Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bais Chana in the Berkshires. 2012 review

I spent the first part of last week in the beautiful Berkshires. Went back for more of Bais Chana, thought provoking classes, fresh, sweet smelling air, some downtime, and with a small hope of getting some studying done for a neonatal resuscitation class I’m taking.

The studying didn’t happen, although there was a brief, albeit pseudo attempt. Not as much downtime as I anticipated, because the classes were so interesting and I didn’t want to miss anything. What I did get was a nurturing, nourishing experience; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Honestly, I forgot how awesome it was going to be.

I spent time with an eclectic group of women from all over the country and came home renewed and recharged. I learned a lot about the feminine soul, joy, existence, love, the ego, near death experiences, the inner child, myself, and most importantly, of how I would like to treat myself. I'm choosing just a few to share with you.

On Joy
Laughter, like music, dance and love, is beyond intellect. Being joyful is an inherent part of all us. When we experience joy we have an expanded state of consciousness. Laughter induces  neuroplasticity in the human brain. That means we have the ability to change the structure and function of our brain, or in other words, to alter our auto response.

Human nature dictates that we give more attention to negative experiences than we do to positive experiences. We do this as a survival mechanism, to prevent danger. But when we live our lives expecting trouble, trouble finds us. A great goal would be to expect a best case scenario. It’s a matter of retraining our brains, and laughter can help us do that.

Did you know that children laugh approximately 150 times per day? Guess how many times the average adult laughs? I found the number shocking, but when I thought about it some more, it rang true. We just take ourselves too seriously. Ready? An adult laughs an average of 6 times per day. That’s right. SIX. Ouch. I’m trying to laugh just a few more times a day. Consciously. Mindfully. With purpose. I tend to have the darker side of humor. I’m making an effort to change that.

On existence
Existence is for the purpose of life, existence does not define our lives. Existence is simply taking up space. The reason we can survive unfortunate circumstances is because we are willing to sacrifice existence for living life. Death means a person existed and lived. While there is no longer existence, whatever impact was created during the lifetime, lives on. Most of us give too much attention to our existence, and not enough attention to our lives.

On how I would like to treat myself OR Everything I need to know I learned in a yoga class

I walked into yoga class and was greeted by Shelly, a fabulous yoga instructor who came all the way from Columbus, Ohio (Hello Buckeyes). Shelly was setting up a room full of chairs. Chairs? Did I walk into the right place? I looked around, somewhat confused and Shelly explained that the mats were at another location and for today we were going to have chair/standing yoga. I glanced at the door and made a mental note of how long it would take me to get back to my room and into running gear. Somewhere in the background I could hear her begin to speak. She mentioned something about that what we want isn’t always what we need, but when we walk into a situation that is unexpected, it’s usually for a good reason. I stayed for chair yoga and was pleasantly surprised to find that it really was a good workout and more so, that it really was exactly what I needed. What I'm left with is the impact of her message. This is the gist of it: 
I’m hearing that I don’t need to operate at 100%. That I can push myself to the edge, become aware of that edge, and take a step back. That I don’t need to live on the edge. Can this be true? This goes against the grain of how I operate. Definitely calls for more attention and a deeper look.

On love
Isn’t everybody, and their mother, the ultimate authority on love? I don’t think anybody really is, but I heard some insights that had me thinking enough that I would like to share them with you.

Emotions exist to bridge the gap between the self and others. Love is a feeling. It’s devoid of action. We feel in our hearts and souls. Our hearts and souls are a few steps removed from behavior and actions. Which is why there is plenty of behavior that is inconsistent with love, that comes from the very people that profess their love for us.

Once you love someone, you can’t get to know them. We become aware of our creation of our loved one. Our image. Our perception. Our brains try to make sense of another. That’s not knowing another, that’s our agenda. Our brains don’t recognize truth, rather they look for logic, they seek to make sense.

I found this interesting and a little disturbing. It also helped me understand why many people who ‘fall head over heels in love’ can’t seem to get along on many simple levels, and why a relationship that is cultivated, one that is built on mutual respect and values, where love grows, has a much better rate of survival.

On Inner Child Work
“Anything that can be destroyed is worth destroying sooner than later, so that you can start over and build something indestructible.” I found this line very empowering. How many times have I found myself in a situation that was clearly not right, yet I chose to expend good energy trying to bandaid something that needed an overhaul? Many more than I would care to admit.

Every person has an aspect of masculinity, of femininity and that of a child.  Our masculine self seeks to conquer. Our feminine self seeks connectedness. Our childlike self receives. In my relationship with G-d, I am always a child. I ask for that which I need in the way a child asks of its parent. In order to be that child, I need to be open and willing to absorb, to receive.

When the Jewish nation made their initial descent to Egypt, they were counted as 70 souls. Baby Yocheved, just a few days old at the time was included in this count. G-d’s message to us? Our value is not attached to productivity. By virtue of existence, we are accomplished. We need to find that place in ourselves where our value is not limited by achievement.


I have pages and pages of notes that I'm so happy to refer back to. I remember coming home from Bais Chana last year and the inner struggle that followed; I had a fabulous time while I was there, but couldn't hold on to the experience. When I left, it seemed to fall apart in my hands. Not sure where the shift has been in my life, but I am grateful to have the palpable energy alive and flowing within.

To finding inspiration in our daily lives,


PS You can find out more about Bais Chana programs here. Should you want to join me, I'll be going again next spring...


  1. Your writing is beautiful and the ideas inspiring and thought provoking. Thank you.