I remember when I first started working in mental health back in 1993. The position I had was as the Social Coordinator of the program. It was a consumer position, meaning that the person who held this job had to be a consumer of mental health services. This was one of the most fun, yet challenging positions I ever had as we had close to 200 clients coming through the building every day for the various services provided. My position was in the social club called The Gathering Place It was a safe place for people with all sorts of mental health issues to hang out and do social activities together.
One day I was speaking to one of the other consumer providers about the whole idea of what spirituality is. I had told him that I didn’t think I was a spiritual person. He disagreed with me telling me that I had to be to be a spiritual person to be working with mentally ill people. He also knew that I absolutely loved my job.
So, I got to thinking about what spirituality means and I decided that this coworker of mine was correct. Because, to my mind, it is really about making the world better for having been here. Certainly working in a non-profit, for little money at the time, had less to do with the spiritual nature of the job then helping to raise the spirits of the clients in the program while teaching them better coping strategies.
Since that time I have had many other health issues to contend with and let me tell you I have learned more about spiritual practices along the way. My favorite example is from Kabbalah, where one is taught to be a channel for bettering others lives using your talents, education and interests to do your Creator’s work. I love that explanation, because though one can go to the religious buildings and go through the prayers and rituals, the true spiritual practice has much more to do with helping those that cross your path.
I had been away from the temple of my youth, the reform synagogue of Judaism for over 30 years, never having found one where I felt comfortable. Being a casual person, I needed a place where it felt fun and relaxing. Here in San Pedro, I found that place. However, as great as being around the music of my childhood and heritage is, even better is that I can sometimes feel my deceased dad’s presence with me while I am there. He wasn’t a religious person at all, raised in the orthodox synagogue, finding many of their rituals a bit much to deal with as he explained to me one afternoon. However, he did feel strongly that all his children needed to have an idea of who they were and that included the history of the Jewish people.
As I am writing this we are getting ready to celebrate Passover. It is during this holiday when we Jews are reminded that we were people in a strange land, after being let out of slavery. This is an important idea for us to always remember, because it is that idea which allows many of us to reach out to those who are being stripped of their rights, those who are less well off then we are, and those who are new to the country or even the town in which they live. To treat them with love, care and respect as we would like to be treated.
When I work with my clients I bring them up to their ‘higher” consciousness to allow them to be connected to their divine, whether it is the “universe”, “G_d”, Jesus, Buddha, or something else that they believe in. Because, it is in this fashion that we are able to get the defenses of the unconscious mind, the part that runs all of us, out of the way, to allow the healing to occur. In helping with that healing, I am being of service to my Creator in the best way that I know how.
So, I have come a long way from my rational mind, into the realm of the spirit. If you are a person who hasn’t yet connected, realize that it was through my hypnosis training that I found my own understanding of spirituality. I was over 40 years old at the time and knew it was something that was missing from my life. I just didn’t know how to find a spiritual practice that worked for me. From what I learned in my hypnosis training, around the time someone is 40 or even 50 years old, is about the time most start looking for some spiritual practice to bring peace, calm and a sense of help from the divine into their life.
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