Archive for February 2017

Conscious Relationship and the Three Dimensions of Caring || Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Relationship and the Three Dimensions of Caring

By: Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Companionship

As the consciousness of humanity evolves and changes so has the structure of marriage, partnership and relationships.  We are in a transitional stage of relationship moving away from the concept of two independent autonomous people cohabiting together and attempting to get their individual needs met in a hierarchical structure with fixed roles.  A companionship model of conscious partnership consisting of mutual interdependence, interpersonal relating, intimacy, equity and commitment to placing the relationship first while aligning with what is best for each other is arising.  The focus away from a singular insular preoccupation with self and my needs to what are the needs of the relationship is a step towards greater love, compatibility, understanding, intimacy, and surprisingly getting more of your needs met.

Intuitively you know that you are not an island.  As much as you were taught that independence and self-sufficiency were the mark of maturity, what you discover is that it is simply a phase on the way to a deeper level of learning about yourself and how to love.  An important phase for sure, but development does not end with self-interest.  No matter how self-sufficient you create your life to be, you are always dependent on other people for more than mere survival.  As your basic needs are met your need for intimacy, connection and sharing take the forefront.  You seek relationship with others.  You seek a greater depth of love.
 
Falling in love is a magical experience.  It directs your attention to another; you begin to care about someone other than yourself.  You open up and share your thoughts, feelings, and interests.  Caring and sharing with mutual reliance on each other seems easy at this stage.  Keeping this level of interest and caring is often challenging. 
 
What happened to us?  The Zing, the Romance, the Pizzazz is gone!
It makes sense that the first blush of all encompassing love must end.  No one can keep that level of exclusive attention.  It wouldn’t serve you or your relationship.  What does not need to be forgotten is your level of Caring for your partner.  Once the courtship is over, your zeal to find meaning, purpose, and promote your individual needs and desires focuses your attention back on the self.  Career, children and the usual demands of everyday life may find you leading an independent and parallel existence without much connection to your partner.  You end up feeling bereft of intimacy and caring.

 

“Participating in Caring behaviors with Attuned Presence and Concern is a vital component to Sustain a Conscious Growing Relationship”

 

Participation and Presence
Relationships get into trouble when there is a lack of caring.  Studies of couples in therapy revealed a disquieting commonality; dissatisfied couples expressed the belief that their partner loved them while at the same time not feeling deeply cared about.  Without the feeling of being cared about discontentment increases with the likelihood of conflict, resentment, distance and separation.  In this day and age relationship requires participation and presence. 
 
Caring Relationships Heal Childhood Wounds 
Caring is the act of displaying kindness and concern for another.  Caring presence accords a special focus of attention on your partner that expresses they are of primary importance to you.  When you have someone you can rely upon, who understands you, accepts you just as you are, supports your highest aspirations while demonstrating affection and nurturing, you are able to move into the world securely.  Being nurtured opens up neural pathways and heals toxic emotional childhood wounds.  A caring relationship is the soothing tonic that restores secure attachment.
 
Three Dimensions of Caring:  Putting the Zing back into Your Relationship
In their research, Paul and Evelyn Moschetta identified three dimensions of caring that are vitally important to maintain a healthy, growing, mutually satisfying and loving relationshipThose dimensions are Sustenance Caring, Intentional Caring, and Reverential Caring.

Sustenance Caring

“The kind of caring that supplies the emotional necessities of life; nurturing, supporting and strengthening the other.  Sustenance caring cannot be known on an intellectual level only; it must be a felt experience as well. Study subjects said that receiving sustenance caring left them feeling loved, “warm” inside, happy, sexually responsive, stable, secure, trusting, capable of facing problems, capable of reaching out to others.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Being present, attentive to the needs of your partner, and displaying affection feeds and nurtures their emotional well-being.  Sustenance caring requires action and empathic attunement creating a foundation of safety and trust.  Your relationship is the blending into One.  Treating your relationship as a sacred form keeps it alive and growing.  It creates a safe, secure container for each of you to be free to explore your full potential.  And…who reaps the greatest benefit from giving your partner tender loving Care?  You do!  People in secure connected relationships are healthier, have less stress, are happier and feel more fulfilled. 
 
Helpful Actions to give Sustenance Caring to Your Partner:

  • Be present and attentive to the needs of your partner
  • Be generous with your time; your partner comes first over others
  • Be available in times of need
  • Give frequent displays of affection both physically and verbally; give hugs and gentle touch
  • Be aware and attuned to your partner’s moods
  • Demonstrate trust, generosity and unselfish concern for your partner
  • Be genuinely interested and involved in your partner’s life
  • Be an expert on your partner; learn what soothes and pleases them

Behaviors and actions that undermine Sustenance Caring:

  • Not sharing your deeper feelings and thoughts
  • Shutting out your partner by withdrawing, ignoring them or neglecting their thoughts, feelings, and presence
  • Not showing physical or verbal affection
  • Lack of attunement to their moods and emotional needs
  • A big No…Flirting and emotional intimacy with someone other than your partner (rule of thumb: any conversation or behavior that may hurt your partner if they heard or saw you…is off the table)
  • Hiding or keeping secrets that have an impact on the relationship: health, finances, affairs, travel arrangements, purchases etc.

Intentional Caring:

“Takes the form of actions purposefully undertaken to help one’s partner grow.  It is the expression of a commitment to foster growth, and conveys a deep interest in the other’s full use of talents, capabilities, and potentials.  Study subjects reported that receiving Intentional caring left them feeling courageous, unafraid, more adequate, liberated, more adult, able to invest oneself, capable of doing a great deal, capable of fulfilling potentials.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Helpful actions to give Intentional Caring to Your Partner:

  • Be interested in your partner’s ideas and pursuits
  • Be your partner’s advocate, promote and champion their direction of growth and interests
  • Appreciate their talents, capabilities and potential
  • Encourage and assist your partner when challenges arise  
  • Be cooperative and flexible
  • Be willing to share responsibilities
  • Maximize growth opportunities for your partner
  • Be willing to let them know when they are going in a direction that is potentially harmful to them: health, financial, with other people etc.

 
Behaviors and actions that undermine Intentional Caring:

  • Undermining your partner’s confidence
  • Lecturing and parenting your partner
  • Sabotaging or subverting your partner’s dreams
  • Enabling and co-dependent behaviors
  • Controlling your partner
  • Blaming your partner rather than listening and finding solutions or requesting amends

 
Reverential Caring:

“Means valuing the other’s individuality, holding them in high esteem and making them a top priority.  It means having intense interest and admiration for the other.  Reverential caring conveys an acceptance of one’s partner as he or she actually is without illusions, or preconceived or accumulated images.  Study subjects reported that receiving reverential caring left them feeling important, valued, wanted, worthwhile, free to be oneself, capable of seeing one’s shortcomings, accepting of oneself, proud, grateful, fortunate.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Helpful actions to give Reverential Caring to Your Partner:

  • Always make your partner Number 1 in your eyes; say and do things to remind your partner that they are tops with you
  • Establish each other as your primary ‘Go to Person’
  • Treat your partner as an equal, neither below you or above you
  • Accept your partner just the way they are with all of their foibles and idiosyncrasies
  • Value and freely appreciate your partner’s abilities
  • Have your partner’s back especially in the company of others; this means supporting your partner even if you do not agree (express your opinion in private)  

Behaviors and actions that undermine Reverential Caring:

  • Criticizing your partner
  • Demanding perfection
  • Ridiculing, berating, belittling or shaming your partner (if joking means making fun of your partner, it is demeaning and will cause hurt and resentment)
  • Embarrassing your partner with your words or actions
  • Disrespecting or diminishing the worth of your partner
  • Dominating your partner

Caring is a day-to-day and moment-by-moment opportunity to create a long-lasting intimate and joy filled relationship.  Loving energy directed toward your relationship is life enhancing and brings the greatest reward, which is learning how to give and receive love.  

Unhypnotizing Your Bad Habits || Lora Cheadle

Kicking Bad Habits by Un-Hypnotizing, or Dehypnotizing, Yourself 

By: Lora Cheadle

Waking up From Everyday Brainwashing

Many people use hypnosis in order to overcome subconscious blocks and create positive change in their life. But sometimes, the faster, more efficient rout to change is learning how to becoming un-hypnotized, or dehypnotized in our everyday life. Learning how to wake, up, become conscious, and take steps to dehypnotize ourselves, is fast, easy and effective. And the resulting change can be profound!

We’ve probably all heard about subliminal messages, brainwashing, compulsion and mind control. To some degree, these phrases all describe what is simply; a hypnotic state. Contrary to popular belief, most of the everyday brainwashing that happening is not the result of some evil master-mind, potting to take over the world. Everyday brainwashing is simply the result of us living in a modern, busy, distracted and stressed-out society.

If you have a habit that you can’t seem to break, even though you really want to break it, you might not need therapy. Instead, you might need to learn how to dehypnotize yourself from your own brainwashing! You might simply need to wake up from a chronic state of hypnosis that has kept you locked into undesirable thoughts or behaviors.

How Brainwashing Works

Hypnosis is a natural state that we move into and out of about seven times a day. When we engage in any type of repetitive, or mindless activity, we tend to slip into a state of hypnosis. When we are confronted with too much stimulation, too rapid of speech, or too much conflicting information, we can also slip into a state of hypnosis. TV and radio advertising is specifically designed to induce a state of hypnosis. Religious services, bombastic political speech, repetitive exercises, mealtime and smoking breaks, also tend to put us into a state of hypnosis.

Hypnosis is not scary, evil mind control. Hypnosis is simply a state of increased suggestibility, where people are more likely to take action without critically analyzing that behavior. Although hypnosis cannot persuade us to do that which we would not otherwise do, it is highly effective in persuading us to do that which we normally would do. Hence, why it’s so easy to talk ourselves into continuing on with our own negative behaviors.

How Brainwashing Occurs

Think of everyday brainwashing like this. You are zoned out on the couch, watching TV, and a commercial for pizza comes on. The commercial has bright colors, close ups of a delicious looking pepperoni pizza, and a rapid-fire, extra-loud, announcer tells you all about the latest, act-fast deals. All the while, rhythmic music is coinciding with the rapidly changing visuals. That night, you decide to order pizza, even though you are trying to eat out less or lose five pounds.

As designed, the commercial put you into a state of hypnosis. It worked on the subconscious mind, and “suggested” that the pizza was really tasty, was a great price, and created an urgency to order it. Later in the day, when you ordered pizza, you were simply acting on the advertiser’s suggestions. You were not awake enough to critically think about the consequences of your decision, so you ordered a pizza, despite wanting to eat better and takeout less. This is what every day brainwashing looks like.

Failed Diets, Smoking and Being Stuck in Hypnosis

The same thing happens each and every time we sit down to eat a meal or smoke. Part of the reason that dieting and smoking-cessation is so difficult is because eating and smoking puts us into a state of hypnosis. We literally go out of our critical mind, and into a state of unconsciousness, almost every time we eat or smoke! We become lulled by the repetitive action of smoking, chewing, swallowing, using our utensils, cutting our food and timing when we take a drink. Our senses become overloaded with the sight, smell, taste and texture of our food or our cigarette, and bam, into a state of hypnosis we go! Just like the pizza commercial example, we become highly suggestible to our own bad habits, and we eat, or smoke indiscriminately.

Conscious thought is circumnavigated, and we are no longer aware of our sensations of fullness or our desire to get healthy or create positive change. Instead we eat whatever is in front of us or wander out for a smoke break, without critically analyzing what we are doing or why. Sometimes we are so out of it mentally, that later, we can’t even remember what we ate or how many cigarettes we had!

The solution is learning how to wake up. Learning how to dehypnotize ourselves and recognize when we are being brainwashed by our own bad habits.

How to Dehypnotize Yourself

There are several ways to go about learning how to wake up, remain conscious, or dehypnotize yourself. It’s easiest to begin with something that we do consistently, like eat meals, or smoke, so we have the opportunity to practice consistently.

Whenever we are confronted with behavior that we are trying to change, try counting yourself up, into a state of full, awakened consciousness. Begin by saying silently to yourself, or out loud if you are able, “Zero, one, two, three, four, five, eyes open, wide awake!” As you say it, do something physical that makes a sound, like clapping your hands, snapping your fingers, clicking your tongue or patting your thigh. Take a deep breath, and with a forceful exhale and consciously clear your mind and focus on being alert and present. You can repeat this whenever you sense that you are slipping back into a day-dreamy or disconnected state.

Changing up as many things as possible surrounding the activity we are trying to change is also useful. If you normally sit in a certain chair, or smoke in a certain location, move to a different chair or go to a less convenient place to smoke. Eating, or smoking, with your non-dominant hand is a fantastic way to stay conscious about our own behavior. Put the phone down. Turn off the TV and concentrate on tasting the flavor, texture and temperature of every single bit. Swallow. Take a breath before taking another bite. Notice your hunger level. All of this keeps us awake, alert and out of a state of hypnosis.

Dehypnotizing Our Way Out of Bad Habits

It doesn’t matter if we are trying to quit smoking, eat less, not bite our nails, overcome stuttering, sleep better, study more effectively, declutter or meditate consistently. Learning to dehypnotize ourselves is a powerful and effective place to start.

Wake up! Get out from under your own brainwashing and see how clear you own life can be!

Avoid Empathy Burnout through Compassion || Mary Coday Edwards

Avoid Empathy Burnout through Compassion

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

January 17, 2017

2017 brings a new year, a new start, and for many, new resolutions.

This blog on compassion completes my three-part series from the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS; Note 1), hosted by the Mind & Life Institute (Note 2) which I attended in November.

The two previous blogs focused on staying true to yourself but yet extending loving kindness and practicing genuine concern for another’s wellbeing.

COMPASSION VS. EMPATHY – AND A HOWLING CHAIN SAW

In keeping with Mind & Life’s mission to integrate science with contemplative practices, Geshe Thupten JInpa of McGill University spoke on “Understanding the Psychology Behind Compassion Meditation.”

Compassion is a natural sense of concern that arises within us when confronted with another’s suffering and then feel motivated to see that suffering relieved.

It’s comprised of three parts: first there’s the understanding that someone IS suffering; second, we feel an emotional connection; and third, we are motivated to see the suffering relieved. And this third piece of “doing” includes the prayerful act of practicing lovingkindness toward another, of wishing the other well by connecting spiritually to our common humanity.

A significant difference between empathy and compassion is that third bit:  empathy takes us to the place where we enter emotionally into someone else’s suffering; we focus on the problem and the experience of it. If we stay in this emotional swirl, we can easily shift into “empathy burnout”.

We manifest compassion, however, when motivated to relieve that suffering; it takes on an ethical quality – a way of being.

A solution to the personal distress of empathy burnout is to shift empathy to compassion. Empathy can take a form of “feeling for” vs. the “feeling with” of compassion. 

For example, I suffered when I heard chain saws whining away in the forests in the dead of night in the poverty-ridden countries in which I’ve ived. Instead of cutting myself off from the excruciating emotional pain of an ecosystem killed and stolen, I can train my mind to move beyond my emotions to a more empowered state of “what can I do to halt illegal logging?”

And perhaps to consider the pain of poverty driving the howling chain saw.

IT CAN BE ENOUGH: THE INTENTION TO BE OPEN TO THE FIELD OF LOVE

And if because of our own pain and hurt, we cannot move into compassion, the INTENT can be enough.

Associate Professor at Claremont School of Theology Andrew Dreitcer spoke on “Practicing the Presence of Compassion: Contemplative Christian Traditions.”

Using a thousand-year-old Christian early morning practice, he led us in a process of INTENTION to be open;  i.e., when we are not capable of compassion, but we truly desire to be available to the presence of love, for ourselves and others.

First centering ourselves, he asked us to seek within us for just one word that could focus us on the intention to be open.

That word – our mantra – was then the focus of our meditation for the next 20 minutes, the idea being that then throughout the day when anger or fury arose and compassion for our fellow human beings was nowhere to be found, we could return to this word with the intent to extend compassion.

I find this process very hopeful – and helpful. Instead of throwing myself on the rocks for my lack of compassion, I can at least stay in this space of intent, knowing it is an ancient monastic tradition where it just might lead me into a “connection with an eternal, loving presence,” as Andrew called it. 

All of this is to say we CAN train in compassion. We train in order to RELEARN to relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us from a place of understanding and compassion rather than from excessive judgment.

It doesn’t happen overnight. But by me even saying I have an iota of intent, I can learn to catch myself, and perhaps begin to move into a wider place of genuine compassion – living in peace not just with others but also with myself.

_______                                                                              

Notes & Sources:

1.) ISCS “brings together scientists, scholars, artists and contemplatives to explore distinct though overlapping fields of research and scholarship, using a multidisciplinary, integrative approach to advance our understanding of the human mind.” This symposium hosted about 1,200 attendees.

2.) The mission of the Mind & Life Institute is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by integrating science with contemplative practice and wisdom traditions. https://www.mindandlife.org/mission

________

About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation.

 

Here is a list of the other blog Mary has written for People House:

The Truth About Your Emotions || Dorothy Wallis

The Truth About Your Emotions

By Dorothy Wallis

 

You have been told stories about your emotions that are not true.  I do not wish to call them lies because for the most part these “untruths” were unintentional.  These falsehoods have led to more suffering and pain.  They have kept you from connecting to yourself, your inner guidance and your heart. 

You have been told that some emotions are “good” and other emotions are “bad.”  You have been told to control some of them or to not feel some of them.  A name has been given to the emotions that are unwanted; they are called “negative or afflictive.”  Who would not want to push away something that is negative or afflictive?  By calling them a derogatory name, you are automatically judging those emotions as something not wanted and not valuable.

You have been taught many ways that seem harmless to push away, ignore or get rid of these emotions and yet these ways are disconnecting you from yourself. 

They are disconnecting you from your inner guidance and your ability to navigate this reality.  Instead of empowering you, some of the more benign techniques teach you how to “manage” your emotions, not connect with them.  At the worst, the methods taught are controlling and shaming.  You end up feeling that something is wrong with you for having powerful emotions. 

Unfelt emotions gather, build up inside of you and grow.  Eventually they expand into a swirling mass of unexpressed energy.  The pressure builds, shakes, rumbles and bubbles up to the surface.  Each time the unwanted bits that you don’t want to feel come up, you think, “I don’t like that, it makes me feel awful.  How can I get rid of it?”  You focus on the “goal” of eliminating it.  You may judge the emotion, shove it back down, pretend it doesn’t exist, distract your attention away from it, cover it over with a more “positive” feeling, project it onto someone or something else, or shame yourself for having it or not being able to get rid of it.  None of these methods actually change anything or bring you sustained relief.

Have you ever wondered why you have emotions that do not “feel” good?  There is a long history of demonizing these emotions.  These are seen as bad or even evil and if these emotions arise within you, you are then thought to be bad for having them.  Anger and depression are ones that top the “shameful” list.  If you believe that being angry or depressed means you are a bad or disturbed person then you are not going to want to feel or admit experiencing those states nor will you be willing to go deeper into them to understand or find out what those states are telling you.

In my experience with clients, anxiety is a monumental concern for most people.  Research affirms that prolonged chronic anxiety and stress can compromise the immune system.  Naturally, people want to be healthy and so assume that all anxiety and stress is detrimental and therefore seek to eliminate it.  There is a huge focus on getting “relief” from anxiety and stress in our culture and an entire industry aimed at ways to eradicate it.  Did you know that there is healthy stress?  Short-term anxiety and stress gives the body a physiological boost in energy providing mental alertness, increased performance in tasks, enhances creativity and motivation, and actually elevates the immune system.  Moderate exercise is a prime example of stressing the body, which increases circulation, muscle mass and performance. 

Moderate constructive stress reduces chronic stress. 

What is Happening to Your Thoughts?

Much of the adverse reaction you have when experiencing feelings comes from the belief that some emotions are negative, bad, or not normal.  You may not have realized how much your experience of emotions is influenced by your judgment and thoughts about them.  As soon as you begin to sense a “negative” emotion arising, your habitual response to it will execute.  You automatically resist being present to the actual physical sensations and feelings.  Thinking that the emotion is “bad” is an action of resistance.  You are pushing against the energy and the intensity of the sensation amplifies, strengthens and endures. The physical sensations of stress are the same whether you perceive them as negative or positive.  When you experience them as positive, you don’t resist the sensations.  You actually enjoy feeling them. 

Take a moment to feel the sensations of anticipation and anxiousness.  What is the difference?  Notice how the physical sensations of both are the same.  The difference happens in your mind and the way it interprets the experience.  When you feel positive anticipation your thoughts are filled with happy future outcomes and the giddy, jumpy sensations in your body are received with pleasure.  When you anticipate a negative future, you perceive it as anxiousness.  Your mind recalls every conceivable past memory and experience that did not work out the way you wanted or you imagine how terrible it could be.  You mind is showered with a deluge of thoughts and races between a series of bad outcomes.  You automatically retract and push against a dreaded future.  The sensations inside of your stomach and brain now become uncomfortable or even perceived as repulsive with the resistance.  As you dwell on these thoughts, the physical sensations escalate and can turn into actual physical illness.  The meaning you give an experience is derived from the mind.  Thoughts, judgments and beliefs influence your perception and alter the actual reality. 

Your Mind Cannot be Trusted

If you are in immanent danger your reactions are swift.  You don’t have time to think.  Your instinctual gut response of self-preservation takes over.  Most of the time, we are not in immediate physical danger.  In the present moment, you are experiencing something that has never happened before.  It may look or feel similar and this is when the memory bank of the past comes forward to advise you.  Past experiences and memory do not convey the truth; they only provide partial and limited information and an idea of what may be true.  Memory is not reliable nor is it accurate.  Each experience you have is flavored by your beliefs.  Furthermore, each time you retrieve a memory it is altered even if slightly.  The past can inform but never totally assess the present moment or decide the future.  If you only base your response on thoughts, you are missing out on the wisdom that your body, emotions and inner guidance offers in the present.

Why Some Emotions don’t’ Feel Good

An emotional response is often triggered when a current experience resembles a past one.  The emotion is a vibratory impulse of awareness.  The emotions that are annoying, disturbing, frustrating, distressful and painful are the ones that are warning you and sending you a message that you need to pay attention, be alert and aware of what is happening around you.  It may be something that is happening in your external environment or reality or in your internal reality.  The energy is expanding your awareness and altering your physiology toward action or inaction and offering a conscious perception we call feeling so that you can determine what to do, not do or integrate an important experience.

Your Emotional Sensory System is a Powerful Resource

The Truth about emotions is that they are ALL purposeful and very powerful.  Emotions are not some defective malfunction of your body.  Your body is a finely tuned efficient creation.  Your emotions are part of a highly developed sensory system created to navigate and experience earthly reality.  The vibrations of feeling and sensation offer unseen knowledge.  At the deepest level emotions guide you toward your highest good.

Your five senses, vision, touch, hearing, smell, and taste, take in a wealth of information.  Another organ, the heart, is constantly scanning the inner and outer environment with an enormous electro-magnetic field.  Heart Math research has found that the electrical field of the heart is 60 times greater than the electrical field of the brain and the magnetic field is 5,000 times greater than the magnetic field of the brain.  Emotions, through the exquisite vibration of feeling, transmit this sensory information to every cell of your body.  By not feeling your emotions you are casting aside a treasure trove of knowledge.

Use all of your resources.  Instead of negating your emotions, pay attention to your emotions and allow yourself to welcome the bodily sensations, you will come to know and love the incredible guidance the emotional sensory system offers.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth