protocols/directions, recognition of self, religious conversion vs. psychosis (collected musings)

the minute someone tells me how I should feel, think or act is when they lose me….

we’re all told how we should feel…if it’s not explicit it’s implicit…people feel wrong all the time solely because they don’t fit into socially accepted norms about how they should feel…many are pathologized and drugged because they don’t feel the way they’re “supposed to”. Boys are told they shouldn’t feel like girls and vice versa. As children we’re told what is acceptable in the way of feeling and what is not. If we are in a family where this happens all the time this can register as trauma and slowly change the brain from the time we’re children away from trusting itself and even knowing what we feel. Most of us, by the time we reach adulthood really don’t know how we feel or what we believe underneath all the negative conditioning we get from society. Remember, we are society too, so we’re all in these deceptive practices together at some point. Unraveling them takes time. Sometimes a lot of time.

In the end we must recognize ourselves. We cannot rely on anyone else to do that. It was our parents job first and they failed. Our parents failed not because they were bad–not because they didn’t love us. They failed because their parents also failed. Hold them in love. Our lineage is everything that we are. Our lineage connects us to the entire human race. We are human and we fail. When it’s our turn we fail our children as well and we fail one another.

And still we can find peace and love with one another too, and that is the paradox of being human. When we find that place where we gently and tenderly feel connected and somehow alike all other sentient life we once again find ourselves…again, it takes time.


protocols and directions are for people who have forgotten to listen and thus deeply embody their experience. (all of us in modern society — until we come back to our senses anyway) … Once we know our bodies, protocols and directions are good for starting points, but ultimately we need to fine tune and make whatever we’re doing to heal our own. We are endlessly diverse. Some people may do well with protocols and directions…that’s great if it works out that way (god, don’t I wish)…but many of us need to be able to tweak and say, “nope, not that part of that protocol for this body” …listen, pay attention and respond to our own experience is the task at hand…

(for some reason this capacity and necessity pisses off a lot of people who like to do things by the book and that’s almost everyone. The book is a nice idea…I wish the book worked for me, but once we face almost dying more than once by following said book we do learn to do things differently and we learn to trust that too)


Anthropologist Margaret Mead had definite ideas about “the ways to get insight.” She named them as follows: “to study infants, to study animals, to study indigenous people, to be psychoanalyzed, to have a religious conversion and get over it, to have a psychotic episode and get over it.”  – Rob Bresny

this might shock a few people: I would say that religious conversion and psychotic episodes are pretty much the same thing. The religious conversion is socially acceptable (sometimes not embraced wholeheartedly, but not disallowed). The psychotic episode is essentially the opening of one’s own personal mythology instead of a more broadly accepted mythology, which all religions are.  They get violently shut down by people who are afraid. The key thing that Margaret Mead says about the two is that one must get over the phenomena. In that process of working through the mythology (personal or more broadly applied myth – religion)  and then letting go one can find freedom. True freedom is a loss of conditioning in general…


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!

Random musings and personal intro to Islam and Sufism

Photo info and credit:

I met Mohammed last night. He’s one heck of a cool dude. I highly recommend listening to the Koran recited via song in Arabic. Doing it in Arabic allows for a pure transmission without getting caught up in language that is not only translated from the original but also spoken to a different people at a different time in history. The energy doesn’t lie and it’s incredibly beautiful. I’m linking to it below. The entire 11 hour recitation. Enjoy. Be healed. Be loved by a master who has been largely denied in the west.

Islam has the greatest ecstatic mystics and the darkest shadow expressions both…this to me indicates it’s power as a vehicle…it strikes me as an all or nothing trip into oneness if deeply submitted to…and in it’s potential potency lies both it’s amazing beauty and scary madness. This is life…reflected in a world religion.

Whether the chanting of the Koran and these Sufi songs strike a chord in you today depends on timing and resonance, of course. I’m a life long religious studies student (degree from UC Berkeley) but it took me this long to really connect with Islam. I’ve studied Rumi, the Sufi poet, with Andrew Harvey, a famous Rumi scholar, but that’s just the ecstatic part of the picture. Really embracing the whole is what Mohammad seemed to transmit…and it was so wonderful to fully merge with his spirit through the recitation of the Koran in Arabic. I did have a wonderful teacher in college who was a Sufi who told us the story of Mohammad…it always stayed with me…that Mohammed was, in fact, deeply respectful of women unlike the stereotyped (and often accurately) manifestations of Islam today. Mohammed’s wife was 15 years older than him and a sort of profound mentor to him…no one talks about that!! I knew then that Islam was good, because I could feel the lovely energy of my teacher as he shared his own experience of the teachings. Still, I’d not ever immersed myself in it until now a good 30 years later. So glad to finally have been initiated.

Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam. I found these sufi songs really wonderful as well:



Even if the whole world were gripped by sadness
He would not be sad who holds love firm in hand.
And if love makes him dance, even a little,
There are worlds and worlds within that little land.
Zahid Iqbal Painting – karachi pakistan 2011


Again, below I share random musings from the last few weeks with links to the archives for further consideration or contemplation. 


If you’re paying attention to the drama, samsara is the best object of meditation there is…


“Open yourself to the Tao
then trust your natural responses
and everything will fall into place” – Tao Te Ching
(that certainly has been my experience!)


it’s not healthy to “drown out the negativity” that is called suppression and repression — that’s what we’ve been doing for centuries and that’s why we see what is happening happening. We cannot deny the deep sickness in our culture and then be shocked when there are repercussions. We need to embrace the pain of all our members and love us all. **The most vulnerable have special needs** We all know this in our hearts. Let us hold the pain from all sides…let us feel it and then let us act to transform it.


it’s good to feel it…deeply…that’s the only way we can deeply respond and help to transform it. if we don’t really feel it we cannot truly respond… and then, we white people, have to remember that what we, perhaps, are only now truly deeply feeling is deep in the cells of our black brothers and sisters and they’ve been holding it for centuries and been told it’s not really real. FEEL it, feel it, feel it. Feel it and act accordingly. How do we love in the face of these feelings? Let us find the way.


Ha! A beautiful young cashier at the dollar store just seriously made my day. I went to the register to buy some rolling papers (not for tobacco, but for a little mugwort that has been a wonderful healing ally lately. I usually just benefit from smugding with her but got a strong draw to try a puff or two of her) …

This young woman CARDED me!! I looked at her incredulous and said, SERIOUSLY? and she shrugged, a bit sheepishly, and said, yeah, I have to. I asked how old do you think I am? She shrugged again and said, 30? (they have to card anyone that looks 30 or younger) … anyway…it made my day because twice now I’ve been offered a senior discount at another store. What it showed me is the power of morphing energy. I can appear to be someone either 30 or 55 and that is some heavy powerful juju to carry. I’ve been healing at unprecedented rates and this was a deep validation that I am ready. I am HER.

and then again:

It happened again. I got carded. This time at the door of a brewery where Paul was watching a soccer game. (this is while also, in the last two months being offered the senior discount at a grocery store!) What the fuck? I’m now two for two. (looking 30 or under — that’s when they card you — or 55 or older — age of the senior discount!) I’m very much amused.


No one “get’s away” with anything ever. Even if it seems that way. There is a record of every thing done in all of time in this moment now. Energy never disappears it only morphs and shifts. We are all held in the arms of the universe and the laws of nature are inherently ethical and right and true. Understand all this and then know that what we are in essence cannot die and then there is no reason to fear anything ever. Be liberated.


From a little over a year ago…a lovely miraculous moment documented…I have more and more of these sorts of things happening in my life the more I heal:

I was out in the yard. I had a pyrex glass sauce pan in my hand. I’d just emptied the contents of it into the compost heap. I was very very tired. I’m always fatigued still as I recover from the brain injury, but on top of it today, I’m also just two days out of having the stomach flu. I’m exhausted. As I went up the stairs to the house I was on the third step and reached for the handle of the screen door and somehow lost my footing. There is no hand rail on the steps and so the only place to go was down off the third step onto the ground below. I was going to simply fall over and off and land on my side and seriously hurt myself…well, that’s what should have happened, anyway. Instead something, someone, some superwoman took over my body and it moved with incredible deft and precise athletic precision…like a cat, suddenly I found myself on the ground, safely on both feet, with the glass saucepan still in my hand. !!! OMG…that was awesome. And I use awesome in the literal sense of the word. There is within me a superwoman and I met her today.


I’ve spent pretty much the whole day in bed today. Sometime my healing process still demands total submission to my body/nervous system/brain’s needs. My cells are extremely active doing their thing with great intelligence, I trust…I feel all the activity while I lay inert in bed, letting it happen. There is a sense of data and info being downloaded too as the process works itself out.


*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care.  Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

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. 

Support Beyond Meds. 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 or make a donation with PayPal. Thank you!


brightness and darkness on Christmas eve

Midnight mass is spoken at the end of Christmas eve. I thought this lovely poem first uttered in 1941 would be nice again today for all of us. Have a wonderful holiday however you celebrate and also if you do not.

lastfullmoonYour brightness is my darkness.
I know nothing of You and, by myself,
I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing You.
If I imagine You, I am mistaken.
If I understand You, I am deluded.
If I am conscious and certain I know You, I am crazy.
The darkness is enough. ~ Thomas Merton, prayer before midnight mass at Christmas, 1941

More Thomas Merton on Beyond Meds.

brightness and darkness

lastfullmoonYour brightness is my darkness.
I know nothing of You and, by myself,
I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing You.
If I imagine You, I am mistaken.
If I understand You, I am deluded.
If I am conscious and certain I know You, I am crazy.
The darkness is enough. ~ Thomas Merton, prayer before midnight mass at Christmas, 1941

More Thomas Merton on Beyond Meds.

Christian contemplative prayer/meditation

I’m sharing some Christian contemplatives today. I generally share information from Eastern traditions or that which is largely influenced by Eastern tradition, but the fact is I’ve been greatly influenced by the Christian mystics too and the contemplative practice in the Christian tradition is deeply meaningful as well. Modern Western mystics have largely abandoned the Christian tradition but I think that is largely because the more common expression of Christianity today is commonly grossly dogmatic and that turns people off. This is actually quite a shame. The contemplative Christian, just like the contemplative Buddhist or Hindu or Taoist or Sufi, has likely, in some larger part, moved beyond the most problematic dogmatic habits that make religion so hard for many to swallow.

Christian contemplative prayer can be healing and transforming in much the same way that Buddhist and other Eastern forms of meditation are. Different people will find different traditions helpful to them. Some people find all the traditions helpful.

It takes a moment to reconcile oneself to the fact that the religious tradition of St. Francis and Mother Theresa is also the tradition of the Crusades and the Inquisition. Fr. Thomas Keating, considered one of the great contemplatives of our time, has spent a lifetime in the practice of Christianity, seeking and sharing its depths. The goal of the tradition, suggests Fr. Thomas in this week’s video, is transformation—but transformation into what?

The answer depends on what stage of development you’re at. Beyond becoming a better person (though your family and friends may thank you profusely), beyond even becoming a saint, Fr. Thomas suggests that the goal of the mature Christian life is to become no thing. As with any developmental sequence, the subject of one stage becomes the object of the subject of the next—in this case, until absolute Subjectivity itself. The problem—and the challenge—lie in the fact that, among its 2 billion adherents, relatively few are aware of Christianity’s mystical tradition and contemplative path. Statements like “I’m spiritual, but not religious” actually come from a fairly evolved place, from which one rejects external aspects of the tradition, while still longing for its esoteric wisdom. (from youtube)

Here is another video with Father Keating I really love: Father Thomas Keating: Oneness & The Heart of the World

The Buddhist Geeks recently interviewed David Frenette a student of Father Thomas Keating. David Frenette was a Zen Buddhist practitioner but found a deep and meaningful resonance in the Christian tradition and now that is his main practice.

You can listen here:

David Frenette is a senior teacher in the Centering Prayer movement–a contemplative Christian practice that was designed by Father Thomas Keating. He’s also the spiritual director at the Center for Contemplative Living in Denver, and the author of The Path of Centering Prayer: Deepening Your Experience of God.

In this episode, David describes his path from Zen to Christianity and how he uses the practice of Centering Prayer to deepen his experience of God. (visit the Buddhist Geeks here. There will be a transcript of the talk posted there soon)

On a number of occasions I’ve shared the work of another two very interesting Christian mystics: Thomas Merton and Brother David Steindl-Rast

By Father Thomas Keating

●  Open Mind, Open Heart
●  Father Thomas Keating: The Contemplative Life (DVD)

When you know yourselves, then you will be known

Jesus said,

“If your leaders say to you,
‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’
then the birds of the sky will precede you.
If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’
then the fish will precede you.
Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

When you know yourselves,
then you will be known,
and you will understand that you are children of the living Father.
But if you do not know yourselves,
then you live in poverty,
and you are the poverty.”~ The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus (saying #3)

h/t The Wondrous Dharma

The Gospel of Thomas is an apocryphal text of the New Testament Bible. That means it didn’t made the final cut for the Bible as it’s widely known today. It was found in 1945 and is dated around 340 AD.

I read the Gospel of Thomas while I was studying comparative religion in college and have revisited parts of it from time to time. Seeing it on The Wondrous Dharma blog the other day I realized it would be worth a read once again. Living words are like that.

Let’s make our human community safer and kinder

Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal. But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveller in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation. Even if we do not achieve perfect peace on earth, because perfect peace is not of this earth, common endeavours to gain peace will unite individuals and nations in trust and friendship and help to make our human community safer and kinder.

I used the word ‘kinder’ after careful deliberation; I might say the careful deliberation of many years. Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that these are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people. —Nobel Lecture by Aung San Suu Kyi, Oslo, 16 June, 2012

h/t makeacrane

This of course brings to mind the Dalai Lama’s often quoted phrase about kindness:

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

Tao Te Ching

This is an excerpt of the text of The Tao Te Ching I studied in college. This exact translation, in fact, and though I’ve been told by many it lacks scholarliness, I’ve always liked it. Perhaps because it is what I started out with. I also met the translator, Stephen Mitchell once when he spoke to our class and afterward he invited any of us who wanted to go out and sit on the grass with him which turned out to be a small intimate group and I really enjoyed it.

So I’m going to put the first few chapters here and then if you like it I will direct you to where you can read the whole thing.

rockstackChapter One:

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

Chapter two:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Chapter three:

If you overesteem great men,
people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions,
people begin to steal.

The Master leads
by emptying people’s minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know.

Practice not-doing,
and everything will fall into place.

Chapter four:

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

Chapter five:

The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.


To read in full online the rest go click here.

To buy this translation: Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics)

Meditation practice not for the fainthearted

So glad to see that slowly, but surely the true nature of meditation is being talked about more openly. It unfortunately is still generally sugar-coated and romanticized in the mass-media. It can certainly bring many wonderful understandings and wellbeing into ones life but not without one being also willing and able to face the dark side of life as well. One cannot pick and choose. Real meditation is real life and opening up to it requires that one embrace both that which gets interpreted as beautiful and ugly.

Here from the Secular Buddhist Association:

The Practice of Buddhist Meditation is Not for the Fainthearted

We’re hearing about studies that boast meditation reduces stress, lowers high blood pressure, and calms the mind. These all sound great, and perhaps over the course of time, meditation has that effect, but that is not the purpose of Buddhist meditation. In fact, if your meditations are relaxing and cozy, I’m going to be bold here and suggest either you’re not doing it right, or you no  longer need it.

Buddhist meditation IS practice time, and it’s not easy.

Practice suggests you are doing something that is not nodding off, that is not feeling like everything is hunky-dory and if the world would just not interrupt your quiet time all will be well….

…Contrary to belief, Buddhist meditation is not about creating warm fuzzies. It’s not about learning not to think. And it’s not about stuffing your emotions. On the contrary, Buddhist meditation is the practice of sitting right in the heat of a moment, and giving yourself the space and the compassion to see what is really going on, how these processes arise, fall away, and what causes them to arise again…

…I often hear people say I can’t meditate. It doesn’t work for me. I’m going to take a guess that your expectation is  looking for a feel good pill, not practice time. Also, when I hear people say they had a good meditation, what they often mean is they had a quiet, relaxing, unfruitful and noneducational practice time. Let’s face it, if we want to relax there are lots of ways of doing that. My preference is to take a nap! (continue here)

There is a page on Beyond Meds that explores this issue more deeply with links to several posts:

Meditation, not all bliss and roses

It starts:

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. (continue reading)

It’s good to note and understand that for anyone dealing with great emotional, mental or psychic distress of any kind that being aware of the potential risks involved in serious meditation is very important. The links in Meditation, not all bliss and roses cover that as well.

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