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"Spiritual Depth" Chapter 9 Excerpt

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
--Marcel Proust

…A lovely woman, Roberta, as part of her therapy for bulimia, worked through her difficulties in drawing boundaries with me.  One evening she attended a professional social gathering at UCLA.  A male colleague she knew slightly stood in a small circle of people when she joined them.  During the hellos, he stepped eagerly toward her with his arms outstretched for a full body hug.  She stepped back firmly and stretched out her arm to shake hands and to keep him at his distance.  He stopped, startled, and shook her hand.  She remained engaged with the people in the circle.  She said she felt that the men looked at her with new respect.

Later in the evening several women colleagues approached her and asked, “How did you do that?”  The invasive man s in the habit of getting full body hugs from his professional colleagues who were unwilling but who didn’t want to make a scene.  Roberta realized she responded differently on this occasion because she had incorporated her awareness exercises with her authentic values.  She drew on internal resources she didn’t know she had, but which now came to her in a natural way.  She saw that the other women knew what was pleasant and unpleasant.  But they couldn’t gather themselves into an integrated whole with the sturdiness of spirit to risk disrupting a professional gathering and honoring their self-respect.

Roberta was happily surprised to discover her spirituality practices could have such a concrete and practical effect in her life.  She also acquired a more positive reputation with her colleagues.

Without intending to Roberta helped others to move toward greater self-respect and courage through a brief but influential moment in her life.  She made a quick scan of her comfort, neutral, and discomfort areas with lightning speed, made her decision and commitment, stepped back and held out her hand.  By so doing, she inspired something beyond her own immediate experience and was instrumental in expanding the awareness and courage of others.

You can’t look after others well until you can look after yourself.  Expecting someone to care for you because you care for them is bargain-based.  You place a value on what you give, and you expect equal reciprocity.  That’s not spirituality.  Being present and authentic for yourself allows you to be present and authentic for others – and they you. In that genuine connection, something wonderful can happen.  Spirituality is not bargain based.


Excerpt from Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder, by Joanna Poppink, MFT, Conari Press, 2011. Copyright protected August, 2011. Media information.  Details at Gurze Books

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