the breeze through wind chimes?

www.karendrucker.com

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