Tag Archives: Thomas Moore

Fear the Small Stuff

bug swarm

We’re all aware of the big and obvious things that rock our existence. But it’s the small—oftentimes invisible—things that can prove to be most destructive.

Here’s an example. While at Cape Cod, Don and I took a nature walk, enjoying the beauty of the wetlands. But something unseen was putting a damper on things. Call  it gnats … some people  call them no-see-ums. I call them nuisances. For Don and I, the experience was akin to being aggressively attacked by a battalion of biting mosquitoes.

Interestingly, earlier in the day at our seminar, Thomas Moore suggested we look for animal sightings and explore their symbolic meaning. Sure enough, those bothersome little creatures qualified.

At some point in our nature walk, exasperated and miserable, Don and I woke up and remembered our assignment.  A shift in consciousness occurred. Instead of seeing those tiny little creatures as the enemy, we now saw them as innocent. “They just want to survive,” Don said.

Those little buggers didn’t know it (or maybe they did), but they were teachers. They taught us that:

  • Life’s small irritations have the potential for eroding wonderful experiences.
  • Small, unseen, or seemingly insignificant things make their presence known by their effect on us. Therefore, it’s wise to tune in to how we’re affected internally by things.
  • Gnats are a subtle threat. The opposite is true of a grizzly bear. There’s nothing subtle about that threat! In a way, we’re better prepared for an obvious threat.
  • Small issues can grow into big problems if not attended to.

Don said,

“If I see an issue as a bear, I’m more likely to seriously deal with it. I don’t want obvious pain! On the other hand, I’m more likely to bypass the smaller issues. The truth is, both have the potential to be very destructive.”

The moral of the story:

If you don’t want the big issues in your life, you’d better be willing to deal with the little issues on an everyday basis.

I invite your insights. Thanks!

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Flying Sunglasses

fish jumping out of water

Thomas Moore, the presenter for Psychotherapy, Spirituality and the Soul, a five-day seminar I attended recently, had this to say:

“In an ordinary situation, larger things may be occurring.”

He was referring to those mysterious happenings that lack any rational explanation. At those times, the intellect is left in a state of confusion. Moore says that’s precisely where we need to be—confused because such occurrences rattle our preconceptions and thus open the pathways for new insight and meaning.

I want to share a personal experience. I was in the loft of my condo preparing to  go somewhere. Having an armload to carry down, I decided to make it easier by tossing my sunglasses—protected securely in their case—over the railing in the hope it would  land on the sofa below.

The case appeared to be headed for a safe landing when suddenly it took a detour and struck the frame in  the middle of the window located just  behind the sofa. What happened next defied all reason! Upon impact, the case snapped open and the glasses flew out and traveled sideways to the edge of the window, meeting up with the cord  of the blinds. The two engaged in a graceful dance of entwinement, ending with the glasses safely snagged in the cord.

The mystery of what had just happened captured me—taking me to a place of silence inside. For the longest time, I stood transfixed, gazing at the glasses hanging securely by the cord. When I finally reached out to retrieve them, I was amazed to discover that the cord had neatly wrapped itself  around the glasses three times.

This experience verified for me what Thomas Moore was talking about when he said: “In an ordinary situation, larger things may be occurring.”

Moore’s consistent message throughout the seminar was  to get good at listening to deeper meanings. He urged us to reflect on what our soul is telling us in our dreams, our imagination and in the multitude of symbols that sit subtly in the fabric of  everyday living.

Whether in a dream or awake, a hat isn’t just a hat, a car accident isn’t just a car accident, and a fish jumping out of the water isn’t just a fish jumping out of the water. Such things are pregnant with insights unique to each individual.

For me, the sunglasses occurrence spoke loudly about control. My tendency is to believe that I have to make things happen—that I have to direct my life. That belief was challenged by that ordinary but significant situation. The symbolism, for me, was profound. What I learned?

Miraculous things happen when we give up control. They’re freed up to happen.

I invite you to share how an event or a dream made a significant impact on you.

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Caring for Our Soul


I spent an exciting week on Cape Cod! The adventure included a five-day seminar led by Thomas Moore entitled Psychotherapy, Spirituality and the Soul.  (Not to worry … the sessions were over  at noon every day. The rest of the day was play!)

Thirteen years in the monastery seasoned his  wisdom, but so did his experience as a university professor and a psychotherapist for 35 years.

He’s written several best-selling books including Care of the Soul and the recently released Care of  the Soul in Medicine. A large measure of  his work has entailed illuminating the connection between our psychological self and our soul. He doesn’t see a separation between the two. In fact, on the first day of  the seminar, he explained that psycho is a Greek word meaning soul. So it’s no surprise that he maintains that psychotherapy should be invested in the caring for the soul. I agree.

Moore described the soul as “who we are at our depths.” He had more to say about it which is summarized well in Care of the Soul. Here it is:

“Soul is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance. I do not use  the word here as an object of  religious  belief or  as something to do with immortality.”

Moore points out that the soul is usually hidden from view—from our surface consciousness. Details  of everyday life, such as filling out forms, driving to work, fixing lunch, parenting kids, cleaning the bathroom and heading off the onslaught of constant problems, prove distracting.

All of these things can rob us of our peace,  trigger  anxiety, disrupt relationships and make us unhappy. Such symptoms, Moore says, are ways our soul communicates to us. If we listen closely while emptying our mind of preconceptions, we’ll discover what we truly want and need.

I have a personal example of how stress  was my soul’s method  of communication.

Picture this: You’re sitting in the passenger seat, whizzing down the road at 75 miles per hour, passing and being passed by cars, trucks and anything else that might be coming down the toll road. And what are you doing? You’re trying to write the next post for your blog. The words aren’t  coming … not even a topic!

That was me coming home from  the seminar. My friend, Don, was driving.

After four hours of driving, we decided it was time to take a break. We stopped at a lush picnic area. No highway bustle or noise here—just tranquility.

With the green of nature all  around us, we sat quiet for several minutes—soaking it up, rather letting it soak us up. The key was in the letting.

The birds  were singing. A cat wandered along a nearby path. The breeze was cooling …  I knew I was experiencing what it means to be attuned to my soul—what it means to  care for the soul.

Through that experience, I learned firsthand that solutions—call them soulutions—aren’t about changing or fixing things on  the outside of us, but on  the inside. A shift.

When it was time to head back to the car, I took the lush oasis with  me. As a result, the words—for the blog—came with ease, and the topic was a no-brainer.

I welcome  your thoughts.


Filed under Contemplations, General Interest, Get Free