The Treasure Vase

How do we appreciate treasure? What is the real meaning of treasure? When do we know that we are in the presence of a treasure? In our materialistic culture these are questions worth asking of ourselves. The online American Heritage Dictionary and Collins English Dictionary describe treas·ure as:

1. Accumulated or stored wealth in the form of money, jewels, or other valuables.
2. Valuable or precious possessions of any kind.
3. A person that is highly prized or valued.


The modern English word treasure originates from the Gallo-Roman word tresaurus and from the Latin word thesaurus which meant “treasury or treasure.” In Greek thesauros meant “a treasure, treasury, storehouse or chest” and came from the root of tithenai “to put or to place.” This became the Old French tresor “treasury, hoard or treasure” and in Middle English thresur replaced the Old English word goldhord which is so literal when compared to the more symbolic word treasure.

Pirate skull and booty


The meaning in the general sense of “anything valued” was recorded from circa AD 1200 and later around 1400 became,”to amass treasure or to store up for the future.” Along side these references to piles of gold the figurative was also forming as in to “regard as precious,” and “to retain carefully in the mind.” Thesaurarie existed around the 1590s and was used as a title by early dictionary compilers from the expression thesaurus verborum “a treasury of words.” Today a thesaurus is a reference work that lists words grouped together according to their similarity of meaning but does not provide their definition. Similar to how a treasure chest was filled with gold, precious gems and of metals, things that shared the value of accumulated wealth. A random button would not likely be kept in the chest, unless it offered the owner some personal value of a memory or as a memento of a person that they highly cherished.

In the East, rather than the word chest the word vase was used and dates back to ancient times. The meaning of the treasure vase was related to a womb containing the primordial waters of creation. Here the metaphor is very symbolic, it is the vessel or the source of an inexhaustible material and spiritual wealth. Its meaning is thus derived from its function as a container of the source of life and the water element of this source is comparable to the amniotic liquid in the womb which contains all potentiality of life and represents the un-manifested possibilities of All. It is therefore containing the magical elixir of immortality, regeneration, and resurrection. Gold, the symbolic material form of wealth, is instead the abstracted water of all life, the concrete source of everything worth valuing. The typical Tibetan treasure vase is ornate with lotus flower motifs and shaped in the fashion of the traditional Indian clay water pot, Kumbha which was carried by monks as a symbol of renunciation.

The treasure vase - 'Kalasha'

In the spiritual sense where most things are turned inside out, the understanding is “I can hold the universe in my the palm of my hand, yet it is known that it is not mine to keep.” The idea of hoarding is absent. The treasure vase symbolizes long life, prosperity, and wealth but does not contain them as actual things.

The synthesis of the Treasure Vase concept has the following words:

Water Element
Elixir of Immortality
Formless, pre-creation
All Potentiality


The meaning of the treasure vase when used in other cultures of antiquity are all very similar. In Alchemy it is the place where miracles occur. The Celtics believed it holds healing waters and to the Chinese it held the waters of life attributed to Quan-yin, the bodhisattva of compassion also known as the Goddess of Mercy. In Egypt it contained the heart, water and matrix and is the emblem of Osiris and Isis and in Graeco-Roman it was a symbol of fertility and wisdom. To the Hindus it held Amrita, the elixir of immortality and in Tibetan it was a welcoming place for deities. In the Christian history it is the repository of treasure. Only in recent history is the vase confused with a literal source of wealth and immortality, such as the infamous Holy Grail which is seen rather than to metaphorically contain the source of life but as holding the matter of that source, the manifested, so therefore the vase is something to be sought out and owned rather than held as a metaphor for a spiritual understanding.

In conclusion, the meaning of the treasure vase is related to the womb and the water of life. We could see this symbolically as the un-manifest and all potentiality that does exist but cannot be owned or that depends on exclusivity. It would be interesting to read your comments on treasure and what this word means to you…




This was the first full clinic case I took as an intern homeopath and was just published in HPathy‘s February edition, 2016. A big thank you to MICH and the MICH team!

Melissa Dair, Lauren Trimble and Kate Hudson present and analyze a case of anxiety and depression.


The following is a case write-up written by the student intern homeopath who took the case in the supervised MICH Intern Clinic in 2014.

In each Clinic case, attending intern observers and the student intern homeopath enter into dialogue. An experienced supervisor is present, but only intervenes when the process leaves the framework of dialogue, to guide the students back into the process.

The dialogue focuses on the essence of the deepest aspects of the patient, and dialogue continues until there is group consensus that this essence has been reached. It is then that the materia medica is read thoroughly to determine what is the best similimum via the symptomology. Repertorization is used as it was designed: as a memory tickler for the homeopath, to provide hints for possibilities of remedies, and direction for materia medica research.


Lauren Trimble – MICH Student Intern

Summary of two sessions leading to prescription: September 2014 and October 2014.

Patient is a 46yr old female. She has anxiety related mainly to accidents and danger, illness, the unknown and the future. She feels fatigued and overwhelmed. She has been unable to lose the weight she gained as a teenager and now has knee and hip pain and chronic pain in the evening before sleep. She presents with a very strong presence and a feeling of solidity, although this is not representative of her inner experience.

Patient’s chief complaint, etiology, symptoms, history

Chief Complaints:

  • Weight Gain
  • Pain in left knee and hip
  • Fatigue/Anxiety
  • Difficulty making decisions


  • She had a serious accident at 5 yrs old when an arrow went into her left eye. She stayed in hospital for almost a month then stayed in bed at home for a time and could not move much and with both eyes covered.


  • Her son had an accident in the bathtub when a few years old, and she went to the hospital. She went into a complete state of panic and couldn’t come out of it, and since then she has suffered from severe anxiety and has been on anti-anxiety medication.

Remedy Prescribed:

  • Graphites 200K and 1MK

Patient’s dynamic

We start off our case synthesis by feeling into the client’s dynamic movement in life.

On the emotional level there was great anxiety, a fear of making mistakes, which corresponded to the inability to decide (the mental level). Her indecision was a symptom of an even deeper dimension of striving for absolute wisdom, from which every decision and discernment would be infallible.

Her fear of regretting an action lay in that such an action could not be “corrected” or erased.


Our patient is a large overweight woman with an imposing presence, a loud voice, and appears very strong or solid. She seems at ease with the case taking team and is very social.

Making decisions/choices:

  • Once she starts to speak it is clear that in everything she speaks of there is nothing she can leave to be just that, as it is. Everything has another side, and a reasoning as to why it is an issue for her. There is never a still point in her experience or her movement in life. It is always that it could be this or it could be that.
  • She talked about enjoying nature and physical activity where she could be relaxed and not keeping track of time. There her actions were not encumbered by complex decision making and there she feels like she knows and is confident.

Correcting mistakes:

  • In her work as an elementary school teacher she does not experience this difficulty with decisions. Here she can make a plan and go forward and commit to it, because here if she makes a mistake she can go back and fix it with the student so she is not left with regret.
  • There is always a reason behind everything, but it is more than sharing and giving a reason; it is always that it is this, but then it could be something else. She is always taking back every statement she makes.


  • Never wants to experience regret and so she can’t stick with anything, because she is scared to have a regret. Dynamically there’s no still point, no decision, one way or the other. She is always going back and forth so there is no regret.
  • She then wants to manage and control, but since things have continued unchecked for so long it is more difficult to deal with and she often can’t control it. When this happens she can feel ashamed, embarrassed and shocked at what is happening to her. This can lead to extreme anxiety and she resorts to medications to calm her down.

Px’s words that describe this dynamic:

  • I’m not a good decision maker. It feels a bit tortured, something I have to work on. I am afraid of making the wrong decision, not confident enough to make the right decision and it overwhelms me. I am regretful.
  • When things are too hard, such as losing weight, I experience failure, I over think things to avoid this. I prefer feedback, reinforcement, to know I have succeeded or made the right decision.
  • She describes her waffling: “I take a lot of time thinking simple things through. It is tiring. I spend all this time dragging things too long. I am lacking confidence and will cling to the other choice, so it is hard to be happy with the choice I make. This makes the decision process not very rewarding or comfortable since I am always looking at the other side.”
  • I usually wrestle with decisions, slow, waffle back and forth. I take a lot of time thinking it through, tired, spent at all this time dragging this too long. Wonder why I struggle so much. Brother and Dad have trouble making decisions. We are not a fast moving family. Planning vs. just do it. Making the decision … it overwhelms me. Mind gets caught up in the details.
  • Still cling to the other side, the other choice. (Hard to be) happy with the choice I make. I can be regretful. Fear regret. You could have done this. Question decisions. This is in my mother’s family too. Things that could have been.
  • More feeling this is the right answer. Direct intervention by therapist, I enjoyed this. No right answer. I don’t have to worry about it, think about it. In the outdoors, physical tasks, not encumbered by complex decision making. I feel like I know, confident. I can move forward and not drag.
  • “I have a lot of knowledge [about weight issue – fitness – nutrition] but unable to apply the knowledge.”

Susceptibility to

In our next stage of the case synthesis, we look at what our patient is most stressed by, or “susceptible to” (either in a positive or negative way). In other words, what threatens or reinforces the definition of self or conditions of existence. We identified the following areas of susceptibility:

  • Making decisions
  • Choice, doubt
  • Not being able to go back and correct a mistake
  • Discernment
  • Being in nature, outdoors, physical tasks (no decision making)
  • Feedback, reinforcement (helps her know she has made right choice)
  • Regret – does not make decisions to avoid this
  • Taking action – cannot commit to one action in case it is the wrong thing to do

What holds all these details together is the need for absolute understanding in order to take action, or inertia from incomplete (human) understanding.


From here we look at: What are the conditions of existence for this individual? What does she feel is necessary in life to exist? What reinforces her sense of self? We see that her primary focus and susceptibility is:

  • Action (will) must be based on and within the context of understanding. If understanding is too limited, will is misdirected – I will do the wrong thing = mistake = regret.


In this case, Absolute wisdom (which is humanly impossible) is the necessary element for the patient to take action.


Once we can encourage the patient to explore their experience within their susceptibility, we can further fill out the case with the sensation and delusion levels of experience. We can now be certain that these sensations are directly related to the core movement and susceptibility or conditions of existence, in other words, central to the patient as a whole. In this case, we see that the mineral sensations are more about the sense of self, rather than the more tangible sensations we might see in a plant remedy case :

  • This or that – waffle back and forth, inability to make a decision.
  • Self worth depends on ability to make the right choice and take the right action.
  • I can move forward and not drag. When I don’t feel confident, it can drag.
  • Too hard, effort but no results.
  • Dehumanize, narrow, flexible, inclusive, eclectic.
  • Canoe trip felt really good … you’re following and you have to adjust … it’s not a decision that’s going to stay … a responding in the moment. Rather than a fork in the road. Not a definitive choice.
  • Ability to go back and fix mistakes (to erase like a graphite pencil … not written in ink).

Remedy Choice

This case is nicely filled out in all areas: sensation, delusion, striving and susceptibility.
If we look at our striving and susceptibility, we see that divine understanding which leads to no regret is very important. Under the theme of regret in Loutan’s repertory we came to Graphites as a possibility by finding the following rubrics for Graphites.
  • thought or ideas inhibiting action
  • understanding (wisdom) via analysis
  • choice, doubt
  • inertia (inability to act)
  • correction of a mistake
  • decision making
  • detail (precision)
  • discernment (understanding)
  • educate, teach
  • infallible
  • intellect & analysis
  • Fears changing state, defense through inertia. The smallest problem is too big and beyond his forces.

Highlights from Repertoire de thèmes et de matière médicale dynamique by Guy Loutan (translated by MICH)

The following is a translation of key points of the description of Graphites in Loutan’s repertory[1]:

The human being must go through the work of comparing options in order to discern the value of different choices. Graphites feels incapable of subtle analysis, calculations, and prefers things that are physical and natural. (Showing a greater ease with the natural dimensions of consciousness versus the rational or contemplative.) Reality is crushing, difficult, heavy, effortful. He is torn between his worries about being useful and his value and his desire for stability. The graphite in the pencil symbolises the passage of time and events through writing, the moments of choice between what will be remembered in history and what will be erased and forgotten.

The essential question for Graphites is how to attribute the right value to things, to discern which are essential and which are not. That is what is crushing, a heavy weight – a pressure that is similar to the pressure exerted on the pencil to write. The desire of graphites is to write, but only with the condition of being able to erase or correct what is written.

Overwhelmed by trifles, drowned in details, unable to synthesize. An emotional person who becomes calm if she can confide, shed her feelings on another, but tends to create a protective shell.

Fear of changing state, develops inertia as a defence, stays in her bubble. Does not dare to decide because he desires absolute infallibility. He assigned a level of greater importance to something which it should not have had. In the desire for infallibility and absolute knowledge, finds himself to be in constant doubt about his discernment, and cannot take action. Does not dare to make the decision because something might have a hidden value that he does not see. He cannot assign the fair value to objects, and does not dare to decide. He gives a high value on something that did not have it. Wanting to be infallible, yet he finds himself in constant doubt of his judgment, can not move his will to act. Does not dare to risk taking a decision because everything can have an unexpected, or unseen value.

Highlights from Sankaran Schema, Rajan Sankaran

We also see that the Carbon themes are very present here. In Sankaran’s Schema[2] we see the theme of indecision and that sensation of this or that:

“Alternating state. On one side feels ‘Can I be on my own or do I need to still be there’, and on the other side he feels ‘I have to let go, can I let go?’”. In the Carbons in general, we also see themes of self worth, ethics, success, failure, stable, unstable, loss of will or ambition, and especially of values (Scholten).

Highlights from Carbon: Organic and Hydrocarbon Remedies in Homeopathy, Roger Morrison[3]:

(from Vithoulkas described the typical Graphites patient as bland, peasant or laborer types: slow thinking, heavy and unreactive. Sankaran describes instead a state of great excitability and fretfulness. These polar opposite views represent two different adaptive reactions to the same basic inner state. As with all other organic compounds, a basic insecurity about life exists in Graphites. This anxiety is manifested by great anxiety which is either expressed (with great sentimentality, over-excitability and tears) or by denial of the insecurity (with dullness, coarseness and materialism). Female patients appear more often in the uncompensated form and male patients most often in the harder form for unknown reasons.

In the uncompensated patient, the anxiety will be felt as the primary dysphoria. The anxiety centers about issues of health, security and family. In this we can easily be confused with Calcarea and its salts. More prominent in Graphites, though, is a great focus on self-worth and feelings of inadequacy. The patient is timid and feels unable to cope with the many demands put upon her. Strikingly focused upon small details of health and events in her life, the patient is irresolute and confused. The mind is too full of anxieties to function properly and is ultimately exhausting for the patient.

Highlights from Prisma: The Arcana of Materia Medica Illuminated by Frans Vermeulen[4]

  • IRRESOLUTION, timidity, lack of self-confidence; full of DOUBTS.
  • Incapacity to think abstract thoughts, analyse and plan.
  • Always ANTICIPATING DIFFICULTIES, resulting in ANXIETY [anxiety, morning, on waking – 3], EXCITABILITY, sadness and even despair. UPSET over TRIFLES.
  • Fastidious; fidgety; conscientious about trifles.
  • WEEPING and expressing emotions better. Has to ventilate them.
  • Nibbling appetite; has to take frequently small bites of food to ease stomach.
  • Worse HUNGER.

drug differentiation

There are many remedies indicated for indecision. Here is a sampling of the exploration of a few these.

Ignatia: Inner conflict; romantic idealism conflicts with reality. Ailments from disappointment. Contradictory and alternating states. Ignatia would like deliverance from having to deliberate and decide, whereas our patient would like absolute understanding so that she can make correct choices. It does not cover the theme of regret that our patient experiences, and her avoidance of regret by not making decisions.

Anacardium: Anacardium finds all choices impossible as the conflict of the choice is between two parts of himself – head and heart – mind and body – devil and angel. Needs external references and criteria which are in relationship with reality. The conflict in Anacardium is not about the right choice in order to act, or about understanding in order to make choices, and does not lead to failure or regret.

Crocus: The regret of Crocus is in what he has not done, not seen, or not discovered. … Crocus suffers from an endless debate on the choice of means. The suffering in our case is due to a difficulty in discerning the “value”.

Prescription – November 8, 2014

  • Graphites 200k

Follow ups

First follow up: December 26th, 2014

  • It was easier for her to make decisions, she felt more spontaneous and had less need for external feedback.
  • There was also less regret over choices and decisions.
  • She started to meditate and was able to experience anxiety but stay detached so it would not get out of control.
  • She gained weight although everyone thought she looked like she had lost weight, including us.
  • Her fatigue was much better, which follows that she is no longer investing so much energy in her decision making process.
  • The sugar and food cravings were still ongoing, although she was more in touch with it being about calming the anxiety as well as long standing habits.
  • We found that most of her concerns were improving, some minor symptoms were unchanged and that there were no aggravations.

2nd Follow up (phone) January 12th, 2015:

  • Patient reports in a phone follow up that she was starting to crave sugar and overeat again, and was using more delusion level language.
  • We followed up with a 1M and she continued to improve, particularly with feeling less anxious.

3rd Follow up March 4th, 2015:

  • Patient continues to experience improvements in her anxiety levels and her ability to make decisions.
  • There are still some issues with overeating, and sugar addiction, but the patient has more objectivity and awareness around it.
  • It was decided she could benefit from a higher potency and a dose of 10MK was given.


Melissa Dair – BEd, ND, DHom, MICH Director
Melissa is a MICH Homeopath, as well as being an experienced educator, learning facilitator, and student support coordinator. As a homeopath, Melissa accompanies her clients on an in-depth exploration of their inner world, to uncover meaning, connections, and the emergence of insights. She enjoys working with a variety of clients, and particularly enjoys working with adolescents and young adults.

Lauren Trimble, MICH Intern
Lauren is MICH Intern. She has previously trained at the Montreal Gongfu Research Centre where Traditional Chinese Medicine is combined with martial art practices and has taught Meridian Qi gong and Nei Gong classes. In 2010 she co-founded the Montreal Healing Arts Community, a local non-profit organization offering networking, outreach and education to the healing community.

Kate Hudson – BA, E-Ryt, DHom, MICH Clinical Supervisor

Kate is a MICH Homeopath, and experienced workshop facilitator. She believes that the therapeutic process of inquiry is an important step in both the client’s return to health and in the path to selecting an appropriate homeopathic remedy to facilitate that. She works with clients from all walks of life, and has had particular success with those who suffer from anxiety and depression, or other mental emotional challenges.

The Montreal Institute of Classical Homeopathy offers a full four year program clinical supervision, accredited training in the homeopathic clinic in Honduras and advanced continuing education for Homeopaths.


[1] Loutan, Guy, MD. Répertoire de Thèmes et de Matière Médicale Dynamique, dix-neuvieme edition 2014, page 152.

[2] Sankaran, Rajan M.D., Sankaran’s Schema, Homeopathic Medical Publishers, 2005.

[3] Morrison, Roger, M.D., Carbon: Organic and Hydrocarbon Remedies in Homeopathy, Hahnemann clinic Publishing, Grass Valley, California, 2006. page 445.

[4] Vermeulen, Frans., Prisma: The Arcana of Materia Medica Illuminated, Third edition, Emryss, Haarlem, The Netherlands, June 2004.



I had a basic medical procedure done the other day. The removal of an IUD and a new one put in. The copper based IUD was the one I decided to use five years ago since there was no release of hormones, only the copper. And as long as my body accepted the copper and was not allergic to it there would be few side effects other than the physical ones such as increased cramping and heavier menstrual flow. I preferred to not have hormones affect the natural rhythms of my cycles which is why I did not consider taking the pill or having implants under the arm. The first time the doctor put the IUD in place there was a lot of pain, I had to ask him to slow down between stages so I could recover. It was not pleasant. And then it took about three months for my cycles to return to mostly normal and there was a lot of pain and cramping which usually happens. Each cycle my body was trying to eject a foreign body, which is a healthy response, so I was not too upset by the slow process of my body accepting the IUD.

Five years later and I need to update the make and model as most of the copper had dissolved and it would become ineffective. This time however, I knew about homeopathy! I took Staphysagria 30ch beforehand knowing how much having my cervix prodded and stretched annoyed me the last time. I could also have taken arnica ahead of time to deal with the bruising and trauma but decided the Staphysagria was a better fit for me. Besides, I get pretty irritable in doctor’s offices in general. This time was a very different experience. My doctor sighed with relief when she finished and said, “Well, that was easy and quick.” She seemed surprised. Since I went to a sexual health clinic where she did this procedure all the time and I was the last patient of the day, I could guess she was being pretty honest about it being easy. I was too because it still hurt during the stages when cramping occurred but it hurt much less than the first time. I just had to do some focused breathing and I was ready for the next stage! Afterwards I decided to tell her that I took a homeopathic remedy, she seemed happy and totally approved.


The keynote features of Staphysagria are post-surgical pain as well as stretching or injuries to sphincter muscles. The cervix fits well here, since having a cervix dilated is very painful as well as invasive. Insect bites and stings and so feeling invaded and irritated is also a keynote. In fact it is also a good prophylaxis before mosquito and black fly season starts in the forests and countryside. The mental keynotes are suppressed anger, great suffering when he controls his emotions as well as great anger about things done by others. Remember how annoyed I was by doctor’s offices? I probably could have taken arnica for bruising and faster healing if I had needed it but being at the start of the cycle when the procedure was done I have not noticed any increase in cramping or pain that is worrisome so I am going to leave it alone. I can always try a dose of arnica 30ch if my next cycle is painful or if I don’t feel ok in a week or so since it can still help with my body’s healing processes long after time of the injury.

Although it was wonderful my doctor supported homeopathy, I kinda wished she wanted to know more details. It felt a bit unfair to not have to suffer so much yet the other patients did not have access to or knowledge about this support. Imagine if each patient could fill out a quick questionnaire and then be offered one of three or four remedies before having an IUD inserted, which would reduce pain, irritation, risk of infection and emotional effects? ​I still have hope that the medical system is changing and one day we will no longer have to suffer so much when a wonderful tool like homeopathy is available to us.

First published on birdsonghomeopathy.weebly.com.

Homeo what?

As a nearly accredited homeopath, I find it interesting to tell people what I do. It is much less stressful than the old answer which could be shortened substantially by saying, “Artist,” but it still doesn’t roll into the social atmosphere smoothly like teacher or waitress. Most people don’t understand what it is and many have never even heard of homeopathy. I was excited to find a fact list on the Canadian Consumers Centre for Homeopathy (CCCH) about homeopathy use worldwide. Their statistics might surprise you.

Varanasi_pharmacy wiki

World wide, homeopathy is among the most-used types of medicine and is one of the fastest growing. It is estimated that around 300-500 million patients worldwide use homeopathy and there are around 400,000 healthcare professionals recommending homeopathic remedies, including about 100,000 physicians prescribing them routinely. As for the economy of homeopathy, it is well known that it is not a revenue generator the way pharmaceuticals is, yet according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in March 2011 the world market for homeopathy was about $5.35 billion and growing by about 25% annually. They consider that at this rate it could surpass conventional medicine as we know it by 2035.

In India, there are an estimated 250,000 practitioners and 75,000 paramedics and they treat 10% of the population using only homeopathic medicines. Brazil has 15,000 doctors that practice homeopathy and 9 million patients using homeopathic medicines. In India, Mexico, England, Brazil and Cuba homeopathy is integrated into the health systems.  In Cuba, the use of prophylactic homeopathic medicines has been used by the public health system for epidemic control with great success.

Quote about homeopathy by Gandhi


Three out of four Europeans know about homeopathy and 29% use it for their own self care. The European Union officially recognized homeopathy in 1992 for human use and veterinarians. 80% of the world’s homeopathic medicines are manufactured in France. France is the world’s largest market for homeopathy with more than $450 million in sales. England has five hospitals that use homeopathic treatments and 42% of non-homeopathic physicians there are willing to refer their patients to a homeopath.

It is hard to say that nobody uses homeopathy with numbers like this. In Canada the two biggest issues at nearly every election are the economy and health care. Homeopathy offers a solution to both. A study commissioned by the government of Switzerland published in 2011 found that homeopathy had 15.4% lower costs than conventional medicine and therefore homeopathy was more cost-effective than any other form of medicine.

The CCCH acknowledges that, “As communications technology continues to transform the world into a global village, research on homeopathy now being conducted in countries outside the developed world is pushing medicine to new frontiers… and in fact will leave the West behind if the West continues to ignore it.”

Ah, homeopathy. A mystery, quackery, quantum science, medicinal miracle, futuristic, sci-fi, bunk. Maybe being an artist was easier to talk about.

Children’s rights

I was digging through old papers and found this … a list of children’s rights given to me by a childhood friend. Going through his own processing of what childhood meant to him as an adult and with a child of his own the same age as me he was an amazing person to spend time with. By the time I was nine, my older brothers no longer wanted to hang out with me. I was very shy and in one of the smallest classes in history so I did not have many friends my own age at that time. Rick and I spent many wonderful hours flying kites, shopping, going for walks. Mostly we talked about life and he was definitely one of those people that comes into your life and steers a new direction for your boat. I am so grateful for his friendship and time. I can’t imagine the person I might have become without him in my life.

Here is the list, … with visuals.

1. to express feelings


2. to feel proud


3. to feel protected


4. to friends


5. to be able to trust


6. to feel safe


7. to feel love

feel love

8. to feel positive about themselves


9. not to be abused

not to be abused

10. time to play

to play

11. time to be with who I want to be with

with who I want

12. to have other adults as friends

adult friends

13. to be listened to


14. not to be ignored

not be ignored

15. to not feel invisible


16. to be a child


17. to say NO


18. to respect


19. to privacy


20. to have fun


21. to dream


22. to be accepted as me

accepted as me

23. to have my feelings accepted


24. to be able to learn


25. to allow me to solve my problems

solve problems


All images from the amazing pixabay

Everyone is busy these days and no one seems to have the capacity to listen, to really listen. How often do we speak and feel cut off, or politely interrupted and find ourselves biting our tongue? And when we speak, do we really say what is not just on our mind, but in our heart and soul when we interact with people?

That is often scary or risky. It means we will be vulnerable, and when time and money are omnipotent to the social structure, we tend to inhibit the slower, deeper parts of us and they often get shut down or ignored. Human beings are social animals meaning we develop permanent groups who live together and create relationships between individuals that endure from one encounter to the next. For humans, not having these social interactions can be detrimental to development since they are critical to our survival at the base and to an emotional stability and joy of living at the best. What this points to is that all of us need someone who can listen to us, to what our heart and soul is wanting to express. The word express come from expresser in Old French meaning in Latin, ‘ex’ – out and ‘pressare’ – to press. It can mean to obtain by squeezing or wringing. Expression does not have to be so forced however. We can learn to communicate mindfully, compassionately, and peacefully. We can also learn to be great listeners. The following methods are the basics.

The language

The first is Non-Violent Communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg. He grew up in Detroit during an era of racial tension in the 40’s. The violence he witnessed in others and in himself lead him to study psychology and to seek a means of mediation that could resolve conflicts and differences peacefully. When the racial tensions resurfaced in the 60’s, he developed the Center for Non-Violent Communication. The Center has continued its work in mediation and conflict resolution with  intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, governments, schools and social change organizations. Using the character of the jackal, who represents the ineffective communicator, and the giraffe, who understands non-violent communication methods, he gives us the tools on how to strengthen the ability to connect compassionately with oneself and others, as well as to resolve differences peacefully. “NVC reminds us what we already instinctively know about how good it feels to authentically connect to another human being.”

The emphasis is on deep listening, to ourselves as well as others, and to discover the depth of our own compassion. He reveals the not so secret fact that all human beings when communicating are only trying to request universal values and needs, either effectually or not so effectively. Universal means transpersonal, indicating that which is beyond the limits of personal identity. We all have these values and needs in other words, in varying degrees, so there is no reason to be defensive about having them. There is a wonderful workshop series posted on YouTube that can get you started with NVC.


The mind

Another important communication tool is Dialogue, developed by David Bohm and Jiddu Krishnamurti. I wrote about this in my post, ‘A real sweet heart.’

We are proposing a kind of collective inquiry not only into the content of what each of us say, think and feel but also into the underlying motivations, assumptions and beliefs that lead us to so do.

Dialogue is a way of observing, collectively, how hidden values and intentions can control our behaviour, and how unnoticed cultural differences can clash without our realizing what is occurring. It can therefore be seen as an arena in which collective learning takes place and out of which a sense of increased harmony, fellowship and creativity can arise.

With Bohm Dialogue the going gets more challenging. We need to make a greater investment. Dialogue requires a thorough understanding of and insight into ‘Thought and the Thinking Process’ in order for it to be properly implemented according to Bohm. His Consciousness Seminars help to introduce these concepts. Once the idea of ‘Proprioception of Thought’ or as Krishnamurti understands it ‘Meditation,’ is grasped, only then is true dialogue is possible.


Next, one can read ‘On Dialogue,’ by Bohm or check out the condensed ideas on Wiki as an introduction to how to dialogue with others. In an intimate relationship, dialogue can allow for an unpredictable understanding and therefore a more honest communication. In my experience, a relationship that includes the use of dialogue is very enriching and rewarding. We can dialogue in the board room, with our kids, during a conflict or when any deep understanding is required. It can play out in a larger sphere as NVC does also. Bohm felt dialogue was the way to explore the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. “It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization.”

All this is good and well if you have managed to review the tools. However, you need other humans! You need to practice, and practice some more. This is where I leave you to use your imagination and ingenuity. As long as it is joyful and practiced as an experiential learning process, you are on the way to becoming a human who can communicate well. It is worth the effort!

The heart

We have the methods of a therapeutic practitioner and a scientist, now the words of a spiritual master.

Listening with empathy means you listen in such a way that the other person feels you are really listening, really understanding, hearing with your whole being ­­­­— with your heart.

Deep listening, compassionate listening is not listening with the purpose of analyzing or even uncovering what has happened in the past. You listen first of all in order to give the other person relief, a chance to speak out, to feel that someone finally understands him or her. Deep listening is the kind of listening that helps us to keep compassion alive while the other speaks, which may be for half an hour or forty-five minutes. During this time you have in mind only one idea, one desire: to listen in order to give the other person the chance to speak out and suffer less. This is your only purpose. Other things like analyzing, understanding the past, can be a by-product of this work. But first of all listen with compassion.

To listen with all their being, without prejudices, without judgment.

~ Thich Nhat Hahn

When I was training as a homeopath with MICH, it was understood that deep listening was going to be the greatest challenge in our work. The ability we needed to develop was not to shut ourselves up by eradicating thoughts coming from mind and ego, but to know when ‘we’ jumped into the moment of listening. This is important. In meditation, one does not ‘destroy’ the mind or ego, one simply alters the focus on them. The picture is that a meditative state is like an empty blue sky and thoughts are like clouds that pass by, obscuring the view of the sky. All we can do is notice the clouds as quickly as possible and then they will disappear — for the moment, they will reappear and keep on reappearing. So the task is to know what a cloud looks like and when it is present, not to destroy the possibility of clouds ever forming! That would be a violent act and it would not be a heartfelt act of compassion to ourselves, so how could we then extend compassion to the person we are listening to?

“I don’t know how therapists train themselves to acquire this kind of capacity to listen. A therapist also may be full of suffering. While sitting and listening to the client, the seeds of suffering in him or her may be watered. If the therapist is overwhelmed by his own suffering, how can he listen properly to the other person? When you are trained to be a therapist, you have to learn the art of deep listening.” Thich Nhat Hahn understands well what can get in the way of listening deeply to another.

MICH taught us that to be aware of all our personal suffering, judgment, prejudices and the gymnastics of our ego was the first thing to develop in listening. Just to become aware, that is the challenge. Only then can we learn to put ourselves aside when we notice our thoughts and impressions coming up. This is a form of conscious meditation. Once we understand what our mind is doing, we can say, “Oh, there it is again, my ego thoughts about such and such.” And once we are aware, we can dismiss them and continue to deeply listen. How do we find out what mind is doing and if our ego is present in our thoughts? This takes the practice to an even more compelling level. For one, there are no step by step videos or PDFs I can share with you on this. Just to know about it, you can then seek out and find resources that help to understand and experience it. Just keep in mind, thought and ego are slippery fish to contend with. Going back to dialogue can help us to see if what we are doing is leading to awareness and presence or away from it. Listening with the heart can help us decide if we are on the right tract to compassionate, peaceful communication, or not. It is important to open our hearts and inner knowing to what our mind is doing since we cannot logically manage our thoughts any more than we can stare at our own eyeballs. This is why spiritual leaders like Thich Nhat Hahn are helpful. They understand how to open the heart and how to develop compassion.

Screen shot 2015-07-23 at 12.22.11 PM

With these methods and tools, you can be a baby giraffe well on your way to becoming a great listener. Take small steps, keep trying, and go easy on yourself. No one said listening well was easy, but everyone always says that a good relationship depends on two things, kindness and communication!

A real sweet heart

I often have an admiration for a man of ideas. This Valentine’s Day I thought I would share one of my current sweet hearts. David Bohm was an American theoretical physicist whose work contributed innovative and unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, the philosophy of mind, and neuropsychology. As a scientist, he warned of the dangers of unchecked reason and technology and advocated the need for genuine supportive dialogue which he claimed could broaden and unify the conflicting and troublesome divisions in our social world. His main concern was with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole which is never static or complete but is an unending process of movement and unfoldment. He is best known for his book Wholeness and The Implicate Order and his work with J. Krishnamurti developing a method of communication called Dialogue. These Krishnamurti–Bohm Dialogues took place over a span of almost 25 years and can be found on YouTube.

Hearts illustration

Consciousness and Coherency

A few months after J. Krishnamurti’s passing in early 1986, friends of David Bohm asked him to host a weekend seminar. These series of annual seminars lasted until 1992 when Bohm himself passed. They are known as the Bohm Consciousness Seminars and cover his ideas on Thought and the nature of Consciousness. I write a lot about the environment and recognizing what a treasure it is. Lately, the ideas I have come across keep telling me the same thing, that saving the planet from our behaviour is not an external exercise but an understanding of what is going on internally. The seminars put this into a unique and critical light based on Bohm’s insights as a physicist. According to Bohm it is, “Practically impossible to find a place on Earth that is not changed by thought.” And this gem, “The best way to save nature is to solve our problems.” Almost everyone in the West can admit they can’t actually stop thinking throughout the day, and that waking up in the middle of the night unable to sleep but instead preoccupied by thoughts is a common occurrence.

Bohm quote

The word coherency comes from the mid 16th century and meant ‘sticking together,’ from the Latin verb cohaerere. It is to be able to speak clearly and logically and means united as or forming a whole. Incoherent thought is what we are experiencing most of the time. We can’t see the incoherence of the thoughts in ourselves nor the unintended actions they bring us to.

If you are incoherent one thing is that you do not produce the intended results. That is one sign of incoherence. Another is that you are contradicting yourself, or a third is you are deceiving yourself. That sort of thought, what is the point of that thought, we would be better off without it. If you say you see nobody intends to destroy planet. Nobody intended that, they merely intended to get rich. Comfortable, rich what ever it was. Now I am not blaming anyone, I am saying all of us were in it. We did not see that this was dangerous, this was incoherent. If our intention was to destroy the planet, we would have been coherent.

Given the current rate of destruction and change compared to 1992 when Bohm left us, we are in a serious state of incoherence about the environment, a run away train of thought-action. It is what he would have called a sustained incoherence.

Bohm quote

Dialoguing to communicate

He also discusses sensitivity, a great word to bring up for Valentine’s Day. In sharing thoughts with others, we often use force. This is a subtle form of violence most of us lack the sensitivity to observe. To convince means to win. To persuade is to cause (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument. It is also based on the words suave and sweet and means to win by sweet talk. “It wasn’t easy, but I persuaded him to do the right thing.” According to Bohm, thought which does not understand what it is doing tends to fall into violence. He proposes we consider the idea that the ultimate violence and the cause of all the violence in the world is based on the destruction of our sensitivity. This is very contrary to the spirit of Dialogue as outlined by Bohm.

Dialogue, as we are choosing to use the word, is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization.

In Dialogue, a group of people can explore the individual and collective presuppositions, ideas, beliefs, and feelings that subtly control their interactions. It provides an opportunity to participate in a process that displays communication successes and failures. It can reveal the often puzzling patterns of incoherence that lead the group to avoid certain issues or, on the other hand, to insist, against all reason, on standing and defending opinions about particular issues.

Dialogue is a way of observing, collectively, how hidden values and intentions can control our behavior, and how unnoticed cultural differences can clash without our realizing what is occurring. It can therefore be seen as an arena in which collective learning takes place and out of which a sense of increased harmony, fellowship and creativity can arise.

Because the nature of Dialogue is exploratory, its meaning and its methods continue to unfold. No firm rules can be laid down for conducting a Dialogue because its essence is learning – not as the result of consuming a body of information or doctrine imparted by an authority, nor as a means of examining or criticizing a particular theory or programme, but rather as part of an unfolding process of creative participation between peers.

To be able to Dialogue means we need to retain and even enhance our sensitivity, we are exploring with sensitivity. “Whenever you use force to meet a problem arising in thought then you you have not really solved it, you have left more problems, although the force may seem to succeed.” Violence and fear are connected. “If you don’t have the power to exert force, then you will feel fear. If you feel frustrated and would like to use force but you are afraid to use force you will then feel fear, you may project into the other person your own violence and be afraid of it.” Thought creates fear. Most of us are living in a fragmented culture thriving on violence, inflicted with fear and lacking a shared meaning.

…it is proposed that a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today. Moreover, it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated.

Saving the world that existed before human thought

Bohm was trying to resolve issues in the late 80’s that are now major crisis we all face and even then he was not overly hopeful of success since we are no longer hunter and gatherer groups of 40 or so people living together. The real challenge is how to create coherency among billions of people living varied lives and each with a unique view and purpose. He also saw that Dialogue requires a thorough understanding of and insight into Thought and the Thinking Process in order for it to be properly implemented. We all have to work on how to do it in order to benefit from Dialogue. Rather than learning Calculus, school children could be drilled on how to Dialogue, the way one used to learn Latin, a subject has to be practical to modern day.

To sum it up, if we want to save the world that existed before human thought, the best approach is to look at those thoughts and what they do. Have a listen.

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