Healing Visualization

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Weather delays meant a lot of time in the airport…

After ingesting a Jamba Juice (hey it was a small one) I sat down next to a woman named Zoe who was going to Florida to meet her sister and daughter for a ten-day vacation. We started talking about life and she told me that she used to be a teacher until she had to retire because of illness.

She has a condition in her brain stem and is getting excellent medical care at Yale New Haven Medical Center. Zoe also has tremendous faith and a positive attitude.

I asked her about healing visualizations…

It was something she had never considered or tried. The idea of visualizations is that you can imagine your own healing in whatever ways make sense for you. It doesn’t replace medical treatment or medicine, yet it can enhance whatever you are doing by bringing yourself into the healing process front and center.

Huddled together amidst large screen TVs, flight announcements, toddlers, families and the drama that swirls around the gate, especially as it gets closer to departure time, we close our eyes and imagine the myelin in Zoe’s brain stem. “What does it look like? Is it like a silky spider web, silver and glistening? Is it yellow and sticky like beeswax from a buzzing golden hive dripping with honey and myelin?” We spend ten minutes zoning in and around Zoe’s brain stem in our imagination. I am speaking very softly and she is telling me what she sees inside her mind’s eye.

It was very quick and she “got it” immediately. It’s important to remember that everyone can take a few moments to go inside and pay attention to your body and gently envision the part that needs healing. By doing this each day you can visualize growth and movement that resonates best for you. It’s so fast and it really gives people a lot of hope and reduces feelings of helplessness.

Try it yourself or share the invitation with someone you love.

When it was time for Zoe’s flight to leave, I got a bit teary. I felt as if I was sending off my sister or newly found BFF on vacation. We had only spent an hour together and in that time Zoe touched my heart in a powerful way. We hugged and exchanged emails and phone numbers. She got in line with the other passengers. Like a vigilant mother, I watched her until she started to walk onto the ramp.

Suddenly, her head popped out from behind the column and she waved goodbye again.

Soaringwords Creates a Popcorn Explosion in Local Hospital

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I recently spent time with dozens of remarkable patients and their families at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. In thinking about the experience, it struck me just how much our human interactions resemble a popcorn explosion in a microwave. As twenty high school volunteers from the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School filed into the playroom, I noticed that everyone was talking in their “library voices” and looked pretty serious. Of course, it was really early in the morning, not the favored time of day for most teens. As the students got busy setting up the activity stations and patients started coming into the room, the emotional temperature quickly began to get warmer. First there was five-year-old Ivan who spent three hours being mentored by Andrew and Gabe. They watched the SoaringMuseums video, created artwork and chatted the entire time, as if they had known each other forever. Ivan even taught his new friends his best magic tricks, including his favorite – how to make a crayon disappear. Ivan performed this trick many times that day, each time with glee and twinkling eyes, charming every new volunteer. Dianosi had been in the hospital for a long time and had a weary smile when Maya came to her room to visit. It was the first visit she’d had since she had come to the hospital, and had managed to pass the time alone by reading books and doing her homework. The girls bonded like sisters. In fact, there were so many coincidences – Maya’s brother even shares the same birthday with Dianosi! As the morning progressed, everywhere I went the patient and volunteers were laughing, talking and creating signs and artwork to donate to hospitalized kids. When afternoon rounds took place, teams of doctors and residents descended onto the floor, like a giant cluster of white lab coats moving room to room. Rounding the corner by the nursing station, they ran into a team of eleven volunteers, each one carrying piles of SoaringQuilts and Pillows to distribute to patients. An impromptu “examination” was held right there. One by one, the doctors broke into smiles, and the nurses came out from behind their command station to take a closer look at the hand-made messages and artwork. All of a sudden, everyone was talking at once. There was so much noise that for a couple of minutes you actually could not hear the normal drone of the beeps and buzzing of hospital equipment. Instead, positive and vibrant energy was reverberating all around the pediatric wing, like kernels of popcorn in a giant microwave, all exploding in a frenzy of camaraderie. For the students, patients, doctors and nurses, it was clear that life is whole lot more fun when you heat things up with even a few minutes of compassion and laughter. Here is the video of this fun-filled day.

Start Your Morning With a Song

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Jose is a doorman where I live, but his true avocation is song. Yesterday, as our elevator crept closer to the lobby, his exuberant voice permeated the space, harkening me back to middle school Spanish class. My Spanish teachers were an interesting bunch. There was Señor Marsten, a retired Marine who specialized in humiliating any student who had forgotten his homework or who was unable to conjugate the verb of the day. I preferred Señora Gerson, who spent her life teaching middle school Spanish and carpooling her daughter Sharon and our friends to school in a wood-paneled station wagon. She adored all things Andalucian. Twice in her life, she indulged her passion by making a pilgrimage to España. Even her phobia of flying could not keep her from walking on Spanish soil — she took a steamship. I loved her Castillian lisp, which always provided great fodder for over-the-top teacher impressions in the locker room. I cannot watch an Almovodar movie without thinking fondly of Delores Gerson. Long before the days of political correctness, there was an annual sing-along as part of the language department’s Cultural Festival. This was Thomas Jefferson Junior High’s feeble attempt to give us a “total immersion” into exotic foreign cultures to round out the exposure we were getting in the classroom for 45 minutes three times a week. Kids taking French had to wear berets and present pathetic skits in halting French in front of a twelve foot Eiffel Tour that Mrs. Geisenheimer, the art teacher had sketched on butcher paper. Los estudiantes de Español spent weeks memorizing Spanish ballads – including Quantalamera and Besame Mucho (you can imagine the locker room send offs over the latter which means Kiss Me A lot! as we paired unlikely teachers, exploding in laughter and revulsion over our spontaneous romantic combinations). This is how it went each year, a bunch of gringo teens singing foreign love songs to a sourpuss Marine Sergeant at 9:15 on a Tuesday morning in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. It felt about as authentic as the faded travel posters that made the Spanish classrooms look like a waiting areas in a long-forgotten airport hangar from the early ‘70s. But back to my musical interlude with Jose. As the elevator descends closer to the ground, I hear Jose’s song getting louder and stronger. The elevator doors open and I dart into the lobby, ready for the ten-block walk to the gym, carrying my over-stuffed fifty-pound backpack. Quantlamera wafts across the mailboxes, over the carpeted lobby and reverberates in my soul. I join in choosing a soft confident alto range, Jose and I smiling to each other all the while, singing our duet. His eyes are bright, his voice is robust. The audience of one is appreciated, but clearly he is singing for himself. Singing because he can. Or, perhaps he simply cannot help but to fill the lobby with the musical memories of his far away home. For dramatic effect, I go soprano for the finale, just as Jose thrusts open the front door and I walk onto the street. No matter what lies ahead, it’s always great to start your morning with a song.

Central Park Igloo…An Unexpected Winter Wonder

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The greatest things in life…

are often spontaneous experiences that flutter in front of us before the moment passes like a snowflake melting the moment it collides with the sidewalk. I saw an igloo in Central Park.

It was incredible. Nine feet tall and five feet wide, it glistened amidst the lampposts sprinkled along the enormous oval path encircling the Great Lawn. Tonight marks hour 33 of the latest New York City snowstorm.

The park is gloriously empty. My family is walking home from a cozy Friday night dinner at my parent’s home. As the snow fall started in earnest on Thursday morning, I knew that there was a strong chance that Mom and Dad could not come over to my house for dinner because it is too hard to push Dad’s wheelchair in the snow. So we packed up the dinner into cooking tins and brought the home cooked feast to them. I felt that stumbling on an igloo on the way home was our reward.

My son and I cannot resist gently climbing over the flimsy metal fence to verify what our eyes have discovered from afar. Once inside the perimeter of the Great Lawn, our boots descend into fourteen-inch powder, leaving crunchy snow prints across the great white expanse. Delirious with anticipation, the banter erupts with each passing step. We want to run but our boots keep sinking deeper and deeper into snowdrifts that up until now have been untouched by human and canine feet. Sunday afternoon, a mere 36 hours later, while walking home from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a I notice that the entire dome has melted into the ground, leaving a two foot circle that resembles the sides of a frozen plastic kiddy pool that someone had abandoned during the summer. On the other side of town, a sculptor had created an impromptu monument to the Snow. It even had a punny title, “Two Feet of Snow.” Get the pun?

The moral of this wintry story? Always grab joy in the moment, before it melts away. Send me your snow stories and photos and I will share them on the website. Much love and snowballs, Lisa Lisa@soaringwords.org

SoaringHugs

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There’s nothing like a hug.

A jumble of arms, chins, elbows converging with a common goal. Let’s be close. Hey, I see you. “Hi.” You are not alone.

That’s why I was interested to read New York Times cover story  For Teenagers, Hello Means How About a Hug? It’s nice to know that people under the age of 20 have figured it all out. In today’s frenetic, often times scary world, a hug simply goes a long way to connect us to others and remind us of our hummanity.

Soaringwords is LOVE IN ACTION.

Send me a photo or video of your SoaringHugs and I will share it with ill children on our website. Your hug can be fun and creative. You can “name your hug.” Be bold. Share something to motivate ill kids and their families to smile and feel embraced and supported by you.

Sending you hugs, Lisa lisa@soaringwords.org