empathy, awareness of the body, SNRI withdrawal and self-inquiry…(collected brief thoughts on various things)

Unfortunately identifying with the term “empath” doesn’t have much to do with actually being skillfully empathic. When one feels another’s pain and calls them toxic, for example, that is the opposite of empathy. It’s also often projection in that one cannot abide similar pain-states of their own and thus avoids them at all cost. This is not always a bad thing. Knowing when to protect oneself and avoid overload is good…blaming the other, however, is not so good. When we own our limitations we can do it without demonizing the other. We are all one or we are not all one. Which is it?

Integrating and flowing with dark stuff (negative conditioning releasing into that which is real, essentially) so that it can come to light isn’t something most people know how to do. When we meet that darkness within ourselves we can then meet it in others at appropriate times and not be repelled. Meeting folks in deep non-judgment is a game changer. (timing is everything).

Related: Empaths, empathy, healing and relationships


Only in a world where so-called educated men want to control you is awareness seen as problematic :

I spoke with a researcher and physician’s assistant today. A friend of mine and his asked him to talk to me because we have some common interests including the research he’s working on. It was supposed to be a collegial call — my friend thought he would find me interesting too. Anyway…after talking to him for a while he called me a “hyper cognizant patient” … that was some sort of backhanded compliment in his mind as far as I can tell. I’m AWARE OF MY BODY (which is how he defined this newly made up clinical term for me)….but by using such language he made it into a problem.

He told me “hyper cognizant patient’s” overwhelm doctors. He said this in all seriousness like I should feel badly for the MDs. My response was…”Oh, poor things. Yeah, that’s exactly why I don’t go see doctors anymore.”

Oh well. He did actually give me some data that will be helpful as well.

*more on being hyper-sensitive


In response to an article at Mad in America I made the following comments:
SNRI’s added to the list of psychiatric substances that are hard to withdraw from:…as if this is new information? gosh…I’ve known this for over fifteen years. I am not alone in this knowledge, many of those of us on the front lines of coming off drugs have known this for many years. I never know how I’m supposed receive these shocking “new” scientific discoveries. it seems to erase the work so many of us have been doing for so long to act like this is new information without calling attention to the many thousands who’ve known this well before the medical establishment gave a shit. I go off and hide my tail since all of us have been ignored for so long it’s like we’re not even here. I’m certainly no longer particularly inclined to talk about how many of us are still totally disabled because it’s exhausting and debilitating in ways that make it counterproductive to healing. Anyway…yeah, spread the news to all the people who continue to ignore us…maybe someday that will change too.

Related: Do antidepressants work?
 And info on withdrawal

**note: sometimes I feel as powerful as I feel helpless other times. I felt somewhat helpless when I first mused about the ridiculousness of academics and scientists thinking they’re onto something brand new when we’ve known some of this stuff for many years. Today I feel powerful BECAUSE I’ve known this stuff for so many years and I continue to heal. As I continue to heal what I know becomes embodied. The body knows things that the intellect can never know, but the intellect can pay attention and learn so much from the body. That continues to be my joyous practice. Whatever we’re feeling is okay. As I feel whatever it is completely it moves through and once that’s done it never arises quite the same again. All things change and as we watch it all change we learn to dance in the unknowable.  


I’ve started to work on self-inquiry that might show me how to drop my personal drama entirely that I might just serve. Clearly everyone is suffering in ways that far exceed the capacity of most folks to even try to see how to overcome it…let alone recognize that all of us are in this painful muck. It’s easier said than done. Once the body gets chronically ill some self-obsession seems necessary. The conundrum is that once we see honestly how much pain everyone is in, everywhere, we also see that it’s far far bigger than what anyone can do…humility is about giving up the personal drama and also any sense of being able to do anything other than meet the moment in front of us…when that involves other human beings, doing it with as much kindness as possible.

Related: More on self-inquiry also: Everyone is mentally ill


For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safer alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings.

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal or Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you!

“Change your thinking, change your life.” ha ha – our mind is a wild monkey gym

“Change your thinking, change your life.” — that’s a common message and mantra in our new age soaked modern world. Let’s unpack it. There may be some truth to this statement but it’s also far more complex than most people understand.

Anyone who has done any amount of serious meditation will have come to know that we don’t control our thoughts. We don’t control our thoughts or our feelings. Of course, that doesn’t stop us from trying!

When we start paying attention we see that our mind is a wild monkey gym and then some. If we are lucky we might start coming to actually KNOW what we think and feel. That is already well beyond what most people are able to do. If we’re lucky enough to come to know what we think and feel, can we also change that? It does seem that as we come to see and ALLOW what we think and feel that some of it changes….the thing is we’re not in control of how it changes and a very common occurrence once one sees what one thinks and feel is to be horrified and thus adopt some other, more comfortable belief system…unfortunately more comfortable belief systems can also be delusional and destructive in the long run. Converts of all kinds are often dogmatic and inflexible in ways that impede honest discovery and growth. (this can be true in religious and spiritual circles and also dietary and physical fitness, etc etc) Conversion from one system of thought or habit to another, then, is often only a first step. How does the newly adopted thought system still keep us in the dark? How does it create spiritual bypass? How does it keep us from further discovering our own still buried dysfunction?

When we start to KNOW what we think and feel we can continue to watch the parade of the mind/body/consciousness…it’s always there.

Generally once we KNOW, the trajectory greatly varies from person to person. What we think and feel are deeply ingrained in our bodies. If we’ve had significant trauma those habits are ingrained more deeply than our conscious capacity to instantaneously change things. Thus we find that we can watch, see, recognize our own unskillful actions even as we are doing them! Sometimes this does lead to a capacity to change the behavior too, but not always right away. It takes time at best.

So, once we come to know, (this to is a process…it can take years to come to understand all we’ve absorbed in the way of belief and conditioning) we can start to watch ourselves and practice compassion in all the ways we still think, feel and behave in ways that fall short of being skillful.

Becoming conscious can be quite painful when we discover how little control we have over any of it at all. Unfortunately new age inspired spiritual nonsense permeates all spiritual discourse now. (including that which is often considered more conservative like mainstream religions of all sorts.) Yup, thinking that we can control our level of consciousness and skillful behavior is a common foundational belief now that leads to widespread spiritual bypass of the kind we see everywhere these days.

Simple humility, giving up, surrender is the only way to become clear. We are not in control. It’s scary and sometimes it hurts and that’s the truth. Let us all deal with this honestly that we might not destroy our ecosystem with our hubris. We are children of the universe. Wee tiny cogs in this beautiful, vibrant and alive wheel of consciousness. We must take our proper seats at the table and not imagine we are more than what we are. Perhaps our out of control hubris will not allow that. It’s not looking good. — there are so many different flavors of hubris. So many. (see: Reality tunnels, or what flavor is your delusion?)

If we can wake up to our individual lack of importance we might wake up to our collective wealth which might be endless and beautiful. Can we see ourselves in every single human being? Not yet? Then we’re not there yet.

and Meditation Collections

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safer alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal or Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you!


Trauma, injury, illness and waking up

It’s strange how it works, or maybe it’s not, but trauma, injury and illness can truly be passageways to waking up and it’s not generally appreciated at all in western medicine which seeks to suppress everything and thus stop that process. Tragic really.


Illness/trauma etc as initiation and/or passageway to waking up is also not appreciated by most spiritual communities (fundamentalists to new age, really) who like to project the idea that illness is a sort of moral and/or spiritual failing. Given our bodies will all die one day this view is inherently ludicrous. Our bodies are imminently temporary. What enlivens them is another matter altogether it seems. Consciousness and awareness are perpetually in the now, young, fresh and alive.

It seems that most illness is embodied, non-felt/un-processed emotion (complicated by a whole lot of other things – remember EVERYTHING MATTERS. That includes that which we are born with…transmitted via epigenetics. Epigenetic imprints of trauma that was never met by our parents and their parents and their parents. It might also be called Generational Trauma. It also includes the current state of our sad world and planet. It’s quite reasonable to be distressed about the human species and what is happening here and now. We’ve got a lot of work cut out for us. Being balanced in this world simply doesn’t always make a lot of sense.

I never tire of the succinct and brilliant quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”  

Recently “God” on twitter said the same thing a little differently (I suspect he stole the idea from Krishnamurti — I quite liked the variation, in any case!)😍 :

 So yeah, we might think twice about who we’re calling mentally ill. We live in a double-speak world as we catapult ever more deeply in that direction. Coming to peace means moving through a lot of muck.

For us to heal we must meet our own trauma, our society’s trauma and that of our ancestors too. Shamanism has always understood this which is why being in touch with the ancestors is so important in Shamanic systems. They are in our bodies/our DNA. We are in touch with all humanity from the beginning of time in this way. Finding ways to engage in community and community building is, thus, also key and another difficult hurdle to contemplate while moving towards changes.

Healing doesn’t mean always mean curing. Our bodies cannot always heal completely and that is never a failure. We do the best with what we’ve got. We can grow even as our bodies remain challenged. Moving through trauma and that process might be called Post Traumatic Growth. That has been my experience even while I am still hurting in many ways, sometimes badly.  Mercy and compassion for ourselves as we move through the process is very important. When we can truly love and accept ourselves everything eases even while perhaps our bodies remain challenged in sometimes very significant ways.  See: Loving-Kindness Meditation

Healing from trauma as well as the waking up process, in general, is often experienced as an unlayering process too, so as things change in our bodies and psyches so does what makes sense to us in terms of healing. Learning to trust and surrender to the changes and moving with the flow works for me. I’ve talked about “mindfulness in trauma flow.

We thought we could cure everything, but it turns out that we can cure only a small amount of human suffering. The rest of it needs to be healed and that’s different. – Rachel Naomi Remen


For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal or Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you!

Meditation on death, impermanence and post traumatic stress

Holding, holding, holding…feel the holding, wrapped up with anger, resistance, fear….FEEL it, feel it, feel it… and let it be…all things pass…recognizing and allowing seems to help it move…

When post traumatic stress is leaving the body it brings up all manner of feelings that have been locked in. If I’m not carefully mindful it’s easy to project that stuff out. That’s really what all projection is always…a sort of haunting by the body bringing up the past…

If we can see what it is we can move in healing. Body movement meditations work well  at these times…yoga, qi gong, even walking mindfully or doing any sort of exercise while paying attention to what is happening with that energy as we move…

see:  YOGA and Dance and Qi Gongand meditation


Contemplating the nature of death (and thus life too) has been a source of relative peace for me as I face this body with high levels of thyroid hormone raging through it. Contemplating death is not morbid- it’s honest. This body is transient even while life continues. We’re still conditioned to not be okay with the most natural and universal event amongst human beings (after being born anyway…they go hand in hand)

When you are stripped away again and again and again…in complete sleeplessness…there is only surrender…the alternative really is complete insanity.


Dream: I am driving down a steep and wet mountain road. I slip off at a curve off a cliff into free-fall thousands of feet above ground. As I catapult downward, while still at the wheel of my car, I wonder if there is any way I might survive.

We are all free-falling to our death: Pema Chödrön, along with her teacher Chögyam Trungpa speak of this as the groundlessness of our existence.

Groundlessness might be described as the intimacy of facing death in every moment.

Staying aware of this groundlessness, the tender, sweet spot where one can know and not know simultaneously, is a nice form of meditation.

Contemplation and meditation on death and impermanence are regarded as very important in Buddhism…I’ve found it helpful as well and it seems to visit me now as it did in this dream.


Took a rest this morning– closed my eyes for a couple hours. When I opened them I couldn’t remember where my brother was because I thought he lived here. I actually haven’t seen him in 10 years. My brains are scrambled. Exhaustion & iatrogenic drug injury will do that.


More:  Meditation is the PRACTICE of learning to PAY ATTENTION. That is all.


For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal or Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you

healing inside….

By Jen Peer Rich

I am an unrepeatable meal. As I am healing inside through self-inquiry, the more I appreciate the magic and mystery of being a unique being. My spiritual journey is my own, no one can come with me inside here.

For every one of us there is a solitary spiritual path carved out in the messy minute of our life experiences. For me this path inward is too specific, traumatic and complex for anyone else to have taken this ride inward that leads me to who I am. Though I try, I couldn’t tell you how I got here with any surety.

I share bites and pieces in writings with awareness that I can’t ever share this glorious meal that is my inner life. The meal is mine to appreciate. Your meal is yours to enjoy. Others along the way tell me about my motivations or impose conditions, but I realized early on that no one else can taste the exactness of myself as I do. I trust that. Teachings in endless forms but none perfectly match what I easily experience for myself moment to moment.

In this inner relationship with who I am, I find increasing intimacy with thoughts, thinking, beliefs, images and with my conditioning. I hold them as once in a lifetime opportunities for conscious experience. I care to engage this world inside me because I want to know this being I am. Now is my chance to directly experience the inner gift meant for only me. This is my unrepeatable spiritual life and it cannot be found anywhere except inside of here.


More on Self-Inquiry on Everything Matters


Jen Peer Rich is a friend in presence. She lives in Atlanta with 5 rescue dogs and is married to her best friend, Iris. Jen has a MA in Transpersonal Ecopsychology from Naropa jenUniversity and is presently working on a PhD in Transformative Studies from California Institute of Integral Studies. Her research centers on self-awareness and reclaiming ecological consciousness. She has two books about Nonduality available for free download at Friends in Presence or on amazon kindle. You can find Jen writing and collaborating in the Facebook hive, she’s always open to making new friends there.

More by Jen Peer Rich on Everything Matters:


For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal or  Enter Amazon via a link from this blog  and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you!

Mindfulness in trauma flow

There is a concept of “flow” …or stream entry in Buddhism…when we are moving along with the energetics of NOW…we are in the moment and not burdened by future or past. It is the natural state of *being here now*. (to use Ram Dass’s terminology)

I’m proposing (because I’ve experienced it) a sort of flow that is entered from trauma patterns too and then its the energetic of a painful past that starts moving through us taking us away from the moment…it sometimes needs to be entered in order to watch, witness and release. It’s not always pretty. The thing is we can witness it from this place, here now, and sort of be in two places at once. Here now watching ourselves and with the flow from our past, both.

When a *trauma* flow begins we simply need to watch and keep ourselves as safe as possible. If we are conscious of what is happening while it’s happening we can be the witness of our own selves in order to release  the pattern and thus move towards healing.

This is a process and as we become more skillful we can simply sit with it and do nothing rather than enter behaviors that might pull us into drama.  We can sit with the pain and triggers and letting them flow in our bodies — we watch and allow and let go.

Before that skill arises we may involve ourselves in some drama. That is okay. Watch and learn. We become more skillful the more we mindfully stay with all that arises.

Trauma flow:  an energetic of the past “intruding” upon now …so at some point, since it is what is happening now it’s also the present…therefore honoring it completely as it is re-occuring is the only way to fully come into the present.

This is in essence a practice of mindfulness.

More like this: Choice and emotion: a short essay

More about trauma 

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Working with reactive and difficult feelings

Sitting with highly reactive feelings is often a highly somatic experience that most people have no framework for and therefore no means to understand what is happening. It can be a very frightening thing to sit with reactive feelings.

Psychiatry routinely drugs and numbs reactive feelings calling them diseases. People who get labeled as addicts also use substances to numb such feelings. The somatic intensity of emotion is simply overwhelming for a large number of folks and there is little appropriate guidance

What we find when we actually stop and sit with such feelings, is that they cannot harm us and in getting to know them we can actually in time be liberated from acute suffering. Society in general labels intense emotional and somatic experience as disease-something to stop no matter what

Stopping an impulsive action or reactive response necessitates being with the painful, previously intolerable sensations in the body. It is initially a difficult step to make, but as awareness comes it becomes more and more possible.

Compassion for one’s own capacity or lack of capacity to make good “choices” is key to this process that often leads to changing behavior.

The above is an excerpt from another article though I’ve edited it slightly. 

Here is a lovely meditation on compassion that a friend shared with me in response to the above:

You can download this meditation from Tara’s website here.

You can find more posts on Everything Matters: Beyond Meds that feature Tara Brach, here.


For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal or Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you!

How can I get to know myself?

How can I get to know myself? Not by thinking, for thinking only reflects my conscious being, but by meditating. Meditation goes beyond the conscious mind into the unconscious. In meditation I can become aware of the ground of my being in matter, in life, in human consciousness. I can experience my solidarity with the universe, with the remotest star in outer space and with the minutest particle in the atom. I can experience my solidarity with every living thing, with the earth with these flowers and coconut trees, with the birds and squirrels, with every human being. I can get beyond all these outer forms of things in time and space and discover the Ground from which they all spring. I can know (…) the Origin, the Source, beyond being and non-being, the One ‘without a second’. I can know the birth of all things from this Ground, their coming into being in the Word. – Bede Griffiths

Posts on Beyond Meds that explore the nature of meditation:

Science of mindlessness and mindfulness…  Take note that Ellen Langer is very clear about the fact that sitting meditation is not the only way to become mindful. I love how she doesn’t attach any particular belief system or set of practices with becoming mindful. There are many ways to pay attention as I’ve tried to make clear many times on this blog but since I do have my particular ways that I talk about frequently that may sometimes overshadow a larger message some of the time. We can all find a way that makes sense to us. Individually.

The foundation of healing mental distress and of becoming a mature human adult – I’ve collected posts on this page that speak to embracing the full spectrum of our emotional inheritance as human beings. I’ve found that without acknowledging and integrating the darkest part of our psyches we cannot heal. We also cannot become fully mature adult human beings. One need not be labeled “mentally ill” or be sick for this to be an important part of our life’s work. Learning how to do this involves a lot of “paying attention.”

Meditation, not all bliss and roses –  A very common misunderstanding about meditation that can lead to discouragement is that it’s supposed to be all bliss and roses. That is simply not the case on the ground, so to speak. Sometimes meditation is about being with the dark and ugly and anxious parts of our being too. Meditation is about being with the whole spectrum of human psyche and emotion. We cannot know ourselves without becoming intimate with those parts too. That means it’s just not always fun or peaceful or calm to practice meditation. Though it can lead to all those things in time. It can help us learn to live more skillfully in general.

● Life as a meditation: my contemplative adventure  — ‎”Formal” meditation — the kind where you set aside a specific time and sit on a cushion…I don’t do anymore and haven’t since I’ve been seriously ill. First it became impossible, but then I found another way of meditating deeply. What happened with my illness is that I learned that formal meditation is not always necessary for everyone, though I did start with more formal sitting years ago and it’s likely that it’s a good place to start, in general, if at all possible.

Inhabiting our bodies in meditation — As we engage our somatic crisis, whatever it may be, we realize that embodied meditation is a very different and far more fruitful way to practice than the disembodied path we have been following. But this leaves us wondering just how to carry out our meditation in an embodied manner and inhabit our body in practice. Most fundamentally, meditating with the body involves paying attention to the body in a direct and non-conceptual way.

Body-Centered Inquiry — This program deepens this capacity of allowance. Allowing oneself to feel more. He uses a process called RAIN — a practice for meeting all experience with acceptance, kindness and compassion. There are also forgiveness practices and body scans and much more. It’s an incredibly rich collection.

Healing somatic meditation (welcoming prayer)

● Somatic Wisdom Technique Part 1

 How long should I stay with uncomfortable feelings?

● There is nothing unique about our suffering. (Tonglen, a compassion practice)

Fear is contagious. You can catch it.

Fear is contagious. You can catch it. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say that they’re scared for the fear to become real. Mo was terrified, and now Nick was too. ― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

This is true fear is contagious. It’s something worth deeply contemplating.

We need not fear, however, because one can also free oneself by recognizing what has happened. Then the contagion comes to an end. Observation is a form of illumination. Fear is a shadow energy and it cannot survive illumination.

In other words Franklin D. Roosevelt was right. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

And on that note I’m going to link to the last article I wrote a couple of days ago because it’s all about fear and how I am healing both my body and my psyche with this understanding. It’s also now on Mad in America as well, so you can go over there and read it if you didn’t read it here when it was first published. You can leave comments there as well which is a nice change.

Healing is a Shocking Process: Protracted Psych Drug Withdrawal Syndrome (Iatrogenic Brain Injury)  — at Mad in America

I’m discovering that letting go of fear is the most important thing that I can do for my general well-being.

See also:

Melt into your own life  (the audio file includes the wise words “FEAR IS SAFE” — ha! consider that for a while)

and lastly a collection to work with:

Welcome the fear, the anxiety and thus transform it

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