Dicing onions leads to the path of self discovery

dicing onions leads to a path of self discovery aletheus mark hannan

For three months, I questioned my every thought and every action – everything. How I brushed my teeth, answered the phone, opened a door, spoke to a salesperson. One day I was dicing onions and asked myself, “why am I cutting these this way? There are other ways. Why do I do it this particular way?” The answer surprised me, and it didn’t. It was an answer that led my to this experiment. “My mother did it that way.” I remember watching her cook and that’s where I must have learned it. Now granted, her way of cutting onions was the “right” or “best” way – but I want to make that choice rather than just do it that way because she did. This happened over and over again for the next three months – I evaluated all that I said and did and looked to discover if it was the best way for me in each case – that my words and actions are my choice not the result of someone else’s choice.

While the ultimate result of any truly spiritual path is the negation of the individual ego-self, one cannot begin on one’s own personal path of spiritual realization unless one establishes his/her individuality. That means freeing oneself from the demands of organized religions, creeds, socially accepted beliefs, the dictates of any prophet, the stories others have of and for us. People can spend an entire lifetime following the teachings and beliefs of others, without ever finding the path that is right for them personally.

The truth is within us as an individual. All the sages of the ancient past have found it so. Within ourselves are all the problems and promises that we must confront and meld into a whole Self that we can then project to the outward world. So much of what we are told by our family, community, and those in power, leads us away from our true nature. We come to believe the stories we are told – “you’re stupid,” “your ugly,” “you can’t do anything right can you?,” “you’ll never be happy,”…and so on. If you listen closely to your thoughts when you are in moments of difficulty, saddness, or despair, you will hear these sentences again, below the surface arguments. It is these stories that need to be dis-assembled and re-written. Your own individual story – your preferred story. Not the story told to you by others and society. That is their story.

In the darkness of true spiritual aloneness, the ego dies. The soul, however, can never die. And it is the person’s soul that comes through and begins the climb out far removed from where one began the quest. This is the discovery of who the person really is, one’s inner spirit or soul without superficial attachments to worldly identities — the true Self. What happens on that journey is specific and personal to each seeker. The dreams and visions that come to the mind — once it is stripped of its complacency and familiar moorings — are new and challenging.

It was amazing to see how much of my daily life was spent carrying out the storyline of others, of how much my own story was unheard, untold. Many days were painful, but at the end of it I came to find a way of living that was my way. This was one beginning of many. To this day, when I am facing a challenge, I am reminded to listen to my thinking and to look at my actions; do they move the story of my life forward? Do they advance my character development? Do they bring me closer to harmony with myself, others and the universe? Asking those questions is a simple strategy – stopping to ask them is the hard part.

M. Hannan

Re-enter Your Dreams to Harness Their Power

Painting of Endymion Sleeping

This is a transcript of the Dream Re-entry process developed by Dr. Fred Olsen. The conversation occurred in an online chat room focusing on dreams. Dr. Olsen (Dreamtrack) enters the conversation and starts the process with the dreamer (Bravo). The questions posed are the heart of the process. My comments, based on my notes from a workshop I attended with Dr. Olsen, are in parenthesis ().

Duggan: How are you feeling today?

Bravo: I am really bummed out this morning.

Duggan: Why is that?

Bravo: I had a nightmare last night that is really bothering me.

Dreamtrack: THAT’S GREAT !!!

Bravo: Why is that great?

Dreamtrack: Dreams are such gifts to help us to understand ourselves and to resolve our inner issues.

Bravo: It didn’t feel great to me.

Dreamtrack: I know and that’s okay. It’s just that I am so involved with the power and value of dreams, I couldn’t help but respond.

Duggan: Are you a psychologist or something?

Dreamtrack: I am a dream worker and have a dream center in San Francisco.

Duggan: Really?

Dreamtrack: Yup This is my first time in a chat room and I appeared right when you mentioned your nightmare. I couldn’t resist responding. I hope that’s okay. I was the intruder.

Duggan: Ohhh.

Dreamtrack: I was simply amazed at the coincidence.

Dreamtrack: Are you still there Bravo?

Bravo: Yes, I am here.

Dreamtrack: Would you like to tell us the dream? (gauge the willingness to explore)

Bravo: Sure, it made no sense to me. It left me feeling really depressed.

Dreamtrack: Do you feel okay sharing the dream content with us? (verify willingness)

Bravo: Sure. In the dream, I was at my father’s grave. The grass was dry and brown. It was very barren. In real life the grave is very lush.

Dreamtrack: Did your father die? (match “reality” with the dream content)

Bravo: Yes, he died a couple of years ago. There was a very spooky feeling in the dream, like there was a presence.

Dreamtrack: Can you feel yourself in the dream now? (it is important to have a feeling sense of the dream content)

Bravo: Yes, it is very clear, like I am right there now.

Dreamtrack: In the dream, how old are you? (ground the dreamer in their self image in the dream)

Bravo: The same age I was when my father died.

Dreamtrack: Okay. And what are you wearing there? (more grounding)

Bravo: The same clothes I had on then, just casual clothes, nothing special.

Dreamtrack: And what are you feeling in the dream? (now that the dreamer is grounded in their physicality in the dream, move to the emotional state of the dreamer)

Bravo: I’m feeling a heavy weight of guilt and shame.

Dreamtrack: Where does that heavy weight live in your body? (somatically locate the emotions to further ground the dreamer in the dream. Re-entry has begun)

Bravo: I feel it in my heart and in my stomach.

Dreamtrack: Good. Go to that place in your body where the heavy weight lives and tell me what you see. (continue somatic grounding and let the dreamer begin to explore the dream on a deeper, more complete, level)

Bravo: I see my father in his bedroom like he was when we found him.

Dreamtrack: And where are you in the picture? (bring to dreamer into the picture, as a participant – move from passive state of observing to active state of involvement)

Bravo: Standing in the doorway to his room.

Dreamtrack: What do you see in the picture? (this now allows the grounded dream-self to see more solidly from the perspective of the dream-self rather than the rational awake-self)

Bravo: What was happening then was that my father had been disabled and bed-ridden for a long time. We all had to support him. We were pretty poor.. He got all of the attention and I was angry with him before he died for not being a real father to me and getting all the attention.

Dreamtrack: I see. (let the dreamer bring the whole picture into focus)

Bravo: Off and on people would bring Dad money in small amounts and give it to him. Just before he died, he called for me. I didn’t respond. I was too upset with him at the time. When we discovered his body the bed was covered with the money. He had wanted to give it to me as a gift.

Dreamtrack: Wow. And he wasn’t able to give it to you because you didn’t respond when he called. (no need to interpret, just clarify the “facts” and outcomes based on the facts)

Bravo: That’s right. I felt so terrible.

Dreamtrack: What did you do then? (continue exploring)

Bravo: We spent the money on his funeral. I have felt so bad ever since that day. I go to his gravesite often. (the dreamer has moved from the dream to the present and his actions outside the dream)

Dreamtrack: And last night you were there at the gravesite in the dream and it was dry and barren, right? (relocate the dreamer back iton the dream)

Bravo: Yes. I feel so bad about what I did to Dad. (still outside the dream)

Dreamtrack: When you go back to the dream right now, what is the feeling? (re-ground with the potency of feelings felt in the dream. If dreamer has come out of the dream completely, start again by somatically re-grounding the dreamer in the dream)

Bravo: There is a wind. a presence there. It is spooky. (the dreamer is reacting to the intensity of his feelings and outside of his dream self observing. Bring the dreamer back to the feeling of his experience – in this case the experience of the wind)

Dreamtrack: You are there right now. What are you feeling? (re-grounding)

Bravo: I feel the wind, it seems to want to communicate with me. (see, the dreamer connected the observation to his feelings with the re-grounding guidance)

Dreamtrack: What happens when you listen? (when another sense comes into play, follow it up. The dreamer is switching channels. Go with it)

Bravo: I see my father. (the listening helped him see and he went back to the visual channel)

Dreamtrack: What is the picture? (clarify and amplify in the current channel)

Bravo: He is there in front of me. I see only his face. He wants to tell me something. I am afraid.. (the dreamer is now making his own connections with his senses and his feelings)

Dreamtrack: What is your response? (the dream re-entry is complete. Now begins the moving forward with the dream that was “interrupted” – or rather the participation in the dream was interrupted (by awkening). The dream continues even when we are no longer present. But that is a whole ‘nother concept to discuss at another time – i.e. aboriginal dreamtime)

Bravo: I feel so ashamed. I can’t look at him. (the dreamer is back in the dream)

Dreamtrack: What does he want to tell you? (facilitate the action)

[Here there was an interruption to the dream re-entry process by an outside occurrence]

Bravo: Where were we?

Dreamtrack: At the grave site. Your Dad appeared to you and wanted to tell you something. (bring dreamer back to the mis-en-scene)

Bravo: Oh yeah. Wow! Do you think that was real? Or was it just a dream?

Dreamtrack: How did it feel to you? (keep the discussion dreamer focused)

Bravo: It felt and feels as real as life, maybe more real.

Dreamtrack: I think so too. Can you see him now? (bring the dreamer back – notice dreamtrack goes to a sense to re-ground in the dream rather that the feelings, just to make sure things are on solid ground)

Bravo: Yes. I see him in bed as he was before he died. (he is back in the dream)

Dreamtrack: Good. What do you want to do now, in the picture? (empower the dreamer to proceed where he wants to go – not you. What interests the dreamer not the facilitator is what is important)

Bravo: Take him to all the special places he loved. We lived on the big island in Hawaii, that’s where I live now. He loved the island. (the dreamer is beginning the “repairing, the healing)

Dreamtrack: Good. You are there. What do you need in order to do that? (affirm and keep the momentum going.)

Bravo: His wheelchair and the family car.

Dreamtrack: Good. What happens now in the picture? (keep going – he is on a roll)

Bravo: I am driving him around the island.

Dreamtrack: You feel that? (stay grounded in the feelings, that’s where the power is)

Bravo: Yes. It feels really good. He seems so happy. We never did this together in real life. (see, he has come out again by connecting past action with present thought about the past)

Dreamtrack: What are you feeling as you do this with your father? (bring him back)

Bravo: I feel so much better, to see him happy.

Dreamtrack: What’ happening now? (get back to the action of the dream story)

Bravo: We are back in his room, before he died. He wants to give me the money. I can’t do that. I can’t take the money. It belongs to him. (and he is back)

Dreamtrack: What is his response to you not receiving his gift? (this is an interesting and important question. This dream is about the dreamer’s relationship with his father and he is creating the “end of the story” so it is crucial to develop that relationship in the dream in order to bring it to it’s preferred outcome. This question moves that relationship along)

Bravo: His is very sad. He really wants me to take it. I just can’t do that. (the dreamers empathy is in play now. But, “I just can’t do that” could derail the process)

Dreamtrack: Where do you feel blocked about receiving his gift? (dreamtrack recognizes the obstacle and goes right to work at breaking it down. He does this by somaticizing the feeling of “I can’t” rather than just going after the feeling itself)

Bravo: I feel it in my head.

Dreamtrack: Okay, go to that place in your head where you feel that block. (follow the dreamer’s lead and make him ground it)

Bravo: Okay.

Dreamtrack: What do you see? (use the dreamer’s preferred channel to concretize and move forward)

Bravo: I see a block of steel. It is like a cage. I am inside it. (this is a new image – a free association if you will, on the part of the dreamer and it is “outside the dream” so it is important that dreamtrack grounds this image firmly…so he asks…)

Dreamtrack: How old are you there? (remember, this was one of dreamtracks first questions. It’s almost as if a “new” dream has emerged, so the process needs to begin again, albeit probably truncated and at a faster clip)

Bravo: Young. I feel trapped. (the dream self continues to be at the same age and he states his feeling – one similar to “I can’t”)

Dreamtrack: What do you need there? (this is excellent. The block has been acknowledged, by grounding and exploration, and the dreamer clearly is an active participant, and since the process requires movement from the dreamer’s perspective why not go ahead and ask this directly)

Bravo: I need my father’s love. (can’t get any plainer than this. Wow)

Dreamtrack: Okay, What do you want to do in the cage to get your father’s love? (an empowering question. This question gives the dreamer agency to determine his own outcome.)

Bravo: I don’t know. I guess I have to call for him. He seems so distant and far away. (and he does)

Dreamtrack: What happens when you call for your father to love you? (keep the action moving and concretize it as you go)

Bravo: He comes and opens the cage. (the dreamer becomes director of his dream)

Dreamtrack: What’s happening now, in the picture? (move the action/plot along – this is the climax)

Bravo: We are hugging. It feels so good.

Dreamtrack: Notice that feeling in your body. (ground the feeling somatically to make it “real” and impactful)

Bravo: Okay. It is very warm. We’re both crying.

(this is important…allow spaces for the dreamer to process new experiences. There is no rush. The power of the pause cannot be underestimated)

Dreamtrack: Good. Now bring that feeling back to the room with your father. (and relate the new feelings, the “resolution” to the original dream)

Bravo: I feel better, but I still have a hard time taking the money. I don’t feel I deserve it.

Dreamtrack: Do you think he can use the money? (logic and reasoning are helpful as long as they allow the dreamer’s perspective to come through not the guide’s)

Bravo: LOL I guess not. He is dead. He can’t use it where he is. But it is already spent anyway. (the logic question, you can tell, was quite different from all the others and it did take the dreamer out of the dream into a “head space”. If a question does lead outside of the dream and the process, bring it back)

Dreamtrack: You see your father now? (he brings it back)

Bravo: Yes. He is smiling. He wants me to take the money. Boy, this is hard. Okay, Dad. I accept the money. (the dreamer is totally in the dream as an active participant involved in his own resolution- a big step)

(important to let moments like this sink in – no rush)

Dreamtreck: What’s happening?

Bravo. I’m crying. It is like we are really hugging and I feel his love. Thank you.

Fred Olsen Fred Olsen, M.Div., a former NASA engineer, his work over the last 25 years has been in developing Dream Reentry Healing, a system of inquiry for tracking the path of inner imagery. He is the co-founded the Bay Area Dreamworkers Group in San Francisco in 1985 and directed the San Francisco Dream House from 1986-1995. He is known for his process of Dream Reentry Healing which was more recently named Soul Tracking and Cellular Transformation.

The Importance of Dreams in the Mystical Process

The Importance of Dreams in the Mystical Process
Morpheus and Iris
Pierre-Narcisse Guerin, 1811
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There is basically no difference between the waking state and that of dream, except that one seems more stable than the other. Only after there is awakening in the form of enlightenment is it realized that the waking world itself is indeed nothing but a long dream resulting from mental dis­position – a movement in Consciousness in which what seems a solid body and its sufferings are really an illusion.

Dreams are tools of transformation. Moreover, at a certain level of inner work, dreams stop being dreams and instead become spiritual levels of consciousness. But, in the meantime, dreams open invisible doors to subtler levels of spiritual growth, awakening in seekers of truth and wisdom, our permanent witness or soul within our conscious selves.Dreams help us look deeper within our own psyche, to discover the Mystery of Man. But unless we devote ourselves and allocate time to work with the energies and meaning of dreams, they will always remain unsolicited and strange phenomena. That is why our psyche needs to dream, since dreams are a source of knowledge helping us in the process of releasing unwanted garbage. Dreams are given to us to rescue us from lethargy and unconsciousness.

What is reflected in dreams are the thoughts and emotions of our good and bad intentions and experiences. It is in the mirror of our psyche that real purification and understanding take place, since we must become conscious of what appears on the surface of our psyche. The conscious impressions coming from a dream have an important role to play in the awakening process as a whole, and each dream, each symbol enriches this process, since spiritual dream work takes into account the subtle purification process of the whole man. Dreams about purification are given to those of us who want to awaken our permanent and spiritual witnesses. To do that, we must unite them in our “ordinary” level of self-consciousness. Therefore, we must become aware of our unconscious traits that need transformation. Without this, our ego cannot continue on this journey.

This kind of spiritual work in itself exposes the psyche to the influences and intuitions pouring in from the permanent witness. This is the first important means of access, the “key” opening the door of Poseidon’s mysterious palace in which are gathered all the past and present experiences, all the fears and stresses imprisoned since time immemorial. Those unconscious doubts and worries linger hopelessly in the depth of darkness awaiting the right moment for the thunderbolt of consciousness to penetrate them and bring them to the light of understanding. As a consequence of these delicate operations, the retrieved or “fished out” blocked energies float on the surface of dreams captured by our self-conscious ego. To help us understand their meaning, they take, in dreams, the shape of potent personal and universal symbols and archetypes. The ego must process these with subtlety, intuition and sensitivity, so that their meaning becomes clear and illuminating.

At first, these types of dreams are usually experienced as nightmares since our consciousness has to reorganize and focus its attention on the inner dynamics of dream work. With phantasmagoric, incomprehensible, and senseless dreams, we must try to focus our attention and use our intuition to grasp the irrational within ourselves. So, we should not ignore dream sequences that might have nothing in common with each other or appear nonsensical. It really doesn’t matter if the beginning of a dream doesn’t match what follows it. Analogous to a jigsaw puzzle, we should use our intuition to retrieve the “seed idea” and meaning of each part of our dreams. The expansion of the “seed ideas” and “meaning” is important, and it doesn’t matter if our intuition reveals different symbols or meanings to the dream. What counts is the effort exerted by our psyche to unravel a new dimension. Our ego must turn its attention to within itself, in the silent space within Being, where the impelling magnetic presence of the intelligence of the heart reigns.

Thus, if dreams first appear confusing, it is because these types of dreams release the pressure and stressed energies blocked in our psyche. To release stress in dreams, the symbols are magnified so as to make an impact and emphasize certain aspects of a problem. Another reason for disturbing dreams is to help us become conscious of the nature of our stress or anxiety. We should use our intuition to look at the incongruous symbols in our dreams, trying to “respect” their meaning. Intuition assists us in “reading” what goes on in our psyche, since like a mirror, it reflects what goes on within us. This is how, from our permanent witness, we receive some practical solutions and interpretations. However, the exchange of intuitive ideas and feelings between our psyche and ego occurs only if our ego is open to change. If we are willing to work with the symbols, then a special flow of energy streams from our permanent witness, allowing us to understand what we must do to remove the problem, and transform what needs to change.

Spiritual psychology looks at the esoteric and intuitive aspect of dream work, and is based on inner guidance. However, psychology is based on the interpretation and analysis of psychologists or facilitators. These two approaches may sound and even look the same, but they are not. The first is solely based on inner revelation and the second on feedback and outside guidance. The first is used by mystics, those guided by their soul, who seek a closer relationship with their permanent witness. The second is used by those who are only interested in finding solutions to problems, new directions and meaning in times of crisis.

Both are useful and important dream work tools to purify and transform the psyche. If we want to know who we are, then we should start with the psychological approach, either alone, in a group, or with a therapist. We should also seek the guidance of the inner master, or presence within. Whichever way we choose, our first step should always be with the psychological approach before starting any other kind of spiritual work, since, this approach takes us to the depth of our psyche and is part of an alchemical process. This is our descent into the world of Poseidon where our unconscious self waits. The quest to awaken our spiritual awareness can begin only after a certain amount of purification and transformation of the psyche. Our consciousness, having taken the downward journey, is eventually drawn towards an ascending path. Then, what we receive becomes more subtle and enlightening since it comes without distortion directly from the soul.

If we are serious in our work with the spiritual level of dreams, we must also realize that dreams are like seeds containing potential whole trees. Dreams, therefore, contain the seed ideas coming from the permanent witness. Their purpose is to transform our ordinary levels of consciousness to higher spiritual ones, since some dreams are in themselves examples of spiritual planes co-existing in our psyche that are the seeds waiting in our subconscious to be recognized and awakened by our ego. In other words, they are our spiritual levels of consciousness that permeate into our everyday consciousness. This is the grounding aspect of the whole process of dreams since, if we need to fathom the Mystery of Being and experience our own harmony and unity with it, then the nature of our dreams changes. Moreover, the essence and meaning of our dreams take a more abstract and irrational quality that cannot be shared with anyone, since they come directly from our permanent witness as a language of our soul, a language that can only be understood only intuitively.

The spiritual dimension of dreams could be described, at best, as delicate and subtle experiences given directly by our permanent witness to our consciousness in order to foster a healing and purifying, leading to a new level of consciousness in us, which we must allow to unfold in our ordinary lives.

What really matters here is our wish for inner transformation, since strong desire to unfold a higher level of consciousness is an illuminating catalyst that energizes our psyche. This is an important element in dream work. The power of concentration and a strong desire to work with dreams as tools for our own transformation opens naturally and directly the inner path to the permanent witness.

Dream work is comparable to learning a new language. First we must learn the alphabet. Dreams are a new symbolic world opening up in our self-consciousness. Why do we say “self-consciousness”? Because, unless our self-consciousness awakens whilst dreaming, our dreams will have no impact and we will not remember anything of great importance. Thus we must gradually stimulate and awaken our self-consciousness during dreams so that they can be something more than mere stress release.

Later, when our ego or self-consciousness “awakens” to its true nature—the impersonal Cosmic Consciousness—then dreams and the inner process take a new direction, and we see, understand and experience them in a totally different way since, from then on, our ego or self-consciousness realizes that it is just a vehicle for Cosmic Consciousness. We then perceive all kinds of dreams and astral projections differently, since the veil separating them from Cosmic Consciousness is no more. Our ego knows that it is just a reflection of the blazing light of the presence of God or Pure Being. When the veil is torn, and ego and soul meet and merge, the true identity of the Creator and initiator of our inner process becomes even clearer. The impersonal Cosmic Consciousness within us is the sole creator of dreams, and its limited self-conscious counterpart, our ego, it is seen at the other end of the process as the receiver of dreams.

The mission of Cosmic Consciousness within man is to enlighten man’s ego. In other words, Cosmic Consciousness actively guides the process of awakening the ego to its true nature, hence it directs the inner world of dreams and astral projections during sleep. Cosmic Consciousness takes over and creates whatever is necessary for our self-consciousness to understand and experience our ego. That is why prophets, saints and disciples of all religions and philosophies have been enlightened and have received knowledge and wisdom through their dreams, visions and astral travels. The ways that our soul carries out its initiatory course of action to awaken our ego and open up the “rainbow bridge to infinity” is a source of great gratitude and awe.

A “yoga” is any path whose purpose is union with your spiritual source. Dream Yoga teaches you how to use your dreams as a spiritual path leading to oneness with the divine within. It involves daily application of the guidance that you receive from your dreams. Dream Yoga will connect you with soul wisdom that reveals your path to peace, compassion, and wisdom. For more information about Dream Yoga, visit:

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http://www.betterbuddha.com/lucid_dreaming_Dzogchen_and_Tibetan_practices.htmhttp://www.newvision-psychic.com/bookshelf/TibetanYogas.htm

Also, I highly recommend investigating and praticing Lucid Dreaming as described and taught by Stephen LaBerge. Visit:

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Creativity occurs when you make it happen.

Creativity is something that you can access everyday. We all have creative potential, however it is necessary to tap into that potential in order to benefit from it.

Assemblage art by Mark Hannan. Altar Box, 1994
Altar Box; assemblage by Mark Hannan, 1994

Creativity occurs when you make it happen.

Pick one creative thing that you love to do, and start doing it again this week. It does not matter why you stopped. It only matters that you begin again.

You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Roadblocks, whether real or imagined, are tough because over time they become difficult to overcome. What once was a struggle, after a while, becomes something impossible to conquer. Just because an issue seems like it has no immediate answer, does not mean there is none at all. Keep looking. Keep striving. You never know when your solution will appear.

We live in a world where being perfect is an accepted goal, and anything less does not measure up. We try to be perfect at our jobs, at home, and at finding ourselves.

But being perfect has a downside; it’s extremely draining. We know that we shouldn’t care if we are perfect or not, but the little voice inside tells us that being perfect is the only way. We know that perfect is not realistic, but we also can’t seem to find another way.

Stop trying to be perfect. Striving for perfection will consume your energy and waste your time. You will be less frustrated and more effective if you are realistic with yourself and other people. Replace your efforts to be perfect with something positive. First, identify one project that is being stalled by your quest for perfection. Then, set a realistic plan to complete the project, and go for it!

from Surpass Your Dreams Brian Volkman (Editor) brianonline@worldnet.att.net Copyright (c) 2003. All rights reserved.

Hand Meditation; the Power of Touch

Hand meditation aletheus group facilitator AHP

For a group of four or more: …one person serving as guide, pausing appropriately along the way in order to give ample opportunity to mindful consideration –

Get comfortable in your chair, with both feet firmly on the ground, and close your eyes,, resting your hands in your lap palms up. Notice your breathing. No need to change it, just notice the pattern of the breath coming in and going out.

Relax any tension you notice in your body as you breathe.

Become aware of the air at your fingertips, between your fingers, on the palm of your hand.
Experience the fullness, strength and maturity of your hands.
Think of the most unforgettable hands you have known – the hands of your father, your mother, your grandparents, a friend or lover.
Remember the oldest hands that have rested in your hands.
Think of the hands of a newborn child, perhaps your nephew or niece – of the incredible beauty, perfection, delicacy in the hands of a child.

Once upon a time your hands were the same size. Think of all that your hands have done since then. Almost all that you have learned has been through your hands – turning yourself over, crawling and creeping, walking and balancing yourself, learning to hold something for the first time, feeding yourself, washing and bathing, dressing yourself.

At one time your greatest accomplishment was tying your own shoes. Think of all the learning your hands have done and how many activities they have mastered, the things they have made. Remember the day you could write your own name?

Our hands were not just for ourselves but for others. How often they were given to help others. Remember all the kinds of work they have done,
the tiredness and aching they have known,
the cold and the heat, the soreness and the bruises.
Remember the tears they have wiped away, our own or another’s,
the blood they have bled,
the healing they have experienced.
How much hurt, anger, and even violence they have expressed,
and how much gentleness, tenderness they have given.

There is a special mystery that we discover in the hand of a person we love.
There are the hands of a doctor, a nurse, an artist, a conductor, hands which you can never forget.

Now raise your right hand slowly and gently place it over your heart.
Press it firmly until your hand picks up the beat of your heart,
that most mysterious of all human sounds,
one’s own heartbeat,
a rhythm learned in the womb from the heartbeat of one’s mother.

Press more firmly for a moment / and then release your hand and hold it just a fraction from your clothing. Experience the warmth between your hand and your heart.
Now lower your hand to your lap very carefully as if it were carrying your heart.
For it does.

When you extend your hand to another, it is not just bone and skin, it is your heart.
Think of all the hands that have left their imprint on you.
Fingerprints and hand prints are heart prints that can never be erased.
The hand has its own memory.

Think of all the places that people carry your hand prints and all the people who bear your heart print. They too are indelible and will last forever.

Now without opening your eyes extend your hands on either side of you and find another hand.
Do not simply hold it but explore it and sense the history and mystery of this hand.
Let your hand speak to it and let it listen to the other.
Try to express your gratitude for this hand stretched out to you.

With eyes still closed, slowly release your hands and bring them back again to your lap.
Experience the presence of that hand lingering upon your hand.
The afterglow will fade but the print is there forever.
When you are ready, open your eyes.

Share your thoughts and feelings of this experience with those around you.

Many thanks to AHP of SF for sharing this powerful exercise from their program.  As a facilitator of 12 week support groups at AHP, I found this to be a powerful way to end the last session.