The Neurobiology of Sacred Therapeutic Relationship

Click on the link at the bottom for further information about The Ministry Model and the material that we will explore together …


Sacred TheraPeutic Relationship Flyer for WorpressFor further information, click HERE.

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The Neurobiology of Sacred Relationship

Click on the link at the bottom for further information about The Ministry Model and the material that we will explore together …

Sacred Relationship Flyer for Worpress jpg

For further information, click HERE.

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Is the Brain Sufficient for Spiritual Awakening?

… or must it enlist the heart?

Love to Love #1Love to Love #2

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Come Again in the Spring

Come Again in the Spring

Richard Kennedy

Snow was on the ground. Old Hark was standing out to the side of his cabin, scattering handfuls of cracked corn and scratch to the birds all around him. Now and then he sniffed the air. It smelled like more snow was coming.

A solitary figure bundled in a great bearskin coat trudged along the forest path to the old man’s cabin.

He stopped in front of the cabin and shifted a large ledger out from under his arm. The burly figure opened it to a page, looked at the cabin and then to the page again, and walked out toward the old man.

“Good day,” said the stranger.

1_CATERS_SNOWMAN_AND_BIRDS_01-768x512.jpg “Howdy,” said Old Hark, brushing his hand on his coat. “Your face is easy, but I can’t recollect the name. We met?”

“Not in any formal way,” said the stranger. “But I’ve passed this way before. Maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of me. I’m Death.”

The old man straightened his back and held the feed bag a little closer to his chest.

“Death, eh? Well, you got the wrong place.”

“No,” Death said, opening the ledger. “You’re Old Hark, aren’t you?”

“Maybe, and maybe not,” said Old Hark, turning his back and scattering a handful of feed.

“Well, certainly you are,” Death said, taking a pen from his pocket. “It’s all right here in the book.”

“Don’t give a dang what’s in the book,” said Old Hark. “I ain’t going. Come again in the spring.”

Death sighed, and took the cap off the pen. “How tiresome, ” he said. “Everyone tries to put it off, and all it amounts to is making a little check mark after your name. He poised the pen above the book.

Old Hark turned. “I ain’t afraid of you.”

“No?” Death said, looking up.

“Come again in the spring. I won’t hinder you none then. But you see all these birds? Come winter time, they depend on me to feed them. They naturally ought to fly south in the fall but don’t, reason that I been feeding ’em all winter since I was no bigger ‘an a skip bug. They’d die if I was gone – they ain’t real wintering birds. But you come back in the spring, and they’ll know I won’t be here next winter and have enough sense to go south.”

“Oh, that wouldn’t do at all,” Death said. “The book is all made up in advance. Why, rescheduling you into the springtime would take a good week’s work. Erasures would have to be made, new entries, changes of address, causes of departure . . . very complicated, no trifling matter at all, I assure you. No, it really won’t do at all.”

“Don’t know about that,” Old Hark said, “but I ain’t going.” He took a few steps away. Death followed him.

“See here,” Death said persuasively, “you’re really getting quite old and feeble, you know, quite past the age I usually visit people.”

“Ain’t going,” Old Hark said. Death saEditw that the old man was resolute, not at all in the correct state of mind for the business at hand. He considered that he might cause a tree to fall on the old man’s head. He consulted his book. Next to Old Hark’s name was written: “Means of departure: Quiet, gentle, peaceful.” So violence was out of the question.

death_note_notebook_by_emo_crayon-d6kg7owDeath turned a page in the book and studied the entries. “Now, look,” Death said. “I can give you another day. I can fit you in for tomorrow, but then you’ll have to come quietly, gently, and peacefully. Even so I’ll have to stay up half the night juggling these entries, but I’ll do it as a special favor. “

“Not tomorrow, either,” said Old Hark. “Come again in the spring.”

Death was getting impatient. “You’re so old now and so feeble and your memory is so shabby you won’t even remember me by then, and we’ll have to go through all this again. “

“There ain’t nothing wrong with my memory.”

“Isn’t there, now?”

“It’s perfect.”

Death smiled. “If you think so, let me make you a wager.”

“Let’s hear it,” said Old Hark.

“It’s this,” said Death. “Just so I can be sure you’ll remember me next spring, let’s make a test. If I can ask you a question about something that happened in your life and you can’t remember, then you must come with me tomorrow.

“Agreed,” said Old Hark. “Ask away.”

Death closed the ledger and put his pen away. He smiled again and asked, “On your second birthday, your mother baked up a special treat. What was it?” Then Death turned and walked off toward the forest path.

“Good day, ” he called. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

It began to snow. Old Hark returned to his cabin, kicked the snow off his boots and went inside. He put on some coffee to perking and sat back in his rocking chair. He sat there for hours, remembering many things, many smells, and tastes, and sounds, and people, but of course he couldn’t remember what his mother baked special on his second birthday.

Some birds chirped outside the door. The snow had stopped. Old Hark got a handful of feed, opened the door and chucked it out. The birds made a fuss of noise, but just as Old Hark closed the door, he heard one chirp above and unlike any of the others, a very strange chirp.

It sounded exactly as if one of the birds had said, “Plumcakes. “

It snowed most of the night. Next morning, Old Hark made his rounds to the bird feeders and scattered plenty of feed. He got his shovel and a ladder out then and climbed up to shove some of the snow off the roof of the cabin.

While he was up there, Death came around with his ledger under his arm. He stood next to the ladder and shouted out a cheery “Good morning!” Old Hark looked down. He put a finger to one of his nostrils, blew his nose

in the snow, and then said, “Plumcakes,” and turned back to his work.

That was a surprise for Death. He had spent half the night working on the book. He was tired, and now he was angry and was tempted to pull the ladder out from the old man. But he remembered the words in the book, “Quiet, gentle, peaceful,” and he got hold of himself.

“Very good,” Death said. “I don’t think there’s one man in a thousand who could have remembered that far back. But of course it might have been luck. Perhaps you just made a guess at it.”

“l didn’t guess,” Old Hark said.

“But you couldn’t do it again,” Death said.

“I reckon I could.”

“Then just to be absolutely positive it wasn’t a guess,

let’s try it one more time.”

“One more time,” Hark agreed. “Ask away.”

“Very well,” said Death. “The question is this: On your first birthday, your mother picked some wild flowers and put them in your crib with you. What kind of flowers were they?” And he walked away up the forest path.

After clearing the roof, Old Hark took his shovel to work on some drift that was leaning onto his fence. Now and then he threw some feed out of his pocket to the birds that followed him about. They were singing and chirping around the fence, and as he finished up and headed back to the cabin, Old Hark heard in back of him an unusual chirp, loud and clear.

It sounded exactly as if one of the birds had said, “Buttercups. “

Next morning when Death came around, Old Hark was under his lean-to splitting wood.

“Good morning,” Death said lightly, although actually he was feeling grouchy because he had been up half the night fixing his book to fit the old man into a new place.

Old Hark spit on his hands and took a fresh grip on his splitting maul. “Buttercups,” he said, and swung the maul.

Death swallowed hard to keep from crying out. It was impossible. He would have liked to have Old Hark’s wedge jump up and crack his skull, but of course that wasn’t in the book. Slowly, Death got control of himself.

“Amazing,” Death said. “I can scarcely believe it. What a memory. I’m astounded, really I am. You don’t suppose you could possibly do that again? I hardly believe you could.”

Old Hark took a breath and leaned on the butt of his splitting maul. “I reckon I just might,” he said. “But supposing I do? Then you got to let me be all the way into next spring.”

“Agreed,” Death said. “Agreed. Then it’s a wager. One more question. If you can answer, then I won’t come again until next spring. If you can’t answer … well, then … Death made a check mark in the air.

“Ask away,” said Old Hark.

“The question is this,” said Death. “On the day you were born, when the midwife held you up in the air, what were the first words your father said?” Death cocked his head, smiled, and walked away.

After splitting the wood, Old Hark filled all the bird feeders and broke up the ice in the cistern. All the while he was paying close attention to the birds which always fluttered nearby, but he heard nothing out of the ordinary in their chirping. Then he went inside. He stoked up the fire, made coffee, took a nap and puttered with some harness. But every now and then he opened the door and threw out some feed, and listened carefully. just ordinary singing and chirping. He was feeling especially tired and went to bed early with no answer to the question.

Now the reason the birds could tell him nothing was this. Old Hark had been born in that very cabin, and generations of birds had known him and everything about him, and because of their love for the old man they had passed on many memories of him, and so they knew the answers to the other questions.

But on the day the old man was born, in the very bed in which he now lay, the window was closed and the curtain was drawn, so the birds knew nothing of what his father’s first words were upon seeing his newborn son. They could not help him.

Old Hark woke late, which wasn’t like him. His bones hurt, and he felt tired. It took him much longer than usual to get his chores done, and the wind seemed to chill him to the heart. Still, he listened carefully to the birds. They said nothing special. Early in the afternoon, without coffee or even a bite to cat, he undressed and got back into bed. He had never felt quite so tired in his life. Through his half-closed eyes, he watched the birds on his windowsill hopping about, but he was too tired even to crack the window a bit so he could hear them sing. Now and then he fell asleep.

Death knocked on the door in the late afternoon.

“Come in,” Old Hark whispered.

“Hello,” Death said, opening the door. Then he saw Old Hark laid out in the bed and understood at once that the old man had no answer to the question.

“Well, well,” Death said, taking a chair next to the old man’s bed and opening his book on his lap. “Now isn’t that’s more like it, yes indeed. Ha, ha. You old rascal, I’ve been up half the night again on your account, you know, but it’s quite all right now, yes indeed. It’s good to see you lying there so quiet and gentle and …” Death glanced at the book. “ … so peaceful.”

Old Hark paid him no attention. He was watching the birds playing on the windowsill.

“Now,” said Death, taking out his pen. “I’ve managed to fit you in for sunset. Oh, you should appreciate that. It’s a choice spot, really. Very appropriate, very … fitting to the occasion, you know. Daylight ending, the sun going down, darkness coming on…. Ah, yes, a choice spot – we usually reserve it for poets.” Death ran a finger down the page. “Here we are,” he said cheerfully. He took the cap off his pen and moved to make a check mark after Old Hark’s name. Then he paused.

“0h, yes,” Death said. “It’s a formality, but I must ask you so as to make it all strictly legal. As I recall then, the question was this: On the day you were born, when the midwife held you up in the air, what were the first words your father said?”

But Old Hark had not even been listening. He was looking at the birds, and he said to Death, “Open the window.”

Death thrust his head forward and clutched at his pen.

“What did you say?”

“Let the birds sing.”

“NOOOOoooooooo!” Death bellowed. He flung his arms about hysterically, splattering ink, then screamed out again and fell off his chair in a fit. He got up in a rage and pitched his book through the window.

Birds flew in, singing. Death grabbed a handful of his coat front and threw himself out the window and went stumbling up the forest path.

Old Hark leaped out of bed and watched Death disappear into the forest. He was feeling much better. He put on a wool shirt and got some coffee to perking, then cut himself some cheese and bread. In a short time he figured out what all the commotion had been about.

Of course what it was, is this: Death had lost the wager and must leave Old Hark to live until spring, for his father’s first words on seeing his newborn son had been “Open the window! Let the birds sing!”


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Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid intentions: Ants.jpgthat the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things begin to occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues form the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no person could have dreamt would have come their way.

If Margaret Mead, the American anthropologist, and the German poet, Goethe had been able to collaborate, they might well have written this:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can,

Begin it together with a small group of

Bold, thoughtful, committed citizens.

Never doubt that the genius, power and

Magic of such a group can change the world.

In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.



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What is a Transpersonal Neurobiologist?

As someone who has been painstaking in my desire to avoid labels and category classifications, since I believe they contribute to “the illusion of separation,” for professional reasons I have nevertheless decided to temporarily relent and come up with something to call myself. The moniker I have finally settled upon is: transpersonal neurobiologist. Turns out I’m the only such creature currently on planet earth. Do a Google search (You’ll have to disregard my colleague Jamal Granick if your search turns him up. When I contacted Jamal about the label, he had no idea he was one).

So what is a Transpersonal Neurobiologist? Very simply it’s someone who studies both Transpersonal Psychology and Neurobiology and tries to weave them together into some sort of coherent, meaningful, useful body of knowledge.

Transpersonal Psychology

Transpersonal Psychology, while first introduced in the early 1900s in a lecture by William James at Harvard, evolved mostly in the late 1960s as a natural progression of the research findings of Abraham Maslow, who was primarily interested in peak human experiences. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the field:

tumblr_m0v0012byM1qap9uuo1_500.gifTranspersonal psychology is a sub-field or “school” of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology. It is also possible to define it as a “spiritual psychology.” The transpersonal is defined as “experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos.” It has also been defined as “development beyond conventional, personal or individual levels.”

Issues considered by transpersonal psychology include spiritual self-development, self beyond the ego, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance, spiritual crises, spiritual evolution, religious conversion, altered states of consciousness, spiritual practices, and other sublime and/or unusually expanded experiences of living. The discipline attempts to describe and integrate spiritual experience within modern psychological theory and to formulate new theory to encompass such experience.


Neurobiology, on the other hand, is a pretty mainstream, rigorous science. Here’s how MIT scientists thinks about it:

neurobiology.jpgNeurobiology is geared towards understanding how the remarkable diversity in neuronal cell types and their connections are established and how changes in neurons and their connections underlie learning and thinking. A number of groups are identifying and characterizing genes involved in specifying neuronal cell fate in vertebrates and invertebrates. Others are analyzing molecules involved in guiding axons to their correct targets. Additionally, efforts are underway to understand the physiological and biochemical changes in neurons that are involved in learning and memory, and the changes underlying neuropathology.

When I put the two together, what I find myself most interested in is how structural and developmental vulnerabilities of the human body and brain operate in ways that prevent us from attaining our highest human potential. It’s kind of like left brain and right brain attempting to weave both study categories into some sort of a coherent whole.  Out of this attempt will hopefully come insight into how the structural vulnerabilities of the body and brain end up contributing to much of the pain, suffering and chaos in the world. Few of us appear to be as fully “operational” as we might be and a transpersonal neurobiologist would argue that it’s not our fault – we’re not to blame. But we’re still on the hook for doing what we can to make things better for ourselves and everyone else. It’s called being an imperfect human being in an imperfect world. And it’s good to try and do our own work with as much kindness, understanding and compassion as we can muster.

Next time you hear the terms transpersonal neurobiologist think, “Oh, that’s someone who studies how structural and developmental vulnerabilities of the body and brain contribute to human suffering. And then tries to do something to address them.”

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50 Common Signs Your Adrenals Have Made You Their B!tch

There are numerous emotional and physical disorders that have been linked to stress including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections, a host of viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In addition stress can have direct effects on the skin (rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis, the gastrointestinal system (GERD, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis) and can contribute to insomnia and degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. In fact, it’s hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not affected. This list will undoubtedly grow as the extensive ramifications of stress are increasingly being appreciated.

1. Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain

2. Gritting, grinding teeth

3. Stuttering or stammering

4. Tremors, trembling of lips, hands

5. Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms

6. Light-headedness, faintness, dizziness

7. Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds

8. Frequent blushing, sweating

9. Cold or sweaty hands, feet

10. Dry mouth, problems swallowing

11. Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores

12. Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps”

13. Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks

14. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea

15. Excess belching, flatulence

16. Constipation, diarrhea, loss of control

17. Difficulty breathing, frequent sighing

18. Sudden attacks of life threatening panic

19. Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse

20. Frequent urination

21. Diminished sexual desire or performance

22. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness

23. Increased anger, frustration, hostility

24. Depression, frequent or wild mood swings

25. Increased or decreased appetite

26. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams

27. Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts

28. Trouble learning new information

29. Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion

30. Difficulty in making decisions

31. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed

32. Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts

33. Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness

34. Little interest in appearance, punctuality

35. Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping

36. Increased frustration, irritability, edginess

37. Overreaction to petty annoyances

38. Increased number of minor accidents

39. Obsessive or compulsive behavior

40. Reduced work efficiency or productivity

41. Lies or excuses to cover up poor work

42. Rapid or mumbled speech

43. Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness

44. Problems in communication, sharing

45. Social withdrawal and isolation

46. Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue

47. Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs

48. Weight gain or loss without diet

49. Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use

50. Excessive gambling or impulse buying

See more at:

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