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Thursday, March 13, 2014

I DON'T NEED A HAI WORKSHOP

Hi all, 

The first “Love is a Miracle” weekend workshop of the year is in one month: April 11-13, 2014.  There will be one other, August 22-24.

I don’t need a HAI workshop

Folks sometimes tell me, “A HAI workshop?  Thanks but I don't need one.”  I guess they see a HAI workshop as a means to curing them of a condition and they don’t need fixing.

But fixing people is rarely HAI's job.  Much more often I've watched a HAI facilitator pave the way for a person to discover that they don’t have to think of themselves as broken.

I’ll be the first to proclaim that I don’t need a HAI workshop.  I also don't need delicious food.  But why exist on bland and deny myself the gift?  Don’t I think I’m worth it? 

In fact exploring our thoughts and noticing how they affect us is one of many tools HAI offers along with exercises that provide an opportunity to practice new thoughts.

Here are some other benefits of a HAI workshop: 

HAI looks at fear, not to teach how to get over it but rather how to use it.  Fears often point to opportunities for growth.  HAI offers tools for us to notice our fears, how they are different… or similar… to excitement.  HAI offers me skills to notice when fear limits my choices. 

My father hated dogs.  Little ones were yappy ankle biters and big ones were dangerous.  He reacted to a bark with a raised hand and a raised voice.  Dogs usually responded in kind, validating his fear.  He once told me that as a child he’d been bitten by a dog.  And although he lived with that knowledge, he never changed his attitude.  He maneuvered around dogs when he could, and stayed in fear when he couldn't.  My father didn't need a HAI workshop to get from birth to death.  But if he had ever wanted to expand on his choices, if he had wanted to learn to be comfortable around dogs, if he had ever wanted to enjoy the company of a dog, then a HAI workshop would have helped.

HAI looks at choice, offering tools to notice my choices, see where they serve and where not, and how I can live in greater choice.  I don’t know anyone who would not benefit from expanding on the moment to moment choices of daily life. 

If I don’t need more choice in my life, I don’t need a HAI workshop.  I can manage very comfortably from now until I die.  But isn't comfort seductive?  It seems safer to hang back and not snatch at the risks life offers us.  As Stan Dale used to say, avoiding risk is like living in a plush-lined coffin. 

HAI doesn't require dogma. There is actually very little one needs to believe in order to benefit from HAI.  It is not about beliefs, but about skills.  Chakras, God, meridians, atheism, or extra terrestrials – your beliefs are none of HAI's business; and most importantly there is no need to follow the preaching of some guru.

HAI does hold some fundamental beliefs that match mine.  I believe all people are beautiful at their core.  I believe that there is only love or violence, and that even violence is a cry for love.  I believe that there are better ways to deal with conflict than guilt and blame.  I believe I am my perfect partner, that I am responsible for my behaviour and you are responsible for yours.

HAI creates community, bringing folks together with the common aim of replacing ignorance and fear with awareness and love; a community where folks can experience an expansion of intimacy instead of contraction; where we can create a space for our partner to be who they are, and for us to be who we are so we can spend more time with family, partners, workmates and friends in an atmosphere of safety and trust.
 
HAI creates miracles.  I’m ever amazed by how many have told me their lives have been changed by the “Love is a Miracle” workshop.  I've attended HAI for more than a dozen years and they still have a powerful impact.  Each one affords me an opportunity to put my learning into practice. 

But it isn't for everyone.  I have met those who've walked away from the workshop saying, “Nope.  Not for me.”  I don’t know what makes us different.  I can only speak for myself, and I think what creates this match is my curiosity about people, about myself in particular.  What makes me tick has been a guiding beacon for my path of growth.

For me it all boils down to this: if I’m not on a path of personal growth then a HAI workshop is wasted on me.  But if I am into moving, changing, exploring, then a HAI workshop is a perfect place to grow, to discover and incorporate new behaviours.

So if you decide that you don’t need one but might want to give yourself the gift of a HAI workshop, please get in touch

Love,
Eric



Monday, March 10, 2014

Privilege

Privilege

I grew up Jewish in a Catholic neighbourhood.  There were ways in which I was marginalized on my block, hanging out with friends who not quite accepted me.  My father telling us at the dinner table how walking past the parochial school one warm afternoon he heard the nun telling her students that the Jews killed Christ; and at other times in my life, as a conscientious objector in a time of war, as an atheist in a progressively fundamentalist society.  But you don’t see that when I walk down the street, or when I apply for a job, or chat someone up in a bar.  I can choose when to let people know the ways in which I have felt less than privileged.

For many years I kept my Jewishness to myself and when people told Jewish jokes or called someone a Hymie, I would laugh along or nod my head. 

My grandfather’s name was Hymie.

But as the times and my surroundings changed I'd sometimes use my Jewishness as a badge to show that I was marginalized too.  I could hide or flash chameleon-like depending on convenience.  Now when people point to my privilege I refrain from whipping out the Jewish card. 

In June 1966, slogging down Highway 51 under the blistering Mississippi sun, advocating for voting rights, I was shocked when a black marcher looked me in the eye and said, “We don’t want you here.  We don’t want integration.  We want separation: Black Power.”  What the hell was he talking about?  Weren't we all in this together?  Wasn't I no different from him?  (There were many others on that march who did appreciate my company but it was a time of upheaval within the black community).  I didn't want to see that he couldn't hide his heritage as I could mine.  I just thought he was an asshole.

Since then I've been married to a black woman, and seen how the marginalization she grew up with contributed to her damage and how she lost her valiant fight for privilege.  I've been lovers with a woman who was a boy inside, witnessed the struggle of accepting and then the more painful struggle of declaring the dichotomy.  Notice I use the word ‘the’ in the previous sentence rather than ‘her’ or ‘his’ because not even our language has a word to describe my friend’s gender.  Those and other experiences left me knowing that I can only witness and never fully experience the struggles of others.

I was at a meeting recently in which a group of us were exploring gender diversity and identification of sexuality.  I heard a lot of people say some of their best friends were diverse, that they have no trouble accepting folks who are different, as if that absolved them of responsibility.  I identified with them, remembering how at one time I led myself to believe that I understood being marginalized.

But I don’t.  I cannot step out of my shoes of privilege.  I am not Tiresias who became a seer by living seven years as a woman.  I see so much of the world through the blinders of privilege.  It’s not enough just to say some of my best friends are queer as if that were an excuse for inaction, as if that exonerated me from being part of the problem.  If I want to be less of the problem, I need to be diligent in seeking ways in which I stereotype, ways in which I judge and I need to speak out, to act, because it is we, the privileged who hold the power for change.

There is a conundrum for me.  I believe with all my heart what Stan Dale first told me and HAI reinforces every workshop, that the deeper I look in your eyes the more I see myself, that I know you, you are just like me.  I live by the mantra that all there is is love or a cry for love.  And yet I must not kid myself into believing that I know where you came from, that I know your struggle.

We are all identical at our human core, but humanity has a lot of digging to do before all of that core can fully shine in the light.

Thanks and love,

Eric