The Healing Power of Memoir

A few weeks ago I sat next to Angela Rochon at Marcus Grill, enjoying the Christmas luncheon hosted by Detroit Working Writers. Angela recently had her first book published, a memoir called Fatherless. I remember many meetings over the years where Angela shared her writings for this book with the DWW critique group. I always enjoyed reading about her Italian relatives and the kitchen flooded with various ingredients and aromas. It reminded me so much of my Chaldean family and culture. 

Angela’s book is really about her father, Angelo. His family was joyful, hard-working, devout, and kindhearted, except for Vito, the murderer. Born to a widwo who was widowed again, Angela helped raise his half siblings. Sicilian immigrants in steel-city Youngstown, Ohio cherished this thoughtful boy. World War II brought him to Algonac, Michigan, as a leader of men.

“Hope and love were his signature features,” said Angela. “The village embraced him, commending his kindness.”

Angelo became wealthy, but haunted by the memory of hunger. He built a church and treasured his family, who soon became fatherless.

During our lunch, Angela and I spoke about how we each felt writing our memoirs, the healing power in the process. We traveled centuries back, visited family stories we never knew existed, understood the root of some feuds, and in our hearts, reconciled a lot of relationships. Through our memoirs, we also shared beautiful memories, including our culture’s customs, cooking, and celebrations.

Fatherless, which spans two centuries, describes Ellis Island immigration, world wars, the Great Depression, national prosperity, and recessions. In it, there’s a reconciliation after a fifty-year feud. Angela writes, “Instead of Ancestry websites, Aunt Agata and I researched our ancestry at Ellis Island, sharing the date with our family. We discussed details. Our memory mining conversations became her gifts to me. Mine were her brief diversions from her deteriorating health.” 

In writing memoir, happy scenes comfort us while difficult ones arouse a painful past. But they also help us understand and stop reliving that past. When you take the time to look at a situation from beginning to end, when you write it down, you’re able to see it from a different perspective. Maybe you blamed one parent for an incident without having sat down and putting yourself in his or her shoe. Taking the time to look at your memories objectively and to make sense of them helps you come to terms with your feelings, with old wounds. It shows you family patterns, such as in Angela’s case, sudden deaths at early ages, resilience, and reconciliation. 

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As a psychiatric therapist and an educator who held management positions in university and secondary schools, Angela’s experiences led her to teach memoir writing, guiding reminiscence groups, grief support, and doing public speaking. She continued writing throughout this time, winning awards for her poetry, as she published work in newspaper columns, magazines, and academic journals. She earned the Toastmasters International DTM. 

For her memoir Fatherless, Angela went as far as doing genograms that placed six generations in relation to each other, prompting memories and giving her reader concise visuals. Genograms graphed generational effects of tragedies and joys and focused on medical, genetic, or emotional relationships.

Writing memoir is healing, and it’s also fun. Angela recalls a grandchild calling the Statue of Liberty “the Statue of Literally.” 

“It is,” said Angela. “All my genes literally are from Italian immigrants to New York City.” 

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Contact A. M. Andino Rochon at a.m.rochon@aol.com to comment or schedule Mining Memories or Introduction to Genograms events or speeches.

Some upcoming events:

 

02/07/19:

Legacies of Life Memories, 6 PM, Algonac/Clay Library, 2011 St Clair River Drive, Algonac MI 48001, Reservations requested at 810 794-4471

 

02/21/19:

Legacies of Life Memories, 6 PM, Algonac/Clay Library, 2011 St Clair River Drive, Algonac MI 48001, Reservations requested at 810 794-4471

 

02/28/19:

Legacies of Life Memories, 6 PM, Algonac/Clay Library, 2011 St Clair River Drive, Algonac MI 48001, Reservations requested at 810 794-4471

 

03/05/19:

Legacies of Life Memories, 11:30 AM, Port Huron Senior Center, at 600 Grand River Ave, Port Huron MI 48060, 810 984-5061, 800 297-0099

Healer’s Almanac: Journey into Health

Alternative medicine has become popular because treatments such as acupuncture, massage, osteopathy, yoga, meditation and nutritional therapy treat the whole person –  body, mind, emotions, and spirit — with the focus on staying balanced and well. Patients are seeking less invasive, non-drug, low-cost methods to strengthen their good health.

In her search for a way to heal her family and herself, Patty Shaw learned that there are many alternative therapies available to treat a variety of illnesses of the body, mind, and emotions. Her discoveries led her to write a book called Healer’s Almanac: Journey into Health with Wisdom from the 21st Century Goddesses. In it, she defines the many alternative therapies available and introduces you to health practitioners that provide those treatments.

“My advice is to keep an open mind, keep searching for something that works for you, and remember no therapy is a cure all,” she said. “A healthy approach to healing is balance and treating the body as a whole, not a sum of parts to be fixed or replaced individually.”

Patty stresses that prevention is the best medicine, so “start early, and never stop healing yourself.”

“I believe that within our bodies is the wisdom needed to bring us buoyant health,” she said. “Learn to ask and then listen to your body. It will guide you and be your path to healthy living.”

In her book, Patty offers meditations, inspiration and humor, journal pages with insightful daily inspirations, creative ways to work with moon energy, and much more. The co-owner of Coventry Creations, who are the creators of the Original Blessed Herbal Candles, Patty is devoted to her spiritual path, and offers her clients support as a spiritual counselor and Reiki Master. She’d leading a nature walk called “Wake Up Your Senses” at the Path of Consciousness spiritual and writing retreat (Oct. 5-7).

Healer's Almanac                                                                   Click here to order

Why 21st Century Goddesses? Patty writes that feminine energy has been re-emerging for decades and is present everywhere we look. It is waiting to be harnessed and brought to its fullest potential within our own lives. Realizing that empowerment means acting like a goddess, we can express our feminine energy in a mature and fully actualized way. She adds that, in the past, goddesses represented the creation of life and its continuation. Those found in our history are varied and versatile and not limited to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, unless they chose to be.

I found these parts of Patty’s book quite intriguing, given that I’m currently revising the manuscript of my next book, Mesopotamian Goddesses: Unveiling Your Feminine Power. In writing my book, I came upon a great deal of research that illustrates much of what Patty talks about regarding feminine power and why the world today needs the goddesses’ wisdom. As she says, “We’re taking steps toward our own empowerment and they are our guides.”

The Healer’s Almanac is quite interactive. As you read through the information, you’re invited to participate in the meditations, follow the rituals, and record your feelings and experiences on the blank journal pages.

Another book that Patty Shaw authored, along with her sister Jacki Smith, is Do it Yourself Akashic Wisdom: Access the Library of Your Soul. It’s a guide to understanding your life and its lessons. Akasha is a Sanskrit word which means ether. The Akashic Records have existed from the beginning of time. They are the record of your soul’s journey. Each soul has its Akashic Records, like a series of books each book representing one lifetime. The wisdom of the Akashic records is very transcendent and for centuries was only accessible to seers, saints, and highly evolved souls. In the Age of Aquarius, as humanity is growing, we have come from a condition of dependency to one of responsibility. We are now taking conscious ownership for our spiritual development.

To learn more about Patty Shaw’s work, visit http://www.HealingWithPattyShaw.com

The Magic of Yoga

Sandy Naimou has been teaching yoga since 2011, practicing yoga for over 20 years, and writing in personal journals since childhood.  Yoga and writing are central to her spiritual life and development.  She currently blogs on her website, CreativeEnergyYoga.com and teaches yoga full-time, primarily at General Motors Corporation.

Sandy holds a B.A. in psychology and M.L.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies.  She spends her free time studying theosophy, anthroposophy, actively working as a board member for the Theosophical Society in Detroit, taking long walks at Cranbrook Botanical Gardens with people she loves, and watching sunsets on the beach, sometimes with a yoga mat.

Her main focus is to help people maximize their potential at work, at school, at home, and in other areas of life’s challenges. That’s why we’re delighted to have her lead a yoga class at The Path of Consciousness spiritual and writing retreat on October 5-7th at the Colombiere retreat center in Clarkston, Michigan where, weather permitting, we will practice outside in the fresh open air on the beautiful grounds of the retreat enter. We will close our practice with sounds of a crystal bowl and Tibetan singing bowl. For more information, click here.

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“Yoga opens the channels of creative energy so that the streams and rivers of your own consciousness flow freely towards your beautiful creations,” she says.

In this gentle and heart-centered yoga practice, she will engage participants with breath-work, concentration, and physical movement to open and connect the body, heart, and mind.

“Expansion in the heart center particularly opens us to truth and awareness of possibilities,” she said. “Connection between heart, mind and body brings into physical manifestation the ideas that live in our minds and the feelings and desires that live in our hearts.”

She adds that in addition to focusing on the heart center, the physical postures in this practice works on other areas in the body that require attention based on the physical demands of sitting and writing for long periods.

I was introduced to yoga over 15 years ago when my Reiki and Sikkim teachers asked the students to do a standing forward fold. Although I was fit and exercised daily, sometimes twice a day, I discovered I couldn’t touch my toes. I had limited flexibility, which can and does impact our daily life in ways that become obvious especially when you get older. I started going to yoga classes and immediately noticed a difference.

Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. In my case, it helped distress me during my stressful motherhood routines and allowed me to focus on my writing. Then, when my mother moved in with me, with dementia and in a wheelchair, the balancing and strengthening poses, along with the breathing exercises I’d done in yoga helped me care for her.

Yoga can be healing, strengthening, and transformational. In 1970, Billy Hayes was caught at Turkey airport with two kilos of hashish taped to his torso, then convicted of smuggling drugs and sentenced to four years and two months. Only weeks from his scheduled release in 1975, a high court extended that sentence to 25 years. He escaped after 5 years and went on to write a book about his experience which Oliver Stone wrote the script for and later made into an Oscar winning film called Midnight Express.

In one interview, Billy said, “Before I got arrested, I discovered yoga. And I’ve literally done yoga every day for forty years. It’s the only thing that saved me in jail, physically and emotionally. And in Hollywood. Emotionally, you have to be really tough to be in this business, Yoga just helps keep me balanced every day. It helps.”

In another interview, he said it was like a “magic act” that distressed and relaxed you.

 

Download from Sandy’s website a free guided meditation to know what truth feels like in your body. Click here

Hypnotic Regressions and Past Lives

Marie Gates has led a most interesting life, along the way helping countless writers and those seeking the spiritual path. I met Marie over 20 years ago when she led the Rochester Writers Group at Barnes & Noble. This group introduced me to many wonderful people, some who have since passed away, and others who I became good friends with including Marie.

Over the years, the more I learned about Marie, the more I respected and admired her as a person and as a writer. She has had a most interesting life. As I’ve often said, “What’s the use of having a great book if you have a lousy life? These days, especially, having a great life can easily translate into a great book.”

That’s the case with Marie Gates. She has translated her great experiences into several books and is currently working on her third book.  Marie holds an M.A. in psychology, and for several years she taught in colleges and universities. Her first book, Shadows on My Mind: A Psychologist Explores Reincarnation and PSI, describes how she first became interested in reincarnation.  As a university instructor, she encountered a student acquainted with a hypnotist who regressed people to their past lives, and curiosity about a vivid dream led her to him.  He uncovered five of her incarnations, including that of the woman in the dream.  Under hypnosis, Marie gave her name and that of her husband and their city.  She was able to verify this life by finding the woman’s daughter.

Marie spent the past thirty years exploring reincarnation and other spiritual topics.  Hypnotic regressions and spiritual healing sessions revealed a number of her past lives.  Research confirmed the existence of Rev. Jacob Gruber, the 19th century circuit-riding minister described in her second book, Are We Our Past Lives? 

“Everything we are can be traced to past lives,” Marie said, explaining what the book is about. “Before birth we select our physical appearance, health, values, habits, talents, disabilities, and many other qualities.  We also choose our family members and close associates as well as factors such as our occupation and where we will live.  All of these choices are made to work upon our past-life karma.   Knowing this helps explain who we are, why, and the dynamics of our relationships.”

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The main objective of this book is to illustrate how former lives affect people and their relationships.  Each of the first nine chapters of Are We Our Past Lives? begins with one of Marie’s past lives.  Then comes a historical perspective showing the factors that may have influenced that life.  Next she relates aspects of her current life, such as tendencies, abilities, challenges, and relationships, to that incarnation.  Marie’s claustrophobia originated in a life as Tim, a young gold miner who suffocated in a cave.  Relationships with people who were relatives both in a past life and a present life are discussed with karma, unresolved emotions, in mind.  A current family member was responsible for Tim’s death in the cave, and he has paid back some of his karmic debt by teaching Marie to be less trusting of others.

Are We Our Past Lives? illustrates how former lives affect personalities and relationships in a current life in great depth and it emphasizes the cumulative origin of conditions such as depression and chronic anger.  The incarnations presented in Are We Our Past Lives? span 1,700 years.

“By reading it, you might recall events in your life which will trigger many different emotions including joy, anger, sadness, and regret,” she noted.  “You might realize the necessity of forgiving another person for an offense.  You might speculate about what happened in a past life.”

By reflecting upon their personalities and relationships, and perhaps thinking about how they relate to past lives, readers may make positive changes in their lives.  Some may seek a hypnotist or other therapist to explore the origin of a disorder such as chronic anxiety and receive treatment.

“And you’ll feel hopeful,” she said.

Spiritual work has led to the complete resolution of Marie’s past-life karma, and depression is no longer a concern. Marie hopes that this book will also “remove the stigma of mental illness.”

Watch the half-hour interview with Marie Gates and to learn more about her work, visit http://www.areweourpastlives.com/

Utilizing Masters, Shamans, and Healers

I’d invited Vince Anthony Pitre on my TV show because his curiosity and commitment to master the healing process has guided him to study sound healing in Europe and shamanic healing in the jungle and mountains of Peru. I met Vince in January 2015 when a friend invited me to join her to a lecture series by the Metropolitan Detroit A.R.E. (Association of Research and Enlightenment) Community, a non-profit organization which was founded in 1931 by Edgar Cayce. The subject was Family Constellations and the presenters were Vince Anthony Pitre and Robert Auerbach.

These men described how unconscious limits to success often stem initially from the unresolved and many times unspoken traumas, tragedies and transgressions that weave themselves into the energy, “fabric” and conversations of our family.

They explained that we hold many of our histories in our bodies, in our flesh, and how Family Constellations is used to heal resistant, stubborn patterns that might not be ours, or it might be an issue that goes back into past family generation trauma or transgressions that was never healed or resolved. This energy sticks from generation to generation because it’s an unconscious process.

Pitre holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Wayne State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Windsor. For over 20 years, he has helped people in Windsor Detroit area to develop healthier, happier lives. He’s a licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and healer. He offers a long list of services, including workshops to help detox from family pain and/or drama.

“It’s done without making anyone wrong, or putting blame on anyone,” said Pitre. “It’s about seeing where issues came from so we can find a resolution. You don’t heal by chasing light all day. You have to face the dark side as well.”

Through movement and unspoken words, people in the room get psychologically reconfigured. Not only is the person with the problem being healed but so are their family members, even if they are not in the room.

“In this process, new images come up that counters what the person thought of themselves growing up,” said Pitre. “The person leaves behind their old story. This allows their brain to rewire to this new image which they step into and move on with their life.”

Bert Hellinger founded this therapeutic method, which draws on elements of family systems therapy, existential phenomenology and Zulu attitudes to family. Hellinger was a priest whose travels to Africa led him to gain fascination of how the natives honored their ancestors, and the way in which they helped each other heal.

 

Although I am familiar with similar teachings, being myself a graduate of Lynn Andrew’s shamanic school, I loved that this type of healing was evidently growing to where you can find them in local cities. For years, I have believed that holistic health is going to be as popular as yoga classes and I see it happening now. Such workshops, teachings and healings are especially beneficial for those who grew up in very old tribal mentalities that limit them from their full potential.

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I believe in taking as good care of my spirit as I do of my mind, heart, and body, so I scheduled a one-on-one session with Vince. The experience was so effective that I visited him again a year later and plan to do future appointments as I feel suitable. On February 10th, I’m going to the Reset Gong Meditation and Healing Ceremony, a magical evening that begins with a Sacred Cacao Ceremony followed by two sound healing gong sets intended to wrap us into shamanic journey mediation. Afterward, there’s a social hour with hot tea, healthy snacks and integration.

Every religion, spiritual and ancient teaching has emphasized the importance of our spirit, of us looking within, of understanding who we are and how to use our inner power and wisdom in the outer world so we can live a healthy and happy life. Yet oftentimes we place our resources in more surface solutions that give us short-term relief. As I once heard Vince ask, “How much are you worth?”

That’s the question we need to ask ourselves as we look at our spiritual well being. We’re lucky to live in a country where many healers, shamans, and masters have traveled the distance to find their teachers, study, dig deep within, and bring their wisdom, knowledge and powers to our local neighborhood.  It is up to us to utilize it. 

I’m excited to announce that Vince will be one of our speakers at my upcoming Spiritual and Writing Summit in October. For more info, visitwww.ThePathofConsciousness.com

Watch the half-hour interview and look for more interesting people in my upcoming TV show (if you’re in Michigan, CMN TV is on channel 18 on Comcast or WOW!) or To watch more interviews with highly accomplished, talented, inspirational and influential people, subscribe to my youtube channel

For more information, contact the Center for Healing Arts and Massage  38245 Mound Rd, Sterling Heights, MI 48310   phone: 586-268-5444

Click here to learn more about Vince Anthony Pitre