Maskless Living

living life honestly

My late wife, Helen Vail, who died 25 years ago, after dealing with the challenge of cancer for four years, often quoted the expression, “All that there is that is left of us is Love.” Just before she passed into Spirit, she asked me to share this quote with anyone who is sensitive and mature enough to digest its meaning. Many wise folk experience this in the last few fleeting moments of their lives. However, it is best to learn it long before the end of life. Why not choose to live it as a life-style?

On my grave marker, which is next to Helen’s, I have had the following words engraved: “I am Eternally Grateful”. My slogan for my counselling practice is, “Listening well is the most eloquent sign of caring.” These two expressions really sum up a lot of what motivates me. I am dedicated to being fully HERE, fully REAL, and fully CONSCIOUS. To being totally honest with myself. To being able to maturely assimilate all the good and bad in each precious moment. To taking down all masks. This is what I strive for…“Maskless Living”. This is my life challenge.

As a young man, I worked in child protection for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. That’s where I learned about the importance of creating flexible boundaries when dealing with abused and neglected children. When I began working there, I thought that being totally open and into loving-kindness was the best way to give the children a model of what they had not experienced with their abusive family. However, it turned out that this was one of the worst ways for me to approach them because they were suffering from what is called “a pattern of rejection”. They experienced loving-kindness as a threat. I had to learn to approach each child and each situation with a set of flexible boundaries that could be adjusted as needed. I could choose my boundaries with full consciousness. Years later I discovered that what I was doing back then was what C.G. Jung described as, “dis-identifying with one’s persona”. Since many people are trapped in their persona, he suggested letting our true personality shine through the persona.

Recently, when I was up-dating my Will, “Living Will”, and Powers-of-Attorney, I decided to design my own eulogy so that someone else would not have to try to second guess what my wishes and thoughts are regarding my legacy. I have entitled it, “Maskless Living”. Being without a mask does not mean being defenseless. On the contrary, a person can actually be completely into serendipity and synchronicity and still continuously and wisely navigate their way through virtually any situation. Interestingly, Constantin Stanislavski, a Russian theatre director and one of the first great acting coaches, developed a system of acting that resulted in stage performances that were magical. When the actor’s real “emotional memory” intersects with the emotions required to play a particular character, the actor is actually “living in” the character. The actor completely connects with the role. This is the opposite of being “type-cast”, or trapped in a role, as many celebrity actors are or were, including the late Robin Williams.

To fulfill my desire to delve deeper into maskless living, later this year I hope to attend an experiential retreat at the Tribal Ground Circle ( in Santa Cruz, California, that will be led by some former Esalen Institute presenters ( This retreat, which will focus on the topic of enjoying a full life, is entitled, “No One Is Getting Out of Here Alive: Choices in Living and Dying”. Since, as far as we know, none of us will be “getting out of this life alive”, we might as well practise maskless living.

This article was written in January of 2015 by:
Richard M. Haney, M.Ed., Ph.D. (Counselling and Mediation)
Richard has been practicing Wholistic Counselling, Coaching, Hypnotherapy and Mediation for the past 25 years in Ottawa.
Richard by phone: (613) 234-5678. By e-mail: