The Counselor’s Corner

POSITIVE ENCOUNTERS AND ATTENTIVENESS

Last week we gave our daughter a gift of a massage from a woman who was highly recommended to her by her fitness trainer.  She does home visits.  So, we scheduled a session for me at my daughter’s home after she received her massage.  What an amazing experience.  More than the massage which certainly released a lot of pain in my tired and worn out muscles, was the enthusiasm and simple faith of this woman who gave the massage.  This married woman of two adult children must have been in her 50s. She talked about her faith in such a positive manner that I found myself deeply inspired by her strong faith and warm personality.  She left me with such a positive and good impression.  What a positive encounter I had.  Even though she talked throughout the massage her words were inspiring and uplifting. I felt lighter emotionally and spiritually.   She didn’t preach about anything. She just talked about her simple and profound faith in God. 

At first, I thought to myself, “Please stop talking so much. I just want a relaxing massage.”  Then I told myself, “Fred, just accept this situation and listen”.  My own inaccurate feeling of not wanting to listen to someone talk to me about God while I was getting a massage was put into the background and I just listened.  I am so glad I did that. I will never forget this encounter with this very spiritual woman with such a clear message of faith.

This whole experience helped me to realize that there are many positive encounters in life.  But it can be so easy to minimize them or ignore them.  I can be in such a rush to get on to the next event that I can ignore the positive encounter of what is right before me at this very moment.

Each moment of life is precious.  It is to be embraced and experienced with an open heart and mind.  When this happens something profound occurs. I will experience a peace and a deeper encounter with life and with whomever God is. 

Thoughts and feelings of the past will surface.  They need to be embraced and something good will happen.  I was reminiscing about my childhood one morning and a flood of happy memories of my childhood surfaced.  I even remember the names of people who were friends of my father and had served in World War II.  They would come to his tavern and restaurant and reminisce.  I would come home from school and often stop there for a snack.  I remember their warmth and their goodness and the fellowship they all had.  And on Tuesday evenings I remember them watching Bishop Sheen on the television in the bar and sharing their thoughts and ideas.  It was a positive experience but if I didn’t embrace it when it surfaced I would miss this experience. 

Listening to another person with attentiveness can be a profound experience.  We all have positive encounters which happen to each of us every day.  It can be an encounter with a friend, a spouse, a daughter, a son, a relative, or a person we meet during the day.  When I pay attention to this encounter I will learn something and experience something that can result in a very meaningful experience.  To do this, I need to be attentive to what is happening around me.

Every interaction with another person can be a divine experience.  Every glimpse of creation, the sun, the trees, the sky, whatever my eyes might notice throughout this day can be a positive and almost divine experience if I am attentive to it.  The mystics, poets, musicians and writers often know how to become attentive to the present moment.  They experience something meaningful and very engaging when they allow themselves the privilege of experiencing the present moment.

Each of us have had experiences of people who had a positive effect upon us. If you can remember people like this you will most likely remember them paying attention to you and also paying attention to the present moment.  I remember many years ago an old priest, Fr. Richard Brunner OFM Cap. He was retired and had been a missionary in India in his younger years.  He was filled with love and enthusiasm.  One day he was asked to give a lecture to us third year theologians.  He came so filled with enthusiasm and simple depth that I was mesmerized by his personality.  Often, I would walk the corridor of the monastery with him. He would hold my arm for balance and talk.  His simple honesty, depth and faith was a positive encounter. 

When I can let myself experience the personality of other people, I can discover new meaning in life. But I must take the time to open my heart and mind to allowing this to happen.  It is the same with encountering whatever is before me in the present moment.  Each day we will all meet someone or experience something that will help us with this.  Be attentive and let it happen. 


Fred Cavaiani is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy.  He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. Fred conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. He is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday.  He can be reached at (248)362-3340.  His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com