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Fear Brain / Flower Brain

I was raised on fear: fear of falling, fear of drowning, fear of being snatched by a stranger luring me with candy. Fear of my father’s anger, fear of my mother’s rejection, fear of failing in school, fear of humiliation from classmates. Fear, fear, fear. Fear of being me–if I’m me, I won’t be loved; if I’m who my parents and society want me to be, I’ll be loved. Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong. I felt much joy growing up. I had fun playing sports and games with friends. I often felt happy as a child at home with my family. I loved exploring the beach summers and playing in the waves, fishing with my father, and dragnetting for bait. I loved my neighborhood and nearby Central Park.  I loved my bicycle, my toys, my bedroom. Life was full, but mostly, I recall the fear. Why does fear overshadow everything?

My mother’s hands were filled with fear as she cared for me as a sick baby and almost lost me to pyloric stenosis. I know she was also terrified as she cared for me post-operatively, for she had received this warning from the surgeon: if she cries, she dies. My mother’s eyes were orbs of fright, much of it from her own background, growing up with an abusive father who beat her. Fear raised me, trained me somatically. My body is a fear body, my brain a fear brain.

am changing;  it’s a process. Now I’m coping with a “slight concussion,” as my doctor calls it, from a fall ice-skating. Fears abound, for it’s taking me a while to recover. Right now, I’m in a bit of a fog and a high pitch sound has moved into my brain for the past few days. Fear, however, does not heal. In my meditation today, a beautiful image appeared: a plethora of white, purple, and red rose buds leaning toward me as if reaching over a fence. They had yet to bloom but were oh so ready. How happy I felt seeing those beautiful bulbs of colored light!  So here’s my strategy for today: Picture these rosebuds as much as possible. Trust they will open and that healing will bloom. Allow joy and hope to trump fear. Become a flower brain.

Our "Fourth Quadrant"

Two weeks ago, I attended a storytelling workshop, Retracing Our Steps (But I forgot the bread crumbs), given by Dr. Hetty Rodenburg, a medical doctor from New Zealand. Her own personal story was one of the most moving and inspirational stories that she shared that day. Years ago, she had signed up for a workshop… Continue Reading

Monster Baby

This past Wednesday, I spoke in the Humanities class of my friend Dylan Eret at the community college where I teach. His class had been studying images of monsters as representations of culture and society. They had also been reading illness narratives–expressions of the individual as well as the social context in which they were… Continue Reading

Know Thyself. Heal Thyself.

Know Thyself. These two words have been said by many of the great sages, philosophers, and gurus. I want to modify this saying a bit for the purpose of this post. Know Thy Complete Self, strengths and talents as well as weaknesses–those messages we’ve learned about ourselves that diminish our confidence and power. When we understand… Continue Reading