Category: Psychology & Religion/Spirituality

Crafting a Home Retreat

retreat water [jpg]

“Dates with the soul: Without taking breaks, I start to feel like I don’t have a grasp of all the balls in the air and what my priorities are for each day and even my life overall. I feel like I’m behind on stuff, but I don’t know what.”  — Michael Simmons

I was generally forced to go on retreats earlier in life, not really knowing what they could be. A spiritual retreat generally meant a group trip to a temple or ashram, or a religious youth camp. I had good experiences and learned a lot, but things never happened on my terms.

Going on retreat means something much different to me now. I sometimes find that I am overwhelmed by life. I have too much to do. Social media feels like way too much information to take in at once. I lose track of my boundaries and do too much for others, while doing too little for myself. I feel untethered from my goals, and smothered by some vague, ever-present force. I hate myself and feel like a burden on others.

Retreat, to me, is a time where I refocus on my own needs. It’s selfish, and that is great for my mind and soul. I implement practices that are meaningful to me, that are spiritually recharging, but by no means will work for everyone. I make a schedule and stick to it, which helps me keep the time I take as intentional as possible. It can be as short as a day, or as long as a month. I can be on retreat even while going to work, though I usually will block off at least my weekends for myself.

Below, I’ve decided to share some practices that work for me. I’ve provided an explanation of why I’ve chosen to incorporate each part, with some examples interspersed where I saw fit. I highly recommend reading Woman’s Retreat Book by Jennifer Louden for more information. You can also feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions! I think incorporating even one of these practices for a week could produce change.

Continue reading

Advertisements

What Krishna Taught Me About Doing Therapy with Anti-Vaxxers

vitthala [jpg]

One of the most well-known parts of the medical doctors’ Hippocratic Oath includes a commitment to treating disease wherever it exists, and in whomever it exists. On a daily basis, physicians treat medical conditions for people who may have very different values than they might have, such as people who physically abuse their children, or people who may be racist. Thankfully, I am not a physician.

Psychologists have a bit more leeway in who they choose to see. If you have such significant bias against a person that it would compromise the quality of care that they would receive, it is ethical to refer them to another provider. That isn’t to say that you can refer someone out every time you disagree with them over something. You generally have to have a strong ethical case for refusing to treat someone (i.e., seeing them for treatment would cause more harm than good).

When talking about patients which I may have radical value differences with, one of my patients, Tom*, comes to mind. I enjoy working with Tom, for the most part. For someone who has endured severe chronic illness since childhood, he is a positive, upbeat, and compassionate individual. Most people in his situation would probably be severely depressed. On the other hand, Tom frequently shares beliefs with me that, unbeknownst to him, I am completely against. His views are often quite bizarre, and are generally a part of persecutory delusions stemming from trauma earlier in life.

Continue reading

Pashupati and the Brothers of the Beasts

We never call God by Its name, but rather, by adjectives and epithets. Ishvara, Bhagavan, etc. are all descriptors-as-titles. One such name associated with Shiva is Pashupati, Lord of the Animals. This is also one of his earliest names, dating to prehistoric times.

No human is without animality, no animal without divinity. We are bound in responsibility to animals, nature, humanity. In this work, we become more of ourselves.

Recognizing one’s own animal includes recognizing our innate drives for eating/sleeping/sex. In becoming aware, we can start to reflect and decide how much we use these activities to weigh us down versus to increase our intellect, love, sense of purpose, etc.

“Shiva looked at the suras [deities] and said, ‘It is not a disgrace to recognize your own animal. Only those who practice the rites of the brothers of the animals, the Pashupatas, will be able to overcome their animal nature.’ It was thus that all the suras recognized that they were the Lord’s cattle, and that he is known by the name of Pashupati, the Lord of Animals. Through the animals, forest spirits, satyrs, nymphs, faeries*, and protective spirits of creation, Pashupati is revealed in all aspects of the natural world.

“All those who consider the Lord of Animals as their God become brothers of the beasts. The most sacred Pashupata Yoga, the Yoga of the brothers of the animals, [through which the unity of living beings is realized], explains the structure of the universe and its ephemerality.”

(1st quote – Shiva Purana. 2nd quote – Linga Purana. Both trans. Alain Daniélou in ‘Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus’)

*I don’t have the original sanskrit for names of these different creatures, but I love the mix of European and Indian fantastical imagery, so I’ll leave it like this!