Articles Focus on Self Discovery

Whether the articles below are true stories from my life, like Samuel’s Gift or Darling Darla the Dragnofly, are Blog style articles such as Impending Doom, Mirror of Evil, or Letting Go of Financial fear…or more academically oriented articles such as Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry, what all the articles have in common is they provide pathways for your personal self-discovery.

Recall the most famous words of Socrates, who said, “An unexamined life is not worth living” and the ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself,” often attributed to Plato. Let yourself look into the mirrors embedded in these articles that reflect back something of yourself through your responses to what you read…and allow a greater depth of your awareness of yourself to unfold in the process.

Until we know our true selves and discover what hidden patterns form thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that unconsciously control our lives, we will not be able to create lives and experiences that contain the greatest meaning to our souls. Each of us came here to explore, to discover, to experience, to know, and to express our unique being in the world through what we create in our lives, as what we do in the world flows from who we are. But our disconnection from our essential self,–the being that we really are–causes us to live our lives feeling empty, fearful, threatened, angry, unsure, confused, and so much more. We live without direction and lack purpose or experience a sense of dissatisfaction in our lives, even if we have tried to force a purpose and direction or have attempted to fill our time–or kill time–with distractions, no matter how creative or destructive those patterns might be.

Open to the possibility of discovering who you really are, as Joseph Campbell so poignantly stated, “…not the you that you cherish; not the you that you distinguish from other.” Once you know yourself, both you, and your world will transform into what you wished for yourself from the very beginning. You will be able to create the life your heart once dreamed.

Heuristic Researach: A Review and Critique of the Moustakas Method

Heuristic Research: A Review and Critique of Moustakas’ Method


The Last Frontier

The idea of investigating the last frontier may create images of climbing to the heights of rugged mountain peaks or exploring the depths of the ocean’s floor, of developing far more powerful telescopes to peer into the farthest reaches of outer space or microscopes to probe the center of an atom.  But I believe there is a terra incognito that may be far more available for human inquiry than any of these places. This final frontier, I propose, is the interiority of our experience where feeling, which may previously not have been noticed as significant, is not just a core component but the dominant one (Damasio, 1999), despite the profound efforts of the intellect to alter this reality.   Entrance into this territory seems to have been resisted for so long, and little credence has been given to its investigation.  Yet, I speculate, this region has a potential to bring expanded understanding to so many of the other arenas of our investigation. Within this interiority, feeling responses to external circumstances combine to create meaning, and out of meaning, personalities are organized, personal and cultural myths are formed and world-views are constructed.   Some would even say that worlds and universes themselves are created from this interiority.

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The Ullman Method of Dream Appreciation





Sandy Sela-Smith, PhD, M.A, CHT


 Dr. Montague Ullman, MD.9-9-1916 to 6-7-2008

         Five simple words, “If this were my dream…” create the foundation of the Ullman process of Dream Appreciation, one of the most profound instruments I have found to unlock the messages in dreams—and more. I was privileged to participate in three dream work trainings in the 1990s with the late Dr. Ullman (Ullman, 1996, 1999; Ullman, Krippner & Vaughn, 2002; Ullman & Zimmerman, 1979), affectionately called Monte. He began his career as a psychiatrist but soon discovered the power of working with dreams and dedicated his life to teaching a method that allows the dreamer, as well as dream group participants, to access the deepest recesses of the unconscious, an arena of our psyche so often unavailable to us in waking consciousness.


Ullman believed that there is a species consciousness that is calling for our personal and collective survival and drawing us toward our on-going evolution to oneness. Each of us, according to Ullman’s philosophy, contains billions of single-celled organisms that have, over time, evolved into collectives that eventually specialized into organs, systems, and functions of a single body, and that these collectives have learned to live as one. He speculated that as a species, we are replicating the learning process that transformed billions of cells into one person, which will lead to transforming several billions of people into a consciousness of one.  Just as the human being cannot survive if cells become self-destructive or attack other life giving cells within the body, the species cannot survive if we, as individuals or as social groups, destroy others or ourselves with destructive patterns.  I interpret this to mean that for us to survive, just like our cells have done, human beings must learn to respect life both individually and collectively.  We must honor boundaries without creating impermeable walls, be distinct without separating, connect with each other without absorbing or being absorbed, experience our uniqueness without cutting ourselves off from the universality of our oneness, and be flexible without collapsing as we change and grow.

We must actively share, nurture, love, and allow each and all to survive and thrive. However, in our development, as individuals and in social units, Continue reading

The Single Garment of Destiny

I received a message from the Peace Alliance that contained the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no question we are in this together. whether “we” refers to two people in relationship, to a family, groups of people, a nation, or our species. In this time of self-reflection, I choose not to look to others to become who they ought to be before I focus on being who I ought to be, despite the fact that I will not fully succeed until we all succeed. This is my gift to myself and to others, even to those who do not yet know the beauty of focusing on being who they ought to be.

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Samuel’s Gift…On a Cold Winter’s Night


Sandy Sela-Smith (c) 2005

I know that Florida’s cold in December does not compare to the cold in other parts of the world, especially when there is so much snow like the North has experienced this winter.  But as I write this to you, just a few days before Christmas, it is a crispy 40-degree-day…filled with sunshine and cold breezes that puff in from the small lake behind the place where I live with my dog, Jenny and my cat, Rachael.

As I write, this very minute, my windows are all open to let in the fresh air.  In Florida, almost everyone opens the windows in the winter because they have been closed up all summer to keep out the heat and keep in the air conditioning.  So winter is like everyone else’s springtime.  We open our windows, let in the freshness, and breathe good cool air!

Right now, with windows wide open, I can hear the birds chirping in the forest.  And I can see beautiful white Egrets walking along the water’s edge with their images reflecting in the water.  Every now and then, I can hear the sounds of the alligators talking with each other in their almost elephant sounding voices, probably asking the other animals what caused the normal Florida heat to go away.

The day that I first met Samuel, was a cold day, very similar to today.  Everything was crystal clear, as it is now…and fresh.  On that day, I wrote the story that I am about to tell you now…


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Darling Darla the Dragonfly

by Sandy Sela-Smith      © 2004

Jenny, my sweet puppy, and I met Darla the Dragonfly on a strangely cool Florida morning…strange because it was near the end of April, and April is almost always very hot and humid and this particular morning it was not only cool, but it was dry. Just a short time before, the weather had been getting hotter, and it seemed as if the cool weather was gone. A wind was puffing soft breezes around us and I was very sure it would be the last cool day until the fall. I wanted to go outdoors to feel what seemed like an unexpected gift of a breeze and fresh air before it left us.

Even though she is a dog, Jenny and I both know that she is more than what most people think of when they think of dogs.  Jenny has her way of talking with me.  She talks to me by the way she tips her head, by the way she taps me with her foot and the way she barks. Just like babies who have different cries…Jenny has different barking sounds that let me know when she is hungry, when she is thirsty, when she wants to go outside or when someone is about to come to the door.  She knows the sounds of other people’s cars and different barks to let me know who is coming.  She has a special bark to let me know that the water deliveryman is coming at least five minutes before he comes to my door.  Jenny knows when I am happy and when I am sad.  If I have been working too long writing at my computer, she comes and taps my foot to let me know it is time to stop.  All I have to do is look at her for just a little while and I can tell what she wants me to know.  That is what can happen when you really get to know someone.

Jenny and I began our walk around 8:30 that morning. Some days Jenny picks the shorter walks, but this day, she seemed to want to spend more time looking at tiny wild flowers and chasing squirrels that squawked at us as we passed by.  We were breathing in the fresh air and enjoying our wanderings that took us the long way along the winding paths, through the trees and beside the picnic areas.

My dog and I were both hungry for breakfast as we headed up the first flight of stairs and began to ascend the second flight on our way to my third floor apartment when Jenny jumped back in surprise and then pulled at her leash to get a closer look at a large green bug sitting on the fourth step.  I held tight to the leash to keep her from hurting the beautiful flying creature and moved us both to the edge of the steps to continue our climb to the top floor.

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Impending Doom. . . Or Approaching Transformation


The weekend of September 24th, I had the privilege of attending a powerful workshop in the mountains above Denver, Colorado presented by Howard Bad Hand, a Lakota Indian Chief. One of the topics for discussion had to do with what is happening in our world now and in the next 14 months related to the Mayan calendar that has been interpreted by some as marking the ending of human civilization on December 21, 2012. I have read extensively on this subject and have discovered differing perspectives of the meanings attached to our present time and the Mayan calendar.

Some believe the world will literally end following an increasing number of natural disasters that become more intense as that date approaches, destroying more and more of what we know of the world, until some final event obliterates whatever is left. Others believe that the numbers of humankind will be greatly reduced over the course of the time between now and that date, and that some people will remain to rebuild a human civilization based on a balancing of nurturing,  cooperation, and caring, which are healthy feminine principles, with an honoring of the unique qualities of the individual and the protective strength of the healthy masculine energy.

Others believe that we are approaching the End Times as predicted by interpreters of  the Bible who believe this Earth will be destroyed and those who believe in the Gospel will be transported to a New Earth, while the rest will be condemned to eternal hell. Still others believe that we are facing extinction, not unlike the dinosaurs of long ago, and a new species will eventually evolve to take our place bringing on the next cycle of life without humans. Still others believe that both nature and human folly will create unfathomable catastrophes and beings from other planets or galaxies will intercede, whether for good or for bad, to keep the toxic energies of our world from spilling over into the universe. But likely for the vast majority of people, this date of December 21, 2012 means just another day on the calendar, and maybe 4 shopping days until Christmas. And the seasons…they still go round and round on the Carousel of time.

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Mirror of Evil – Sept 11 2001

Late in the evening of September 11, I decided that I had to write my feelings about the horror to prevent my own internal implosion from the agony that I was feeling. I wrote to my friends, to my family, and then decided to edit what I had written for a more general audience and send it to number of newspapers in case someone might print another perspective. I gave it a simple title:


I love you is not something we say often enough to the people who are closest in our lives, even less, if ever, to people with whom we are not in a close personal relationship, and certainly never to strangers. The likelihood is that I don’t know most of those that may be reading this and that I have not said, “I love you” to you anytime at all. But in the midst of this crazy making day, it seems important to remind human beings of love and caring. For who knows what the next few hours or days may bring.

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Letting Go of Financial Fear

April 15:

I was walking with my dog, as I do every morning, when I realized how concerned I was that I would have to pay more income tax than I had expected this year. My income had unexpectedly increased near the end of last year, and I had not planned for this in my quarterly withholding. I had actually postponed figuring my taxes until the very last moment because I resisted the idea of having to write a check that would reduce my savings to a point that would cause me to feel financially unsafe.

It occurred to me that my fear around having what seemed like disproportionately high taxes fueled a conscious and more often an unconscious secondary fear of earning too much money. As I reflected on my past behaviors, I became aware that instead of being pleased with a financially strong month, I would hold my breath and think that maybe my next month would be smaller, to even out the income over the year. This thought actually had the power to produce what I had quietly wished for, which was to not make “too much” money by making unconscious choices that had the effect of limiting my income.
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Finding the Still Point: Chapter One


Below you will find the first chapter of my nearly finished book with a working title of Healing. In early 2003 a CD that I had recorded with Daniel Kobialka, violinist from San Francisco’s Philharmonic Orchestra, was produced. (You can listen to an excerpt of it by clicking on the Shop icon and then clicking on CDs.) I wanted to help listeners to discover how to reconnect with the inner place of healing, a place that no one else or nothing else outside the self can find for another person. This is a still point place inside you that you can only know by experiencing it. As I began to sell the CDs, I realized that there was something more that needed to be done to help those who were interested to understand the relationship of finding the still point and experiencing healing. So I began writing a book to augment the process introduced in the CD. The book is nearly finished. Below is the first chapter of that book.

Finding the Still Point

The other day I stepped out on the balcony of my third floor apartment to take in the evening. I looked over the deep green lake behind my apartment that looks as if it were in my back yard. Behind the lake is a sub-tropical wildlife preserve, with trees shrouded in thick vines that extend as far as the eye can see creating the kind of image often found in storybook forests. Everything was so very still in that moment just before sunset. The alligators and giant turtles that live in and around the lake had already slipped back into the water from their sunning places along the water’s edge, as the warmth of the day was just beginning to take on the cool softness of a Fall evening on the Gulf side of Florida. The frogs and birds were just beginning their nightly chorus, that on evenings such as this, often turned my memories from the present to a not-so-distant yesterday, when I was lulled to sleep by the dense sounds of wildlife on the Amazon in the Brazilian Jungles. In that moment, just a few days before beginning this book, I felt so amazingly connected to that deep inner quietness—the magical place where the pulse of life rests for just a moment in the still point that opens up to a most healing peace.

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