Sunday, June 10, 2018

Course on Altered States

This summer I will be teaching a course on altered states of consciousness. The course title is " Common Threads of the Mind-Bending Disciplines", and I intend to deal with ways in which we use different proscribed methods to change the way we experience our inner and outer reality.

From Transcendental Meditation to Centering Prayer, and from Autogenics, to mystical Kabbalah, it seems to me that there are many obvious overlapping behavioral elements for how we get to the altered state, and how we see life as a result. For example, there seems to be the element of relaxation involved in nearly everyone of the practices. Many involve breath work. Some use chanting or repetitive mantras.

Years of doing hypnosis and self-hypnosis has brought me to see many similarities among the practices of mind nourishment and spiritual uplifting. When the preacher or liturgist is praying as part of the worship experience, I have detected many phrases, religious or not, that are suggestions. Different than what hypnosis itself might use, but metaphors about God ("shepherd" , "healer", everlasting arms") are aids to worship, just as stained glass and pleasant music is. The Taissé Community makes full use, in its worship practice, of stimuli to all the senses: sight, aroma, sound. It is as if somehow, the shamans  through the ages sacred and secular, knew they were not dealing with objective reality. The"How" of altered states is familiar to Tai Chi and Yoga, practiced as a discipline. Something changes from ordinary to even blissful.

The "Why" of altered states may be hinted at or openly lauded within the different methods. Many disciplines point to the need to stop "doing" and move into the neutral place of "being". Experiencing the sense of NOW is for the purpose of contentment, and/or a new sense of self-awareness. My understanding of Buddhism is that the disengagement from the prevailing life experience of suffering is achieved with a meditation discipline. Mindfulness, as practiced by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is meant to be therapeutic for a number of emotional problems. Clinical psychology has expanded the practice of mindfulness to treat anxiety, depression, and drug addiction. Both spiritual enlightenment and emotional health are goals of these different expressions of meditation. Are these the same phenomenon? Pet scans by the psychologists show very similar blood flow in the brain during the time of meditation.

Mystical traditions from Christian history (for example, John-of-the-Cross), make contemplation sound very much like meditation. In the religious traditions of the mystics, both Christian and Jewish, there is an added element,  that of transcendence, by which they usually mean being in touch with the Divine. It is a kind of vertical dimension to the otherwise secular and horizontally experienced meditation. The presence of "the Holy" is a gift bestowed upon those who are quiet and receptive. The mystical pathway is described as Inward, Upward, and then Outward. Outward becomes the added activity of compassionate service to mankind, to whom the meditator is linked "unitatively" , a sense of Oneness with everything. There is no competitiveness between persons, because, by this awareness, we are all in the same boat.

The course may be found in the curriculum of Silver Bay, New York, Conference Center ( for the week of August 11-18, 2018. it is a beautiful spot on Lake George.

Friday, May 18, 2018

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Course Offering on Dreams

“Dreams: The Mysterious Source of Life Benefits.”

Taught by William R.Morrow, D.Min.,LMFT . Email

Most of us dream every night, and, for many, the dream content is significant for making meaningful life choices. Although the way we have casually dealt with dreams has been to junk them as meaningless activity, continuing dream research persists in showing the importance of discovering the guidance which dreams can provide. A new book by dream expert Kelly Bulkeley, Phd. suggests that we have the opportunity to latch onto uncanny forces lurking in the emotions and imagery of our nightly passage through the neverlands of the psyche. Bulkeley’s “Big Dreams” book offers to help us create greater self-awareness and psychological insight.

Twentieth century psychologist, Karl Jung, brought dreams into a place for positive interpretation that can inform our daily living. According to Jung, you receive an unopened healing message from your unconscious every night.
 Dr.William Morrow has been interested in his own dreams since he began his studies of psychotherapy. “Dreams are an off-the-couch way to make healthy use of a personal resource that is therapeutic without the therapist”. Turning dreams into a personal consultant is something that can be easily learned. Learning to interpret the way that the unconscious speaks is a key to positively guiding your life journey. Using a Jungian perspective, in Morrow’s class on understanding dreams, you will learn straightforward methods from a psychotherapist to make dream images conscious and vital. Jung’s theory is a very positive one, revealing your dreams as your friend. Morrow believes that, as we integrate more of our dream characters into our wakeful states, we have an unending source of inner wisdom.

Taught by William R.Morrow, D.Min.,LMFT, psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years. Register by contacting the FGCU Renaissance Center online at https//

Three successive sessions, each 90 minutes at the Renaissance Center on College Parkway. No single session registration. Class on Tuesdays, November 7,14, and 21, 2017, 1:30-3:00 PM

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    by William R Morrow

A major result of climate change is rising sea levels. It doesn’t take much science to simply observe the “living lab” of sea level rise and its present day effects on Miami Beach and the Everglades. Just this January, the City of Miami Beach announced, in response to chronically rising waters, a one hundred million dollar project to raise roads, install pumps, and redo sewer connections.
   It is also clear that rising sea levels around the planet are connected to melting polar ice from small changes in temperature, whether these changes are permanent or not.
As more and more coastal lands in developing countries like Bangladesh become uninhabitable, many more people will be seriously affected. Whatever the time-line estimates of dire demographic circumstances, current observable effects are already observable in places much poorer than Miami Beach.
It is easy for those of us who live on higher ground to keep living in denial of climate change, and carry on as if the problems are minimal. But despite people’s beliefs about climate change, there is another bit of information that links immigration to climate change.
What this means is that inundated people of the planet will become refugees and immigrants. Landless people will go on the move in search of someplace else to find food and live their lives. There will be resulting pressure on world population that is bound to affect European countries, and ultimately North America. I recently heard a lecture by Karl Kaiser, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School, which pointed to this major source of new immigration that is right around the corner. I was impressed with his knowledge and experience, which has been honored with the Atlantic Award of NATO.  Immigration and refugee movement, he notes, is already destabilizing Europe, and creating social instability. Even with the U.S. restrictions on immigration, these world population shifts will affect American economic (if not political) interests.
It won’t be long before the beliefs in “America First” and “Fortress America” will be in direct conflict with beliefs about how to deal with the economic and social effects of climate change. The two issues of climate change and immigration will be clashing head-on on our own shores. An unstoppable global change in the world as we know it will, in my view, force a reconsideration of how we view immigration. It is a moral issue of what we should do, but because of the inevitable clash, it is also a practical issue of what we will have to do.
If you would like to take up this cause locally, you could get involved with a political action group right here in Lee County. Check out: Lee OFA Indivisible on Facebook.

William Morrow is an ordained Presbyterian minister and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, in Fort Myers. He is the author of "The Rain Doesn't Fall Straight Down".

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Status of Community Service, Past and Future.

During the time that I was working full time, I saw the benefit of connecting up with other organizations like mine. As the director of a Pastoral Counseling Center, I was in league with other social service agencies that shared a similar vision of providing needed services to the community at large. Like the counseling center, most of those agencies were non-profits, and serviced a particular area of local human need, such as mental health, or child and family health, or disability. Together we took care our local area.
The conjoint agency was called the Community Coordinating Council, and we met once a month to keep each other up to date. Then, once a year we had a banquet where the CCC officers for the year recognized somebody’s outstanding service to the community. We celebrated little increments of progress from our efforts and hard work.
I always thought it was ironic that what we all were doing on a daily basis year round was considered “community service”, a term that just happened to be used by the judicial system to indicate a level of punishment for some convicted man or woman. Those being punished were caught in criminal acts, but, for one reason or another, were not sent to jail. Rather they had to perform a menial duty to right the wrong they did. Often it was some task that no one else wanted to do.
What we in the CCC were doing was not usually menial, but was labeled with the same term that others did as punishment. How is it that the term, community service, gets attached to both activities? We were, as professionals, certainly not down on the social scale with offenders. But work that serves others and raises human dignity does not often get recognized in the same way that corporate work does. Our “shareholders” are often volunteer boards of directors. If we had a profit motive, we probably wouldn’t be so effective.
Whenever a school or prison shifts away from a service model, I am suspicious
I read recently that artificial intelligence and robotics will eventually, in the future, put more and more people out of work, permanently, so that the (income)tax base will shrink. No work; no income; no income tax. There will be little or no money for social services.
The same article suggested that people, who would otherwise be quite willing to work, would have to rely on economic assistance because there WERE NO jobs left for humans. The author suggested that in exchange for receiving financial assistance, people who could not be retrained for the few jobs that robots could not do, would be encouraged or required to do what he calls “service jobs of love”, nuanced activities, like accompanying someone to the doctor.
So, before the predicted era of this mass unemployment, there was this group of people who were already performing service jobs of love, known as social services. I was a part of that.  Except my colleagues and I were doing it for pay. That was when there was money for it, albeit on the low end of the pay scale. I hope, that amidst the major changes caused by artificial intelligence, there will still be a place for those educated in the social services, and that there will be public monies to pay them.    

Monday, May 29, 2017

Buried Treasure

by William R.Morrow, D.Min.,LMFT . Email

I recently had to clear out some outdated files of people I saw years ago. Proper protocol suggests
putting them (the files, not the people!) through the shredding machine, to keep confidentiality intact, and
consign all those old stories to the black hole of the universe, where passé information is sent. Probably,
by now, most of those people have forgotten what they had fretted or complained about that long ago
anyway. To keep the finely shredded papers moving in the right direction, I decided to dump them in my
backyard compost pile. Red wiggler worms in the vermiculture love to digest these old stories, as a primitive form of  “reading”. Somehow, it seemed appropriate to recycle all those life stories back into the dust they had been created out of, and put the phosphorous-rich shreds to good gardening use. What had been secrets and sad tales now were on their way to a proper burial, where they could do some good eventually next to the roots of my heliconias.
My professional contact with those struggling folks was a brief time in their lives of relationships. I
think they were unknowingly on safari, searching for themselves. The way I see it, everybody in life is on a journey, seeking and searching to discover the lost continent of the real and pristine self. Christopher Columbus didn’t know what he was going to find, but he knew two things for sure, that he was searching, and that he was on a great journey of some kind. For all of us, self-acceptance of the rough edges of our souls is the goal of the journey.
But, meanwhile, along the way, relationships become a diversion. The search gets delayed, and
becomes tied up in the pursuit of finding someone out there who will affirm us, accept us. It’s like we
budding human beings need the O.K. stamp-of-approval to validate us. But it never quite happens,
because even the greatest human relationship of love can never hope to produce this salvation, this inner self-affirmation that is, when you come right down to it, more like a spiritual experience than some kind of relationship success. This is not a lecture against having relationships, but, hey, let’s get them in perspective.
In a way, having a marriage is only incidental to having a life. I am a bad tour guide if I only work to help with the success of the relationship itself. Since it takes two whole people to have a whole
relationship, I believe it is my job, as tour guide, also to point out a few things along the individual route they each are taking. And, to some of those relationship-desperate people, I would like to say, “Get a
As the guardian of all those buried tales of old endings and new beginnings, blending of families, and sad relationship failures, I have to think seriously about what has happened to the sojourners I have met in my office. How did the story turn out? I don’t often get to hear the ending. I was just one stopover on their road to somewhere. I’m honored that they consulted me along the way, in their searches for happier solutions to their conflicts, in their searches to find some meaning in their losses, or as they looked to understand and be understood by their partners.
I assume that each one was on that awesome journey. And that each one ended up in a better place than did my files on them.

This was revised from a chapter in my book, “The Rain Doesn’t Fall Straight Down”, which is free for download on my webpage,