Episode 2

April 21, 2023


Part 2 Nothing Wasted, Nothing Lost: Lessons from Lived Experience with Joel Lesses (Recorded for Alchemical Dialogues with Henry Cretella)

Hosted by

Joel David Lesses
Part 2 Nothing Wasted, Nothing Lost: Lessons from Lived Experience with Joel Lesses (Recorded for Alchemical Dialogues with Henry Cretella)
Unraveling Religion
Part 2 Nothing Wasted, Nothing Lost: Lessons from Lived Experience with Joel Lesses (Recorded for Alchemical Dialogues with Henry Cretella)

Apr 21 2023 | 00:39:37


Show Notes

In Part 2 of the Alchemical Dialogues Podcast with Henry Cretella and Joel Lesses, more discussion surrounding wisdom of lived experience including Joel's personal history exploring mental health distress and an opporunity. 


Joel Lesses founded the Education Training Center as a means of counseling people marginalized by trauma, addiction, and psychological distress, and its effects including incarceration, homelessness, and institutionalization. He is dedicated to reframing mental health distress as a potential spiritual marker and existential opportunity. Also, vested in Poetry and Literature as an educator and poet, through writing workshops, poetry roundtables, poetry, and a manuscript. Finally, other passions include the intersection of poetry, spirituality, science, and phenomenology shared and disparate in the human experience, and transformative power of self inquiry and introspection through contemplative and meditative practices explored in his podcast, 'Unraveling Religion' mystical and practical discussions as an exploration of spirituality and its relation to religion and psychology. Joel was nominated and voted previously 'Buffalo's Best Poet'; he has been published in various magazines and publications, founded Ground and Sky Poetry Series, and facilitated numerous poetry workshops. Currently, he is working on an autobiography of poetry and prose entitled 'Odyssey of Autumn's Breath: An American Collection and Life.' He has worked as a healthcare administrator, trainer, facilitator, and consultant, leading the understanding in education treatment and advocacy regarding substance use, mental health, (and medical) issues.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 I think so too. And I, I, again, that's why I kind of prefaced it by saying, I don't mean to discount the question or the perspective I'm giving my genuine, I'm giving my, in my secret self and my deep self. I'm bringing that out into the light and saying, this is how I try at least to look at it. I try not to me, like, it's so wonderful when someone says, like, that, someone appreciates what I've done for them. Oh, we all feel this way when we feel validated. But what I think I'm trying to articulate is that it's really for others, it's, it's for others to, um, my experience of others is another's experience. It is not mine that we may relate in the moment in relationship, but it's really there. I don't need to know. But if I, if it reflected back to me or comes back to me, that's wonderful too. So a middle, like a kind of middle, middle way with it. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:00:54 So one of the points you highlighted when we were talking about doing this podcast is how your experiences may be a calling to be a healer, leader, teacher in the community. Speaker 0 00:01:05 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:01:06 And I think what you, and you said it in the very beginning, uh, being of service has become really important. Speaker 0 00:01:14 Yeah. Well, it's the lifeblood of my existence. It's not, it's not anything other. I don't, I don't mean to, you know, I say this unequivocally and with no, no limits on it, that if I've stopped serving other people, I was just talking about this with a friend of mine that I would not have healed if I was not in service to others. There's no, if I was trying to heal myself without giving to others, there would be no healing. The totality of healing comes and how much we can give to other people. And it, that's the paradox of the great paradox of existence that I've learned in my spiritual investigations, is that the more I fing give to others, even when I'm in distress in the moment, it may be terrible and difficult and hurt. I know that returns to me, and I know it's correct because we are all the same self and to step out of my paradigm into another's world, even when it's difficult for me, that extra effort also returns to me. So, like, just that, you know, I just think that like there is no healing without service. And the more you serve, the greater your healing, the, the deeper the healing will be. Speaker 1 00:02:22 But not if the focus is counting up how many people you served and putting the feather in your cap. Speaker 0 00:02:30 So let's examine why that's the case. I mean, that's a common thing for people to do. I mean, why would that be that we don't countermeasure? And I, you know, I, I'm pretty, um, overt about the fact that I, I believe in a, an orchestrator, an author, you know, God, you can call it God, you know, there's an or orchestrator or authored all this, but another word that you could use is an accountant. God is the great accountant. So like, I serve people and it, God, it does all the math. I don't need to worry about the math. Right? And so that level of faith I know is different than some people and measured in an equal measure with others. But like, truly, when you stop counting and you allow God to count, you are, that's a freedom. Speaker 1 00:03:22 That's the independence and indifference. Speaker 0 00:03:25 That's, that's sovereignty. That, that, that's, that's honoring your sovereignty. Because we are created by something that sent us here. And when we honor it by giving it all to him and trust or it or her, and trust that I will be taken care of if I give everything I can to this community and build it in the ways that I am meant and let it count. There's such freedom in that I can't tell you. And that's, and you know, in the inverse of that would be to like, in my mind be clouded by, oh, I helped X, Y, and Z person, or I did this or that, or the other thing, or I gave this amount of money to this organization. Like, who needs that? Is that really your money? Is that really your, your your, your giving? I mean, so it ties into a much deeper question of like, when we give, is that just us or are we allowed to give? Speaker 0 00:04:16 Are we, and are we, when we give, are we emulating something that is given to us and we are passing, passing it along? Am I the sole source of giving or is there something that has imbued me with the ability to give that I don't need to count or measure? And I'm just passing, passing along. It ties into this Dr. Bruce briefly, if I could say, there's a movie called Amongst White Clouds, Edward Berger. And he was a college student who read, uh, Chan Hermit Poets. And he went to China to find Living Today contemporary Chan Mountain poets in China. And he found these guys and they had their, they were aesthetics. So they wanted, they had tattered robes. They lived in some shack. Um, and, you know, he had all this rice and food and oil. He tried to give it to them. And he stayed a couple days. And he noticed that as other people came, they took the stuff and then gave it away <laugh>. Like, they didn't want it. They just, they didn't need it. You know, they want only what they need. And I think that that's a fundamental point of, of scrutiny for people is that we should examine what do I need versus what do I want? There's a big distinction. Speaker 1 00:05:25 Again, we could go around in circles. I remember when I was studying Tibetan Buddhism, I think I read it as opposed to a conversation, but somebody was saying, you, you notice how as the ches get older and they get deeper and deeper, they create more monasteries. Yeah. They don't slow down. They get more energized and monasteries are popping up all over the place, which can sound the opposite of what you're talking about. Yeah. So there's this, maybe this is another podcast. I think this is a, it's something that I think is important and can be really confusing. Yeah. And I, I love the way you're describing it. One of my favorite stories, um, I know some of you on the call have heard this, but I read an autobiography of Jackie Chan, the comedic martial artist. Speaker 0 00:06:14 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:06:15 And it was, it really moved me. And the story was, reminds me a little bit about your story. He said that his parents couldn't afford to raise him, and they put him in an orphanage, which at that point the orphanages were training the kids to be in the Chinese opera. Yeah. Which were, which was basically gymnastics. And he said his parents had to sign a piece of paper saying that the orphanage was not responsible if he died. Speaker 0 00:06:47 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:06:48 He said the training was brutal. Yeah. It was abusive. Yeah. Nobody should ever have to go through that. Yeah. He's glad they're closed down. It was a terrible experience. And then he says, and I thank them every day because they made me who I am. Yep, Speaker 0 00:07:08 Yep. Speaker 1 00:07:10 And I just, I read that and I just stopped, you know, I, it's, I think I understand better what he's saying. Yeah. To have that kind of, I, you know, basically I would like to be a part of never having this happen to any child ever again. Yeah. But I have to tell you, that's why I am who I am. Yeah. And part of the way he handled it is he made the inroads into the movies, and he kept on giving, he, he hired his orphanage partners as stunt people. He started giving them jobs. I mean, he just gave back to the community. And he helped the people exercise what they had learned in this awful experience that is a piece of work. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> what a, what a magnificent human being to be able to hold it that way. And that's what your story reminds me of. Speaker 0 00:08:10 Thank you so much for saying so. Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that I'd like to say also is that in this mode of talking about the, the container, the rice bag that we are versus the, the timeless helmet, that we are the soul. And that that soul is energetic as energy energetic properties, which can manifest in intention. So when there's a specific point of wanting something in energetically, an intention, it very often can be obtained. But you are narrowing the focus, putting almost like blinders on what might be available to you. If your intention becomes, how may I serve? How may I serve creator? How may I serve my community? That open intention releases a field of possibility that you cannot imagine can return to you in ways that make sense and affect others in ways that are very profound. Um, and so I just wanted to say that, cause I think it's important because I, you know, I think like, I want that new Mercedes-Benz, you know, or I may serve. I mean, we can each choose in that spectrum of where we wanna be. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Great. Speaker 1 00:09:23 I wanna talk a little about your education training center. Speaker 0 00:09:26 Yeah, please. Yeah. Well, Speaker 1 00:09:28 No, that's an invitation for you to talk about it. Speaker 0 00:09:30 Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, sure, I can do that. Uh, education Training Center, I'm actually just in process of completing paperwork for a 5 0 1 <unk> <unk>, which makes it, uh, a nonprofit. And the, a Mission of Education Training Center is very specific. It is, um, to deal with, uh, mental health distress, addressing mental health distress without distinction to cause. So that, what does that mean? That means that, like, if you have trauma from, uh, a non-binary experience identifying as non-binary, or you are purple and everyone else is green, or you are in the LGBTQ plus community, whatever ways in which we are feeling marginalized, that's causing distress. Um, education Training Center has been set up to address that distress without distinction to, cause who cares why it happened? You're in distress, let's figure it out. And so, within the ags of Education Training Center, um, I had a lot of hobbies, which I was able to assemble under the Shield of Education Training Center, including the Unraveling Religion Podcast, which Henry's been a guest, Betty's been a guest. Speaker 0 00:10:45 And the Ground and Sky Poetry series, which we talked about in the beginning of the show. I also offer individual and group counseling. And I have a contract with, uh, compere Rochester to provide groups, weekly groups called on the menu, which deals with, uh, targeting, um, uh, the understanding of isolation and loneliness and mental health. And w I also offer other things like trainings and events. So I do mental Health First aid training, which is a seven and a half hour course in how to interact with individuals in mental health distress in the moment. It gives people confidence. There's a, uh, an acronym called Algae. It's assessed for risk of suicide or harm. Listen, non-judgmentally, give reassurance and support, and then encourage, uh, appropriate, uh, professional help. And then, and, uh, encourage like self, uh, health things for self-help. And so that's essentially the, the algae acronym is we dissect, dissect that in mental health first aid training in a wide array of ways. Speaker 0 00:11:52 And I, uh, I was trained in Albany to provide that training. So me, uh, education Training Center provides mental health first aid training. I'm actually providing it for a, a spiritual organization in Rochester coming up. And then I also do community events. So one of the things that I was able to do a long time ago was bring the, the documentary Crazy Wise to Rochester and Buffalo. And I documented those experiences with short videos. There are about eight or nine of 'em, and those are on Vimeo, but it's on the website. So if you ever wanted to take a look at those, uh, sunk my heart and soul into those as well. And so we do community events. And one of the things that I'm looking at doing, um, in August is I'm having a panel discussion on forced treatment. So we are going to talk about, with a panel of anthropologists and Global health, global mental health and psychiatrists, and, um, advocates Panel of seven, I'm gonna moderate about what forced treatment looks like and where it needs to go. Speaker 0 00:12:55 I think for me, there is no question that, um, what we call force treatment or the, the forcing an individual to take medication at times may be appropriate, but how it's done is inhumane and pretty, pretty, uh, pretty upsetting. So I think the ways in which it we do it, that, that it may need to happen, can happen, but we need to examine the paradigm from which it, it is implemented. And that's pretty much it. I, I, uh, education training center. So, and then the last thing about Education Training Center is on Tuesdays, or I'm sorry, Tuesdays On Saturdays at two o'clock, we hold, uh, half an hour meditation session because Education Training Center understands the vital link between meditation and mental health. Meditation has been vital in my own recovery, in my own rehabilitation, and extracting many of the lessons of trauma. Speaker 1 00:13:46 That's a quite a basket. You have a lot of things going on with that. Congratulations. So people can find your website, right? Speaker 0 00:13:54 Yeah, it's up. It's, uh, it's just my name.com. So it's joel lesses.com. And that's Education Training Center. You know, the Unraveling Religion podcast, you can find links there. The Ground and Sky Poetry series, which I'm, I want to, uh, fully express it is on Zoom. So even if you're not in the Western New York region, and you are interested in, um, ground and sky poetry series, uh, there is a Zoom option available for people. Speaker 1 00:14:20 Great. So, uh, yeah, I wanted to talk about the Amite edition. Yeah, yeah. I still love that you came up with that phrase. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:14:30 Yeah. The, you want me to talk about it? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, um, so, you know, many years ago I met Henry at su at SoFi's, uh, universal Worship. And I, something that was really, uh, really, uh, a wonderful experience was at Universal Worship. And for a long time, we've stayed in touch through, um, the years, and we've begun to collaborate on many different projects in many different ways. And I think we spoke recently about Ground and Sky poetry series, which has a no mic, no list, no podium format. What does that mean? It means we just sit around and talk about life, and people throw poems in, and there's nothing you gotta do. There's nothing you gotta say. There's no poem you have to read. You can read other people's poems. I joke with Henry that you can bring a tuba, that's okay, too. And, uh, so that mu no mic, no list, no no podium format. Uh, Henry and I spoke about wanting to offer it to the Amber Lake community. And so in Rochester, on the third Friday of every month at seven o'clock at Before Your Quiet Eyes Bookstore on Monroe Avenue, we are gonna offer the, uh, ground and sky round table amber light edition of, of, uh, poetry. Speaker 1 00:15:44 So, I, I guess we're not joking about you can bring a tuba. Speaker 0 00:15:47 No. Speaker 1 00:15:48 So it, it isn't just poetry, it's, it's anything, any, any art form you want to bring. Yep. Speaker 0 00:15:54 Totally. Speaker 1 00:15:54 So we're, we're Pros. Speaker 0 00:15:56 Pros or poetry, musical instrument, drums, saxophone. Yep. Whatever you, Speaker 1 00:16:01 We'll see what kind of collection we get. So that starts in April. So if you're interested, contact me or contact Joel. Joel is gonna do all the, uh, it's a hybrid event, and, uh, he's gonna take care of all the zooming. So, um, but you can contact either one of us, and I will send out the Zoom link to anybody who contacts me, and Joel will send it out to anybody who contacts him. But if you're in Rochester or within striking distance, feel free to come. It's before you're quiet. Quiet Eyes Bookstore. Speaker 0 00:16:33 Yeah. Ken, Ken kba. Yeah, Ken Cal KBA is a wonderful guy. And, uh, he runs a wonderful com. It's really a bookstore, but it's a community center. I mean, there's a whole culture that's formed around it. Speaker 1 00:16:45 Right. So, Louise put into the chat for those of you on the recording, how you can contact me if you already, if you already know me personally, you can just send me a personal email o otherwise just use the info and Amber light international.org. So, yeah, so we have a lot of interesting things that are developing, and I think o one of the interesting, exciting things for me in working with you is how things have these artificial distinctions have in a very organic experiential way have just started to collapse. So we talk about psychology, we talk about spirituality, we talk about Zen, we talk about the Torah, we talk about Sufism. But really the experience has become it's all one. Yeah. And having that happen has been, uh, a real gift to me. It's not abstract. It comes out in my life. It comes out in our conversations. Speaker 1 00:17:50 And, uh, that gives a lot of meaning to my life. So I, I really appreciate our friendship and collegiality, and we can still get off, we could talk for two hours about one little thing in psychology or mysticism, but the experience is look at, at how, how it's all coming together, how it's all integrating and not getting caught. We help each other. I think my experience is you helped me not getting caught in just one thing that I'm interested in and forgetting, no, there's another way of looking at this. And that, that allows me to stay open and to be, be more able to share somebody else's experience in a really meaningful way. So, thank you, dear friend. Speaker 0 00:18:37 You are my dear friend. Each of you in different ways. Some, some I may not have met, but many of you are, uh, are, uh, deep treasures to me, Luis and Betty for sure. Speaker 1 00:18:49 Yeah. So, uh, we're gonna be wrapping up if there's any comments anyone would like to make or any last questions. So Kathleen has one, and then two of people have raised your hand. So Kathleen, Speaker 2 00:19:03 Hi Joel. Speaker 0 00:19:05 Hi Kathleen. Speaker 2 00:19:06 I would like to ask you if you have an opportunity to teach the, um, spiritual or the mental health emergency course to first responders. Um, police, fire, not e m T. Speaker 0 00:19:23 Well, it's a great question. And there's actually New York State legislation to mandate that teachers and first responders, including police and EMTs, it's in legislative, it is not passed. So it's not mandated, it's not law. I don't know where it stands, but I know that there was legislation to get that passed to have all, and just to open this up in a genuine way, cuz I feel as I'm more genuine about my story, other people gives permission for other people too. In 2019, I was not doing well. And I actually had, I was arrested in Brighton, <laugh> running down Monroe Avenue. I couldn't believe the cop the cop caught up with me. I'm still astounded by that. But, um, you know, I just reached out to the police chief, I think last week and thanked him for the exceptional care and compassion professionalism that they provided. Speaker 0 00:20:13 And I did that for no reason. But then I was like, oh, and there's this thing, mental health first aid training you guys could do. And he wrote back this beautiful email that was like, I'm so glad that you're well now thank you so much for your response. And just to let you know, Brighton has some, someone to Georgia many years ago, a few years ago, to be trained in mental health first aid training in-house so they can train all the new police officers and the current ones in mental health first aid training. And we agreed sort of in this way that one of the reasons why the response was so loving and professional and appropriate in my condition, my state was because of the mental health First aid training. So I was, I was really very happy with that, that knowledge that that mental health first aid, which I'm a trainer in, came back in a way to like really help me very deeply. It could have gone many different ways. Not everyone always gets out as well as I did. So, Speaker 2 00:21:11 So I just wanna ask you if that's Chief David Cataldi, right? He's, yeah. Yeah. He was a forward thinker. Speaker 0 00:21:20 He was so loving. I mean, I have the email here and he, he was a, he was, I could just, I just felt that, uh, I just couldn't believe that, you know, and so I, um, I have it right here. Yeah. Aldi, yeah. That's, that's who it was. Yep. And so plus I can, I can provide that training. I think I have to examine whether I have to get a cert, uh, a sub certification within the trained specific populations. But that would not be difficult for me to do if you were interested in that. But there are also, just to let you know, Kathleen, there are many very, very qualified people in Rochester who could also provide that training if you were interested in promoting that. Speaker 1 00:21:59 Great. So thank you for offering to talk with her about that. So, Scott, Speaker 3 00:22:04 Thank you Joel and Henry, I, I'd just like to begin by saying, I think this is a very worthwhile subject and topic. And I I think you should do the, do this again and dig a little deeper. You guys, you both your experiences show that, you know, we've really basically just touched the surface. I guess my, uh, my question began as something that maybe concerns a, a present issue such as, uh, the one we've experienced national academic epidemic of gun violence in school. You know, especially the recent ones that are happened in schools where there's obviously a feature of real mental distress just driving, driving perpetrators. And, you know, sometimes we forget that perpetrators are the most traumatized. And it demonstrates in a way how there's something in the pipeline. You know, if we want to think of, you know, society as a pipeline, you know, where it's, well, you know, we have it for a particular reason. Speaker 3 00:23:17 You know, it's supposed to get from here to there. Right. Whatever is in the pipeline. And, uh, you know, it just, I was thinking in terms of, well, you know, what, what could communities have that, you know, escape this stigma or even the understanding of what, you know, mental health or specific mental health inter intervention is that, you know, would really create an environment of, uh, or an, an improvement in a community's overall mental health. That led me then to, uh, oh, remember a recent experience. I, I follow the, uh, let's see, I think at Library of the Americans America, they do some great books and they publish all the time. Everything, you know, all, all these great American authors, everyone from Jack Kerouac to Frederick Douglas and that, but they recently had a, uh, a book that they were releasing, which is, um, I believe called Women Are the Future. Speaker 3 00:24:24 And it was about, uh, science fiction, uh, writers who are women and how different their views might be of, uh, you know, possible future society, basically. You know, that was something that they really touched on. It wasn't just a traditional, you know, scientific, uh, well science fiction, you know, with aliens and invading from outer space, <laugh>. And, you know, women have having these roles where they needed to be rescued by someone or something. Anyway, there, there's a science fiction book that I've read in the, um, eighties, and it was March Pearce's book, and it was called Women on the Edge of Time. Uh, if you're not familiar with it, it's the story of a woman who is diagnosed as being schizophrenic. But her experience is that she actually travels into the future into a society that's completely different. And for all intents and purposes it's reality to her. So she's caught in the paradigm of having to actually believe in both this world and the other world she's experienced as being reality. Okay. And so, well, it, it, it boils down to some rather traumatic events, but some, some were, you know, very reaffirming as far as ideas that, uh, could maybe express what a more holistic society would be in the future. The camps of society were divided in two. One was kind of like a, uh, Speaker 0 00:26:08 Scott, I'm gonna have to ask you to kinda wrap up the question. Speaker 3 00:26:12 Okay. Well, I'll just say that, uh, you should read the book. It's really, uh, it's, it's an amazing book. It really is. Uh, I, so I, i, if I stop now, there won't be any spoilers, but it's a great subject for, uh, mental health and uh, sure. Looking for, for taking. Speaker 0 00:26:32 Thank you. God. If I could just say quickly, very briefly, um, your question about gun violence or just general violence toward the community by an individual who's, who's, uh, crying out, we have to investigate that very deeply because there's this tendency to blame gun violence on mental illness. And that's not a correlation that pans out in, in sort of the, uh, research. So one of the things I would say is that there's a capacity of every soul to hold their suffering and their trauma. The larger the capacity of a soul to hold its trauma, the more it's easier for to extract the lessons, the smaller the soul's capacity to hold, the more likely that they'll react in, in some kind of violence, what violent way to the community. Speaker 1 00:27:16 So I really wanted to highlight what Joel was saying, that in general, the issues with mental illness tend to be what he highlighted earlier, isolation, marginalization. Statistically, they're not the co they're not the cause for this. And, uh, it's, Speaker 0 00:27:34 If I could introduce this two Henry, it's actually, it's 10 times more likely that a person with mental health distress will be the recipient of upfront. Speaker 1 00:27:41 It's always been, I remember when I was practicing that, that was emphasized so much and I was working in some difficult inpatient facilities where there was a lot of violence. And I remember somebody gave a talk and was, was giving a, a seminar on how do you deal with the violence and institutions with people who have significant mental illness. And I went up and said, I just want to shake your hand cuz you're willing to talk about this. It's the other side of it. It's not that it doesn't happen, but the way it's being talked about now in the public forms is as if, well, the whole reason for this is because of mental illness and we need, need to have that under control and provide better services. It's like there's a disconnect in there that really, that really bothers me. So that's one part. Speaker 1 00:28:31 The other part is, yeah, we could have a whole other podcast on, and we touched on it a little bit, how certain kinds of mental illness can be an opening to a spiritual experience. That doesn't necessarily mean that every suffering, every person who has a mental illness and is suffering is having a, a mystical experience. It's not either or. It's also, and and it's sometimes hard to differentiate that. And that's important if somebody is having an opening, you, you don't wanna shut that down. You want to integrate that. On the other hand, if somebody is suffering with a mental illness, they're suffering. There are things you can do that will be really helpful that don't necessarily shut down. They're being able to have meaning in their life. It just allows them to be safe and to function while they're integrating all of that. So thank you for the invitation. That's something maybe Joel and I you can talk about. Do we can talk about doing another podcast on Yeah. Betty, you had a, a comment or a Speaker 0 00:29:41 Question. Speaker 4 00:29:42 Hey, thank you. Hi Joel. Thank you so much <laugh> for your authenticity and openness in sharing, uh, your experiences and the wealth of wisdom and knowledge that that you have. Thank you for sharing. I actually have two questions. I'll try to quickly kind of combine them. I was wondering if you would share with us in retrospect what you consider some of your strength that have helped you move through your life and find yourself where you are today. And the second part, the second question is actually it's kind of tags onto something Scott said, and that is, is because of, uh, technology today, we by and large so many people or witnesses to trauma, to other people having trauma. And we kind of experienced that as, as trauma, as a traumatic experience ourselves by seeing so much of what's happening. You had mentioned meditation and I was wondering if that is one of the tools or, and if there are other tools or activities that from your experience you can share that might help us to, you know, just to kind of maintain balance and tread this rocky turvy, toughy turvy world that we are living in today. Speaker 0 00:31:27 It's a pretty crazy place, isn't it? Betty <laugh>. Yeah. So those two questions, sort of the strengths that allowed me to survive and kind of what are the tools that we could utilize for others? The, it's funny, there, there are, there are different ways I could approach this question about strengths, but I wanna approach it this way and it's a very intimate expression. And there's something about my dynamic with Henry and each of you that allows me to express myself without fear of judgment. I feel safe and in a trusted, safe space. And I think that Henry's energy and Louise's energy and Betty's energy and each of you allow that to come to be into being. But I will say this, that I was saved or I was healed or I am well now because of my ability to bond with people in deep ways, I have a tendency to have deep relationships with people. Speaker 0 00:32:21 And that allows deep insight and deep vulnerability and, and deep, deep understanding. And it is the most cherished aspect of my human existence that I can bond deeply with people. I I would not trade this existence for anything in the world. It is so inexpressibly wonderful that we can be in these containers separate, isolated, lonely, and then connect deeply with people, especially when we need or needed need to be heard. And so, uh, I've had a series, there's a poem that I have called Turn My Neck Behind Me, gazing on my Past retrospective in which I, I sort of cite four relationships that I had that were the foundation of my wellbeing today. And so I would say that that is the very essence, my ability to, to connect deeply with people is the reason why I am well known as far as what we can do for people in distress. Speaker 0 00:33:19 Because education training center addresses mental health distress without distinction to cause. So it doesn't matter. These things that I'm gonna uh, offer are not based on any kind of specific reason for mental health distress. Meditation is paramount and what does meditation offer, but the ability to witness when oneself and others in an open, receptive way. And that witnessing, I would say is foundational for healing for all people. What would the world look like if I didn't have to say anything to you, but I could just hold space for you? And we did that for each of us, everyone all the time. And then we only uttered what was true and deep and genuine in our heart that we didn't utter something, uh, about some sell at x, y, z place for a cola or gas on sale. But we were talking about what is real to us, what is genuine beyond identity, beyond practical concerns of finances into the heart of the matter of being human and listening. So witnessing li listening and sort of assessing, cultivating through meditation or ability to respond to circumstances. I would just say that, you know, I would say Henry, it feels like if I could just be very forthright, it feels like a second installment of this. Cuz I feel like we've only grazed the surface. I feel Scott was so right on the money and I, you know, it's not my place to offer that, but like, be interested in me. Speaker 1 00:34:45 You have an in invitation. I wanted to to dovetail on what you were saying though. Two things. One is uh, you know, I'm blocking on the researcher in the book now, which is embarrassing. But the research was about small things you could do that have a big effect. And one of them was about, uh, service and it had to do with labeling. And it was really interesting. It was the experience of kids and adolescents who had behavior problems that were getting them into serious trouble with police, et cetera. And what the research found is if they volunteer to provide service, it creates cognitive dissonance. I can't be volunteering and enjoying this if I'm getting in trouble all the time. And they did research on summer camps for kids who ha summer camps for kids and kids who have trouble going to summer camps for kids who have trouble versus kids who have trouble who just go to a summer camp. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:35:49 Dramatic difference. Yeah. Go to a summer camp for kids who have trouble. Your behavior stays the same or gets worse. Worse. Yeah. If you go to a summer camp just to have a summer camp experience, all of a sudden there's improvement. Yeah. So part of that had to do with reframing and relabeling. Yeah. Saying you are not what society is saying you are. Yeah. But you have to embody that and you give them exper, you know, like you can't have a volunteer opportunity only for kids who are having problems. They just have to be volunteering. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that's probably the trick. So that was one. So, and I, I wanted to highlight it cuz what I heard is one of the strengths and one of the things that helped you deal with what you were dealing with with service. Speaker 0 00:36:37 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Very much. Very Speaker 1 00:36:40 Much. The other part is gonna be, I don't want this to be like a, a naysayer, but there's a lot being written rightfully so about one of the quote dangers of meditation that hasn't been spoken about enough, but it dovetails with what you started with. And that is it often de represses the repressed memories. Speaker 0 00:37:03 Sure. Speaker 1 00:37:04 Which is on the one hand good, which is the way you experienced it. Uhhuh <affirmative> on the other hand, when you're not ready for that or the person who is guiding you or teaching meditation isn't aware that that can happen. Yeah. Well what's really bad is if you emphasize that and then meditation, oh you shouldn't be doing that cuz it's so dangerous. No. But you can't be blind to that. And I just wanted to highlight that. It's a wonderful tool, but you have to be aware, especially when there's trauma involved. Yeah. That can happen. Well, Joel, thank you very much. We're gonna have to stop. So yes, you and I can talk about part two. Speaker 0 00:37:46 Beautiful. I wanna thank each of you for creating a safe space for me to express some, some very vulnerable things. So thank you so much. Speaker 1 00:37:53 You know, before we end, I thank you so much for saying that all of these podcasts that the in unraveling religions is a very safe space for me to just wax eloquently when you provoke me. And I think we've developed something that the safe space is really important to me. So you feeling safe enough to share some really poignant and intimate experiences. Thank you so much for doing that. And thank everybody who's been listening, whether you're here on the recording or not, for making it a, a safe place for people to really explore a co have a conversation that can let something new arise that's beneficial for, for people. And I, I really appreciate that. So thank you all. Take care. Speaker 5 00:38:39 If you find yourself enjoying our podcast, please do us a favor and spread the word, tell a friend about it, give us a review on iTunes or post it on social media. If you or someone you know would like to participate in a future podcast, please connect with us through the contact us page, see our events calendar page for dates to our next live podcast recordings. We'd love for you to participate and ask questions. And be sure to check out Joel Lessee's podcast, unraveling Religion on your favorite podcast app. Our chemical dialogues are live and unscripted conversations recorded on Zoom. Brought to you by the great folks of Amber Light International, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Henry Carella, MD and Kathleen Fitzpatrick, L C S W. We choose topics from our current social and cultural climate with an emphasis on humanism and spirituality.

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