Category Archives: Healing

Loving, Forgiving and Loving Life Again

Bestowing beauty while healing

Photo by Chungkuk Bae/ Unsplash

I had a very close friend call to wish me a happy Jewish New Year. She told me that she had seen a man going through the trash outside of her house and had asked if he was hungry. He said he hadn’t eaten all day. She went in and packed him up some food in a grocery bag. She looked him in the eye and asked his name. He had started looking in his wallet to give her ID, as if he was in trouble. She told him she hoped things would get better for him.

It is a custom to collect food for the poor at this time of year but here was something that went beyond bringing cans of food to a temple. This was direct human upliftment. My friend laughed and said when her partner heard about what she did, she would say that now the man would come back all the time. I said she could tell him that it was just a one time hand out to honor him. My friend laughed and asked herself, ‘what if it wasn’t?’ “What if I spend an extra thirty dollars at the grocery store each week and can help him out?”

This story goes beyond mere charity. My friend has struggled her whole life to climb out of the shadow of a horrendous and abusive childhood. She told me this is the first time in her life that she doesn’t feel like a victim but a survivor. She credits her survival, beyond therapy, to love and friendship.

We are heading into Yom Kippur, which is a holiday of forgiveness. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are an opportunity for reflection and atonement. The idea is to reach out to those we have wronged during the year and ask for their forgiveness. Although, there is a divine prompting to this ritual, it remains a chance to become vulnerable, to open ourselves up to our humanity.

Throughout her journey towards being what she calls, ‘ a survivor’, my friend has consistently been a bright light of love to those around her. She has raised beautiful children, she has been a teacher. She has been not only a lighthouse but a shelter for those that she perceived to have been abused. She stands up for the rights of others. She has been a pillar of friendship and faith in humanity for me. She has even forgiven the one who tormented her. This was not because she condoned their actions but for her own sanity.


It seems she has forgiven life itself for the hardships it has handed her. She has managed to find the vast good and beauty life paradoxically holds out to her. This is the kind of forgiveness that allowed her to laugh and bring hope and joy into her world, even while she wrestled with the lie that told her she was no good. She has navigated through the pain to the fullness of what can be given and received.

Yom Kippur uses the imagery of a Book of Life. We are encouraged to say to one another, “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a healthy and happy year.” Beyond religious conviction, this ritual prompts us to expand our circle beyond ourselves, but to be included in the rippling gratitude that recognizes faults, slights and hardship can all be overcome with love and forgiveness.

May you be inscribed for a meaningful and transformative year of great beauty that brings you and those around you a freedom vaster than survival.

Beauty has claimed you

Caravan of dawn

There’s a caravan of dawn. Always on the curve.
  Always moving on…
Breaking up the darkness with an aviary song:

“Beauty has claimed you.
  Seasons are changing.
Love makes its debut.  Bowing your heart strings”

Side by side- wide as the horizon,
giddy as a bride; the universe inside them. 
Lighting up the streets.  Lighting up the fields.
Splash the sky in streaks of azure, lilac, gold and teal.

“Beauty has claimed you.
  Seasons are changing.
Love makes its debut.   Bowing your heart strings.
Splendor reveals you.
   Nothing conceals you.
Beauty has claimed you.”

Breaking up the darkness with an aviary song, singing:
River of broken hearts
“Gather up all of the broken hearts.
Pour them in a river of tiny parts.
Set them in motion, lighten their burden. 
Head for the ocean. Flow out and over, away from the falls. 
Rising  like mist ‘til  they can’t recall,
Not being  kissed  by sunbeams. 
 Separation is only a morphine dream.

Authentic joy and honesty cut a path right through to me.
Splendor reveals you.  Nothing conceals you.
Beauty has claimed you.”

I close my eyes and breathe you in as if I’ll never have to leave again.
– The Levins
hearts rising up

Let’s Be Big!

Smile into this next choice.  We are confronted by an endless series of choices and this one is the most vital. Relativity transfers the universe into the seemingly insignificant.  Ponder how much goes by without our noticing.  We feel incrementally what importance we can place on our own self-worth and subsequently that transfers to those around us.  The dream we hold in our heart is guarded by fear of survival and being drawn into degradation.  Empowering the purity of our deepest connection with this life, we become bold and can make the right choices; that not only safeguards us but encourages those around us. 


Change has come and complacency will not serve us. We may be afraid to see what will happen next but having courage in the face of fear will see us through.  Tony Robbins says we must divorce ourselves from the story that debilitates us. Mooji says we are not our wounded limited egos but limitless awareness. Each of us had leadership quality. While none of us may fully ready, now is the time for us to begin, as Brene Brown would say, Rising Strong. Playing it small, small minded, petty with blame-throwers in our hands will serve no one.  Embrace that which is endless in yourself and let us keep our hearts on the greater turning of humanity towards true liberty, equality and freedom. 

Let’s reach out to one another and start talking about manifesting our dreams in a way that will not only benefit ourselves but bolster those around us.

Albert Einstein peace quote

Let’s Be Big

“If Al were here, I’m sure he would agree, if you want to move around at light’s velocity 

You’ve got to be big, as infinity. 

So take the afternoon and come along with me. 


Hey! Let’s be big today. We’ll travel all around chasing troubles away. They’ll never see us coming. They’ll wonder why they’re humming. Come on, what ya say?  Let’s be big today.

Sitting on a moving mountain of gold.  Riding out past everything that I’ve been told.

Internal navigation, blindsided by degrees.  The fear of not succeeding was defining me.

I’d rather think big. So I’m getting out of my way. Out into the open where it’s not so gray. 


Bigger than heart-ache, bigger than strife. Taking the cake, we’re larger than life.

When I am in tatters and about to cave, in elementary matters, 

be the particle and the wave.

When you’re scared and loose your way- be the particle and the wave.

Stand and be brave- be the particle and the wave.


Bigger than heart-ache, bigger than strife. Taking the cake, we’re larger than life.

Hey Let’s be big today. We’ll travel all around chasing troubles away.

Bigger than heart-ache, bigger than strife. Taking the cake, we’re larger than life.

They’ll never see us coming. They’ll wonder why they’re humming.

Come on, what ya say?  Let’s be big today.”                  – The Levins

Particle and wave

Rock the paradox, you are essential!

Dirje Childs: This is the seminary; this is the Zen monastery…The cello, my heart and me.

“The ultimate aesthetic value is closely connected with the notion of a higher experience to create beautiful things, but ultimately to reach this higher state of mind. The skills and techniques of the arts are…  nothing more than the means to reach this deeper aesthetic value… Religious enlightenment and aesthetic enlightenment are the same thing…”  Hideo Kishmoto, “Mahayana Buddhism and Japanese Thought,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 4, no 3 (Oct. 1954), p. 221

“Nothing is more hallowing that the union of kindred spirits in art. At the moment of meeting, the art lover transcends himself.  At once he is and is not. He catches a glimpse of Infinity, but words cannot voice his delight, for the eye has no tongue. Freed from the fetters of matter, his spirit moves in the rhythm of things. It is thus that art becomes akin to religion and ennobles mankind. It is this which makes a masterpiece something sacred.”-     K. Okakura, The Book of Tea, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1991 (!906), p. 10


Dirje Childs

In honor of Women’s Equality Day, I would love to spotlight Dirje Childs.  (Dirje is pronounced Dear-G)

In our search for a cello player to record with, Julia and I asked our friend Mark Dann. He enthusiastically recommended Dirje.  He said she was right in line with what we were doing.

“Great,” we said, “where does she live?”

“Austin Texas.”

Well, that was that for a while.    

Then he suggested her again. We looked her up and found this video:

Dirje Childs-The Grateful Cellist:

Here is a portion of the transcript:

Dirje: “I finally said to the universe, alright do I need to be a nun, should I go to seminary? … I knew this is the voice I am meant to sing through. Right from the heart. This is the seminary; this is the Zen monastery. The cello, my heart and me.

Kate Potter: On retreat in the morning after meditation, we agreed that we would be silent until after breakfast.  Dirje played for us during that silent portion and everybody who was on retreat was suddenly alive in the silence, quite engaged in the silence.

Dirje: They get a space of time where they are totally held in a peaceful quiet place where they are allowed to wake up to their life.  It goes beyond regular meditation practices because the cello is there singing to those broken places.  A tonic that is practical as it is deeply nourishing to the spirt. Something different yet simple, accessible to everyone.  Breath, presence, rest, clarity. How many of us could use that oasis of rest in the breath and this present moment? …  Any human being, to have the gift of coming out of all the things, the busyness of our mind, even the pain of our body, to rest in the moment… When I am in the future, I am in anxiety. When I am in the past, I am in regret and depression. When I am in the present, I am in the gift. … to be present to each other is a gift.  One of my great heroes is Mother Teresa, binding up these people on the street. Well, you wouldn’t think that any of us are the wounded or the broken, but we are. And so this is that spirit of Mother Teresa offering to bind up and bring us all out of that craziness that we have in our heads; back to ourselves and our breath. Simply and to each other.  My dream is that not only do people feel access to some healing but that it begins to wake up in their hearts.  The call to be who they are in this earth.  That’s what my cello wants to whisper in the ears of every soul that listens, “wake up to the gift that you are on this earth.”

When you listen to the video, you can hear the tone of Dirje’s cello delivering what she is describing.

There are moments, when religious or meditative practices do not reach us.  Moments where we long to be immersed in the fullness of being.  At these times, we may be moved aesthetically. Dirje’s music provides that aesthetic.

I am grateful to say, that we reached out to Dirje and she will be on The Levins’ next recording.

May we come into a greater equality within, so that we can finally reach the summit of our humanity.   

Tiff Gravel- Weird enough for a healing warrior

“Oh, for the love of pink monkeys!”- Leslie Carrara- Rudolph as Lolly Lardpop

Tiff Gravel Tiff Gravel

Julia and I got to hang out with our friend Tiff Gravel again this week before she heads back to Uganda for the third time since 2006.  The first time Tiff went, she was filming the genocide that was taking place. The footage she and her crew took actually helped to facilitate the release of the decimated populace that had been imprisoned in internment camps for twenty years.  When we asked her how she had been so brave, she shrugged and humbly suggested that she wasn’t brave but naïve. We believe she was just embracing her path whole heartedly. (Tiff recently thought it would be fun to photograph people sky diving so she started getting her certification. After being amongst people whose huts were being burned down and running out with them while they were being shot at, sky diving really is a lark.)

The last time Tiff was in Uganda, she came to document Nodding Syndrome, a disease that effects children with seizures.  This mysterious affliction is believed to be a direct result of the genocide and the years in the camps. Tiff commented that this is a whole generation that is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This time Tiff is going to make sure the interviews she took are correctly translated into English, so she can finish her film. Instead of making an angry documentary highlighting the pain and anguish, she will focus on the people’s ability to move past it, the healing process in motion.

Tiff’s interview re: Uganda:

At 13:45 in this video you can see Betty, a music therapist working with the children in one village suffering from Nodding Syndrome. Betty lost all her friends because of their belief that she will give them the disease. “No one wants to come to my house, no one wants to eat my food, no one wants to share anything with me. With the students I feel like I have no problem, I’m just smiling.  Most of the parents don’t care about these kids. They call them all sorts of names when they go home. But one day I invited over 100 people here, because if I dance and you clap for me, then I’ve made you happy. Then you must respect me. … I take every child to be my child.

What keeps me moving is that I see the children are healing. When they are dancing, the smile is just natural. They don’t force the smile. The energy they give me when I’m dancing with them, it keeps me moving.”

“Music therapy works… music heals.”

Screenshot 2016-08-04 11.48.18 Screenshot 2016-08-04 11.45.12

Betty works in a care center that is scheduled to be shut down in December.  Part of what motivates Tiff is not only to finish her film but to somehow help keep the center open.

Tiff also told us about her time working with the Muppets and with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, who was Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street.  She helped Leslie film 52 video podcasts of                “Wake Up Your Weird”, which they also presented Off Broadway.  The purpose of that show was to celebrate the weird in you, to feel good about yourself and be able to not be cowed by bullying.

The work Tiff does is right in line with that.  She is seriously leaving her comfort zone, risking Malaria and worse because she is not cowed by the many forces that have tried to wipe out the people of Uganda.

When Tiff talked about what they are going through, I was overwhelmed but the people are carrying on, they are strong and some, like Betty, are making sure that the children are upholding the most dignified and joyful aspect of their culture.  The part that sustains and augments life.

May your weird and your warrior be woken up to embrace your path whole heartedly.

Love you, Ira

Holding the chord

Barring love to uphold justice prevents the completion of the circuit that fulfils our aim.  Locked within us are the answers we seek to resolve the struggle that our minds cannot reconcile. Belief is an individual process that becomes entangled with our upbringing as well as loyalties to both the need to be accepted and our innate fear of punishment.  Love transcends our need for self-preservation.  Wanting to uphold for all beings what we desire for ourselves is not rational but instinctual.  Nestled in our conflict is the desire to embrace our vehemence and outrage, to allow the song of life to rejoin itself in harmony.

Israeli Palestinian peace*************************************************************

Last week I posted the Stream of Light about Elie Wiesel onto Facebook. A musical acquaintance of mine made some accusatory and ugly remarks about Mr. Wiesel.  I deleted his comments. He was outraged and asked me to unfriend him for censoring him.  We messaged back and forth.  I apologized for deleting his comments without asking him to.  My acquaintance is very passionate about standing up for the rights of displaced Palestinians and he felt that Mr. Wiesel, who stood for other groups rights, failed to do so for the Palestinians and was antagonistic to their plight.  I looked up an article written by a Palestinian writer who was a fan of Mr. Wiesel’s book Night but who was disappointed in Mr. Wiesel’s actions.  Since my acquaintance also works for peace, I pointed out that although outraged, our ability to not close the hearts of those who are needed to amend or help facilitate justice, is vital.

Elie Wiesel, who would have concurred that he was not a saint, said:

“No nation is composed of saints alone. None is sheltered from mistakes or misdeeds. All have their Cain and Abel. It takes vision and courage to undergo serious soul-searching and to favor moral conscience over political expediency.”

At the end of our conversation, my acquaintance and I reached an understanding. We both were able to be heard.  In fact, that Friday night as Julia and I sang for a service at a temple, I was wrestling with the issue of people wanting a home for themselves and their families. The depth of the situation, is parallel to the plight of the Native Americans, whose land many of us rent or seem to own.

During the service, Julia and I were asked to sing Jerusalem of Gold, by Naomi Shemer. The song reflects 2,000 years of yearning for a homeland. In the middle of it, I held one of the chords and stood there with my eyes closed. I had to wait, overcome by what felt like an endless torrent of tears.  The innate connection to the song felt deeper than my identification with my tribe. The moments of holding that chord in silence felt like the collective longing all of humanity has for shelter, to belong, to be embraced by the dignity of their own wholeness.

When I related this event to my mother, she shared this excerpt from one of the I Am discourses:

   “When you enter into the understanding of what Indestructible harmony means to Life, you will have entered into the Powerhouse of the universe, because discord is disintegration; and the only thing that is Eternal Perfection is Indestructible Harmony. There is no freedom without Harmony, no permanent health without Harmony, no Victory over that which you call evil, which is discord, except Indestructible Harmony.”

Last night, here in Iowa, Julia’s mom gave me an article she has saved for me about Elie Wiesel talking in a church. Mr. Wiesel confessed that he was only able to speak and sing in this church because he was able to put aside his anger and recognize that not all Christians had turned their backs on the Jews during the holocaust.  What he said after that was what had stayed with the author of the article ever since:

“I believe people who can stand together and sing together, can live in peace together.” – Elie Wiesel

Even in the midst of all this heart wrenching unrest and the Civil Liberties that we still need to stand for here in America and around the world, remembering our harmony will help us to sing as we stand.  I believe our internal harmony bridges the gap between us.

May you hold the chord, even as you struggle to regain your voice within the silence of yearning.


Power to heal from injurious interactions

Wounds that we retain can get projected into conversation.  What we hold onto stagnates. For this moment empty into what is.  Layers of resistance prevent us from experiencing the depth of what is offered continuously.  We do not have to absorb or retain what is happening.   Who is recognizing what is behind projected commentary?  Ego? Observer? Releasing becomes revealing.


Dr. Joe Dispenza

On Mother’s Day, my friend Angie shared a story with me about a chiropractor, Dr. Joe Dispenza.  While running a triathlon, Dr. Joe was run over by a truck. He was told he needed an operation that would probably leave him paralyzed. Instead, for eleven weeks he lay on his back using his mind to visualize his back in healthy formation.  The result was that he was able to get up and go back to seeing his patients. He did this without surgery or needing a body brace.  Here is a link to his discussion of the event:

On Monday, Julia and I listened to David Miscavige’s father Ron talk about escaping from Scientology.  It took him six months to get away from a compound where they did not allow him contact with the outside world.  We thought of similar cases of people escaping from certain oppressive Hassidic, Mormon, Islamic, Christian and other extreme communities.  There are always splinter groups who try to imprison individuals into group scenarios that serve a few who are distorting, even liberating ideas into a form of human trafficking.

Last night, my mom and aunt were in town and we saw the Broadway play The Humans.  It showed how members of a single family could become like these splinter groups. By holding onto secrets and regrets, insults, our judgements and disappointments can get lobbed back and forth. This can keep everyone down. Instead of supporting one another, the family tie can also keep us tethered to the point where even love becomes stagnant.

The Humans

I am incredibly grateful to have such a loving and supportive family, which prompts me to be loving and supportive to those around me.  Still, I recognize that sometimes interactions with those close to us, either family or in our community can feel like getting run over by a truck.  Like Dr. Joe Dispenza, we can use the power of our visualization and intention to heal and become whole again.

As I finished writing this, Julia and I were talking and noticed that use of power is an additional theme. We remembered Ron Miscavige stating that his son assumed the power to take over the Scientology empire. Literally stating “power is not given, it is assumed”.

Dr. Joe utilized a similar principle, but for healing. Literally stating, “The power that made the body, heals the body.”

Thank you for your loving being.  May we survive being victims and use our power to become the healers of our concentric heart.

Friends for Life

This weekend Julia and I are fortunate enough to be hosting the illustrious Jordan Anderson, musician, composer, writer, videographer and tremendous friend.  I have known Jordan since he was three and we have never stopped being friends, even through his teens.  This morning I read an interesting article from the New York Times called: What Are Friends For? A Longer Life. The piece talks of studies showing how having a circle of good friends helps your brain activity as well as preventing and treating such ailments as heart attacks, breast cancer and even the common cold.  I

I believe this to be true.  Many a time, especially in California, when I was down, I would think of Jordan Anderson and knew remaining blue just would not do, that I needed to be there for him. He has certainly been there for me, not out of obligation but naturally. My core group of friends from High School and college, which I call the C.C. (there is a range of things the C’s stand for ; ) has been a well of centering strength that I continue to draw from. Even though many of us live in different places and don’t always get to see one another, just thinking of them comforts and vitalizes me.

The dancing balance is recognizing and befriending all the facets of our lives. When we practice our craft, whatever that is, we are befriending our ability to give and share, when we read and study, we are befriending our intellect, when we do things like meditate, or do yoga, we are befriending our Self.

For me, being able to be friends with my family is an amazing gift that I know not many have.  Wayne Dyer has often said that friends are God’s way of apologizing for your family, but earnestly cultivating true friendships increases our family size and the circumference of our hearts.

May our bonds be strong and comradery ripple beyond the borders of our ambition.

How can I help?

A little natural healing

Behind our inability to see how valuable we are, is fearless healing.  Strike lightning at doubt.  Where would you be if you were free from all doubt in this moment?


As the winter goes and things are vigorously stirred up, Julia and I are both sniffling.

I instinctively go for my mom’s remedy of Apple Cider vinegar and honey.  Julia has us gargle with warm salt water.  When I lived in El Cerrito, I lived near a Chinese mall and was turned onto Yin Chiao, an herbal supplement, which is great.

I have included three links to articles about natural healing that I found interesting.  Without going into them all, some highlights I found intriguing were Earthing, which encourages direct contact with the earth.  (The earth itself has healing properties? Get out!)  Both Judaism and Hinduism have an understanding of healing that calls for a natural alignment of our energy with nature itself. There is an example in the Torah of Moses being told to throw a small amount of a bitter branch into bitter water to clear it up so the people could drink it. Like curing like.  The idea of homeopathic remedies stem from this.  A small amount of the disease diluted and shaken in water until the essence (or the spirit, if you will) of the medicine is left to treat the illness without the side effects.

Love of course is the best healer, doing what you love, being with those you love and being loving to yourself with perhaps a nice bowl of soup, good book or a warm bath.  If none of these works, well then… go see the doc ; )

Julia has given me my fourth pint of water and chanted, “Drink! Drink!” while I chugged it. Next I’ll take out the compost, in my bare feet… Earthing baby!

May you be healthy, healthy, healthy!

The Four Energy Healing Secrets Your Doctor Hopes You’ll Never Learn

Human Healing – A Torah Model – Science

Ayurveda’s Healing Secret Revealed | Wise Earth School of Ayurveda

“One act of kindness can overcome fate.”