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STEWART PSYCHOLOGISTS

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Karen Stewart, MA, and David Stewart, PhD, are psychologists who work with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations in their Durham practice.

Deep Healing: Making a Difference

By Karen Stewart, MA

Karen Stewart, MA

In this time of challenges on all fronts how do we move forward with strength and courage to do something to make the world a better place for everyone?

There are so many problems in our country: racism, misogyny, the discrepancy between rich and poor, immigrant children being separated from their parents, environmental degradation, climate change, a government and nation so divided that we cannot listen to each other and work together, and most recently the nomination of a man for the Supreme Court who has been accused of assaulting a woman.

In the face of such challenges our feelings may shift from feeling angry about what is wrong, to feeling completely overwhelmed and powerless to do anything, to shutting down and blocking out the issues. We want to act to do something to make things better but often the path is not clear and we may feel paralyzed. Listening to the “other side” becomes intolerable.

How do we find the clarity we need to face the problems, to recognize and name our values and to act to make a difference without exhausting ourselves and burning out? How can we be strong enough to listen to others who think differently than we do so that we can work together?

We must go deep within to heal our distress, to accept what is and to be able to act in a loving way. Actions arising from anger and distress will not be as effective as those that arise from a sense of connection and love. Actions that come out of anger will exhaust us, but actions coming from a sense of love and care will sustain and empower us.

Where do you find that peace, that source of deep healing that eases the pain and brings a sense of comfort and clarity?

In late September, I drove to the mountains for a wedding. As I approached the foothills and saw the mountains in the distance, I was filled with an indescribable feeling of coming home, of comfort, wonder, and awe. My heart opened, my breathing became deeper and I felt my muscles relax. I have often had this experience while in nature, but this time just the sight of the mountains brought it up. I was surprised by the unexpected but very welcome response.

I find that healing in other places as well—meditation, being with my granddaughter, silent worship, being with loved ones in companionable silence or deep sharing. The common thread is communion—with nature, with others, with something bigger than myself that some might call God. I believe we are all connected. We are all part of a whole whose core is love and when we take time to stop and notice that, it is deeply healing. Our world is a beautiful and miraculous place and we can find people with similar values and work together to make a difference.

Where do you find healing? Where do you find sustenance? What brings you that deep sense of connection? We must all make time, lots of time, to find those experiences, we do it for ourselves for our loved ones and for the world.

This morning I was reading a book to my granddaughter, an illustration of the song It’s a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong. We listened to him sing it as we looked at the pictures and read the words. I urge you to listen to him or Eva Cassidy sing it and I leave you the words here:

I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you. And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world!”

I see skies of blue and clouds of white. The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night. And I think to myself “What a wonderful world!”

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky. Are also on the faces of people going by.

I see friends shaking hands, saying “How do you do? They’re really saying “I love you.”

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know, And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world!”

Yes, I think to myself, “What a wonderful world!”