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Forest

Deep Resilience

"A tree with strong roots can withstand

the most violent storm, but the tree

cannot grow roots just as the storm appears

on the horizon." 

- H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

My Philosophy

Throughout my almost 50-year career in medicine, I have been interested in healing – as something deeper than the wellness of our minds or bodies. But what is healing? How can I find it? And can I help others find it?

Mid-life, mid-career, I realized that despite all that I had learned and was teaching about “self-care,” I was burned out.  I was burned out because I did not know how to be with pain and because I thought it was all up to me.

 

Then, I came across a bird’s nest in a stream and understood that I needed to allow my heart to open, like a loose and open weave. Shortly afterwards, I visited a great redwood tree that had been burned and broken and left for dead some months previously and found that it had regenerated into a forest of new green shoots. It had not just survived but was thriving because its roots were tapping into a living web of thrumming interconnectedness. 

I knew then what I needed to do: I had to learn how to let the pain flow through me, like water through the nest in the stream, but that I could only do this if my feet were rooted, like the redwood’s, in what is not afraid and does not die. 

My Native teachers, Wolf and Lisa Wahpepah taught me how to listen to the Earth. My friend and mentor, Joanna Macy, helped me to recognize that I too am beloved of the Earth. His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, showed me that I am interdependent with all life on Earth - that I am, that we all are, interdependence. 

Then, as I sat one day under the Bodhi Tree, in Bodhgaya, India, the very tree under which the Buddha had become enlightened, I heard the words, “Michael, it’s OK. I am already holding you in my dark, soft roots. All you need to do is to allow yourself to be held.”

 

I realized at that moment, that healing is the embodied knowing that I am already home, that I belong like a tree in a forest, and that I, that we, find our deepest healing by coming back to Earth. 

My Approach

At the core of my approach is a belief, based on my own experience, that an embodied awareness of our interconnectedness with others and the living Earth brings deep inner security, deep resilience, and a sense of deep belonging, while simultaneously awakening in us a desire to help others and showing us a path to doing this in a regenerative and sustainable way. 

This quote from a San Bushman elder in the Kalahari (cited by Jon Young in his book, What the Robin Knows), guides my work:

"If one day I see a small bird and recognize it, a thin thread forms between me and that bird. If I just see it but don’t recognize it, there is no thin thread. If I go out tomorrow and see and really recognize that same individual small bird again, the thread will thicken and strengthen just a little. Every time I see and recognize that bird, the thread strengthens. Eventually it will grow into a string, then a cord, and finally a rope. This is what it means to be a Bushman. We make ropes with all aspects of the creation in this way." 

I can help you to recognize, remember, and strengthen the threads that connect you to yourself, others, and the rest of life. 

I can help you to experience the reciprocal flow that is at the heart of life. 

I can help you not to be afraid of feeling what you are feeling, to notice how this strengthens your connection with other beings and brings you to a realization of your bigger, wider, deeper, identity. As you come into this understanding you will notice that there is a glow to the flow of this connectedness and learn how to recognize this as awake awareness, your natural state of being, and to rest in this, the heartful radiance of what is, of who you are, for the sake of all our relations.

Deep Resilience Skills

I will work with you to help you to design your own, customized self-care and deep resilience plan to enable you to not only survive but thrive in these challenging and uncertain times. 

You will learn skills such as empathic listening, opening to the wisdom of dreams, ways of remembering how indivisibly interconnected and interdependent you are with other-than-human nature, and recognizing and resting in the renewable energy of non-dual awareness.  

For those of you living with or caring for someone with a serious illness, I offer non-pharmacological palliative care: 

  • Goals of care discussions (helping you to understand your treatment and direction of care options)

  • Advance care planning (helping you to complete a POLST form and an advance directive)

  • Deep aid in living and dying (simple ways of caring for and reassuring the frightened ego)

For those of you who are feeling overwhelmed or burned out by the stresses of living in such painful and tumultuous times, or who are frightened by what the future might mean for your children or grandchildren, I offer:

  • Help to design and operationalize your customized self-care and deep resilience plan

  • Training in deep resilience skills, such as nature-based, Earth-connection and deep-listening practices, guided nature-based meditations, and dream listening skills. 

  • Customized guidance through Joanna Macy's spiral of The Work that Reconnects

  • Practical pathways to engagement (environmental and social justice)

Services

  • Intro consultation (20 mins)  – Free

  • Individual in-person or video session (50 mins) – $175

  • Nature-based outdoor session (90 mins) – $250

  • Family in-person or video session (50 mins) – $300

  • Team in person or video session (tailored to team) – price dependent on the size of the team

*in-person and nature-based sessions are currently only possible in Santa Barbara, CA

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