Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Affordable. Health. Care. Part III January 26, 2016

maslows-hierarchy“If only man would act rationally, perhaps wars and depressions and insanity could be avoided;  but unfortunately, man does not seem to be any more capable of acting sanely now that he was a thousand years ago.  We are still confronted with man’s own irrational behavior and the untamed forces within his psyche.” ~M. Esther Harding, Psychic Energy, pp.202-3

The troubled waters of society are the natural result of troubled waters within the human psyche. Until we free ourselves from our instinctive drives, each of us, from the most powerful leader to the most vulnerable victim, will add to the turbulence of our time. And the waters will not grow calm until our basic needs for survival, health and safety are met.

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s  President Franklin Roosevelt signed the original Social Security Act into law amidst great turbulence and opposition. At the time, poverty rates among senior citizens exceeded 50 percent.

“Opponents, however, decried the proposal as socialism. In a Senate Finance Committee hearing, the Democratic Oklahoma Senator Thomas Gore asked Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, “Isn’t this socialism?” She said that it was not, but he continued, “Isn’t this a teeny-weeny bit of socialism?” Since then, “Changes in Social Security have reflected a balance between promoting “equality” and efforts to provide “adequate” and affordable protection for low wage workers.” Wikipedia

Affordable. Health. Care. Eighty years later opponents of government’s involvement in the lives of its citizens still fear “socialism.” Proponents still promote “equality” and “adequate” affordable protection. Those whose lives have been made easier by the Social Security Act don’t really care what you call it. They’re too busy being grateful for Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security pensions. For the freedom to enjoy their latter years in relative comfort and health without unduly burdening their children.

And what of their children? They are the baby boomers, some of whom are now running the government.  Here’s what Wikipedia says of them…of many of us:

“In Europe and North America boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of widespread government subsidies in post-war housing and education, and increasing affluence.[3]

As a group, they were the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.[4] They were also the generation that received peak levels of income; therefore, they could reap the benefits of abundant levels of food, apparel, retirement programs, and sometimes even “midlife crisis” products. The increased consumerism for this generation has been regularly criticized as excessive.[5]

And “socialism” is still a bogeyman, even to some who have benefitted most from widespread government subsidies. And we still quibble and fear and fret over this issue; the untamed forces within our psyches still stir the waters.

I was surprised to learn from this site how many countries already have universal health care. Switzerland and Singapore have the two must successful systems and “have achieved universal health insurance while spending a fraction of what the U.S. spends.”

This Forbes article says “Many American conservatives oppose universal health insurance because they see it as fundamentally antithetical to a free society. ‘If we persevere in our quixotic quest for a fetishized medical equality we will sacrifice personal freedom as its price,’ wrote a guest editorialist in the Wall Street Journal in 2009. But according to the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, ten nations freer than the United States have achieved universal health coverage. It turns out that the right kind of health reform could cover more Americans while increasing economic freedom.”

So if “the right kind of health reform could cover more Americans while increasing economic freedom,” what’s preventing us from devising and implementing “the right kind of health reform?”

oceans-choppy-watersThe untamed forces within our psyches.

Many people I’ve spoken to since beginning this series tell me the Affordable Care Act is the best thing that ever happened to them. But it has problems. And my friend is trapped by a particularly unjust one.

I have no answers. But one thing is sure: the troubled waters in the US will not grow calm until the basic needs of our citizens—survival, health and safety—are met. And this will not happen until the privileged few at the top of our governmental hierarchy willingly place the untamed forces within their psyches under the microscope of consciousness.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”~Carl Jung

My thanks to all of you who enriched this dialogue with your many insightful comments.  May the dialogue continue until the waters grow calm.

Image Credits:  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,Wikipedia. Turbulent waters: earth data.nasa.gov

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.

 

Toppling a House of Cards, Building Strong Relationships September 20, 2011

In my last post I said that understanding and compassion can heal dysfunctional relationships. While I know this is true, I also know that some relationships are not worth saving. The problem is how to tell the difference between those with healing potential and those that are truly toxic.  Some relationships are vehicles to higher consciousness; others are accidents waiting to happen.

Evolving into beings who can protect ourselves from negative influences and live in loving intimacy with our true selves and others is extremely difficult, partly because of our natural inertia, and partly because our need to preserve our ego edifice is so strong that we automatically see whatever challenges it as the enemy. The stronger the challenge, the greater our resistance. This stalemate can be prolonged indefinitely until we are pushed to our limits and either give up and drop out or begin a search for a newer, healthier edifice.

The in-between time of escalating conflict which inevitably shows up somewhere between the first-blush attraction and final solution to relationship problems is a danger zone filled with daunting obstacles. The good news is that they can usually be overcome with perseverance and inner work. The bad news is that inner work entails more suffering than some egos can endure and those who cannot tolerate the tension will put an end to it one way or another.

In her brilliant book, Psychic Energy, Jungian analyst M. Esther Harding has written, “The individual with adequately developed ego is competent not only to overcome obstacles in the outer world and so to make a satisfactory work and social adjustment, but also to rouse himself from the inertia that saps his energy even before he makes the attempt to tackle the external problem. For the ego is the function that man has developed to deal with this primary inertia.”

Our inner and outer relationships do not grow stronger by resisting, repressing and pretending, but by overcoming our inertia and cultivating self-understanding and compassion. Aspiring to these qualities is one thing;  actually possessing them is quite another. A goal is a detached mental construction, like a house of cards built by a growing ego. But using our energy to act on our goals brings ego strength and maturity. Until we acquire the self-discipline to rein in the conditioned reflexes of our raw instincts and emotions, our high ideals have no practical value. As one of my favorite sayings goes, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to show up!”

The compulsion to evolve from unknowing to knowledge and from passive indifference to active love is the motivation behind every seeker and every authentic religion. Likewise, the goal of all psycho-spiritual practices is to acquire enough self-restraint to set aside our ego’s desirousness and inertia so that we can grow, unite with, and lovingly serve the miracle of Life in all its manifestations.

In writing this post I realized the time has come to share some special news that illustrates the rewards of persevering in psycho-spiritual practices.  In midlife my discomfort grew so strong that I redirected my focus from the outer to the inner world. Years of strengthening the relationship between these two parts of myself gave me the knowledge and courage to follow my true passions. As a result, I became a published writer. Today I’m thrilled to announce that my newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other and the World, will be issued from Larson Publications in June of 2012! Without inner work, this dream of mine would never have been realized.

 

Living Mindfully August 5, 2011

A few days ago my friend Elizabeth Cohen led a day of meditation for a dozen people at our mountain cabin. Knowing we would spend time outdoors, I wondered what I would learn about my own nature from meditating on Mother Nature. My question was based on many synchronistic experiences which have taught me that these two natures are intimately connected.

In our everyday lives we are usually unaware of this connection.  In fact, feeling separated from our maternal Source and inner self is the price we pay for ego consciousness: what Jungian analyst M. Esther Harding calls, “the taint of mortality, which is division within onself.” Yet experiences of mystics from every religion as well as recent findings from quantum physics point to a reality of Unified Oneness which runs beneath ordinary awareness.

Our ability to connect with Oneness is not a function of religious belief but of our psychological awareness, which, in turn, is a function of the way our brains are made and how we use them.  For a scientific explanation of the brain’s role in experiencing oneness, watch this extraordinary video of brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor describing the unified state she experienced during a stroke. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for a stroke to receive this knowing but can approach it through the practice of mindfulness. This was the focus of our day of meditation.

“But,” you might ask, “why would I want to be more mindful? Experiencing oneness simply isn’t an important goal for me.” An excellent question! In fact, the benefits of mindfulness are not just about feeling a spiritual connection, but also about psychological, social and physical well-being. For example, living mindfully can reduce fear, anxiety and stress; lower blood pressure; strengthen the immune system; ease depression; strengthen self-esteem; build trust, compassion and peace; and create healthier, more satisfying relationships with food, our bodies, our work, our daily lives, nature and other people.

Elizabeth led us through several mindfulness meditations about different aspects of our lives. One redirected our negative self-talk into a kind and gentle self-acceptance. Another activated the love and gratitude we feel for special people and expanded these emotions outward like ripples toward friends, acquaintances, and even people we dislike. A third brought greater appreciation for every part of our bodies, beginning with the toes of our left feet and rising up to the crowns of our heads. One of my favorites was an exercise in mindful eating.

All of us gained something of value from this day. My biggest insight, and a good example of the deep connection between our inner and outer lives, occurred during an outdoor walking meditation. Our instructions were to walk very slowly with full attention to every movement and physical sensation. As one who does many things fast — walking, talking, cooking, cleaning up, driving — I found I could not do this without losing my balance. Then the metaphor spoke to me: Has rushing through my life been a way of escaping awareness of my personal imbalances? I think that for me it has. Since that epiphany, being mindful of the option to slow down has stuck with me and had a very satisfying balancing effect on everything I have done.

Whether our goal is spiritual oneness, psychological wholeness, or to live with more balance and happiness, living mindfully brings maturity into every dimension of our lives because they are all connected. How have you benefitted from practicing mindfulness? I’d love to know.

 

 
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