Years ago, before I discovered Reverse Therapy, I wrote a spoof on psychotherapy called The Rasputin Guide to Therapy. The joke was that Rasputin – the so-called ‘Mad Monk’ of legend – might have had something more useful to say about getting people well than po-faced psychologists. In particular I was critical of the tendency of most forms of therapy to focus on Headmind, with complicated theories about why people get broken – not how they can be helped to get well. Specifically, how they can be guided towards connecting to Bodymind and accessing emotions. And then doing something about them.
Although I never published it there were some good things in it. In one chapter ‘Rasputin’ talks about the way people get trapped in convention and can become ill if they lose track of their passion. In another he discusses how so-called ‘intelligent’ people can actually become stupid if they get trapped in the intellect. In still another he advocates teaching people how to dance when they get stuck. In general Rasputin advocates that we will be healthier when we take time out to appreciate the simple things of life: friendship, love, nature, travel. In real life Rasputin once walked 2000 miles from Siberia to Jerusalem, along the way feeling inspired by the sea, the mountains, the lakes and the changing seasons on the way.
Here are a few of ‘Rasputin’s’ tips for a healthy life.
• Never give away your power to another person. This applies to partners, employers, children, parents, teachers and – most especially – gurus who claim to have better answers than you do to life’s problems. As human beings they will be struggling with their own problems and will not know more than you do about your own best way forward in life.
• Trust in yourself. Learn to recognise what is true for you and be guided by your own emotions about things.
• Learn to dance, sing or play music. At the very least you will get an endorphin rush.
• Whatever you do for a living, or if you care for others, then do it with a passion. If doing things is an obligation rather than a pleasure then be sure to balance these chores with other activities for which you do have a passion.
• Never look back. If things go wrong, or if you are sad and disillusioned, then move on and find a better way of life.
• Take risks – often. You will never find out what you are capable of unless you experiment. And the more you move outside the comfort zone Headmind has circumscribed for you the more confident you will become.
• Seek the humour in things. If you are not very good at doing that then spend plenty of time with people who are.
• Make time for people you love.
• Be honest. Don’t compromise on the truth just to keep someone else in their comfort zone. Practice gently opening your heart to others.
• Cultivate enlightened selfishness. If you don’t take a break or go easy on yourself from time to time you won’t be able to care for others. Even Christ and the Buddha needed time off from their mission.
Finally, here are some of Rasputin’s mistakes to avoid:
• Don’t drink too much
• Don’t give away all you have
• Don’t trust strangers who invite you to their house at midnight (they might want to shoot you)
• Don’t get mixed up with the Royal family