Working from the Outside to the Inside

In the course of my nursing training, I learned the great value of seeing patients in their own environments. Not only are the observations more enlightening, but the generalization of training takes place where it is most needed. In addition, I have found that environments themselves can sometimes be manipulated to achieve goals that clients could not otherwise achieve without assistance.

The certification program of the Western School of Feng Shui teaches how to use the Bagua (mapping the house for areas related to wealth and prosperity, health and family, knowledge, reputation, love and marriage, etc). Using this system with families often leads to unexpected change. How does this work psychologically? If a person puts attention on a specific goal and identifies it daily by a Feng Shui reminder, the likelihood of creating change is enhanced.

As an example, a client of mine was unable to motivate herself to even sign up for her final semester to achieve credits toward her Ph.D. When we mapped her home, she noted the area of fame and reputation was completely void. She had little self confidence or esteem. Within minutes she remembered she had put together a national workshop and had a picture of herself and her children with a renown speaker. This picture was filed out of sight. When she framed it and placed it in the family room (mapped for reputation) she was reminded of her abilities. Within weeks she registered for classes she would otherwise have missed entirely. She proudly attained her Ph.D.

When there is light in the soul,
There is beauty in the person.
When there is beauty in the person,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home,
There is honor in the nation.
When there is honor in the nation,
There is peace in the world.

— Chinese Proverb

Working with parents and children is one of the great loves of my life. I had the great privilege of working with Dr. Sidney Bijou and Dr. Robert Peterson in the course of my development as a child therapist. I found that the film The Horse Whisperer by Robert Redford subtlety shows warm and wonderful interventions with a traumatized child, as positive behavioral principles are followed. In addition to my nuts and bolts approach, I have come to appreciate the importance of the parent engaging in self examination. The following piece hangs in my office and parents always want a copy of it. It is a good philosophy for raising a well balanced child.

Since your children are reflections of your mind and your secret thoughts about yourself, the key to raising balanced children is to have your thoughts about yourself perfectly in balance. Indeed, first and foremost, it is necessary for you to clear up your own feelings about your parents and yourself so that all your thoughts about yourself reflect high self esteem.

Then regardless of the outside environment, you will experience your children as beautiful little sprouts from the same plant."

— Spirit Speaks, Arizona, 1994

In the area of trauma resolution, people always ask: "Why me, why now?" The following Nancy Wood poem positions the person suffering to look at the lessons suffering teaches, whether it is loss, stress, abuse or neglect. Out of suffering one learns compassion for all people and we can choose loving kindness.

In the trauma workshops, this poem is used as an ending. Practitioners learning how to help trauma victims focus on slides that depict difficult life circumstances. People get angry that the child had to experience abusive situations and fail to realize that all of our lives have "initiation rites of passage." These rites of passage put us in challenges we don't want to face, but give us tools to grow stronger and more whole.

Out of suffering comes compassion for people we never noticed before, the ones in a crowd whose eyes we cannot meet. Out of suffering comes appreciation of what was overlooked before: a sunset, a dawn, a butterfly, the delicate movement of light on a wall. How long does anything last?

What is the nature of your suffering? Is it an illness or accident? Something you did not do right? It is too late for regret. If the stones of suffering are too heavy, drop them. If pain is unbearable, imagine another world of white light, pink blossoms, a gently flowing stream. Hear music, the laughter of children. Make yourself live in this imaginary place until the pain moves on.

There is a reason for your suffering. Pain is part of the lesson. Tell it to scour your heart. Pain is a way to acquire new eyes and ears. Be quiet when you have always spoken. Take a journey when you'd rather stay at home. Do with your hands one thing that you are really proud of. Pain will make it beautiful. Pain makes reality possible.

This day is a gift. Do not waste a single moment. Hold snow in your hand until it melts. Notice the color of the sky. Listen to the wind. Watch a bird flying south. Smell winter on the wind. Suffering is the transformation of the self into a sharper, clearer world. There, loving kindness begins.

— Dancing Moons, Delacorte Press, 1995

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