Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Six Days of Writing Your Way to Greater Self-Awareness and Healing

12 page e-booklet, $5.

Do you feel clogged up with undigested material from your life? Are you carrying around boxes and boxes of unsorted experiences, feelings, and anxieties?

Using the information about writing for healing and the six writing catalysts in PEELING THE ONION, you will begin the process of making order in your internal world. You will access aspects of yourself that you had forgotten or never knew you had.

Many studies have shown that writing is a powerful tool for relieving stress. Writing exercises like these have benefited people suffering from arthritis, heart disease, and other serious conditions. It was found that writing about emotional issues not only helped relieve symptoms, but led to long-term improvements.

After just one writing session, you will stand up and feel lighter, more awake to the beauty around you and the blessings in your life.

Varda also has an e-cookbook, BLUEBERRY FIELDS FOR BREAKFAST: A Cooking Companion for Creative Souls.

Much more than a cookbook, BLUEBERRY FIELDS FOR BREAKFAST is a guide for turning your cooking into a medium for self-expression. You’ll learn how to break out of recipes and enter the realm of improvisation and inspiration as your kitchen gets transformed into a creative zone.

From Delight Soup to Birthday Cake, from the blueberry fields on a Maine coastal island to the narrow streets of Jerusalem, this e-cookbook reads like a fascinating memoir of culinary experiences.

Varda is known for unlocking creativity in her virtual writing retreats. Now she turns to the kitchen to show you how to elevate meal preparation into an art form and the act of eating into celebration.
34 pages, $10.

By Varda Branfman

About finding our way back to places we've never been... Some people have been waiting a long time for this voice.

When the heart overflows with gratitude, then song is the natural response. Varda's essays and poems are essentially songs that celebrate her wonder and thankfulness at finding the answer to her question in the eyes of her children, in the air of Jerusalem, in an unused silver spice box, in the silence of her Old World grandmother.

If there is any darkness in these stories or memories, it is only as a pathway to experience the light of our higher selves. It is all one tapestry of light whether she is swimming in a glacial lake, saying Psalms in an old Jerusalem synagogue under threat of war, or witnessing the breathtaking dance of a 70 year-old grandmother at a Jewish wedding. She holds out the possibility of an exhilarating wakefulness – “Make yourself a shore/Hold nothing back” – and she shares a vision of the peace and wholeness to be found in returning to our higher selves.

$20 including shipping. Paperback.

By Yaakov and Varda Branfman

$17, including postage. Paperback.

Challenge, Adventure, and Pleasure in Giving.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Gentle, Effective Way to Remove Writing Blocks

(For a full description of the Virtual Writing Retreat, scroll down to July 30, '08)

Every writer comes up against writing blocks in the course of time. You may feel that the writing blocks are insurmountable as they effectively stop you from continuing to develop your creative projects.

One way to remove a block is to acknowledge it and honor what it has come to tell you. Instead of railing against it and hoping against hope that it will disappear, you can approach it as if it were a locked door. Imagine that door; picture it. With a prayer in your heart that you will succeed in opening it, reach into your pocket and take out a key. Then turn the key in the lock and gently push the door open.

Walk through the door and look around you. Where are you? Is there anyone there with you? Be aware of yourself. Look down at your feet. Are you wearing the shoes you presently wear or are they shoes from your childhood? What memory have you walked into or what imaginary scene? What are you feeling?

You may have walked through the doorway into a situation from your present day life with people whom you know. Ask yourself, “Why am I here? What have I come to see?”

Now take up a pen and paper or sit at your computer and write. Put down one word and watch as the next word comes and the next until you find yourself writing in a stream of consciousness. You may find yourself describing what you found on the other side of that door, or you may find that the door is a catalyst for you to take yourself somewhere else to another time and place.

You may very well find that your writing has become revitalized after the experience of feeling the door in front of you and unlocking it. Hopefully, you will be finding things to say that you’ve never been able to say before in ways that are also new to you. You may realize that the block was standing in your way in order to kick you out of the status quo and the predictable. In the end, it was a blessing in disguise to lead you to new avenues of expression and new frontiers to explore.

Getting Underneath the Pain

When we are feeling physical pain, our usual response is to try to cover it over with some kind of medication. If we are experiencing emotional pain, then we might want to mask it by drinking, overeating, buying or doing some other activity to totally divert our senses away from the very thing that is crying out to be heard.

Here is an alternative course of action, a healing response rather than something that will only temporarily relieve our pain and distress. Instead of running away from the pain, we will be running towards it.

Ask yourself, ask your soul, and ask G-d: "Where is the pain coming from?"You already have some answers from your childhood, from your boss, from your marriage, from a school principal, from a crabby neighbor, from bureaucracy, from too much chocolate chip ice cream. But more important than all those people and things outside of you is what's inside of you.

Try sitting down with pen and paper or at the computer keyboard. With your eyes closed as you breathe deeply, ask again, “Where is the pain coming from?” What's the root of that pain which is catalyzed by outside forces? Does the neighbor bring up some deep-seated memory of conflicts with parents, judgments by authority figures, or unmet expectations of love or acceptance? Is the ice cream your way of silencing the place inside that is crying out for love and acceptance?

When you really listen to your insides, you may hear some very, very simple answers-- they were there all the time, but you just hadn't heard because there was so much static flying through the air. At the same time that you face the underneath sources of your external pain, the answers to what to do about it will often spring up spontaneously. Your insides know what to do to heal.

The universe is full of answers to questions that we don't bother to ask.

When the pain motivates you to re-unite with your insides, then the pain turns into light. It turns into a flashlight to illuminate your way in the dark. You can be thankful for the pain-- because pain is a sign that you're alive and feeling. You're awake.

Write from the inner landscape where you’ve journeyed. Pick up the pain in your hands and carry yourself through the silence into your vast inner world. Let the pain turn from ache to song, and let your voice rise up and sing.