Friday, March 1, 2024

We Are All One

                        We Are All One- Lyrics of first verse

When I look into your eyes I see who I am.                                                                       When I look into your eyes I know who I am.                                                                  When I look into your eyes, my heart opens wide.                                                            When I look into your eyes my judgements subside.                                                         And I see and I know, We are all one.                                                                                                                          Black and White  Rich and Poor  Left and Right  Old and Young                                       We are All One.

Songs come through me. They have since I was a little girl. My pre-school report card said, Andie sings and makes up songs. As an adult, during the process of losing most of my hearing, it became less and less possible for me to listen to music. Music sounded like pots banging together.

After receiving my cochlear implant and after hours and hours of practice,  music began to be a pleasurable experience again. I began to sing every day and the song We Are All One bubbled up. I am so grateful that my implant gave me back my music.

For the past two years I have been practicing with a meditation sangha or community in the tradition of Thict Naht Hahn. His concept of inter-being means the connection of all living things. Inter-being was really an inspiration to me and is reflected in my song. I sang my song on my birthday at my sangha and shared it with the community. Then there was an arts night where people shared their original creations and I sang my song again.

John Bickham, who is a member of my sangha and a superb musician, asked me if he could put my song to music. I am an untrained singer and can barely read music. I was thrilled at his offer. I got to record my song in his studio and then he created the beautiful soundtrack which enhanced the song immeasurably. I am so grateful to John. John and his wife Rita also did the lovely backup vocals for my song.

The next step was posting the song on Facebook and YouTube. My daughter Monnya and I painted pictures for the video and she created the visuals for the video using our artwork. She did a wonderful job. 

We posted the song on Valentine’s Day. It is my gift of Love to the world. My vision is to spread the message of we are all one to the world.

Please help me to spread the message by going to YouTube and searching for We Are All One by Andrea Silver and sharing my song with whoever you think would benefit from it. Thank you, I am grateful for the opportunity to create this song and share its message. We Are All One.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Interspecies connection- the fly and I

 Hello, I’m not sure how to write about this. Here goes. A few nights ago I was in the middle of a class and I noticed a fly on my living room floor on its back struggling to turn over. Upon closer observation I could see that one leg and one wing were different from the other leg and wing. The fly struggled and struggled and was unable to move from its back to its front and move away. As I watched I thought, maybe I could help. 

I remembered the story of the boy watching a butterfly struggle to get out of its cocoon. After a while he decided to help. Part of the butterfly’s transformation was the struggle to break through from the cocoon to emerge and fly away. The boy helped the butterfly get out and it immediately died as it emerged.

So I watched for a long time rooting for the fly to turn over on its own. I felt connected to the fly and its perseverance was inspiring to me.  I then decided to try and help not knowing if my help would even be helpful. With the arm of my glasses I gently turned the fly over. He or she began to move. What a triumph! Then in a few seconds she/he was back on her back and struggling to turn back over again. I am going to use they as a pronoun. I think they would have liked that. By now the fly’s journey had my complete attention and we completed our ritual many more times. I would turn them over and they would begin to walk and then they would be flipped over back on to their back. I tried to make a little ramp to even out the discrepancies between the leg and wing on one side. That allowed them to stay on their front a little longer. We kept at this for a very long time. The fly’s efforts to right themselves never availed. They didn’t seem to effort any less as time went on. Eventually I knew I had to stop and go to bed. After several failed attempts to let go and leave the fly to its struggles alone, I was finally able to go upstairs and get ready for bed. I was so inspired by the tenacious spirit of the fly.

In the morning I came down and observed that the fly had ceased moving and was dead. I felt sad and wondered if my helping had prolonged a struggle that would have ended in an easier death. I could make up lots of stories about what I think this fly’s experience might have been. I don’t know how this all works. It got me thinking about life and death and rebirth and how all of life is a mystery and a miracle.

What I do know is that my experience with this fly changed me. I have always had the belief that we are all interconnected. I don’t know that I would have included flies before. Later that day I held a little service for the fly and asked how it wanted me to dispose of its body. Intuitively I felt that it wanted to be composted and that’s what I did. Who knows where that information came from? I have thought about the fly fondly many times since I put them in the compost. This experience of interspecies connection was very strong and I am grateful.  Have you had similar personal experiences?

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The paralysis of samskara

 I was doing Qi Gong the other day with my friend and teacher Satya. She led us in  a movement called Stepping out of Samskara. This level of Qi Gong is called medical qi gong and each group of three movements is designed to address a medical condition. Stepping out of samskara was part of a group of movements designed to address paralysis from an accident. She suggested that we send the energy of the movements to someone who had experienced paralysis from an accident if we hadn’t experienced that ourselves. That made me think. I think of Samskara as conditioning or our personality strategy or our small self. It’s who we are when we forget our divine self. 

I believe we are two selves. Our divine self or spirit or universal energy or essence in the Enneagram. It means all of who we are and all of what we could be. This unified self is available to us and always with us even when we forget all of who we really are. When we forget all of who we are and rely on the personality strategies or patterns or formations we have developed to survive in our families of origin, that could be called small self. Big Self is the unified self that includes the small self and is more than that.

So doing Qi gong it came to me that samskara is paralysis. The paralysis of samskara. This paralysis is from an accident. The accident of thinking we are less than who we truly are.  Stepping out of samskara means recognizing the mistake we make when we think we Are only our egos. I know I have an ego or personality self and that part of me can be running the show. I recognize the futility of working on my personality with my personality. That’s when I know I need to ask for help from Big Self. That is, for me, what prayer is. 

When I recognize the paralysis of samskara I want to be kind to myself. I might be certain there is something wrong with me or that I am a loser or lost in blaming myself or someone else. Judging myself for my accidental paralysis into my conditioning is two steps away from connection with my higher self. Big Self loves all of me unconditionally and that is the movement I am seeking. 

I ask for help from all of who I am. Please help me.  I am then more able to recognize and validate what I am feeling and comfort myself.  Please help me to accept myself as I am.  Please help me to chose the perspective that represents kindness to myself and others. Please help me to find a smile, find the good, focus on the bigger picture. Often what comes to me is a release from taking things so personally and a deeper understanding of my part of what’s been going on that is troubling me. I can move out of automatic pilot and make choices that reflect clear thinking.

What if another way to look at the paralysis of samskara is when the prefrontal cortex or reasoning brain is taken over by the amygdala or fight flight or freeze response. You could say we flip our lids. We are frozen or paralyzed into a reaction that doesn’t involve clear thinking. According to neuroscience, it takes seven seconds or three deep breaths to reengage the prefrontal cortex. Three deep breaths to remember who we really are. In that way the reasoning brain is a pathway to the expansiveness of the divine self or Big Self. Three deep breaths to ask for help. 

Big Self includes it all. When I am more identified with Big Self, usually after asking for help, I can feel more connected to my own body and more present. From that place I can more clearly get the sense that all living things are interconnected. The paralysis of samskara can be a vehicle for me to move beyond it.  I can embrace the paralysis of samskara as a pathway to open up to all of who I am. I can recognize that the paralysis or stuckness I feel is an accident. I can recognize my mistake and ask for help. I can move beyond paralysis by embracing my paralyzed self. Please help me to remember who I can be in the midst of my forgetting. May we all learn and grow more and more each day into all of who we are. 

Thank you for listening.

Monday, July 17, 2023

On Wednesday I Heard Birds

 My Cochlear implant activation was on June 5 about 6 weeks ago. Since then a miraculous world has opened up for me. Last Wednesday I heard birds for the first time in twenty years. What a thrill to begin to hear their sweet music. There is a small meditation bell that gets rung at my meditation group when we do meditation walking outside. I heard it for the first time two weeks ago. Pleasure and recognition flowed through my body.

 I was really lucky in that I could understand speech from the time my devise was activated. That is not true with every recipient. My surgeon and my audiologist are both very skillful. Everyone at Cochlear, where I got my devise, have been so supportive and helpful. The resources and the people they provide have been invaluable.

 I have worked really hard doing hearing therapy every day. The  gradually more difficult exercises are designed to teach me to hear with my devise better and better. I can now listen to podcasts. It is thrilling to me to be able to learn anything I want to as part of my hearing therapy. It is pleasing to be able to do two things at once while listening to a podcast. Before I had to have a video with captions and use lip reading. Certain sounds are still challenging to distinguish. S as in Sally and sh as in Shelley are still difficult. I think my progress is amazing and I am so grateful. I will continue to work hard practicing so that my remarkable brain can get as much support as I can give it in learning this new language. 

The amount of energy I was devoting to trying to understand speech was exhausting for me. I am more relaxed with my clients because I am so much more confident that I will understand what they are saying. I think I am a better therapist now.

In the beginning everyone sounded like Minny Mouse. The sound was high pitched and mechanical. After a few weeks the pitch dropped and everyone sounded like Mickey Mouse. That was a big improvement. Recently some familiar people sound more like how I remembered them to sound. I am looking forward to that continuing to improve.

I went to a party for the first time yesterday and it was still very challenging to follow a conversation. I was glad that I could easily hear one person talking. My Cochlear implant doesn’t erase my hearing loss, however it has vastly improved my ability to move through my life and hear.

I have noticed that my identity is shifting. I have identified myself with my disability for most of my adult life. Every conversation I had I introduced my hearing challenges. I saw myself as a person with a disability. Now that doesn’t feel true. What feels true is I have challenged hearing and it doesn’t define who I am. I am forging a new identity based on the adventure that life has become.

A lot of creative energy has been freed up now that I’m not efforting to hear so much. I have been writing and drawing and singing more. I even sang a song that I wrote called “ We are all one” at an open Mic.

Music is my next frontier. It still sounds very much like someone clanging pots together. I want to begin listening to familiar music with printed  lyrics to begin my music journey. I have heard that music is the biggest challenge to adjust to and is very doable with lots of practice. That is so encouraging.

I will close now. I appreciate being able to share my experience with all of you. Thank you for listening.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Cochlear Implant- beginning journey

 I thought I was going to write in my journal tonight and I realized I filled it up last week and don’t have another. So I am writing here. I just experienced Cochlear Implant surgery. I have had challenged hearing for more than thirty five years. I think my hearing loss started at a Sly and the Family Stone rock concert when I was seventeen. I got pushed up against a giant speaker and have had really loud ringing in my ears ever since. I started to lose my hearing in my mid thirties. I got hearing aids in my forties rejected them and then tried again successfully twenty years ago in my fifties. My hearing loss has progressed a great deal in the last year. It is now considered a profound level of hearing loss in both ears. Hearing aids are really helpful and my hearing aid technicians are a combination of mad scientist and angel. I am grateful.

I have learned to read lips very skillfully and now I rely on lip reading for about 90 percent of my hearing. I am a psychotherapist. My job is perfect for me because I am in a small room with one or two other people staring at their mouths and listening intently. I am extremely blessed that I have gotten to do the work that I love in the midst of my disability. I think my hearing loss has helped me to be more compassionate toward others challenges. As my outer hearing has deteriorated, my inner hearing has developed more and more. I am able to access my intuition through inner listening and have many wise guides. My clients are very patient if I need them to repeat themselves. Holding other people in love through my work for forty years has been one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime.

My other greatest gift is my daughter. She has had to navigate my hearing loss all of her life. I know it has been challenging for her.  She came out from Chicago to be with me for my surgery. I am so lucky to have this talented loving creative evolved being to share my journey with.

In the last year I have begun to seriously contemplate Cochlear implant surgery. The clarity of my being able to understand speech has gotten steadily worse in the last year.  I was struggling in all areas of my life and was mostly unable to understand conversations unless I could read the persons lips. I had withdrawn from almost all socializing and felt more and more isolated. I am very active and my hearing challenges created a great deal of exhaustion. My close people were understanding and I knew communicating with me was getting more difficult for all of them.

I am so grateful, in a way, that my hearing loss was bad enough that I qualified to be a candidate for a Cochlear implant. In the year before the surgery I interviewed four mentors about their experiences living with the device. Their stories were all different. Each one encouraged me to move forward based on their own positive experiences. After each conversation I felt less and less afraid. I was doing counseling myself as a client and did a lot of work experiencing and releasing my fears. The more I felt my fear the more space there was within me for excitement.

My surgery was three days ago. I so appreciate that my sister and my daughter were with me. The nurses and the doctors were so helpful. My surgeon was skillful, direct and kind. I was very afraid and closed my eyes and breathed deeply to prepare myself for the surgery. The operation implanting the Cochlear implant into my head took two hours. After coming out of anesthesia I was the most drugged dizzy and nauseous I’ve ever felt. I got to go home and sleep it off for four hours. 

As the days have gone by I am moving very slowly, taking lots of meds, and experimenting with how much or little I can do to keep the nausea, dizziness and pain at bay. I can’t lift anything over ten pounds or bend over for several weeks. After the wound heals in two weeks my Cochlear implant will be activated and I will learn to hear in a whole new way. 

I will write again after the Cochlear Implant activation. Right now I have one hearing aid and lip reading. I am managing well. I feel strong and confident and trust that I will be OK whatever happens. Going through this procedure has taught me a lot about my own capabilities. Going through with surgery has helped me to trust myself and my vibrantly healthy body and how resilient I am. A great deal of self doubt has melted away because now I am on the other side of the operation I was so afraid of for so long. 

Thank you for listening.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

To fix or not to fix

Good evening. I have been thinking about brain science of late. I’d like to share an idea I have about Neuropsychology. To do this I will explain a phenomenon in neuroanatomy. 

If you can imagine or visualize or hold your right hand with the thumb and fingers spread out wide. The thumb represents the amygdala. It is the part of the brain that helps us to survive. It is an ancient part that has protected us from being eaten by saber-toothed tigers. The amygdala creates a reaction of fight, flight or freeze when danger is perceived. The prefrontal cortex is the reasoning brain in charge of higher functions.

If you imagine or visualize or hold your right hand up in a fist now with your thumb tucked under your fingers. This hand position depicts that the prefrontal cortex or reasoning brain  keeps the amygdala contained until it is needed. When a sufficiently stressful situation arises that is perceived as dangerous, the prefrontal cortex moves off of the amygdala. Move or imagine  your fingers flipping up off of your thumb leaving the amygdala in charge. You can think of this as flipping your lid. Your reasoning brain is no longer in charge and a more primitive part of our brain the amygdala, supports us in fighting, running or flight, or freezing or playing dead.

Much has been written about this response. To me it has been very useful in understanding what happens when we are traumatized. Strong feelings elicit strong responses. The following is an idea I have about discerning what to do with strong feelings that arise in us in a situation that isn’t dangerous to our survival now.

 I have noticed when either myself or others experience strong feelings we want to fix them. We are so uncomfortable with strong feelings and unfamiliar with dealing with them that we knee jerk to fix them rather than allow them to be there. There is a sense of urgency to make the feelings go away as quickly as possible. We imagine it is helpful to ourselves or others to talk ourselves or them out of the feelings, invalidate them or minimize them. What if we could learn to wait and sit with the feelings we have in ourselves or when we are with others experiencing strong feelings? What if we could breath and notice our reaction and be with what is? What if this mindfulness could support us in reengaging the prefrontal cortex or reasoning brain. According to what I have read it takes seven seconds to reengage the prefrontal cortex when the amygdala has been activated. That is three deep breaths. What if mindfulness could support us in seeing if perceived danger is really dangerous in the present moment?

 I am proposing an experiment to notice when we want to fight or run away or freeze in a stressful situation that isn’t dangerous to take three deep breathes. Instead of fixing our discomfort with the feeling we actually feel them and notice and wait. See if the act of showing up for yourself with your discomfort instead of fixing allows the feeling to dissipate or lessen. What if fixing feelings is an obstacle to experiencing and releasing them? What if mindfulness, or awareness and acceptance, of strong feelings could support us in having clearer thinking?  What if this could lead to healthier relationships with ourselves and others? What if the ability to sit with strong feelings would enable us to develop more self compassion and more compassion for each other?  What do you think? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


 While on a five day meditation retreat I had an experience that was deeply moving for me. It feels daunting to communicate clearly what happened and I want to share it with you. At the retreat my intention was to slow down and focus more on being than doing. I was having medium success. I was challenged by how busy my mind was and my familiar tendency to move fast and do a lot.

On the grounds of the retreat center where the retreat was held was a labyrinth. A labyrinth is an intricate series of circles made of stones that you walk through to the end of. You start on the outside and the path progresses in a winding path toward the center innermost circle where in this labyrinth was an altar. The purpose of walking a labyrinth is for contemplation. Focusing on the path ahead and continuing to walk through  the circles of stones can clear the mind of thought. This labyrinth was outside in a beautiful forest. I felt connected to the trees and the sky and the rocks and the earth beneath my feet as I walked. I danced to a rhythm inside myself as I walked. When I got to the center I saw that many people who had come before me had added rocks and different parts of trees to the altar. 

I picked up a large yellow leaf I was drawn to about a foot away and placed it on the altar. As I stood there the wind blew my leaf off of the altar and turned it upside down. On the underside of the leaf someone else had written Being with a black sharpie pen. To me it felt like the universe was giving me the experience that being was as important as doing. I got the chills thinking that someone else had written this message for themselves and then it got passed on to me. It felt like a transmission from the forest through another person. Standing there I felt connected to all there is. I was part of the interconnection of the roots of the trees and the earth and the sky and all the people who had been there before me. In that moment everything seemed to come together and I laughed out loud at the lovely synchronicity that had brought the message of Being to me. 

My delight continued and I smiled  broadly and chuckled to myself as I began to walk out of the labyrinth in my dance like style from the inner circle where the altar was. I even skipped for a bit. I made my way through the intricate pathway in ever widening circles of stones  to the outside of the labyrinth where the entrance and exit were.

I felt supported in my quest to open to Being and somehow I knew that I wasn’t doing it wrong to have my busy mind and be exactly who I was doing this retreat how I was doing it. Being has a wide embrace and all of who I am could be included. 

I am grateful. Thank you for listening.  Is there anything you would like to include about yourself in the wide embrace of Being that has been challenging for you to include?