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May, 2001

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 4, Issue #9




- Eagles in a Storm
- A Story About Dealing with Suicide
- Call for Membership in the Association of Baha'i Mental Health
- Responses From the Readers About Infertility
- Humour As Therapy
- Desert Rose Baha'i Institute Holds Successful Health and Healing
- Suggested Reading
- Health Habits
- Question of the Month
- Website
- Purpose of Newsletter




Author Unknown

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us - and all of us will experience them - we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.

"I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 169)

Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them. The Bible says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles."( Isaiah 40:31)




(Name withheld)

I would like to share a personal story in hopes it may help local spiritual assemblies respond to persons in distress.

I am a survivor of repeated childhood abuse. As a result of this abuse and possibly a bio-chemical make-up, which may be genetic, or a result of the abuse, I have experienced a number of symptoms related to mental illness whether it has been as a result of anxiety, depression, phobias, dissociation, flashbacks and suicidal feelings over the years. On a few occasions when the suicidal feelings were overwhelming I wanted to go to the Local Spiritual Assembly (the local Baha'i governing body) but felt intimidated in doing so. I went to the Local Spiritual Assembly on one occasion and was only able to say that I was going through a difficult time. The assembly fortunately decided to have two members available for me to speak with. This was easier than talking to nine individuals. At a time of feeling overwhelmed and not very interested in living, it is nearly impossible to share with a large group of people and to even get the energy to go to a meeting. Having two people was easier, however, when I asked for some help finding Baha’i Writings on suicide I never received them. When within a couple of weeks I was hospitalized, after an overdose only one of the two came to visit me. This is an indication of an assembly not ready to respond. Eventually, a couple of years later, I received a six page compilation on suicide from the Universal House of Justice (Baha'i administrative body serving at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa, Israel) after writing for some guidance. It is a very good compilation.

The last time I felt suicidal, I was living in a different community where I didn’t feel my confidentiality would be respected as I had heard members of the Local Spiritual Assembly speak of others. I never told anyone on the assembly how I was feeling. I shared what was happening with another Baha’i friend. For me it is very important to have contact with Baha’is when I am feeling hopeless, full of despair and no longer have a desire to live. It is important because in the system at large it is unlikely I will find anyone:

- to say prayers with or for me,
- to help orient me back to my faith and a willingness to do God’s will,
- who has an understanding of tests and difficulties based on spiritual
- who is part of my spiritual family.

I think if most of the members knew how I felt they would want to be helpful. I think it is in part my reticence to share my vulnerabilities and Local Spiritual Assemblies not being ready to respond to great distress that is the difficulty. Here are a few suggestions on what may have helped in my situation:

- I think it would be wise for every Local Spiritual Assembly to have some writings on any area of difficulty they may face. I think not getting help finding the writings when I asked actually made things worse than if I had never asked.

- I think it is important for someone on the assembly to follow-up with a person if they have expressed having difficulties. If there is any reason at all to suspect that the person is suicidal, the assembly should ask and see that the person gets professional help if necessary. If the person is getting professional help and is suicidal let them know you are going to contact the professional and do perform this task.

- Never betray anyone’s confidence because it causes other people to not seek help even  if they need it.

- Be open about a number of difficulties since this lets people know you can be approached. Offering deepenings on a variety of difficult topics can best do this. Not only does this let people know the assembly is approachable, it prepares members of the assembly to deal with a wide range of issues should they arise. Ask the community members for topics they would like to deepen on. This may give a person an opportunity to get the information especially if they are reluctant to come forward with a personal issue.

In conclusion, I would like to tell anyone who feels suicidal, we may not know why God wants us here and we may not want to be here but if we hang on for another hour, fifteen minutes or a minute at a time, we undoubtedly will grow spiritually as we are tested and find ourselves victorious one more time. God wants us here for some reason or we wouldn’t be here and He is assisting us whether we know it or not.


"When a Baha'i finds it essential to seek the help of others, and after his own efforts and those of his family and close friends have proved inadequate, he may certainly turn to his Local Spiritual Assembly, which will consult on his problem, extend a helping hand to him,...and even more importantly, will counsel and advise him on what opportunities are open to him, and what steps he might take to seek a solution to his problem. If the Local Assembly feels that the help or guidance of the National Assembly should be sought, it will no doubt refer the matter to the National Assembly." (From letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 1, 1980, Lights of Guidance, p. 123)




By Mary K. Radpour, for the Board of Directors, Association of Baha'i Mental Health Professionals, U.S.

An exciting new organization has been born, and it needs your support and participation. In August 2000, the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States approved the incorporation of the newly formed Association of Baha'i Mental Health Professionals. Membership in the Association is not limited to psychotherapists but all those who have an interest in mental health and its treatment. It welcomes educators, psychologists, nurses, physicians, counsellors, administrators of programs for the developmentally disabled and chronically mentally ill, substance abuse counsellors, vocational counsellors, volunteers in service to the mentally ill, those serving the criminal justice system, researchers, and theoreticians and anyone who has an interest in a fuller understanding of the application of the Baha'i teachings to matters of mental health.

We do hope you will consider applying for membership. Among the advantages of membership: receiving the ABMHP newsletter, participating in an ABMPH listserve, reduced registration fees at the annual ABMHP conference, and receiving ABMHP publications. Student memberships are available as well. The best way to join the Association and to get other information about its activities is to visit the ABMHP website at If you have trouble accessing the website or have further questions, feel free to contact the secretary, Adrienne Stengel, at, or by phone at 765-497-8223.




(See article from a couple requesting information/support about infertility, April 2001, Volume 4, Issue #8)

My wife and I pioneered to Africa with our two children in 1977. Over the years we have adopted thirteen more children. At present we have children in different schools in Lusaka, Zambia, Tucson, Arizona, Kelowna, B.C., in addition to the five in school here in Chad. The others are all in British Columbia. We have also helped several American couples adopt children while they were serving here at the American Embassy.

So while I sympathize with the couple who can't conceive, there are options. There will be 30 million AIDs orphans in Africa in the next decade. We have seven of them in our home. They are all healthy children, eager to learn and share in the dream of a better life. So it might be worth doing some soul-searching and meditating on giving an opportunity to a child with no parents. One of the hardest things of living in Africa after being raised in North America is to see how many children with so much capacity live a life without hope of the basic necessities, including an education. There are thousands of children who live in the streets, searching garbage piles each morning, hoping to find a scrap to eat, with no chance to go to school and earn a living. Having been given the opportunity to provide an education to a few of these children, we have learned that there is no real difference between these children, and those born in North America. Only the lack of opportunity holds them back. Sorry to carry on here, but I tend to get a bit too passionate on this subject.

I know of a couple here who also had the same problems with infertility, and after several childless years, we found them a lovely baby boy to adopt. Within a few months, the couple conceived a baby girl. That is often the result when part of the problem is psychological. I would be happy to give advice on this matter to anyone who is considering this option.
- Lynn and Nigel Whitehouse, Chad, Africa, email:


I just wanted you to know how very sorry I am that you and your husband have tried for so long without getting children. I know a few other Baha'is who have struggled with infertility and are now resolved. All adopted (and are very happy about doing so) or did infertility treatments like IVF and Gift successfully.

It took us years to get our son. I have been pregnant eight times and done several IVFs etc. This struggle was the worst, most painful experience in my life, and I don't really understand why we had to go through it. I still cry often, especially when praying, remembering the grief and pain of those days. One positive outcome (besides our son of course) is that we are much more compassionate, feeling people now, less judgmental of other frustrated people. I hope one day to feel at peace about this time in my life. I think healing the heartbreak is a long-term project. I hope things work out for you and your husband, that you are empowered to make the right decisions for you.
- Carey Gakio, Massachusetts, U.S.A


My homeopathic physician in Germany highly recommended a natural method of birth control which my husband and I have successfully used for the past 4 years and which I have used to help seven friends who were trying to get pregnant very quickly. One had been trying for years without success. Basically the reason the natural rhythm method (in which one avoids unprotected relations during the middle of the month) does not work is because a woman can spontaneously ovulate each month at the time when the moon is in the same position as it was at the time you were born. Sound strange? Well think about it. The average woman has a 28 day cycle - a lunar cycle! It's the latest craze in Germany, especially in the Catholic church which is a great supporter of it. A team of gynecologists have researched the whole thing and found it to be the only 100 % effective method of birth control. And for couples trying to become pregnant, it's a God-send!

The book in which all the charts are in etc is in German, so one would have to get a German friend to help decipher it for you, however for the lady that wrote in the Volume 4, issue 8 newsletter about trying for 7 years, I would be happy to tell her the dates when her moon is shining down on her extra hopefully for getting pregnant if she would send me the date, time, and place of her birth.

The book in German is called "Kosmobiologische Empfangnisplanung" by Shalila Saramon and Bodo Baginski. The ISBN number is 3-89385-025-2.
- Bita Zerbes, Romania


I have had to face (and conquer somewhat) the entire issue of infertility. When, at the age of 29, I married, we wisely decided to wait a year or so to have children. Well, a year after we married, we decided that we should try and get pregnant.........when nothing "happened" in six months, we consulted a doctor at our pioneering post. He immediately diagnosed Poly-Cystic Ovarian Disease (Stein-Levanthal Syndrome). I was placed on fertility drugs which went on for months. Later, we checked into fertility treatments and found that they were so expensive that we thought we couldn't afford them. So the years drifted by with no pregnancy in sight.........

I had begun graduate school and met a man who had a huge number of adopted children. I asked him about the process and he encouraged us to apply right away. Eventually we did and, following the home study process and the many legal necessities, we adopted an infant son from India. What a joy! Although he was tiny (very premature) and sickly the first few months, he thrived overall. He has brought much joy into our lives (and the usual trials and tribulations that go with parenting, too!).

When our son was about 2 1/2, we decided that our marriage had slowly died off. We chose to separate and eventually divorce. While it was awful and painful, we were able to consult about it and finally formed an excellent working relationship to parent our son.

From the age of 36 to 41, I was a single, working mother. I then met a wonderful Baha'i man and we decided to marry. We hoped we could have a biological child. So, we tried to get pregnant for six months. And, with advancing age, we raced right off to a fertility specialist (we managed to "afford" it).

We tried lots of stuff--I began to feel like I was living in the stirrups. We even got fertility drugs from Europe.....and, we were working with the knowledge that both of us contributed to the problem......finally, the doctor had a "heart-to-heart" with us. My age was in the way......we could consider in-vitro fertilization with a donor egg.

Now, far be it for me to say that at 43, I didn't want another baby......but, the reality was that I wasn't thrilled about the whole experience of being pregnant . If I got that way with my own egg and my husband's sperm, fine, but to go with something so chancy and so expensive, I stomped my foot and said "no more."

So, again grieving for the loss of my "own" babies, we looked at adoption again. So, we went to an agency, one that I'd worked for. We completed the home study--with the same social worker my first husband and I had for the first adoption. And, in September of '99, a 3 1/2 year old child came into our lives.

We were the 10th place this child had lived in his short life. In addition to his many moves, he had been born addicted and had to be detoxed from the heroin, methadone, cocaine, etc. he'd been bathed in. The first three months were the hardest of anything I've ever done. I've worked in social services for many years and have had a lot of hard jobs. Nothing begins to compare with the first three months. It was almost a solid tantrum, with only brief breaks when he was tearing through a closet or bedroom, on a seek-and-destroy mission.

About three months after he came, he and I shared a week in bed together with the hard, horrible flu. During that week, we seemed to bond a little. And, about that same time, we had a consultation with a psychologist who guessed his emotional age at about 9 months.

Shortly after that week, he began crawling up under my nightgown, pretending he was in "mama's tummy." Daddy and I would rub my "tummy" and talk about how happy we were going to be when our baby was born, wondering if it was a boy or girl, especially picking his name as the one we'd give our baby if it was a boy. (At first, he attempted to birth rather vigorously up through the neck of my nightie!) We'd just be so overjoyed when our baby was born! We'd wrap him in a blanket (like a burrito) and rock and love him.

About the same time as we started the rocking and rebirthing, his social worker let us read his entire file. There was an incident recorded about him at age 9 months. At that time, the biological mother had gone out and left him in care of the 9 and 6 years old brothers. The 6 year old and his friend had packed the baby's nose with gum. A neighbor heard the frantic baby and managed to climb in a window to get him. She got the gum out, just about the time the police arrived. The mother arrived shortly thereafter and the police left. The three boys had been placed into foster care when he was 10 months old.

So, we had a major traumatic incident at 9 months. He was "stuck" at 9 months. And, he picked his nose until it gushed. Could there be a connection? Very soon, I said, very casually, to him as he was picking his nose, that I'd read that he had some bigger kids do something to him when he was a baby, that he couldn't remember. I then told him something like, "those silly gooses put gum in your nose and you couldn't breathe," and that was why he was picking it now. I reassured him that no one would ever do that to him again, that he was in a safe place now........the picking immediately dropped to almost zero. And, if he did it, he stopped very quickly--when it began to hurt.

Progress on becoming a family has been slow but sure. We've been blessed with a therapist who has done wonderful work with him (play therapy). We've also been blessed with having supportive social workers and a great adoption support program. We have what we need to care for him, forever. Seeing how far this child has come and how much we love him, could I ever say we shouldn't have gone through all this? No. The pain and agony that we've had in bringing this child into our lives has only seared away the pain of infertility.

My husband and I received a Pilgrimage Invitation. We debated about how we could possibly go to Pilgrimage and leave him. We couldn't. We chose to take him with us. Yes, we missed out on some of the evening events. But, compared to being with this child as he laid his head on the Threshold of the Shrine of Baha'u'llah, did we miss much?
- Lenore Lawrence, Pacific, Washington


"He that bringeth up his son or son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My Glory, My Loving Kindness, My Mercy, that have compassed the world." (Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 16: taken from Lights of Guidance, p. 141, Helen Hornby)




By Judy Cools, Michigan, U.S.A

". true happiness and joy and humour that are part of a balanced life. are characteristics that enrich life and add to its radiance." (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer May 8, 1979)

I don't remember my first introduction to Humour-as-Therapy but I clearly remember the day it changed my life. My husband and son had been together in a terrible motorcycle accident. With my husband two hours away in a rural hospital, I found myself in the Intensive Care unit of the larger hospital where our son had been air-lifted.

People spoke in hushed tones on dimly lit corridors. Even the machines that kept him alive seemed to be whispering. The dear friends who took me to the hospital were clearly following my lead for where to go, what to ask, and what life-threatening decision had to be met.

One of the procedures the doctors used to protect our son's brain was to install an inter-cranial pressure monitor. It's a probe placed on the brain, which sets off an alert if pressure starts to build. It looked a lot like the pop-up timer one sees in a frozen turkey breast -- and amid the dark hallways and the softly humming equipment, I said so.

My friends and I collapsed into hysterical laughter. The absurdity took away much of the surreal atmosphere of the true life-and-death situation we faced.

Part of "self-care" in times of severe stress is the ability to laugh. The physical components of laughter include a change in breathing pattern, a release of tensed muscles, and the introduction of the body's own hormones and pain-killers. Psychologically, laughter brings a fresh perspective to an often terrifying situation. It gives a person the chance to re-group, to let go of pent up emotions and regain balance for the important issues yet to come.

My husband and my son seemed to know this instinctively. Even though both had had multiple, serious injuries, they insisted I take them to play mini-golf the same weekend they were both home from the hospital! Both were weak and wobbly from medication, but completely impatient about getting up from their sickbeds. I don't know why they wanted to play mini-golf, but they figured they were evenly matched because each had a broken arm and bruises everywhere else.

We were quite a sight at the mini-golf course -- two unsteady, busted-up guys in casts and workout clothes and a very tired female companion who couldn't do much but fuss over them and take photos of this insanity.

In the years that followed, our family faced many hardships from surgeries to financial strain and several year-long recoveries for both father and son. Life is different today as we still learn to deal with the dynamics resulting from that day. We always try to be on good terms when any of us part company just in case something traumatic happens. We often whisper, "God bless you and protect you" when we pass someone on a motorcycle. And we never say, "Let's hit the road" when we're going somewhere!

While some people see laughter as irreverent or inappropriate in serious circumstances, I have found it can be a vital means to remain centered, to break an overcoming tension, and to continue on.




By Susan Clair, New Mexico, United States

Under a clear, blue Arizona sky, the Desert Rose Baha'i Institute opened its doors to about sixty participants for the Second Annual Baha'i Health and Healing Conference, February 9-11/01. People traveled from Georgia, Minnesota, New Mexico, and various locations around Arizona to attend this conference.

The first event of the conference was an enlightening presentation by Dr. Bill Saunders, Smyrna, Georgia. Dr. Saunders, a retired physician now providing health-care guidance via the Internet, spoke on “Perfect Health” and explained the use of simple foods, healing waters, and fasting to attain perfect health.

The Saturday program began with prayers followed by music from singer-songwriter John Cook, who lives in St. David, Arizona. The first presentation of the day, “Improving Spiritual Digestion,” was co-delivered by Drs. Judy Petersen and Jack Daugherty, both naturopathic physicians, who jointly operate the Santa Fe Avenue Natural Health Clinic in Grants, New Mexico. They compared spiritual health to a healthy food-digestion process, emphasizing that spiritual health depends upon our ability to “digest” spiritual information. They stressed the negative effects of fear, which they termed the “biggest veil” in our lives. They explained that healing is a process and health is a lifestyle. In conclusion, they spoke about contentment, that which “bubbles up on the inside, a condition of the soul.”

Katia LeMone-Mooney spoke about “The Spiritual Focus of Education,” drawing from her experiences as a mother, Baha'i pioneer in Tanzania, midwife, and seminar leader for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She emphasized the importance of being aligned with the principles of the Baha'i Faith to best perform our work in our chosen careers.

After a delicious lunch and “health walk” on institute grounds, conference attendees participated in an afternoon workshop of their choice. Offered workshops included “A Spiritual Paradigm for Health and Healing: An Application of the Baha'i Teachings on Spiritual Reality,” by Dr. Arvind Auluck-Wilson, a physicist and homeopathic consultant originally from India and now living in Stillwater, Minnesota; “Eclectic Medicine - from Homeopathy to Allopathy,” by Dr. Randall Robinson, a naturopathic physician and former Peace Corps worker from Mesa, Arizona; “Healing Touch,” by certified healing touch practitioner Kate Toussaint, R.N., from Yuma, Arizona; and “T’ai Chi Chih,” by Korean-born Suni McHenry, from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Robert Waters, Ph.D., presented the topic “How to Obtain Scientific Evidence.” A geneticist who, during the 1970s, worked on DNA hybridization techniques with Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, now teaches at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix. As part of his presentation, Dr. Waters explained various methods of obtaining data and using it as scientific evidence as well as describing his interest and participation in agricultural programs being developed by the Lakota Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.

Barbara Nakai, M.P.H and family nurse practitioner from Rio Ranch, New Mexico, led all the presenters in a midafternoon focus group designed to explore the implications of Baha’u’llah’s Tablet to a Physician.

Following another delicious dinner prepared by institute staff, John Cook talked briefly about the spiritual effect of music and played the guitar, accompanied by his long-time friend, Chester Kahn, who kept the beat on a Chippewa drum. Chester Kahn 's presentation, “Native American Healing,” provided an introduction to Navajo healing traditions. He talked about medicine men, sand paintings, traditional diagnostic practices, and healing ceremonies.

Sunday morning held a consultation session led by Lee Panak III on “Visualizing the Ideal Health and Healing Conference,” to explore ways to make the Third Annual Health and Healing Conference even better than the second. Dr. Kenneth Proefrock, a naturopathic physician from Surprise, Arizona gave a talk entitled “I’m a Little Teapot: Caring for the Vessel that Houses Your Spirit,” derived its title from the nursery rhyme that he sings to his children. He explained that as human spiritual beings, we have the opportunity to “proactively evolve,” and “to maintain abundance in our lives, it is essential to stay as close as possible to the Divine.”

Before leaving the conference, about fifteen participants gathered in the consultation room of the institute’s main building, to consult on preliminary plans for next year’s health and healing conference. They were so excited about this year’s conference that they were eager to get a “jump start” on next year’s conference.

Everyone left feeling that they were part of an exciting and ongoing exploration of healing issues and processes, with Baha’i teachings as their primary guidance. Dr. Rishel, conference coordinator, summed up her feelings “I felt something had been born, a new level of commitment and collaboration, something of which the significance will be known in the future.”





By Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual and Religious Care

The organization which compiled this helpful manual is an advocate for spiritual care and religious rights, working in support of hospital chaplains and other care-givers within institutions. The foreword is written by the Baha'i representative on this multifaith council, emphasizing the unity of the religions featured, and showing how this is a celebration of the diversity of the human spiritual experience, as well as a practical guide to the needs of members of different religions. Although originally written for a Canadian readership, the principles and practices outlined here are universal, and will be of interest and assistance to anyone working or studying in the caring professions, such as nursing and teaching. Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual and Religious Care, Canada, ISBN 1-896377-00-9, email:, telephone (416) 422-1490 or 1-888-837-0923, website:



by Normal Cousins, W.W. Norton and Company, 1979

Rene Bubos shares in the introduction of the book "The basic theme of this book is that every person must accept a certain measure of responsibility for his or her own recovery from disease or disability. This notion of patient responsibility is not new, of course, but the general philosophy behind the notion has seldom been stated better than in this book. Though the author is a layman, his ideas have achieved wide acceptance by the medical profession. His perceptions about the nature of stress and about the ability of the human mind to mobilize the body's capacity to combat illness are in accord with important findings at leading medical research centres....."




Here are some essential elements for our spiritual and physical health provided by a physician who has practiced for more than 35 years under the guidance of the Baha'i teachings.

Trust in God
Consult a skilled physician and follow his instructions
Practice detachment from all save God
Practice moderation
Pray and meditate daily; read the Creative Word morning and evening
Be always happy
Practice patience
Eat simple, wholesome foods
Drink adequate pure water
Evaluate progress daily, summarize weekly




What are some ways to protect, nurture and revivify our families? How can therapists assist families to learn healthy relationships and behaviours?




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"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.  Please send your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to Frances Mezei by e-mail: -- .


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