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“This loss, this vaporizing of what I never considered might even be losable” -- took my breath away; the whole piece but most especially these words. Elissa you’re one of my most favourite writers & I think it’s because you write from such a tender ache ...one that is so familiar, to me, to all of us. 🤎

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May 4, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

I’m sorry for the difficulties you’ve experienced and related here so powerfully...and yet...you always make your own journey a spiritual experience for us readers. You create shifts in my thinking and emotions; I trust you (have faith in you) and respond viscerally to whatever you express. So I wish you well on your journey and send much gratitude for your generosity and honesty in bringing us along with you 🙏❤️

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May 4, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

I can imagine nothing more desolate.

You write about it so beautifully and

evocatively, Elissa, and I vibrate like a struck gong with your words. My dad had a stroke and it was shocking how much of his fire it was able to soak in a kind of neurological no-man’s-land. But it comes back. You will have the impulse to meditate or to experience your connection with the beneficent

force that preserved you in childhood

return. It’s not what you can force, but you are still you and that super-sensing is in abeyance till you are stronger for it. Thanks for your words.

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May 5, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

I can certainly relate to this. I will be 82 in July; Have suffered from depression for most of my life, as did my mother, who had five sisters and 3 brothers, for most of her life. I was in a locked Covid room in a hospital for two weeks when Covid hit. Have been seeing a psychiatrist for bipolar depression for many years, take 3 Divalproex pills at bedtime every night. I am a cancer survivor; Had right breast mastectomy and one year of chemotherapy,four years ago. My mother and two of her sisters had mastectomies. Have had Parkinson's Disease for twenty-three years. (My dad had Parkinson's). I am thankful for every day of my life.

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May 4, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

I can only say, my heart hurts to read of this loss. I hope that those abilities will return over time.

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Thank you for writing this piece. I don’t know if this story will provide you with any solace but, for what it’s worth, after ten years (ten years!) of being unable to sustain and complete any art work, which had been how I explored my spirituality, I finished a small painting today and I intend to start a new one tomorrow.

Nothing else was serving to relieve my psychological pain regarding a recent betrayal and so I tried doing the one thing I believed I could no longer do.

I hope your time in the spiritual desert will be much briefer than this.

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May 4, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

I relate. Dark night of the soul. Also acedia. All I know is it seems to end but we have no control over the timing. I only know this having come out the other side. Which gives me the experience of faith. It’s mysterious. I too have experienced stroke like symptoms and medical gaslighting. I had 18 months of spiritual bliss then extreme vertigo (hm was it a stroke?) triggered by body work and I’m still in the spiritual desert that followed. The entire world seems to be there with me.

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It is overwhelmingly shocking.

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Nature is fundamental to spiritual healing. Please find time to sit, walk, surround yourself in your natural homeland soon. Maine road trip!

You recently shared Wabi-Sabi: Nothing lasts forever. Nothing is ever finished. Nothing is perfect.

Your vulnerability is astonishing and inspires so many of us to examine our responses to your writing.

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This is beautiful Elissa and so fascinating.

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May 5, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

Yes. Nature. Observation of what’s around, what you sense and of your responses. No judgement. You express yourself so well, I’m sure you’ll find the joy.

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May 4, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

I understand this feeling. I have felt similarly in certain periods of my life - the first time was at 24 years old, after starting antipsychotics, and then again four years later, brought on during the pandemic.

I have, much like yourself, found solace in contemplation almost all of my life but also in creativity (specifically creative writing). I haven't been able to write more than a few hundred words in over three years, and each word takes much more effort than ever before. I feel so incredibly lost. Despite this, your post has given me some hope that searching for that spark again is not as futile as it feels.

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May 4, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

Elissa, I hear every one of your words. In winter I stared out from my bed at old chestnut tree branches for months and imagined a black crow in silhouette day after day . Then leaves grew and I no longer see it. But now, even as it is no longer visible, I know it's still there. I am still rejoicing in the sun that brings out these leaves.

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Feb 2·edited Feb 2Liked by Elissa Altman

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." - Zora Neale Hurston.

Thank you for your eloquence and honesty.

Whenever I feel lost and occasionally spiritually adrift, I find an appeal is in order--that rather than trying so desperately to hear that seeming reliable message, the one right there in the silence like a friend, the one that says: "you are not alone, you are taken care of", or my favorite "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy"--when I have seemingly lost access to these messages, or my ability to hear them--t is not meditation, but prayer that is in order. Which, for me, depending on the gravity of the situation, usually goes something like this: "HAAAAAAALP!'

If I am truly humble and sincere, and with all my heart, which is where my spirituality lives --I find that the simple act of asking is all it requires-- the life-river ebbs and flows--but the heart soon opens, the light and the warmth will return, like spring it always does. xo

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I truly love that Zora Neale Hurston quote- And what you write is so spot on. There have been many times where I *have* felt exactly that, as you say. This is different, though, and feels structural/neurological. I've been doing research on it, and apparently in 2021, a brain circuit in the periaqueductal gray -- located in the brainstem -- was identified as being linked to spiritual connection and "religiosity." (It was a Brigham and Women's study.) As it turns out, the location of the Covid stroke I had was the brainstem, in a part of it that was impossible to see. It's incredibly frustrating because the medical establishment (at least mine, at Yale) refused to believe it, and asked me instead if I was under the care of a psychiatrist, despite the presence of lesions seen clearly on several MRIs.

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Wow to this. Just wow.

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Maybe strokes happen to force us to rethink everything and let go of the past.

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I think that’s probably true--any serious physical trauma has that effect, I reckon. But this is just a little crazy: it doesn’t feel like anything--it’s just gone, somehow.

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Thank you for sharing this tender truth. I was just reading an article about a study on the "spirituality center" of the brain. I'm still processing my thoughts on it. On the one hand I think it is fascinating and may provide some clues to loss like yours (and healing from it.) On the other hand, I'm reluctant to cede all matters of Spirit over to science. I'd rather see them in a dance of sorts. Lots more thinking on this for me to come. Peace to you. Here's one write-up about the study. https://neurosciencenews.com/spirituality-brain-neurotheology-18845/

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This is absolutely fascinating--thank you so much for sharing it. I will read it today--and yes, I share your reluctance.

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May 5, 2023Liked by Elissa Altman

Your writing touches me in such a deep way. I thank you every time I read your work.I hope you soon find practices, new or old, that bring you comfort.

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