Archive for February, 2010

I taught a class at Seton Cove last month (www.setoncove.net) and one of the students had such a nice revelation. It was a perfect example of the power of alternate handwriting to tap into forgotten memories and soothe our inner critic.

The student said he’d been feeling guilty about playing too much computer solitaire. He felt it had become almost addictive and that he was wasting time when he should be doing more important things. During his writing session, his alternate hand reminded him of an elderly woman who’d lived down the street when he was young. She had informally adopted him, and he spent quite a bit of time at her house. And he remembered: she had taught him to play solitaire.

“I always felt so peaceful with her. She was so nice to me,” he mused. “On some level, playing solitaire brings back those happy feelings. I’d never thought of that before.” His voice and body language were light and relaxed and he smiled as he told his story.

“I’ve never thought of it that way before” is one of the most common reactions I hear when people first try this handwriting. I believe that happens because this practice lets you see patterns and experiences from a completely different perspective. Studies show that memory is stored in the right brain. Our judgment, logic, reason: our ego is in our left brain. When both sides are tapped, which is what alternate handwriting does, we’re able to connect dots, to remember truthfully, without criticism. Objectivity allows for compassion, the ultimate gift of this practice.

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Carmen is a dancer from South America. Calling her a whirlwind is an understatement. Although she’ll soon be eligible for Social Security, she’s so physically active she looks much younger than her age. A self-defined night owl, she’s often awake until 3 a.m. Which makes a 7:30 a.m. dance class she teaches twice a week “almost surreal.”

Like so many others, Carmen is caught in the economic meltdown. She has a lovely house on a large, semi-rural lot that’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. She came to her alternate handwriting session wondering whether she should sell her home. As she spoke, she talked of this being either the worst or best thing she could do. She loves the house and feels a deep tie to her land. But she’d been happy living in a mobile home. She feels obligated to visit her family in South America and could live with a sister there. But she’s lived more than twice as long in the U.S. and considers it her homeland. Her thoughts bounced as rapidly as her body does during her dance classes.

After listening for a while, I suggested she write a question about how she can simplify her life. She obligingly did, and her alternate hand responded with the things she had already talked about: selling the house, slowing her schedule once she starts Social Security. It also wrote going to Egypt.

When I asked her about that last one, she said she’s wanted to go to Egypt since she was a child. She’s always loved the ancient culture and has never missed an Egyptian exhibit in her well-traveled life. “I want to get 10 friends together to go to Egypt. That way I’ll get a free ticket.”

I try very hard not to be “helpful” during personal sessions, which means I don’t give unsolicited advice. But I couldn’t resist asking Carmen how being responsible for 10 other people in a foreign country would be simplifying her life. And that she’d spoken of being happy in a mobile home, a less- expensive lifestyle than her current one. Did she know that the word gypsy originally came from the word Egyptian? And that gypsies traditionally lived in caravans, a/k/a mobile homes?

Carmen’s huge eyes blinked from me to the pages she’d written. She said the only reason she’d built her house was because the land surrounding her had been purchased by people who established property restrictions. Her beloved “trailer” had suddenly become illegal.

I suggested that as she continues with her alternate handwriting, a more useful question might be, Why can’t I simplify my life? Why yields much different insights than how. It seems Carmen already knows the answer to how. AH will allow her inner gypsy to help her with the why.

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