Retreat into Deep and Meaningful Recovery

When I think of the word retreat, it conjures up an image of sitting a log cabin, dressed in a white robe, sipping a steaming mug of hot tea. My woes have melted away on the massage table and I’m transported into a state of bliss and contentment. I can see an expanse of water on the horizon, as I relax into an oversized chair and exhale any remaining tension. But it is so much more than just relaxation; retreats today have expanded to include workshops that help develop self-care rituals which nourish the body and soul. When I leave … Continue reading

The Healing and Spirituality of Tantra

The word Tantra is often misunderstood by Westerners, incorrectly ascribed to uninhibited or marathon sex. In fact, Tantra is a technique that originated in India to connect the physical body to another dimension and can be practiced alone or as a couple. In contrast to many other spiritual practices, Tantra regards the human body as the necessary means for enlightenment, as opposed to seeing it as something requiring purification. Just a small proportion of Tantric texts —less than 10 percent—deal with sexuality; well over half the texts focus on the use of mantras, while others focus on the worship of … Continue reading

A Homemade Retreat is Delicious

Some years ago, a friend offered me her cabin “up north” for a week and said I could include friends. Overjoyed, I quickly called the two women whom I met with weekly for mutual spiritual support. “How about creating a week of silent retreat together?” I suggested. Both responded with a rousing “Yes!” Quiet, undistracted time for reading, meditating, walking in the woods, floating on a lake – what a splendid contrast this would offer to our frenzied lives. But could we really spend a week together in silence? And also have fun? We were going to be at a … Continue reading

On Retreat: Waiting for the Summer Lightning

Whether you create your own mini-retreat or take part in a retreat gathering with several hundred people, the intent is to truly retreat – pull back, get away from the usual, disengage, create downtime for all levels of your being – mental, physical, spiritual, emotional. In today’s fast-paced, always on, tech-connected culture, idleness or downtime can be difficult to come by. But not impossible. Ferris Jabr, in an October 2013 article for Scientific American entitled Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, quoted writer and meditation teacher, Michael Taft, who refers to cerebral congestion: “In a normal working day in modern … Continue reading

Happily Ever Now: Four Ways To Be In Love In The Present Moment

We all know that Happily Ever After doesn’t always pan out. Tinderella and Prince Match.com don’t always ride off into the sunset, and well, that doesn’t mean it was a complete failure after all. Many times people come into our lives for a moment of time to help us grow and expand; then their duty is done. Unfortunately we often get so caught up in obsessive future planning of the “what if’s” and the “might be’s”, that we miss the magic of the moment. Which essentially is all that really exists. What about this…Happily Ever Now. Being present with your … Continue reading

Take Good Care

According to the 2015 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, nearly 44 million adults in this country provide personal assistance for family members with disabilities or other care needs. As Cynthia Orange points out in her latest book, Take Good Care: Finding Your Joy in Compassionate Caregiving, when you add to this statistic the number of family, friends, and others who are at the ready to lend support or extend a helping hand when it is needed, you might ask, “Who isn’t a caregiver?” Take Good Care is unique because it isn’t your typical self-help, memoir, resource, … Continue reading

Move to Change: Using Dance to Ease Conflict

Throughout our lives, we learn contextually appropriate ways to maneuver our bodies in relationship to the world. Children, for instance, are often given more social permission to move about, jump, and play with fervor. However, the body-politic does not offer equal access or freedom to move for all; in some cultures certain forms of movement may be against the law or push against the boundaries of cultural norms. Yet our bodies need to move to live, and to change. Dancers seem to understand this need to move on a cellular level. For them, dancing serves as a form of communication. … Continue reading

Creating Art Puts All the Pieces Together

Some of the most creative, resilient people in the Twin Cities live at Tower Apartments in South Minneapolis. In the spring of 2016, they spent many hours together in Tower’s lobby sharing their stories and shaping hundreds of ceramic and colored glass pieces into a stunning mosaic. The massive community creation now delights their eyes every time they step off the elevator near Tower’s entrance. With obvious pride, they tell visitors, “We made that.” Tower tenants are people with long lives. Most have faced more than their share of deep difficulties – having to leave beloved places, losing loved ones, … Continue reading

The Mystery of Systemic Family Constellations: A New Method for Healing Transgenerational Trauma

I’ve been a member of 12 step programs for a number of decades. I credit one of them with saving my life. However, about three years ago, I found myself confronting body pain that, upon closer inspection, seemed emotionally generated: my back seized up and I couldn’t walk. This was an acute representation of physical pain that I had lived with during most of my recovery. This kind of flare-up had happened a number of times before, yet I could never find the basic cause. This time, a friend of mine, a body-oriented somatic therapist, suggested I try “family constellations.” … Continue reading

Abstractly-Defined Artists Restore Humanity

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with both an old college professor and a local artist about the notion of healing through art. Comparing both conversations I found some striking similarities: Both people I interviewed came from backgrounds with troubled family dynamics that could easily be argued was — and still is — the foundation of every artistic thing they have ever done. Independently, yet simultaneously, they have taken their personal experiences and embedded them into ridiculous institutions [by way of teaching] with the objective being to either entertain or report possibilities in real time. Collectively, all three of … Continue reading

Have you Hugged your Teddy Bear Today?

Eleanor Leonard

Her college-age daughter had died unexpectedly in an accident. In a state of shock and controlled focus, she and her husband had reached out to friends and family, made funeral arrangements, housed out-of-town family members, carried on conversations. Now the house was empty; guests were gone, her husband had returned to work, a neighbor would look in later that afternoon. She went into her daughter’s room. It was exactly as her daughter had left it – the bed neatly made, a favorite teddy bear propped against the pillow. She circled the room closely, running soft fingers over her daughter’s jewelry, … Continue reading

Looking Both Ways in the New Year

Ah, the new year! Starting over, a clean slate, a fresh beginning wrapped up in our lists of resolutions to improve some aspect of our lives, to make the year ahead better. But better than what? The uptick in ads and commercials for fitness club memberships, diet plans and body sculpting would indicate a narrow definition of “better.” Yet the human spirit seems to innately understand that self-improvement is so much more, that some deeper wisdom longs to elevate our status above the quest for the transitory illusion of physical perfection. How do we honor that longing? How do we … Continue reading

Horse Sense

The snow swirled around the eight figures. They stood, shaking their heads, arms crossed, and shoulders hunched against the cold. They’d been standing there about ten minutes, staring at the PVC pipe that was raised a foot off the ground and at the herd of horses that seemed unconcerned. The predominating sense amongst the group was that these horses were not going to go over this obstacle. “Come on, let’s just go,” one of the group members called out, gesturing back toward the building, and one by one they walked into the arena and stood out of the wind and … Continue reading

Lighten Up with Step Six

“Lighten up” is my mantra for 2017. I tend to take life – and myself – pretty seriously. These days, though, I’m finding myself pretty amused by my imperfections, also known as character defects, thanks to engaging in Step 6. I’m especially humored by how many activities I thought required my involvement which seem to turn out just fine – or good enough — without me. But I’m the only one who knows how these things should be done. Hah! Apparently not. At first glance, Step 6 sounds painful: “Became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of … Continue reading