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 with Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the renowned psychiatrist famous for her work with the dying, thinking she would gain knowledge that would benefit her patients. Instead she confronted her own grief and cried for five days. Hetty is a survivor of Nazi-occupied Holland during WWII and her father had been incarcerated in a concentration camp when she was a young girl. When he returned a few years later, cancer had overtaken him. As an adult, she was still filled with tears and rage over his fate and that of her family during this difficult time. After this workshop, she trained to be a facilitator of the work of Dr. Kübler-Ross, during which time she released the rage and fear and began to live guided by unconditional love.

Hetty’s book, Dreaming a Lighthouse: A Creative Partnership–a teenager, her doctor & Cancer, is about her healing relationship with a young woman named Wendy, in which she discusses the “Personality or four-quadrant model” that Dr. Kübler-Ross used for teaching purposes. Here’s an excerpt: “The first [quadrant] is the physical . . . our body, and how we observe and experience the world through our senses. We see, hear, smell, we taste and touch. The medical profession mostly focuses on this quadrant. It’s only twenty-five percent of the whole of you . . . In the second quadrant, called the emotional, we feel and express ourselves through our emotions, like fear, love, grief and anger, among many others. [The third] is the intellectual, where we try to make sense of the world through our logic. We ask questions, we rationalize, we analyze, we read books and we try to find the answers using our mind. And the last one is our spiritual quadrant. Here we experience the world through creativity, dreams, art and music, and through our connection with nature. We contemplate larger questions such as “What is the purpose of my life: Is there a God? What is God? Who and what am I?’ . . . There is so much potential healing power in the spiritual quadrant. We can use nature, prayer, meditation, faith and our belief in God or in the universal energy. We can use the arts, music and our creativity. It’s a place where we can surrender and ask for help, wisdom and guidance. I believe we are held and comforted and loved by something much bigger than ourselves. Our soul is not cared for by human hands.”

My blog is largely about this spiritual quadrant. Healing happens when we connect with this innate part of ourselves. The more we keep this connection alive, the more our healing is hastened. The book Dreaming a Lighthouse is filled with Wendy’s beautiful artwork and thoughtful poetry and journal entries. Healing stories are also part of the narrative. Dr. Rodenburg brings a much-needed approach to medicine and to our world. She reminds us to live in balance–in touch with all our quadrants. And she reminds us to live from the heart as one.

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