• Midtown Manhattan, NYC • Phone and Zoom Consultation in New York State •
Lauren Behrman, PhD., Behrman Psychological and family mediation services


Adversity is a natural part of being human.

It is the height of arrogance to prescribe a moral code or health regimen or spiritual practice as an amulet to keep 
things from falling apart. Things do fall apart. It is in their nature to do so. When we try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of change, we are not listening to the soul. We are listening to our fear of life and death, our lack of faith, our smaller ego’s will to prevail. To listen to the soul is to stop fighting with life-to stop fighting when things fall apart, when they don’t go our way, when we get sick, when we are betrayed or mistreated or misunderstood. To listen to the soul is to slow down, to feel deeply, to see ourselves clearly, to surrender to discomfort and uncertainty, and to wait. -Elizabeth Lesser

Stop the words now
. Open the window in the center of your chest
 and let the spirits fly in and out. -Rumi

Surviving meant 
being born 
over and over. -Erica Jong

Most of us are about as eager
 to be changed as we were to be born,
 and go through our change in a 
similar state of shock. -James Baldwin

Learn the alchemy 
true human beings know.
 The moment you accept 
what troubles you’ve been given 
the door will open. -Rumi

In the difficult are the friendly forces,
 the hands that work on us. -Ranier Maria Rilke

No problem can be solved from 
the same consciousness that created it. -Albert Einstein

And the time came when the risk to 
remain tight in a bud
 was more painful than the risk it took 
to blossom -Anais Nin

Since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of time, you are incomparable. 
-Brenda Upland

We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other people’s models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open. -Shakti Gawain

Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame
 -Erica Jong

Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about. Say yes quickly, if you know it you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe. -Rumi

 by Fleur Adcock

Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young for ever, to pass.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty,
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy,

happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will turn grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well

that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.


You’re  It Anonymous

 as a myriad things and
 playing a game 
of tag
Has kissed you and said 
“You’re it-
I mean, you’re really IT!”
 it does not matter
 what you believe or feel
For something wonderful is someday going
To Happen


The Journey 
 by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.


The Invitation
 by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.


Be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The capacity to be either happy or unhappy is determined by the manner in which you react to whatever happens. -Norman Vincent Peale

For an impenetrable shield, stand inside yourself. 
-Henry David Thoreau

When one door closes another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened. -Alexander Graham Bell

Where we stand is not as important as the direction in which we are moving. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings. -Pearl Buck

The winds of grace (change) are always blowing, but to catch them we have to raise our sails. 
It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. -Wendell Berry

Dying without actually fully living, without waking up to our lives while we have the chance, is an ongoing and significant risk. -Jon Kabat-Zinn

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. -R.D. Laing

…changing conditions are not mistakes…it’s just what happens. -Joseph Goldstein

Until one is committed, there is hesitance, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. -W. H. Murray

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. -Goethe

Freedom is the wisdom to choose wisely. -Joseph Goldstein

To be human is to be lost in the woods. -Elizabeth Lesser

The courage to turn and face what wants to change within me. -Elizabeth Lesser

There is no one alive who has not wanted to go back to sleep. -Elizabeth Lesser

Discovering fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart. -Chogyam Trungpa

Our errors and failings are chinks in the heart’s armor through which our true colors can shine. -Elizabeth Lesser

We’re all seeking…the rapture of being alive. -Joseph Campbell

What wants to live in you may be waiting…at the end of a long loneliness. -Elizabeth Lesser

Each one of us regardless of our situation, is in our search of our most authentic, vital, generous and wise self. -Elizabeth Lesser

…The freedom to choose one’s attitude. -Victor Frankl

In our sleep, pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will comes wisdom. -Aeschylus

Nothing has a more disturbing influence psychologically on children than the unlived life of the parent. -Carl Jung

Let the beauty you love be what you do -Rumi

Grief is good…it is a sign of how well we have loved. -Elizabeth Lesser

…approach change with an understanding of the process and an openness to the pain. -Elizabeth Lesser

Once again, I accept that life is uncertain-that the goal is not to become more certain about anything but to relax more into the mystery of not knowing what will come next. -Elizabeth Lesser

We must pay attention to the voice that calls us out of the safety zone. -Elizabeth Lesser

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. -Wayne Dyer

Calmness is not non-feeling…it is disentanglement from feelings, a clearness which is not disturbed by circumstance. 
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. -Martin Luther King

If in our daily life we can be peaceful, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. -Thich Nhat Hanh

To conquer yourself is to know the Way. -Lau Ma

I stand upon a block of stillness. It is more secure than any sidewalk. I bring with me my own sidewalk. -Jane Roberts

Look on all things with love and be born again. Love the sun for it warms the world. Love the rain for it cleanses the spirit and the world. Love the light for it shows the way. Love the darkness for it reveals the stars. Welcome happiness to enlarge your heart. Acknowledge rewards for they are your due. Endure sadness for it opens your soul. Welcome obstacles because they are your challenges. 
The undisturbed mind is like the calm body water reflecting the brilliance of the moon. Empty the mind and you will realize the undisturbed mind. -Yagyu Jubei

Peace is a natural innate state of mind waiting for us to come back to it. 
Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued, is always just beyond our grasp, but which if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you. -Nathaniel Hawthorne

Conflict is an attack on the self. 
Transform anger and fear into clarity and strength. 
See with eyes of compassion and act with wisest intention. 
Wisdom is not knowing, but being. 
Soft is stronger than hard, water stronger than rocks. 
Love stronger than force. -Siddhartha

In letting go of wanting something special to occur, maybe we can realize that something special is already occurring. -Jon Kabat-Zinn

In any given moment we are either practicing mindfulness, or defacto, we are practicing mindlessness. -Jon Kabat-Zinn

It is all within us; we are what we are looking for. -Joseph Goldstein

Just listen. 
Be peace. -Thich Nhat Hanh

I have enough…and I allow what I already have enough of to flow to me. -Wayne Dyer

Each moment you are alive is a gem…You re the richest person on Earth, stop being the destitute child…Cherish this very moment. Let go of the stream of distress and embrace life fully in your arms. -Thich Nhat Hanh

The future must not be held hostage by the past. 
Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. -Mark Twain

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. -Buddha

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. -James Taylor

…People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment…
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed…They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end…Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn…They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real but only for a season. LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like … a great elephant in the deep forest.
Conflict: Two people hitting each other at the same time. If one stops, then the other doesn’t have to defend. -Rich Lucas

Why do we say how we feel to people we’re in conflict with and don’t trust? –Rich Lucas

It’s progress not perfection. –Rich Lucas

We judge ourselves by our intentions. Others judge us by what we do. –Rich Lucas

We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems. -Margaret Mead

The human spirit is stronger than anything than can happen to it. -George C. Scott

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. -Kahlil Gibran

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. -Thomas Jefferson

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot… and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is precisely why I succeed. -Michael Jordan

You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the most difficult task in the world, for opening the door to your own life is, in the end, more difficult than opening the doors to the mysteries of the universe.
 -Daisaku Ikeda

If one is estranged from oneself,
 then one is estranged from others too.
 If one is out of touch with oneself, 
then one cannot touch others. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. -M. Scott Peck

The most beautiful people we have know are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand…
-Henri Nouwen

There are two ways of spreading light – 
To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. -Edith Wharton

As far as we can discern,
 the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light of meaning
 in the darkness of mere being. -Carl Gustav Jung

The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers. -Deepak Chopra

The first problem for all of us, men and women, 
is not to learn, but to unlearn. -Gloria Steinem

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat. -Lily Tomlin

We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are. -Anais Nin

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters 
 by Portia Nelson

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. –Steve Jobs

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -Carl Jung

Don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. -Robert Fulghum

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. -Buddha

We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak. -Epictetus

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you -Wayne Dyer

Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts. Develop the mind of equilibrium. You will always be getting praise and blame, but do not let either affect the poise of the mind: follow the calmness, the absence of pride. -Sutta Nipata

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. -Elbert Hubbard

Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. -Conrad Hilton

There is no change without discontent. -Anonymous

Fear of Transformation by Anonymous

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a 
trapeze bar swinging along, or, for a few minutes in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between 
trapeze bars. Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze bar of the 
moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in 
control of my life. I know most of the right questions and some of the right answers. 
But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of 
me into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It’s 
empty, and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. 
It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts, I know that 
for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar to move to the new one. 
Each time it happens to me, I hope – no, I pray – that I won’t have to grab the new one. 
But in my knowing place I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some 
moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am 
filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing I 
have always made it. Each time I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen 
rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars. But I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, 
no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging on to that 
old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond 
or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet 
here.” It’s called transition. I have come to believe that is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, 
not the pseudo-change that lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched. I have noticed 
that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing,” a no-place between 
places. Sure the old trapeze bar was real, and that new one coming toward me, I hope that’s real 
too. But the void in between? That’s just a scary, confusing, disorienting “nowhere” that must be 
gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible. What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zones in our lives are 
incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear 
and feelings of being out of control that can (but not necessarily do) accompany transitions, they 
are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives. 
And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with 
giving ourselves permission to hang out in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our 
need to grab that new bar – any bar – is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where 
change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening, in the true sense of the 
word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.


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