This is a book review written up in mid-December of 2000 Spell checked and added to on 30 Dec. 2000.


The book:

AWAKENING INTUITION,

Using Your Mind-Body Network for Insight and Healing.
 

The author:

Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D.
 

The publisher:

Harmony Books, New York.

The year of publication:

1998.
 

[Footnotes were removed in any quotes used]

Overall Impressions?

The book makes a promise on the inside front jacket: "Intuition, Dr. Schulz maintains, is not a magical or mystical talent limited to a few sensitive people. It's a real, down-to-earth capacity that we all possess and can develop. Intuition is as natural as all your other senses and functions as a transmitter of body-mind messages that you can use to guide your actions. Awakening Intuition teaches you how to hone your receptivity to intuitive messages by attending to the clues of your body -including symptoms of physical disorder and disease, dreams and internal visions, voices, body sensations, emotional reactions, and memories." The book's jacket additionally promises "practical, proven guidelines for how you can develop your own intuitive guidance system and get your mind and body in sync."

These are BIG promises, and they are largely kept. BUT, and this is a big BUT, by the time I was at the end of the book, its Chapter 14 (pp. 339-360) which gives the "practical, proven guidelines," I was no longer so sure I wanted to "hone" my "receptivity to intuitive messages." I was no longer sure I had the capacity to cope with knowing the kinds of things this enhanced capacity allowed Mona Lisa Schulz to know.

Let me explain. On page 305 Schulz observes about the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" character that is an "empath," that "Real humans can't live that way for long, of course. It's overwhelming to feel all that density of intuition. It's too much information to process without going mad." Well. . . by the time I got to the end of the book, I was quite appalled at Mona Lisa Schulz' abilities and had decided I did not want to be able to do what she does, or I would surely go mad. I already have a hard time with the apparent sufferings of others. To become aware of the unapparent sufferings, as well, would not be healthy for me.

As to the purpose of the book, it is really to help you recognize the connection between body-mind and emotion, and that message I got in spades. And as one reviewer says on the back of the book jacket, "Be careful. After reading this book, you may be unable to revert to a business-as-usual way of understanding your life and your health." (From a statement by Larry Dossey, M.D.) Even though I was careful, Dossey is right, I'll never look at my own health problems in quite the same way again.

You may or may not know that during a high-stress period in the early nineties, I had some acute nerve problems, with strange sensations and areas of numbness, etc. Doctors spent $ 7,000, a good chunk of it mine, to come up with a blank. It was not MS or anything else they could think of. But if it ever comes back, it shows that it was MS. That latter suggestion was a little black cloud that lingered even after the symptoms essentially went away on their own.

Symptoms went away as life normalized and as I got my butt in gear and got some exercise and redeveloped some muscle tone and lost some weight. But that little dark cloud was always there, if it comes back, it will show that it was . . . . But, this cloud has dissipated for me after reading this book. I see now that the illness was my body sending me a message I already knew but continually suppressed about the way life was at that time. Changes occurred in response to my need to live a different life, physically, and then emotionally, into the mid nineties. The way I now experience my life and appreciate and enjoy the lives of those close to me, is very different from the way I was experiencing life 10 years ago.

I now see that the message being sent in the early nineties, through my nervous system, simply does not apply any longer. That was a different life, a different way of being, and it was harming me. Having essentially fixed that set of problems, and working on some lingering ones in an effective way, brings resolution to what caused the health difficulties to start with. The little dark cloud of a potential disease I am powerless to resist is gone. And a lot of what Mona Lisa says in this book, even though it gets repetitious after a while, reinforces this message: Change and balance your life, and these messages will not need to be generated in your organs and tissues.

Of course, my wife and my mother, superior intuitives simply because they are women, already knew that and have been saying the same thing for years. But being a man, as Mona Lisa suggests, means having only one channel for communication between the left and right sides (logical and intuitive sides) of the brain, while women are born with five channels! So, please excuse me, but I was intuitively handicapped at birth!

I have moved, according to personality test results over the last decade, from being an extreme left brain a-holic to being (too much?) in my right side. Perhaps I need to re-balance a ways back to the left, for my own good, to be more effective in the world of science and technology where I spend my days. But having only relatively recently discovered my intuitive side, I am temporarily fascinated by it and will, no doubt, as Mona Lisa suggests all of us should, strike a better balance over time.

The theme of the whole book is balance. Allow me to cite a section of the book here that I have already sent to some of you by email (sorry for the repeat) but it makes this point of the necessity of balance head on, to make a pun of a serious subject. This is a replication of pages 66 through 71, and strikes me as being the core around which the entire book orbits:

Quote (minus references) begins here:

THE PATHOLOGY OF SUPERIORITY

You may think Im engaging in paradox by bringing up the word "superiority" in conjunction with this right brain--left brain discussion after saying that both hemispheres are essential to intuition. In some individuals, however, one hemisphere or the other is superior or better developed, and this results in certain cases that physicians classify under the term "the pathology of superiority."

While in most people the left hemisphere is superior or dominant, some peoples brains develop differently. If you have a small left brain, you may have difficulty reading or writing (dyslexia). At the same time, though, you may well have superior capabilities associated with your right brain. If the development of one hemisphere is delayed, the other side may be larger or have some capabilities that it otherwise might not have had. This is commonly seen in the brains of people with autism, who frequently have savant characteristics. In these peoples brains, there might be a small wart like area where the cells never developed correctly. Nearby areas, however, might have exaggerated development. Some scientists believe this explains why such people have specific areas of genius, such as an extraordinary ability to calculate numbers or an exceptional memory for dates, yet are unable to put this genius into context for practical use. They may be able to tell you that Abraham Lincoln brushed his teeth on Friday morning, June 13, 1862, but they don't know who Abraham Lincoln was or why he was important.

If you look at my brain, you'll see that my left hemisphere is about as big as an acorn (an exaggeration, but you get the point). My right hemisphere, though, is huge. Im dyslexic, but I make up for it with intuition. So you could say that the pathology, or the abnormal function that developed in my left hemisphere, created superior capabilities in my right hemisphere. In fact, many dyslexics have superior right hemisphere talents, spatial skills that counteract their disadvantage in language. Some of them don't fit very well into a linguistic society, but if they lived in a society where language didn't exist, they wouldn't have a disability at all.

If you looked at the flip side of this, you could even say that some people with very dominant left brains are actually "right-hemispherexic," or underdeveloped on the right. (Most of these people are men, Im afraid. Haven't you noticed that most intuitives are women?) There is, in fact, a group of people who are alexithymic. This means that there is a relative disconnection between their emotions and their capacity to name them. The phone lines between their right and left brains are down. These people have a profound difficulty, because although they may feel an emotion, struggle as they may, they're unable to express it. In fact, this small group of people may represent the one segment of the population that may indeed have exceptional difficulty gaining access to intuition.

On the other hand, people with excessive crossover between their hemispheres have other problems. Take someone with attention deficit disorder, or ADD. These people have a lot of lines running back and forth between the right and left brain. At the same time, their frontal lobes are wired differently. As a result, their frontal lobes have difficulty telling them what's important and what isn't. A left hemisphere--dominant man probably has frontal lobes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, telling him not to pay attention to most of what comes out of the right hemisphere. But a person with ADD is more apt to have a frontal lobe like Barney Fife, the deputy on the "Andy Griffith Show." Not too intimidating, in short, and indecisive. It will let literally a whole switchboard of information come flooding in, without weeding out the calls that are irrelevant. Although a lot of people with ADD have an enhanced capacity for intuition, they're not able to order it and pull out only the salient facts and features. This, once again, is where the left hemisphere comes in.

Staying too much in one hemisphere can also have troublesome consequences. Some studies suggest that madness or schizophrenia may be the result of a hyperactive left hemisphere. One researcher demonstrated that schizophrenics actually use the right hemisphere for verbal tasks, suggesting that the left hemisphere is dysfunctional, not operating properly. He also noted that these people tend to look to the right much more frequently than to the left, which he believed indicates that the left hemisphere is hyperactive, causing the dysfunction. This is really remarkably counterintuitive, because it demonstrates that staying too much in the left hemisphere could lead to emotional instability, even though the right hemisphere is the seat of emotion! Clearly, staying away from emotion, segregating emotion from our lives, is not only unproductive, it may even lead to madness!

People who are overly left--hemisphere are overly analytical, overly conforming, conscientious, rigid, and perfectionistic. They have difficulty relaxing. If you're too much into your left hemisphere, you could he prone to obsessive-compulsive disorder, a syndrome wherein an individual has recurrent, persistent thoughts or feels compelled to perform some act repeatedly to allay anxiety, such as washing hands, checking and rechecking locks, or counting household items. On the other hand, relying too much on the right brain can cause you to be hysterical, excessively emotional, rarely analytical, excitable, mostly unstable, and overactive.  People who are excessively reliant on the left hemisphere have a tendency to look upward to the right; those too much into the right hemisphere look upward to the left.

Statistically, women have a larger callosum than men, meaning that they have more connections, more telephone lines, between their two brains and thus are able to move more freely between them." A woman may have as many as five lines on her phone, while a man has only one. When he's on the phone in the left hemisphere, that line is busy and the right hemisphere cant get through. If he's emptying out the dishwasher, you cant ask him how he feels about the beauty of the streets with the snow falling outside. He cant talk about his feelings, because he's busy with the left--brain details of getting the dishes stacked and organized. A woman, though, can literally be talking on one line about her feelings, be emptying the dishwasher on the second line, pick up her child and comfort him on the third, worry-- Oh, no, am I gaining weight?--on the fourth, and on the fifth wonder, Do we have enough money togo out Friday night?

Something called turning behavior can help determine whether a person is more right brain or left brain--oriented. Would you like to know whether your new love interest is a good prospect and a hopeful match for you? Try this in the restaurant on your first date. Have him or her walkover and get you a fork off another table and watch which way he or she turns to head back.  Most right-handed women will walk up to the table, pick up the fork, and turn to the left. This shows that although they are mostly lateralized to the left hemisphere, they still, by virtue of being women, have ready access to their right hemisphere. Most right-handed men will walk to the table and turn to the right to come back. These guys are strongly lateralized to the left, with a big left hemisphere and a narrow callosum, meaning they cant easily get access to the right hemisphere. They're a bit like a left hemisphere on a stick. They're probably great conversationalists, but they may not make the most ideal, understanding mate. Ambidextrous women will turn either way. Most left-handed men, however, turn to the left. That's because left-handed people have 11 percent more fibers in the callosum. That means the left--handed man turning to the left will have greater capacity to use both sides of his brain than most men do. You might want to call that one back.... Then again, he'd have more capacity to be intuitive and to read your mind, so you might need to think about it first.

The important thing to remember, though, is that neither hemisphere is preferable to or "better" than the other, just as men aren't better than women or vice versa. A certain school of thought holds that because intuition comes from the right hemisphere, we should just get out of our left hemispheres and chuck them altogether. But then you'd end up with a right hemisphere on a stick, all emotion and intuition but not able to talk about it or put it into an intelligent framework. That's as bad as the left hemisphere denying the value of the right. Its like thinking that men are what's wrong with the world, and if only women could run things all our problems would he solved. That isn't so, because women have a "man" inside them, since they, too, have a left hemisphere. The key is to find a balance between the two sides, to bring them into harmony with each other.

INTUITION AND THE WISE MIND

I have a behavioral therapy group session every week with a number of women who have borderline personality disorder, it is a condition of severe depression. Individuals with this disorder are so overwhelmed by emotion that they cant think or behave in a socially appropriate manner. They literally become paralyzed by their emotions and their intuition. They are stuck in the "emotional mind"-- that is, in the right hemisphere. In fact, you could say they're hyper--right hemisphere.

One day a member of the group posed a challenging question. "What if your intuition is telling you, 'I want to die. My life is over?'" she demanded. "Why cant I just go with it? You're supposed to go with your gut, your intuition."

She had a point, except that she wasn't balancing with her left side. She was totally in the emotional mind. Being too much in the right hemisphere isn't good. You may be intuitive, but you're not getting the point; you're not balanced with the rational mind, the left hemisphere.

We psychiatrists teach these people about the "wise mind." Think of three circles on a page: the left circle is the mental or rational mind, the left brain; the right circle is the emotional mind, or right brain; and [page break to page 70] the circle in the middle, linking the other two, is the wise mind, truly a unity of both minds.

Wise mind works in intuition as well. Its a balance of the right and left hemispheres. This balance is demonstrably beneficial. Its been shown that true geniuses have a more fluid partnership between the two hemispheres than most people, a greater ability to switch rapidly and smoothly between the two. They demonstrate flexibility, as opposed to the rigid hemispheric reaction most people exhibit to a problem. Gifted children identify sounds equally through the ears, meaning that they have no hemispheric preference. A child of average intelligence most frequently shows a predisposition for the right ear, or the left brain.

Even though we may be dominant in one hemisphere or the other, the brain actually oscillates between the two hemispheres all the time. The hemispheres cycle in and out of dominance, perhaps somewhat on the order of a dolphins brain. When dolphins sleep, one of their brain hemispheres always stays awake. Two hours later the hemispheres switch, and the one that was awake goes to sleep while the other takes over the watch. Our brains switch, too, the way we shift from foot to foot when were standing for a long time. Every ninety to one hundred minutes, one hemisphere will be up, or more active, while the other goes down. Its the same as when we sleep and we go in and out of the dream cycle, to which the tight hemisphere is important. This is significant for people who believe they just don't have access to their right hemisphere. In fact, they do. There may be times during the day when they're cycling in and out of that capacity but are simply unaware of it. If they could learn to become aware of it, they could widen their doors of perception.

The hemispheres also cycle in concert with other bodily rhythms. Although language ability is primarily left hemisphere, it exists in the right hemisphere as well, especially in women. Studies have shown that the left brain is primed for mostly positive words such as "joy," "happiness," "love," and "cheer," while the right hemisphere picks up negative-toned worlds. Its been found that before ovulation, most women's ability to hear words occurs chiefly in the left hemisphere, or the right ear. After ovulation, however, the right brain picks up the tempo. Now the women hear more words such as "grief," "anger," and "depression." This is more than an explanation for PMS. What's happening is that the brain is allowing women to hear things they don't usually want to hear. As they turn inward premenstrually, they may actually he getting more access to matters they need to hear about but ignore during the rest of their cycle. Might this be a part of intuition? You may think so after hearing this story. A friend of mine had a patient whose husband insisted that whenever she was premenstrual, she would get a sense that she should go back to school, that she needed to change her career. Alter her period started, she would give up these career plans and just want to serve her husband. Its not surprising that her husband had brought her in to the 0B-GYN with the order to "fix her" because she had PMS. He didn't like the intuitions she was getting about what to do with her life.

Its clear that our doors of perception can, in fact, lie widened. This has been demonstrated by certain psychiatric therapies. It has been found that left hemisphere dominant individuals are more success fully treated psychiatrically by using a behavioral therapy that employs the right brain. This makes a lot of sense, because if were dominant in a given area, we can also use that dominance to defend against what we don't want to know or face. Right -hemisphere people can come fairly unwound when they get overly emotional. The best way to deal with them then is to batten them down and teach them to gain more access to the left brain, to he sensible, logical, linguistically oriented. On the other hand, have you ever been in an argument with someone who's very left hemisphere-based, very logical and sequential? Trying to beat such a person with words is useless, like doing dueling banjos with Roy Clark. You cant take control. The best thing to do is to throw the person off-balance by approaching him or her from the unexpected angle. This accomplishes two objectives. First, it sneaks you in under the wire, past their defenses. Second, it compels the person to learn to use his other, relatively underdeveloped function. So someone who is very left hemisphere-dominant but needs to learn to deal with his emotions is better healed with imagery. Someone who's more emotional, on the other hand, is better off talking about her anxieties, using the verbal process.

In our left hemisphere-dominant society, therefore, there's something to be said for learning intuition. If we really want to heal lives, psychotherapy, or simply talking about our problems, may not be sufficient, because it keeps us in the left hemisphere. Since intuition requires us to gain access to the right hemisphere and, as were about to see, to the body, it may in fact have an actively healing effect.

[End quote]

To me this set the stage, and the rest of the book is a long discussion of how and why this body-brain connection can have such a potent healing effect on one's own life. The rest of the book is copiously illustrated with case histories from Dr. Schulz' medical-intuitive practice. So copiously illustrated, as I noted earlier, that it brought me to the point of realizing that I do not want to develop this "empath"-like capability for myself, thank you anyway.  {I have since, in a reaction to this uploaded review from someone with experience, been told that this ability is like any other ability, you open and close it like a window, you use it when you desire to use it, it is under your control.  My fear is not based in reality, in other words.  Intuitiveness of the medical or any other variety is not like a big open window that once opened, can't be closed.  It may well be that I have good reason to choose not to develop this capacity, that is my choice, but the reason should not be the one I gave of a fear of an open window.  So, I again have to rething my reaction to the book.  I am sure you will also have differing reactions to it as you read it from section to section, and again as you mull it over in your mind, or as you discuss it with others, over time.}

There were several things I learned from this book, and I have classed them into some loose categories.  The categories are very specific to things that I am personally interested in.  Any other person, such as yourself, would come up with a different list.  And that is good.  The book is very rich in allusions and anecdotes relating to illnesses and emotional conditions, and I selected from them those few things I found of interest because they either related to myself, my relatives or friends, or my readings in history and religion.

My list of topics is: (1) intuition, what it is and is not; (2) ADD, dyslexia and intuition; (3) alexithymia and the necessity of relationships, friendships; (4) role of facades, living in the moment, and the mystical experience of unity; (5) hypnosis and faith-healing; (6) dreams; (7) past lives; (8) stigmata; (9) sex and food; and (10) emotions, conflicts, change, work, relationships, creation and creativity.

My first list was twice as long, but you get the picture, this is not a simple book presenting a simple look at how to fix a simple life. It is a reflection of the complexity that is life. Yet even in its complexity it is a simplification, of course, or it would be published like an encyclopedia, in multiple dozens of volumes with fat annual updates.

Why did I arrange these in this order? I don't know, and I don't care to know either.

(1) Intuition, what it is and is not

On a very lofty level, Dr. Schulz suggests intuition is . . ."like the Walkman in your pocket, which can provide you with news and information, as long as you turn it on and listen to the station. Like the radio station that feeds a Walkman, the station that broadcasts to our intuition is something external. It's a god outside of us- the soul or the divine consciousness, if you will. The divine consciousness speaks to our human consciousness, offering us quick, keen insights into the problems of everyday life and suggesting potential solutions through the language of intuition-the language of the soul." (P. 25)

On page 25 she also labels it "black market knowledge" and calls it a "knowing with incomplete data."

On the next page (26) she says it is the stuff of daily life: "It's counterproductive to think of intuition and intuitiveness in terms of separateness or superiority, or in terms of the supernatural, or even of the offbeat and bizarre. Intuition is simply a sense that is common to each and everyone of us. It's neither a magical power nor just the crazy hunches of eccentrics. It's a real down-to-earth capacity that is available to anyone willing to tune in his transmitter and listen into what is being broadcast. The information it offers us is practical, and it can immeasurably improve and enrich our lives. In this light, intuition is common sense operating on the most fundamental, spontaneous level."

Page 29 explains how one may recognize the intuitive experience: "You can be awake, asleep and dreaming, or in a state of consciousness in between when intuition comes to you. Henry Jacobs believed intuition to be preceded by a detachment, slight melancholy, and a sort of trance like state, . . . . But intuition can certainly hit you when you're in the full force of conscious activity, . . . . Afterward, though, as Jacobs maintained, you are positively exhilarated."

On page 30 the description continues: "Intuitive hits are sudden, immediate, and unexpected ideas. They seem illogical and have no clear line of thought. They frequently come out of the blue. Nevertheless, they bring with them a feeling of confidence and certainty of their absolute indisputability."

I feel a need to add a caution here, however, based on page 31's observation that: . . ."no two people experience intuition in exactly the same way. Five medical intuitives reading the same individual would describe the information they received in five entirely different ways." What this tells me is that our feelings of confidence and certainty are not likely to be sharable. What this also suggests to me is that we need to be a bit cautious, not about our intuitive knowledge, but about our left-brain interpretation of same. After all it is the left brain that . . . "fills in the details and gives intuition its verbal form." (P. 36)

A good friend, in comparing herself with her mother, offers an observation that is a poignant illustration of this point. She acknowledged that both were intuitive, both had a truck route into the other realm, which they traveled at will. But they came back interpreting the meaning of that realm and the God or governing force of that realm, very, very differently. A paradox of the first magnitude, and Dr. Schulz acknowledges there are paradoxes of this nature when the intuitive network is fully functioning. (P. 292)

Caution: your intuitive insights are your own, and may be non-transferable, or even unacceptable to others.  Live with it.

(2) ADD, dyslexia and intuition

Clues very early in the book suggested to me that here, in the author, was a different brain at work.  I felt my intuition vindicated when I read on page 28 that: "Because I'm dyslexic, and impulsive, too, I had trouble calming down enough to read the protocol" . . . [she is here referring to some experiment she was asked to perform with written instructions or protocols, she chose intuitively to not follow the instructions, made a discovery, and published a scientific paper!].  I have a wonderful daughter and a wonderful grandson who are just like that, dyslexia and all, and they are both diagnosed as ADD, and are being treated so as to help them more effectively cope with the demands of life in this linear and ordered society.  I suspected ADD at the very start of the book, and that suspicion made what she had to say more compelling and interesting, to me.

She drops other hints on pages 152 and 158 about her being a bit short on feeling connected to others (which takes patience and acceptance), and on her being a real go-getter as a child, "I never knew how to hold back, sit still, and let things come to me.  I was the original go-getter."  The story suggests she was a go-getter all her life, so far, not just in childhood, and she still has a few connectivity problems.  As she says on page 158, if a person is unbalanced between vulnerability and power and has an excess of power, relationships suffer and we risk becoming isolated and alone.  But if she had claimed to be completely and perfectly balanced we would know she is lying: no one is perfect, and the perfect person would, most likely, not be writing a book such as this.  Where would be the driving force?

I was immediately suspecting that ADD was the different brain I sensed in the picture, but I was confused by there being both conflicting and corroborating evidence in the fact that she has an MD, a PhD, and was a practicing medical intuitive. Huh? OK, so she is a genius (already a different brain) and has ADD (an even more different brain), and is a staggeringly capable intuitive (an extremely different brain). So I wasn't fooled at all at her very impersonal first mention of ADD in the third person on page 67 (cited above) where she describes the different brain wiring that makes life so difficult for persons with this condition.

She never explicitly mentions medication for ADD. I wish she had. Our family experience suggests it is very necessary to for the ADD person to take the medicine that allows their mind to calm down. This in turn allows the person to focus and learn the linear knowledge needed to fit into our society and work effectively so that they can be independent and will be paid for their contribution in business or medicine or wherever. Without it, there was no learning possible, and the daily grind of work is more than can be tolerated. IF society could instead be changed, the medication may be unnecessary, but it is a question of achieving independence in THIS, imperfect society. Independence is vital to having a sense of being in control of ones life, I believe.

The doctor who monitors our daughter is himself ADD and I believe his judgment, as conveyed through my daughter, is correct, you take the drug to slow down the input of information and allow concentration and effective action.  It does not remove or "cure" the condition, and it is not at all clear that would be desirable to do so.  This latter point is underscored in the book by Dr.Schulz, who makes us linear-bound people almost desire some mild form of ADD to help free us from our linear-thought bondage, and become more intuitive.

Mona Lisa (I just like the name, so I like using it rather than the stuffier and less personal Dr.Schulz) claims her ADD on page 330.  She links it with her also being a somatic intuitive, one who feels the subterranean unrest, or chaos, in a situation artificially engineered to be calm, in her body.  Sensing a carefully hidden unrest, she may act it out in socially embarrassing ways such as spilling or breaking things, accidentally.

She suggests on the same page that: "Children with ADD often unconsciously act out any turmoil at home. Mom and Dad fight, then try to smooth the matter over. But Junior trips over the carpet and cracks open his head, because he knows something's going on, and he acts it out physically. . . . He becomes the family's body intuitive."

She describes the ADD person in a section called 'Space Cadet Intuition: The Hypofrontal Brain," which stretches from pages 327 to 331. Note the positive way she describes this personality type at the start of that section: . . . "you're equipped with a slightly different type of attention mechanism than most people. You might be a bit more impulsive, you might like stimulus and find yourself drawn to it like a magnet, along with thrills and risk-taking. You have what I prefer to call an atypical way of being in the world and of paying attention to it. What's interesting is that one of the things intuition requires is that we change the way we pay attention to the world. . . . If you have an unusual way of paying attention, perhaps an enhanced way, then you probably have, by definition, interesting and enhanced intuitive gifts. What makes you different also makes you special. Your difference is your genius."

Of course after such compliments comes a description of the challenges that come with this different way of being in the world.  Since the governing function of the frontal lobe just isn't very effective, in an ADD person, there is an inability to pay attention for very long, they pay attention to multiple things at once and get overloaded, they love and get mesmerized by stimuli of all sorts, in fact they are "bound" (captured) by stimuli.  This same set of traits causes them to blurt out inappropriate (but often true) statements, often in embarrassing situations or family situations where the reaction may be to punish the child for blurting out a truth that is being carefully hidden.  So life isn't easy, and as we already saw on the long page 67+ quote, ADD persons may have a hard time in life because they are bombarded with information without the ability to sort and prioritize it.

But intuitiveness comes very natural to them, and this is no doubt what makes Mona Lisa such a specially gifted intuitive. But here is the part of her account of ADD that really caught my attention: it is not a disorder, according to Mona Lisa, just as being left-handed is not a disorder. But before she launches into this discussion, I think it is very nice that she comforts those of us who are not blessed with ADD and holds out hope that we, too, may be able to develop our intuitive tools (pp. 330-331):

"You don't have to have full-blown ADD to have some of the same expanded sensitivity to your intuition. Lots of people have some elements of the ADD personality that help them get in touch with their intuition network in various ways. ADD itself is supposedly present in about 15 percent of the population. Since this is the same percentage that's left-handed, which is considered a standard normal variant, I'd argue that ADD isn't a disorder or disease. It's an atypical way of being. Yes, it sometimes seems to make it harder to fit in with the rest of society, which still looks askance at the concept of intuition. This is the 'devil' associated with this type of atypical brain organization. But I prefer to appreciate the angels it brings- an openness to a sense that can help us achieve a new and different kind of order in our lives that can bless us with greater well-being."

Amen!

(3) Alexithymia and the necessity of relationships, friendships

I was really struck by this observation: "People with a more diverse social network live longer than people with fewer relationships, and HAVING FEWER FRIENDS IS A GREATER HEALTH RISK THAN SMOKING, OBESITY, AND OTHER FACTORS." (P. 155, emphasis mine) (She gives a reference for this statement.)

The context for this statement is women who give up jobs and girlfriends when they marry, and invest their entire life in their husband.  Doing this "is bad for a person's health."  I believe there are some persons in my family who can attest to this from their own experience.

This dramatic discussion of a special case of isolation comes after a more generic discussion of "The Biology of Belonging" on pages 142-146. I was frankly surprised to find out that there are physical as well as emotional reactions to belonging, and that isolation sends life rhythms into a tailspin. The symptoms are the same as those accompanying grief, and Dr. Schulz surmises there is an actual nutritional component passing between people who are bonded, and grief and isolation in general both deprive us of that nutrient. (P. 145) "In grief or bereavement, you experience not just emotional loss but also physical loss. You lose interaction with a person, and thus your body loses its whole sense of how to regulate its organ functions. Our clocks lose their settings. We lose the proper beat to the dance of life. When you are pining away for someone, your organs may be crying out for contact. You . . . long to be touched, you long for the smell of that person, you long for the rhythm of the days and the things you used to do with that person." (P. 146.)

Of course it doesn't take a death to bring this sort of bodily reaction to the fore. Breaking up with a lover can do this too, as we can all attest from our past, or current, experience. My latest, and more surprising experience of this withdrawal was after baby-sitting my seventh grandchild for several days on end, she is 3. When I finally took her home I came back to my house, sat in my favorite chair to doze a while, and found myself heaving deep sobs. I was totally amazed. I was feeling withdrawal from that 3 year old dynamo of activity rather than feeling the relief I expected to feel. My wife immediately knew what that sensation was and thought it was about time I felt what she felt every time one of our children left home for an extended period or moved out (theoretically for good). OK, so I am a bit slow.

There are two reasons I am interested in this topic of the need for belonging.  One is that it was relatively late that I found, through my own intuitive channels, that living was belonging.  I describe this in part of my travelogue to Southern France, the Languedoc, on my website , wherein a castle where there had been much suffering I sought to find out something about myself, something I needed to find out for my emotional well being, and to my surprise the very clear guidance I received was to go home and invest in my human contacts, especially in my family and also to attend to my long term friendships and expand my circle of friends.  Living IS belonging, was the message I received in that place.  Quite profound for me, although as I read the work of many others I see this is an oft-repeated chorus in the world of emotional healers and new age savants.  OK, so I am a bit slow.

Another of my reasons for being interested in this topic is that I have a brother who comes dangerously near Mona Lisa's description of the alexithymic personality, as she discusses it in the section entitled "'All Lines Are Down' Intuition: The Unconnected Brain" on pages 332-335.  She describes people who have brains in which "all the various areas of the intuition network are disconnected. . . .  They may actually have body intuition or somatic intuition, but they can't talk about it or express it.  Indeed, they can't even recognize it, because of the lack of communication in their brains, and even more significantly, the dominance of the left hemisphere, which will deny the existence of any intuition at all." (P. 332) I actually think my brother's case is one of extreme left-brain dominance, rather than the wires not existing between his intuitive and linear thought brain areas.  But the end result is much the same, except there is still hope for seeing the light and adjusting the imbalance.

I thought this paragraph on page 334 summed up my brother's life quite succinctly and accurately: . . ."their condition can make life very painful for them. Because they are as disconnected from other people as they are from parts of their own intuition network, they tend to be hypermoral and hyperrational as well as obsessive and ruminative. They often have a history of depression and personal difficulties, because they may have a joyful experience, but they can't take in the joy, because their left hemisphere denies its existence. They always feel somehow separate from others and the rest of the world, and even from their own experience. This is regrettable, because underneath, they tend to be extremely nice, loving people, with good hearts, but they can't connect with others."

She continues by saying that these people can be helped by having someone be their right hemisphere for them and reflecting back the positive or negative emotional experiences they have obviously had. My brother is not in the category where he obviously can't relate to his own feelings at all, but he is so damnably reliant on his left hemisphere as to be unable to find joy in the mundane daily experiences of life, and is not good at developing relationships. He is likely to carry a relationship forward in his head and see potential problems looming, and then he cuts off the relationship because of these potential problems created in his left hemisphere. In effect, even if not in fact, he lives as if he is alexithymic, and it is too bad, because he is, as Mona Lisa suggests, extremely nice, loving, and good hearted. But unable to truly connect with others.

(4) Role of facades, living in the moment, and the mystical unity experience

Of course my own life was way too far under the control of my left brain for a long time, and has now corrected itself to be, perhaps too far to the right brain.  But it feels good to be free of the left-brained facades and fears of the future, fears based on hyperrational projections from the past.  Mona Lisa has something to say on this topic as well.  And what she says has me rethinking my views.

Only after letting go of the continuous dredging up of the negative from the past and its projection into the future could I learn to re-experience the moment, the moment that is free of the past's taints and of future-fear based on the past. It is amazing to me that modern psychiatry is moving in this same direction of letting go of the past and taking control of the present, and trusting the future to be a continuation of the present. In psychiatry the concept is (see pages 98-99) the management of memories to make the recurrence of disease less likely:

"In psychiatry we no longer focus exclusively on the past; we teach our patients how to deal with the present. We teach memory maturation. This consists of four steps: (1) locating the traumatic experience in the past and differentiating it from current reality; (2) focusing on living in the present without feeling or behaving according to irrelevant demands belonging to the past; (3) decreasing hyperarousal by means of meditation, relaxation response, and exercise; and (4) decreasing intrusive reliving and stopping traumatic black hole cycles."

You will have to read the book for yourself to get all the discussions on each of these ideas.  The idea is to learn to cope with the present, to relegate the past to the past after learning from it, and by taking charge of the present to determine the future.  This avoids the paralysis of fear of the recurrence of the traumas of the past, amplified through anxious left-brain interpretations.  (I believe item 3 has direct relevance to the ADD person, and in the case of that condition it is often a mendicant that provides relief from over stimulation of the brain and reduces panic attacks.)

Mona Lisa discusses her own experience, in a very immediate and touching manner, on pages 291-292, with living in the future, living with a focus on the future that always stretches before one, and not living "in the now, in the present, in the moment." (P. 291) Then came the announcement of a hypothalamic tumor, and her life, of a sudden, was uncertain.  Her reaction was this (pp. 291-292):

. . ."I was full of anxiety and fear.  But I also reached a decision about my life.  It was though a curtain had been drawn aside to reveal the world to me as it really was, and I knew what I had to do.  No longer was I going to concentrate on the future, because the future was no longer certain.  Instead, I was going to live in the present.  I was going to savor every moment of every day, because every moment was precious and irretrievable. . .  Suddenly everything looked different to me. . . .  As if for the first time, I noticed the dazzling blueness of the sky, the shimmering green of the grass and leaves, and the splendor of the light that suffused everything around me.  As I stood there, I could feel the life in everything- the trees, the grass, the wind, the sun- and I felt the oneness of the universe, how everything in the world was a part of me and I a part of everything.  Waves of emotion and intensity swept over me.  My facade, the shell we all wear as we navigate through the world, had fallen away, and I stood exposed to all the raw, throbbing reality of life around me and to all the knowledge available to me from the universe or the heavens or wherever it is that we believe it comes from.

"I realized that my intuition network was turned on full blast. I was like any other person who'd been given notice of his or her mortality. All at once I knew many things, some of them quite paradoxical". . . .

And for me to relate all her insights is to rob you of the opportunity to discover for yourself that at this point she saw her relationship to the Divine and her need to "get in touch with my life's purpose to anchor me to the world and the life I loved" . . . . I was quite delighted at reading of this experience. Originally I was going to write a "me too!" account to show that piecemeal, over time, I had come to the same insight. But to do more than just say that would be to try to compete with this magnificent account, one resembling closely what is an almost universal core insight in the mystical literature of all peoples and times.

But reading this reminded me also that in my younger years I had glimmers of insight such as this but had not had them overwhelm and change me as has happened more definitively in the last six years or so.  Some of my earlier moments of great appreciation of and joy in just being alive were at times of being in an undeniable state of love.  And one particularly memorable memory was when in the grass on the grounds of the Logan, Utah, tabernacle, with my third child.  She was in diapers, barely walking, exploring and collecting and eating dandelions and blowing uselessly on their seeds in imitation of my more successful scattering of same into a warm fall breeze under a brilliant blue sky.

Not long after, it was in the seventies, it was my turn to give a talk at a baptism of a convert to Mormonism.  I was assigned to explain the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  I talked of the signs of being under the influence of the Holy Ghost as being comparable with the sure signs of being in love: the flowers are brighter, the skies bluer, the clouds whiter, and all things feel as if they are part of you and you a joyful part of them.  I related how I had felt playing in a field with dandelions with my daughter, and how I had felt close to God at that moment.  I felt inspired to bring this as my message, that at moments like these the Divine was part of us, and sat down.  The person in charge of the meeting, much to my surprise, got up, thanked me for my remarks, and proceeded to give another talk on the topic, quoting scripture to show that the ordinance the convert was about to receive was Biblical and very important, undergone and prescribed by Christ.

After, this person caught up with me and proceeded to admonish me, from now on, to do my assigned duty to inform the person about to accept the rites of baptism and of the laying on of hands to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Such a person needed the scriptural background so that he or she could appreciate the weightiness of this decision and its importance to  salvation.  I recall being upset at this, telling him that if he had not been taught all of that he wouldn't have been judged ready for the ordinance, and telling him he was completely missing my point, which was simply that I felt inspired to tell him that when the Divine is in you it feels as if you are head over heels in love.  He said that was nonsense.  I now see he was right-brain handicapped.  Of course after that time I learned to become more left-brained also, until I re-balanced (overcompensated, perhaps) in the mid-nineties.

In the chapter where Dr. Schulz discusses this experience of unity, she also discusses the need to find one's purpose in life. I would emphasize the defining, rather than the finding, of that purpose, because I believe it to be an inwardly directed quest, not an outwardly directed one. Mona Lisa disagrees with this (pp. 303-305) and instead suggests there is paradox here, it is both internally and externally directed, and finding the right balance is vital to health. A number of diseases are discussed under this general heading as being characteristic of an imbalance in this area, feeling life is not under your control and lacking purpose, including MS. I will reconsider my position on this topic.

Where my interest in this chapter was once again peaked was in the discussion of facades on pages 304-306.  Contrary to my expectations, she suggests that going completely without a facade is bad.  She explains that as her facades completely dropped she was one with the universe.  I thought this was good.  But she says that as a continuous way of being it opens you completely to intuition, it makes you hyper-aware of the less pleasant aspects of life in the world, and in short makes life difficult and unpleasant to bear. It makes us like the Star Trek empath I mentioned at the start of this "review."  And real human beings cannot sustain that degree of vulnerability and density of intuitive information and live.

So, (pp. 305-306) a "normal, healthy facade keeps you in balance with the rest of the world. Having too strong a facade, being too powerful in your separation from the world, can cut you off too much from life and from your life's purpose. On the other hand, having little or no facade means you get every ripple of agitation from outside and you look at life differently from other people."

Her call, consistently, is for balance.  I will reconsider my life in light of this advice.  Another statement that surprised me some is that we should be true to ourselves, yes, but not at the expense of others (see pages 271-272).  Another call for balance and for thoughtfulness and considerateness.  This call for balance in seeking to be who you are yet being thoughtful of the needs of others seems directly related to the overall call for balance in one's facade and in one's seeking to know one's purpose from internal (under your control) and external (under the control of a higher power) sources.  Both these ideas seem logically related to the call to be part of part of others' lives, not to be apart from others.  TO BE IS TO RELATE, again.

(5) Hypnosis and faith-healing

Mona Lisa mentions hypnosis as being personally useful to her in coping with some of her own problems, but now I cannot find where in the book she discussed this, and it doesn't really matter because it is later in the book, where she makes explicit reference to hypnosis as a tool for studying the memories of organs and tissues, that she says something profound about the tool.  She notes for example that only a few persons told to develop blisters on their hands were able to do so under hypnotic suggestion (pp. 102-103).  The researchers determined that only those who had actually experienced such a trauma could replicate it under hypnosis, and in one woman's case it could be replicated only where it had happened before, suggesting that there was both a mental as well as a bodily memory component involved.

On pages 104 to 105 is another interesting discussion of the mind-body interconnection involving hypnosis, this time dealing with female breast development, but I'll cite the conclusion of that discussion only: . . ."when they adopted a more positive approach to the memories through hypnosis, they were able to change their body states. Many studies have similarly shown that we can alter the state of our bodies through self-hypnosis. If this is true, then we should be able to change the body state to one of health if we listen to and understand the signals the body is sending us, telling what memories from the past and present are stored there."

I do not recall Dr. Schulz mentioning faith healing, but perhaps she did.  I thought she did, but can't find it back (I read the book on a business trip, largely, and did not take notes until after.)  So this heading linking faith- healing and hypnosis is my doing, NOT hers.

And why do I link them?  Because I believe that some instances of faith healing, like the spectacular cases on television of the lame walking and the dumb speaking are hypnotic feats of the first magnitude.  And although I still have problems understanding the phenomenon, after reading this particular book I see that there is a lot more to disease than meets the eye, and the brain and the emotional state of the individual play a very large part in determining the start, progress and nature of the disease.

These diseases are real, they cripple and kill, but their onset and progress is mediated by our lives to a very, surprisingly to me, large extent, according to Dr. Schulz.  The same Mona Lisa Schulz tells us, however, on p. 138, that: "We are not responsible for our illnesses, but we must be responsive to them."  She then suggests that by unleashing the intelligence being offered by our intuition we can "map out a better course for our lives and build a foundation for a healthier, more balanced life in the future."  I wish she had said that line about our not being responsible for our illnesses a little more often.  The only reason it stuck in my mind so strongly is because up to that point in the book I felt she was telling us that we were responsible for our diseases.  But no, we can't ever with certainty say that this decision or series of decisions gave me this disease or condition.

If you read the whole book you can see that despite Mona Lisa's attempt to make lists and tables of diseases and body parts and emotional states, it is simply chaotic with all its overlaps and interlinkages.  Only an intuitive person can make sense of it, not a linear thinker who needs catalogs and lists that trace clear-cut causes to specific effects.  We truly are victims, where diseases are concerned.  But how we live has a lot to do with our susceptibilities, and where we are susceptible, and to what.

This is good to know, for a victim of disease as well as for a healer.  It would not do any good to pronounce, as a healer, that "you have brought this on yourself and if you just get rid of that no-good spouse and take control of your life your cancer will go away."  That would be harmful even if it did have an element of truth somewhere in it.  The cancer is real, the treatments are necessary, but in the meantime the life can be brought into balance to speed recovery and remove, over time, the enhanced susceptibility (unless it is a strictly genetic susceptibility, if there is such a thing, and then a balanced life can help the coping process is all).

But I want to talk about my own experience with faith healing. While a committed Mormon it was my privilege, as an ordained person, to perform blessings that were supposed to confer emotional support, counsel, and healing. I loved performing those types of ministerial duties, inside my family as well as out. These were moments when I moved from a very linear state of being (I was a graduate student in the sciences) into an intuitive state to attempt to discern what was the matter and what I could say to help. I could feel the difference in me, and liked the feeling, but had no idea I was simply relying on the intuitive side of my brain. I thought it was more meaningful and magical than that: God speaking to me. Mona Lisa says it is god speaking to all of us, and when we tune into the intuitive side of our selves, we hear. Good validation, but a bit deflating of the idea that this is a Gift of the Spirit obtainable ONLY by those who are worthy and have been properly ordained in one particular Christian religion. As Mona Lisa says, the voice is everywhere available to everyone. Amen.

Sometimes I succeeded in seeing clearly and addressing clearly, and it was a real thrill for me.  How it was for the recipient I was seldom told, but several responded very positively and said that was exactly what they sensed, but they weren't sure until I said what I did, and while I spoke they felt the inspiration.  Some asked how I knew?  I didn't know except to acknowledge the God we both revered and trusted. What a thrill such a moment is!

But many times, nothing, no inspiration, no Divine Revelation (or intuitive insight, as Mona Lisa would describe it).  But not to worry.  The doctrine was that even if the one giving the administration was not inspired, the very fact that an ordained person was laying hands on the head of the person afflicted (emotionally and/or physically) and was thoughtfully, empathetically, and prayerfully anointing the head of the afflicted person with a previously blessed and properly consecrated oil, the very fact that there was prayer and administration, by those whom the recipient knew to be appointed by God, awoke the faith and hope of the individual and helped him or her heal and (or at least) become more quiet and internally composed.  And having seen this was indeed so, I never felt bad for very long over a less than stellar case of inspiration as part of administering a healing blessing.

But when I really felt what the crux of the emotional or physical matter was, and found words within me to express that in terms that soothed the recipient and counseled to a bright hope of a change and a recovery, it was a real thrill. Then it was a double shot: the recipient's faith as well as the inspiration of the administrator. Seems that at those times I was approaching what Mona Lisa is, routinely.

But in my enthused state I was introduced to two Mormon brethren who were real, and renowned, local healers.  They praised my youthful (late 20's) enthusiasm and said I had potential to learn how to really heal people.  They were good friends with my leader in my quorum (division) of lay priesthood, and were told about me and my enthusiasm for giving blessings for healing, by that leader.  They were two impressively gentle men.  I spoke with them in a home somewhere south of Logan, Utah, where we then lived.

One of the men was very gifted and the other was his companion and understudy, as I recall. They explained that they were able, as they laid their hands on the afflicted one who had requested their administration, to leave their hands where they were but to move with their spiritual hands, guided by their spiritual selves, into the body of the suffering person and detect, tactically, where the problem is (or problems are) and actually twist things around to fix them or isolate the infection and command it, very specifically, to leave.

Sometimes healing was immediate, every time healing commenced, and from that moment, things got better.  It was a very powerful story, and I'll never forget it, but at the time I did not believe it to be the same thing at all that the Mormon faith was asking of its priesthood when it asked them to always be ready to give blessings of comfort and healing.

Why did I think that? Perhaps because I was a very linear left brained person at the time. Perhaps I felt that if they were right, then my healing administrations were totally inept. Perhaps because they confessed, or even somewhat boastfully claimed (in my linear mode of perception at the time), that they used the same exact method in their chiropractic practice, which was phenomenally successful.

So, to me, they were mixing the Gifts of the Spirit with business, and that was very uncouth.  (A touch of that alexithymic type of supermorality here?)  I was confused by them, and did not pay attention to what they said for very long.  Now, having read Mona Lisa's book, I can see that these two gentle men were practitioners of medical intuition, like she is.  In particular, they were very adept at sensing in their own bodies (their spiritual fingers allowing them to symbolically feel inside the other person, but more likely really to feel inside themselves) what was ailing the other person.

Mona Lisa describes (p. 107) an instance she experienced of feeling in her own body the affliction of another, and on page 108 observes that . . . "by imagining and connecting emphatically with someone, either in the brain or through whatever intuitive aperture you possess, your body can make a change that symbolizes the memories and the scars you are sensing from the other person."  Later on the same page she says: "Some people are able to become more skilled at this than others, and they call this ability medical intuition."

If I knew now where these gentlemen are, and what their names are, I'd go bring them my neck arthritis. But Mona Lisa's book also sobered me on the idea that others can cure you. Others can help you cure yourself. That is as far as it goes.

(6) dreams

I vividly recall a recurring dream from my young-adulthood, where I would fall from the balcony of the Alex Theater in Glendale, California, and always awaken before impact.  One night I decided it was only a dream, I couldn't get hurt, and nudged the dream so that I hit the floor with my head, then I was surprised, I lost control of the dream and it rolled itself back to the top of the balcony and I fell again and hit a seat back, head first, instead.  I was like Humpty Dumpty, except I didn't fall apart, just fractured wildly.  I woke up feeling just plain terrible and had a very, very dreary and sad day with a stiff body.  It took me a week to completely shake the negative feeling.  Something seemed broken inside me and I was very perplexed.  The gloom finally waned.  What was this dream all about?  I haven't a clue.  But what I did learn is that dreams can influence how we feel, physically and emotionally, and that surprised me at that time.

So now, many decades later, what I learned from the mind-body-dream connection back then made me very accepting of Mona Lisa's discussion of how the body transmits information about the state of our lives and of our bodies through dreams.  Makes sense to me that if a dream can affect the body, the body can affect a dream just like any other unresolved issue in a day can show up in a dream.  All of these dream ideas are discussed on pages 39-55.  The insight I took away from this section is that dreams are an effective way to obtain intuitive knowledge because the frontal lobes that may deny that knowledge while awake are inactive (p. 42).

I was really glad she did not do what some do and try to create a map to follow, with a key to symbols, for dream interpretation.  She acknowledges that the language of dreams is frequently unique to a specific dreamer, and changes over time.  The chapter on dreams is a good one, I think, but it does not dominate the rest of the book, dreams are just another way to receive intuitive knowledge.

(7) Psychic readings vs. the need for mystery

I wondered what she thought about psychics and their readings.  And in just one place (as far as I can recall now) she discussed the topic: "When people call me or go to see a psychic, they maybe looking for answers, but not all answers are ones they should receive.  I once went to see a psychic, during the period when I was falling asleep unexpectedly, and she told me that she saw me  having problems for the next eleven years.  Not twelve, not seven, not seventy, but precisely eleven.  Information like that just isn't helpful.  Some people would take that information and essentially put their lives on hold for eleven years.  They'd want to wait out their problems, and say, 'Well, in eleven years my life will begin.'  I chose not to believe what the psychic had told me, and instead of giving up, I drove myself forward.  Eleven years after I had visited her, I graduated from medical school."
(Pp. 309-310).

So, was the psychic right or wrong?  Mona Lisa's point is that we shouldn't seek answers that, whether true or not, could rob us of our drive to move forward.  On page 309 is a gem of a statement on this topic: "We need mystery in our lives.  We have to have a kind of hole in our hearts that represents a need to know why.  We need a hunger in our souls, a void that we strive to fill, because it helps to propel us forward in life.  If we fill up the hole too soon, we lose the momentum that keeps us going" . . . .

Amen. Long live the interior hunger of unknowing!

(8) Past lives

When I caught a passing reference to "past-life issues or bad karma" on page 26, I wondered what she actually thought of these concepts. She answered me on pages 108-110. She has seen past lives in some of her readings, and how they may explain something in the present life. But she finds these insights offer little of relevance in dealing with the present life, contrary to practioners of past-life regression as a mode of therapy.

I like her rhetorical questions on this topic on pages 109-110: "What can you do about a past life? You can't do anything about it. You can't go back and say, 'I am not going into that battle, because I'm going to get stabbed in the neck and have a port-wine stain in a future life.' [Note: this is a reference to a case she is discussing.] You can reframe it, like any other memory, in terms of what importance or relevance it has in your life, but you can't cut it out or remove it. Dealing with the present and changing what needs to be changed in our lives today is the purpose of using our intuition to read our brains' and our bodies' signals and memories."

A very practical outlook, whether you are a believer in past lives or not, I believe.

(8) Stigmata

I have always been interested in the so-called stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi and others.  But I particularly love St. Francis' life story because of its combination of rich humanity and spirituality.  At a point toward the end of his life he had become so united to Christ in spirit that Christ's wounds appeared on his hands, feet and body.  Mona Lisa discusses this after disclosing that she has heard of others' experiences with, and has herself also had some experience with, telesomatic events or empathy, where one feels the actual physical pain of another.  Her discussion of this phenomenon is on pages 105-108.  At the end she mentions stigmata as an extreme variant on this theme: "a mystic, whose empathy with God is so great, and who spends so much time trying to feel the pain of Christ and to experience it fully, may be able to call forth in her own body the pain as it was lived by Christ.  And this may, as a result, be symbolized by the changes in her skin-the stigmata."

Interesting.  Certainly makes the phenomenon appear plausible. My St. Francis stories are retold on one of my websites (click here to go there).

(9) Sex and food

Perhaps the majority of Mona Lisa's readers are interested in what she has to say about sex and food addictions. You'll have to read the book for yourself if this is where your interest lies, because the subjects are part of Chapters 7 and 8, and are diffused into other places as well. Snippets with some color are that: "Successful relationships based solely on sex are extremely rare. . . . Generally, even if two people agree in principle that all they want from each other is sex, at least one of them secretly wants much more than that. . . . A relationship in which physical intimacy occurs without emotional intimacy can serve as a primary staging area for disease and disorders in the . . . sexual and reproductive organs." (P. 188)

As to food problems, and their relationship with sex problems, I found this to be interesting: "We all know women who would kill for chocolate when they're depressed, but we rarely hear about men doing things like this. That's because of the way men's and women's brains are structured. In a woman's brain, the areas having to do with food and sex are extremely close together, almost superimposed on each other in the hypothalamus. In men they're separate and farther apart. For a man, there's food and then there's sex. For a woman, there's food-sex. . . . So it's no mystery that food and love are a problem for many women and fat is a feminist issue." (P.214)

(10) Emotions, conflicts, change, work, relationships, creation and creativity

The items listed under this title are the core of any life. The call, spread from pages 165 through 196, is for balance, balance, balance. Emotions have to be expressed in order to maintain a healthy and rich life. Conflicts and change need to be communicated, worked out, accepted and coped with as appropriate. Work and relationships are both important to a meaningful life, and need to be balanced. Creation and creativity need to be balanced. Sex and every other topic relevant to life are discussed under these topics. And at every turn, an inability to do what is needed for maintaining what is a good life to live leads to emotional loss and physical disease. My original intent was to write something meaningful on each of these topics. But why should I do that when Mona Lisa has already done so?

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