Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rx: Love

A recurring theme on this blog will be the simplicity and ordinariness of spirit.  Like many, I used to believe that the spiritual was exalted, elsewhere and available only to a few.  I thought that spiritual awakening would perfect someone, making her relentlessly kind and untroubled.  Come to find out that nothing changes except the capacity of perception -- and this changes everything, especially over time (how could this be otherwise?  God, Spirit, name your noun/verb, is by definition all places and all time and beyond everything.  Nowhere it cannot exist.  It IS existence.)  One of the enjoyable little perks of waking up is seeing how many places spirit had been obvious all along but I never understood what I had been looking at.  Like love, joy, mind and gratitude.  And, especially, healing.

My first job in mental health was working for a Day Treatment Center that served the chronically and severely mentally ill.  What I began to learn without realizing it was the lesson that if you put 2 or more people, of any background, into a situation of emotional safety and continuity, love and healing will happen.  Many of the people who attended this center had spent a good portion of their lives in institutions. But we all benefited from a brief period in the Seventies where community mental health and some of the tenets of Radical Therapy were supported.  Mental illness was still stigmatized, however, so we utilized diagnosis and conceptual categories as little as possible.  Instead, we created a therapeutic community where everyone was accepted as the person they presented themselves to be on any given day.  The moments of healing that resulted were not cures, not big solutions, but still were emotionally powerful enough to make me weep.  Every person in that community, even the silent, was capable of stupendous acts of compassion, humor, altruism and love.  I have seen this same lotus rising-out-of-the-mud phenomenon among juvenile delinquents, incarcerated adults, newly bereaved and regular visitors to my office.

There is something about Unconditional Positive Regard, as Carl Rogers termed it, that allows people to risk a new behavior, a quantum jump -- however temporary -- to a higher level of consciousness.  Attention is a kind of energy, and focused non-judgemental attention is a form of love that facilitates healing.  This is why healing happens among friends and family no less than in the consulting room.  This is part of why AA works (more about AA later -- who knew it was a Mystery School!).  No matter how introverted the individual, as I am, we are all social animals and respond to safe attention.

The capacity for this kind of love is increased at every level of the spiritual journey until the love has no object but itself.  And the self is infinite.


  1. nice post. I am realizing this in my Sat Nam Rasayan practice (kundalini yoga). We can break down resistances by accepting them, instead of fighting against them.

  2. Thank you, Paula. Sometimes i find the commitment to accept the resistance is the hardest part!