Unconditional Loving Presence

Joyful Balance Counseling Rafia Rebeck Introducing Wali

First things first . . . an introduction to Wali, the gentle, sweet Boston Terrier who recently entered my life and my private practice.  Wali is an Arabic word that invokes the divine quality of friendship, and Wali is truly a lovely friend.  Animals lend an extraordinary presence to the therapy process, and while their unique gifts vary, animals are wonderful teachers.

What I have noticed most is the opening that Wali creates in the areas of boundaries and needs.  Wali is a friendly dog who likes to greet clients when they arrive, allowing them to either meet his greeting or to set a boundary and let him know they would like to have space.  Likewise, Wali sometimes gets overstimulated and will retreat to his bed to give himself some space.  Animals invite us to get curious . . . how do we let others know when we want them to come close, and how do we let them know when we’d like to be left alone?  . . . how do we feel about setting boundaries?  . . . how do we feel when our boundaries are crossed?

Wali is also very good at asking for what he needs / wants (usually to be pet and snuggled).  He models a form of shameless request, making his desire known and either gracefully receiving pets and snuggles, or moving onto other things (if petting / snuggling are not being offered).

And while I love these opportunities for exploring boundaries and needs, what I most appreciate about Wali is his unconditional loving presence.  At the heart of all good therapy is kindness and presence, and Wali embodies these qualities.  For clients who love dogs, Wali is a warm blanket across their laps, welcoming the totality of their experience.  For others, he offers moments of comic relief and sweetness.  I am honored to be folding him into the world of Joyful Balance, and am relishing all of the joyful balance that he naturally brings.

Ending the War

Ending the War

So many of us long for peace in the world, but we approach this yearning from a place of opposition, of pushing away from what we don’t like or can’t accept.  In effect, we take the energy of war into our bodies and our beings and somehow expect that peace will arise from the fighting.  We harden our hearts against those who we feel have hardened their hearts against us (or against Truth, or against some Ideal we hold sacred).  We place the hardening over there, in those people who are doing it wrong, and fail to notice that we ourselves are also hardened . . . frightened, closed, and at war.

I notice this warring in my Facebook newsfeed.  Folks I don’t necessarily agree with point their fingers at folks I may (in principle) agree with; then the folks I may (in principle) agree with point their fingers back.  Only these days the finger pointing includes a bevy of insults, derision, and personal attack.  No ideas are exchanged.  No one is listening.  No one is holding the space of open-hearted presence.  Everyone is so busy fighting each other . . . even the folks who claim they want to create a more peaceful world . . . even the folks who don’t outwardly claim to want this, but probably do want it on the inside.  Everyone is so busy fighting each other that no peace is possible.

If I’m honest, I also notice the warring sometimes in my internal “newsfeed.”  While I may not be one to engage in online conflict, being at war internally is not a more holy path, it is simply a quieter one.

We live in the atmosphere of whatever we rehearse.  This is a challenging practice to truly grok and really must be experienced rather than conceptualized.  If we wish for peace in the world, we must practice engaging from a place of peace.  We must learn to find peace in our own bodies, hearts, and minds, so that we can engage the outer world through the vehicle of that peace.  We must begin to recognize the war we are fighting inside our own minds, and choose to put down our weapons.  This doesn’t mean becoming passive.  It doesn’t mean stuffing our strong emotions.  But it does mean shifting our focus toward the kind of world we wish to live in, and moving from that place of peace, rather than perpetuating the energies of the world as it suffers and keeping the war going.  Because if we continue to believe that we are on the side of Good, and that the other is truly Other, we remain at war and miss the call to peace completely.

♥ ♥ ♥

Rafia Rebeck, MEd, MA, LPCC, is trained in the Hakomi Method of Psychotherapy. She offers a warm, sincere, and safe approach for those who seek personal transformation through mindfulness. Please feel welcome to get in touch by contacting rafiarebeck@gmail.com.  If this blog postcard was meaningful for you, I invite you to share it with others who may benefit.

Stepping into the river of guidance

Nothing Flows

I remember talking to a friend about money.  At the time, I was wanting to learn how to have a more conscious relationship with money, with a focus on saving and paying down debt.  This friend, who has lived in fairly constant struggle with money, offered me a spiritual teaching, about the importance of “not holding onto money, allowing it to flow.”  Now, I am not denying the profundity of this teaching.  There is certainly an energy of ease — where one is not resisting, grasping, tightening — that can surely serve the flow of abundance in one’s life.  However . . .

. . . this was not the teaching I needed at the time (nor do I believe it was the teaching my friend needed).  What I needed was a teaching about the strength in knowing how to allow money to accumulate so that it could flow more easily in my life.  If I continued to accidentally create the condition of drought — by “allowing money to flow” that I didn’t actually have — then the proverbial river would run dry.  And nothing can flow when the river runs dry.

This conversation illuminated for me the immense benefit that comes from having external guidance, of having a person outside of myself who I trust to see me clearly and lovingly, to help me recognize whether I am ingesting good medicine or simply following my sweet tooth.  I have noticed that I am often drawn to teachings (and quotations, memes, opinions, people, stories, etc.) that reinforce aspects of my being that don’t need strengthening (e.g., teachings on the importance of empathy), and that I can move away from teachings that don’t immediately resonate (e.g., teachings on the importance of developing strength).  Anyone who has spent any time reading spiritual teachings knows they are fraught with contradictions; this isn’t because spiritual teachings are hog-swallow, it’s because each of us needs different teachings at different times in our lives, to address our own unique constellations of biases and beliefs as we develop on our own unique paths.  Because of the very human tendency to move away from discomfort, it can be helpful to have another person helping us track, helping us see the places we don’t necessarily or naturally want to see.   This, for me, is an important function of the therapeutic relationship — having support to find our way to the teachings we need, so that we can unfold into the people we are meant to be.  And ultimately, with time, that external support develops into a wellspring of inner guidance that is overflowing.

♥ ♥ ♥

Rafia Rebeck, MEd, MA, LPCC, is trained in the Hakomi Method of Psychotherapy. She offers a warm, sincere, and safe approach for those who seek personal transformation through mindfulness. Please feel welcome to get in touch by contacting rafiarebeck@gmail.com.  If this postcard was meaningful for you, I invite you to share it with others who may benefit.