NYC Client Grows Since 9/11, pt. 2

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Okay folks, this one is pretty huge… The story below illustrates a MAJOR difference in how people live their lives. You can focus more on the inner, or you can focus more on the outer (read Inner vs. Outer). And when you focus more on the inner, you still do the outer stuff just fine. In fact, you usually do it better, smoother, and faster. You just do your inner work first and then you do the outer work. And I’m pretty sure that when we die, we see crystal clear that the inner work is more important. The saying “You can’t take it with you when you go” comes to mind. And if you’re totally confused, just keep reading.

This is part 2 about a client’s growth since he was living in NYC when the World Trade Center towers cane down on September 11, 2001. Part 1, which you really don’t have to read to understand the rest of this, is pretty much about how he processed the trauma, since he was working just a block or two away from ground zero when it happened. Then I had asked how much he had grown in the twelve years since. He responded that he was a totally different person. He used to be a huge party guy, drinking and doing drugs and just trying to cram as much craziness into his life as possible. And he was very good at that, saying that he really can’t believe he’s still alive. And the change? Now he wants inner peace. Nice. But it gets nicer…

After this, we moved on from talking about 9/11 completely and got current with his life. He told me an unrelated story from a week or two prior involving an ugly incident with a co-worker and how he handled it. I didn’t realize until later in the day, long after our session, how much he has grown just in the past year or less – forget since 9/11! So my original question was answered even better. This hit me just as I was leaving for the day, and I actually felt kind of floored and even emotional about this work and just how transformational it can be. I can get lost in trenches just like everybody else, not always seeing the big picture. And the big picture is that lives are permanently changing for the better, mine included. Yes!

So my client had said something mean to a co-worker in the heat of the moment. They have a very intense, stressful job, and she was not listening to him or their boss as they tried to explain something to her. He said something to her that is not characteristic of him and that he regretted saying. She let him know how she felt, saying, “I can’t believe you said that. I’ve lost respect for you. You were my friend, but now don’t talk to me unless it’s about work.” He couldn’t get this out of his mind for the rest of the day, so when he got home he knew he needed to take care of it. And how did he take care of it? Well, it was in a way that I doubt he would’ve done just a year ago, or maybe even six months ago. He went inside.

He’s recently been enjoying guided meditations, especially from a guy named Jack Kornfield, so he found one on forgiveness and got right to work. He sat down, pressed play, and closed his eyes to begin. Jack guided him gently deeper and deeper inside, and the gist of the meditation was that he asked forgiveness from her, he forgave her, and he forgave himself. I don’t know how long it took, but I’m guessing 10-15 minutes. Afterward, he felt like a different person. It had worked. She didn’t want anything to do with him right then, so he didn’t have the option of working things out with her directly. So he had to do the work himself. He knew that he’d see her at work again, but he couldn’t wait. It was eating him up. He did the necessary inner work, and he was able to release what he was holding. He was literally at peace. And only fifteen minutes before, his mind had been stuck on this, beating himself up over and over.

He didn’t work with her again until four days later, and it sounds like when he returned, it was as if nothing had happened. She was his friend again, asking to see pictures of his family and what not. And I don’t think he had even said anything to her about his comment four days prior. He couldn’t believe it. He’s still going to make sure she knows he didn’t turn into a jerk overnight, but rather said something that he shouldn’t have said. He simply made a mistake, and we all make mistakes. Which is the real meaning of the word “sin,” I think. Made a mistake. There’s no guilt in that. But that’s another story…

Anyway, I was pretty moved when the full answer hit me hours after our session. The full answer to the question, “How much have you grown in the last twelve years?” He made a mistake with a co-worker and wouldn’t have the chance to correct it with her for four days. So what did he do? He went inside and meditated, using a tool specifically designed for that exact situation. And it totally worked, giving him the peace he had temporarily lost. And it seemed to help her, too. Hallelujah!

By the way, there are tons of guided meditations out there, some free and some for a cost. This one has more than paid for itself for my client. He’s the client I might’ve mentioned before who has used guided meditations to help fall into a deep sleep, too. Just look around – there’s lots out there.

Two more things… he brought some of his pictures from 9/11. I used my phone to take pics of four of them and have posted them on the Facebook page for A Clean Mind. It was a rush job, so please don’t judge. I ain’t no Ansel Adams anyway… Oh – as soon as the first tower collapsed, and he was working just a couple blocks away, he went into the nearest store and bought a disposable camera. That’s where these pics come from. Then when the second tower came down, it was only a block away. He was so close that he ended up in a cloud of smoke and dust and ash, and he couldn’t even see. He said that “paper was flying everywhere, some on fire and some ash. It was just crazy.” He could hear a “loud crackling sound very vividly,” and he heard people screaming that sounded closer. He followed the sounds of the screams, and it was the right choice. The crackling sound was in the direction of the towers and the screaming people were in the other direction. The pics show all of this pretty well, and I’m sure you’ve seen plenty anyway. You can imagine that therapy was important in releasing all of the fear, anger, etc. that would naturally accompany a scenario like this.

Last thing… This involves the question, “Is it my time to go? Am I really in control of when I die?” He was a block away and running around with a camera and he did not die even or get injured. His brother was a firefighter and had been called to the scene, but the fire truck was unable to get across one of the bridges into the city. Their mother is still emotional about 9/11 to this day, because she could’ve easily lost two sons. It seems the odds were not in favor of both of them coming out unscathed, giving their occupations and locations. But they did. I’m not saying to go play on the train tracks all the time, but just consider that we might not be in as much control as we think (read Control Freak!). And it’s actually good news. Great news! Try to control every detail of your life, and it’s just a matter of time before you have anxiety and health problems, especially in the stomach area. I don’t mean you quite your job and hang out at the hemp store all day long kicking a hacky sack. You do the same things, but with a more relaxed attitude. And you go in the flow more. Much more. Good stuff. And as always, let me know if I can help!

NYC Client Grows Since 9/11, pt. 1

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Yesterday was the twelfth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. Whether you think it was an inside job or not, it was a pretty intense experience, to say the least. It was intense for me, and I was living in the mountains just north of Asheville, NC with no direct personal connections to NYC. I had just moved from Washington, DC weeks before, so I was naturally checking on my friends there. I was supposed to drive back up for a music gig about a month later, in fact, and I had to make the decision that I wasn’t going to go. And my bandmates understood that. The rules had changed.

So I had a client yesterday who was living in New York City at the time and working just a block away from the World Trade Center towers. We naturally reflected on his experience, and it was pretty cool. Why was it cool? Because he has healed! He’s very open to therapy and the potential benefits, so he actively engaged in his own health by seeking help after that. At this point, it’s a memory that’s been fully processed. And what does “fully processed” mean? Basically, it means that there’s no more emotional charge. It has all been felt, so it’s no longer being carried in his body 24/7. There might be a little left, but it’s not even close to enough to disrupt his life or to cause him much pain. For a long time after 9/11, though, this wasn’t the case. He couldn’t go near ground zero, for instance. He’d even avoid it by getting off the subway a stop or two out of his way and walking. He’d leave early to do this.

The other component of “fully processed,” of course, involves our thoughts and beliefs. I assume he had worked this out in therapy as well. He probably worked on the belief, “I am not safe right now,” for instance. He feels perfectly safe right now. That probably wasn’t the case for a period of time after 9/11, though, maybe even a year or more.

This year, he really didn’t make any big deal out of it. His partner was consumed with it, though, watching lots of TV specials and worrying about him. He was fine, though, totally fine. Here’s the test. At some point yesterday morning, his mind starting to relive the events of that day twelve years ago. He was amazed at the detail and said, “It was like it just happened yesterday.” The only difference, though, and it makes all the difference, is that there was only a tinge of feeling. Only a tinge; that’s what we want. He noticed this and was just as amazed. So he told his mind something like, “If you want to go there and show me these vivid images, that’s fine, but it’s not taking me down anymore. It no longer has that power.” And he let his mind run its course without any resistance or problem at all. Man, this stuff is so cool… It really is science. Science of feelings.

He did most of his therapeutic work in the first few years after 9/11. By the time he started to see me, over a decade had passed. It was just over a year ago, and our third session occurred right around this time last year. I didn’t realize this until I checked my notes just now. He had started reading The Sedona Method by the time 9/11 had rolled around again last year. In it is the story of a NYC resident who was at a retreat in Sedona just days after the towers had fallen, and he talks about busting himself about feeling special since he had been there. And of course Hale Dwoskin directed him to release this, and the man felt much better afterward, more free and at peace. When my client came in for that third session, he had just read that passage. He identified with the man in the story, and reading it helped him to release the little bit of feeling that had remained. So it was nice to hear him talk yesterday, another year later, and a year that included our total rewiring of his thinking and his learning to release feelings directly. So powerful.

At this point, my question for him was, how have you changed since then? Are you pleased with where you’ve gone in the last twelve years? He knew that I meant internally, not externally. He replied that he was a totally different person now. All he wants now his inner peace. Back then, he was drinking, doing drugs, and just trying to cram in as many wild and crazy experiences as he could into his life (it sounds like he was pretty good at it, too). Now he only wanted peace, real peace, no matter what form it takes. Excellent! So I guess we could say a whole lot has changed.

As I started writing this post, it took some twists and turns and grew into two posts. Part two will talk about something that happened with him at work just in the past week or two that really shows his growth. I didn’t make this connection until a few hours after our session, as I was leaving work, and I was quite floored. It made me realize once again what a privilege it is to be able to work with people in this deep, transformational way. So stay tuned for part two.

By the way, he brought in some of his pictures from 9/11. It was extra cool because I’d forgotten that physical pictures still existed. I used my phone to take pics of four of them and have posted them on the Facebook page for A Clean Mind. It was a rush job, so please don’t judge. I ain’t no Ansel Adams anyway… Oh – as soon as the first tower collapsed, and he was working just a couple blocks away from that one, he went into the nearest store and bought a disposable camera. And he started clicking away. That’s where these pics come from. Then when the second tower came down, it was only a block away. He was so close that he ended up in a cloud of smoke and dust and ash, and he couldn’t even see and could barely breathe. He said that “paper was flying everywhere, some on fire and some ash. It was just crazy.” He could hear a “loud crackling sound very vividly,” and he heard people screaming in the other direction that sounded closer. He followed the sounds of the screams, and it was the right choice. The crackling sound was in the direction of the towers and the screaming people were in the other direction. The pics show some of this, and I’m sure you’ve seen plenty anyway. You can imagine that therapy was very important in releasing all of the fear, anger, stress, etc. that would naturally accompany a scenario like this.

My Friend Found A Dead Person

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Let’s cut right to the chase… A friend of mine went to his friend’s house looking for him. The back door was open, so he went in. And his friend was no longer alive. He was dead. He had died of an apparent heart attack, I think it was.

Most people have never experienced something like this, and I certainly haven’t. I watched my dad die after a short bout with lung cancer back in 2002 in a hospital, the same one in which I was born. I was living in California at the time, and I got a message from my mom saying that my dad was in the hospital and was not going to be leaving. I knew what that meant. I remember exactly where I was standing when I got that message. I’d spent the weekend in San Diego with my friend Rusty, and I was about to drive back to Palm Springs. He said, “Are you ok?” It was pretty intense, to say the least. It was a very emotional time from that moment until I landed in Pensacola, rode to the hospital with my mom and grandfather, and got into the room where my dad was. Or where an almost dead body was. Something pretty awesome happened, though. I lived the farthest away, so my two brothers were already there. When I walked in the room, that grey, almost lifeless body started kicking as best it could. He knew I had arrived and that all his boys were there. He didn’t have to wait any longer. We said what we wanted to say and just loved him and loved each other as we watched the readings on the machines decline. Blood pressure, heart rate, etc., all slowly going to zero. Surreal.

I saw this coming, though. Even though it was my dad, I had a heads up. I was as prepared as possible. My friend was not and had no way to be. It’s just a different situation. He walked into what he did not expect. I helped another friend bury his beloved dog a while back, and I could barely touch the dog. And I’m someone who does not believe we’re really these bodies and thus does not believe in death. But actually touching that dead dog still freaked me out. And that’s fine. So I cannot imagine the power of walking into a friend’s house and finding him no longer alive.

So the question is, what needs to be done to fully process this? The main thing is to feel. That’s why I’m writing about it here – as unusual a situation as it is, I want my readers to understand crystal clear how it ties into everything else we talk about it. Always keep in mind that my goal is to help humans understand themselves as much as possible. Human 101, Thinking 101, Feeling 101. Universal stuff.

This is a traumatic event. When a traumatic event happens, that basically means tons of feeling, and probably too much to feel at once. The body is not designed to handle all of that at once, so it holds some of it. This protects us. After the event, though, we should actively seek to release every bit of it. What does this look like? When you feel like crying, cry. No story, no thinking, just crying. Just straight up feeling and releasing. When you feel anger in your body, just allow your body to have anger in it at that time. Same with sadness, guilt, or anything else that you feel. Grief has all of them. Every time you do this, something you were holding leaves your system. Permanently. There’s probably more, so repeat process. When any feelings arise, you just notice them, allow them to be there, and allow them to move on at their own pace. Whatever you do, don’t ignore them. If they are ignored, then they’ll come out on their own later in the form of various side effects, physical or mental. This is not what you want. But I promise, it’s just feelings that have to be felt. You are absolutely strong enough to do that. Some exercise can be a good idea, too, to really shake the body around. We hold this stuff in our bodies, after all.

Aside from lots of feeling, we might have to take a look at our thinking. If we’re fine in that category, then there’s no problem. But if we start to see things differently or question how we see the world, then that’s not something to be ignored. It’s normal under the circumstances. This isn’t an advertisement for seeing a therapist, but a therapist is an example of a person with whom you can talk about your beliefs. And talking about the situation makes feelings come to the surface as well, so that’s good. And back to the thinking category, if we’re telling a story that life isn’t fair or why me or something like that, then it’ll only serve to keep the feelings stuck. So if any work needs to be done in the thinking department, by all means do what you have to do whether it involves seeing someone or not.

A final word on feeling is to do our best not to wallow in them. This is a subtle but major point that I’ll be stressing more and more here at A Clean Mind. We feel them and allow them to be there, but we also remind ourselves that this is normal under the circumstances. We keep a little bit of space in between the core of who we are, our true identity, and these feelings that are temporary by definition. Then we go on about our day. We breathe a little more deeply, maybe. We try to keep the mind chatter down as best we can. When we live in this way, the feelings are able to flow and move on. They won’t be there forever.

The final thing that comes to mind involves our beliefs about death. Since the death of all bodies is inevitable, and we’re all heading straight for it, it’s a good idea to confront this and get as cool with it as we can. And I don’t mean seeing or touching a dead body, as with the dog above. That will probably always freak me out, and that’s fine. That’s normal. Some people in school were cooler with dissection in science class than others. No problem. I’m talking about the concept of death. I’m talking about being okay with the fact that all bodies will die. I’m talking about being okay with reality. If you are not okay with this, then I’d definitely get on it. Talk to someone or look around the bookstore or internet. There’s an excellent movie on Netflix called The Afterlife, for example, featuring two medical doctors. There’s a ton of information out there and more coming all the time as humans expand. I talk about this stuff with clients all the time. So do what you have to do to at least be able to accept death, because it’s not going anywhere.

As for walking in on somebody, though, there’s not a whole lot of preparation for that. But feeling is the key. That’s my main message here. Make sure to feel and to not hold it in. It either stays inside or leaves, and we want it out. And if it just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, then talk to someone. This is the science of a whole lot of emotion.