Archive for March 2019

How Well are You? ll By Rich Brodt

How Well are You?
By Rich Brodt

When most of us think of self-care, we are generally thinking of our physical and mental health as it relates to our career. This is a good start, but I do not think it captures the full picture. Often, when I work with an individual experiencing depression, the trouble extends past the basic physical and mental health into other aspects of their lives.

This is why I often turn to the 7 Dimensions of Wellness to highlight areas of an individual’s life that could use more attention.

These dimensions are also quite useful when thinking about addressing self-care in areas that extend beyond the general physical and mental health. Checking in on each dimension helps to highlight problem areas that could use some attention.

The 7 Dimensions of Wellness are social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical. These areas often overlap with one another. Together they form a pretty complete picture of the areas of our lives that are most important to focus on. Lets take a closer look at each dimension

The social dimension refers to how we are interacting with others and finding connection.

It is important to focus on whether or not we are establishing and maintaining healthy relationships with the important people in our lives. Are we able to connect and share of ourselves? If not, we should look at why this is happening, and what we might be doing to stop ourselves from connecting. This area is especially important for healers trying to take care of themselves. Private practice can be isolating. That, coupled with the social exhaustion one might feel after days in a row of multiple back to back sessions each week, can lead to social withdrawal due to fatigue. Without connection and feedback from others we lose a sense of our selves.

The emotional dimension refers to how we are experiencing and processing our own emotions.

One aspect of this is how we deal with and overcome challenges. The ability to feel and express our emotions in a healthy way leads to higher productivity and improved self-concept. If we cannot identify and express what we are feeling, it tends to cause difficulty understanding the emotions of others, which is unacceptable for a healing professional.

The spiritual dimension relates to how we see and interact with the world.

Often, the word spiritualleads people to think of religion. However, the concept can be conceptualized much more broadly. Spirituality is about a connection to oneself and an understanding of ones place in the world. Spirituality focuses on the experience of being human, rather than material or physical possessions. It brings peace and humility to our lives, and can be practiced in any number of ways. Getting in touch with this spirituality allows us to identify and live in accordance with our values.

The environmental dimension, while important, is often overlooked.

This dimension speaks to our awareness of the fragility of the earth, and the way we choose to interact with it. Are we making choices that harm our environment? Are we taking time to be thankful to what is provided to us by our environment? Are we having a positive impact?

Occupational wellness, is an interesting topic for a therapist or healer.

Most of us are self-employed, and so we have a great deal of choice in our daily schedule. But are we happy with what were doing and how were doing it? For the self-employed, this might mean focusing on what hours you work, or what populations you work with. It might be that youre feeling burnt out and need a break. We need to listen to the messages we are getting about our work, and use those messages to find greater fulfillment in what we are doing.

Intellectual wellness, while often related to occupational wellness, is important in and of itself.

The focus in this dimension is on whether we are able to open our minds to new ideas and concepts, think critically and improve our skills. This dimension asks whether we are open to challenging our self intellectually, and whether we are willing to digest new information that might change how we feel about a certain topic.

Physical wellness is a dimension where most of us are already aware of the implications.

This dimension refers to our physical health, and our ability to endure through our daily activities without having physical issues. This dimension stresses the importance of routine physical check ups, exercise and avoiding habits that might be detrimental to our physical wellness. I will not spend too much time here since physical wellness seems to be at the top of most self care lists.

These seven dimensions give a solid overview of the idea of wellness as it relates to taking care of oneself. Whenever we feel low, there is a good chance that we are ignoring one or more of these categories. If you ever want to assess where your self-care routine might be improved, running through these dimensions is a good place to start. That said, it is often also a good place to start with clients who are experiencing depression or anxiety, as self-care is the first thing we tend to neglect when things arent going our way.


Rich Brodt is a former Affordable Counseling Program intern and currently works as a Core Practitioner at People House. Rich provides therapy and counseling for individuals. His style integrates various techniques, but he tailors his approach to each client’s unique needs. He is committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. “Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.”

2727 Bryant St Suite 430 Denver CO 80203 and People House Denver

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality ll By Erin Amundson

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality
By Erin Amundson

 

Many of us have heard the phrase I am a spiritual being having a human experience. If you’ve heard it, you might think that it’s a pretty profound statement.  It’s smart, it’s catchy, and it resonates.  Something about turning our perspective around to consider that we are much more than human helps to soothe some of the discomforts life brings.  I’m all for that. That’s why I practice and write about everyday spirituality. I know that the more I connect with the spiritual aspect of my existence, the easier it is to navigate my life with joy and playfulness.

In reflection, I began to wonder why we need to remind ourselves that we are spiritual beings having human experiences.

If it’s true that we are spiritual beings, wouldn’t it be easier to just be spiritual?

I would think so, but the truth is that most of us get caught up in worry – about our bills, our children, our career path, our politics, our relationships and our bodies.  All of this worry creates a spiritual crisis, and then we face a forced reminder that we need to connect as a spiritual being.

I don’t know about you, but I’m interested in an easier way.  That’s why I created a personal and professional practice centered in daily spirituality.   There are many ways to do this. How you do it isn’t as important as just doing it. I like to do things that are easy, fun, and natural to me.  

I have found that the most natural, easy and fun way to maintain a daily connection to spirituality is through dream work.    

We all dream daily, whether we are aware we are doing it or not.  Many of us invest a lot of money and time in self-help books, retreats, yoga, meditation, therapy, coaching, and endless other opportunities to keep us aligned on our spiritual path.  

These are all important in my world, but I wonder why we miss one of the more obvious and simple ways to stay connected – our own subconscious link to the soul through dreams.  I like to call this our Natural Technology. And once you know how to speak the language of dreams, it costs nothing but a few minutes of your time daily or weekly.

The two most common questions I get about dreaming are Why is it Important? and How do I do it?  Let’s start with the first.  Dreams have been a part of most indigenous culture’s spiritual practice since the beginning of time.  See this link for a great example. Tribes gathered at the morning fire to discuss the visions of the night before and make adjustments to their living to follow what the dreams told them.  Often, this was the practice that saved their lives.

In more recent times, the greats such as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg credit their dreams for their greatest contributions to the world.  

In short, dreams offer us warnings, healing, and alignment as well as a connection to our own brilliance in the world.  

But first we have to understand the language.  I teach this for a living both in my private practice and through my free events, weekend retreats and writing.  

Here are some ideas for getting started.  First, to remember dreams, it’s important to have a practice of recording your dreams every morning, when you first wake up.  I suggest writing them in a journal or recording them on your phone to listen to later. It usually takes about 5 minutes to record anything you remember.  Even snippets of dreams can hold powerful material. If you are having trouble recalling your dreams, you can create a bedtime ritual of asking to remember your dreams by writing, lighting a candle you identify as a dream candle, or any other ritual that suits you.  

Once you have material to work with, I suggest starting by making associations to your dream symbols.  If you dream about a crow, write that word down in your journal, quiet your mind with several deep breaths or a meditation, and jot down whatever comes into your awareness when you think about a crow. Then ask yourself what aspect of your life resonates with these association words.

If death comes to mind, think about an area of your life you are ready to put to rest.  

In addition to this, you can ask the dream symbol to speak to you in a meditative state and see what message it has.  Most of us think of a crow as a representation of death, but I’ve seen it mean different things to different dreamers including strength to face an illness, the burden of an addiction and an indication that it is time to make a career change.  

When you begin to engage dreams, your subconscious responds by providing you with more material and usually begins to offer more direct guidance.  When you record your dreams, you might identify patterns that symbolize an important message from spirit, such as a dream that someone else is driving your car – and that you need to develop or initiate taking the wheel in some aspect of your life.

Personally, my dreams have warned me away from abusive people in my life, guided me to a career that uses my core talents and fulfills me, helped me to co-create aspects of life I want to manifest and healed a childhood trauma for me.  If I were to calculate the costs in therapy, self-help, life-coaching and workshops, I’m sure I would’ve spent thousands of dollars.  I only wish someone had taught me this language at an earlier age.


Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

The Power of Dreaming: Taming the Beasts ll By Dorothy Wallis

The Power of Dreaming: Taming the Beasts
By Dorothy Wallis

 

“A lamb, really, a lamb, that’s my ego?”  This thought washes over me as the image of a fluffy lamb appears beneath my closed eyes when the dream instructor asks,

“What is the image of your ego?”  

Annoyed, I proceed with her next directive, which is to talk to my ego and tell it something. Inwardly, I exclaim, “Would you be more strong and assertive?”  Immediately, the now spunky lamb jumps in the air, clicks its black hooves together and lands firmly with a determined look. I cannot help but laugh and my heart softens, “Yes, you are stronger than you appear.”  As other dream participants talk about their wild monstrous ego images, I feel grateful that I do not have to work at taming my lamb.

Throughout the three days with Catherine Shainberg, I work with the truth of images and how they depict our reality.  Dreaming is not just in the night, but a continual process. Instead of merely being a passive observer of the events and images in our life, she teaches us how to fully participate and respond to both the night dreams and the daydream.  

The first concept to embrace is the truth held in the images our body/mind/spirit creates.

Even if we do not like, agree, or understand an image, it is absolutely reflecting the truth about our perceptions, filters, and our true being. I see it as the soul speaking.  This language has pinpoint accuracy and as I work with the images, I begin to have a deep appreciation for how an image can incorporate thought and feeling into such a tidy and precise modality of communication.

“Dreaming is a way of triggering consciousness or holding a center so that consciousness can have power,” she explains.  The stories or mythology created out of the dream describes how each person inhabiting a body understands the great mystery.  The Kabbalistic lineage teaches that dreaming is a whispering and the secret is in how you blow. Kabbalah is a blowing wind through the text or form; it means to receive from the inside.  

One becomes the flute and God blows the flute.

Through experiential exercises using all of our senses, we touch the subconscious from a relaxed fully present and awake awareness. This way of working with imaging is a process of becoming more alive to the true reality in the world and a detachment from complete absorption in the illusion of the world.  The power comes from interacting and responding to the images instead of treating them as if in a movie or being at the mercy of them. Life is lived as a co-creation, mythopoesis, shaping experience through myth and vision, rather than as fate.

Two to three minute imaging exercises, one after the other, train our mind and body to respond quickly.  On the last day each exercise takes only a minute and is followed by another in rapid succession. Truth is found in the first impression of the image and in the experience of the senses and feelings that arise.  Images instantly appear out of the dark and my first response is wonder and questioning, “Why this image?” My second response is to morph it into something else. I learn to be with the image and take it in before morphing or responding to it.  Catherine says the Talmud speaks of the four Rabbis. The first Rabbi ‘sees’ and dies of shock, not living the dream fully. The second Rabbi ‘sees’ and goes mad. The third Rabbi ‘sees’ and says, “Is that all?” The fourth Rabbi ‘sees’ and comes back into the world transformed.  I learn to be with the image I receive instead of pushing it aside. I learn to respond to it. Entering the dream world is the hero or heroine and I am that heroine. Transforming the images teaches one how to deal with life’s challenges. Dreaming offers a way of practicing and honing the skill of creating reality.  It also transforms our pattern of seeing and responding.

The challenge is real and as I enter the night dreams they now take on a different flavor.  In one, I enter a furniture store looking for a dining table and chairs. Squishy, swivel chairs with kaleidoscopic colored leather seats and backs surrounding a dark wood rectangular table appear.  Delighted by the chairs, my attention is now drawn to the table. It seems rather short and squatty. “Maybe I want a round table instead. No, rectangular is fine, I surmise, it just needs to be longer and taller.”  Instantly, the table grows in dimension. That was easy. In another, I am walking alone in a pitch-black night beside an endless highway. A car comes from behind and slows. My antenna goes up and warns me that it may not be safe for a lone female walking at night in the middle of nowhere.  I begin running and just as soon as I do my feet rotate at lightning quicksilver speed propelling me far ahead of the car. My eyes are alert and watching both sides for signs of people, lights, or buildings. On my right, lights and buildings appear yet there is a tall barrier between it and the road.  “I must find an opening,” no sooner thought than a dip in the barricade materializes and I bound over the low wall down an embankment. I mingle with people in the bright lights of the town. Still concerned that the car has followed me, I merge into a tall shrub. I am completely invisible now to passers-by.  This transformation lesson must be complete because the next moment, I walk out of the shrub into the light and wake up.

The challenges increase with practice until transforming becomes second nature.  This skill is brought into the waking state as courage and an ability to see a situation more creatively and from an expanded state of heightened possibility with choice.  Choice is a key word.

Night dreams offer endless choice and possibility and this knowing translates into the dream of life during the day.

Reversing the day unwinds the burden of the day and opens a passageway to the night dream of choice.  If I can handle a situation in the night dream, I am even more powerful in the day. The dream is the reality of how I actually feel. Recalling each moment of my day seems a prodigious task. “How will I remember a whole day?” Surprisingly, the scenes of the day do unfold like petals falling from a spiral core of a faded rose.  One after the other the previous moment comes forth effortlessly until slumber enfolds me and I am in dreamland. If in the accounting of the day there arises a moment that weighs upon me, hurts me, disturbs, or unsettles my mind or emotions, I have the choice to re-image, re-frame, or re-experience the situation by responding to it.  I do it in the same way I respond to the night dream. It is a form of therapy on oneself and with skill and practice trauma can be removed before it festers.

Sabrina recounts her dream from the previous night.  The whole group asks her to describe nuances, feelings, and details of her dream, which helps the dreamer clarify and pay more attention to it, encouraging a way into the heart via the use of poetic language.  A sensuous richly evocative, vivid description brings the life of the dream into the room and into each one’s experience. Dreams often contain residue from recent events in our life and carry less weight or meaning so we go through a process of verification to set those bits aside.  Patterns are noticed and then each one becomes a secondary dreamer re-telling the dream from their own imaging, sensing and knowing. The dream entity assimilates layers of images and sensations revealing the wisdom that this dream is a world dream created by all of us.

In truth, we dreamed it together.  

The knowing that life is a dream and we are dreaming the new dream each and every moment is indelibly impressed upon our consciousness and with it taking responsibility for our creations means sincerely undertaking the ability to respond.

With our eyes closed Catherine pummels us with scenarios and asks us questions.  “Play your whole life in front of you and see your life as a victim, now do the same and see your life as a drama, now see your life as a comedy.  Which do you prefer?” “See the heroic stance you took as a young child to protect yourself in your dysfunctional family. See how your stance doesn’t serve you anymore.”  “See your mother’s face in a mirror; it is the first face you see. Change what you dislike.” These simple rapid-fire intentions send waves of knowing and change throughout my cells.

I soak up the way she works with individuals in the group going through resistance, how she surgically enters their images and cuts out, brings in light, and guides them into an altered experience.  It is amazing the speed in which people are able to move through their resistance this way. Clearing out fractious emotions is done in a Gestalt way by feeling it, finding where it resides in the body, and vocalizing it.  Once honored, the question is asked, “How do I want to feel?” The remembrance of choice is prompted and then a response of choosing a feeling is initiated with sensation and imaging.

Taming the beasts of emotions requires us to clean the hurts of childhood and society.  

By changing dissonant past images and feelings the attitude and triggering to the past is transformed. Each time a challenge is faced and met through the exquisite creativity of story and image, healing occurs and light enters.

Wearing silvery armor, I enter a dark cave and meet the dragon of anger, the bull of resentment, the crocodile of fear, and the sadness of Eeyore.  I lasso them in a golden net and climb a ladder. As I climb the rungs, the emotional demons all turn pink, then turn into doves, and finally disappear.  I leap off the ladder into the sky, turn into pure light and expand out into the universe of pure love. Ahh freedom…


 

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 1 By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 1
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

 

Just as a 30-foot tall tsunami forever alters a coastal environment, a dark night of the soul leaves your inner landscape forever rearranged.

The phrase “dark night of the soul” comes from the 16th century Spanish mystic and poet John of the Cross. A member of the Christian religious order of Carmelites, he was imprisoned by his order for eight months for trying to reform the order. During his imprisonment he wrote poems, and after his release he wrote commentary on these poems, one of them entitled Dark Night of the Soul.

“What is my ‘soul’ anyway?”

“The church says ‘save your soul!’ but it never says what a soul IS,” I continued in frustration to my partner at a non-sectarian retreat center in Hua Hin, Thailand, almost 25 years ago. The church I was attending at the time didn’t encourage questions—especially from women. I was pushing against the patriarchal boundaries of entitlement, command, and control: the male leaders determined not only the acceptable questions, but also the answers.

Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés believes otherwise, as she expounds on the classic Bluebeard fairy tale in her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, preferring the old French and Slavic versions (1).

Bluebeard is a gruesome brute who has married seven women, telling each they have the full run of the castle, but warning them not to look behind a specified locked door. The current wife asks herself, what is he hiding? She’s been given the keys to all the doors, and goaded by her visiting sisters, opens the forbidden door. To her horror, inside the room lie the bloody corpses of his previous wives. She realizes she’s next and knows she must escape.

Spoiler alert: in this version, she does.

Traditional patriarchal interpretations say the moral of this story—particularly aimed at women—is that a young maiden’s curiosity often leads to deep remorse. Huh? What’s up with that? We wise women ask.

Pinkola Estés, on the other hand, says that asking the right question opens the door to consciousness, that questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open. Curiosity leads us to ask, “What stands behind?”

My question: “What IS my soul anyway?” began the slow creaking open of the door to my psyche.

Linking soul with genuineness and one’s true nature

While Jung defines psyche as the totality of all psychological processes, both conscious and unconscious, soul is a nuanced word, a symbol from which meaning grows. Most of us have an intuitive feeling for what our soul is; the words that follow are written by Jungian analysts. Pay attention to what pings in your innermost being.

• Pinkola Estés says that “In fairy tales [and] in ancient hermeneutics, the spirit is being born of the soul. The spirit inherits or incarnates into matter in order to gather news of the ways of the world and carries these back to the soul. When not interfered with, the relationship between soul and spirit is one of perfect symmetry; each enriches the other in turn” (1).

• James Hillman writes extensively about the soul, concluding that “The soul is a deliberately ambiguous concept, resisting all definition, in the same manner as do all ultimate symbols which provide the root metaphors for the systems of human thought” (2).

• Psychotherapist and former monk Thomas Moore says, “It is impossible to define precisely what the soul is. Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway: the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music has soul or a remarkable person is soulful. When you look closely at the image of soulfulness, you see that it is tied to life in all its particulars—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that stay in the memory and touch the heart. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy” (3). While a definition may be impossible for Moore, he does link soul with genuineness and one’s true nature.

• And one more by Evangelos Christou: “[T]he soul is not as transcendental, nor as biological, as either metaphysics or science would have us believe. On the one hand it is about life, about how people think, feel, behave, their problems and their ways, not about the organs and functions with which they do this. On the other hand, it is also about spirit and the meaning of life to people and the meanings are not exhausted by a history of ideas” (4).

Moore says “A true dark night of the soul is not a surface challenge but a development that takes you away from the joy of your ordinary life. An external event or an internal mood strikes you at the core of your existence. It’s not just a feeling, but a rupture at the core of your very being, and it may take a long while to get to the other end of it” (5).

In other words, it’s not coming home at the end of the day and telling your partner, “I had a dark night of the soul today. Someone took my parking place, I dropped my phone in the loo, and my hair looks awful.” These are surface challenges.

Dark nights of the soul are the pressures building up in the ocean floor of our psyches, shifting those tectonic plates of our worldview we believed were solid. The duct tape holding them together is about to become unglued—the tsunami waits in the shadows.

In my next blog I’ll look closer at a dark night’s comparison to a clinical depression, some of the whys of a dark night, and what can emerge from it. Meanwhile, listen to and feel your soul!

___________

Notes & Sources:

1.Pinkola Estés, Clarissa. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stores of the Wild Woman Archetype, Ballentine Books. 1992.

2.Hillman, James. Suicide and the Soul. Spring Publications. 1994, 1998.

3.Moore, Thomas. Care of the Soul. 1992.

4.Christou, Evangelos. The Logos of the Soul. Spring Publications, 2007.

5.The best resource I have found on determining if it’s a dark night of the soul or a clinical depression requiring the attention of a mental health professional is Thomas Moore’s book, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Penguin Random House. 2004.

__________

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.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth