Stacey Chillemi: Hi, Dr. Ruth Cherry! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself and your book?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: I am a clinical psychologist in a private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. I’ve practiced individual psychotherapy as a clinical psychologist for forty years. My specialty is the merging of psychological and spiritual dynamics, which is using the power of the unconscious to heal and to transform the mind, body, and soul. Besides writing about meditation, I lead meditation groups daily.
I love the magic and the mystery of our inner worlds. We each have great depth because we have wisdom beyond our intellect’s, which is available to us every second. We need to practice stillness, to look inside, and to pay attention. Life always cooperates with us when we pay attention and life offer us the precisely perfect guidance for our next step.
I have written five books but I never decided to write a book. They just come. I feel the pull to sit at the computer and I listen and I receive. I don’t feel like I am responsible for the creation; I’m more passive than that. I’m just the first person to read the work as it appears on the computer screen. It’s fun and creative and magic and totally unpredictable. I write one word at a time. I don’t know where the story is going or what is going to happen. I find out as I receive. It’s as though the book has already been written. And when it ends, I’m surprised. So, you can appreciate that I read the title as I received the words of the book; I didn’t imagine the title but I love it.
Stacey Chillemi: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: The message in the book (as I read it) is to open your heart and surrender to life. Our experience presents us with exactly the opportunities we need to heal and to grow. We can trust life. Life knows us better than we know ourselves and life know what we need to experience in order to heal. Healing is moving more fully into our highest and best self.
Stacey Chillemi: What’s the most important point you’re trying to make in your book?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: As we live and grow we feel hurt sometimes, maybe horribly. How do we respond to those experiences? Our intellect tells us to avoid feeling our feelings and to live in our heads. If we do that, we diminish ourselves. If we deem any parts of ourselves unacceptable, we erect defenses against integrating those parts. Thus, we reduce our aliveness.
As we limit our experience of feeling our feelings, we close down on our inner world. But we also give life a message — “I’m not available.” What we say to ourselves inside — “I don’t want to own some parts of me (hurt, awkwardness, shame, anger, fear)” — we say to life — “I’m not participating.” How open we are to life reflects how open we are to experiencing our inner world dynamics.
We resist life when we only think and evaluate and plan — when we live in our heads. Surrender involves acknowledging the wisdom greater than our mind’s and trusting it. We accept every second and we experience what it is to be us every second. We don’t say, “No, I don’t want to feel that.” We say “Yes, being me this second is very uncomfortable but that’s who I am so yes, this second I’m uncomfortable.” And we stay present to our experience and we breathe and we allow. When we experience our feelings, they pass. When we resist them, they stay frozen in us and we continue to resist life.
Life pulls us to healing and to wholeness when we stay present and pay attention. We do our part by showing up and staying open to our experience.
When we experience what it is to be us, life supports us. When we don’t erect barriers inside ourselves, life works in partnership with us. We learn to trust that whatever experience we go through because in the long-run it will benefit us. Never criticize others. Say, “Thank you.” Sometimes in conversation, we add, “I’m scared to death but I know there is a gift here for me so I will stay open.” This is Spiritual Warrior work, our most noble experience of being human.
Stacey Chillemi: Describe how accepting unconditional love can impact people’s lives?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: One of my nonfiction books is Accepting Unconditional Love. Again, this is a book I “received.” It is oriented to readers who want to know their inner world dynamics precisely. Unconditional love describes a level of consciousness. At our deepest core, our essence, we are unconditional love. We think that unconditional love is something we receive from another, but the truth is that we are that love. We have all the unconditional love we want already existing in us right now. Most folks won’t move that deeply inside themselves, however.
To move to the level of unconditional love we first notice our feelings and thoughts in the second and the beliefs behind our feelings and thoughts. Then we allow ourselves to feel all of our feelings entirely without judging ourselves or limiting ourselves. That step scares those of us who want to avoid vulnerability. Integrating our vulnerability is the essential first step in cooperating with life. When we avoid looking in our shadowy recesses we cut ourselves off from our own power and from the transformative power of life which always pulls us to healing and wholeness if we allow.
Unconditional love is our experience when we move to our deepest core. It’s not interpersonal; it’s entirely intrapsychic. We can experience unconditional love when we know we are worthy, when we practice presence, and when we allow. Anyone can do this anytime alone. Moving this deeply inside ourselves heals us and invites miracles. We integrate our vulnerability and we practice surrender. One aspect of surrender is recognizing that what we want is unrealistic and we affirm that want. This opens us to the partnership because we know that it is only through our partner’s guidance that we will receive our heart’s desire. We let life show us the way. When we allow life to guide us in our healing and we practice surrender and availability, we experience unconditional love.
Stacey Chillemi: Who do you confide with for support or should you try to handle the problem on your own and why is life so difficult?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: We have all the wisdom and all the resources we need inside us. Talking with a therapist orients us to that wisdom. We are empowered when we practice presence, staying open to our experience and watching the process inside us move. In order to learn this process, we move out of our heads and into our hearts. Having a dispassionate companion supports us if we fear the intensity of our inner world. As we become familiar with our own healing process, we learn to stay in our Observer and allow.
Life becomes an unfolding experience, not a problem when we live from our hearts. Our experience is meaningful in the second. We appreciate that we are always being guided. We are humble students.
When we don’t assume a humble attitude but instead try to control our experience both inside and outside, life looks like a series of obstacles and we become battering rams. If life isn’t “working,” we can always look inside to notice how we are creating our disjointed experience. Consciousness is the basis for our experience. We practice a healing consciousness when we meditate and do journal writing. Then life becomes an adventure. If life feels difficult, it’s because we block ourselves. In some way, we haven’t experienced feelings from the past. Life will present circumstances so that we can feel those old feelings. Then we can move on freely.
Stacey Chillemi: In your book, you talk about prayer, what advice do you have for people going through tough times?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: We don’t pray to an entity separate from us. We move to the deepest place in us. This place is where we are already healed and we rest there. We recognize that a power greater than our minds anchors us in our deepest center and we visit that place daily. We need to know that we participate in a larger reality, that we are spiritual beings. Sometimes that is our only hope.
Stacey Chillemi: How can people heal from a painful event in their life?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: I have been diagnosed with MS. The medical personnel has treated me respectfully and kindly but no one has given me hope for healing. On my own, through my journal writing and my meditating and practicing partnership with life, I have noticed a terrific improvement. My walking is even and stronger and the fatigue has greatly diminished. It’s a matter of acknowledging a level of reality our intellects deny. Prayer moves us into that consciousness. And consciousness is the basis for health.
Stacey Chillemi: What methods or techniques do you find most helpful for people trying to cope with the daily stresses of life?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: This is the focus of my book, Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment. I offer seven months of my journal writing as I come to terms with receiving an unwanted diagnosis. I was desperate and I accepted my vulnerability. Readers who feel severely challenged will appreciate this depth. After the journal writing, I offer readers instruction about meditating from an experiential viewpoint, not a conceptual one. Dozens of articles about psychology and spirituality offer the reader an intellectual context for her experience.
Stacey Chillemi: Do you have any advice for people who find it difficult to let down the walls around them and let unconditional love into their life?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: Reality is more than the physical and the observable. We know non-physical reality when we meditate and experience. Only through our personal experience of stillness and focus can we know this level of reality. It’s personally meaningful for each of us. Prayer is immersing ourselves in that level of reality. When physical details prove overwhelming, we find hope by going to the non-physical. Living in partnership with life is gratifying in a way nothing else is. We practice availability and we notice life respond to our thoughts and our wishes. What a thrill that is!
Stacey Chillemi: If you could send a message to thousands of hurting people right now, what would it be?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: Our openness to the deeper parts of ourselves determines our “success” and joy in mid-life and beyond. When we move into vulnerability and practice presence we invite life to heal us. We open to partnership and we allow. That’s all we have to do but we need to do it every day.
So, the walls we need to be concerned with life inside us. Unconditional love lives deeply inside us. Our inner world is the only arena we need to focus on. Everything else reflects our inner world state of affairs. If we want a shift in our outer world experience, we focus on our consciousness and do our inner work.
A message to hurting people: Embrace your vulnerability, practice surrender which is accepting this moment just as it is, practice presence, and live in partnership with life. Know that life always supports you in healing. If you don’t understand how, practice stillness and pay attention. Trust your heart.
Stacey Chillemi: What are your current projects?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: I am writing a Transformation Workbook to accompany Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment and Accepting Unconditional Love. Readers will be guided to move more deeply inside themselves by responding to journaling questions. Living in partnership is a full-time commitment, passionate and gratifying. Those readers who have made that commitment will find this workbook a useful tool for the rest of their lives.
Stacey Chillemi: Do you have a website people can visit?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: My website is www.meditationintro.com
Stacey Chillemi: Where can people find your book?
Dr. Ruth Cherry: My books are available there as well as from New Leaf Distribution and Amazon.
Ruth Cherry creates a fascinating story. Here, the inner wisdom given to everyone comes alive through the loving and challenging presences of inner mentors. Much personal growth is recorded through the interactions between the life pilgrim and her companions. She moves from control to letting go into trust, from intellectualizing to responding to life with passion. To trust in and surrender to life is everyone’s sacred task. One senses that the inner voices encountered here are not unlike one’s own. We already have the wisdom we need. All we need do is welcome it home and listen.
~ Joseph Kilikevice, OP, founder, Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality
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