Subject: (something like vignettes of my use of your work..)
I have been remiss....
got the CD, much thanks..it's everything I imagined it would be..and (this is saying a lot since I have known your work for 20+ years and in fact, already expected much) even more
I had 3 or so thought..plus more info on a European prison or two who are much saner and might accept your CDs...partly you being swamped , as you've indicated to me in your [date] email, and partly me too, so holding off..but do hope to return at some point in future and offer a constructive (even if modest) path or two, even a thin strand or two to help propagate this CD....but another time
have mentally composed these snapshots quite a few months ago...here are three or four, about how I've used some of your work to help others..
in general during office hours 1998-2012 as a university professor..
Quantitative Literacy and Environmental issues - one or at most two pages fair use out of Deep Healing, ...when we were talking about root causes as part of our unit near the end about logical systemic analysis and climate change...What caused A? B? Or maybe B leads to C which leads to A? So multi-step? Or maybe X and Y are both contributing and jointly lead to A? And other still more complex or nuanced versions..
Second Vignette: "Sam"
20 yo old suicidal...wealthy relatives pay for prep for SAT...I hear more about his challenge.s..I focus on math but include some life talk and so on...one day..I bring in your book, read two him two parts -- the one about the Nazi-like behavior of that sadistic doctor in medical school "Dr. Miller, Demonstrate Rebound Tenderness!"....I did not have an exact conscious plan but I think it was partly about making it feel safe for him to allow the caring, sensitive (but sometimes in-deep-pain) inner part of us, to come out....The other one I read out loud to him before we got to math..."Blood's Revenge".....again no precise specific "if I read this, his reaction will be exactly that" but in back of my mind, looking back, things like: "others have known pain, fear, difficult circumstances, too" -- however that observation too often comes with a "so suck it up" when coming from (often far) less sensitive people than you Emmett..but the caring/sharing comes out in your work so it seemed like a way to share that "you are not alone in your struggles" sentiment, in a way that I knew would not seem like "so suck it up" or even "just count your blessings" (though including that..but going beyond that message to other messages too...like it being ok to be scared, or emotionally disturbed by world around one, and that can move on/forward)
i have to admit I had hoped for a more visible reaction from him...And for his part, he more or less directly admitted to me out loud that he purposefully holds those kinds of reactions in....but, I still think it did him good to hear it, or, "did him well/wellness" to hear it.
postscript - when we stopped the math tutorials he was going out of state - his wealthy (uncle I think it was) was paying for, according to Sam, for a week or two week long inpatient program costing 30,000. I wonder what somewhere between 1% and 10% of that working with you directly, might have accomplished, but I had gently prodded him as far as I felt was possible (to consider mind/body healing in general and you and your work in particular) as much as I could without reaching the point of risking alienating him
3rd Vignette - "Kevin"
(Kobby)14 years old and email about church lost in (and me worried b/c no trick or treat etc because Christianity etc)but they did buy a copy and send to me...
4th Vignette - "Melissa"
her disposition, over achiever...gymnastics too.....pressure on herself....very bright but at the time I started, while she had made it into Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, she had about a "D" average...many small mistakes, rushing, etc
I asked after a few weeks, about text anxiety...she said actually no, however, when I gently inquired further, about other issues, she indicated that her mind during such high stakes situations when she was tested, would jump from one idea to another and not be able to make up her mind...(I recalled the metaphor in your Deep Healing about the mind like a card that's trying to go into several gears/directions at once, and how useful it is to put the car into 'neutral' first...)
This was early on in my post-university-professor tutoring...I decided to mention some of your audios to her but to make the loan to her mother so she (the mother can decide) we made a lot of progress on Math..but the date of the AP test was approaching...and while issues of mental focus, relaxation etc did come up and she was very open to the general idea, she had not listened to the audios - still the over-achiever spending many hours on weekends not just on homework but gymnastics practice and other activities...she seemed harried (at her own hands equally if not more than from external pressures, it seemed to me, though certainly, our "inner critic" evolved since each of our childhood, in part, from messages from the external world, even if not directly from immediate friends and family as much as from the culture overall)
she was 16 years old, by the way.
finally near our last or our last session...her grades were much better...but....her teacher told her not to bother signing up for the AP because, given how low her grades had been near flunking, and her progress, yes, but still her ability to handle such a tough national test...he suggested, strongly suggested, she not sign up for the national AP...to even even a "3" out of 5 is tough: reaching that level means one gets credit for a college-level course, after all...but she signed up for it.
Anyway at our last session...I thought given the "mind goes in 100 directions on tests" I should try to help her at least a bit...after giving her some verbal suggestions in regular conversation - especially about "triage" and how I recommended that instead of letting her mind race in so many directions, she triage the problems into "easy, can do right away", "very hard, return to at end only if time" and the middle level to work on second, after the easy ones - I also suggested for the middle level ones, to also mentally decide how much time to allocate, so she doesn't end up costing herself a huge amount of time on one or two problems...and also about not panicking if/when she finds problems she is unprepared for...to expect that...that this is ok...
She was open to a guided meditation, and I knew she could benefit...I admit I was a bit nervous about appearances...even though I knew that I was safe from false assumptions up to a point since the Study Room was a glass room so anyone could walk by....and I didn't think she would make a false accusation...but given the culture and society we live in...I was a bit hesitant so for my safety as well as for her relaxation, on top of the lights staying on of course and being in a glass Study Room in the library, I said I'd sit at the opposite end of the long, maybe 10-12 foot long table, the reason I said was it's hard for anyone to relax and focus if they have someone else sitting right next to them (by the way, if you ask, why would anyone be nervous about false appearances if they know they have no ill intentions? You could ask the 12 year old version of me a similar question: why did I care about being teased about being the "Jew" that kids would throw pennies on the floor that they "knew" I would not be able to resist picking up? Why did I walk in the opposite direction from the pennies? If I knew I was not fitting that ugly stereotype of Jews, why did I care what others thought? Well, what others think, have consequences, even if those thoughts are completely false...I realize African Americans depending on their situation have it 10 or 100 times worse, I'm only sharing to make the point...anyway this story has a happy ending so let's get there)
With the lights on and sitting 10-12 feet across from her I invited her to close her eyes and visualize herself waking up on the day of the AP test...having prepared, having gone to bed early enough to get enough sleep, and having slept well, and having her nervous system feel "energy" rather than "worries" that morning (kind of like that Bruce Lee quote you like..) but I also had her mentally imagine doing that triage...abdominal breathing with her hand on her belly...but visualizing and in particular, we mentally rehearsed her not going into panic...we mentally rehearsed how, on the one hand, she was confident and mentally visualized how, for *most* problems, she know how to triage them, how to start and how to solve the easy, almost all the medium, and several of the hard ones...but we *also* rehearsed the brain not "going in 10 different directions" because she knew as she started each one, what to try, and how to spend a limited amount of time, reasonable but not overboard..and lastly we rehearsed how there would also be a problem or a few, that did stump her, and she mentally rehearsed not freaking out, not letting a mental voice start telling her how bad things would turn out, and just knowing that's to be expected...
The entire visualization I did was maybe 5 minutes, max, 8? minutes long, probably less..and the math part, the math content and other test-taking tips (the more nuts and bolts tips) also went well...on the way out with her father there, she brought up again that her teacher had told her not to bother signing up for the AP test.....
Her next words I remember vividly as the three of us walked out of the library: "I can't wait to see the look on his face [the high school AP calculus teacher's face] if I *do* end up passing (getting 3 or higher, thus college credit) the AP test!" she said with a hint of the beginnings of confidence in her voice that I had heard only very rarely until then...
We ended the tutorial sessions...her mother wrote a nice Testimonial for me on the tutor "marketplace" website...and it would be many weeks before the grade to the AP test would come in.
And what happened, many weeks later? The first few words of a text message from her mother were very negative sounding, but also very misleading, as I discovered as I read the rest of the sentence, even if it was slow motion enough to recall the split second initial worried reaction on my part....her mother's text message started: "I just got a phone-call from ["Melissa"], and she was crying because she had just gotten her AP score and was so happy and overjoyed that she passed it!" or very similar words to this effect, and then thanking me again.
That's the end of this last vignette...a very very happy one...from stressed out 16 year old over achiever and under-performer to "I can't wait to see the look on his face if I do pass the AP" to..."[my daughter] was crying on the phone" so happy to let her mother know she HAD passed it!
There is one more piece, equally if not more dramatic and vividly etched into my own memory, that his young lady said...It's not happy, but it's not something terrible about her own life either, it's something about our entire culture, though she didn't speak out our culture, that's the take-home when you step back and think about what she said.
And one day she came in looking kind of tired, not super stressed out, but a combination of some stress, some weariness, some low simmering but definitely present self-critical anxiety and just exhaustion physical and also emotional and mental I think..and I don't want to sound too dramatic Emmett, but I'll never forget what she said and I think it's really a window about our entire culture as I said..
And she was telling me about the 100 things she had done, had gotten done, still needed to do...not literally 100 but that was the feel...you know what I'm talking about, that feeling, that stress of the adult world and self-criticism and rushing mind and so many things to do....that we as a society have let go not only badly into the adult world but more and more into youth like herself and even to younger kids' worlds...
anyway, after telling me this, she paused, slightly sheepish, or just to reflect, I'm not sure which, and gave a slight smile I think, and started her sentence, almost by way of explanation:
then she continued:
and we all know the expression, "it's been a long day" but it almost sounded like she was going to say, "it's been a long week" (we met on weekends, mostly, for the math tutorial sessions)
but do you know how she ended her sentence? With what word? This is the part I'll never forget....she did smile and realize the slightly mad-sounding nature of her sentence I think after uttering it, but her sentence ended with the word: "life". I kid you not. This was a 16 year old young woman. It's sad enough that (at my lowest moments, looking at the state of the world, politics, war, society, cruelty...or even the less political aspects of just the...what to call it? inhuman pace, and inhuman structure and alienation of modern life, or, of too much of it anyway....) it's sad enough that as an adult one can feel, for lack of a better term, "life-weary" not just "World-weary" but now you see why I find her sentence, coming from a relatively "lucky" (middle class, light skinned etc) American 16 year old, and: "[exhale] it's been....a long......life [exhale]" it would be merely "quite sad" if it reflected just her own life - but I find the quote so damning about society and so vividly etched into memory precisely because I thought, that so, so much encapsulates so much of what's wrong with our world, in so few words...! Something to chew on and think about for those of us engaged in work, however modest or limited it sometimes feels, in work trying to help the culture evolve in healthier directions...
Anyway, not to end on a sad note, but definitely wanted to share this one last important nugget from this 4th and last Snapshot...which is otherwise a very happy - even triumphant - vignette of how your work has not only empowered and helped so many of us, but how sometimes (while a far, far cry from being as expert at it as you are) some of us have been able to use quotes, ideas, methods, and inspiration from your work to, in turn, help heal others or help them heal or empower themselves...
Even the not-so-happy sounding earlier vignette with the suicidal 20 year old guy...I have to think it did him good, my showing sincerely that I cared and meaning it and offering a sympathetic ear, yes, but also even if (heaven forbid) his life ended tomorrow, hearing those quotes from your book, so well put together, I have to believe did "water" some healthy plants in his heart and in his soul....