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Maariv America

It Will End Up in Tears

The first thirty days of mourning after the World Trade Center disaster have passed yet it still feels crappy. One psychologist says to get in touch with the pain while a second one recommends being sincere with your kids. And one holistic healer who cries, laughs, and keeps silent, recommends connecting with nature (and connecting in general).

By Keren Ochayon

Zemach Zohar from the Alok Holistic Health Community is a known holistic health counselor in New York. Not long ago he got back from a three-week workshop in India. The participants were 50 men and women in different ages and from all corners of the world. During the workshop they laughed (a week), cried (a week), and stayed silent (the last week). “Lack of crying prevents the discharge of issues that we accumulated inside ourselves, suppressing them,” Health explains. “Crying is pure and cleansing and it is important to let it out, to discharge, to let go. Indeed, crying is very tiring, but afterwards arrives a complete freshness. In addition, crying clears all the sinuses.” In short, crying is healthy, almost.

During the day of the disaster Zemach Zohar found himself driving a truck full of supplies for the hospitals. In his neighborhood, the Village, he saw people in coffeehouses sitting underneath a huge cloud of smoke, talking, sharing, even laughing. “The fact that we are sitting and laughing does not mean that we are not respectful of the dead. Long faces do not serve anyone. Laughing, just like crying, releases and creates a nice feeling of letting go. I recommend laughing, not to be ashamed, it is not laughter that burns people.”

Zemach Zohar’s best advice is to try and keep going with our daily lives “trying to find happiness, and not to suppress our feelings. Suppression is cancerous. We have to be real and aware, to see how fragile and temporary our lives are and hence to live the lives we want.”

“In the American society there are loneliness and isolation. The connection among people is not strong enough, and it is hard getting support from each other. Those who need support turn to professional help. Usually this happens in cases of loss or for addiction treatments. I try to fill the void and create a community in which people will meet one each other, get to know one another, and connect. Then I step out of the picture.”

Holistic medicine combines the health of the body with that of the soul. Zemach Zohar says, “Secondary food is what we put into our mouth. Primary food is love, relationships, satisfying jobs. People are lacking on primary food. During the first days after the disaster people attended vigils, attempting to create a feeling of togetherness. I heard that during one of the first flights after the airports re-opened, the flight attendant told the passengers to introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them, to show each other photos of family members and loved ones. People need someone that will facilitate them, someone to break the ice for them. People aspire for togetherness but do not know how to do it. It is as if we are riding the subway, fearing to look in each other’s eyes.”

There is no need to have Polish ancestry to know that honey (and herbal tea) is considered a calming food, and the same applies to warm food that increases the serotonin level in the brain, creating the feeling of calmness. Zemach Zohar, on the other hand, teaches all year round about “getting back to nature” (fruits and vegetables, whole grains) and now even more than ever “because healthy food cleans all the systems. Foods that are processed (McDonald’s, packaged and frozen foods, etc.) and loaded with chemicals, caffeine, and sugar enhance the extremity of the situations we find ourselves in. With natural food it is at least possible to reduce the slope of the speeding roller coaster.”