-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0" : "width=1100"' name='viewport'/> Plum Street Chili: The Connie Ferrara Method for Strength and Self Improvement (or) Whatever Bites You is Inside

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Connie Ferrara Method for Strength and Self Improvement (or) Whatever Bites You is Inside

There were a lot of self improvement groups happening in Princeton NJ in the Eighties. I attended one such group at the Unitarian Church and met Connie Ferrara. Connie was devastated and completely lost when she was “disfellowshipped” by her home group of Jehovah's Witnesses. Connie spent the next year in a profound depression. She saved herself with self-help books and her own iron determination to rise again. 

Connie got so enlightened she became my teacher for a while  You can only keep spiritual gifts if you give them away. So I will share the Connie Ferrara Method for Strength and Self Improvement. 

One day at brunch, Connie handed me her copy of Vernon Howard's book, The Power of Your Super Mind. The covers were tattered. The pages were full of underlining, stars and exclamation points. Responses ( I want this!!! for example) were written on certain paragraphs like the callbacks in gospel meetings. "You are angry all the time," Connie said. "You need this." I did need it. I was angry all the time. 

The Power of Your Super Mind is simply written and only one of a number of short simple books on mysticism and spiritual development by this prolific author. I have a lot of respect for Vernon Howard. He makes ideas by folks like Marcus Aurelius, Krishnamurti, Schopenhauer and Tolstoy useful and accessible to everyone: like me (I went to college.) and Connie Ferrara (She did not graduate high school. She had to help feed her family of nine.). 

My copy of this book is also tattered, underlined, and has stars and comments. I wore Connie's copy out. Connie taught me to mark my books so I can easily return to the thoughts that moved me when I meditate, say at night before bed, or when I am in emotional turmoil. 

These simple and elegant aphorisms, quotations, and paragraphs saved my life and changed my consciousness. I used them as meditations; I used them for prayers. I substituted good orderly direction and good thoughts for painful debilitating stinking thinking,  I was in early recovery from addiction and abuse and sometimes a horrible memory from the past would break into my thoughts. I would literally wince from the pain. I learned how to extinguish painful thoughts and shame. Meditation works.  I now own four of Howard's books and booklets. All of them underlined, starred, dogeared and written on. 
Whatever bites you is inside.  
You are chained to anyone from whom you want something, whom you depend upon for self-satisfaction. You are free from anyone from whom you want nothing. 
The more you surrender to a difficult person's demands, the more you build his egotism. The more you contribute to his egotism, the more awful you make him. Not only that, but his demands increase.
Stay away from people who say they want to do things for you. 
A man shows his character just in the way in which he deals with trifles--for then he is off his guard. This will often afford a good opportunity of observing the boundless egoism of man's nature, and his total lack of consideration for others; and if these defects show themselves in small things, or merely in his general demeanor, you will find that they also underlie his action in matters of importance, although he may disguise the fact. . . . Do not trust him beyond your door. He who is not afraid to break the laws of his own private circle, will break those of the State when he can do so with impunity. - Schopenhauer