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Dr. Cara Barker

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We've Got Your Back, Susan!

Posted: 06/03/09 10:39 AM ET

How wise the body is! As the 7th floor L.A. Radisson Hotel doors opened, I walked smack into a conversation some women were having about "...how terrible that Susan Boyle's been hospitalized..." So often there's the assumption that if our body or psyche needs attending, then this is a 'bad thing,' that symptoms of distress are to be avoided at all cost.

Yet, I wonder. The fact is that our bodies are amazing instruments of putting back into harmony what's gotten out of whack. In medical school, the teaching suggests there is a 'self-regulating tendency of the body.' According to Dr. Jung, the human psyche carries the same tendency. I've found this to be so, not only in my practice, but in my life. When the way we're living gets to be 'too much,' nature, and Creative Intelligence conspire, and kick into gear. Symptoms of getting off-center with ourselves show up. Softening is needed, and once given the chance, we begin to move into flowing once more. Our souls are calling out that correction must be made in order to advance in the direction of our truest nature. The body is ever listening.

The Rest Cure. One of the oldest treatments known for physical/mental distress is rest. There's a reason. It's only by waiting in the stillness that we can return to our own center, and find the space in which to reconnect with what reignites our creative fire, our vitality, and our joy in life, once more. One of the key teachings for me out of my ten year research project with highly successful, weary women (World Weary Woman: Her Wound and Transformation, Inner City, 1991) was that these very bright people believed that their exhaustion needed to be hidden, as some sort of failure. The truth is that when we lack zest for life, we need two remedies. We need rest. We need to find and do whatever makes our hearts sing. The problem is that the Western mind holds the belief that we should not rest until we are fatigued. By then, it is too late.

Double-edged Sword. So what do more and more do when they are pooped and start getting symptoms? We get on the Web. True, it's an amazing tool for exploration and discovery. Also true: it can frighten the dickens out of us, doing damage as well as good. The issue is not modern technology as 'bad or good,' but how we employ it. Do we use what we find for healing, or for an instrument to raise our anxiety?

I was reminded of this recently in two instances. One involved a dear friend whose child's not speaking as much as was expected. Understandably concerned, the mama decided to run a Google check, to see where the child 'lines up' with the norm. The second instance has to do with a man who decided to Google a condition his teenage daughter's demonstrating. In both cases, the search only made matters worse. Recall that parents know their babies better than any norm could possibly predict. Both parents sailed into the 'Land of Awful-izing.' I was reminded of the syndrome well-known by doctors and nurses. In our training, it's very common to begin suspecting you've got some grim disease, as you learn more and more about what 'can go wrong.' The fact is that we can get contaminated by fear. While I am a proponent, certainly, for gathering information by which to make informed choices, I'm also saying the time comes when we need to simply 'turn off' the computer, the television, the cell, the Twittering, the whatever, that's increasing a sense of overwhelm. Time to rest. Time to unplug from our worst case fantasy of what would happen if we simply checked out and checked in for as long as necessary to regain our footing. We do this by being kinder to ourselves.

Just imagine our 'friend,' Susan Boyle. Susan was catapulted from a wee Scottish village into the entertainment's limelight, that egoic steeple chase to win, not lose overnight. Imagine how strange this might be for the introverted. Who, amongst us, cannot understand that it must have come as a terrible shock to 'wake up the next morning,' after Diversity won the contest, only to find that she was still Susan, in a world where her place in it is unclear. As they say: "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away." Those big carrots dangled and taken away, can propel any of us into a dark wilderness. Especially when we slip into becoming overly identified with an outer measure of our worth. Ah, the prices we pay for fame. Amongst the worse may be disconnection from the fact that we have value regardless what the applause-o- meter might be showing, and we are connected to one another, after all. Even those in the spotlight deserve to know we have their back.

An Open Letter to You, Ms. Boyle: What I want to say to you, Susan, is that you are not alone. What I want you to know is that there may well be more than a few of us 'out here,' who appreciate how challenging it must be to have been in the shadows, with such a precious gift for so many years, then thrown into the lion's den with its trying, pushing, driving fierce competition, finally recognized for the artist that you are by millions, only to lose to a group of children. This doesn't take away from Diversity's talent one bit. But, let's face it: despite your gracious generosity to them, on and off camera, there just has to be the thought that they have their whole lives ahead of them, while your sand, like many of us older folks, is 'slipping through the glass.'

Not to worry. For eons the eternal stories remind us that the heroic always face the roller coaster's temporary ups and downs. The question is, are we willing to attend our owies, to respect our disappointments and losses when they come, to nourish our souls with rest and renewal as needed, and listen to the counsel of an increasingly inner directed life? Bravo to you for taking both a risk, and the time to heal. This bodes well for future. When one door closes, another opens. Keep the faith. I don't know about our readers, but I can tell you, Susan, one thing for certain. I've got your back. We in Seattle 'have your back.' Come out to America's Pacific Northwest any time and you will find a thrilled audience. If you want, that is. In fact, woman to woman, I promise that I'll do all I can to pack the house. The bottom line is that many of us do understand that sometimes, we've just got to take a rest, if we are to do are to follow the Call to the wild, as Jung put it:

...your inner emptiness conceals just as great a fullness if only you will allow it to penetrate into you. If you prove receptive to this 'call of the wild,' the longing for fulfillment will quicken the sterile wilderness of your soul as rains quicken the dry earth...
You, Susan Boyle, have shown anyone who's been paying attention what a wondrous thing it is develop a God-given gift, regardless whether any one else is applauding or not. While you are resting, let me send along a little gift to you and our readers in the spirit of Thanksgiving, for the treasure that you are. My friend, Gabriel called a man by the name of Adyashanti to my attention. Enjoy with your afternoon tea:


Dear readers, you never know. Susan, or someone near her may 'be listening.' Join me, won't you, in writing your 'I've got your back' message to her below? Who amongst us cannot appreciate the times when we've been in our own personal wilderness, and could have used a hand up? Let's see what we can create for Susan during this testing time. Let's pass this on to our whole circle and create something beautiful for the lady who's been such an inspiration to so many.


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