“A truly healthy person is not free of troubles and illness, but rather has the awareness necessary to use the medicines and therapies appropriate to his or her situation.”- Mother Raphaela
"Make your struggles with calmness and simplicity, without contortion and anxiety."- Elder Porphyrios
I am a holistic coach and therapist. One of my unique specialties is the integration of the spiritual realm. This page is for those of you interested in spirituality, who are never fully satisfied, and are still seeking new healing venues. I believe that the human being is an inseparable mind, body and spirit whole. Therefore, the best results are obtained when we address all these aspects, or as many aspects of interest to you. The more aspects, the more entries into the healing potential, the better the results.
SPIRITUAL Integration: Most often, people coming to therapy are interested in the functioning of the mind and the body. However, there are many other people interested in spirituality who have difficulties finding a therapist able to integrate Christian spirituality without imposing religious concepts on them.
Why CHRISTIAN spirituality? After years of searching a wide variety of psychological, energetic, non-spiritual and spiritual paths, I came to see that there are many spirits in the world, but I have yet to find a more generous and loving spirit than that of the Christ. This is the Spirit that I subscribe to, the Spirit that guides my life and my work: the Holy Spirit of Christ, Who is FREEDOM without coercion, FORGIVENESS without punishment, and LOVE without boundaries.
Christian SPIRITUALITY versus religion: Christian spirituality is not religion*. True Christianity is having a true and deep relationship with God: acquiring the Holy Spirit, becoming God-like, and “bearing the fruits” of the Spirit: kindness, patience, joy, and much more. In this way, through the Holy Spirit, we fulfill the divine commandment to extend care and, in time, to come to love ourselves (no matter how wounded we are), and each other (no matter how different they are).
* Spirituality and religion do not have to be separate in your personal life. Infusing your chosen religious rituals with a heartfelt, prayerful relationship with God is a very stabilizing and healing way of life for many people.
The PSYCHOLOGICAL-SPIRITUAL link:
Although people are intrinsically good, we are all wired to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Therefore, we are prone to misusing our God-given resources, strengths, and energies towards protecting ourselves and seeking easy ways out through blaming others, justifying ourselves, constantly worrying, thinking negative thoughts, letting impulses go unrestrained, making bad choices, hurting our own selves and others-- the Bible calls them “sins” or iniquities. I personally subscribe to the non-punitive definition of “sin” given by the old fathers of the Church: “sin” is everything and anything that separates us from God and love. I dare say that sins are unproductive ways of dealing with pain and suffering due to the breaking of the divine law of love in our own selves and between each other.
This lack of love, in its different forms and levels in our society is manifested in psychological forms and is labeled as “diagnosis”: anxiety, depression,bipolar, personality disorders, etc. As much as a diagnosis is useful and necessary, we cannot be reduced to a number- the human being cannot be limited to a diagnostic box or any other box for that matter. For the Christian or the person interested in Christian spirituality, full healing comes through prayer.
FIAT: the willing mind opens up the “temple” of the body towards the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fills in the heart and heals all sorrows with its renewing energies.
True health then is a restoration of the whole being in the image and likeness of God, into divine love.
DO NOT WORRY: If you are still reading this page, do not worry. You must have had enough patience or curiosity, how wonderful- these are the qualities of the wise and the child-like in spirit.
Why do I say please, do not worry? You are not asked to have “perfect” love yet. Love is not just a feeling, but an organic process in which we change little by little, sometimes in big leaps forward, sometimes backwards, or plateaus at other times, but never a linear process, as most of us wish it were. Oh, well, we are limited. Yes, we are only human, but humans with an immense potential when we are willing to receive the Spirit. Based on my personal and professional experience, in order to keep our eye on the “prize” (the fulfilling of love) we need to be patient and to know that until it becomes “perfect”, love will take many, many forms, and some of them will not even look like love. For example, zipping up your mouth instead of shouting a nasty remark is a great beginning. Or paying attention to another person is still a higher form of love, especially when you are tired and not directly interested in what they have to say. Or choosing wholesome foods instead of stuffing that guilt with gallons of ice cream. It may seem like a tiny step, but the truth is, and you know it, that in that very moment, it is nearly impossible to act lovingly. Can you now reconsider the definition of love as a gradual process of change and healing?
Be brave, be kind, and rest in God-- healing will come.
MindFull Heart: 6 weeks of mindfulness for the body, mind, and heart
Over the next six weeks, I will be posting uplifting messages/short meditations/etc. to help you focus on mindfulness for your body, mind, and heart.
Week 1: Patience is an inside job
“Love is patient.” How many times have we heard these words, only to feel guilty and inadequate? How many times have these words fallen heavy on our heart, burdening us, burying us under that nagging “I’m not enough”? Draining away our life force until we break down into pieces or disappear under impenetrable walls of bitterness, cynicism and numbness?
We usually put ourselves down for our impatience and lack of love towardsothers, but what about applying loving patience onto our own self? Could we start by cutting ourselves some slack today? Could we start by putting the inner critic to bed early in the morning today? Could we stop interfering with our own self, stop pushing it in all directions, stop abusing it with unending doing? Could we embrace all that we have become, all that we like, and all that we don’t like about ourselves? Could we give ourselves the time it takes for the change to come?
Only when we see how difficult it is to be truly patient with ourselves do we become aware of our own limitations. We don’t have much to give because we don’t have much in us and, what a paradox, we begin to be patient with others like us, limited human beings like us. We begin to be patient, to wait and to love without strings and agendas.
A short meditation:
Don’t let your heart get drained today. Stop. Take a seat. Be still and comfortable. Sense your feet on the floor, your back supported, spine long, flexible and grounded. Close your eyes. Sense your heart in the middle of the chest towards the left. Put a hand on the heart if it helps you to focus better. Take a moment to feel your heart… beating fast or slow, enthusiastic or sluggish… embracing it now… you are in the NOW… pulsing up life in you now, filling you up… Start breathing in the heart… in and out… soft and easy… gentle breeze… soothing love… breathing in the heart and breathing out of the heart. Let your heart fill in with the breath of life, taking in all that you need right now (comfort, ease, calm, patience, trust, kindness, joy, clarity, etc.)… letting go of all that you don’t want right now (emptiness, restlessness, sorrow, harshness, distrust, chaos, pain, etc.)… focusing on patience and love, ease and joy…knowing that you are miraculously held and given all that you need right now…mind in the heart… heart in the mind… life force and love in all of you… in all of us… humble and soft… fully human and fully divine… mindfull heart…
Week 2: Love and Attention (What to do when you don’t feel like you are being loving enough)
I hear that many families are having lots of debates, arguments, or downright fights over the results of the election. Many people are scared, anxious, and insecure. The holidays are here, yet for many it is not a time for love, but for loss and pain.
Love cannot rest in a heart full of fear. As much as we want to be loving, when we feel stressed and afraid we seek protection. We sink into a place of inadequacy where nothing is enough: we are not good enough, we don’t have enough, we don’t give enough, or we don’t get enough. We don’t know what to do; we start doing, doing, doing; we spend our energy “doing.” The holidays pass and we are left with the dirty dishes, exhausted and empty-hearted. We wonder what happened: “I worked so much, and nobody cares,” our inner voice tells us. My heart starts collapsing into the memories of my many years of “doing,” but today I know better. Therefore, I recover faster and I am better, because WHEN WE KNOW BETTER, WE DO BETTER, and THINGS GET BETTER.
Focusing on the “lack” and compensating with the “doing” never seems to work very well. But what if we could learn to deal with it better, what if we can choose better?
WE CAN TAKE CHARGE. When we choose to STOP, we TAKE CHARGE. When we PAY ATTENTION we start seeing the “lack” and the “doing” for what it is: a knee jerk reflex of a wounded heart. Nothing more.
I NOW INVITE YOU TO TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT: stop whatever you are doing that doesn’t work for you. Start taking charge of whatever is going on this very moment. Stop, take a seat, feel your feet on the floor, and take a moment, or two, or more to pay attention to what is going on in your mind, in your body, in your heart. LOVE STARTS WITH ATTENTION. ATTENTION IS LOVE. When you love somebody you pay attention to them. You give your attention. You give of your own self: your mindful, undivided attention. Love starts with attention. When you give attention you give love. Give yourself attention.
So that’s the simplest place to start: stop, start small, pay and give attention to yourself, feel your feet strongly anchored to the floor, breathe in your heart… make no effort… do not rush the moment… breathe in and out, light and easy… until light and ease fill your heart. Now you are ready to give.
I’m rooting for you to STOP and TAKE CHARGE. It always works. With practice and time your holidays will be full of the love you seek. That’s my wish for you today and every day.
LET LOVE REST IN YOUR HEART. DO LESS, BE MORE.
And as always, WHEN IN DOUBT, BREATHE…
Week 3: Love, Kindness, and the Cure for Deprivation
December is here, the holidays are coming, and happiness is a click away. Ads everywhere, big promises, high expectations… a click away …click, click, click. It feels so great… what a full moment. You don’t have “it” yet, but your imagination brings “it” to you and you have “it” NOW. What a full moment, perfect and exciting. Then you get it in the mail, and oh😔 “it” looks different…the color is not right… he may not like it, she is so demanding… it’s a size too small… I put on weight… You wonder: return “it” or keep “it”?
Before you click away again, deprivation sets in, eating up your joy (and your money). Sneaky devil, bringing envy and jealousy, draining your heart, tarnishing your soul. Where is the kindness? Where is the joy and celebration?
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR HEART. Do not let deprivation spoil your holidays. Stay in your heart. Find a few minutes of quiet. Breathe in and out, softly, quietly, fully, taking in what you need, not more, not less, filling your heart with quiet breath, peaceful energy. Breathe in for 5 counts, breathe out for 5, but only if you can do it effortlessly (if not, train yourself to 3, then 4, then 5 counts) in and out, in the heart. Notice the pause at the end of the exhale… slow down and wait on the pause, breathe…breath is life, breath is energy… wait and see what is starting to change in your heart, chest… other parts of your body… allow the soft and tender to fill you in… kindness filling your heart… send this kindness to your own self and to others… embrace them with tender love. That’s the greatest gift to yourself and others. That’s the cure for deprivation and the remedy for holidays blues.
P.S. You can do this anywhere, even in a crowded mall. It works😊
Week 4: DESERVING OR NOT DESERVING LOVE, THIS IS NOT THE QUESTION
To “deserve” means many, very different, things:
1. to have earned something or to be given something because of your actions or qualities
2. to be entitled, to demand something
3. to be worthy of something.
It looks like this word can be used in very different ways, opposite ways, I’d say, depending on our inner makeup, past experiences and current situation. Some people demand it because they feel entitled to get someone’s love, while others feel like they need to earn it, to do something for others in order to get it. One believes they deserve it, while the other one doesn’t. One doesn’t question their right to deserve while the other doubts it. One feels worthy, the other feels unworthy.
What does love have to do with deserving? We know that monkeys, rats and infants don’t thrive without love. Recent studies show that the same is true for adults: without love we die. We need love to thrive. Without love we are half alive, something is not right, something is missing. Since we need love to survive, love is obviously a necessity, therefore “to deserve” doesn’t apply to love. We all deserve it. So please, take “to deserve” out of your life dictionary. Please, please, please…
When love is there life is good, but what about the times of conflict, losses, and other love-draining situations that happen to us from time to time? Do not wait for others to give it to you or take it away from you. Start where you are, with what you have: your own self… you always have yourself. STOP. 🚷 Become PRESENT in this very moment. Take a seat in a comfortable chair… sense your feet on the floor, the back of your thighs on the chair, your back supported (keep your back in contact with the chair whenever you feel unsupported by life) … what is there behind your back, any lack, any fear, anything that bothers you … letting your back be supported by the chair… … letting go of any stress, pain, worry and scarcity… letting it drain down into the Earth…feeling anchored, centered, present, solid… “I am standing on my own two feet” kind of feeling… fully supported by the chair … “I have my back covered” kind of feeling…Then go to the heart… settling into the heart, breathing in the heart area for 5, out for 5 (see the previous week for more)…
Then bring to the mind a person you love, a place you love, or a situation when you felt love…focus on it for a few minutes…stay with it…breathe thoughts of love into your heart… in and out of the heart… let thoughts of love fill up your heart… feel the warmth and expansion of the heart… let thoughts become love …mind and heart together …mind in the heart, mind-full heart, full- hearted mind. Send this newly found love to yourself and to others who may need it today.
Deserving or not deserving love, this is not the question. Love is not a matter of deserving. You cannot demand it and you cannot earn it. It just is and you can call it into your heart whenever you breathe, whenever you need it, today and every day. ❤️
Week 5: LOVE and DARKNESS, SYNCHRONICITY and AUTHENTICITY
Simple coincidence or synchronicity? Yesterday was the shortest day and the darkest night of the year (actually the darkest night in 500 years), and yesterday my heart felt dark… very dark and lost, dried out and empty…oh, my heart, dark heart in joyless prayer, heartless soul… praying in the dark womb of the church, hearing the priest’s voice without really hearing what he was saying…Until I heard, “Let me hear sounds of joy and feasting: the bones that were afflicted shall rejoice” woke me up, like when you expect to get news of a dead and you hear they are alive and well… good news to my weary soul…
I don’t believe in simple coincidences. I believe in synchronicity: my teacher comes when I am ready. Yesterday my teacher was darkness. I was ready and I opened my door. I ask her to guide me, to give me a word, something to hold on to, and something to liberate me. Pain loses its hold when I allow it. It comes and it goes. I don’t need to escape. I don’t need to move hastily to the next cause, place, or relationship. Moving to something new doesn’t mean moving ON.
ALWAYS CHOOSE TO MOVE ON. The truth is we can move on faster and easier than we think we can. And this is the recipe:
As always get quiet, ground yourself, go into your heart, take a few minutes to breath slowly in and out of the heart (look at previous posts) ...let the breath breathe you and start listening… who is your teacher today? What is your heart saying? Faint or loud voice… Are you willing to wait and be still? To hear? Are you willing to listen? If you were your best friend, what would you tell yourself, what advice would you give to yourself? What is the love message for yourself today? Welcome it. Embrace it. Embody it. Embrace it again and let it go into the world - a token of love for a dark world.
Yesterday my teacher was darkness. Today my teacher came before I even asked, saying: “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” Ben Okri
ALWAYS CHOOSE TO MOVE INTO LOVE.
Week 6: AFTER SURGERY- THREE LESSONS FOR THE NEW YEAR
A few weeks ago I felt called to post 6 Weeks of MindFull Heart. I followed my “heart” despite my need for privacy, or better said, my fear of looking like a fool. This is the last week, week 6, but I am only starting…
Three days ago I had hand surgery, removal of hardware from my left wrist. I was prepared for pain, and I had no pain (thank you, homeopathy, NO PAIN MEDS).
I was prepared for side effects from anesthesia, but not for the terrible state of intoxication I’ve been in since then: lost and heavy, clogged and burdened.
Little did I understand the full meaning of the “MindFull” heart until yesterday …not that I haven’t been helpless before, but this time I felt it… fully, deeply…the deep scary helplessness of not having a mind to think with, to put things in perspective, to hold me up, to hold me together…
Lesson 1: ALL PARTS OF THE HUMAN “SYSTEM,” MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT, ARE IMPORTANT AND NEED TO BE NURTURED. Different times of life call for different focus. What calls you now, at this point in your life, what needs most of your attention? Is it the mind, the body, or the spirit?
Lesson 2: WE ARE FULLY LOVING ONLY WHEN WE BOTH GIVE AND RECEIVE. Some of us want to give, love to give, but hold off receiving. The prideful ego likes to give...it feels good to give, feels heroic to just give. But love isn’t a one-way street. Love is an exchange, an in-and-out flow of life energy. It cannot get stuck in just one way or another. So it’s ok to receive. It’s ok to have needs.
Can you receive love and care? What are your needs? Can you accept your needs? Can you be humble and receive? Or do you always want to give? Does it feel better to give than to receive? It’s ok to receive. When we take from others we let LOVE in.
Lesson 3: SEEK AND FIND BALANCE WITH THIS SIMPLE HEART RULE: breathe LOVE in your heart. The breath and the heart are the intersection of the mind, body, and spirit. When one of these (mind, body, or spirit) are hurt, we can start restoring them to fullness in a few steps. 1: start breathing. 2: bring your attention to the heart area or middle of the chest. 3: breathe in and out of the heart. And 4: focus on a loving event, situation, place, person. Keep going for a few minutes. Start with 1 minute, or go to as long as your heart wants…
P.S. My interest in the heart started many years ago. I was 24 years old right after the revolution in Romania, one of the worst (feeling utterly lost) and the happiest time of my life (free at last). This interest in the heart never left me. It faded away at times only to become stronger lately. It’s been my loving guide and the center of my life. I am planning to start a MindFull Heart group, for anybody interested in integrating all that they are into a life of heartfelt well-being.
Because I have a conventional medical training (at least that’s how I started), I’m always searching for scientific explanation of what some call “woo woo stuff.” A lot of research has been done by HeartMath (you can see more at their website http://www.heartmath.com).
New body for the New Year
Sometimes I hear a small, nagging voice telling me to set myself aside and start again, from scratch… a New Me for a New Year, perfect, flawless, spirit, soul, without a body to drag me down, without a mind who never lets me rest.
Many things are written today about controlling the mind, channeling the spirit, leaving the old year behind, setting new goals and New Year resolutions. The body gets a lot of attention but mostly in terms of fast and hard fixes, “60 is the new 30” kind of acting/looking good, “eat a lot and lose weight” kind of diet, “totally guaranteed 30 day or your money back” kind of exercise etc.… Not that these things don’t work for some people at some times, but if you seek true joy, long-lasting aliveness and sustainable wellbeing, you will not find it there. The body is not an object to be despised, controlled or trimmed into an anime shape of our imagination (no offense anime lovers, we are talking reality check here, not art form).
A lot can be achieved by just starting to look at the body in a different way: friend not enemy, helper not nuisance, container, vessel, rest place for the mind, seat of the soul, temple of the Holy Spirit…
When we stop objectifying the body we stop fighting against our own selves. We put the guns down, assess the damage, recover what’s left, and rebuild what’s lost. We pause, we breathe, we draw the Earth’s energy through the feet and we rest in our own little newfound temple, the body. You don’t have to go far away. You don’t need anything and anybody to make you feel whole. You have yourself. You only need to learn how to find and sustain the sense of wellbeing that only the body can give you.
I learned that the small nagging voice (telling me to set myself aside and start from scratch) never comes alone, but makes my heart sink into a strange state of being, lost, half alive, longing, not in Heaven, not on Earth. That’s how I feel when I wish to be flawless: I lose heart, I leave the house of my body, and I get lost in the impossible landscape of fantasy, where full humanity cannot exist.
I am still learning to keep quiet and to listen to the loving voice of my body calling me back into myself, settling me into my heart, humble and content in my soul. I am not perfect, but I am fully alive and grateful.
My New Year wish for all of you is to appreciate and use everything you have: a useful mind, a faithful body and an almighty spirit. Discover the joy, wellbeing and aliveness that was already given to you. Even if you don’t have control, YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE, YOU ARE FREE to be whole and alive for the years to come.
How to Deal with Anxiety and Random Acts of Terrorism
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health). Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Many people are still embarrassed to seek help, thinking that something must be wrong with them, that they are “weak”, “different” or “negative”. Two years ago my daughter was a freshman at UC Santa Barbara when one student went on a rampant shooting. Although I knew she was safe I still couldn’t stop feeling unsafe and terrified…
Today all 900 schools of Los Angeles were closed due to terrorist threats. Last week Mira Costa in Manhattan Beach was closed on 2 different days, and Redondo Beach High School once. Terrorist threats and attacks are meant to invade our simplest sense of security and to control us through terror. When it is targeted at our children it fills us with a fear that goes much deeper: to our roots and into our future, triggering survival terrors that we simply cannot treat with “positive thinking.”
I wonder how many emergency rooms have been flooded today. If you start experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea and upset stomach, dizziness and lightheadedness, trembling, numbness, or any other sudden or unexplained symptoms, know that NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU. If you feel like you are going crazy, or suddenly decide to home-school your kids or to move to a remote village somewhere in Alaska, know that you are not “weak”, “different” or “negative.” Terrible things have been happening in the world lately and it’s only normal that your mind, body and soul react to random, hateful acts.
But RIGHT NOW, before you make that rush decision, or slip into that destructive food, alcohol, drugs and sex path, just STOP, sit where you are and BREATHE. Breathe in your lower belly… slow, easy, effortlessly... Put your hands on the belly...Notice its raising with each inhale and falling with each exhale...slow, easy, unhurried. Be kind to your breath... Take all the time you need for each and every breath… Take your shoes off and sense your feet on the floor. If you are too restless, go barefoot in the grass, walk or run until you slow down, then stop, sit, and breathe...Feel your feet on the floor. Imagine you have roots that go deep into the Earth, or magnets, or suction cups, whatever feels best to you right now... Seek a good feeling in your body, even if it’s as tiny as a grain of sand... Stay with it... Sense any solid, present, grounded, anchored feeling in your feet and let it go up through your legs and into your pelvis, chest, heart, throat, neck, head and arms. Notice any sensation of well-being, tingling, pulsing, radiating in your body, knowing that it is your own life force, knowing that you can reclaim it whenever you slow down and breathe... threats cannot take it away from you... it can only temporarily diminish it, make your mind suffer, make your body sick, but it cannot be easily destroyed ...BE KIND TO YOUR SUFFERING TODAY AND DO NOT LOSE HOPE...