Who are we CARE people and how did we come to be?
Project CARE is a growing community of people who share a common emotional and spiritual sensitivity. We are people who, when stress hit us, weren't able to “get by” or “fit in” or keep a smile on our faces. We’re sensitive souls who, when trauma struck, were probably the first ones to break out in symptoms like anxiety, depression, anger, compulsions and the like. After exhausting the “conventional” ways of “treating” emotions, we came to the horrible conclusion that nothing worked for us, or not for very long - except one thing – feeling G-d’s Power and Love in our lives in a very real and personal way.
I, Zev Ballen, am my own longest running behavioral science experiment. It’s been a 40-year ongoing experiment on myself. I’ve tried more types of therapy, and other remedies than I care to remember. It wasn't until about 12 years ago, that I started finding methods of healing that actually quieted my mind, grounded me and got me in touch with who I am and what I could do with my life - it was all spiritual.
I started doing a crazy amount of reading and experimenting on myself and kept track of which practices helped me the most; then I shared those practices that were helping me with my clients. It was then that I saw even my most challenged clients begin to progress in the most miraculous ways - changes that I didn't think were possible. I estimate that in 40 years of psychotherapy practice I’ve seen about 50,000 people – not a small sample! Anyway, the result of all of this became what I call CARE which stands for: Compassion, Acceptance, Responsibility and Enlightenment. Four words that stand for much more than I have space to explain here, but four words that represent the very best of my 40-year search for happiness.
So, what is CARE and how has the CARE program, specifically, made a difference for us?
The CARE program is simply my collection of the best ways of helping people feel happy that I’ve been able to find. CARE works mainly by helping us to know what we value most in life and then shows us how to live in alignment with those values and with G-d.
CARE is not so much about “treating” our “problems” as it is about making room for G-d to free us from the “bondage of self” and help us to jump back into the flow of life! As the Talmud says, “A person is always biased toward himself” – in other words, our own stubborn attempts to control that which is not humanly controllable. We refer to the part of our mind that believes it has godlike powers, and believes it can do the impossible as the EGO (some call it Erasing G-d Out). The poet, Shelly, called it the dark idolatry of self. Whatever terminology we use, the goal is the same: to give up the tyrannical EGO’s “shoulds” and “musts” and return to our true G-d directed selves. The real self is our self-in-relation-to-the-Creator, in other words, our God-directed self. This spiritual part of us doesn’t need to be taught how to follow G-d’s will any more than an acorn needs to be taught how to grow into an oak tree – it just happens - once the obstacles are removed.
King Solomon the wisest man to ever walk the earth said: “There is nothing new under the sun” – in other words, now that G-d has created everything, the best we mortals can do is to make the smartest combinations of things that already exist. Maimonides, the preeminent medieval legal scholar, physician and astronomer said: “Take the truth from wherever you can find it”.
So too CARE handouts, practices, experiential exercises, meditations and core skills come from a diverse number of sources: Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the Sages of the Mishna and Talmud, the classical commentators on the Torah, The twelve steps, the work of Karen Horney, M.D., Behavioral Psychology, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy; psychological research on Compassion and Self-Compassion; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy; what I’ve learned from my 50,000 clients and students, and my childhood talks with my mother on the front stoop.
CARE is not a religious program but it's highly spiritual. Because I'm Jewish and my spiritual heritage is what is most familiar to me, I have drawn heavily from Jewish source material, but I have tried my best to only reference universal ideas that will be familiar to people of other monotheistic faiths.
Our central belief is that there is One universal Creator, who we call G-d, who is the Primary cause of everything and Who maintains and orchestrates His Creation according to fundamental spiritual principles. By learning more about how G-d “operates”, and by sacrificing our EGO we are finding that we’re able to channel more of G-d’s Power and Love into our lives than ever before.
What Happens when the Egocentric Self Takes Over?
· The G-D -Directed self is replaced by a false imaginary self. The False self has no connection to the Creator, it does not want the Creator’s direction it wants to direct itself.
· The fake imaginary self, works mainly through pride and commands the person to follow the dictates of his or her own will; but the false imaginary self can never be a substitute for the real self’s joy in living in spontaneous harmony with G-d.
· The real self remains buried and stays vulnerable in many ways.
· The person becomes very uncomfortable with existence itself.
· Without the real G-d-directed self the person is unable to feel safe for very long.
· Safety becomes the basic need because he or she is disconnected from their real inner most feelings. (real = truth = G-d)
· Once a persons’ G-d connection is severed, they can no longer feel whole or complete.
· He or she lives in ignorance as to what they feel, want, and think. They become confused and no longer know what they stand for or who they are. All this must be sacrificed in order to feel safe.
· One’s natural humility is repressed and humility is replaced with arrogance (denying G-d)
· One of G-d’s names, in the holy language of Hebrew is Ekyah, meaning “I will be”. When we return to G-d (Ekyah) we come back into a state of being once again. Before we return to G-d we are actually in a state of non-being, at least in a spiritual sense.
· In terms of the “devil’s pact”, the abandoning of one’s real self corresponds to the selling of one’s soul.
The effect of these bullying commands will never be able to build better a person or raise his self-confidence. Just the opposite happens - when people can’t live up to their impossible “shoulds”, though they are "godlike" in their imagination, their real “earthly” self-confidence takes a nose dive. They are still easily hurt, and need constant confirmation of their worth. There is no greater cost to a human being than alienation from his real G-d-directed self.
Here’s a sample, adapted from the work of Karen Horney, M.D., of what the EGO can sound like: Notice how the "godlike" EGO speaks to the person in absolute demanding words like: “Always”, “Never”, “Must”, “Should”, “Most”, “Best”, “Nothing”, “Everything”. To complicate matters, the EGO frequently delivers its harsh criticism to us in a way that we are barely aware of:
· “Forget about the disgraceful creature that you are; this is how you should be”
· “You should be able stand everything and everybody.”
· “You must be all knowing and understanding”
· “You should always be busy and always be productive
· “You should be the most honest, generous and unselfish person”
· “You should be the perfect lover, husband, teacher”
· Or, “You should never need anybody; never get attached to anything or anybody”
· “Never let anybody hurt your feelings”
· “Nothing should matter to you; you should never feel hurt,
· “You must stay calm and unruffled”
· “You should always be happy and enjoy life”
· “You should be above pleasure and enjoyment”
· “You must always be spontaneous” (I love this one!)
· “ You must never show your feelings”
· “You must always understand, and foresee everything”
· “You should be able to solve every problem that comes up in no time”
· “Never get tired”
· “You should never get sick”
· “You have to always be able to find a job”
· “You should be able to do things quicker than other people can”
· All these self-critical demands tend to overlap and reinforce each other!
The real G-d-directed self or soul, is the vital central force for growth that is common to all human beings, and yet is unique in each person.
The Functions of the G-d-directed self are:
· Enables us to know the depth of our feelings, thoughts, wishes and interests.
· Allows us to tap into our G-d given talents and resources.
· Allows us to know our actual strengths, intelligence, values and goals in life.
· Enables us to use our special capacities and gifts to serve others and to serve G-d.
· Is the source of our ability to express ourselves and relate to others with spontaneous feelings (“being” instead of “appearing” to be).
· To regain the lost oneness and wholeness with ourselves, with others and with the Creator.
· Repairs the deep sense of deficiency, inadequacy and shame that resulted from our severance from the Creator.
· Allows us to live spontaneously in the moment and enjoy all of the blessings that we have.
· Allow us to be happy with what we have.
· Reduces our need for material things.
· Removes fears, doubts, obsessive thinking, and self-consciousness.
· Increases self-compassion and self-love which is what softens and quiets the EGO’s harsh inner dictates and harsh criticisms of the person.
How you can join us!
Project CARE will begin to offer a full range of services in November of 2019. These will include online and onsite CARE seminars. Private appointments with certified CARE providers will also be available. Until then, I’ll be spending the rest of the summer training our staff and making sure that everything will be up, running and ready to go!
All of our CARE facilitators are being trained by myself. They come from diverse backgrounds. We have therapists, educators, coaches, Rabbis and just regular folks who really know the material and practice it daily in their lives.
Once you take a seminar with us you will have lifetime access to our online community discussion group, which is expanding daily. This forum is a great way to share ideas, get support, get updates, network and consolidate your learnings. Once you take a seminar, you’ll also have the opportunity to partner up with us and become a CARE facilitator or Trainer yourself should you wish to.
But don’t wait, you can start learning right now by subscribing to our website and getting automatic updates on new articles, videos, seminars and my free meditations! You can also write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback that you may have.
I hope you learn a lot today!
Speak again soon,