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How Couples Counselling / Marriage Therapy Works

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

13th century Persian Poet Jalaluddin Rumi cuts straight into the essence of what I try to do in my work with couples who come to me seeking counselling. Often when a couple falls in love, there does not seem to be any barriers. But slowly, they develop as a kind of protective mechanism. But this protection can often keep us from the intimacy and enjoyment that resulted in this feeling of love. Beyond the feeling of love that is enjoyed during a honeymoon cruise, there is another kind of love waiting to develop. This kind of love is not just a passive feeling, but something more mature. It feels more like a working ship than a love boat. But there comes a kind of satisfaction and contentment that is not possible on a pleasure cruise.

Enacting this deeper, more mature kind of love in the places that it is needed most is one of the greatest things we can do with the precious time we spend in this life. A couple’s relationship provides the opportunity to shift love from a passive feeling we experience to the direct activities of removing the barriers between our selves.

Dr. John Gottman’s “Love Maps”

The first principal of Dr. John Gottman’s best-seller “Seven Principals For Making Marriage Work” is his concept of “love maps”. In this area, Gottman encourages the couple to get to know each other more intimately by knowing each other’s world spaces. Focusing here has the effect of drawing a couple towards each other. It also can also uncover wounds. When this happens, what I see is not a crisis, but an opportunity. This opportunity is in the here and now. Meeting it with immediacy allows the couple to get closer.

You have seen a herd of goats
going down to the water.

The lame and dreamy goat
brings up the rear.

There are worried faces about that one,
but now they’re laughing,

because look, as they return,
that one is leading.

There are many different ways of knowing.
The lame goat’s kind is a branch
that traces back to the roots of presence.

Learn from the lame goat,
and lead the herd home.
-Rumi

One of the theorists that Gottman acknowledges in the area of marital therapy who focuses on immediacy is Dr. Dan Wile. Regarding Wile, Gottman writes: “I love Wile’s writing and thinking. They are entirely consistent with many of my research findings. I think that Wile is a genius and the greatest living marital therapist.” Wile’s approach to couples therapy is one that I also wholeheartedly embrace. As a former student of Dr. Wile, I have had the opportunity to know and see first hand his approach that I now use with not only couples, but also within the context of other relationships such as parenting.

Relationship Fights are Places for Invites

In working with a relationship last week that began to get heated, I said to them smiling, “Oh, good! -look at the passion emerging between the two of you. This is exactly what we want!”. While this had a bit of a cooling effect, the warmth between the couple remained. From Wile’s point of view, conflicts are actually attempts by the couple to get closer in a place where neither knows how to get closer. I explained this concept to the couple and proceeded to encourage them throughout the session to empathize with each other not by instructing, but by doing so myself. One of them had entered the session with a pessimistic view of the counselling process. But he left eager to do the homework that I assigned him at the end of the session. I was sincerely glad to hear his initial misgivings about counselling because I suspected that he had not met with someone using my approach.

Dr. Dan Wile’s Collaborative Couple Approach

At the core of Wile’s approach is the therapists’ attempts to reframe client statements in a way that invites the other partner to join in a collaborative effort to meet the needs of each person in the relationship. In this way, the therapist focuses attention on the process, and not just on the content of the material the couple brings into the therapy room. Inviting partners to incorporate fights into their relationship often comes as a refreshing surprise to clients and broadens the possibilities within the relationship. it also encourages couples to understand the motivations and intentions behind each other’s actions. When this happens, new possibilities emerge from the new understanding that transpires. But this approach requires a therapist who is both comfortable enough with conflict and nimble enough to switch “love maps” from moment to moment as they emerge from two different observational perspectives.

Before couples are able to get into a more dynamic collaborative space where they are able to shift to a shared observational perspective, there are two preceding primary elements that Wile addresses. The first of which is clarification. It is important that the therapist spend a good deal of time clarifying and understanding the point of view of each person in the relationship and checking to be certain that it is understood correctly. The second element that Wile suggests that couples therapists address is something of a therapeutic summary that indicates how each party feels they are in a frustrating, difficult and confusing position where there are no good options. This element has the effect of humanizing each side of the relationship equation. Once each side is humanized, the possibility of harmonizing begins to emerge.

Someone On My Side

This approach allows the therapist to side not with one party or the other, but with both parties, each in turn. Which is something that many people often want in a conflict: someone to side with them. But this siding with one side or the other comes in the form of restating. Here is a simple example:

Debbie: “When you yelled at me, you made me feel scared” can be restated by the therapist in this way: “I think what you are trying to say is, and correct me if I am wrong: (speaking for Debbie to Bob) ‘Bob, when you yelled at me, I felt scared’”.

This effectively moves attention from the blame for the cause of the feeling and shifts focus onto the experience of the blamer. Wile’s technique of ‘doubling’ is attributed to the psychodrama used by Jacob Moreno. This ‘doubling’ in my mind is the digging, or the ‘work’ of the couples therapist: To be able to go within the experience of one party and restate things that they say to the other. This not only removes the blame, but also prioritizes individual experience over and above any kind of explicit or implicit rules that may be bearing on the relationship. The capacity to do this allows the therapist to reduce the possibility of triggering wounds that typically undermine a partners ability to respond with the kind of understanding and confirmation that each partner wants and needs. This approach attempts to meet couples in the here and now while drawing them from adversarial cycles of communication into collaborative ones.

Feeling Understood

Solomon writes “When mates feel understood and confirmed by each other, they experienced the relationship as a haven from the stressful world outside. The mental health field must include ways of helping to resolve issues that interfere with the maintenance of committed relationships”. If the work of digging is the uncovering of material between the couple that needs to be related, then the gold would be each member of the couple being met in the shadowy places where they feel most alienated, isolated and alone. Met by the person with whom they are most intimately involved. In keeping with this metaphor used in Jungian circles of looking for the gold in the shadow, we will conclude with a Rumi poem:

Some commentary on I was a hidden treasure,
and I desired to be known.

Tear down this house.
A hundred thousand new houses can be built
from the transparent yellow carnelian
buried beneath it, and the only way to get to that
is to do the work of demolition,
and then the digging beneath the foundation.

With that value in hand all the new construction
will be done without effort. And anyway, sooner or later,
the house will fall on its own.

The jewel treasure will be uncovered,
but it will not be yours then.
The buried wealth is your pay
for doing the demolition,
the pick and shovel work.

If you wait and just let it happen,
you will bite your hand and say,
I did not do as I knew I should have.

This is a rented house.
You do not own the deed.

You have a lease, and you have set up
a little shop where you barely make a living
sewing patches on torn clothing.

Yet only a few feet underneath
are two veins, pure red and bright gold carnelian.

Quick. Take the pickaxe and pry the foundation.
You have got to quit this seamstress work.

What does the patch-sewing mean, you ask.
Eating and drinking. The heavy cloak
of the body is always getting torn.

You patch it with food
and other restless ego-satisfactions.

Rip up one board from the floor
and look into the basement.
You may see two glints in the dirt.

References:
Jalāl, -D. R., & Barks, C. (1995). The essential Rumi. San Francisco, CA: Harper.

Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Solomon, M. F. (1989). Narcissism and intimacy: Love and marriage in an age of confusion. New York: Norton.

Wile, D. B. (1981). Couples therapy, a nontraditional approach. New York: Wiley.

Wile, D. B. (1993). After the fight: Using your disagreements to build a stronger relationship. New York: Guilford Press.

Wile, D.B. (in preparation). Solving the Moment: Theory and Method of Collaborative Couple Therapy. Available online at http://danwile.com/writings/downloadable-articles/

A Larger Life Awaits

Our existence here does not last. But what does it ask of us? And how is this asking played out in our lives? We may resist it, but eventually this world consumes our flesh and bones. And what then will remain of our existence? Will our children bear the scars of our lives like some course sharpened metal that snagged them on their way up? Who will tell our story and what will it be?

If you are reading this now, this story is not yet complete. No matter where you have strayed, a larger life comes calling to you. It is relentless in it’s beckoning. Your response to this call echoes for eternity. This is your everlasting life and it’s voice doesn’t die with the eventual collapse of your vocal cords. It remembers what you lived for and what you died for. It has it’s own unique view of you, both harsh and forgiving.

This larger life doesn’t care that your favorite television show has been cancelled. But it remembers you excesses in ways you wish you could forget. And sooner of later you will succumb to it’s call and submit. And this larger life knows if you prostrated before an unnaturally long life or an everlasting one. This larger life is not your own, but ours together, interwoven into place with all things. The grandeur of this is a gamble for which tears are shed beyond our days. Whether these tears are of gratitude or of the grief of unrecognized abandon, they will be shed by those touched by this gamble for a larger life, regardless if the gamble is taken or not.

The force of character lives on. It is undefeatable, relentless and has a kind of durability that makes the body blush with envy. While gambling is involved, this is no card game that can be won. If it were, it would be open handed and you could only win by losing. This submission happens honorably for some, providing a kind of perfume, like graveyard flowers, but aromatic beyond the senses altogether. But far too often this honor is gambled away for some fur coat that hangs in a closet or some life extending snake oil for those trading a clear conscious for a personal privilege. Which is of greater value? Is there not greater joy and comfort in being interwoven in harmony with all things than the isolation of a cold coat of flesh? We all know the difference and pretending there isn’t one or that this is simply some shallow trifle is something that cannot be done without a huge psychic debt. It simply isn’t what this existence asks of us.

This invitation to a larger life is not some kind of gamesmanship. It is not a set of hoops, nor a point of negotiation. It yields no easy answers or provides any kind of money back guarantee. These things are a kind of poison that has been drunk for so long that it cannot be tasted. Submitting to a larger life brings a peace to discords that drain precious energy away from tending what is sacred. And at some point, eventually, the will to expend energy on discordant things weakens. When this happens, surrender to a larger life brings its joy like a song enunciating your true place in this world and beyond. Many smiling faces await your arrival there, but most of all, your own. Love is not some sharp tickle you get from being touched by someone’s company or absence. It is a call to action. It is an invitation to gamble what you thought was sacred for what truly is. It makes no time for detachment or contemplation. It does not plot, but it’s plot is evidenced beyond declarations. Feed from love’s source and helplessly watch as you become defenseless against its current, drawing you towards a larger life.

Relationship Crisis: Danger & Opportunity and Friendship

Standoffs in Relationship:

Couples often end up in my office when they are facing a standoff. This arises when one member of the couple begins to withhold from the other. Sometimes this actually comes at the request of one of the partners to the other, but more often, not. But when it does, one has had enough of the other and requests some space. This often provokes the other’s wound. This is especially true in the case of abandonment. The abandoned partner will play nice for several days trying to be nice enough. When this fails, they sometimes begin mounting their own standoff. Here arises something of a counter threat. Each side withdrawing from the other some of the benefits of the relationship. Resentment ensues. Sometimes relationships end here in a stalemate.

Narcissism Yields to Friendship in Relationships

But as we mature, the possibility of greater benefits act as a counterweight to the diminishing benefits of independence as it wanes… And in this crisis moment standoff, new possibilities emerge like embers from fire. Narcissism has reached a place of yielding as the heart begins to glow. The couple begin to feel this and the tenderness between them glows as they learn the art of breathing oxygen rich air onto the embers and bringing greater warmth to those in proximity. This has the effect of drawing each member in closer, especially so as dusk gives way to night. We instinctively want to be drawn in to something warming. Doubly so when it is heart warming. Producing this effect is a calling from one member of the couple to the other. It beckons, come meet me inside this ember, the flame having had its way with us. We are more than merely burned and we know the road ahead will be better with the company of a friend.

Developing Friendship in Relationships

Becoming the friend is the work in the relationship. The friend has a sensitive ear. Like a drum resonating with the vibrations of the other. The friend knows the way, but won’t say it so directly. The friend works slowly, patiently. And he often begins his work in the place of greatest need. This is where the calls for him are the loudest. In my office, the archetype of the friend is cultivated and the fire that once burned begins to be approached again, with greater sensitivity and with longing to be warmed against the backdrop of night’s approach. Around this fire gathers the character that the friend has developed over the course of our lives. Stories are told and relived. The reliving allows for the realization of interpretations that have been made, often offering the possibility of new interpretations, new meanings, the possibilities of different endings and a new experience of the fire with the comfort of friendship.

How to build self esteem

According to the bible, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil… In addition to losing their place in the garden, they also lost some sense of perspective. Many of us have not yet reclaimed the view that each of us is unique. When we fully embrace this view, we see that each of us has our own compilation of values in a differing rank order. To one, peanut butter is a delicious snack on apples. To others, it is a trip to the hospital. To one, a nude beach is liberating. To another, a sin. Some prefer self expression, others privacy. Each is nourished by something different. What is good to one, is bad for another.

But having eaten from the tree of knowledge, some things have been banned. Some topics, words or even opinions have become taboo. Usually this is done with the best of intents. But this comes to the expense of minorities and at times to the majority at others and sometimes to us all. These taboos limit us in thought and action, but also in subtle ways act with a numbing effect as we ourselves feel stifled by these limitations whether they are directed towards us, or towards others. In this way, good and evil have become gatekeepers of experiences outside the gates of culturally imposed norms.

Freedom from the norms

One of the difficulties in reclaiming some sense of freedom is being able to identify where we are bound. This is often difficult to see from within the constraints of culture. It is much easier for people on the edge of a culture to spot the problems within it, than it is for people at the center of a culture who are benefiting from it. At the center of western culture is the megaphone of the media. From it emanates the cultural norms delineating good from bad. Because it is difficult to perceive culture from within it, the extent to which the media has been used to skew cultural norms cannot easily be measured.

One of the ways psychologist Carl Jung dealt with this problem is by helping people move towards what he called individuation. Jung realized that group imposed norms often stifled individual longings and potentials. Honoring an individual’s unique capacities, character and longings helps to pull one’s unique gifts from the rigid expectations and imposition that restrain the life-force of the life you were meant to live. So when the restraints begin to come into view, this can be very good news. What does the butterfly first notice but the constraints of the cocoon?

From the place of liberation, we can see that good and bad are largely relative concepts. What is good for the butterfly is bad for the caterpillar. Revisit the garden tree and the implied rules that came with good and bad. But this time, be like the caterpillar and eat the leaves. Slowly and patiently. The change will come.

The Power of Relating in Relationships

If i were to tell you that the sun was hot, you would surely agree that this is the truth. If i asked you if it were absolutely true, again, you would agree. And it would be true because you are thinking about the question in relative terms. The sun is indeed the hottest thing in our solar system. But if i were to ask you if the sun was hot compared to other stars, you probably wouldn’t know. And here again the question of the sun’s heat is a relative one. But now the context has been changed. And in doing so, i have illustrated how the power of the absolute is trumped by the power of the relative.

… So what does this have to do with psychology? It has everything to do with psychology. Here’s why: What appears to be absolutely true is quite often something that is only relatively true. Being a failure is often only feeling like a failure. Time often heals this, and having a witness helps too. A witness not to the absolute truth to you being a failure, but to the underlying feelings of shame. These underlying feelings constellate a fixed view of reality that downplay your unique experience of them. Revitalization of your relative truth is called for in these instances… Fortunately for counsellors, psychologists, therapists, social workers, etcetera, your relative truth has been marginalised by what appears to be absolute truth…

Let me share with you a story about this. This is a story from the Sufis. A Nasrudin story:

One day Nasrudin was sitting at court The King was complaining that his subjects were untruthful. “Majesty,” said Nasrudin, “there is truth and truth. People must practice real truth before they can use relative truth. They always try the other way around. The result is that they take liberties with their man-made truth, because they know instinctively that it is only an invention.”

The King thought that this was too complicated. “A thing must be true or false. I will make people tell the truth, and by this practice they will establish the habit of being truthful.”

When the city gates were opened the next morning, a gallows had been erected in front of them, presided over by the captain of the royal guard. A herald announced:

‘Whoever would enter the city must first answer the truth to a question which will be put to him by the captain of the guard.”

Nasrudin, who had been waiting outside, stepped forward first.

The captain spoke: ‘Where are you going? Tell the truth-the alternative is death by hanging.”

“I am going,” said Nasrudin, “to be hanged on those gallows.”

“I don’t believe you!”

‘Very well, then. If I have told a lie, hang me!”

“But that would make it the truth!”

“Exactly,” said Nasrudin, “your truth.”

So, as the story indicates, there is great power in relative truths. But the task in finding them is not an easy one. For this, you need someone who is skilled in relating. When someone can relate to you where you need it the most, new life comes into to your relative truths. Your personal experience takes precedence over a constructed view of absolutes that no longer holds so much weight against your specific view of ‘reality’.

We all have places where outside or collective expectations of us is in direct competition with our unique direction in life. Discovering, honouring and following our own unique way is part of a lifelong maturation process that psychologist Carl Jung referred to as individuation. Individuation is something that i work towards with my clients so they feel more empowered to live their lives, and not the lives of their parents, friends, mentors or cultural icons. So if you find yourself feeling the squeeze of expectations but without the will to meet these external obligations, you may be a loser when it comes to meeting goals others have set for you. But the possibility of reclaiming your goals may be at hand. If you think no one can relate to your situation and the experiences that have brought you to this point, give it a chance and write: steve@turningtowardsessence.com We’ll see if you can’t be welcomed back inside YOUR kingdom without losing your head.

On Relationship and Character Development:

There is some general knowledge in the general population about the phases of relationships. Most have heard of the concept of the honeymoon phase. The honeymoon phase comes to a close when each of the people realize that their beloved, … has some problems. It is also sometimes apparent that at least one of the people in the relationship have needs that aren’t being met in the relationship, as was previously hoped. This is where the relationship can begin to become a working relationship. But there is often resistance to this ‘work’ in the relationship. Why would anyone want to trade the fun, playful adventures of the honeymoon for ‘work’? Some aren’t willing to tend to this transition at all while others are willing, but only to a point. At this point in the relationship, a commitment of ‘til death do us part’ seems to extend one’s life in directions that are unexpected and often unwanted. But some are more willing to affirm their commitments and take greater risks for the possibility of establishing a more meaningful union.

A more meaningful union can ensue in a number of ways. New agreements can be forged, and new relationships can be formed with parts of each person that were formerly alienated. It is these alienated parts of ourselves within the relationship that have the ability to hijack the relationship. And they often do. These alienated parts want to be acknowledged and accounted. When the alienated parts of one person contact the alienated parts of a partner, conflict ensues, with each one vying for control of the situation in an attempt to get their needs met. This isn’t the case in dysfunctional relationships alone, this is the case in most relationships that reach this phase. And not all do reach this phase. Some aren’t willing to put forth the work that it takes. But those who are willing often don’t know where to begin. Some muddle for years or even decades either finding their way limping along for weeks, months or years and potentially dissolving the union sooner or later. But others realize that the union that they have forged, sometimes under God, or at least with the blessings of friends and family, are worth spending some time and effort in protecting. This is especially true when there are children counting on the success of the union.

A process of identifying the different parts of each of us is useful to individuals as it is to the union between two people. Archetypal Psychology has done a good job of providing a number of ways of looking at the sub personalities underlying the personal identity often referred to as “I”. The only capitalized pronoun (I) rests on a number of parts and ways of looking at these parts. If you have heard of the wounded child, the hero, the orphan, the wicked step mother, the rebel, the king or the wizard, you have a grasp of the concept of basic archetypes. Some archetypes are more basic than others. For example, the mother is a basic archetype. Hansel and Gretel are each specific examples of the orphan archetype. The orphan that lives within you is also specific with certain characteristics based on your personal history. But that orphan lives on within you and through you, as all archetypes do. Living a mythic life entails owning these archetypal dynamics that live through you. Identifying the mythic life that is living through you can be freeing. Providing a container in which those characters are permitted to express and be witnessed gives them a space in our lives so that they don’t fight the mature adult parts of us that want to “have a normal life”.

Engaging with your partner and a professional who can create a protected space to contain these underlying parts of yourself helps you to more fully enter, not just the working stage of a relationship, but to a relationship that is healing to you, to your partner and possibly to your children, should you have any. When we are able to get our needs met and learn to better meet each other’s needs, everyone benefits. The courage that it takes to open to the possibilities of risk often yields the potential for new meanings to emerge in one’s life and a new vigor that is often lost in the transition from honeymoon to work. The deeper meanings that emerge from these developed characters can’t help but to yield deeper character development.

Fanaticism and Fana: Tolerance, Acceptance and Curiosity in Anxious Times

 

It has become somewhat of a badge of honor in recent decades in western culture to say that you fancy yourself a sports fanatic, or a coupon fanatic, or a fanatic of any other sort. Well… except of course, the religious sort, which i will get on about later as it is the topic of this writing. But the trend towards an acceptance and veneration of fanaticism is telling about our cultural drift. Early Spring being tax season might lead one to want their tax filing to be completed by a tax fanatic. It seems the word has changed somewhat in cultural usage to denote an expert status. But is an expert a fanatic? Wikipedia offers some assistance in differentials:

An expert is “somebody who obtains results that are vastly superior to those obtained by the majority of the population”.[1] Alternatively, an expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study.

Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal or with an obsessive enthusiasm. Philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”. The fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.

Noteworthy in distinction is the ability to tolerate differences. A fanatic cannot distinguish between a fact and an opinion and feels to some degree threatened when their opinion is not taken as fact. While some might fancy themselves as a fanatic, it is not always the case. For instance, if you are the kind of Browns fan who can sit at the same table as a Steelers fan during a game and still be friends afterwards, you are not a fanatic. But if you are a Catholic and you want to marry a Protestant, it could be a problem. For the fanatic, the principals of the universality of love are lost to the rigidity of belief and the threat of dispirit of one’s own beliefs. To the fanatic, their beliefs are something of a sacred cow. To the expert, beliefs are more fluid and open to new interpretations and to deepening understandings. The fanatic does not have that luxury. Even in calm discussions, the fanatic ca not tolerate differing views of situations or events. The tax fanatic may save you money on your return, but in their enthusiasm they may unintentionally violate your principals or even their own. The fanatic has lost their principals and thusly cling even more tightly to their beliefs. The true sports fanatic violates the rules of the game, as the tax fanatic violates the law. The religious fanatic likewise violates the principals of their own sectarian religion.

A daily practice does not make one a fanatic, nor does it keep one from being a fanatic. Fanatics and non-fanatics have daily practices. How they relate to those practices is a different question altogether and is another story. And yes, there are atheists who are fanatics too. To them, anyone with a daily practice could be a fanatic. Discernment has been lost.

Unfortunately, our culture has become more and more xenophobic as fanaticism has been not just permitted, but embraced. Differences have become more and more threatening. Our safe spaces are merely green zones that are safe, but only for some with shared points of view. They are rally points for those seeking refuge from dissenting views.
The antidote for fanaticism is the broad application of considerations, appreciation for diversity and sincere questions that drive at understanding differences so they can be accepted for what they are. The demonization of difference is the antithesis of such tolerance. The fanatic can calmly ask questions to discern “us and them” but this (largely unconscious) intent often violates the fanatic’s own principals.

One group of fanatics that has come under fire in western culture is that of “radical” Islam. If the fanaticism of radical Islam were to be curbed, it would be done so with the weapons of true freedom: tolerance, curiosity, respect for diversity, compassion and understanding. Looking within the religion of Islam will reveal possibilities that exist that are more potent in dismantling fanaticism than social pressure, machine guns, bunker busting bombs, or even “smart” bombs. There exists underused principals and ideals imbedded within Islam, should you be interested in warming the seeds of future violence to the point of rendering them impotent.

Some yogis are familiar with the concept of Samadhi. Samadhi is the culmination of a part of yoga known as Dhyana. According to the Vedas, “dhi” is the imaginative vision and “yana” means method of practice. While Dhyana is often thought of as meditation, it carries with it aspects of both observation and reflection. Samadhi then refers to the meditative state where the mind becomes still and the individual becomes completely aware of the present moment in an integration of all of existence. It is a coming together and is marked by an accompanying sense of peace and surrender. In fact, burial places in India are referred to as the place of samadhi. Likewise, the final pose of most yoga classes is known as Savasana, or “corpse pose”.

Those who practice yoga practice this kind of death. But this concept is shared among traditions. Yogis, Buddhists and Hindus share this concept. But this concept is not alien to Westerners. All bunnies and eggs aside, Easter is connected to Jesus rising from the grave. He had the courage to bear the burdens of hate and the physical pain of his cross even when it meant facing death. While some Muslims may be quick to point out their differing views of Jesus on the cross, many more see what they have in common with Christians’ story of Jesus. But the idea of living beyond death is a shared idea. Some tribal peoples welcome people into elderhood with an initiation that mimics death where they are painted entirely black, isolated, rendered speechless and visited by fellow tribe members who tell them everything that they ever did wrong. Some even make things up. A stark contrast to a beachfront retirement game of golf.

Anyone who has had a taste of dying before death understands the value of seeing things as they are and accepting all things in their place. Samadhi offers a glimpse of this. While Muslims share Jesus as a prophet, they also share a similar concept to Samadhi, or as it is called in Arabic, Fana. If a Muslim is able to reach the state of Fana, their ability to return to a state where fanaticism flourishes will be diminished. So, encourage them to their practices and do not worry about their beliefs. Fana puts all things in perspective just like Steelers fans sitting at a table with Browns fans when the Browns new quarterback scrambles into the endzone for a game winning touchdown. When the game is over, you will still be friends, but you might hold your beliefs more lightly.
Ya Fana! Happy Easter! (…and Go Browns!?!??)