Making Peace with Your Self

Ram Dass

January always seems like an odd month to start a new year to me. Smack in the middle of winter, sliding right in after the holidays, January seems more like a time to lay low, huddle by the fireplace, and browse seed catalogues. My new year seems better suited to starting in the fall, when school goes back in session and the summer fades away. Putting away summer clothes, cleaning out the pantry, buying lots of school supplies (a real weakness of mine), and feeling the crisp newness of the fall air trigger that whole new-year-intention-setting thing for me. So when January rolls around and the airwaves are full of resolutions and expectations for change, it feels like a been there/done that mind set.

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Love the Work You Do

“May the beauty of what you love be what you do”. Rumi DSCN2125

This is the quote that greets me as I walk into my home office each morning. Everyday I read it, smile in appreciation, and get on with my day. But today, I got it. Do work you love, Rumi seems to be saying, and love the work you do. Ahhh…

In everything we do there are challenges. Jobs have high moments and well, not so high ones. Families give us both love and stress. Days are a mixture of all of this and we choose which vibration rules the day. My professional life combines the celestial and the mundane. Some of my time -not nearly enough these days- is spent seeing clients and working with the energy fields of the body. This is deep soul-fulfilling work and I love it. Most of my day though, is spent on the computer doing paperwork, editing announcements, and proofing documents. This can be soul-numbing work when the hours spill into the evening and deadlines loom. Together they are the yin and yang of my day and each serves a purpose.

The energy work reminds me that life is so much bigger than paperwork. The office work grounds me into the reality that everything needs a structure to thrive. I am blessed by both and in doing each of them there is satisfaction. Meaning is derived from a satisfied life. A life that matters is fulfilling. Happiness is the mark of a fulfilled life. The pieces fit together like a well chiseled puzzle.

Each day I make a decision to see my life as beautiful and whole. That doesn’t mean that everything is always great. People die, cars get flat tires, dogs throw up on new carpet, and unexpected bills come my way too. Wholeness of life- or self for that matter- isn’t dependent on circumstances. It comes from choosing to see life experience through a different lens. How I perceive the value of my work, and the delight I take in doing it, are mine to decide. Satisfaction, meaning, love, beauty, happiness, these are words that define a purposeful life.

Loving your work doesn’t have to mean a new job, but it may require a new way of looking at things. The true value of my work is in how I feel doing it. There can be a lot of beauty in an organized desk, a clean floor, or an empty inbox. As much as I see when I help the body to balance and heal in an energy session. Rumi asks me to let that be the parameter of my job satisfaction. I choose to do just that.

Accept, Love, Grow


True healing requires transformation. Why? Because if we refuse to see what is not working in our lives we can block our own ability to heal. Not “seeing” means that change isn’t possible. Change only comes when we can admit that something isn’t working and most probably hasn’t been working in a very long time. That doesn’t mean we become complacent about where we are, but that we acknowledge the dysfunction that already exists. That’s acceptance and it is the first stage of healing.

Love follows acceptance. It is the main task of the spiritual journey and is what makes healing possible. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, the desire to experience love is part of the human quest for wholeness. We desire to love and be loved. Forgiveness is that love in action. Without forgiveness of self (especially), and others where appropriate, we remain locked in our “right” to be sick. We live in the midst of that dysfunction and consider it normal. When we admit it isn’t normal, and accept that it isn’t working, we need to make peace with ourselves for letting it be there for so long. That’s self-forgiveness and it opens the door for genuine healing.

Growth is the process of letting go and moving on so new life can emerge. Something always must be released so there is room for something else to be gained. Growth is the natural consequence of love. Why? Forgiveness makes growth possible, because it makes space for a new point of view to be realized. That’s transformation-letting change happen so wholeness can be restored. It’s really that simple: When we love, we heal.

Energy and the Spirit


Holding space in the background of my work is the belief that “Love is all there is.”  The writings of Paul Tillich underscore this perception and provide depth to its understanding. Tillich was a German-born existential theologian/philosopher who lived in the early-mid 20th century. Bringing a cosmic focus to his understanding of God and salvation, Tillich coined a unique vocabulary to express the nature and essence of God.  He saw God as the power and essence of unconditional love, calling him/her the ground-of-being, ultimate reality, ultimate concern, and being itself. God as infinite and indefinable, but at the same time as manifesting in the tangible as finite reality; in other words, God is in all things, but also above all things. Creation completely embodies God and God completely embodies creation. In this way, no separation is possible, because no separation exists.

According to Tillich, the human condition is estrangement; the belief that we are separate from God, causing us to feel incomplete, broken, and guilty. Tillich went so far to say that the cosmic disease afflicting mankind is this guilt we manifest over being disconnected from God our Source of Being. Because of this, he saw salvation as a healing process, a return to the wholeness that was lost in the process of estrangement. [1]   This includes individual salvation of course, but within the greater scope of cosmic salvation, the saving of all creation.

“When salvation has cosmic significance, healing is not only included in it, but salvation can be described as the act of cosmic healing… Salvation is basically and essentially healing, the re-establishment of a whole that was broken, disrupted, or disintegrated.”[2]

So the return to wholeness, our natural state, is the purpose of salvation.  Healing then is restorative. It reestablishes our connection to the divine on both an individual and cosmic level and reunites us with grace. The return to right relationship with God is also the return to right relationship with our selves.  From a Christian perspective, this is the saving work of Jesus.

Tillich’s perception of God as ground-of-being, and salvation as healing, are important concepts in understanding the spiritual dimension of healing. Seeing the energy of the universe as the power, essence, and love of God means that our embodiment by the Holy Spirit is the flow of the power of God within us. This indwelling of power/energy/Spirit/God as both life force and inner healer opens the door to understanding both how healing occurs in us and through us. It is natural then to see healing as a spiritual activity, a God-mediated process that brings restoration of our inherent wholeness. This brings me back full circle to the spiritual focus of my ministry and work. It is the Spirit that heals.

[1] This is a compilation of Tillich’s ideas that I made after reading transcripts of discussions he had with a professor of religious studies and his students at the University of California in Santa Barbara in the 1960’s. Later published in a book called Ultimate Concern: Tillich in Dialogue with D. Mackenzie Brown. Harper and Row 1965, this dialogue can be accessed online at

[2] Paul Tillich, The Meaning of Health. Edited by Perry Le Fevre. Chicago, IL: Exploration Press, 1984, 17.

How Energy Heals


The energy flows of the body were recognized and mapped by the Chinese over 5000 years ago.  The flows travel in prescribed pathways called meridians.  The Chinese word for the energy that flows through the meridians is Chi and is understood as life force energy.  Interestingly, the Chinese character for the word Chi originated from the concept of cloud or vapor and the characteristics of Chi are generally thought of as air, breath of life, and vitality. The Chinese see Chi as the essential life force, the power within us that brings, sustains, and informs life. It is the flow of Chi that brings healing to the body.

Chi and the energy of the Holy Spirit in the Christian tradition share some common attributes across cultures. In the Book of Genesis, the Spirit of God moves across the water bringing life to the formless earth and is breathed into the human creation to give it life. The Hebrew word ruach, which is used to denote Spirit in the Hebrew Bible, translates as wind, breath, mind, or spirit. God is seen as the creator of ruach (Job 27:3). In Hebrew when the word ruach is applied to humankind, it also has a dimension of intelligence, conscience, and will. When the ruach of God is inferred, it denotes God’s own creative power to give life.

Similarly in the New Testament, the Greek word pneuma means breath, movement of air, or wind.  When used in reference to humankind, the connotation is breath of life or life force. This understanding of the Holy Spirit as the wind or breath of God implies a living force that moves through the body, not unlike the wind that moved across the face of the earth at creation.  In each case, movement is a key concept. The energy of the Spirit flows through the body bringing life, just as the breath of God moved across the earth bringing life in Genesis 1:1. Seeing the Holy Spirit as bearer of life force energy connects it with the Chinese understanding of Chi. God as Spirit, as wind, as breath is also Chi. Primordial Chi is the energy of the Holy Spirit as creation life force an, while Substantial Chi is Holy Spirit energy as living life force within the body. In either terminology, it is that flow of Life Force Energy through the body that heals, sustains, enlivens, and brings wholeness. So is it the flow of the Holy Spirit’s energy  (Chi) moving through Jesus that brings about the healing of the sick and performs miracles?

Made in the Image…

The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Gen 2:7 (NIV)

To embody something is to give it life. In Genesis, God breathes life into the inert human creation and it is filled with life force energy, the “breath of life.” The human has become a “being” because it is now alive with spiritual energy.  This understanding has important ramifications for how we view our bodies and for how we heal.

As physical beings we are dependent on our senses for interpreting the world. We process and relate to our environment by seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, and touching it.  This means that we internalize our perceptions about everything from this standpoint, including God and ourselves.  Although we may understand on some level that we are more than our physical selves, we cannot see our emotions, our spirit, or God, so they are less real.  This idea of “not real” also translates into “less important”, so the emotional and spiritual sides of us are often discounted, dismissed, or ignored. When this perception becomes fixed, it allows us to feel separate from those aspects of self, and from God.

What this means, is that the image of God we embody within ourselves is often very small, constricted, and one-dimensional.  The magnificence of God becomes the pettiness of God and we construct a humanized vision of God that reflects only our own insecurities and limitations. That small view of God translates into an even smaller view of our ability to heal. By limiting who God can “be” we restrict our innate capacity for wholeness. But, if wholeness is our natural state, then healing is a natural process.  We are “fully equipped” for our life in this world and that implies that everything we need for wholeness we already possess. [1] This means that our bodies are programmed to heal. How? The life force energy that enlivened us at creation is still present and the Gospel stories show us how to use it to heal. Jesus was an amazing energy healer! So what’s the problem?  We have forgotten who we are and we no longer hear the voice of Spirit within our bodies.

[1] 2 Tim 3:17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (NIV)

Start here…

I decided to start a blog to share some ideas about health, healing, and spirituality.  My focus is energy-oriented and I see physical and emotional health as a reflection of our energetic and spiritual health.  Mind-body medicine is really mind-body-spirit medicine and the health of the body is a reflection of the health of the energies that embody it through all three of these aspects of our integrated self.  Healing is a total body activity and one that is actively engaged  on many different levels. In the posts that follow, I will offer a dance of insights about healing that draw from diverse healing traditions such as traditional Chinese Medicine, Hindu and Christian spirituality, and Native American cosmology that  I hope will shed light on the energy that flows through all of them. Blessings.