Archive for March, 2021

B. Nina Holzer’s final entry in her journal shows us how she is an innocent instrument for writing

March 30, 2021

One of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read on the creative writing process is A Walk Between Heaven and Earth: A Personal Journal on Writing and the Creative Process by Burghild Nina Holzer. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in wanting to express themselves in writing. The book ends with this final journal entry found on page 124.

EVENING

One day
I walked on the mountain
and the flute song
went through me.
That’s all.
I became the reed
and the wind went through
and I wrote it down
in my journal.

Read my first blog post about this wonderful book: Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say.

I include an excerpt from one of her entries that the publisher edited down to put on the back cover. The four-sentence paragraph starts: “Talking to paper is talking to the divine.” I include that paragraph and the full eight-sentence journal entry from which it was taken. Together they represent the essential message of this inspirational little book.

A 4-line poem by John O’Donohue says a similar thing—how he was amazed by each revelatory moment and turned them into poems.

A recent post on the writing experience is intimately expressed in this lovely poem, “Morning Prayer,” by Deborah J. Brasket.

Last year I discovered inspiring quotes about writing and the writing life by this Canadian aboriginal author that I shared in these blog posts: Coincidences happened that introduced me to the great Ojibway storyteller Richard Wagamese | Insights from Richard Wagamese’s Meditations | Richard Wagamese bravely entered the cracks in his life to reveal the hidden gold buried within.

Another writer worth listening to what she says about her writing life is Sue Monk Kidd on empathy and the purpose and power of literature to enter the common heart.

I’ve posted earlier entries on writing you may also find worthwhile: Writing—a poem on the writing process; INSPIRATION, a poem by Nathanael Chawkin; Elizabeth Gilbert—Some Thoughts On Writing; Writers on Writing–What Writing Means To Writers; and Words of Wisdom on Writing from Literary Lights.

Transcendental Meditation effective in reducing veterans’ PTSD, sleep difficulties, depression and anxiety symptoms by 50% in 3 months: new study

March 22, 2021

News Release 18-Mar-2021 | EurekAlert! Summary & Press Release

Veterans with PTSD who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique showed significant reductions in PTSD symptom severity, according to a new study published today in Journal of Traumatic Stress. Fifty percent of the meditating veterans no longer met criteria for PTSD after three months compared to only 10 percent of controls. The randomized controlled study also showed significant reductions in veterans’ symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sleep difficulties.

IMAGE
IMAGE: Fifty percent of veterans who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for three months no longer met criteria for PTSD compared to only 10 percent of controls. Meditating veterans also showed significant reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sleep difficulties. This figure shows the unadjusted mean change in PTSD symptoms, based on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), for the Transcendental Meditation group compared to the treatment-as-usual control group (all P values <.05) over the three-month intervention period. Credit: Maharishi International University Research Institute

Transcendental Meditation effective in reducing PTSD, sleep problems, depression symptoms

Veterans with PTSD who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique showed significant reductions in PTSD symptom severity, according to a new study published today in Journal of Traumatic Stress. Fifty percent of the meditating veterans no longer met criteria for PTSD after three months compared to only 10 percent of controls. The randomized controlled study also showed significant reductions in veterans’ symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sleep difficulties.

“Transcendental Meditation is a non-trauma-focused, easy-to-learn technique that was found in this study to improve PTSD symptoms, likely through the experience of physical rest,” said Mayer Bellehsen, Ph.D., director of the Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and their Families, Northwell Health, and study principal investigator. “In contrast to commonly administered therapies for PTSD that are trauma-focused and based on a patient’s recall of past traumatic experiences, this intervention does not require extensive review of traumatic history, which some individuals find difficult to engage in. This intervention may therefore be more tolerable for some individuals struggling with PTSD.”

The randomized controlled trial, conducted at Northwell Health in Bay Shore, New York, assigned 40 veterans with documented PTSD to either the Transcendental Meditation (TM) group or treatment as usual control group. The TM treatment provided 16 sessions over 12 weeks, with twice-a-day daily home practice. PTSD symptom severity was assessed with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5), and patient self-report with the PTSD Checklist for DSM -5 (PCL-5).

The results showed large effect sizes, indicating a strong TM treatment impact in reducing trauma symptoms for both PTSD measures. Other factors associated with trauma, such as depression and anxiety symptoms and sleep problems, also showed a strong impact of TM treatment.

“This trial corroborates the findings of a large clinical trial published in The Lancet Psychiatry,” said Sanford Nidich, Ed.D., Director of the Center for Social-Emotional Health at Maharishi International University Research Institute, and study co-investigator. “The current study further supports the effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation as a first-line treatment for PTSD in veterans. The availability of an additional evidence-based therapy will benefit veterans, both by offering them a greater range of options and by serving as an alternative treatment strategy for those who don’t want to engage in trauma-focused treatment or who aren’t responding to a previous PTSD intervention.”

The authors point out in their research paper that TM may positively affect trauma symptom severity through the reduction of hyperarousal symptoms. Previous research has shown that TM practice decreases physiological responses to stressful stimuli. In addition, recent research indicates that TM may improve resilience and positive coping strategies, providing further benefit to both veterans and active military personnel.

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This study was supported by David Lynch Foundation. The article is titled, “A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation as Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans.” Northwell Health, New York University, and Maharishi International University Research Institute collaborated on the trial. Preliminary results had been previously presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference, November 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: EurekAlert!

Northwell Health posted their release on March 22, 2021: New study shows transcendental meditation effective for reducing veterans’ stress. The study, led by Mayer Bellehsen, PhD, showed that the technique resulted in significant reductions in symptom severity.

Many science and international news outlets posted the news, including this excellent report in Medical News Today (PDF). And Jim Dwyer MD produced and tweeted this 60-seconds MediBlurb: Transcendental Meditation for PTSD in Veterans, which airs on regional radio in Arizona.

This little poem, “Morning Prayer,” by Deborah J. Brasket, just might leave you feeling sanctified

March 21, 2021

Enjoy this profound blog post by Deborah J. Brasket: Like Flowers Falling Everywhere: A Poem. Click on the title to see an accompanying painting by Odilon Redon. This beautiful little poem, aptly titled “Morning Prayer,” is soft and mysterious, filled with an intimate silence that just might leave you feeling sanctified.

“Morning Prayer”
Deborah J. Brasket

Everywhere I look I see you,
I see us. This fragile hand,
this blue pen, this yellow pad.

These fingers gently folded,
Embracing the eagerness of
your movements across the page.

This tender paper accepting
All we write. These words that
rise up and lay down, so simple.

You are what I feel. This beating heart,
this circling breath, this wide sphere of
silence that enfolds us. Your soft sigh.

The day waits. It pours out of us whole
and clear, unending. How kind you are.
Kindness like flowers falling everywhere.

* * * * *

I asked a writer-artist friend who she thought is speaking in the poem, and to whom. She nailed it with this reply: “It sounds like the poet is speaking to herself about her writing life, and the love she feels for it.”

This reminds me of what B. Nina Holzer wrote in her lovely book, “A Walk Between Heaven and Earth,” A Personal Journal on Writing and the Creative Process. This edited journal entry is on the back cover:

Talking to paper is talking to the divine. Paper is infinitely patient. Each time you scratch on it, you trace part of yourself, and thus part of the world, and thus part of the grammar of the universe. It is a huge language, but each of us tracks his or her particular understanding of it.

You can see the complete journal entry here: Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say.

Speaking of kindness and writing about morning rituals, here are two related poems: “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye, and one I wrote, “Sanctifying Morning.” It was published in Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace.

The heart of The Red Poppy in Louise Glück’s poem speaks to us from a different perspective

March 16, 2021

Louise Glück was awarded The Nobel Prize in Literature 2020 “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” She served as Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and was the Library of Congress’s twelfth poet laureate consultant in poetry. Click on her name to read her biography filled with many publications and awards.

In The Red Poppy, Glück shows us the glory of the heart, but from a different perspective. She does not use the word, love, but the opening and closing to it is powerfully implied.

red poppy bloom in post-sunset light
The Red Poppy
Louise Glück

The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.

Glück’s conclusion to this beautiful poem, “I speak because I am shattered,” may be due to a deep loss of connection with the Divine, her “lord in heaven called the sun,” where she permitted herself “to open once, who would never open again,” brokenhearted, “speaking now the way you do.” From the flower’s perspective, it is like a death. In another flower poem, The Wild Iris, death is not the end: “whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice.” See her read that poem on YouTube. Both poems were from a May 11, 2016 Lannan Foundation Literary Event.

This loss is reiterated in her quote from a human perspective: We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory. As humans, there may yet be a chance for illumination and grace. Rumi wrote: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Leonard Cohen sang in his song, Anthem: “There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.”

After looking through a Telescope Louise Glück identified with the silent enormity of the stars. In this earlier post, I later included news of her being awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, followed by the actual presentation over 2 months later, still during the time of the coronavirus, so she and her presenter were wearing masks.

I don’t know if the poet had this in mind, but the red poppy has traditionally been the symbol of death, renewal, and life. See The History of the Red Poppy as a Symbol of Remembrance.

Thomas Merton’s golden poem, Song for Nobody, is about a yellow flower with a different enigmatic message.

Related posts: Selected Wise Words From Rumi and Leonard Cohen said there’s a crack in everything–how the light gets in. It came thru him & lit up a broken humanity. And Richard Wagamese bravely entered the cracks in his life to reveal the hidden gold buried within.


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