In Need Of Healing? Inspired To Help Others Heal? Help Us Pay It Forward In 2021.
As dire as things seem, I have high hopes for at least one thing in 2021, and I’m excited to tell you about it. But first, let me give you some back story. Seven years ago, I co-taught an online program called Medicine For The Soul with my spiritual mentor Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom. It was a great honor to teach with her and I learned from her far more than I offered in that class, I’m sure, though she tells me we are practicing “inter-generational mentoring.” One of the eight live classes surprised us a great deal. The focus of the class was Finding Your Soul Tribe, and we were guiding people through an exercise in how to discern the difference between people who were friends of your ego versus those who were friends of your soul. What we hadn’t anticipated is that this inquiry opened up a wound we didn’t know how to mend. In our breakout groups, thousands of despairing people responded with “I don’t have a single friend of my soul.” In an online format, we felt unprepared to minister to this deep loneliness, but our awareness of how many people’s souls felt lonely for deeper friendship, a sense of purpose was born in me and in Rachel.
One of Rachel’s other mentees was the lovely Vivek Murthy, who was the Surgeon General under Obama at the time and has now been chosen by President-Elect Biden to have an encore performance in that role (which makes me and Rachel very happy!) Rachel contacted Dr. Murthy at the time to suggest that we needed to address loneliness in the US from the perspective of a public health crisis, given the copious amounts of data that support the correlation between loneliness and disease, as well as the link between soulful connection and healing. I was inspired to do a TEDx talk The #1 Public Health Issue Doctors Aren’t Talking About as a kind of cost-effective Public Service Announcement, but doing a TEDx talk felt like just the beginning. Vivek was also inspired by this topic, and he researched and published the New York Times bestselling book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. Ironically, it came out a month into the pandemic, when the epidemic of loneliness was hitting a breaking point.
Loneliness Predisposes To Disease. Connection Heals.
Since that pivotal moment many years ago, I have been scheming about this issue, wondering about the role of doctors in ministering to this wound. When people read the chapter I wrote about the impact of loneliness on chronic and life-threatening disease in Mind Over Medicine, it tends to make them feel helpless, sad, and scared, especially in our Covidian era, when people feel frightened that the social isolation of valid public health measures may actually predispose them to disease when the reason we’re isolating is because we’re trying to prevent disease. It creates an uncomfortable double bind, and I’ve been wondering if I could do anything to help solve this Catch-22 without violating public health guidelines.
How might people get the endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine boost that helps our bodies heal without putting us at risk of Covid? Would there be any way to leverage my platform to at least connect people online with others who might be friends of their souls?
Before the pandemic, as a social experiment, we gathered an online community three years ago, right after the death of my mother- in part because I was healing myself. It was intended to be a virtual gathering place so we could start gathering people together in circles of healing, connection, creativity, music, soulful intimacy, authenticity, and spirituality. That experiment morphed into an awareness that we needed to offer community connection, healing, creativity, music, dance, and soulful intimacy not just virtually, but in actual circles, in people’s homes or in churches or community centers or yoga studios around the globe. From this idea grew the vision for the non-profit work I had two $100,000 grants that had been offered to get my vision off the ground. We were all ready to launch our pilot program- with live circles of healing all over the globe in….(get this)…March, 2020. (Insert sounds effects of the cartoon roadrunner putting on his brakes and coming to a screeching halt. And yes, I did just age myself there!)
Suddenly, live, in-person circles were impossible, yet the whole point was to get people off screens and into hugs with real people who they felt safe to be soulful with. After all systems go and feeling inflow, if that wasn’t the Cosmic NO, I don’t know what is.
So…I took most of 2020 off and prayed for guidance, patience, clarity, and, if the opportunity was right and my vision really wanted to happen, for a green light when it was time.
The Big News!
Well…synchronistically, after many months of waiting, our 501c3 status for HEAL AT LAST came through on the Winter Solstice, during the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, which I had the marvelous opportunity to see through a telescope from the overlook above my house. It felt like a sign- a green light- finally. We will begin training group leaders, organizing the troops, recruiting those in need of creativity and healing, and fundraising for this non-profit in 2021, so stay tuned!
Heal At Last’s Mission Statement
Our mission is to utilize creativity to bring people in recovery from illness, injury, or trauma together in circles of healing, spirituality, writing, art, music, and connection for the purposes of easing loneliness, healing trauma, and improving physical and mental health outcomes, particularly for people who conventional medicine has been unable to cure. Using creativity and music as a portal to cutting edge trauma healing methods, spiritual healing, and energy medicine, we empower individuals and communities of healing who are ready for the deep dive of treating the root causes of personal and collective suffering. Although cutting edge healing techniques have become a luxury good in modern cultures, we believe healing and transformation is everyone’s birthright and should not be limited to people of privilege. Heal At Last is committed to bringing creative inspiration, soulful intimacy and community connection, and deep healing work to anyone who is emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually ready for meaningful transformation, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, sexual preference, gender identity, political affiliation, or religion.
Until we’re ready to get started, we’re using Zoom to experiment with the model we hope to use in person once we get the public health green light to gather in safe circles once more. Although we’re craving the opportunity to do this in person, for now, we’ve been playing with the Zoom model during four months of writing classes Alchemizing Uncertain Times Through Writing. Much to our delight, they were a great success at trying to reproduce mini-workshop kinds of experiences- with writing, Internal Family Systems (IFS) meditations, music, art, virtual cuddle puddles, dance parties, and group healings- in a virtual environment. Best of all, the feedback we got is that the best part was the breakout sessions, when people were in circle together- with soul friends!
You’re Invited to Healing With The Muse
As the next phase of this experiment, we’re launching a membership community led by me for those who can afford it and are interested in being part of this social experiment! We hope this membership community can ultimately help financially support the non-profit so I can pull away from some of my other commercial work- and so the non-profit becomes self-sustaining and doesn’t rely on me to be a professional fundraiser forever. So… we need your help!
If creativity, spiritual healing, energy medicine, social justice, and democratizing healing sound like good medicine for you in 2021- please join Healing With The Muse, our virtual community of soul friends. We’ll be officially fundraising later, but for now, every membership you purchase- for yourself or for someone else, will help us get our vision off the ground.
If you would like to pay it forward and donate a membership in Healing With The Muse you can simply fill out the recipient‘s name and email address and check out with your payment details. Or you can check out using your name and email address and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that you are contributing to the general Healing With The Muse scholarship fund.
Redistribute Power & Privilege, Connected To The Heart of Healing
Usually I pick one word to represent each year, but last year, on New Year’s Eve, just as 2020 dawned, I got a longer phrase than usual- Redistribute power and privilege, connected to the heart of healing. I had NO IDEA what was in store for 2020, but I wrote down the phrase and made it part of my daily meditation practice.
If only we could do this on a larger scale this year, maybe we could redistribute power and privilege, committed to the heart of healing…all over the world, while finding our soul friends, feeling connected in gratitude and awe, and acting like the starlings I’ve been watching nightly for the past five nights near my home. (You can watch the starlings on my Facebook page here. As Rebekah Borucki said upon seeing them forming like a lava lamp, “Look at God!”
You can also watch another video of the starlings and read my blog What If Humans Could Be Like Starlings in 2021 here. This year, my word of the year is STARLINGS!
The first live Healing With the Muse gathering happens January 11. We hope to see those of you in need of soul friends, creativity, connection, and healing then!
With love and blessings for a more easeful 2021,