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Do You Know How to Generate Wisdom from your Shame? ll By Erin Amundson

Do You Know How to Generate Wisdom from your Shame?
By Erin Amundson

 

This blog is highly personal.  Most of my writing is personal, but this one truly comes from a place of feeling like my life has been ripped open for no real reason, and not knowing what else to do but to write about it.  I write about it in the hopes that someone else will benefit from my experience.  I write in the hopes that I will find the wisdom in the chaos of my current emotional state.  I write because writing is a tether that keeps me connected to my core when nothing else seems to work. 

And if I’ve learned anything in my personal and professional journey, it’s that finding and honoring what tethers us is crucial if we want to grow through our pain. 

There are two contexts that I write this blog under.  The first is that I totally forgot the deadline for this blog to begin with, and as a result I fell very harshly into a state of self-criticism, judgment and shame.  I know by now that shame offers two options: I can move through it and find the source of the wound (certainly it’s NOT a missed deadline), or I can submerse in it and allow it to whittle away at my life — stealing my productivity, my sense of purpose, and my grounding in the knowledge that I’m lovable through my mistakes. 

I don’t know about you, but I feel that my time on earth is short, and I want to live my life, play big, and spend as much time as I can in a state of joy.  So I chose to move by writing it out. 

The second context is a realization I had after pulling myself together enough to give an interview about my work.  In this interview, a deep truth came to the surface.  Every experience that I have in my life is an opportunity to generate wisdom that I can share with the world.  As I heard these words come out of my mouth, tears welled up in my eyes in recognition of the deep, meaningful connection I was making between my own spiritual crises, and the ability to find a reason and a healing every single time.  And I realized that if I can do it, so too can you. 

I still haven’t figured out the source of my shame that was ultimately triggered by a missed deadline, but I am steeped in the knowledge that even in the most painful moments of my life, I can remember my core self and remain faithful that my navigation system will get me to where I’m going once I’ve been properly re-routed. When I dig into the experience of deep shame, I recall that sometimes our systems need a complete shut down in order to enter a new season, with fresh eyes and an open heart.  I am aware of the need to be able to lean into darkness with anticipation of the light that calls us to the other side. 

This shame, in part caused by childhood sexual abuse, in part by a horrible boss who told me I had no skill for writing, in part by a deeply manipulative ex-partner, may not be resolved easily.  It feels heavy.  It feels deeply unconscious.  It feels overwhelming.  And yet, while I write, I’m finding some wisdom to guide me into a better place so that I do not have to suffer or dim my light while I work through it.  Here is what I’ve got – self generated wisdom to share with you if you should find yourself in the midst of a shame crisis.    

1. BE GENTLE. If I was better at this, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog.  But it’s incredibly important.  When you catch yourself in crisis, PLEASE do your best not to judge where you’re at.  Where you’re at is perfect, and you’ll see for yourself when all of the pieces fall back into place or you find your new life or you recognize your own strength.  Take baby steps to take care of yourself — eating well, sleeping, moving, meditating, finding reasons to smile – the little things  go a long way.  Nurture yourself as much as you can, and have gratitude for your ability to walk through darkness.

2. THOU SHALT NOT COMPARE. Nobody else is on the same journey as you in the same way as you. Someone else’s experience of divorce, career change, grief, moving across the world or letting go of pain and shame has nothing to do with yours.  Comparison is a natural function of our core desire to connect to one another, but it actually separates us from ourselves.  Instead, connect with others by vulnerably sharing your truth about your experience.  I guarantee you, there is a unique wisdom in your own path’s unfolding.  And comparing only makes our self-judgment harsher.

3. TEST YOUR LIMITS. You are in crisis to grow. Remember this.  Every challenge or dark time in your life is in front of you to show you something more about yourself.  When you are pushed to the edge, you have the opportunity to expand your capacity, which means discovering new strengths and connecting to deeper truths about yourself.  Think of it as though every edge is merely an expansion of yourself.  These overwhelming emotions are akin to growth or birthing pains as you stretch yourself or birth a new version of you.

4. HAVE GOOD MIRRORS. Surround yourself with people who know your core, who support your growth, and who have an ability to read between your lines. Consider a therapist or a coach. Consider detoxifying your life of people who do not love and support you.  Choose partners, friends and colleagues who support you, who lift you up and encourage you and who understand that moments of weakness are actually moments of great courage and strength in disguise. 

5. KNOW YOUR TETHERS. I mentioned that writing is a tether for me in times of crisis.  It may not be your thing.  Other common tethers include creative or mechanical projects, playing, listening to or writing music, yoga, an animal soul mate, cooking, gardening, or solving a puzzle.  A tether is really anything that you can do or connect to no matter what state of mind you’re in that reminds you of who you really are.  It’s an act that lies close to the heart of you.  It’s the thing that makes you feel more like you. If you don’t know what your tethers are, see number 4.  Find a good mirror to help you explore. 

Of course, at the end of all of this, one of the best ways I know to turn things around is to remember that you are a wisdom generator. 

Your life provides you exactly what you need to grow into the person you are meant to be.

Every challenge reflects your strength, and every new level of joy reflects your depth. Be wise, be strong, be beautiful and be brave.  I love you. 

 


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.

Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil? ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil?
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.


 

Amidst the pain of political pipe bombs and Pittsburgh’s anti-Semitic domestic terrorism, how many of you felt that jolt of love pulsing through the internet last week? A few days ago we learned how butter supplier Land O’Lakes was a corporate sponsor of Iowa’s GOP congressman Steve King who has a reputation for supporting white supremacists—including tweeting support for Nazis.

When social media got wind of it, a boycott was threatened against Land O’Lake products­—not good for corporate profits on the cusp of holiday baking season. And guess what? Enough of a national outrage ensued from our citizens for Land O’Lakes to issue a press release saying they would no longer support Rep. King.

This is a positive sign. Americans are collectively calling for love of the Other vs. hate.

Contrast this with a conversation I had with some educated, young white men. One was telling us of a male speaker he had heard, who started his lecture by saying, “White supremacy built this country”.

I countered with what REALLY built this country was yes, supremacy, but it was white supremacy in VIOLENCE, THEFT, and GREED—all wrapped in fear of the Other and condoned by their God. Bluntly, our nation was built on a powerful, patriarchal, white collective choosing evil.

Most of the Europeans colonists were barred in their home countries from owning land, and so they fought to claim land here, along with its resources, such as forests, hunting rights, water, fishing rights, coal and other extractive resources. It didn’t matter if Native Americans claimed the land first.  The trespassers had greater weapons of violence—using gunpowder invented by the Chinese. They took that gunpowder and used it to serve hate—becoming supreme in greed-fueled violence and theft, slaughtering whoever got in their way. The very freedoms and rights they sought they denied the Other. The oppression they were fleeing they imposed on the Other.

The South and much of the Eastern seaboard were built with both black and white slaves. Slavery’s nothing new. Down through the centuries, all races have built economic wealth by enslaving women and men. But Southern white colonists exhibited superiority in violence against slaves—often government-sanctioned.

I lived almost two decades in Asia and Africa. White folks don’t hold exclusive rights to those values, which certainly don’t translate into any sort of “superiority” in intelligence. Living by greed, violence, and theft just means living immorally with your reptilian brain and bigger weapons—not a higher consciousness—and anyone can do that.

 

Tip the Scale Toward Good

I asked People House co-founder Pat Pendleton  how to navigate this divisive political climate. She said that, “Good and Evil have always existed and always will. We must listen to our better angels to tip the scale toward Good. It’s a constant act of awareness to shine the light on Good and not allow Evil to thrive” (1).

And what is the Good?

The story is told of a Cherokee speaking to his grandson about the battle between the two wolves who live inside all of us. “One is Evil. It is anger, jealously, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth,” he tells his grandson. And the winner? “The one you feed.”

Without getting into the weeds over this, let’s just say that I like this Cherokee’s definition of “the Good.”

And WHY choose the Good? Ethical philosophers have written tomes on this this topic for more than 2,000 years. Circuitous reasons abound. “Because it’s good to choose the good.” “Because of karma.” “Because God says so.” But which God? Hindu? Jewish? Muslim? Catholic? Protestant? And which God gets to decide what the Good is? Many of us believe a dogmatic presentation of the Good is just a way to maintain the status quo and control and destroy the nonconformists (2).

After many years of ignoring my soul’s pleas and preferences, these days I honor it with my attention   to what brings it life. Therefore, I paused over a simple explanation given by Larry Behrendt (3) when I felt an emotional reaction to his words.

Based on the Socratic/Platonic doctrine, he ends his piece with, “But the goal of knowing the good is to improve the soul, which is the person.” Why is this important, psyche? I asked myself.

To “…improve the soul.” Improve means to raise to a better quality or condition. Choosing Good over Evil is like strengthening a muscle you didn’t know you had while lifting weights to work on a different muscle.

After a while you recognize you’re stronger in a certain way but don’t know how you got there. My soul likes it when I choose the Good, it needs this—it’s how I’m meant to live—whether my rational brain understands this or not.

Collectively Choosing the Good

Ms. Pendleton continued: ““Choosing Good is not a onetime battle to be won, it is ongoing and always will be. We have let ourselves become subdued by the superficial—the reality show and the huckster— and have given evil a foot in the door. We are in a dangerous place and as a nation need to be reminded of our [higher] values. We need to take strong action toward love and oneness and away from separation and hate. We’d better do it soon with solidarity.” 

She believes lack of human connection contributes to this separation and hate, adding that, “Strong communities …religious or non-religious, where people support each other are important.”

And I believe that collectively choosing Good improves the soul of our nation in ways we won’t understand. 

Again, it takes choices. Our white, patriarchal ancestors were weak in choosing Good, but supreme in choosing evil. They were supreme in letting their baser selves take over.

Every day we have opportunities to choose love/the Good over hate. As we have seen played out on a national level, the myth of white supremacy promotes hate, anger, and violence toward the other.

GOP representative Steve King personally experienced that power of the collective choosing Good. Which one will you feed today?

______

Notes & Sources:

1.Interview via Facebook messenger, Oct. 30, 2108.

2. Many believe that God defines the moral rules and imposes the sense of duty. God is thus a surrogate parent, and by being good we gain divine reward and (we hope) avoid divine punishment.

3. https://philosophynow.org/issues/63/Why_Should_I_Be_Good

4. The biblical prophet Micah said, “He has told you, Mortal, what is good. What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, New International Version)

_______

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.

 


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The opinions expressed by the guest bloggers are their own and do not reflect the views of
People House. The content provided through the People House website and blogs are for
informational purposes only. Should you decide to take action in real life based on this
information that is your own responsibility and choice.

Relational Awareness: (Part 3) Moving Out of Power and Control ll Dorothy Wallis

Relational Awareness: (Part 3) Moving Out of Power and Control

By Dorothy Wallis

 

Your first entrance into the world begins with relationship.  You come into the world with a small body that needs nurturing and care.  You cannot survive on your own.  You are not ready to stand and take care of yourself; you are dependent and vulnerable.  Naturally, there is an inborn fear of separation and a need to attach and bond.  Dependency is a gift that makes it necessary for you to be connected and engage with people and life.  Being seen with caring attention not only means that your basic physical needs will be met, it also fulfills a soulful need of value for simply being, it reflects back to you that you exist.  “I exist, therefore I am.”  You have an innate need to know that you belong, are valued, have meaning and are inherently good and worthy….

​From the start, a sense that you exist and your needs will be met is brought about by being recognized, accepted and valued by those around you. You look for external sources of confirmation of your worth so that you will receive all that you need.  Instead of “Self” esteem, the source of your esteem becomes associated with receiving it outside of yourself.  When you are loved and well cared for receiving external esteem feels great and is supportive.  The downside of this dependency is that no one else can provide for all of your needs nor can they give you the knowing of your inherent value and worth.  When you expect to get your needs or esteem met from others and don’t receive it, you are bound to be disappointed.  When you look to others for acceptance, approval and recognition, you give up awareness of your authentic self.  A sense of autonomy and control are vital stages of growth.  Placing the locus of control about your worth outside of yourself leaves you with a loss of control and sense of powerlessness. 
 
The sense of powerlessness and not being in control is frightening.  If you are powerless, you are vulnerable, which is, “a quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”  Being powerless is dangerous.  Your sense of self contracts and you feel weak, diminished, helpless and exposed.  How will you survive?  Regaining your power and control is paramount.  Your psyche constructs the “adaptive child” to protect you and defend against harm.  When you are hurt, the first thing you want to do is stop the pain.  It’s all about stopping the pain.  Overarching instincts of survival kick in and you attempt to keep whatever is hurting you away or get others to give you what you want.  You cannot be concerned about anyone else or their feelings.  It is from this immature egoic child mind that the strategies of fight, flight, and freeze are formed and result in a conditioned stance.

Aggressive action to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​The first strategy of ego defense is to use aggressive action as a way to gain back perceived loss of power and control.  The impulse to Fight shows up around the age of two, known as the “terrible twos.” Two year olds are known for the emergence of this strategy.  Anger, stubbornness, temper tantrums, firm “No’s,” and hitting are ways to keep others away or to get what you want.  Aggressive uncontained emotional outbursts such as yelling, screaming, shouting, wailing, whining or any sound that is frightening, offensive or annoying is often an effective way to get others to pay attention to your needs.  If this strategy gets results, it will remain as the first way to regain power. 

Passive action to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​If you were demeaned, squashed, punished, or abused when you fought, you may have learned that fighting did not bring the power and control you sought nor did it work to get your needs met.  You found that keeping away from those that harmed you physically or emotionally kept you safe.  Flight is the urgent impulse activating you to flee, run away or distance yourself.  You learned how to remove your attention by either physically leaving a situation or by going inward, shutting others out, going silent and being passive.  It is the second strategy used by the “adaptive child.”

Inaction to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​What happens when you can’t fight or run away?  Your psyche protects you by shutting down your conscious awareness so that you do not experience physical and emotional pain.  You Freeze.  You may “leave your body” and your memory and senses like your hearing and sight may turn off or be severely diminished. 

What Happens when you Use these Strategies in Your Adult Relationships?

​Part 2 of the Relational Awareness series introduced the Adaptive Child and the four non-relational stances that the ego uses to defend and protect.  A deeper look at these strategies reveals the way they keep you in a revolving door of separation and escalating conflict.

The “adaptive child” strategies are useful when you are a child and are dependent on your caretakers.  They also protect you in extreme danger.  But how do these strategies work in your relationships as an adult?  Remember, these strategies purposely disconnect you from others.  They engage when you believe it necessary to separate and distance yourself from others so that your value, power and sense of self will remain intact and you will not be harmed. 
 
There are times in relationship when someone says, does something or behaves in a manner that causes you harm, actual or perceived.  It may be physical, emotional or abhorrent to your values.  The wound to your identity may undermine your physical prowess or diminish your value and worth, or your self-esteem, which creates a sense of weakness.  You counter this with power to reassert control and esteem.

Fight Mode is Boundaryless and Uncontained

​When you react with aggression and fight mode and do not contain your emotions, you are Boundaryless and Uncontained. You allow your hurt and fury to project onto the person you believe has hurt you or is not providing what you need and this pain may spill out onto others as well.  Manipulation is often used to gain “the upper hand” and increase your sense of control and power.  It can take the form of reacting with high drama to get what you want.  This can be through attacking, striking out physically or verbally, with unbridled expression of emotional volatility, stonewalling, or Gaslighting.   

Flight Mode is Walled Off and Contained

​When you react to wounding by withdrawing, you contain your emotions and shield yourself from harm.  You are Walled Off and Contained.  You regain control through removing your attention by either physically leaving a situation or by going inward, shutting down and going silent.  The warmth of reciprocating energy is no longer flowing.  An icy cold shield blocks any connection.  Where the light of your being once stood is now a frozen silence of emptiness. 

The Effect on Relationship being 1 Up and “Better Than”

​When both you and your partner are 1 Up, there will be an exchange that ramps-up with rapid intensity.  Both partners believe that they are “right” and feel justified in their strong stance.  It may begin with a comment from one partner that triggers the other into returning a defensive rebuke.  

1 Up Boundaryless meets 1 Up Boundaryless

​When both partners are 1 Up and Boundaryless, they gain power through conflict and force.  The tone of voices will become increasingly firmer, sharper, louder and harsher and the energy will become heated with anger as the conflict escalates.  Both may hurl nasty, abusive, damaging, mocking and threatening words to strike the other person down.  Gaslighting may be used to gain power.  Screaming, yelling, loudmouthed obnoxious behavior may ensue.  If the fight continues people may slam doors, throw objects, or become physical with their partner by pushing, slapping, hitting or using increasingly violent physical abuse.  The conflict can become highly volatile and dangerous.  

1 Up Boundaryless meets 1 Up Walled Off

​The above tactics and heated exchange from the 1 Up and Boundaryless partner will feel threatening and attacking to the 1 Up and Walled Off person.  The wound to the self-esteem of the Walled Off person shows up as a sense of hurt pride and it results in an air of arrogance as a defense to the feeling of diminishment.  “I don’t need you and I will not open myself up to you” is held in order to protect and forget the hurt.  A stubborn attitude puts up a wall shutting out the other.  “I am right, end of discussion. There is no need to discuss this further.” “You have insulted my dignity and therefore I have no time for you.”  The shutting out of the other has a cold heartless feeling to it.  There is a sense of righteousness in the withdrawal.  Puffing up and withdrawing feels good initially but underneath there are feelings of hurt, disgrace or shame.  The Wall of protection not only shuts out the “other” but also serves to shut out any painful deprecating feelings about oneself. 
 
Instead of outwardly confronting the person or situation, if you are Walled Off your hurt and anger will come out in passive aggressive ways such as digs and subtle insults, backhanded compliments, giving the “cold shoulder,” silencing, being grumpy or sullen and unexpressive.  You may ignore or stop doing joint tasks and responsibilities.  Suppression of feelings can be so complete that there is no realization of the suppressed anger or cold aggressive attitude being projected onto your partner.  At first, you may believe that you are taking care of yourself and your feelings by withdrawing or that you are centered and regulated and therefore “above” emotions, all of which advances your feelings of superiority.  In fact, you are actively suppressing your emotions and so become unaware of them.  You may know the effect distancing is having on your partner, but you do not care or you may even relish it. 

The Effect on Relationship being 1 Down and “Less Than”

1 Up meets 1 Down “Less Than” and Boundaryless

​The power and force of the 1 Up partner, whether they are Boundaryless or Walled Off, will have a severe diminishing effect on the 1 Down partner.  An extreme fear of abandonment and loss of relationship and connection arises from disapproval, nonacceptance, or rejection when you are 1 Down.  It does not matter if your partner is aggressive and Boundaryless or if they are Walled Off and withdrawing, the force of disappointment, displeasure and antagonism will be felt as a cutting pain carving out a piece of your sense of self.  The idea of the loss of connection or being alone is so abhorrent that you become exceedingly anxious.  Thoughts of loss and loneliness fill your mind resulting in ruminating on small actions or behaviors of your partner creating exaggerated stories and worst-case scenarios of their intentions or motivations all leading to the conclusion that you will be abandoned.  These devastating thoughts create panic engendering a strong need to gain acceptance and love.  It shows up as boundless neediness and obsessive clinginess.  With severe feelings of powerlessness and fear of loss of control so prominent regaining a sense of control becomes acute.
 
When you are 1 Down and Boundaryless you actively seek regard and acceptance from your partner to affirm that you exist.  There is a constant need for reassurance that your partner cares for and thinks about you.  Jealousy arises surrounding their time and connection with others and so policing their interactions with others and knowing their whereabouts seems logical.  You may nag or attack your partner with long pronouncements and “unbridled self expression” or have bouts of extreme emotional volatility.  All is in an effort to win your partner back, to be seen, to be accepted, and to know you exist so that you will not face your ultimate fear of being left and alone.

Meeting the Frozen Mode of 1 Down and Walled Off

When you are 1 Down and Walled Off you quickly lose hope of connection or relating to your partner and withdraw.  You resign.  When meeting a Boundaryless person, you often feel overwhelmed with their energy pushing or attacking you.  You easily feel smothered and violated.  You can stealthily retreat so fast that your partner is bewildered about your whereabouts.  “Time-outs” can last for days, weeks, months or an eternity.  You become ambivalent, distant and non-committal.  You are very sensitive to the energetic shield put up by another Walled Off partner.  Their oppressive righteous disregard for you sends you into a frozen state with no fight or flight left in you.  Retreating to your inner world and not confronting or retaliating is a way to gain safety and peace within.  A time period of solitude and hermitage can help you when you have an inner practice.  It may be religious, spiritual, inspirational or uplifting, as long as it connects you to an inner knowing of your True essence and esteem.  If you have feelings of victimhood, you may believe that there is no way out and doomed to despair and your already low self-esteem will plummet.  You may become severely depressed and suicidal.  If you are in this state, seeking support is absolutely vital in order to regain a sense of authentic power.  Connection is the way out.

Control is a Losing Strategy

​Whether you are attempting to control and attack another through spewing your anger and emotions onto them or through withdrawing, closing off and silencing them, you will find yourself in endless conflict and resentment.  These are overt and covert ways of manipulation to assert power and control.  In adult relationships, controlling others only works in the short-term.  It is a major Losing strategy.  Can you see why?  When you control another person, they don’t like it.  Really, they don’t.  It does not feel safe.  Being controlled invokes the sense of powerlessness in others.  It creates contempt, which will show up in various behaviors and responses that will always create distance and lack of trust.  Of course, they push away, fight, or retreat when your energy overpowers them.  If you retreat, they will either attempt to pull you back into relationship so as not to feel abandoned or meet your lack of care with resignation by also withdrawing.  Instead of moving to safety for both, there is a push-pull of control with one person in control and one person feeling a loss of control.  Whether the fight is Boundaryless and overt or Withdrawing and covert, there is a jockeying back and forth, which causes further distance and conflict.    
 
It is easy to see how both the strategy of aggressive unbounded physical or emotional volatility and the strategy of withdrawing and shutting down of your partner does not create trusting, caring, connected relationships. 

Returning to Healthy Authentic Self-Esteem

​Understanding your reactions when you feel powerless and being aware of your partner’s reactions when they feel powerless will help both of you to return to authentic power and esteem.  When you are not happy or having difficulty with your partner, be aware of your feelings of power and worth.  Are you feeling a loss of control?  Do you feel a sense of diminishment?  Be with the tension instead of reacting.  You may not be feeling confident.  Be humble.  See that the vulnerable parts of you are human.  There is no shame in being vulnerable.   The vulnerable parts of you are the ones that connect you to others.  

You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.

   ~ Brené Brown

Move beyond the hold your ego has on you.  There is no need to be “above” anyone else.  There is no need to be “perfect.”  Everyone makes mistakes and life is filled with challenges.  No one can control everything.  Let go of trying to control other people or outside circumstances.  Notice your expectations and see how they create disappointment and limitation.  With acceptance and allowance, you have the ability to return to equanimity with healthy esteem for yourself.  From this place, you will enhance your ability to Skillfully Relate from a place of Kindness and Compassion. 

Check out the entire Relational Awareness Series

Returning Love and Harmony to Your Relationships: (Part1) Energizing the Love Bond

Relational Awareness: (Part 2) Mirroring Unresolved Wounds


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

Back to School Learning For the Rest of Our Lives ll Lora Cheadle

Back to School Learning For the Rest of Our Lives

By Lora Cheadle

      When we think of school we tend to think of kids going back to school, whether it’s elementary, middle, high school or even college, the phrase. “Back to School” provokes images of backpacks, yellow school buses and red apples for teachers.

Although I’ve never really know a teacher who wanted an apple…

      But why not make back to school season something for all of us? There’s not a person alive who couldn’t benefit from a bit of learning or education in at least something! Whether it’s cooking or car repair, computer programming or finances, there’s always something we can learn! And as I’ve talked about in previous blog posts, learning is good for us! It keeps our brains young, it increases our self-confidence and self-worth, it keeps us engaged in the world, and it makes us more relevant as human beings.

      Here’s why: If we want to stay healthy, happy and feel good about ourselves and our place in the world, we need to stay connected. Connected to other people individually, but also connected to society collectively, as a whole. It makes no difference what we think of the people around us, or what’s going on the world, whether we love it or hate it, unless we have updated knowledge and skills, we have zero chance of impacting or world or the people in it.

      Additionally, whether we want to impact our world or not, if we want to stay happy, connected to our families and friends, we need to continue to update our knowledge. For instance, none of the population who is currently over 50, grew up with computers, cell phones or the internet. Although many of the people in the 50-70 age category are still working and have adapted to the use of computers and cell phones, many of the people in their 80’s and 90’s have not.

      While you might be thinking, “Who cares? They don’t need to stress themselves out learning how to use cell phones or paying for expensive internet plans!” think how this population could benefit from things like Uber, Lyft or other ride sharing apps. People unable to drive would no longer be home bound if they could use their smartphones. What advances might happen when you are in your 80s that you might want to take advantage of? Do you think it would be easier to learn how to use the tools slowly along the way, or to suddenly have to learn them when you have a need?

I find slow learning over time to be much less stressful!

      It doesn’t matter if it’s learning how to use a smart phone, learning a new computer program or learning a new skill, it behooves us all to continue to learn. Learning positively stimulates our brain, it makes us feel good about ourselves, and it makes our lives easier!

      While the focus so far has been on technology, learning new things is not exclusive to technology! Cooking, crafts, knitting, crocheting, needle point or sewing are all new skills that can be learned. Card games such as bridge, learning to play chess, picking up a musical instrument or learning a foreign language all stimulate the brain in new and important ways.

      And then there is the wide variety of interpersonal skills that we can all benefit from, such as learning how to actively listen, or to validate someone without agreeing with their position. And then there is all the personal stuff that we can learn! There is so much that we can learn about ourselves, our personalities, the way we think or process new information. We can literally learn so much, all the time!

      And with such endless possibilities, why would we not continue learning, throughout our whole lives? It’s good for our brains, for our self-esteem, for our interpersonal relationships, for our professional relationships, and for the entire society in which we live.

So with that, what are you going to learn this back to school season?  

 

FREE BONUS LEARNING MEDITATION:

Watch and Listen HERE!

     Regardless of what you choose to learn this school year, I have a challenge for you! Actually, I have three challenges, and those three challenges all have to do with your best year in school. So, take a moment to remember your best school year, no matter if it was preschool or grad school. OK, now that you have that memory, begin, by tuning into the excitement of that year. Whether it was a new outfit, new shoes, the smell of new school supplies or a lunch box with your favorite super hero on it, take a moment and tune into all the possibilities that that year held. Endless possibilities of friends, food, field trips and learning.

     I want you to see if you can bring back that sense of possibility into your life right now. What are you looking forward to? What exciting things might you expect? Who might you meet? What might you learn? If you are financially able, what small thing might you treat yourself to? If you don’t want to spend money, what fun, free thing can you treat yourself to? A movie on TV, a book at the library, a walk around the lake? What free groups are in your area that you might join? The world is filled with people, places and things, all for you to take advantage of and enjoy! Embrace the possibilities!

     Second, tune into your favorite teacher and what he or she did to make you feel special. Was it the way he or she smiled at you? Gave you personalized attention, really heard you and understood your needs? What was it about this person that made them so special? What can you do emulate these qualities, or what qualities that you have that could make others feel like you did about your teacher? How can you be someone’s hero?

Today is the day to be that superhero, to truly touch someone else’s life!

     Lastly, take a moment to focus on content. This might sound silly, but I want you to think about some of the things you learned that year. Whether it was learning to multiply, divide, read music or diagram a sentence, what was some of the content that you enjoyed learning, and why? The world is literally filled with content! You can learn from books, from TV, from movies, from other people, from on-line classes, you name it, you can learn it. Craft stores have classes, community centers have classes, and nursing homes are filled with people who have skills they’d love to teach someone like you! Delve into the magical, never ending world of content, and see what lights you up. Music, language, board games, strategy, history, arts, crafts, movement, dance, what kind of content are you interested in learning? Seek something out today!

Black Feminism: Smacked by Intersectionality ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

May 29, 2018
Black Feminism: Smacked by Intersectionality
 By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Crossing bustling streets in Pakistan and Indonesia was like Han Solo navigating through the Hoth asteroid field: I never knew what might hit me and from what direction.

First of all, their citizens drive on the opposite side of the road. I grew up in the U.S. and conditioned to drive on the right—they drive on the left. Easy to forget when facing the churning labyrinth; you look LEFT instead of RIGHT, step into the street, and you’re a grease spot. Next, BIG always won. Everything scattered for lorries as their aggressive drivers pushed and bullied their way through the fracas (nationals learned this from their former European colonizers—white skinned, i.e., privileged, they pushed and bullied their way to the front).

And VIPs. Anyone in a car larger than a small Toyota assumed they fit that category.

And absolutely no one paid any attention to traffic lights or the brave policeman standing in the middle of the intersection on a reinforced concrete pillar directing traffic. In many cities, oxen carts, horse-drawn wagons, and donkeys vied for space along with the busses, lorries, cars, bicycles, and people.

Ain’t I Woman? Sojourner Truth, 1851

Lawyer and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw (Note 1) first coined intersectionality in 1989.  Imagine an intersection, she says (preferably the one I just described) and that traffic flows through it from all four directions. Imagine standing in the middle of that intersection (sans concrete pillar). Danger can hit you from any side.

That’s the black woman’s experience, she said.

A classic example that Crenshaw uses to illustrate intersectionality is the 1976 case of Degraffenreid vs. General Motors.  Five African American women sued car manufacturer General Motors for racial and gender discrimination. But the courts found that women in general weren’t discriminated against when it came to jobs as secretaries, and the fact that GM employed African American factory workers disproved racial discrimination.

It ignored the fact that the sheer majority of secretaries were white women, and factory workers were all men. So the black women lost—they lost to the white women for office jobs and black men for factory work. Pain hit them through the cumulative impact of both gender AND race.

Webster’s only added intersectionality a year ago and says it’s used to refer to the complex and cumulative way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.

The key here is “complex and cumulative way that the different forms of discrimination combine and overlap.”  Antidiscrimination laws, feminist theories, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor. Crenshaw, who is black, writes that “[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.”

Since its inception, intersectionality has expanded to include discrimination faced by anyone who identifies with the multiple social, biological, and cultural groups that are not favored in a patriarchal, capitalist, white supremacist society (Notes 2 & 3).

White women can’t claim the title of an “intersectional feminist: we don’t experience misogynoir

It’s also referred to as “misogynoir” in black feminist and womanist (Note 4) circles. Misogynoir is defined as the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward black women. What black women face is different also from the racism an Asian or Hispanic may face because of that added danger of anti-blackness. Whenever blackness is added to that treacherous intersection—or asteroid field—of oppression, threat increases.

Can white women call themselves intersectional feminists? The word was created by a black woman to define black women’s experience. Just as you reading this cannot relate to my harrowing street-crossing misadventures unless you’ve been there, I as a white woman cannot related to the black woman’s experiences: I do not experience misogynoir. By claiming the title I obliterate the issue of anti-blackness.

Therefore, unless you are a black woman or a black non-binary person, the answer is no.

But we can call our feminism intersectional and we can speak about intersectionality.

“Black mothers & babies: a life-or-death crisis” (Note 5)

Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants: 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies. This is a racial gap greater than it was in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women—moms in Mexico have a greater chance of surviving. The United States now ranks 32nd out of the 35 wealthiest nations in infant mortality. In addition, we are one of 13 countries in the world where maternal mortality is now worse than it was 25 years ago. These rates are largely driven by the deaths of black babies and mothers.

And infants born to college-educated black parents are twice as likely to die as infants born to similarly educated white parents—so it isn’t only poverty and lack of attention to healthcare.

Evidence suggests that these deaths are stress-related, the daily and cumulative anxieties and dis-eases associated with standing in the middle of that intersection.

 Begging the status quo to let diversity into the game

My granddaughter told me about a smart, black classmate in her high school who wears a t-shirt that says “Feminism is Cancer.” This young lady must be a fan of conservative author and speaker Christina Sommers, a white woman who is considered an equity feminist, which is an off-shoot of classical liberal feminism. Sommers believes that the role of feminism is to insure that the right against coercive interference is not infringed—regardless of race, gender, ability or anything else that impinges on privilege.

In a perfect world I can agree with that. But until we as a society raise healthy children by focusing on what their interests and abilities are vs. their gender and color, we need feminism. As long as those statistics quoted above remain high, we need feminism. As long as the white Sean Spicers of the world believe they’re entitled to tell black women how to act, we need feminism. As long as male politicians continue to feel entitled to legislate women’s healthcare, we need feminism. Sommers wants us begging the status quo to let in diversity, to let us play.

If your interest is piqued by anything in this blog, check out the resources listed below. Follow Awesomely Luvvie . Read Bell Hooks. Listen to how Franchesca Ramsey uses humor to describe how intersectionality plays out in daily life,

Whatever you experience, don’t push it away but stay with it, welcoming this wisdom of transforming power and energy. And practice mindfulness, as Jon Kabat-Zinn taught (Note 7):

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose,

in the present moment,

and nonjudgmentally,

to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) Kimberlé Crenshaw Explains The Power Of Intersectional Feminism In 1 Minute. April 11, 2017. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kimberle-crenshaw-intersectional-feminism_us_598de38de4b090964296a34d
2.) Intersectionality as Theory and Practice. Myra Marx Ferree. February 21, 2018. Sage Journals.
3.) Kylie Cheung. March 8, 2018. Https://Dailytrojan.Com/2018/03/08/Uterus-International-Womens-Day-Remember-Intersectionality/
4.) Womanist, definition: A movement and theory that is a response specifically to the oppression of black women. http://intersectionalfeminism101.tumblr.com/faq
5.) Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies are in a Life-or-Death Crisis. Linda Villarosa. New York Times. April 11, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/magazine/black-mothers-babies-death-maternal-mortality.html
6.) Breaking Up with Intersectional Feminism. Tamela J. Gordon. April 26, 2018. Medium. https://medium.com/@shewritestolive/breaking-up-with-intersectional-feminism-689cfab82b7e
7.) Kabat-Zinn, Jon. The founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness.

_______

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

Treasure What You Already Have ll Kate Heartsong

TREASURE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE AND BUILD CONFIDENCE AND GRATITUDE

By: Kate Heartsong

 

You’ve probably have heard to not take things for granted.  Yet we often do take people and/or and things for granted.  For example, how many times have you started your car and it starts?  You don’t think anything of it right?  How about when you get together with your friends and loved ones; go to the same job each day; have enough food on the table; feel physically healthy; are able to walk; and are free to go where you want to go?  Yes, all of these are easy to take for granted.

Yet, when something unexpected happens and what you’ve been taking for granted is gone, oh!  that’s when we appreciate it all the more!  And often we experience great upset when it’s gone.

About a year ago, I went to my car in the garage, and pushed the garage door opener, and the garage door got stuck.  It turns out the whole spring and cable came out!  I couldn’t get my car out after trying to open the garage manually either.  It was a helpless feeling, knowing my car was stuck in this garage and I couldn’t go to teach my class!

Thankfully, my roommate and also my nextdoor neighbor were available quickly after I contacted both of them.  Wow!  They assessed the situation, were able to put their muscles to work and manually lifted the heavy garage door.  I was free!  Talk about a great demonstration of being taken care of by the universe through these two wonderful men acting so quickly on my behalf.

This situation wasn’t extreme as others, yet it reminded me to appreciate and treasure what I do already have. 

Then, this made me realize that sometimes we can take ourselves and our skills and gifts for granted.   Ummm, let’s think about that one! 

For example, how many times have you shown up to work, offering your organizational, communication, and/or leadership skills – whatever gifts and skills you use – without giving it a thought of the positive benefits you’re giving to your employer, co-workers and clients?

What would it be like if you came to truly recognize those gifts and skills at work?  And what about at home in your personal life?  What would it be like to really appreciate yourself?  This will increase your self-confidence!  And the awesome thing about this is, as you raise your self-appreciation and confidence, and NOT take yourself for granted, you also benefit others around you!

I bring these examples up simply to remind you to not take things for granted, and not to take yourself for granted.  Let’s take this a step further, and invoke gratitude for all you have , for all you do and all your gifts and skills!  Gratitude is such a powerful and positive emotion, and it raises your vibration, so you feel better!

I invite you to sit down and write a few of your gifts and skills and feel gratitude for yourself.  Also, write down five people and/or things you’re choosing to NOT take for granted.

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong
303.549.0546
Kate@JoyfulRadiance.com
Website:  JoyfulRadiance.com

The Real Secret ll Erin Amundson

The Real Secret – How Your Subconscious Plays a Role in Manifestation
By: Erin Amundson

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend who has been looking for a new job for quite some time.  This friend of mine has an impressive resume, an attractive personality, amazing personal references and has been in the search for work for more than a year in a market that should be relatively easy to find a job in.  He’s working his tail off, he’s hired professionals to review his resume, and he follows up every time.  He’s doing “everything right” – and not succeeding.  Well, everything, that is, except perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT thing: examining his subconscious beliefs and managing his energetic output.

When I engaged him in a process of going deeper, we discovered a few things. 

One, he had been shamefully and arguably wrongfully terminated from a job in the height of his career.  Two, as a child he was constantly told he wouldn’t amount to much by an abusive father.  Three, he had become desperate for a job, and that was very clear in his body language and energy.

First, let’s look at his past in the context of the quantum world we live in.  New science continues to prove that we are made of energy and the environment around us is made of that same energy (this is at the smallest level of the molecule).  Science also tells us that these energetic particles are in a feedback loop with one another.  That means that we take in the information from our environment and adjust to it, and our environment takes in the information from US and adjusts to it. 

So, the question I always ask is this:  Do you want be a product of your environment or the creator of it?

As adults, we have the choice.  However, we’ve all heard children called “sponges” and for good reason.  When my friend was small, his environment was one of abuse, failure, limitation, addiction and struggle.  His little being soaked all of that up, and because his young brain wasn’t developed enough to process it, the information was stored in his subconscious, which created a program of output based on his environment.  My friend now puts out a literal vibe of being worthless, having to struggle, being a victim and failure.   And as he is interviewing for jobs, these are the messages that are reflected right back to him.

On paper, and in person, you’d never know this about my friend.  The truth is, he didn’t know it about himself.  Consciously, LOGICally, he knows he’s talented and hard working.  But under the surface, he is still telling the story of his childhood, reinforced by the story of his being fired mid-career.  I suspect he will either attract no employment at all or another abusive employer if he doesn’t shift the story of his subconscious.

The second factor keeping my friend from his dream job is his desperation.  This one was developed after a few months of searching and failing.  He approaches his interviews with a neediness, that ultimate keeps attracting more need into his life.  If we spoke to the employers, we’d probably hear them say something like, “I can’t put my finger on it, but something about that guy just doesn’t FEEL right.” 

And they’d be correct because my friend is out of alignment to attract what he wants.

So what’s the message in this story?  If you’re working to co-create your life – whatever it is that you want – and it’s not working out for you, you may need to explore your subconscious.  Most of the great law of attraction literature teaches us to manage our thoughts.  I think this is great – but did you know that our conscious brain is only 5% of the story?  The rest of the information, particularly information we have taken in as children, is stored in our subconscious.  The subconscious thoughts and beliefs put out just as much of a vibe as our conscious thoughts and beliefs.  It is only when we bring them into our conscious awareness that we truly have the power to create what we desire.


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.

Jealousy, Envy & Why We Love to Watch Others Lose ll By Lora Cheadle

Jealousy, Envy & Why We Love to Watch Others Lose
…and how to FLIP it around for our own benefit
By: Lora Cheadle

Much of the rhetoric around the Superbowl consisted of football fans saying they “wanted the Eagles to win because they were tired of the Patriots winning.”  OMG! How terrible is that?!?! In a culture that celebrates winning, and often times even encourages people to win at all costs, where does a statement like that come from, and psychologically, what does it mean? How can we want to win so badly, yet at the same time, condemn and despise those who do win routinely?

Even in our own lives, are we truly happy for our friends when they win a promotion or get a new car, or find a new love interest, or buy a new house? Are we honestly and completely thrilled for them, or are we a little bit envious too? What about when two of our friends really hit it off, leaving us in the dust? Jealous much?

At its core, jealousy and envy are nothing more than triggers, which have pointed out something within ourselves that we are trying not to acknowledge. But with a little bit of knowledge and understanding, we can tame the green-eyed monster and learn how to better ourselves thought the success of others.

The Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

Jealousy and envy are different! Jealousy involves three people and takes place when someone else is threatening to disrupt a situation between us and another person. Whether it’s a new hot-shot at work, coming in to woo our boss, another person flirting with our significant other or someone coming between us and our friends, jealousy involves some sort of triangulation.

Envy only involves two people. Envy is where something wonderful happens to someone else, and we have a hard time being happy for them. Either we want that thing to have happened to us instead, or we feel they didn’t deserve it, but we do! Envy is the experience of not being able to celebrate another’s good fortune because we have reverted to self, and to our desire to get what we want.

Jealousy Triggers and How to Overcome Them

We will not be provoked unless we feel threatened. Stop and re-read that sentence. We will not be provoked, unless we feel threatened in some way. Notice I didn’t say unless we are threatened. Actual threat doesn’t matter. What matters is our feeling of being threatened.

Which leads to the next questions; why do we feel threatened?

In the case of jealousy, it’s easy to put the blame on the third person, but really, the emotion is about us, not them. Whenever we perceive a third party as coming in and destabilizing our relationship, it means that we are afraid of change. It doesn’t matter if that change is good or bad, it only means that we will have to change, and to our subconscious mind, all change is perceived as a threat.

The best thing to do to manage jealousy is to first acknowledge that you are feeling jealous. Then, you can ask yourself who is making you jealous and why. Once you have the who and the why, ask yourself what you are going to do about it. Don’t lament the fact that change is on the horizon. Change is perpetually on the horizon! Instead, cycle through all the possible options you have, from the absurd to the rational, and begin figuring out what you are going to choose to do. Getting comfortable with your choice empowers you to lead the changes in your life, instead of getting swept up in a current of change.

For example, when a hot-shot comes in a work and threatens your position as a top producer, it means you will have to change. You can choose to learn from them, seek out other sources and to better yourself. Notice I did not say “beat them”. You may or may not beat them, and that’s not the point. The point is, you accept that change is inevitable and you embrace that change for yourself. You can choose to stay the same, to stay in your comfort zone, and learn how to come to terms with not being the top sales person. But the focus needs to stay on you and the fact that everything takes place in you, because of you, and not a result of the other person.

Done right, experiencing jealousy empowers you, because it allows you to take stock of, and to manage your life proactively!

Envy Triggers and How to Overcome Them

Whenever we see another person receive something that we want, it points out that which we find to be lacking in ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s something that is actually lacking in us or not, it’s our perception of lack that triggers us. It forces us to confront some sort of scarcity within us. Even if it’s just the perceived scarcity of something as elusive as good luck.

One of the best ways to manage envy, like jealousy, is to first acknowledge that the emotion is coming up. Then, ask yourself what you perceive to be missing from your own life? It doesn’t matter if it’s silly or not. Be honest with yourself. Next, ask yourself what you can do about it.

If you are envious of your best friend’s new relationship, even though you are happily married, what is that showing you? Could it be that date nights are lacking in your marriage? Could it be you are lacking a certain freshness and excitement that you wish you could recapture? Then make those changes! If you are envious that your best friend just had her first grandchild, and your kids claim they don’t want kids, what is that bringing up for you?

Although you can’t force other people to give you what you want, you can figure out the root cause of your desire for grandkids. Is it because you don’t feel you can retire unless there is a reason? Is it because you miss being with kids? Is it due to latent feelings of guilt that you weren’t a better parent, and you somehow made your children not want to parent? Is it simply the fact that you haven’t come to terms with your children’s decision, or perhaps you felt forced into having children? Whatever it is, once addressed, it allows you to make positive change in your life. It points out, that which is missing within, giving us the opportunity to acknowledge and address our own fears and needs.

Envy can also challenge us to acknowledge our own negative thinking habits, allowing us to become more positive people. For instance, in regards to the Superbowl, instead of negatively saying, “I want the Eagles to win because I’m sick of the Patriots winning.” flip it around to “I want the Eagles to win because they’ve never won before and I love sharing the love with teams who have never had that kind of an honor.”

Go deep within the feelings of both of those statements. They will be different!

What do they bring up for you, and what are you going to do about it?


Getting Off the Hamster Wheel ll Erin Amundson

Getting off The Hamster Wheel
By: Erin Amundson

     A little girl on a hamster wheel. This is the central focus of a young man’s dream we are working on at the International Association for the Study of Dreams Conference last week. It’s his dream. And he had an intention before he slept that night to connect to a dream that would help him improve his inner relationship to his mother.

     As the group collectively dug into this dream, I found myself strangely disconnected from it. As a psychotherapist who specializes in dream work, I’m typically deep into the dream long before we even engage a process to work with it. But, I thought, my relationship to my mother is really good.

I don’t need to work on this – this dream doesn’t apply to me.

     Anyone who has ever done dream work with me knows that my response to a statement like the one I was making in my own head would be something like, really? Why don’t we see? And, yes, there is a bit of playful prodding in that. Of course, I wasn’t going there. I actually found myself distracted. This should have been my first clue that this man’s dream contained something I didn’t want to look at. Something deep in my subconscious.

     In any case, I navigated the 2 hour workshop with curiosity but no emotion, with respect but no involvement, with appreciation but no growth. And I should have known.

     As it often goes in dream work, the dream images are multi-layered and represent an area in our subconscious that is asking to come into our conscious awareness. Little did I realize, I was the girl on the hamster wheel through that entire 2 hour process. Running and running and getting nowhere, perhaps because I felt way to exposed and vulnerable with the depth of the emotions that lie under the surface.

Especially since I am one of the experts in the field. The experts don’t lose it, right?

     But I did. I actually broke down and wept, an hour after the workshop, alone in my hotel room. Shades drawn, do not disturb on the door, blankets up over my head. My temptation had been to attend the next workshop, to go have lunch with others, to swim….anything to keep myself on that hamster wheel when I felt the wave of emotion welling up.

     So the dam broke, and still there was confusion. This wasn’t about my mom at all. That I was telling the truth about. As I sunk into the feeling, I realized that I was facing saying goodbye to an amazing experience of connection as the conference was coming to an end. I had new friends. I had a world of dreamers around me. I felt at home and alive there. Rather than facing the grief of losing this, I preferred to stay on my hamster wheel. But as dream work goes, my awareness moved me off the hamster wheel, and the landing felt very abrupt.

     Like many of us, I struggle with abandonment. I’ve worked a long time to heal this aspect of my wounding, and I’m down to the relationship I have with myself. While the man was dreaming about an outside relationship, my connection to the dream was in me. And it was clear that I needed to find a way to get the girl on the hamster wheel to stop running. To do this, I first had to explore what my hamster wheel is, and I’m going to invite you to consider the same. Here are my main hamster wheels:
1. Business. I can stay busy for days. Laundry, work, catching up phone calls, making too many social plans, going to the gym – I’ve got to get it all done!
2. Rabbit hole thoughts – I can obsess over something that happened day one of my group facilitation that nobody else even noticed. Such as my perception that I held the meditation a bit too long.
3. Perfectionist or Inner Critic Tendencies – these guys will run and run for as long as you let them. I guarantee they get you nowhere.
4. Intellectualism – I will do research, I will “figure out the reason” I’m feeling a certain way, or I will endeavor to learn something new all to avoid my emotional processes.
5. Any type of addictive or substance use behavior. Emotional eating, drinking too much or out of boredom, over exercising, not eating enough, shopping, planning the future, gambling, working too much. Really any behavior can fit into this category if the energy of it feels out of balance.
6. Taking care of others at the expense of caring for myself.

     At this conference, I felt very deeply, yet I was busy facilitating, socializing and analyzing anytime I wasn’t deep in a dream. I hadn’t given myself the space to process all of the healing, hope, and creation that had come from my work there. And just when I thought I was through it, another dreamer’s image jumped out and grabbed me – this was the most powerful moment of the entire week for me.
When we are able to recognize we are on the hamster wheel, we have the opportunity to step off and into an authentic expression of soul. We’re no longer running from what we feel, or who we truly are in the world.

Consider your hamster wheel for a moment. How do you know when you’re there?


     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.  

     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.

Special Edition Blog! ~The Gift of Music~

By: Craig Fruend
“A community united by the ideals of compassion and creativity has incredible power. Art of all kinds— music, literature, traditional arts, visual arts— can lift a community.” 
-Martin O’Malley 
As a community at large and particularly as a nation, we have endured a great-deal of recent hardship. From natural disasters and concerns around governmental shifts, to anxiety surrounding national security and future direction, this year has been particularly challenging. With an engaging role in the community People House strives to support the greater Denver Metropolitan area through affordable counseling and mental health, as well as with spiritual services. 
At People House we continue to see an increased demand for these services and strive to meet the needs of all that might benefit. The People House mission would not be possible if it weren’t for the active participation of caring and supportive organizations, families and individuals. On November 5thThe Gift of Music will be hosted by Denver’s top jazz club Dazzle. As a community, we will gather in support of fellowship and the greater good!
With excellent music in an excellent venue, this event will offer a fun night out in the heart of Lodo in downtown Denver, as well as the opportunity to support a great cause. With 6 great bands on 2 stages and excellent silent auction items, not to mention the raging cocktails and eclectic foods offered by DazzleThe Gift of Music will not disappoint! As we know, music can be extremely nurturing, unifying and even FUN. It has been said that “united we stand and divided we fall, so if you’re looking to unite, as well as a great excuse to get out and have a great time, look no further… Join us for the Gift of Music!
 
See more of our story in the Westword or with ePR News!
“It’s not only music. It’s not only art. It’s a community. It’s a sense of having a place to belong.” -Jared Lets

Breaking Point || Lora Cheadle

What to do When You Are at Your Breaking Point

How to Identify and Eliminate Stressors BEFORE They Break You

Have you heard the idiom, “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back?” This illustrates the point that while we can take a lot, at some point, we all reach our breaking point. Whether that means losing our temper, getting sick or sliding into depression, none of us want to reach our breaking point. Just like the camel, many of us are burdened slowly, adapting to our ever-increasing load, until one day when a seemingly innocuous little straw is placed on our back, and we break for what seems an insignificant reason.

The parable of the frog in pot of boiling water illustrates a similar point. Put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it will panic and struggle to get out. Put a frog in a pot of tepid water, slowly turn up the heat, and the frog will sit quietly, allowing itself to be cooked alive.

Our Emotional Warning System

As self-preserving organisms, we are equipped with our own built-in guidance system that allows us to identify when we are being pushed to our breaking point. When we experience feelings of overwhelm, frustration, anxiety or stress, it’s our body’s way of letting us know that we are reaching our breaking point. Contrary to what we may believe, it is not normal to experience chronic states of stress, overwhelm, frustration and anxiety. These emotions are danger signals, and it’s crucial for us to be aware of what these emotions are signaling, and to take action before we reach our breaking point. Before we find ourselves with broken backs. Before we find ourselves having been boiled alive.

Negative or stressful emotions are danger signals, signaling us that we need to make a change. If we don’t, we suffer the consequences. Even if we don’t have a full-blown breakdown, the resulting consequences can be mental problems, emotional outbursts, relationship problems, anger issues, impaired job performance, the inability to connect with others, a decreased capacity to feel joy, chronic inflammation, diabetes, unexplained pain, weight gain or worsening feelings of hopelessness.

Breakdown of the Emotional Guidance System and the Resulting Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

When we treat these emotional warning signals for what they are-signals warning us that we need to make changes – and then we make those changes – we recover. Our bodies, minds and spirits heal and we return to a natural, normal state of calm alertness. But when we fail to respond to these warning signals, when we keep-on keeping-on, fighting down panic and pushing ahead, we force our bodies to adapt in unhealthy ways. Forcing our bodies, minds and spirits to live in state of chronic hyper-stimulation and anxiety short-circuit all of our natural survival mechanisms. Like any machine forced to run beyond its capabilities, we eventually break down.

By forcing our bodies to integrate negative and stressful emotions into our everyday lives, without respite, we adapt. We forget what it’s like to feel peaceful, calm and centered. We believe it’s normal to live in a state of heightened anxiety, to feel stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated, and this becomes our new normal. A new baseline is set and suddenly we think we are feeling good when we are truly feeling stressed. We have changed our brains to believe that stress and anxiety are normal states of being, making our emotional warning system ineffective. By being stoic and brave we train ourselves to allow more negativity and stress, until one day – often without warning – we reach our breaking point. Our back breaks or we realize that we have been boiled alive.

Decreasing Stress and Anxiety in Four Steps

Fortunately, we can reverse course on this phenomenon and return our stress and anxiety baseline to a healthy, normal level. All it takes is self-awareness, dedication and a commitment to living in a life of joy, peace and harmony.

Step One

Identify a time when you felt calm, peaceful and centered. When you were alert, contented and neutral. Not elated, just neutral. A time when you simply felt good.

Step Two

Identify when you experience negative and stressful emotions. Don’t judge them or try to change them, just notice when you have them. Get a little notepad that you can carry with you. Keep it with your cell phone and every time you fiddle with your phone, write down how you feel mentally, physically and spiritually.

The notes might look something like this:

Irritated, pent-up, silent.

Frazzled, blob-like, vindictive.

Tired, sore, far-away.

Energetic, bouncy, filled with song.

Do not try to avoid having emotions, or deny what you are feeling, simply identify what you feel.

Step Three

Once you are aware of what you are feeling, consciously feel those emotions. Spend up to a minute consciously feeling the emotion that you have identified. How does this emotion feel in your head, your heart and your body? What is it like to be that emotion?

Step Four

After you have allowed your body, mind and spirit to experience these emotions, consciously return yourself to a place of neutrality. To a place of peace. Return to a neutral, natural, rational state of peace and then deal with whatever is causing your negative or stressful emotions, repeating the process of identifying and feeling any negative emotions that pop up in the process, and continuously and systematically returning yourself to a state of peace and neutrality.

 

Stress-free Living

We are the camel. We have to unburden ourselves every time we are burdened or risk running out of capacity and breaking. We are also the frog. We have to stay aware of our surroundings, of what is happening to us at all times, or we will be boiled alive without our knowledge. Our emotions and feelings are the tools that allow us to stay alert, aware, safe and happy. All capacity is finite. We are not weak, we are human and we have limits. Let’s learn to honor those limits before it’s too late.


To read more of Lora’s writing, visit her website.

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Supportive Ally || Dorothy Wallis

Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Supportive Ally

Does your inner voice judge you or demean you?  Is a critical voice telling you what you “should” or “should not” do or experience?  Do you have a feeling that somehow you are not enough or do not matter?

At first, your Inner Critic may wake you up and try to get your attention; “better work on that project, get going, you are going to be late, quit procrastinating, you made a mistake, be responsible, exercise, eat healthier.” It informs and jars you into action.  It can be helpful, nudging and prodding you into beneficial behaviors.

If you haven’t paid attention, it often turns ugly and begins to berate you.  It says mean things about your character; “you are lazy, stupid, ugly, irresponsible, wrong, weak, no good, damaged, you can’t do anything right, nobody will ever want to be with you and you will never amount to anything.”  Those may be mild words compared with your critic.

Whatever words bring up your deepest darkest core wounds, the critic uses them against you to force you to react.  It causes a sharp pain inside telling you, “You are not good enough and need to be fixed.”  The message is that you are bad and shameful or you are weak and ineffective.  This voice is relentless.  You become anxious, hypersensitive, and defensive.  It brings up a host of feelings, which may run the gamut from annoyance, worry, frustration, to anger, guilt, sadness, intense grief and toxic shame.  At the worst, you can’t concentrate on anything else.  You are caught in a barrage of thoughts and feelings that tear down your self-esteem, may cause confusion, depression, and sleepless nights until you are apathetic and drained of energy.

Even when you are feeling tormented by the inner critic, there is another part of you that arises in disagreement with it.  The angst and pain are shouting that judging yourself is harmful.   You KNOW there is another story.

Where does this Critical Voice come from and Why is it Controlling Me?
With all of its bashing and criticism, you naturally think that the inner critic is a judgmental devil that wants to crush you.  You resist it, push it away or attempt to ignore it.  Judging yourself, your experience, your emotions or others always creates distance.  There is an immediate natural reaction to push away or ignore what we judge as not right or do not want to experience.  So, you push away the inner critic and at the same time distance yourself from experiences and people, which the critic suspects are harmful in some way.

“You lock the door and throw away the key, There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.”  ~ Pink Floyd 

What if I told you that this voice wants to protect you?  Now, that seems like an absurd, crazy thought….but stay with me.

The inner critic is a part of the psyche known as the Superego.  It has a purpose.  Its job is to help you follow the rules, protocols of society and beliefs that you formed as a guiding foundation in which to safely navigate the reality.  Your inner critic is a guide and protector constantly watching everything you do or don’t do so that you stay on course, to keep you safe and free from pain.  It guides you away from any person, experience or emotion it assumes will cause you pain.  It points directly at your values, rules, and beliefs and cleverly knows exactly how to get you to stay in line with them.  You developed many of these rules in childhood by hearing, watching and learning about what was expected of you and what your family and culture deemed valuable.  You added your own self-critique, thoughts and beliefs through your experience of life.  This conglomeration of words and phrases are repeated to you through the voice in your head.

The thing is…all beliefs and truths about reality are temporary constructs.  You and life are constantly growing and expanding.  Values, beliefs, and rules need to grow and change as well.  The values and beliefs of your caretakers and culture may not mesh with your highest good or what is applicable for you now.  In addition, unhealthy cultural motivators of anger, guilt and shame most likely shaped your inner critic.  The inner critic only has power and control over you when you believe disparaging thoughts about yourself to be true or believe that all of its advice is good for you.  Rather than motivating you, derogatory criticism, judgment and shame deplete your self-confidence and contract you.  It limits you, keeps you small and disengaged from your talents and abilities.

“The Inner Critic does not know the Truth”

You have the Key to Open the door to the Truth 
Think of the Superego as a supervisor.  The job of the supervisor is to oversee You.  It tells you when you are going out of bounds from your own values and beliefs.  It did not create the rules nor did it create the way to deliver the message.  It does not know the truth.  It is simply pointing out the principles you have believed are valuable for you to be safe, be accepted, receive love, achieve your purpose and fit in with society.  You get to decide what to believe and what values support your highest well-being.  When you know this, your superego can work for you in a powerful way to uplift you instead of diminishing you.

Approaching the Inner Critic with Non-judgmental Awareness and Discernment
1.  With compassionate awareness and discernment determine:  What is the intention of the voice?  How is it attempting to protect or guide me?
Turn toward the inner critic instead of pushing it away.  Approach the voice from an intimate distance with curiosity and loving-kindness.  Have compassion for this part of you that wants to protect and guide you.  Listen to what it is actually saying.  Instead of immediately believing the words, question the validity of your self-talk.  Is it a guiding voice talking about behaviors that need adjustment or actions to take that are helpful, is it protecting you from pain, or is the critic attacking your character?

2.  If it is Guiding you then ask:  How is it guiding me?  Is the guidance helpful or not? Am I resisting any actions, behaviors or experiences, which are beneficial for me?

3.  If it is Protecting you then ask:  What is it protecting me from?  Is there something dangerous or to fear?  Is it limiting me?  Am I afraid to feel my emotions?  Am I afraid to see reality?

3.  If it is Attacking your character:  Is it saying you are flawed, defective, no good or weak?  What were you told growing up?  All attacks on your inherent worth are untrue and damaging.  Allow yourself to touch the pain underlying condemning words.  See the truth and allow any wounded feelings of shame, weakness and grief to express and release.  What have you believed about yourself?

4.  Use the superego’s directional compass to reveal distortions of the truth and to show you what you believe.  See the triggered emotions as telling you “something is off otherwise I would not feel pain.”  What have you believed you needed to be, to have, to do, or to achieve in order to be accepted and feel safe in relationship or in the world?  Do these statements about yourself or how you interact with life match up with the truth of your authentic self?  Do they support your highest growth?  Do they allow you to expand and grow or do they keep you contracted and limited?

You get to choose what you believe and what values support you.  You are not bound by the judgments of others or of a “voice in your head.”  Whenever you hear words of what you “should do” or “should be” it is an indication of someone’s opinion and that opinion may not jive at all with what is right for you.  Use discernment to decide whether the advice is beneficial or not.  Remember, you do not need to be “fixed.”  You are inherently valuable; you matter and simply by being, you are enough.

You can build a different relationship with your superego.  You can feel compassion for the vulnerable parts of yourself that are afraid to step out of limitation and the tender parts afraid to feel the pain of repressed wounds or emotions.  You can silence the disrespectful voice by honoring the truth of your inherent worth.  You have the ability to transform outmoded beliefs and rules into healthy life-giving ones that support you and your relationships with others.  When you listen with your heart you will know what values, behaviors and actions serve your soul’s highest good.  By becoming aware of your authentic truth, your inner critic will take its proper role as a supportive guide and protector and become a worthwhile ally.

************************************************************************About the Author

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

Men and Grief: The Power to Learn to Love Again || Craig Freund

Men and Grief: The Power to Learn to Love Again

By Craig Freund

 

“Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. Grief is the price of love.” -Unknown

Often, we learn to love without one day expecting that it may change. We may learn to love unconditionally, without reason, intention or restitution. We may love like we’ve never been and won’t ever be hurt, while in fact, this may be love in it’s purest, most open and trusting form. As much as we love, inevitably, we will all one day find that love hurts and that grief is the price we pay for having had the glorious opportunity of a loving experience.

While love can be one of the most fulfilling experiences, the loss of love can be one of the most painful. For anyone, but especially for men, navigating the experience of love and it’s intimate partner grief can be a lonely, confusing and troubling experience. Although modern masculine stereotypes seem to be on the move, traditionally, men are taught to suppress emotion, never to cry and never to reach out.

In terms of emotion, for men, it is traditionally only acceptable to express stoicism and anger. For this reason, men often resort to feelings of anger or irritability when what may be under the surface is an experience of sadness and sorrow. This struggle with grief is not limited to the death of a loved one, but might be a break-up, lost opportunity or an old lifestyle. In varying degrees, grief accompanies our experience with loss, change or growth.

While grief can be one of the most intense emotional struggles in our inherently vulnerable human experience, attempting to suppress and avoid related feelings can only lead to greater difficulty in processing grief. Suppressing these strong feelings may prevent a sort of emotional or cathartic release. With this, men can experience shame in addition to the socially unacceptable difficult emotion.

As you can see, the grief process for men can become exceptionally complicated by various societal and cultural expectations and self-imposed limitations. Often, due to their upbringing and these cultural norms, men may not recognize the underlying core emotion and the process of suppressing becomes automatic or even unconscious.

As a result, displaced and unrecognized emotion may lead to social irritability, domestic violence, or substance abuse. This process of suppression and lack of emotional expression, can lead to what has been amusingly referred to as emotional constipation. As time passes, this lack of emotional expression might even lead to clinical depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, domestic violence or even suicidality.

This stunted grief may be one possible contributing factor in the shocking statistic that nearly 80% of completed suicides are by men. Furthermore, this issue of emotional constipation may reach beyond an individual struggle and on a more global level contribute to crime, violence, lack of role models and general societal difficulty.

 The question becomes, how do we deal with this issue and how do we support men in their grief process so that they might learn to love again? For starters, it’s important to normalize the myriad of difficult emotions that might need to be expressed. From sadness to guilt and even nostalgia, grief can bring up a wide variety of emotions. Male or female, masculine or feminine, these emotions are a completely normal and an even healthy part of grief.

Next, we can label these emotions and work to understand them. In regards to grief, what might sadness need to say? What might regret have to say about our loss? They might say that you’ve lost something near and dear, they might say that you wish you’d had more time with your loved one. As we normalize and listen, we might then allow ourselves to experience and feel the emotion, all in hopes of allowing for the relief of an emotional release.

Finally, let’s not forget to breath through this process and cope with what comes up. In grief, these feelings can often be overwhelming, this makes it important to find healthy ways to cope. With this, some men have found that tangible, related projects can be cathartic. For example, some men might benefit from a dedicated wood working project, art creation, memory box or even writing a song. These intentional and sometimes dedicated coping strategies don’t impede the process, but can better facilitate steps toward healing.

With this, keep in mind that is not necessary to take on the grief process all at once, but instead, if possible it is important to balance this with healthy coping or distraction. This isn’t a task to be completed, but a natural process to be engaged and respected.

 -Normalize

-Label Emotion

-Listen & Feel

-Breath & Cope

 Although grief may never end, with time and respect for the process, we can learn to live with it. The experience of grief itself might come and go, but generally speaking with respect for this process the intensity of the grief may lessen.

Most importantly, as we honor these emotions and the role they take in our process, we can hope that we might learn to love again. We can hope that we might learn to love with open hearts, unrestrained by the difficulty of suppressed emotion and stalled or displaced grief. Men with open hearts and the capacity to love become positive leaders, role models and fathers, demonstrating strength in a manner that will empower our fellow man to lead happy, healthy and successful lives.

Moving forward we might work to raise young men in a manner that normalizes emotional experiences, fosters emotional maturity and empowers an understanding of the information offered from our emotional states. 

In my work, I often encounter men who haven’t had the opportunity to develop the capacity for emotional intelligence, they’ve either explicitly or implicitly been taught to stuff their feelings and this, rather than expression is what has been reinforced.

With a collective effort, we can teach the importance of these emotional processes and allow boys to become men who are empowered to feel, able to love and are present for their families.

“What I needed more than anything was the strength, courage and permission to grieve.” -Ken Druck

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Thomas Campbell

Men and Psychotherapy || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

men and psychotherapyJPEG

 

 “Some men turn away from all this cheap emotion with a kind of heroic despair… But this too can be an error. For if our emotions really die in the desert, our humanity dies with them.” 

Thomas Merton

 

     Despite modern stereotypes associated with talk therapy, this practice was once a predominantly masculine career choice. From the forefathers of modern psychotherapy including Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Carl Rogers and Albert Ellis, the practice was once limited almost exclusively to male practitioners. During the early development of this field, gender inequality was very much alive, just as it is today. However, overtime there has definitely been a shift not only in the practice, but also in the proportion of male and female therapists who facilitate the healing process. This modern day gender imbalance may be both a symptom and a contributing factor in a cascade of problems that significantly impacts the greater population and the male population in particular.

     In the world of mental health, the male population represents nearly 80% of deaths by suicide, furthermore men are much less likely to seek treatment than their female counterparts. This shocking statistic can certainly be attributed to gender stereotypes and culturally reinforced gender norms. These factors are only further represented by the minimal number of practicing male psychotherapists. While an ongoing feminist movement continues to strive for gender equality in regards to women’s rights, men continue to suffer the consequences of restrictive gender stereotypes and gender roles. For men, it is often culturally unacceptable to experience, express and discuss certain emotions. Furthermore, it is generally considered faux pas for men to seek help for emotional or behavioral issues. In fact, when men do not adhere to culturally preferred gender roles they can experience social rejection, loss of status, as well as fewer opportunities in work or with potential mates. Instead, men often bottle or repress their emotions leading to destructive behaviors or even suicidal actions.

     Recognizing this growing concern, www.mantherapy.org has implemented a humorous campaign in an effort to make psychotherapy more approachable for men. This campaign applies a masculine perspective in examining mental health issues that are more specific to the male population. Despite the clear benefit of this campaign, it will require an ongoing effort by those that truly care about the men in their lives to alleviate the stigma that men often experience when expressing emotion or seeking treatment. If you have concerns for your husband, father, brother or son, ask the tough questions, normalize their experience of sadness, grief or anger and encourage them to take a look at resources like Man Therapy, or even to seek support from a mental health specialist.

Starting a conversation can certainly save lives, however this is only the first step towards ensuring psychological wellness for the men in this world. 

     In an effort to further address this collective cultural issue, it is important to reflect on how this cultural norm is reinforced. Young men are raised to be tough and are either directly or indirectly taught that expressing emotion is a sign of weakness. Young men are taught to seek out independence rather than relationships and can be stifled in regards to their emotional development. In an effort to address this ongoing cultural issue, we must take a look at how we are raising our male children. Rather than overtly or even covertly reinforcing the suppression of emotion, we must teach all children that it is okay to experience and express emotion. We should encourage children to label their feelings and to talk about why they might be feeling what they are feeling. By enabling our children to develop some degree of emotional intelligence, we can increase a cultural capacity for emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal relationship. In turn, we can hope that issues effecting the male population including substance abuse, domestic violence and suicidality will be on the decline.

     As we deliberately challenge what has become a devastating cultural norm, we can hope to increase the number of male mental health professionals that might help to further address a variety of patriarchal problems that seem to run in every family. Furthermore, by encouraging a cultural shift we can hope that male clients might further seek treatment from a professional whom they are most comfortable working with. It is true that a strong male who is capable of modelling appropriate emotional expression and regulation can very much encourage other men to follow suit.

     Various cultures in the history of the world have thought that tears were a sign of masculinity and strength. It was thought that tears reflected that a man lived by a code of values and cared enough to show this by experiencing emotion in various circumstances. It is very true that vulnerability requires courage, it seems that a man who is capable of expressing emotion might be that much more comfortable with their own masculinity. As I reflect on various positive male role models in my own life, I have great admiration for those that have had respect for emotion and were capable of expressing feeling.

Despite this, it is true that the tough guy stereotype dies hard and it might only be through a collective effort that our culture can strive to improve the mental health of the men in this world. 

     If you or a man in your life is struggling with behavioral or emotional issues, encourage a conversation, validate/normalize their experience and encourage them to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. As with emotion itself, therapy is not a purely feminine domain, therapy can very much take on a no bull shit, tough love perspective that is interwoven with genuine understanding and unconditional positive regard. If you have specific concerns related to men’s mental health, find a therapist that is familiar with and specializes in men’s issues. Finally, check-out some excellent supportive resources such as man therapy or the good men project.

“If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him.” 

-Seneca

 

www.mantherapy.org

www.goodmenproject.com

Dancing With Change || Dorothy Wallis

Dancing with Change by Dorothy Wallis

Life is movement, change, and continual transformation.  

If everything stayed the same life would not only be boring, it would cease to exist.  When you are challenged with changes in your life that seemingly “come out of the blue,” or are initiated by external forces or that you are unprepared for, it is natural to put on the brakes and resist.  Sometimes change is hard to understand.   As Alan Watts says, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”   These days I am feeling the quick motion of life sweeping me off my feet into an entirely new realm and the only thing I can do is go with the flow.  Jumping into this river of life can be demanding because it can be so easy and comfortable to stay on the shore of what is known….  

The only Way to make sense out of Change is to Plunge into it,

Move with it, and Join the Dance”  

~ Alan Watts

I’ve had my share of uncomfortable and sad moments with the process of moving out of my home and town that I’ve known for 24 years.  Yet, even this town is not the same as when I first moved here.  It has changed big time.  The slow paced lifestyle of a small country mining town has turned into an upscale hip gathering mecca drawing people into its vortex of dynamic energy.  There are still the hometown parades but now the downtown is buzzing with lively restaurants that are filled every day and hour of the week.  Community has a new face.  The personality of the town has changed reflecting the current wave of lifestyle embodied by a new generation of occupants.  

I realize my nostalgia is for a time that has passed and I am feeling the same pangs for “what was” that my grandmother felt when she left her farm for a half-acre in town.  That was downsizing for her.  Whatever change in breadth and scope of place or circumstance is an adjustment.  The faster pace of life with more cars, more people, houses stacked edge to edge and lack of space is something I am reluctant to face.  Adapt, I must and adapt I will.  

My heart is full even as it aches.  I am cherishing thousands of precious moments of love, beauty, and memories that have added such richness to my life.  I am not the same person that first laid eyes upon this plot of land.  I have grown and changed; my family and friends have grown and changed too.  These eyes have always appreciated the process of creation and growth and I see the beauty in what has transpired not just in the land but mostly in the hearts of my companions and neighbors.  Are we more loving….more caring?  Our shared experience of life has mellowed our hard line ideals.  We have grown together….raised our children, helped one another in times of need, and been involved in giving time and energy to our schools and community, forging an unspoken but deeply felt bond of trust and understanding.  We have matured and learned how to forgive and let go of expectations.  

There is a sense of completion in this phase of life.  One by one the original families that settled in our little hamlet are selling their homes as their grown children venture into the world. Families with young children are moving in. Their spirit infuses these streets with fresh stimulating energy.  I hear the sounds of laughter and giggling as the children play games in the meadow and feel reassured of the continuity of life.  “The beat goes on” with the humming rhythm of the eternal cycle.  What comes next, I do not know.  Life holds the promise of utterly unique metamorphosis and diversity. So, I take the plunge and dance, dance, dance into my beautiful life of infinite possibility.  May you too treasure each incomparable moment, let go of regret, find the power in forgiveness, notice the good, appreciate kindness, see the beauty in the unfolding transformation and dance into the never ending journey of change.


About the Author: Dorothy Wallis

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

Fruits of the Spirit || Lora Cheadle

Fruits of the Spirit

By Lora Cheadle

Ingredients for a Happy Life

I’ve noticed a lot of relationship stuff on Facebook lately. Many of my friends are celebrating anniversaries, several friend’s kids have gotten engaged, and there are always a multitude of articles such as: making others fall madly in love with you, what women are biologically programmed to find attractive in a mate and what all men wish women knew.

Then there was the post from The Onion that my son recently shared. It was entitled, “Study Finds Not Acting Like Total F*&%ing Moron Most Attractive Quality in Potential Mate.” Although the article was satire, it actually made a very important point, which you don’t even need to read the article in order to benefit from. And that is, don’t act like a jerk.

Everyone has Troubles, the Difference is how we Respond to Trouble

Life is hard. For all of us. Nobody goes through live unscathed, no matter what they may say and no matter what you may think. Everyone experiences loss, heart break, devastation, sadness, depression and pain. True, some may seem to have more or less than others, but really, it’s about the same. Everyone experiences hardship. The difference is how we handle that difficulty.

Being Positive For Ourselves

Most people are resilient and most of us like to feel good, so we go ahead and act happy, even when we aren’t. Not to lie, or to put on a false front, but simply so we can feel as good as possible. Because feeling good feels better than feeling bad. So, for whatever period of time that we are out in public, we put on a happy front, and quite often, because of the happy front we’ve put on, we actually feel happier.

Not Burdening Others

Sometimes we also feign happiness for others. There are many situations where it’s not appropriate to say what’s really going on in our lives. For better or for worse, there are things that we just don’t say, and there are things we just don’t want to hear from others.

How would we react if our favorite barista told us that she’s super tired because her husband got drunk last night and woke her up at two in the morning to fight about their credit card bill, which was too high to pay off? What if a co-worker said she was sorry to be so out of sorts, but that she hadn’t felt loved in years, and that the emptiness of a bad marriage sometimes really got her down. What if the checker at the grocery store shared that his grandma is battling cancer and that his ex-wife was bipolar and he is scared to leave the kids with her more often than he was comfortable with because his grandma needed so much help?

In some sense it could be a relief to hear that others had problems too, and it might make us more compassionate, but in another sense, it could unduly burden us. We might think, “What, so now I’m supposed to be late because you can’t get it together?” or “What am I supposed to do with that? Am I supposed to help, offer advice, give you the day off? What do I do now?” Which is why culturally, we just don’t air our dirty laundry!

Everyone Hurts, All the Time

Just because we don’t share our problems, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We aren’t the only ones with problems and we aren’t the only ones digging deep, putting on a pleasant face and going on with our day to the best of our ability. Everyone else is too.

Which brings us to The Onion article that my son posted on Facebook. The most attractive quality in anyone, not just a potential mate, is not acting like an idiot. Treating everyone with respect, kindness, and with the assumption that everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

It doesn’t matter what kind of a relationship we are talking about either. Whether it’s a long term one or just a fleeting interaction in public, the only thing that matters is how kind we are to each other.

The Common Denominator is Kindness

When I started thinking about my relationships, and what I wanted out of those relationships, I started off with longer lists of qualities. I want friends who are humorous and supportive, who are open minded and loving, but very quickly I saw that those qualities are actually fairly superficial. Yes, I want a partner who is humorous, but I also want one who is serious. I want friends who are supportive but I also need friends who give me my space. Yes, I strongly prefer those who are open minded, but I also deeply appreciate those who have strong beliefs. The common denominator to any of my desired qualities is kindness.

If someone is serious or funny, I want them to be kind with their words. If someone is supportive or aloof, I want them to do it with kindness and gentleness. If someone is committed to their beliefs or open to a multitude of new ideas, as long as they go about it in a kind and gentle way, I’m perfectly fine with whatever they think.

It made me see that living a beautiful, joyful, peaceful life really isn’t that hard. All we have to do is be gentle and kind. To understand that suffering is a universal human quality, and that everyone suffers is all we need to know. To know that it is not our job to change or alleviate this suffering is also helpful. We don’t have to have solutions. We don’t have to find the answer. Literally, all we have to do is be kind and gentle to everyone around us. That’s all.

It reminded me of a wall hanging that a friend gave me when I got married, that was taken from Galatians 5:22-23. It was a row of apothecary jars labeled with the fruits of the spirit; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I always thought of it as the Ingredients for a Happy Life, and although I have failed to use those ingredients, those ingredients have never failed me. Pretty simple recipe, if only we remember to use the right ingredients!


To read more of Lora’s writing, visit her website.

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

How Emotions Affect the Body || Lora Cheadle

The Mind/Body Connection of How Emotions Affect the Body

By: Lora Cheadle

Our bodies and our minds are endlessly adaptable. There is quite literally an endless variety of adaptations that our bodies and our minds can make, allowing us to survive in even the harshest of mental or physical circumstances. Although this ability is useful in a wide variety of circumstances, it also the reason that emotions can get stuck in our bodies, negatively impacting our health as well as our mental well-being.

Physical and Emotional Traumas Both Have Physical Manifestations

When we break a leg, and are in a full leg cast for an extended period of time, our bodies adapt to the gait and manner of walking with one leg straight. Remove the cast, and for the first several days it’s difficult to walk normally again. Our physical body adapted. Without mirrors, physical therapy or the conscious desire to return to a normal gait, our limp might remain permanent, even though there is no physical reason to maintain the straight-legged gait.

The same is true with physical patterning with regard to emotion. Different emotions result in different physical posturing, and our body language changes depending on the emotions we are experiencing. Unlike a limp however, emotions are not tangible. We cannot simply look in a mirror and see where we are holding emotion in our bodies. Therefore, it can be difficult to identify and release the emotions that are unnecessarily being held in our bodies.

But just like the resulting limp from a broken leg, unnecessarily holding emotions in the body can be just as debilitating. Whether we call it baggage, triggers or psychological damage, emotional experiences impact our physical bodies. Since emotions cannot exist outside of the body, the only way to hold or express emotions, is through the body!

How Emotions Get Stuck in the Body

Think about your own body posturing when you are trying not to be noticed. Have you ever worn the wrong type of clothing to an event? Been awkwardly taller than those around you? Had a blouse that kept gaping open or a zipper that kept sliding down? Chances are, in an attempt to not be noticed, your body posturing changed. Perhaps you slouched, pulled your shoulders up and forward or hung and head. Maybe you presented the side of your body instead of meeting people head on, kept your arms crossed over your chest or literally tried to make your body compact, and smaller than it was.

Our feelings of embarrassment, nervousness, or our desire not to be noticed manifested in our bodies, in the form of tension in the shoulders, neck or chest, due to slouching, or pain in the knees, ankles or feet, due to slight squatting and keeping the body turned sideways. Our physicality reflected what was happening on an emotional level.

Over time, our bodies can get stuck in a variety of emotional holding patterns. Just like the limp from wearing as cast too long, we can slump, slouch, squat or protect out of habit, even when there is no longer an emotional reason to do so.

Emotional Holding Patterns That Cause Physical Symptoms

Take the case of long-time caregivers, who often have the tendency to slouch. Whether it’s from holding babies or from leaning over beds to check on patients, the emotions of nurturing, protecting, care and concern become synonymous with stooped posture. Over time, whenever those caregiver feel the same emotions they feel when checking ono patients or children, the physical patterning of slouching follows suit. The emotions literally get stuck in the body’s muscles.

Although the caregiver might have enough strength and flexibility to physically stand up straight, on an emotional level, standing up straight is as emotionally threatening as asking that caregiver to stop feeling emotions of nurturing, care or concern.

How to Release Stuck Emotions From the Body

A good way to begin untangling the emotions from the body is to start noticing your body in a variety of situations. At home, at work, with friends or while you are alone. Notice how your body feels when you experience different emotions. Begin to see the correlation between your body’s posturing and your emotional state.

Notice what you feeling and where. Is it tension in the neck, back or shoulders? Is it a holding in your stomach or a gripping with your thighs? Do you have a pain in your foot, difficulty breathing, or clenching in your jaw or fists? Is there an obvious physical posture that is causing this tightness or sensation, such as slouching, leaning, gripping or holding?

Identifying both the emotion as well as the posture is the key. After identifying the emotion, analyze whether this emotion is currently present in your world today, possibly necessitating the physical posturing, or whether this patterning is a holdover from a past situation.

Sometimes simply recognizing holdover behavior is enough to release it. Other times, deeper psychological work may be necessary. In either event, one of the most effective ways to deal with physical patterning that is the result of an emotional issue, is to do this 30 second meditation.

Take a few deep breaths. As you are breathing, focus on feeling your body both physically as well as emotionally. Focus on aligning, straightening, expanding and opening your body. Feel like you are stacking your bones, one on top of the other, and that they are so perfectly balanced, you no longer need any muscular tension in order to keep your bones in place. Relax your muscles and breathe.

Focus on your emotional state. Gently let any stressful or negative emotions either float up, and out your body, or drain down, and out of your body. If you know the emotional trigger that caused your tension, affirm to yourself that that situation is in the past, and can no longer impacts you, or your body any longer. If you are not aware of your trigger, affirm for yourself that even though you are not aware of the root cause of your tension, you still unconditionally love and accept yourself. Affirm that from this point forward, you are no longer impacted by that, which in the past, caused you to hold tension or emotion in your physical body.

Take one more breath, imagining, visualizing or pretending that both your physical body and your emotions are uniting in a place of unity, peace, resilience and healthy harmony.

And so it is!


To read more of Lora’s writing, visit her website.

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

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.

Post-Election: Be Kind-but it DOESN’T mean be nice! || Mary Coday Edwards

Post-election: Be kind – but it DOESN’T mean be nice!

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

December 13, 2016

And Santa JUST shifted me to the “naughty” side, if I wasn’t there already.

An old word, “nice” appeared in English in the 13th century. It’s derived from a French word that meant “foolish”, which in turn came from the Latin nescire, meaning “Ignorant”.  By the 17th century it had evolved to signify “timid,” “fussy,” and “precise” – a far cry from our current usage meaning kind, or polite.

Of the word, Dictionary.com says “the word is used too often and has become a cliché lacking the qualities of precision and intensity that are embodied in many of its synonyms.”

As noted in my November blog on loving kindness, on the heels of our election I attended the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS; Note 1), hosted by the Mind & Life Institute (Note 2).

Amishi Jha, Associate Professor at the University of Miami, closed our Saturday evening session saying, “Be kind – but that doesn’t mean be nice!”

The Director of Contemplative Neuroscience for the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative, her words were intended to aid us attendees in finding our way through a new political order.

BE KIND: FOCUSING ON THE OTHER, FOR THEIR GOOD

Spiritual teachers and psychotherapists often associate “nice” with being a people-pleaser, with the need to look outside oneself for certain emotional needs to be met. In other words, if I’m nice to you, you’ll validate me in ways I’m not getting from myself. You’ll make me feel important, valuable, or worthy of love. And to get what I want from you, I will even contradict my convictions.

Being kind, on the other hand, entails a deliberate doing good to others, choosing consciously. And evolves into loving kindness – again, see my November blog. Returning to its 13th century roots, nice implies acting unconsciously – I am ignorant of my motives and perhaps foolishly waiting for someone’s approval, or to get something from him/her.

Which is spot on to our seasonal usage of “nice”: If I punch Susie, Santa will leave me a lump of coal – I won’t get the cool stuff. I don’t really care about Susie’s wellbeing, but I DO care about what’s under the tree.

Defined in this manner, niceness comes with strings attached: I will please you and make you happy in order to get something out of it.

POST-ELECTION

For me, training in loving kindness enables me to move beyond the superficialities that divide our species. Mentally, when I now engage either in person or through social media with those whose values frankly leave me stunned, I visualize that deeper spiritual commonality.

For me, that visualization is of a changing form of no specific shape, an intense sky blue color with sparkles of light, in a background of midnight blue.  There I can be kind without being nice; I can extend loving kindness to them without contradicting my own values. They are fighting battles I know nothing about in that deeper place.

By the end of our interaction, they may want nothing more to do with me – they may be unfriending me! And that’s OK. My intent is to be kind to myself also in this interaction, by speaking my truth, by showing up as me.

So, be kind – but mindfully, paying attention to your motives, but without judgment.

_______

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

3.) Sources include Marcia Sirota, at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marcia-sirota/being-too-nice_b_9592698.html

________

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:

Creating the New Between Pain and Suffering || Mary Coday Edwards

Creating the New Between Pain & Suffering.

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

October 24, 2016

pain

This is by no means a complete treatise on pain and suffering – just three suggestions on how to work with it.

Creating the new through pain and suffering includes the following steps:

  1. Recognizing we’re in pain, we pay attention to what our bodies are telling us, whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological pain.
  2. Sitting with it mindfully, nonjudgmentally and with compassion welcoming it as our teacher (1);
  3. Breathing into the pain, asking our intuition, our higher self, what we can do next.

Now, of pain Dan Mager says (emphasis mine): “Physical pain has distinct biological and psychological components that represent stimulus and response. The biology of pain is the signal transmitted through the central nervous system that ‘something is wrong.’ The psychology of pain is the interpretation or meaning we give to that pain signal—the internal self-talk and beliefs about it which then drive our emotional reactions” (2).

“When we resist change, it’s called suffering ….” Buddhist Nun Pema Chödrön.

As an example: Recently I hurt the tip of my index finger on my right hand – an appendage of significance, as I am right-handed.

How I did so remained a mystery. Thinking it might be an in-grown finger nail, I tried minor surgery on it – exacerbating the pain a millionth-fold. Excruciating, throbbing pain now kept me awake at night.

Since it wouldn’t bend due to its swollenness, I unconsciously held the pained finger straight out.

Not a good idea; our physical world is designed for bendable digits. Plugging a cord into an outlet meant I rammed my finger into the wall – several times as a matter of fact. And into drawer fronts, doors, and the steering wheel, leaving me in tears.

I knew I was in pain, and all I wanted was for it to GO AWAY.  

I was resisting change, and my unconscious adaptation strategy of holding my finger straight out was not working.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

Of the biblical prodigal son who was competing with the pigs for food scraps, scriptures say “he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17).

I too, came to mine, making this pain conscious, moving from impatience with myself to gentleness and compassion. “What can I do differently?” I asked myself – finally.

“Live in the now.” 

I was operating unconsciously, going about my day ramming my finger into non-movable surfaces. But the now, this moment, is all we ever have. The past is gone, the future is yet to be – this is all we’ve got.

Also, the now is sacred; it’s where we experience divinity. I was rushing through what I declared mundane, to move on to what I believed was “important” and hence missing the divine moment by moment.

I asked if there was anything else.

“Stop using your right hand, use your left.”

OK, that’s like a mini death – a death to my standard mode of operation. Using my left hand meant I approached life slower, more deliberate and measured – a dying to a life driven by efficiency.

But creative suffering usually includes an element of dying – and then a rebirth.

Having spent about a decade in John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul, I was familiar with the concept – not mastered it, of course, how does one get used to a continual dying to what’s so familiar? And in a dark night experience, what dies is a worldview with its treasured beliefs, attitudes, and values.

And so I slowed down, using my left hand, shifting from frustration with myself to compassion. I felt a different part of my brain light up, a different energy was released.

Suffering occurs when your ideas about how things ought to be don’t match how they really are.” Author Brad Warner 

Summarizing my process:

– I became aware of my pain, my resultant suffering, and that the status quo wasn’t working anymore.

– Instead of just living in my reptilian brain of fight or flight, I brought this into consciousness, asking my higher self what I could do.

– I experienced a death and rebirth in my daily routine:

+ it increased my mindfulness, as I was forced to pay closer attention to each moment – my now – that’s all I have, this moment, and the next, and the next.

+ in the process, I was forced to slow down in the doings, my routine, of everyday life. Again, it changed my focus to my now, recognizing the sacred.

+ doing something with the opposite hand normally used can be psychologically beneficial as well as artistic, as it engages a part of the brain not commonly exercised.

Living consciously is at the heart of spirituality. Through it we learn to take responsibility for our actions and for our own happiness, without relying on outside influences. Yes, my finger hurt. But I didn’t have to wait for it to get better before I could experience joy. After all, there’s ALWAYS something or someone out there who can and will create havoc in our lives.

“Paroxysms of pain and twinges of desire leach from universal sources. All human suffering buttons itself to the pang of wanting.” Kilroy J. OldsterDead Toad Scrolls

_______

Notes & Sources:

  1. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness and says it is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”
  2. Mager, Dan, MSW. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/some-assembly-required/201401/pain-is-inevitable-suffering-is-optional
  3. Chödrön, Pema. Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change. 2013. Shambhala.
  4. Steele, John W., PhD. https://peoplehouse.org/services/articles/chronic-pain-as-path/

­________

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:

Comedy for a Cause || Craig Freund

“Comedy for a Cause”

by Craig Freund, ACP Internship Graduate and People House Private Practitioner

 

comedy

“Every time you are able to find humor in a difficult situation you win.”

-Anonymous

Why comedy for a cause? Well, what does a nosey pepper do? Get jalapeño business. Okay okay, cheesy I know, but the point is… that humor and laughter in general is one of life’s greatest blessings. Often, humor creates the space to better cope with difficult experiences or with our own misfortunes. During my time as an undergraduate student, while hoping to enjoy a nice meal in the dining hall, I jumped up into a stool seat. Suddenly I found myself on the floor and realized that the chair had collapsed beneath me. With the attention of the entire dining hall, I flushed red with embarrassment, I noticed my pals tearfully laughing at my misfortune and soon I found myself laughing with them. This moment had the potential to be one of the most embarrassing moments that I’d experienced, however with some light-hearted humor, it quickly became one of the funniest moments of my life. In this moment and with the help of some humor, I was able to transform uncomfortable embarrassment into joy and laughter.

Obviously we can’t laugh at everything, but laughter can really help us through a wide variety of struggles. It might be helpful to find humor during embarrassing moments, parenting struggles, uncomfortable silences or even if your mood just needs a little boost. You may have even heard that laughter is the best medicine. Laughter eases tension, tackles stress, boosts the immune system, releases endorphins, inspires hope and creates social connection. By actively seeking out humor in our lives we can truly elevate our mental health and improve our life experience. But that isn’t all. Laughter and particularly comedy can also become an excuse for the kind of fundraising that greatly benefits our communities.

On Sunday, November 13th at 5pm People House is hosting The Gift of Comedy at the Bug Theater. Headlining this event will be the hilarious Kristina Hall, a professional comedian with over 30 years of comedic experience. Kristina will be joined by therapist comedians Katie Mason, Elan Benami and Josh Medley as they combine forces in an effort to not only make you laugh, but also to raise funds for People House’s Affordable Counseling Program. If you’ve not heard of it, the Affordable Counseling Program provides quality and affordable services to those that might not otherwise be able to find the mental health support that they need. In fact, this program provided over 4500 affordable counseling sessions in 2015. So, on November 13th at 5pm, your laughter and The Gift of Comedy will truly be Comedy for a Cause. If you’re looking to boost your mental health, have a good belly laugh and/or contribute to a great cause, then The Gift of Comedy at The Bug Theatre is for you! Finally, if you’ve never experienced live stand-up comedy, this is a great opportunity to giggle till you cry and get that abdominal workout while skipping the gym for the stand-up stage, all while supporting your community.

Get your tickets at: https://peoplehouse.org/thegiftofcomedy/

goc-whats-new

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

 -Charlie Chaplain

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

  -Mark Twain

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About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional Private Practitioners working with People House. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. He is also a graduate of People House’s Affordable Counseling Internship. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.

Developing An Internal Sense of Safety || Dorothy Wallis

Developing an Internal Sense of Safety

 Much Ado about Fear (part 2)

 fear-pt-2

“Anxious, stressed, scattered, I can’t concentrate and can’t sleep through the night.  I am not in physical danger, but I just never feel safe.”  The aftermath of fearful situations or the uncertainty that the world is not a safe place can leave you shaky, unsure and on edge.  You have lost a grounded sense of security.  How do you develop an internal feeling of safety?  You may wonder if or even believe that a haven of serenity exists inside of you, but when fear arises you may wonder how to get past the fear.

In “Much Ado about Fear, part 1,” we found how fear initiates a natural visceral response to a perceived threat whether there is an actual threat or not.  The fear response instantaneously activates a protection mode of fight, flight or freeze to keep you safe from harm.  Even when your physical body is no longer in danger, you may experience lurking fear in the form of anxiety.  Only when you truly believe you are safe will your body calm down. 

Developing an internal sense of a permanent peaceful place within provides a knowing of inviolable safety and trust.  This sanctuary is found by moving into and beyond the transient experience of fear.  Yes, that’s right, touching the fear.  It sounds challenging because it is such a change from the way you may have previously related to fear.  For the most part, you have been taught that fear itself is dangerous and territory that you do not want to touch.

Here is the practice.  Move through it at your own pace and be aware of the feelings that arise.  Being Consciously Aware opens you to the experience.

How to Begin: Getting to Know Fear

Meet fear with the feeling of being welcomed into its home and getting to know it.  Approach this part of yourself gently and slowly; take your time.  Fear is an energetic expression of your emotional body to warn you.  You are entering the unknown.  It may be uncomfortable and much resistance may arise.  Open to fear with curiosity, spaciousness and a sense of discovery. 

Become consciously aware of your response to fear and approach fear as you would a supportive relationship.

Be Aware of Your Natural Tendency to Turn Away from Fear

Naturally, your impulse is to turn away.  The desire to not feel fear is normal because it is a feeling of not being safe.  You retract from feeling the physical sensations of fear in the same way you use to get away from danger.  You may fight fear by “toughening up,” suppressing and controlling the sensations, flee by distracting yourself or ignoring the sensations, or numbing the fear with drugs or alcohol.  All of these engage you in a battle against your own body and against yourself instead of addressing the cause of the fear. Your longing to not feel fear makes you more afraid and insecure.  You can’t fight, run away from or freeze fear into submission.  If you attempt to control it, it returns again and again as anxiety and grows louder.  Fear is a warning siren.  The only way to turn off a smoke alarm is to pay attention to it and physically connect with it.  It is wise to run out of the house to get away from fire, but running away from the alarm to stop it from ringing won’t work.

Be Willing to Touch the Fear with Compassion and Love

Approaching fear with a willingness to experience it with love for what it is protecting creates a new relationship with this part of you that is exquisitely designed to safeguard you.  A great benevolence and caring are at the heart of fear, which deeply cares for and protects you.  Underneath the desire to protect is immense love and compassion for yourself and others.  Touching fear with your Conscious Awareness transforms your understanding of it into an aspect that is known.

Allow Yourself to Experience the Physical Sensations of Fear

Have you ever been fully present with the physical sensations of fear?  Your reaction to fear is rapid and instinctual; it happens so quickly that you probably have not paid much attention to your bodily sensations.  Overcome your habitual tendency to not feel and your desire to not be afraid by choosing to discover this part of your being. 

Enter with Love. 

As fear arises, place your awareness on the physical sensations in your body.  Fear is a vibration of energy.  Notice where the energy is located in your body and where it moves.  Allow your curiosity to discover the subtle qualities.  What are the textures, temperature, sounds, smell and color of the energy?  Biological changes activate your body to protect itself.

Some of the physical sensations you may encounter are:

  • An abrupt, all encompassing movement of energy in your chest and throat
  • Your heart beating faster….your breathing becoming more rapid
  • Blood vessels constricting to shunt the blood around your body to your core, arms and legs
  • At the same time, you may get a cold flash or even trembling as the blood moves away from the skin and into your core
  • Your perception and awareness of what is around you increases
  • You become very alert and focused with increased clarity
  • Your sensing ability expands spherically far out from your body
  • You have a deep instinctual desire to get away or hide
  • You may have a sense of contraction, tightness or shrinking
  • Clarity diminishing when flooded with fear and panic

You will have your own unique experience of the sensations.  Notice what happens to you in different circumstances.  As you learn about your automatic responses make different choices in how you relate to fear.  Do you panic or react with more fear?  What happens when you choose to relate to fear with compassion and kindness?  How does your experience change when you know you can regulate your response?  You cannot eliminate fear and it would not be wise to do so but the more you get to know fear and gain confidence and trust in your ability to choose your response, the more you develop a sense of safety and security.

Stay Present, Connect, Inquire and Listen for the Underlying Truth

Once you have connected with the physical sensations of fear, and gain some skill with your ability to touch it, observe how the energy changes.  The intensity shifts, it comes and goes, and you have a greater awareness of its impermanent nature. 

Staying present with the fear, take a deep breath and increase the depth of your compassion and caring.  Love invokes a profound state of clarity.  Connect with the energy that is guarding and protecting a part of you.  Fear protects your body and your loved ones and also protects your values, beliefs and parts of yourself that you find unacceptable.  Often what keeps you from inhabiting a place of safety is your fear of what you may discover inside of yourself.  Inquire deeper within and see if what you care about protecting is still necessary or true for you.

Is it a belief I hold that is not in alignment with my authentic self?  Is this an essential part of myself?  What else may fear be protecting?  Is it hiding a disowned part of myself?  Is there something I fear even more than keeping the anxiety?  Am I holding on to a belief that I am innately bad, unworthy or unlovable?  Do I fear what I desire most: receiving love, intimacy, abundance, or relationship with God or Spirit?

Uncovering the emotional truth that fear has been protecting leads you into an awareness of your story and an exploration into your true self.  Look at how many times you have walked into fear.  What strengths and attributes have carried you through rough times?  What parts of you adapted?  Somehow, you have survived and that speaks of your resilience.  A sense of freedom and empowerment results from regaining disowned aspects of yourself and finding out that your essential nature is good, capable and wholesome.  Honor and appreciate your authentic self; allow the unfolding.  An internal sense of safety is a journey and is built from the recognition of your authentic power and trusting that there is an unwavering well of support and guidance within.

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Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is 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. 

She is 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.  

 

developing-saftey

Fun is the New Apple || Jenny St.Claire

Fun is the New Apple

By: Jenny St. Claire, People House Blog Contributor

 

self care and apple

Self-Care is a buzzword that is thrown around a lot. I find it is often given lip service, but not carried out on a regular basis.  Why is that?

Do we all suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out)?  If we say yes to taking care of ourselves, are we saying no to something else that sounds much more productive or exciting?

Whatever life looks like day in and day out, it is important to take a moment to notice what we actually need to care for ourselves.

BORING!

Most people I’ve asked who talk about self-care usually only reference three things:

  • Getting a massage
  • Going to counseling
  • Taking a bath

Those are amazing things to do for yourself!

But, what if those were the only three choices?  Even if you add getting enough sleep and eating well, how would that feel over time?  Confining?  Dull?  Boring? 

No wonder people aren’t making self-care a bigger priority!

Fun Factor

Fun is more than something we do.  It’s also a way of being. 

Remember the last time you really had fun.  You were probably smiling, relaxed or exhilarated, laughing, engaged and really present.  Now, try to imagine doing that same thing while also being lost in your thoughts, grumpy or striving to achieve.  The results would probably be pretty different if you were being something other than fun.

The old saying “Use it or lose it” definitely applies to our ability to be fun.  As we grow into adulthood and adopt the social rules of how to be a grown up, we have a tendency to set aside fun in favor of getting things done, being busy, and generally trying to make it through our hectic days.  Under the new operating system of “being an adult,” how has your ability to play and have fun been affected?

Why does this matter?

I’m sure you can relate to how draining getting through your day and week can be.  If you started with a full tank of your essence and wellbeing in the morning, how much of your tank did you use by bedtime?  Half? All of it?  How many of you have been running on fumes for a while?

If your tank is running low, how do you fill back up again?

If you like baths, how much of your tank does that fill?  How about a massage?  Let’s be real about what actually brings you back to a full tank.  It’s not the things we do once a month or once a week that are going to help us feel nourished.  It’s the things we do every day, sometimes several times a day, that really keep us going and make it a fulfilling ride.

This is where fun comes in, both in being and doing.  Make it a practice.  Seek it within yourself and your life.  It might be an attitude of adventure, discovery or always asking “what if?”  Maybe it’s a moment of shared laughter.  Maybe it’s a solo one song dance party.  Fun is available to us in every moment, no matter the task, if we allow ourselves to be open to receiving its restorative qualities.

Remember the last time you had a good laugh.  The kind where your face and stomach hurt, or you snorted.  How did you feel afterward?  Full?  Sated?  Connected?  All of these qualities of fun are directly related to self-care.  Fun is an overlooked element of caring for yourself, which is why it’s important to build it into your day.

Every day.  Several times a day.

Smorgasbord

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had a whole smorgasbord of choices when it comes to fun and caring for yourself?  Then, you could pick something that would fit your mood, time, and need on any given day.

To broaden your view of what is possible, I have borrowed the work of Sarah Jenks (www.sarahjenks.com) who has categorized many ways to have fun. Here are some ideas:

  • Pleasure (five senses)
    • Massage
    • Delicious meal
    • Fragrant flowers
  • Romance
    • With significant other
    • With yourself
  • Friendship
    • Cultivate and nurture
  • Entertainment
    • Concert
    • Movie
    • Comedy Club
  • Adventure
    • Moves you just outside your comfort zone and gives you a bit of a rush
      • Ziplining
      • New Haircut
      • Trying something new
    • Space and Tuning Out
      • Sometimes we just need to BE
      • Be in nature!
    • Education
      • Learn something for FUN
        • Language
        • New recipe
        • Instrument
      • Creativity
        • What is creative to you?
          • Finding a new way home
          • Sewing
          • Making a collage
          • Building a new garden

Fun is the New Apple

They used to say that an apple a day would keep the doctor away.  With the pace of our lives these days, an apple isn’t enough!  We need to take a deep breath and check in with how we are doing.  Then, based on what we discover, we need to nourish ourselves in a way that our whole self is replete.

Take stock of your life and notice what’s missing.  If you’ve got the basics of your well being covered and you still feel like something is lacking, could it be fun?  Do any of the categories above speak to you?  In what big or small ways can you add elements of fun to your life?

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JennyAbout the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

Much Ado About Fear || Dorothy Wallis

Much Ado about Fear:  Regaining an Inner Sense of Safety

By Dorothy Wallis, featured People House blogger

fear

Fear gets a bad rap.  When it strikes, it zaps you with an instantaneous jolt of alarm so powerful that nothing else registers but the feeling of sheer panic.  Your body screams, “I could die, I could be harmed, I am in danger.”  All of your senses and bodily functions are corralled into doing just one thing….to get you away from whatever is the source of danger.  With lightning speed Fear propels you towards Safety. 

It is the body’s most protective emotion. 

Without fear to prevent you from harm, your body would not be able to function optimally.  It may not be able to survive, which means it could not house your consciousness.  Your body dies, your consciousness is eternal.  You experience fear through your body, your essence self knows no fear.  Your body uses fear to keep itself alive for your consciousness to experience the highest expression of life. 

So, why does fear get such a bad rap?  

The physical sensations are purposely unpleasant and often downright tormenting, all consuming and distressful.  Fear gets your attention.  Breathing, heart rate and blood pressure ramp up and muscles are energized as hormones and neurotransmitters race through the body.  Most of your brain is on hyper-alert while your rational brain, the cerebral cortex, is bypassed.  Your brain automatically retrieves its database of sensory and feeling aspects of similar past experiences and beliefs about the situation or people involved.  These memories are the story of the past.  They do not include rational assessment or discernment about the present situation.  Confusion, befuddlement, knee-jerk reactions, and even paralysis are not uncommon stress reactions.  Deep thinking is not as important as fight, flight, or freeze for immediate survival.

It is not really the warning flash of fear that is problematic; it is the aftermath of anxiety from not feeling safe that puts you into a state of hyper-vigilance and stress engendering ongoing fear.  The threat may be gone but the thoughts of uncertainty about your safety keep pumping those hormones and neurotransmitters throughout your body energizing the fear.  A delicate balance exists between the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin to regulate the fear response.  Vasopressin increases anxiety as a precursor to fear activating a defensive response, while oxytocin increases the processing of social information with attachment and bonding to those one feels safe with.  Conversely, oxytocin acts to distance one from those felt as a threat and actually increases anxiety to unpredictable threat.  An example of oxytocin in action is the proverbial “Mother Bear” protecting her young.  She is attached and nurturing to her cub and ferociously defends it; you don’t want to get in her way.

 

An Inner Sense of Safety is Essential to Calm the Fear Response

The nurturing and feel good bonding that arises from the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin are activated when one “Feels Safe.”  Feeling Safe reduces the alarm system of fear releasing oxytocin, which then eases stress and creates a sense of harmony and connection.  The “social” hormone promotes attachment and relationship in turn improving your social skills, and fosters a sense of belonging, trust, generosity, optimism and tranquility.  If you no longer feel threatened, then naturally your body balances and reduces the stress response.  It is the Inner Sense of Safety that is essential.  Only when you feel safe will increased levels of oxytocin reduce anxiety. 

 

Living in a World of Change and Uncertainty

These days, many people are experiencing an increasing sense of anxiety and stress.  Our world has become a global community with challenging issues as differing beliefs and needs intersect.  With instant access to news around the world, there is heightened awareness of violence, disruption, conflict and uncertainty.  Every day, we are bombarded with terrifying news of war, hatred, death, environmental degradation, health risks and economic collapse.  Not exactly themes that promote a sense of safety and security.  Viewing and hearing about events that you have no control over and seemingly occur anywhere and at any time can induce tremendous anxiety and fear.  Your body reacts as if it is in present danger, always alert to what might occur. 

Life is not static nor is it “safe.”  The challenges of globalization and interdependence are not going away.  All of life grows and evolves.  Your relationships with people change through time; loss is inevitable.  You will experience ups and downs, pain and anguish, insecurity and vulnerability as well as joy and laughter.  Fear will arise.  Change is certain.  You know that living in a state of constant anxiety is unhealthy, so how do you adapt to uncertainty and the unknown?  How do you calm your mind, regain balance and attain a sense of safety?

 

Perception is Powerful

A sense of safety or vulnerability is an inner perception.  From the perspective of the body, feeling safe is being free from harm or injury; you do not anticipate being hurt or threatened emotionally or physically.  Being vulnerable is the sense of your susceptibility to being physically or emotionally harmed, damaged or attacked. Your body’s initial reaction to threat is the sense of being vulnerable setting off a cascade of biological stress and defense responses.  In other words, when you feel vulnerable your body automatically begins a process producing anxiety and stress. 

Because the reaction in your body is so powerful and automatic, you often feel powerless to calm the fear.  It seems that fear overtakes and overwhelms you, which is why it gets a bad rap and why there is resistance to fear.  Are you really Powerless?  What if you possessed an inner force capable of responding to and befriending the fear instead of succumbing to pure reaction? 

The most potent and powerful force at your command is your Conscious Awareness.  Using awareness you have the ability to be in tune with your body’s natural ability to harmonize, balance and feel safe.

 

Inside of you there is a place of stillness and calm that can only be touched through Conscious Awareness

 

Accessing a sense of Inner Safety through Conscious Awareness

If you are in imminent danger, fear will do its best to protect you in the outer world.  Even so, you cannot control all of the outer circumstances of life.  Your inner world is your private sanctuary and dominion where you have the greatest opportunity to create a deep sense of safety and security.  Inside of you there is a place of stillness and calm that can only be touched through Conscious Awareness.

Touch communicates through a highly sensitive and often subtle language.  It conveys beliefs about whom or what is perceived as safe or not.  When you touch the inner realm of sensation, feeling and beliefs with awareness, you open to a deeper sense of self and your relationship to vulnerability, safety and security.  Most of the beliefs you hold generate conditioned habitual responses.  You are not your thoughts, beliefs or emotions.  Yet, when sensations or emotions arise, you may find yourself so enveloped in them that you believe they are you; you identify with them.  “I am an anxious person…it is impossible for me to feel completely safe…I will always be afraid of____(fill in the blank)…it is part of my nature, I cannot change nor do anything about it.”  Bound and tied to this limited persona of yourself, how could you ever feel safe?  From this view, there is no way out.  You become powerless to fear, anxiety and any emotion or belief you identify as being you.  The true reality is that you do not feel safe inside of your own body.

 

Finding a Safe Haven in the Inner World of Your Body

Your consciousness has the ability to step outside of identification with thoughts, feelings and sensations, which allows you to observe them without judgment.  As you touch the inner realm through conscious awareness, you develop an intimate relationship with the mysterious world of your body.  You become aware of how sensations and emotions rise and fall, you observe the never-ending rambling of thoughts and how your body expands or contracts in response to people and outer circumstances.  Without judgment, you touch the sensations of fear and anxiety.  Just as safe physical touch promotes the flow of the nurturing qualities of oxytocin, so does touching the inner realm of your body with the safety of non-judgmental awareness.  Magically, the power of touch softens your preconceptions and offers a soothing balm.  You discover you no longer fear sensations or emotions and experience them as divine messengers guiding you towards well-being.  You get in touch with your beliefs and the power to choose.  Empowered with awareness, you find comfort in the rhythms of your body.  This feeling of safety and benevolence deepens your trust in life connecting you to the wellspring of wisdom.  

In the sacred temple of your body, there is an inner sanctum sheltering the gateway to the magnificent essence of your soul.  In this place, you are free from all fear.  Within you is a place of refuge greeting you with a safe haven of tranquility.  When you meet this pearl of your essence, you find a peace that surpasses all.  Grounded and centered in your being and having tasted this realm, you will return again and again as nothing can keep you away.  As all travelers know, the first step on any journey is the desire to discover the unknown and be willing to begin.  Are you ready?

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Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is 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. 

 

She is 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.  

Let the Earth Bring you back to Balance || Ashley Koe

By Ashley Koe, Guest People House Blog Contributor

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erthing

What if you could improve your sleep, lessen inflammation and make healthier choices more easily….all for free!? These are just a few of the many benefits of Earthing. Earthing is one of the many free tools that I continue to recommend to many of my clients. Yes, as an Energy Intuitive, your feet talk to me. They even share what kind of Earthing they enjoy and if you have been doing it or not. And most of the people I see have feet who are yearning, sometimes screaming, for more Earthing. And heck, if the athletes in the Tour de France are using it and seeing incredible results, why shouldn’t we?

What is it? Earthing is the scientific re-discovery that connecting with the earth on a daily basis brings us back into balance: mind, body and soul. We humans are positively charged and continuing to accumulate more free radicals – hence why it can be so easy for us to lose our temper (read: road rage), keep getting sick (read: anything that ends in ‘-itis’), and more! The Earth is negatively charged and therefore naturally able to take what we need to release and ‘recycle’ it.

We are literally naturally designed to be connected with the earth on a regular basis!

How do you do Earthing?                        

1) Take off your shoes, 2) put your feet on the Earth for 10-30 mins. That’s it!
Some notes: yes, you must have a clear connection between you and the earth, no plastic or rubber (no shoes), or concrete layer blocking it. Socks or a blanket is fine for those with sensitive tootsies or if you want to do some whole-body Earthing.  Types of earth: dirt, grass, sand, salt water, boulders. Want double Earthing? Time to take that vacation to the ocean! Sand and salt water, it’s no wonder people feel so great when they come back from their beach trips!

Run your own experiment

Now take a moment to really think back to when was the last time you touched the earth with your bare feet for more than 10 mins? Has it been a while? Days, weeks, months or even years?

Over the course of history, the more disconnected we have become from the earth (shoes, beds, cars, concrete, hi-rise buildings) the more dis-eases we have acquired. Arthritis, cellulitis, even heart dis-ease is inflammation! Additionally, chronic inflammation can lead to a whole other list of dis-eases, including hay fever and even cancer.

Before you start Earthing, write down all the things that are going on physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and rate them from 0-10 as to how much they interfere in your life. Then start Earthing and notice if it shifts, how much it shifts.

 

It’s time to re-connect with the earth. It keeps us grounded, centered, balanced and healthy. As an Energy Intuitive and Certified Reiki Master Teacher, this is one of the most fundamental healing modalities out there. I hope to work with you soon and talk with your feet to see how much Earthing you have been doing! J  

And remember, at People House we are fortunate to have fabulous backyard with some lovely grass for Earthing available for you there as well!

Walking the Path of Transformation || Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 7

Walking the Path of Transformation.

journey

July 26, 2016

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards.

After a long and arduous hike, this sign greeted me at the top of the spreading, wide plateau. I chuckled at the understatement: such an apt description of our lives at times!

BLOG 7

Let’s say we’ve done the first half-of-life work: we’ve developed our skills and talents through training, education, and experience. Perhaps we’ve found a partner to walk with us and we’ve had children or the equivalent.

We may not have met all of our goals, but life’s good – onward and upward!

Then – bam. Something shifts within us, life seems to go dull, or we hit a roadblock with our personal or career goals. We think we know what we ought to be doing next, but it isn’t happening. Perhaps a death or sickness stops us.

We don’t like this shift – we want it to go away, we want to return to how things were. We work harder, using our standard mode of operation to get what we want and to avoid what we don’t want.

We start reading self-help books; we talk to our close friends and family members; perhaps we make an appointment for a psychotherapist, or a spiritual counselor.  “Am I depressed?” we ask. “Do I need a pill to make me feel better?” or “What am I doing wrong?” (1)

Or worse – we abandon our commitments because we believe moving to Nepal will solve all our problems. Our psyche has important information for us and all we’re doing is prolonging and increasing the agony when we believe changing our circumstances will make us happy. 

Outward changes may be required, especially if you are in an abusive relationship, but those decisions will be made in full consciousness.

“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost,” wrote Dante, in The Divine Comedy

In other words, the path becomes “difficult to find beyond this point”.

“Relax!” I tell folks when they come to me, frustrated and hurting when they find themselves on this plateau with no discernible path. I also tell them:

  • It’s normal. Years ago when I was lost in the weeds, a saving piece of wisdom came to me through the writings of Carl Jung: “The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting it go.” In other words, what got you through the first half of your life won’t cut it for the second half. And these “halves” aren’t cleaved at the same age for everyone. There is no magic age when life seemingly falls apart.
  • Breathe, practice mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, says mindfulness is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

In other words, pay attention: pay attention to your dreams, write them down; pay attention to your moods, welcome them as your teachers; pay attention to your body, where’s the stress, the anxiety, and if possible, what’s the source; stay with the discomfort, live the question: “What next, higher self?”

And look for synchronicities in your life. The NOW holds the seeds to the future; when we’re anxious about that future, or have a pre-determined idea of what it should look like, or when we’re remembering our glorious past, we miss those seeds.

At one stage of my painful unknowing, I sought out a Buddhist Roshi/Catholic priest looking for answers to what my next step ought to me.

His advice? “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

That’s not what I wanted to hear. 

  • Listen to your inner wisdom. This is why we practice mindfulness. John Heider (2) says that very early on in the study of human nature there came about the concept of something like a higher self, or essence, as part of the psyche. This inner wisdom has your best interests in mind. By practicing mindfulness, we learn to access and listen to that inner wisdom. Heider believed that it is in this higher self that healing and growth occurs.
  • It’s your path of transformation. This usually nets me a look of disbelief – just short of a sneer.

Abraham Maslow as well as Jung referred to this as a self-actualizing principle driving the process in order that we become everything we potentially were created to be. This self-actualizing principle, higher self – whatever one chooses to call it – wants all of you to show up to all of life. It wants to become the best me I can become, that wants to grow, that’s eager for life.

This especially includes getting to know those parts of your personality that you’ve ignored, disliked, discounted, or swept under the rug with the hope that no one would notice the lumps.

“Unraveling external selves and coming home to our real identity is the true meaning of soul work,” says Sue Monk Kidd.

It isn’t that we now disavow the strengths developed in our youth and young adult stage. Again, referring to Jung, if extroversion defined us so far, it’s time to look for that within us that seeks solitude or meditative practices. In my case, I depended on my head to lead me; I needed to listen to those wise intuitive urges from within, parts I had barricaded myself against.

It’s not to say that we ever “arrive” as our psychic depths are vast. What we sense is that we’re now operating out of place of wholeness. And this wholeness doesn’t look the same for everyone – it will be based on all those bits of us we excluded.   

If you stay with this calling, this drive emanating from your deeper self, one day you’ll notice you’re on kind of a path. You’ll know it not because it’s announced itself with a large, flashy neon sign, but because of that gentle, calming, inner peace.

It’s an exciting journey, to show up as we truly are. This is the gift we give to the Universe – ourselves!

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Note 1: This is not to dismiss the reality of mental illness and the beneficiary aspects of medication; if mental illness is suspected or has been diagnosed, a trained psychotherapist/psychiatrist is recommended. In addition, a physical is recommended in order to rule out any physical disorders.

Note 2: John Heider, among other things, studied and helped direct long-term programs at Esalen Institute, taught at the Menninger Foundation of Psychiatry, and directed The Human Potential School of Mendocino, California. He is the author of The Tao of Leadership.

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About the Author: 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.

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

When Friends and Family Disapprove || Dorothy Wallis

What Happens to You when Your Family or Friends Disapprove
By Dorothy Wallis

disapprove

 

Conflict is difficult for me.
Life has taught me that my desire for everyone to get along and be in harmony is an almost impossible expectation. I especially struggle when family members show disappointment and criticize my choice to do something, be with someone or be somewhere that goes against what they desire or want. It feels as though I am being torn apart and made to decide between my life and the people I love. No matter what choice I make someone will be hurt. In the past, guilt would tear at my heart and eat me up. The pain would muddle my thoughts and hold my energy hostage. I could not be fully present to my own needs. It created a “No-Win” situation for my family, my friends and me.

Does this dynamic sound familiar? Have you ever struggled with family or friends competing for your time or not approving of your choices, beliefs or ideas? It may be your choice of activities, career, friends, relationships, or the lifestyle you desire that does not meet the approval of what others want or expect for you. How do you navigate the demands of family, friendships and your own desires? We often underestimate how much we value the acceptance and approval of our family, friends and peers. Disapproval can leave you feeling confused or guilty about your choice of whom you love or whom you spend your time with. It can undermine your ability to trust your decisions and even affect your self-esteem.

Frenzied Fracturing
Reactions of those close to you may range from criticism, resentment, anger and condemnation to the “silent treatment” and withdrawal when you make a choice that differs from theirs. Some may gossip to others about how they cannot understand your actions or choices, how irresponsible you are or berate you for not following what is expected.

The backlash stems from their attempts to assuage their own hurt and fear and reel you back into what helps them feel safe and right.

Of course these reactions feel controlling and manipulative because they are. Humans have an instinctual impulse to belong to ensure safety, security and connection for survival and emotional well-being. When you move into unknown realms or make choices that do not include the beliefs or desires of your family and friends, it often disturbs their sense of attachment and security. Emotional pleas, manipulation and outbursts to change your mind or direction are attempted in order to reconnect and bring you back into the fold.

The concern of your relatives and friends may seem like an expression of love and care and in fact, they may love you deeply and want the best for you. Yet, when your choices, decisions and ideas are disparaged and unheard, it certainly is not a loving response; it is experienced as disrespect, an attack and often as abuse.

“Their disapproval buried me in disappointment and condemnation diminishing and devouring my sense of self. Voiceless, I shrank in confusion. Guilt crept in and I questioned my judgment. At the same time, another energy arose to push back; I felt anger.”

Your reflex to protect and defend your self-respect and autonomy arises and it is difficult not to become defensive or react with anger. To keep the peace, you may fall silent, withdraw and seethe inside with hurt. After awhile, you realize that you are caught in a reactionary dynamic that is not getting anyone back into harmony.

Time to Look Inward
The first step in finding harmony with others is to discover what is going on inside of you. The deeper truth is that your need for connection and relationship is bumping up against your need for autonomy and self-determination. You are gripped in internal conflict and confusion because these two are both primary needs. The desire for approval is linked to your need to belong. There would be no conflict if you did not care.

“Personal autonomy is the desire to determine our values and live the life we choose without control by others.”

When caught in this conundrum begin by recognizing what each of these needs is saying to you. Find the Emotional Truth by asking yourself: “What are my emotions expressing?

What is your “knee-jerk” reaction when emotions arise?
Do you react with anger, blame, feelings of guilt or shame? These first reactions are telltale signs that something deeper is going on inside of you. None of these reactions will resolve your differences with others.
• Do I fight back, get angry, run away, become stubborn, pout, shut down, go along to get along or please others, withdraw, silence, sulk, criticize, blame, get mean or retaliate?

How much of the following emotions relate to your need to belong and to be loved? How do they relate to your need for autonomy and self-direction?

Do emotions of guilt or shame arise?
• Am I afraid of the consequences of choosing, believing or thinking something different?
• Am I afraid of not being liked or accepted?
• Do I believe there is something wrong with me or that others will reject me in some way?
• Am I afraid that I am making the “wrong” decision?

Does anger arise? Anger speaks to the need for protection.
• Do you feel emotionally or verbally attacked? Have your boundaries been violated?
• Do you feel obligated to go along with others even though you disagree? What are the consequences and benefits of going along?
• Do you feel manipulated or controlled?
• Are your values being attacked or not acknowledged or considered?
• Look underneath the anger; do you feel hurt?

If you feel hurt, what is underlying the hurt?
• Do I want to be understood?
• Do I want approval or support for my choices, beliefs, ideas and decisions?
• Do I want to be accepted for who I am?
• Do I want to belong and am concerned that I will be left out, rejected or abandoned if I don’t go along with what others want or think?
• Do I feel invisible or unheard?
• Do I want to be respected and loved?

Embodying your Emotional Truth brings Freedom
When you have clarity about the Emotional Truth of the situation, you are able to see what is causing your internal struggle and ease the pain. You are able to weigh your desire for acceptance and belonging with your need to be true to your inner guidance and discern what really matters to you. With the knowledge of your real feelings and desires, you can take appropriate action in healthier ways to remain connected. There is a greater chance for harmony and resolution when you are centered in your authentic purpose.

And…you know what, more often than not, I have found that when I have reconciled my own struggle for my need to love and belong with my need to follow my heart’s direction, the conflict does melt away. I am able to reach out from a place of compassionate caring, respecting my own emotional needs and boundaries with a willingness to listen and respect other’s viewpoints. I may be uncomfortable when those I care about are hurt, disappointed or react. What I recognize is their fear of losing connection and control and their need for love and understanding. Remarkably, when I allow others the freedom to decide what is important for them without the need to change them, I gain greater respect for myself and the strength to move in the direction of my truth.

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www.TheDorWay.com
www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Too Busy for Wellness? || Jenny St. Claire

By: Jenny St. Claire

People House Featured Blogger

time

A friend asks for your help in moving.  Your sweet kiddo wants to play a game.  Your partner wants to go for a hike. One of your favorite co-workers wants to go for a walk.  What’s your response?

“Sorry, I’m too busy.”

“You want me to WHAT?”

“I’ve got SO much going on I can’t possibly add something else.”

“I don’t have enough time.”

“Yeah, right!”

“Maybe when my schedule isn’t so full.”

How many times have you found yourself saying something like this, or at least thinking it?

Saying no to others is often a mixed bag of desire and overwhelm.

 

You want to see them, but your gut is clenched with all the pressure of what you have to get done.  How often do you deny others the gift of your time and company?   If you’ve found a way to say yes, awesome!  If not, is it worth it?  Is getting something else off your never ending checklist worth the price of missed time with a loved one?

What if the person you keep saying no to is yourself?  You’ve been meaning to go get that mole checked out for a year now.  Even though your tooth has been killing you for a week, you put off going to the dentist because you just can’t get caught up at work.  In fact, you’ve been working on the weekends for the past six months trying to get a handle on things.  Your body is sore from sitting too long seven days a week and you’re so irritable from having no kind of break that every little thing sets you off.  Perhaps you’re drinking 6 more cups of coffee than usual because you’re exhausted. How often do you put yourself on the back burner?

“Busy” is a Status Symbol

If you ask anyone how they are these days, it’s likely that 80% of the time you will hear, “I’m SO busy!”  Isn’t that weird?  I’m sure you want to know how they actually are.  Happy, sad, frustrated, brimming with excitement??  When did we start replacing how we are feeling with a commentary on our productivity?

It used to be that becoming a partner in a firm, getting tenure at a school and having enough money to buy a nice car and house were signs of success.  Now, being busy has become a new sign of value in our society.  Sure, it’s overwhelming, but if you look closely, most people puff up with a sense of pride.  If they are busy, they must be important, and therefore worthy!

so busy

Is that how you want to rate yourself?  What’s important to you?  Are you living up to your own values?  Is being so busy you don’t feel how badly your body hurts, or have time to think, or notice that your spouse needs a hug worth the supposed value it will bring you?

We need to start shifting the idea that productivity is the only thing that brings us value. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we started high fiving each other every time we did something to care for ourselves?!

What is Wellness, Anyway?

Most people immediately think of physical well being when the topic of wellness is broached.  Our health is certainly important; however, wellness is ultimately defined by each individual. I think of it holistically, believing it involves the whole person.  Here’s a brief breakdown:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Social
  • Community
  • Spiritual

What else does wellness mean to YOU?

Get Creative

Too busy for wellness? I say, “BULL!”  It’s important, so you’ve got to make it a priority. Better to make time for it now than to let things escalate into a serious issue, and then you’ll have to make a priority (those times are not fun!).

If we tried to bring every area of wellness into perfect balance right away, we would totally hit overwhelm!  Review your definition of wellness and see what aspects are calling for your attention first.  Pick one or two and let that become your wellness focus.

Get creative!  Make a list of at least 10 ways you could fit your wellness focus into your daily life.  Fill your list with both sensible and crazy ideas.  The purpose is to open your mind and world to make room for your wellbeing.  Then, talk to your family and friends and ask them for an additional 10 ways you could make time.  In fact, include ways you can address your wellness with your loved ones.

The small amount of effort you put into this exercise will reap you big, long lasting rewards!

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About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

Living Consciously| Spirituality in Daily Life || Mary Coday Edwards

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

People House Featured Blogger
mindfulness
As I mentioned in my first blog regarding contemporary spiritualityno one institution or religious practice owns its definition. Spirituality does seem to imply, however, a two-way search: We seek for a connection with something greater than ourselves and at the same time, seek through self-knowledge to live a fully human and integrated life.

How can we do that? Mystics and poets through the ages stress being mindful – to paying attention to your NOW. After all, that’s all any of us have! The past is gone and our future hasn’t arrived.

All we have is this moment. And this moment. And this moment.

Yes, we make plans, but we hold onto them lightly. Our NOW holds the seeds to the future; this is where inspiration hits, where creativity manifests itself, or when answers to life’s challenges break into our consciousness. When we’re ruminating over the past or anxiously planning our future, we miss those revelatory moments.

And speaking of life’s challenges: They are designed to increase our consciousness.

As humans, we automatically have ideas and beliefs about the world and these determine what is important and what is not important to us. This is our worldview or world picture, the way life is and our place in it.

When our worldview isn’t serving us anymore

Often our worldview lies unconscious and unchallenged – we’ve just soaked up what our parents told us or our culture through its various delivery points, such as advertising, social media, TV, Hollywood, government, education, or religion.

Gordon D. Kaufman says,

“A worldview or world-picture is working well when (1) it performs the indispensable task of providing communities and individuals with order and orientation in life, that is, when it is able successfully to organize and interpret the experience of women and men in such a way that they can come to terms with it and life can go on; and when (2) this orientation provides sufficient meaningfulness and motivating power to enable them to continue to struggle even against serious adversities and troubles, indeed catastrophes” (Note 1).

Life’s challenges are intended to wake us up, and by paying attention to our assumed values, beliefs, and attitudes, the Universe presents us with opportunities for to examine our unchallenged way of life. Having lived all over the world with so many people of so many stripes, I’ve had opportunities aplenty!

 

Letting life change us – before we explode!

My journey began in Peshawar, Pakistan, about 25 years ago when I set off to look for universal values. It was also when, at the time unknown to me, cracks were forming in my own worldview. Unaware that these cracks originated deep in my soul as shifting tectonic plates, I spent a long time holding them together with duct tape before I would recognize them as the gifts they were and allow them pull me apart.

Through these past five blogs, you have been the recipient of my resultant changed interior landscape, my upheaval.

I learned to delight in mystery: Blog 2.

picture

Anak Krakatau, Indonesia, taken by Edwards.

 

While living in Pakistan, I was ready to jettison the God baggage, but what I realized was that I wasn’t throwing out God – just the metaphor/model that I had embraced in my late teens, when I joined the Jesus Movement.

A metaphor is used when we don’t know what something is in order to give it some sort of meaning that we can connect the concept to.

Life, as well as every religion’s scriptures and/or holy books as well as science, uses metaphors and models to explain the ineffable. I had God in my worldview, and my metaphor/model wasn’t serving me anymore.  Someone has said that the God we believe in must be compatible with the way in which we understand the fabric of reality.

However, a downside of living with mystery, with uncertainty, can be a weak character, one who takes a stand for nothing. If nothing is completely “right”, then why study? What is the good?  What is justice?

 

Which takes us to Blog 3: Critical realism as a guide to the real.

The meaning of truth is correspondence with reality, but what is reality? We have a pretty good idea, for example, of what’s in an atom – otherwise I wouldn’t be typing on this computer, but not an absolute. We have an inkling also of spiritual realities. Although their experiences are not as easy to duplicate, all of us can relate to some of the spiritual nuances revealed by generations of seers, mystics, poets, and artists.

Therefore, we have a form of realism, in that some aspects of the world are accessible to us, but it is a critical realism because our scientific – and spiritual – constructs are also reflections of the imagination and intuition of our human minds; they are extrapolations.

Consequently, based on the fabric of reality shown by quantum physics, I live my life as if my efforts mattered (Blog 4: The physics of prayer: choosing mystery). At a subatomic level we live in an observer-influenced world.  Compassion for sentient beings might indeed make the world go ‘round – including compassion at a distance.

 

And translating this all into action – why should I care? Why should I exhibit compassion?

Blog 5: Values, Morals – and Quantum Ethics. Because we’re all hitched together, as John Muir wrote in 1911. Father of our national park system, Muir spent time with and in nature and sensed those interconnections just when Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning discoveries were beginning to disturb existing worldviews.  Relationality, inclusive patterns and interconnectedness appear to be deeply imbedded in the fundamental structure of our physical world. Elements in a system adjust themselves to other modifications and system laws develop.

For up to 4,000 years various versions of the Golden Rule, “Do not do unto others as you would not want done unto you”, have appeared in nearly every religion and ethical tradition.

And this was before the Internet, so these great intuitive thinkers for the most part came up with this with little interaction amongst themselves.

In summary – and speaking as a critical realist – mindfully practice your spirituality, comfortable with mystery. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, says mindfulness is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

Be grateful for everything; circumstances wake us up so that we learn to bring all of ourselves to every life event, we show up as ourselves.

This may mean drastic changes to your worldview. Embrace them, mindfully, living the question of “Where is this taking me?”

And tentatively perhaps, base your values, ethics, and decisions on an interconnected world where your efforts matter.

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Note 1: Kaufman, Gordon D. In Face of Mystery, A Constructive Theology. Harvard University Press, USA, 1993; pg. 47.

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About the Author: 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.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes|| Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

superhero

“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

                                                                -Nancy Rogers

 

In my time as a student, mental health counselor and therapist I’ve come to learn firsthand that there is most definitely a great deal of pain in this world. This pain comes in all forms and can stem from events of the past, of the future, as well as from the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives. From a young child who has experienced unspeakable trauma, to the hurting middle aged man that has bottled his depression for years, the work of helpers and healers is never ending. In spite of this pain, every day, countless people do amazing, incredible, wonderful things for their fellow man.

These helpers and healers are made of something truly courageous as they hold hope for the hopeless, make space for the hurting, speak for the speechless, fight for the weak and care for the forgotten.

 

With the hardship that our therapists, case managers, nurses, doctors and counselors confront day in and day out, there is nothing quite as amazing as seeing someone heal, find their power and regain an authentic sense of self. In this way, the emotional burdens that our helpers and healers regularly experience are very much an honor, blessing and privilege. However, with the inherent dangers associated with compassion fatigue and secondary trauma, this work is not for the faint at heart. These helpers have pushed their comfort zones to the max and through the heat of emotion, chaos and their own experiences, have found themselves refined as diamonds in the rough of adversity.  

 

These helpers and healers are often composed of the strongest, most compassionate, most resilient hearts and souls. Often these healers have experienced their own pain and through their experience are able to pass along some learned intrinsic strength. In lieu of their strength and in the face of true empathy, the hurt can be shared and tears may be shed. Our helpers and healers fight through the pain, just as they encourage their client to do the same.

In the midst of uncertainty and with a sense of true purpose, day in and day out, these healers fight for recovery and encourage healing often in an abyss of hurt and heartbreak.

 

As we recognize the important, irreplaceable role that our helpers and healers have in our communities, it seems important to appreciate these brave souls. It becomes ever more apparent that not all heroes wear capes and that these everyday heroes most definitely deserve some credit. To all the trauma warriors, courageous counselors and hopeful healers… this one’s for you. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do!!!

 

If an effort to further foster resiliency for our helpers and healers… check out these supportive resources.

 

http://www.compassionfatigue.org/

 

http://www.proqol.org/

 

http://rekindlesolutions.com/

 

“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. Thank You!”

                                                                                                                 -Unknown

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About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.superhero

Which YOU are you Feeding?|| Lora Cheadle

By Lora Cheadle

wolf

 

Although there are several versions of this old Cherokee Legend, the basic story is as follows:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 

As a hypnotherapist, fitness trainer and Intuitive Angel Reader, I am called upon to assist people with change; in particular with releasing old habits and creating new, healthier habits. It doesn’t matter if those habits are dietary, exercise related, spiritual, mental or simply plain old garden-variety habits such as nail biting.

We are quite simply, the sum of our habits. The habits that we nurture and feed are the habits that grow.

This morning I was doing an Angel Reading for a client and the Angels asked her which self she was nurturing. Was she nurturing the broken, wounded person she was trying to heal and move away from or was she nurturing the perfect, infinite, self inside that she wanted to embrace and become? She had spent years learning, healing and processing all that she had been through and this message made it clear that continued focus on her old self constituted nurturing and feeding of the parts of herself that she no longer needed to feed. Her desire was to be healed, whole, free, healthy and happy, but very little of her daily actions or thoughts nourished or nurtured that part of her. She was so focused on what she didn’t want that she wasn’t able to nurture and grow all that she did want. She had been feeding the wrong wolf.

Which wolf are you feeding? What are you nurturing and growing in your own life?

Do you want to be deeply intuitive, spiritual, in touch with nature or do you want to be quick thinking, decisive, energetic and successful? Do you want to feel vibrant and powerful or calm and centered? Do you want to look like an executive, a nurturer, a super model or a loving grandparent? How you want to look, act, feel and be is up to you. We all have different roles, purposes and desires and it is up to us to live our lives exactly as we see fit. I had one grandma who relished the stereotypical role of grandmother letting her hair go gray, wearing house dresses and keeping her glasses pushed down to the tip of her nose from age 40 on. I had another grandma who was young and vibrant with dark brown hair, hip clothing and involvement in pop culture until she passed away in her 80’s. They nurtured what they wanted and they became the wolf that they fed.

With summer around the corner, everyone wants to get in shape and lose weight. Imagine how you want your body to look and feel. Now, which body are you feeding, your current body or your intended body? How many of your daily thoughts and actions support your old body and how many of the support your intended body? As I sit here munching on a cupcake as I type my blog, I am aware that this action of sitting and eating does not support the body that I’m envisioning for summer! Although I will work out later and although I will have a healthy dinner, every action and thought still counts. I am aware of which body I am feeding.

Many of us are surrounded with difficult people or challenging situations and we desire to be the voice of reason or to at least not feel the impact and drama of other people’s situations. So, when we are confronted with challenging situations, which wolf do we feed? Do we give in and bitch to our co-worker? Do we respond in a way that fuels the fire and increases our angst? Or do we feed our calm, centered, peaceful self and react with compassion, peace and love? When my children or husband pushes my buttons I know that my response will set the tone for the rest of the interaction.

I can feed the part of me that wants to be right, I can feed the victim in me or I can feed my higher, spiritual self. We are the sum of our actions. Are you nurturing the person you want to be?

Step back and take a look at the many wolves in your own life. Which ones are you feeding? The answers just might surprise you!

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About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here! See more on her website.

Values, Morals – and Quantum Ethics | Spirituality in Daily Life || Mary Coday Edwards

Water-500x250

By Mary Coday Edwards
People House Featured Blogger

Every spring I do battle against cheat grass, an invasive plant species which grows quickly, sucking our meager moisture out of the ground.  Meanwhile, the native grasses and plants slowly making their annual appearance wither and die due to lack of moisture.

IMG_4971

And when the native plants go, so do the insects, butterflies, reptiles, bees, and small mammals – in short, our ecosystem – that depend on the cyclical flowering and subsequent nutrients produced by this local ecosystem.  Cheat grass lives long enough to kill everything else, whereas all year round native grasses offer protection, shelter, and food, as well as maintain the stability of the soil, keeping erosion at bay. When the cheat grass dies after its brief reign of destruction, it leaves only dirt which is blown and washed away.

Other than poison – which also kills off an ecosystem – the only way to effectively remove it is to pull it out by hand, ensuring that the thick, matted root system comes with it.

 

“All things are bound together. All things connect. What happens to the Earth happens to the children of the earth.” Chief Seattle

 

This annual garden scenario divulges much about me:

-My values, which are defined as my principles and my judgment of what is important: i.e., diversity and a healthy ecosystem.

-My morals, defined as reflecting what I believe to be right or wrong: cheat grass’ bullying behavior is wrong and thus everyone should pull out the cheat grass! (This has now become a moral imperative for me – which I’d like to impose on all my neighbors.

-Lastly, my ethics. Ethics examine and give a reason “why” behind my moral imperative. I’m calling this quantum ethics in this blog, as my why is based on what I believe quantum physics is telling us about the fabric of reality, focusing on interconnectedness based on the EPR (Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen) Effect.

The EPR Effect posits a reality where at the subatomic level, the universe is in relationship. Physicists use various terms to express this concept including mutual entanglement and interconnectedness. Einstein referred to this entanglement as “spooky action at a distance”. Physicist John Polkinghorne calls this interconnectedness a “… deep-seated relationality present in the fundamental structure of the physical world” (1).

Austrian quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger claims that we can build an ontology, or a way the world is, of relations, and that “one consequence of this entanglement is that relations are more important than individuals” (2). In other words, we shift from focusing on the individual to focusing on the relationship between individuals.

Not random, but participating in patterns

Out of quantum physics have developed system laws, where elements adjust their properties to those of the others; none can be modified without causing a modification to the others. Ian Barbour said that the being of any entity is comprised not just of its individual parts, but primarily by its relationships and its participation in more inclusive patterns (3).

Indigenous cultures, mystics, seers and poets have long known this as the fabric of reality.  Rebecca Adamson says, “The indigenous understanding has its basis of spirituality in recognition of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things, a holistic and balanced view of the world.”

Philosophers extrapolate from this interconnectedness, saying reality consists of events and relationships rather than of separate substances or particles.

However for centuries, the Western worldview has been in the grip of classical physics, where the scientist – and everyone and everything else by association – was seen as separate from its surroundings.  In other words, Asia’s disappearing Aral Sea, fed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers whose waters were siphoned off to irrigate cotton in the desert so we could purchase unlimited t-shirts, wouldn’t impact us living on the other side of the planet. And it has, of course, in the form of desertification, localized climate change, and subsequent starvation and refugees.

And what about the nonphysical world? How does our lack of compassion and love – our meanness of spirit – impact our own energy and the life around us?

 

Orphaned ship in former Aral Sea

Orphaned ship in shrunken Aral Sea

The mystics and poets have spoken of this for centuries. In this last century, scientists have proven it. For me personally, it’s a daily spiritual exercise to mindfully  remember that “In nature [of which I am a member of], nothing exists alone,” as Rachel Carson wrote (4).

 

Hitched together with the bees

But our postmodernism society views any truth as suspect, as a process of social construction, and therefore, reality/truth is defined by those with the social power. Be skeptical of what I’ve written. However, as a critical realist, for me there’s enough evidence via the physicists and mystics to support an interconnected world, one built on relationships. This is a piece of my ethics, this helps inform my daily choices.

And because my compassion/love is so imperfect, this ethic also serves me when I’m in the grip of my selfishness and self-centeredness. It’s in my best interests to pull out that cheat grass and keep those bees pollinating my food supply.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning discoveries were just beginning to ripple upon humanity’s consciousness. Ahead of his time, John Muir, father of our national parks, penned in 1911, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

In other words, I’m hitched together with the bees.

_____

Note 1: Polkinghorne, J.C. Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002; pg. 80.

Note 2: Zeilinger, Anton. “Quantum Physics: Ontology or Epistemology?,” in The Trinity and an Entangled World: Relationality in Physical Science and Theology, ed. John C. Polkinghorne. Grand Rapids, MI; W.B Eerdmans Publishing, 2010), 35-36.

Note 3: Barbour, Ian. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000; pg. 175.

Note 4: Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring.  Houghton Mifflin, 1962; pg. 51.

_____

About the Author: 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.

Reconnecting with Your Inner-Child and Remembering How to play!|| Lora Cheadle

By Lora Cheadle
New posts every other Tuesday

playing

Why is it that we hear so much about our inner-child? After all, we aren’t children anymore, so why do we care? Much of our subconscious programming develops from childhood and regardless of whether our childhood was a nightmare or a glorious dream, as adults it benefits us to be able to know where our programming comes from so we can live our lives as we’d like to live and not be encumbered by outdated childhood beliefs or trauma.

Although some inner-child work can be heavy and dark, this exercise is about focusing on the positive aspects of our childhood and reconnecting with the pure, creative joy of play.

This work is begun by taking a field trip or two. An actual field trip is best but a virtual one will do in a pinch. This is a field trip to a place that you enjoyed as a child. Whether it’s a toy store, a park, the beach or a library, take an hour so reconnecting with something that you enjoyed as a child.

If you loved toys, plan a field trip to the most captivating toy store you can find. It can be a big chain store or a tiny boutique as long as it sparks excitement in your soul. The idea is to find a toy store that reconnects you to the feel of how you used to play. First, go to the section with the toys that are the most familiar to you. If you loved dolls, go to the doll section. If you were into games, peruse the games. Look at the toys, pick them up and notice how they feel in your hands. Smell them, listen to the sounds they make and remember how you played with them. Can you imagine taking the boat in the bath tub with you now? Would you sail it around and create a story line in your head or would it be a struggle to remember how to play and what to do?

Once you have thoroughly played around in a section you are familiar with, move on to sections that are new to you. If you were never into sports, check out the sporting goods. See if there is anything there you are curious about trying now. With fresh eyes, wander around the whole store, imagining how you could play with these different toys and exploring all there is to explore. Pretend you are a kid who has just been given a million dollars to spend in this store. What would you buy? Imagine that you have no other obligations and that your only job is to play with as many toys as you can. What all would you do? If you are really enjoying this, feel free to treat yourself to a doll or a Lego set so you can spend some time actually playing. No matter what you choose, connect to the joy, relaxation or creativity you felt when you played.

Another way to go about this assignment is to visit a park, a playground or the beach and to play on the equipment, kick a ball around, splash in the surf or build sandcastles. This is especially nice because it puts you outside in nature and it’s got the added bonus of being a physical activity. Jump rope while chanting some jump rope songs in your head, play jacks, draw with sidewalk chalk, blow bubbles or go down the slide. Anything works as long as it gets you happy and excited!

As you play, notice what comes up. Is it difficult for you to relax? Do you feel silly, bored, like you are wasting your time, or does it make you happy? Is the whole concept of play difficult for you? Why? Don’t try to change your feelings, just notice them. Notice the voices in your head as you play. Are they yours, “this is silly, I don’t understand this” or do you hear your father telling you to “grow up and do something productive with your time” or your brother telling you that “only babies play with dolls?

Many of us have unresolved feelings or judgment around play and this exercise helps get us in touch with those feelings. Playing requires us to relax and let the creativity flow, and until we can allow play back into our lives, we remain out of touch with the creative flow of the Universe.

After going on your field trip, you might remember being six and wanting to be a princess in a tower. You might remember being thirteen and wanting to be a rock star or you might remember a lifelong desire to be a mermaid. The feasibility of your dreams and desires is irrelevant. What matters is letting your heart and soul connect to the glorious flow of universal possibility and the allowing our dreams to take flight.

If you remember things that brought you joy, but you have no idea how to bring being a mermaid into your life, don’t worry! This inner-child work is about enjoying the magic and trusting that all will be taken care of. Relax, play, love, laugh and stay connected to all that makes you happy. Inner-child work doesn’t have to be dark and deep in order to be successful, sometimes we simply have to allow ourselves to play.

______________________________________________________________________

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here! See more on her website.

A Shout Out to Mom || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

CF mom day

With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, it seems only fitting to take some time to reflect on the all of the wonderful things that our mom’s do for us. But first, it might be helpful to determine what exactly is a mom. Let’s face it, growing a person must be hard, and a mom, well she was the person that grew you. In fact, before your heart beat on its own, your mom’s heart beat for you and in some ways that same rhythm still beats for you today. Although a mom isn’t always the one who gave birth to you, a mom is always the one who gave you life. A mom is someone who nurtured you, cared for you and taught you how to be in the world. In fact, it has been said that biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.

It truly seems that a mom is so much more than the miracle of childbirth, a mom is true unconditional love and the tenderness of unrestrained positive regard. 

Where would we be if it weren’t for our maternal figures? For starters, no one has endured pain for you quite like your mom, from morning sickness, to the pain of childbirth and even an upset stomach from worrying about your teenage antics, mom taught us that we always deserve to be loved. If it weren’t for your mom, you might have forgotten your manners, never learned the importance of a clean home or of good personal hygiene. Mom taught you that, “sugar catches more flies than vinegar,” and today, you know that to be true.

Can you imagine how bitter the world would be if it weren’t for a mother’s love… I’d rather not.

And really, its not just that they love us, but its how they love us. From the way she read the voices in Are You My Mommy by Dr. Suess, to the way she tucked you in to bed at night, a mother’s love knows no bounds. You may have heard that a mom can lift a car from crushing her child and if this doesn’t convey the strength of a mother’s love, I don’t know what will. According to the late great Kid President, because of the self-less strength of a mother’s love, we know that we were “made from love, to be love, to spread love.”

On this Mother’s Day, I hope you take the time to thank the maternal figures in your life.

Let them know how much you really appreciate them, whether it be through a card, a phone call or a few flowers, let them how they’ve deeply impacted you for the better. Mom most definitely deserves some credit. So, with a grateful heart, I’d like to thank my mom… thanks mom for your enduring love, despite the good times and the bad. Thanks for teaching me how to be a kind, caring and capable person. Thanks mom for always working hard and for demonstrating the true definition of strength. A mother’s love is priceless and can never be repaid… but on this day I say, Thank You Mom!

Mom-

For all the times that I forgot to thank you

For all the special little things you do, 

For all the words that sometimes go unspoken, 

I need to say, I love you, Mom… I do.

I love you for the way you stop and listen, 

And for your kind support throughout the years,

For teaching me the meaning of compassion, 

And sharing in my triumphs and my tears.

And, if at times, I may have seemed ungrateful,

I want to say, I truly hope you see,

That nothing you have done has been forgotten,

And day by day you just mean more to me.

-Unknown

 


About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.

Finding Community: Reflections on a Conference Experience || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

If you were one of the hundreds of counselors, psychologists and social workers to attend the Colorado Mental Health Professionals Conference this past weekend, you were privileged to an incredible experience.

Through the collaborative efforts of multiple professional membership associations, one of the countries largest mental health conferences did not disappoint.

From Dr. Irvin Yalom’s keynote interview to the wide variety of breakout sessions, it was truly wonderful to witness the strength in community that this profession requires. Psychotherapy can most definitely be considered an art, one in which the finished product is never displayed, sold or advertised. Because of this many psychotherapists have a tendency to feel isolated in their work, especially those that work in private practice settings. It seems that this conference truly overshadowed the sense of isolation that is often inherent in this work. Instead, an opportunity for support, networking, learning and friendship was offered as a much needed refreshment to the difficult work that psychotherapy entails. 

With over 100 breakout sessions offered, professionals were afforded the opportunity to witness and learn from a diverse group of practicing mental health specialists. It is certainly safe to say that the quantity and variety of these breakout sessions was astonishing; ranging from video game addiction, to how diet impacts mood and even how utilizing heroic myths can facilitate therapeutic growth in adolescents. These learning opportunities justified the hefty price tag that a conference admission required, especially considering the many continuing education credits that attendees may have accumulated. While these learning opportunities were quite impressive, these were only the tip of the iceberg.

CE 4.29.16

Attendees were offered the opportunity to touch base with agencies, professional associations, group practice organizations, treatment facilities and educators. This allowed for professionals to meet with potential employers, strengthen their professional networks and even to simply touch base with old friends. Keynote presentations from inspiring leaders in the field of psychotherapy were found to be both rejuvenating and encouraging. From the infamous wisdom of Dr. Irvin Yalom, to the humor that can facilitate advocacy in the Man Therapy campaign, these keynote presentations did not disappoint. 

In a field of helpers and healers, where compassion fatigue, secondary trauma and burnout are prevalent issues, the extent to which this event created community is truly monumental.

Community allows for much needed support, empathy and professional insight in the difficult work that we do. Furthermore, a united community has the strength to influence legislation, bolster advocacy efforts and become evermore effective in helping those that require the support of a caring mental health professional. It becomes increasingly evident that this gathering of caring professionals not only benefits attendees, but more importantly this benefits our communities as we become more effective and better supported in the work that we do.

It has been said that our strength will grow through community and in this instance, the strength of our community has the power to strengthen the hearts and minds of many.

Considering the positive impact that this event has had, those that organized/sponsored this event most definitely deserve some kudos. If it weren’t for the leadership of participating professional organizations, we may have missed the opportunity to gather in support of one another and our community at large. With this being said, to all of the organizers, sponsors, presenters and attendees… Thank You! And for those of you who may have missed out, I would strongly encourage you to make it a priority in the upcoming year. 

 


 

About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.

Spirituality in Daily Life: The Physics of Prayer – Choosing Mystery || Mary Coday Edwards

By Mary Coday Edwards
People House Featured Blogger

Before you scoff, roll your eyes, and close this blog, hear me out.

While living in Mexico, I was a member of a motley online discussion group with members who had too much time on their hands. When group member and retired economist Norm ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening health issue, Catholic Art Professor Darrell wrote Norm that he was praying for him.

In addition to online eye rolling, that phrase released a barrage of harsh and cold-hearted criticisms at Darrell from the agnostics and atheists of the group.

Many of us have left the traditional religions of our younger selves. Prayer conjures up images of an old white guy with a beard, whom we diligently hoped to placate/coerce in order to keep the bad things at bay and get the good things we wanted. 

And I understand that need, the need to turn to something, especially in times of desperation. When I lived in Tanzania, a drought hit the region. We could see the thunderous rain clouds billowing and building in the hills around us, so close it was if we could lasso them and drag them to our patch of rapidly dying crops and cattle. I knew it was illogical, but I was ready to slaughter a chicken against the tire of my car if that would nudge those rain clouds our way.  Could I dance a certain way that would move the gods and hence draw the rain? (Note 1)

ME

Rain dances aside, my reality is informed by ideas from quantum physics.  I don’t purport to understand the math behind the theory; however, renowned physicist Ricard Feynman is quoted as saying, “I think I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics”, so I know I’m in good company.

But through studying and contemplating the implications of quantum ideas, my reality now includes an interconnected universe, full of potentialities and one where my efforts matter, as I mentioned in last month’s blog.

I will refer to three concepts from quantum mechanics (QM) in this blog (Note 2):

Neil Bohr’s Principle of Complementarity;

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle; and

The EPR Paradox (or the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox)

Bohr’s Principle of Complementarity grew out of the understanding that light can behave as a wave or a particle – both of which are mutually exclusive. Scientists choose an experiment to show that light is a wave or one that shows light is a particle. And it’s not known what light may be doing when it’s not forced to behave one way or another. The scientist no longer stands outside what he/she is observing (classical, Newtonian physics) but the scientist becomes part of the experiment; this is often referred to as an observer-influenced reality.

In addition, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle sheds some light on the subject. It is impossible to measure simultaneously both position and momentum, which are fundamental physical attribute of a sub-atomic particle – only probabilities can be known. Due to the particle’s minuteness, any attempt to measure the location will change its velocity.  

The verdict isn’t in yet – is this a reflection of the limitations of our measuring devices (Einstein)? Or is it ontological, fundamental aspects of nature (Werner Heisenberg)? Philosophically, Heisenberg and others suggest that these probabilities of QM refer to tendencies in nature that include a range of possibilities (within the limitations of that entity being studied). More than one alternative is open and there is some opportunity for unpredictable novelty. And of QM, Heisenberg said what we observe is not nature itself, but rather nature exposed to our method of questioning.

An easy example – stress. Medically we now know that stress can make our bodies really sick. On a sub-atomic level, what’s that doing to our cells? And so we do make choices; i.e., am I going to let my anger make me ill or am I going to do something constructive about it, such as exercise, which alleviates those chemicals that are throwing my  cells into havoc. We talk about genetic tendencies – for example, there is a genetic tendency for alcoholism but choices can still be made to mitigate that tendency. In other words – there’s potentiality in those cells – but it isn’t determined yet – the future hasn’t been decided.

In addition, from the ERP Paradox ideas have emerged implying action at a distance and quantum entanglement, as well as system laws that are not derived from the entity’s individual parts.  

All we need is Love

So back to Norman – his cells were running amuck. Darrell was obviously feeling compassion for a suffering Norman. Who knows what sort of “divine” energy – and energy is what keeps all of our parts moving – may be represented in that compassion that is coming from somewhere within Darrell.

Therefore, Darrell’s prayers: Can they have an “observer-influenced” effect? And if so, then what impact did that energy have on Norman’s body?

Or are we humans so limited in our vision of reality that it only includes that which our physical senses detect? And other ways of “knowing”, such as intuition, don’t exist? And that we can’t influence the “energy” coming off of our own person?

My guess is that Darrell, out of his compassion, wanted wholeness, health, and recovery for Norman, a noble and a good thing.  But other distresses were also at work in Norman’s body.  Maybe that range of possibilities within Norman’s cells/entire system had been reduced, compromised.

A definition of compassion includes entering into someone else’s suffering.  Not only is that a powerful value, but it keeps us human. And we humans have a lot more power/energy/life than we give ourselves credit for.

And this compassion we feel: is it Divine Love moving within us? At our deepest self, have we tapped into the Universal Being, this holy spirit which permeates all? Again, as I noted in last month’s blog, this is my “as if” function, which isn’t based on magic, but on how our universe appears to be operating. My efforts DO matter in an interconnected cosmos.

_____

Note 1: During the height of the Cold War, when the United States and the USSR competed for world dominance, left-leaning Tanzania experienced a devastating drought. The administration of then President J.F. Kennedy sent boatloads of food to the starving nation. Therefore, when I was there in the 1990s, although groundwater supplies were easily accessible, the people were waiting for the U.S. government to come to their rescue again. This is also an example of aid gone wrong.

Note 2: Many books are available explaining the ideas behind QM in a non-mathematical format. John Polkinghourne’s “Quantum Theory, A Very Short Introduction,” is a good place to start.


About the Author: 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.

The Power of the Puny or how the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth || Lora Cheadle

By Lora Cheadle
New posts every other Tuesday

LC 4

Rome wasn’t built in a day. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! We have countless phrases in our culture that remind us that the way to succeed is to take small, consistent steps over time. Yet when we talk of physical, mental or spiritual or growth for ourselves, we tend to talk in terms of great gains. We talk of the people who lose 100 pounds and compete in marathons. We talk of former prisoners who find enlightenment through the prison yoga program and go on to dig wells in Africa. In short, we talk about the miraculous. Consequently, when we think of growth for ourselves, we think in miraculous terms. We will get into bikini shape by June. We will read and understand Chaucer. We will contemplate the teachings of Jesus and we will never, ever lose our temper again.

And sometimes we do. But sometimes we have laundry and kids and bosses and spouses that take a lot of our time and attention. Sometimes we are just worn out living or we just want to relax and have some fun.

That’s where the Power of the Puny comes into play.

 I like to think of it as how the meek (me) shall inherit the earth (whatever it is I want) and I instantly feel empowered. Mini-moves done consistently over time add up to big changes.

Even though it doesn’t sound very sexy to say that you walked around the block last night, even though it’s way more exciting to brag that you summited a fourteener, walking around the block every night after dinner gets you a lot further than periodically summiting a fourteener.  

Since I’m a mom, pregnancy is my favorite example of how small steps yield big results. Every day the baby grows such a tiny amount that it’s barely discernible, yet in nine months an entire human has been formed. Day to day, both on the inside and on the outside, not much seems to be happening. The changes are so gradual that nobody really notices at all, but at the end of nine months, everything is completely different! The same is true for whatever it is you wish to accomplish. Mini-moves, taken consistently over time, yield phenomenal results.

Say you want a bikini-body, or say you want to be able to sit in a full lotus position or do 10 full push-ups. Every day do something that moves you closer to that goal. Not something earth shattering, but something. Swap out one unhealthy food choice and replace it with a healthy one. Do one 15-minute block of exercise. Stay in lotus position 30 seconds longer than you normally do while pulling your legs in a bit tighter. Hold yourself in a plank position, do micro bends with your elbows or do push-ups with one knee bent and one straight. You don’t have to train for an hour, just do something.

Mini-moves done consistently over time add up to big changes.

Are you ready to overcome a certain fear or phobia that’s been holding you back? Do you want to be able to put your head under water or fly without fear? Practice something every day, whether it’s actually getting in water or simply imagining, visualizing or pretending that you are dunking your head under water. Watch videos of flying in an airplane, visit an airport or write affirmations. It doesn’t matter what you do, it just matters that you do something!

Craving a spiritual connection or a wishing for a deeper understanding of self? Pray. Even if it’s only for two minutes while you wait for the light to change. Meditate while you wait for you pasta water to boil. Take five conscious breaths every time you visit the restroom. Read a daily affirmation. You don’t have to finish a whole chapter, meditate on a mountaintop or be involved in Bible study in order to grow spiritually; you simply have to take mini steps, consistently, over time.

Don’t forget to make it fun and reward yourself either! Put a gold star on your calendar every day that you do something that nurtures you and your dream. Team up with a friend and reward yourselves with a visit or a coffee date after so many days of consistent behavior. Tell people what you are doing and ask for them to support you. Not only will you increase your chances of success, but you might motivate them too!

Not that there’s anything wrong with dreaming BIG or taking gigantic steps if you are able to.

Dream as big as you want, tackle big things when you are able, but always remember the Power of the Puny!

Remember that an elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time, and focus on consistently doing things one small step at a time.

 


About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here! See more on her website. 

6 Ways to Get Affordable Mental-Health Services

Here is a great post from Michelle Andrews published on U.S. News on affordable mental health. You can access the original article at http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-health-and-money/2009/04/15/6-ways-to-get-affordable-mental-health-services


Times are tough. Everywhere you look, people are stressed out, anxious, depressed. But at a time when addressing some people’s mental-health problems may be even more important than ministering to their physical aches and pains, two thirds of primary-care doctors say they have a tough time getting mental-health services for their patients. Doctors in a new Health Affairs study said several factors, from a shortage of professionals in some regions or in some specialties to problems with insurance coverage, make getting mental-health services challenging. (The study data came from 2004 and 2005, so chances are it’s even more difficult now.) “It’s a big problem,” says Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, who says referrals are toughest in rural areas and the urban inner city.

There are no easy answers. Safety net organizations are feeling the pinch of increased demand and funding shortfalls. Meanwhile, if you’ve lost your job and your health insurance, you’re most likely struggling with funding shortfalls of your own. But here are options that you (or even your doctor) may not be aware of:

1. Mental Health America, an advocacy organization with over 300 affiliates in 41 states, works with people to connect them with affordable mental-health services in their communities. Click on “local MHAs” on their homepage to find services in your area. “We spend an enormous amount of time helping people navigate the system, doing problem solving,” says David Shern, the group’s president and CEO.

2. Community health centers. Currently operating in more than 7,000 locations nationwide, these centers got a $155 million boost under the economic stimulus package to add another 126 centers. In addition to primary-care services, they are increasingly offering mental-health services. Fees are charged on a sliding scale based on income. Find a center in your area here.

3. Community mental-health centers. These centers serve Medicaid and other low-income patients. State income limits vary. Click on “find a provider” here, and call to find out whether you may qualify.
4. Employee Assistance Programs. Many employers offer a limited number of counseling sessions and referrals to mental-health professionals through an EAP service. For some people, this may be all they need. “A short-term intervention may help someone develop the flexibility they need to deal with the problem,” says Lynn Bufka, a psychologist who is the assistant executive director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association.

5. Churches, synagogues, and other places of worship. Clergy members are trained in counseling, and their services are generally free.

6. Group therapy. Many therapists offer group sessions, which are often a less expensive alternative to traditional one-on-one counseling. You can find a psychologist in your area here through the APA or through U.S. News‘s Find a Therapist search engine.

Remember, one of the best—and most affordable—ways to manage stress and anxiety is by taking care of your physical health. Get regular exercise, stick to a healthful diet, and get enough sleep. Although job and other worries may ignite cravings for all kinds of unwholesome mood modifiers—gin and tonic, anyone?—try to steer clear. And remember: Even if you don’t get professional counseling, discussing your troubles with friends and family can help make problems seem more manageable. “Just being able to talk, there’s therapy in that,” says Epperly.

Check out recent posts on using meditation to help reduce stress, the new COBRA subsidy that may make it easier to hang on to health insurance after a layoff, and on expanded mental-health coveragefor kids under the new SCHIP law.


 

People House offers therapy on a sliding fee scale, with rates ranging between $20-$50.  We use masters level counseling interns in our Affordable Counseling Program. To see a full list of all of these therapists click here

A Look at Codependency || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

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As inherently social creatures, relationships are an integral aspect of our daily lives. From various relationships, we gain information about our surrounding environments, receive support as well as validation in our personal experiences and can even find a sense of purpose in our engagements with others. It is true that some of this should come from an internal sense of self; however, relational experiences greatly influence our self-perceptions and emotional experiences. When relational experiences aren’t positive or helpful, we are more susceptible to negative self-perceptions, which in some instances may contribute to mental illness. Those that experience isolation and a lack of connection often struggle with feelings of loneliness and depression. If this need isn’t met, we might look to unhealthy or addictive behaviors as a means of coping with the associated difficult feelings. Similar to a hunger pain, loneliness is a signal that something crucial to our survival is absent. It has been thought that our large brains, language skills and emotional intelligence are all tailored to navigate complex interpersonal relationships.

After all, what is the point of having group relationships if we are unable to share ideas, support one another and problem solve together.

As a species, we have evolved to survive by functioning as a group, making interpersonal connections is crucial to our happiness and ability to thrive. Many social psychologists would agree that relationships are our greatest source of happiness, while they may also be our greater source of stress when those relationships are absent or in distress. Despite our knowledge of the importance of relationships, we often stigmatize our innate need and genuine care for others. In a culture that places a high priority on independence, the term codependency gets a bad rap, all despite a universal and inherent need for interpersonal relationship.

The truth becomes that we are all codependent and that this can actually be a healthy aspect of the ways in which we strive to meet our needs.

Think of your family and closest friends, most of us have emotional reactions to their struggles and consequently possess a desire to offer care, as well as support during these times. Similarly, when we experience pain in our own lives, we often turn to our closest allies for support, advice, or consolation. As we can see, some degree of interdependence is necessary, healthy, and often helpful to our ability to survive and thrive. Despite this, there are times when codependency can become problematic. The true question becomes, when is codependency problematic?

The term codependency has become somewhat of a buzzword. It was originally brought into focus in regards to partners in relationship with alcoholics or addicts. The role of the codependent in these relationships relates to the ways in which they might enable the alcoholic to avoid the negative implications of their addiction. For example, the enabling partner might call the workplace of the alcoholic claiming he/she is sick. Or, the enabling partner may stay in the relationship despite the alcoholic’s inability to contribute emotionally or financially. The enabling partner strives to maintain the relationship despite their own suffering as a result of the alcoholic’s inability to be accountable to their behaviors and responsibilities.

Codependency becomes a point for concern when an enabling dynamic further facilitates the problematic behaviors of an involved party.

Additionally, issues with codependency arise when this dynamic fosters the suffering of another, or prevents involved parties from being capable of meeting their individual needs due to overextending themselves for others. Another indication that relationship dynamics may be unhealthy relates to a lack of mutual, genuine and empathic care. If you find yourself consistently overextending yourself for your partner, you may benefit from more closely examining these relationship dynamics. Signs and symptoms of unhealthy codependency: 

-You’re constantly playing the role of caregiver. 

-You consistently require approval, recognition and validation from others. 

-You fear abandonment and loneliness. 

-You feel guilty when advocating for yourself.

-You stay in relationships with hurtful/unhealthy people.

You might be wondering why would someone remain in such an unhealthy relationship. The reason for this often lies within the individuals’ sense of self. Often, unhealthy codependent relationships stem from the enabling individuals negative self image. They may feel that if they do not overextend themselves in the relationship, that they will become lonely, or that they aren’t worthy of a healthier relationship.

The broken sense of self derives validation from the dysfunctional relationship.

Codependency becomes unhealthy when it prevents the individual from advocating for themselves in the relationship. This relates to a certain fear of losing the relationship simply because they also have needs. In this way, the unhealthy codependent continues to find themselves in unsatisfying relationships where their needs for connection and genuine care are not met. These maladaptive relationship strategies perpetuate the core belief that the individual is not worthy of a healthy and satisfying relationship. Generally, these unhealthy codependent relationships impair personal growth and elicit a great deal of emotional, as well as psychological pain.

We all possess a need for social connection and support, with this, we are all to some extent naturally codependent. However, certain unhealthy relational dynamics greatly contribute to interpersonal distress and emotional suffering. You may have heard the old adage- if it hurts, don’t do it. These words of wisdom most definitely apply to our relationships. If you find yourself continually in a relationship that leaves you feeling used, hurt, and taken advantage of, then it may be beneficial to take a close look at a possible unhealthy codependent situation.

It’s important to remember that you deserve a healthy, balanced and supportive relationship.

Why you ask? Well, because… you are enough just the way you are! We are all entitled to our own happiness, with happiness and relationships so closely related we all deserve healthy, supportive relationships. If you find yourself in an unhealthy codependent relationship, although it may take a great deal of courage, there is a way out and that first step can most definitely lead to a more satisfying interpersonal situation. It is possible to limit enabling behaviors, advocate for your needs, set clear boundaries, find healthier relationships and regain a positive sense of self.

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Finally, if you feel that you would benefit from some support in improving your relationship dynamics, a qualified psychotherapist may be the key to more satisfying relational situation. Most importantly, never forget that you are enough and you deserve happy, healthy relationships.

 


About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.

The Most Dangerous Moment: Marie’s Story || Janet Ferguson

By Janet Ferguson
Guest Blogger

 

It was right around 3 a.m. on October 28 when the phone rang in my dorm room. “They’re calling all of us to the sorority house. It’s an emergency,” the voice on the other end of the line said. I honestly, to this day, can’t recall who called me or any of the details of what was said in the hours after that. But, I can tell you what I learned, what’s been written in the papers, and what friends shared.  And I can tell you how it impacted my world view, how I advise friends, and what I do in my work with clients.

It was 1988. Articles, classes and workshops about teen dating violence and relationships weren’t a “thing.” Facebook didn’t exist. The hashtag #ThatsNotLove meant absolutely nothing (http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/24/health/teen-dating-abuse-thatsnotlove-one-love-foundation/). I was in college. Guys were either nice or not nice… there wasn’t a lot of nuance or discussion around the psychological profiles of other students. We didn’t talk about “emotional or psychological abuse,” “controlling relationships,” and certainly not “narcissistic abuse.” We just dated someone. Or we broke up with them.

In this case, that choice meant life… or death.

Marie Pompilio was just 18, a freshman at Northwestern University, the college I had already attended for more than 2 years. She and my little sister had recently joined the sorority to which I belonged. Peter Weber, Marie’s 20-year-old boyfriend of 8 months, was an honors student, studying engineering at the University of Illinois, Chicago. According to many reports, he had been demanding of Marie’s time and was very jealous of anything that took her away from him. Marie just wanted to dedicate more of her energy to her new school and new friends.

Her mother Anne (now deceased) said that Marie had called her the evening before we all got that 3 a.m. call — around 6:30 on October 27. “She told me Peter was coming over and she was going to break up with him.” Friends reported she told them her plans, as well. And that was the last anyone heard from Marie.

The next call Marie’s mother “received was later that night from Peter. He said that he’d had an argument with Marie and her keys had fallen from her hand just before she jumped out of his car a couple of blocks from her sorority… Weber returned to Marie’s dorm room at 10 p.m. to drop off her keys and surreptitiously gather a ring and other mementos. He told Marie’s roommate that Marie would likely be spending the night with a friend.” (source: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-10-07/features/9003230492_1_clothing-peter-weber-police-station)

Her mother reported her missing a little after midnight. Weber, in a move that would later astound and horrify everyone, joined the family in the search for her.

Her body was finally found the next evening two miles from campus — “lying face down beneath a bush near an alley. Her clothes had been torn from her body and her throat and hands had been deeply and repeatedly slashed.” Later, Weber, “who outweighed Marie by 65 pounds, said he had accidentally strangled her in self-defense after she attacked him wildly during their argument. He’d later removed her clothing, he said, and cut her throat in an effort to conceal the accident and make it appear that she had been sexually attacked.” He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1990 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was eligible for release in 2005. I have been unable to find any information about his release or whereabouts. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-07-27/news/9003030256_1_peter-weber-murder-or-involuntary-manslaughter-prosecutors)

What does a young college student DO with this horror… a crime so shocking that took away the life of someone who, just yesterday, had been so vibrant and energetic, full of excitement for her bright future?

As I said earlier, I don’t remember much about those days. I’m sure I was in the same fog of shock that many others were in. I think I remember counseling being offered. I hope some students took that suggestion. I did not. I remembered it. But I had “gotten over it.”

Until I realized I hadn’t.

In 1991, a work colleague and I had become close friends, taking lunch and smoke breaks together from our downtown Denver high rise office. We often talked about our dating woes and, one day, she told me that she was planning to break up with her boyfriend that night. I freaked. “Do NOT do it somewhere where you are alone with him!” I demanded. She was horrified, “He would never hurt me! He’s never done anything like that…”

It was at that moment that I realized my entire worldview had changed when Marie was murdered. I had met my colleague’s boyfriend. He was quite lovely. But, I remembered that, just a year before, Iliinois Assistant State`s Atty. Sander Klapman said of Peter Weber: “He’s intelligent. He’s good looking. He’s a killer.” I realized that I truly believed… and still do… that ANYONE can snap. Anyone. Mother Theresa? Sure. The Pope? Yup. YOUR boyfriend or husband? Absofreakinlutely!

I read about and hear the same story over and over again. Man kills girlfriend. Man kills boyfriend. Man kills wife. Wife kills husband. And when does it happen? AT THE MOMENT OF BREAKUP. And family, friends, colleagues, neighbors all say, “But, he/she was so nice/successful/well-groomed/helpful/perfect/funny/well-spoken/gregarious… he/she couldn’t KILL someone!” Ya. Ya they could. Leaving an abusive partner may be the most dangerous time in that relationship. “Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship.” (source: http://www.dvipiowa.org/myths-facts-about-domestic-violence/)

Now, it’s the one message I am VERY clear on with clients…and friends.
“He’s sending me threatening texts messages.” Believe him.
“She says I will regret this.” Believe her.
“I need to go back to the house to get a few things.” Take a police escort.
I tell them WHY they should believe it. I tell them her story. Marie’s story… The story of The Most Dangerous Moment.

Then, we plan. Carefully.

Click here to create an interactive Safety Plan: http://www.loveisrespect.org/for-yourself/safety-planning


 

Sources:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-10-07/features/9003230492_1_clothing-peter-weber-police-station

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1997-11-06/news/9711060069_1_weber-marie-murdered

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-07-27/news/9003030256_1_peter-weber-murder-or-involuntary-manslaughter-prosecutors


Janet’s counseling style is Client-Centered/Systemic. When working with children, she uses a  combination of play therapy, solution-focused therapy, trauma-informed sensorimotor therapy, and attachment theory. When working with couples, she primarily employ Gottman’s marital principles and Sue Johnson’s Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). With all clients,she uses narrative theory as her foundation and she is always conceptualizing using a systemic, multi-cultural lens.

Janet’s Specialties:

  • Couples/relationship counseling: Couples, friends, traditional relationships, non-traditional relationships, LGBT, etc.
  • Family therapy
  • Emotional, verbal and/or narcissistic abuse
  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Trauma and abuse victims, PTSD, C-PTSD
  • Adult children of alcoholics

To find more information on Janet you can go to her website www.jfergusoncounseling.com

Domestic Violence

Spring Cleaning Part Two– Cleansing/Loving our Bodies|| Lora Cheadle

By Lora Cheadle
New posts every other Tuesday

My last post was a short and sweet post on spring cleaning with a twist. The twist was to make your surroundings pleasant to you by keeping only that which made you happy, whether that was minimalistic and bare or comfortably full. My premise was that since we take care of what we love, the words cleaning and loving ware interchangeable, and spring cleaning really meant spring loving. This post takes that concept and applies it to cleansing our bodies by doing that which shows love for our bodies.  

spring loving part 2

 

Like I said previously, I’m not going into the specifics of why it’s important to cleanse our bodies, nor am I providing you with details of what to eat, for how long or why. Volumes have been written about cleansing and there are many different theories and directions available on line. What I want to do is provide you with a slightly different perspective about cleansing and loving our bodies.

Everything we eat, drink, breathe or put on our skin is absorbed in our bodies in some way.

We are truly products of our environment and everything around us and everything we interact with literally becomes part of our bodies in some way. Unfortunately, we have little control over many aspects of our environment and it’s exhausting and expensive to monitor every cleaning product, personal care item, and food and beverage item we ingest. That’s why we need spring cleansing with a twist.

Spring cleansing/loving our body means doing what feels divine and wonderful and cutting out that which feels negative, bad or unhealthy.

It’s not about some program to be followed for a prescribed period of time or cutting out anything in particular. Your personal preferences are your personal preferences and nothing is right or wrong. Take some time and notice what feels good to you and make changes based on that.

Do cleaning products make you feel ill? Do they make your hands dry and cracked or your lungs and eyes burn? Then get rid of them and find an organic line that you adore. Does eating meat make your stomach feel full and heavy? Then quit eating it or reduce the amount you eat until you figure out how much sits well with you. Does alcohol or soda make your mouth and sweat sticky? See how it feels to drink sparkly water with fruit instead. Does your soap, lotion or shampoo make you itch or feel clogged up? Invest in a line that doesn’t.

Make changes that make you happy and that honor your body, don’t worry about somebody else’s program.

It doesn’t matter if you buy a water filter and improve the quality of your water, if you cut out meat, dairy, wheat, caffeine, sugar or alcohol or if you start using organic cleaners or personal care items. What matters is that you notice what feels bad and you stop doing it. Notice what feels good, healthy or what makes you happy and start doing that. 

Do what makes you feel good and stop eating/drinking/using/breathing anything that doesn’t. It’s that simple!

 

 

 


About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here! See more on her website. 

Fostering Positive Emotion || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

A great deal of psychological and self-help literature is largely focused on how to deal with unfortunate life circumstances and associated emotions. Similarly, therapy often focuses on working with traumatic past events or challenging negative thought patterns. Even in conversation with our close friends we might talk about how to deal with depression or how to manage our anxiety. All too often it seems that we hope to find wellness through discussing these negative details. However, a more recent and deeply profound movement in the world of mental health has been dubbed positive psychology.

Positive psychology is the science and research of what it is that makes people happy.

Fortunately, pioneers in this domain of mental wellness have made important discoveries. We’ve come to learn that we can intentionally work to foster positive emotions in our daily lives. While it is certainly necessary to work with traumatic experiences or to discuss the deep sadness of a depressed state, it is also important to understand that as we move through negative emotions we must replace these with positive more helpful emotions. As we overcome depression or work through anxiety, we must also work towards promoting the development of positive emotion in our everyday lives.

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When it comes to fostering positive emotion, we must deliberately engage in activities that bring us joy and happiness. With this, fostering positive emotion occurs with purposeful attempts to improve our emotional well-being. This seemingly sensible step towards wellness occurs where common sense meets intentionality. In general, we are aware of certain environments, activities or individuals that promote positive emotion within ourselves.

By taking our understanding of activities that we love and by actively engaging in these activities, we take a simple understanding of the things we enjoy and apply this to promote positive emotion within our life experience.

This is certainly easier said than done, especially if you happen to be in a depressed or highly anxious state of mind. By keeping this principle in mind and by taking even small steps to engage in these positive activities, the hope is that the light will eventually outshine the darkness and that any unwelcome emotions will be transformed into a more enjoyable life experience.

The first example of potential avenues for fostering positive emotion is with positive activities.

This might range from cooking a meal, painting a picture, cleaning your home or even staring at the clouds. Although the most effective positive activities will certainly vary from one individual to the next, everyone likely has a collection of these sorts of activities and if you don’t, compiling a list of positive activities may be the best place to start. Along with this, exercise is one way in which we can foster positive emotion in our lives.

A great deal of research has shown that exercise releases neurotransmitters that promote feelings of well-being. Additionally, when we exercise we often feel positive for engaging in an activity that we know is beneficial for our health. These first suggestions for fostering positive emotion in our lives may seem fairly obvious, but by intentionally utilizing these to foster positive emotions we can begin to experience wellness.

Another activity that can be used to foster positive emotion is humor; you might watch a comedy, look up jokes or find some humorous videos online.

Laughter or any expression of humor is a natural way to ease tension, relieve stress or to simply feel better.

As I’m sure you’ve experienced, a good belly laugh can really lift the spirits. By actively seeking laughter and by finding humor in simple everyday quirks, we can take an active role in fostering positive emotion in our lives. Imagine feeling down and in the dumps, then while watching your favorite comedian you begin to laugh and find yourself relieved to be feeling less depressed. This is a simple technique for fostering positive emotion known as opposite emotion action. With this technique we simply identify how we are feeling and identify an action that would allow us to feel the opposite.

In another example, if you’re feeling low, possibly related to a poor self-image, you decide that an opposite emotion action might be to get a haircut. By engaging with the opposite emotion action we are better able to foster the positive emotions that we’d like to have more of in our lives.

Yet another well researched and empirically validated technique for intentionally fostering positive emotion in our lives is the practice of gratitude.

We all have so much to be grateful for, we can be grateful for the ability to make choices, for basic necessities, for loved ones or even for beautiful weather.

Regardless of what it is that we are grateful for, counting these blessings on a regular basis will foster positive emotion in our lives. We all have certain characteristics that we can be grateful for and by reminding ourselves of these characteristics or attributes we can further foster positive emotion.

sending-gratitude-to-the-universe

By taking advantage of positive self-affirmations, we can experience the positive emotions that often come with a healthy self-image. For example, one exercise focused on promoting positive emotion, is to make a list of self-affirmations, this might range from a reminder that you are smart, funny or at the very least unique. If you’re having difficulty with this exercise, check-in with a positive or supportive friend or family member for ideas. Once you’ve got a healthy list of positive self-affirmations, put them on separate slips of paper and place these slips into a jar. Anytime you’re feeling down, pull an affirmation out of the jar and remind yourself how blessed you truly are. These affirmations can also be incredibly helpful to deliberately challenge those negative thoughts that can creep into our consciousness.

Finally, when engaging in activities that are intentionally directed at fostering positive emotion in your life, it is helpful to bring a mindful presence to each activity.

By being fully present with each exercise, we are better able to take advantage of all that each activity has to offer.

Intentionally focus on every detail of the activity, notice your own emotions and pay close attention to the positive emotions as they begin to arise. Although each technique for fostering positive emotion is certainly powerful, it’s possible that you may be feeling so stuck that you are unable to engage in these or that the positive impact is fleeting at best.

If you find yourself in this situation you may benefit from some time with a psychotherapist. A trained psychotherapist can help you to overcome anything that might be preventing you from fostering positive emotion in your life. In summary, take charge of your life, become a happier more joyful person and intentionally work to foster positive emotion in your life.

 -Be Intentional

 -Engage in Positive Activities

-Opposite Emotion Action

    -Express Gratitude

    -Find Humor

    -Utilize Self-Affirmations

    -Challenge Negative Thoughts

    -Reflect & Embody Positive Experiences 

 


About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.

Spirituality in Daily Life: How do we Know, What we Know to be True? Critical Realism as a Guide to the Real ||Mary Coday Edwards

By Mary Coday Edwards
People House Featured Blogger

My reality includes an interconnected universe, full of potentialities and one where my efforts matter.

How do I justify these claims of knowledge of what I believe to be true about reality?

How we think the world IS determines our actions in this world

For example, ancient cultures supposed the earth was flat. Based on that reality, drifting off in your fishing boat from the coastal area was a scary undertaking. Not having Google Earth, these cultures depended upon their regional experts for exploration guidance.

What is your mode of truth seeking, your theory of knowledge, in other words–your epistemology? Table 1 lists three categories (1):

Table 1: Three Broad Epistemological Theories

Epistemology Its Path to Reliable Knowledge Ultimate Authority
Religious Revelation Revelation: either through direct experience (mysticism) OR in a received tradition (scripture & culture) Divine reality
Scientific Materialism The scientific method tells us what is; matter is the fundamental reality of the universe Science
Postmodern Relativism There is none. Truth is a process of social construction; cultural power determines truth & thus behavior. Scientific rationalism is under suspect as it is seen as another form of social domination.

There is none. Postmodernism speaks againt all grand theories and metanarratives. Truth is just the dominant cultural pattern.

I use all three, and all tempered with critical realism (see Table 2)–but more of that further into this blog.

Personally, I am deeply suspicious of any worldview or world picture that claims to be the absolute truth. However, there are not enough hours in the day and years in my life to understand everything well enough before I can make a decision as to what is truth and subsequently, how to live my life.

About 25 years ago I did venture forth on that quest in typical quixotic zealousness. I was sitting at my desk in Peshawar, Pakistan, planning how we were going to feed the thousands of Afghan refugees returning to a war-pocked Afghan countryside (this is pre-Taliban and post-former USSR days), and I was looking for an absolute value.

ME 3.22

Greening fields, Istalif, Afghanistan; near Kabul

The Green Revolution had come to Afghanistan. We were increasing crop production through the use of modified seeds which required substantial increases in pesticides and fertilizers, and our European donors wanted agricultural projects that reduced or prevented groundwater pollution.  At the time, we couldn’t see a win/win solution.

Looking back on it, I now know it isn’t either/or, but and/both

At the time my Afghan colleagues and I chaffed at this clash of values between East and West, this “colonial imperialism”. We came around of course, as polluted water supplies aren’t supportive of a healthy population (think Flint, Michigan), but I soon hit the moral philosophy books, looking for an apex ethic that would guide my actions. In my naivety, I wanted something that would always be right, in all situations.

Only to find out that there really isn’t any.

But what I did discover rocked my world.

The As-If Function: Critical Realism Opens Us Up to Further Discovery

Physicist/theologian Ian Barbour says the meaning of truth is correspondence with reality (2), but reality is inaccessible to us. As I mentioned in my previous blog, we still don’t know what the inside of an atom looks like (3). But if the scientific community had waited until we knew with absolute certainty how an atom’s quark functioned, we’d still be using rotary phones.

Therefore, we have a form of realism, in that some aspects of the physical world are accessible to us, but it is a critical realism because our scientific– and spiritual–constructs are also reflections of the imagination and intuition of our human minds; they are extrapolations.

John Polkinghorne speaks similarly, saying critical realism is a means to bridge the gap between what we can know about entities to what they actually are and regardless, requires a metaphysical choice (4).

This is living with–and loving–mystery. Only a tiny fraction of the physical universe can humankind understand, let alone explain. The same is true of my spiritual universe; I have limited intimations and experiential glimpses of its vastness and potentialities

However, if I waited until I could live this life with absolute certainty–what I set out to do when I left my desk in Peshawar– I’d be living a life uncommitted to anything. I’d want absolute certainty of the goodness or rightness of any system, set of rules, or ideology. I’d be paralyzed with immobility.

By committing myself to the world picture outlined in my opening sentence, I also open myself up to further discovery. Scientists commit themselves to models and then allow their imaginations and intuition to carry on their creative, scientific endeavors, to see other connections.

Therefore,  I elect to live my life based on critical realism’s as-if function: I live my life as if the world is interconnected, as if it’s full of potentialities, and as if my efforts matter (see Table 2). This does not translate into a shifting reality based on last night’s pizza. I, too, rely on experts to help me navigate my world, but I choose carefully those whom I tentatively follow. Hallmarks of worthy guides are those with humility and acceptance of mystery. These guides dwell among the mystics and poets, spiritual organizations such as People House, and the scientific community.

In the blogs following, we’ll take a look at spiritual concepts emerging from the world revealed to us through quantum mechanics. They are foundational to my as-if realities. Until then, as I encouraged in my previous blogs, pay attention through mindfulness practices to what YOUR reality looks like!

Table 2: An Epistemology of Critical Realism

Epistemology Its Path to Reliable Knowledge Ultimate Authority
Critical realism The “as if” function; a leap of faith, bridging the gap between what we can know about entities vs. what they actually are. None, but courage & humility to take a chance with limited knowledge, knowing we may be completely wrong.

Note 1: Grassie, Billy. Quaker Epistemology: Towards a Friends Philosophy. Presentation to the Friends Association for Higher Education at Haverford College, June 24, 1995. Also, keep in mind these are broad philosophical sweeps which obscure many differences and distinctions of knowing, such as psychological, moral, spiritual, biophysical, and aesthetic.

Note 2: Barbour , Ian. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997:110

Note 3: The atoms subatomic construct cannot be directly observed, but based on theories we’ve developed amazing technology, such as this computer I’m typing on, my cell phone, and information available at my fingertips due to the internet.

Note 4: Polkinghorne, J.C.  Belief in God in an Age of Science. New Haven: Yale Univeristy Press, 1998:53


About the Author: 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.

Spring Cleaning Part One – Cleaning/Loving our Surroundings|| Lora Cheadle

By Lora Cheadle
New posts every other Tuesday

Spring is almost here, which means it’s time for spring cleaning! We take care of what we love, so as far as I’m concerned, the words cleaning and loving are interchangeable. To keep things simple, I’m doing two brief blogs on spring cleaning; one on cleaning/loving our surroundings and one on cleaning/loving ourselves.

spring loving

Why are these blogs going to be brief? Because there have already been volumes written about how to clean your surroundings and how to cleanse your body and there’s nothing new that I can provide. A Google search or a trip to the library will provide you all the information you need about how to clean out or cleanse. What I want to do is provide you with a slightly different perspective about cleaning out.

Everything around us provides us with sensory input. Everything we see, hear, feel, taste, smell and intuit provides us with information. Our brains, like any computer, have limited capacity. Quite simply, the more unnecessary information we fill our brains with, the less room we leave for important information.  Having stuff around you that you don’t love distracts you from what you want to accomplish by taking up needless brain room.  

No, you don’t have to be a minimalist, but you should surround yourself with stuff that is peaceful and pleasing to you. We all prefer different types of surroundings, sounds, lighting and scent, so take some time to figure out what works best for you.

Go through the five senses and think about what brings you joy and makes you feel harmonious and happy.

Sight: Lighting, windows, color, piles of stuff, neat stacks, baskets, drawers, clutter, plants, etc.

Sound: Silence, ambient sound, classical music, music with a heavy beat, lyrics, etc.

Smell: No smell, fresh clean scent, floral, candles, incense, food, etc.

Touch: Hand cream for dry skin, pens or pencils that feel good to the touch, temperature, hot, cold, etc.

Taste: Water, fresh mouth, mint, gum, coffee, sugary, etc.

Your personal preference is your personal preference, nothing is right or wrong.

Take some time and notice what feels good to you and make changes based on that. If you feel stressed walking into a sterile room, add plants or color or pictures or something that makes you feel peaceful. If clutter stresses you out, clean out, organize or find baskets or drawers to hide away all that stresses you out.

Cleaning out doesn’t necessarily mean throwing stuff away or donating it, (although those are wonderful ideas!) but it does mean cleaning out everything in your surroundings that stresses you out and don’t bring you joy and peace.

Love it or leave it, it’s that simple!

 


About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here! See more on her website. 

Spirituality in Daily Life: Reject the Box – Not the Mystery! || Mary Edwards

By Mary Coday Edwards
People House Featured Blogger

In last week’s blog, I mentioned three items relevant to this week’s:

1. Staying present to your current experience: basically, HOW is your NOW?
2. Not only does this NOW hold valuable information, it’s also where we experience Oneness with the Universe, Divine, Higher Consciousness, Gaia, Brahman, Ultimate Reality, Goddess/God, non-God, Light, Love (space limits the ways this concept is expressed), and
3. Spirituality seems to imply we are seeking a connection with something greater than ourselves.

So, combining those three items, did you experience anything when you read that last phrase of No. 2, words I used to describe the ineffable, the unexplainable, the Mystery? Did any of those limiting words cause a reaction within you? In your body? Is one of your emotions screaming at the edge of your consciousness? Did you stop reading at that point? Or is one rising gently, peacefully? Did a past memory surface, pleasant or unpleasant? What did I leave out that feels important to your experience? Do you believe that some of those words/images are just flat out wrong?

I encourage you to bring your awareness to WHAT you may be rejecting and WHY.

No one can tell us exactly what – or who – this Ultimate Reality really IS. Mystics and poets down through the eons have described their own experiences and thus have given us intimations of what this Reality may look like, but at the end of the day, all these terms are metaphoric variations.

A metaphor is used when we don’t know what something is in order to give it some sort of meaning that we can connect the concept to.

Feminist Christian theologian Sallie McFague says that to think metaphorically “… means spotting a thread of similarity between two dissimilar objects, events, or whatever, one of which is better known that the other, and using the better-known one as a way of speaking about the lesser known (Note 1, pg 15).

Scholar Ian Barbour first studied science and then religion, eventually drawing comparisons and differences between the two, in particular how both used metaphors, models, and paradigms to explain the unseen (Note 2). Barbour says that “Religious language often uses imaginative metaphors, symbols, and parables, all of which express analogies” (Note 3, pg 119).

Models & paradigms: Helpful, but not the same as Reality!

Some of these analogies evolve into models. For example, Western Christians are familiar with the metaphors of God as father, king/conqueror, to the point where the Divine is restricted to this patriarchal-defined reality, leaving analogical language behind. In parts of Latin America, the model of God as Liberator informs reality.

But the New Testament scriptures are replete with other metaphors, such as God as the woman seeking her coin. Although that is mentioned in the same Bible verse as the parable of the good shepherd, how many stained glass windows do you see depicting God as Woman seeking her lost coin? Or Jesus as a Mother Hen, gathering up her chicks under her wings (Note 4)? Neither of those metaphors even made it to model stage.

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And this is not just true of Western Christianity; I’ve seen and experienced this pattern repeat itself all over the world. Every religion, every sect, for the most part, has definite ideas about Ultimate Reality, leaving little wiggle room – in other words, little room left for Mystery. It’s the mystics who shatter the walls of their respective boxes.

Barbour goes on to explain how a model can then crystalize into a paradigm. A paradigm, whether in science or religion, includes metaphysical assumptions and captures the imagination of its adherents. In the process, a paradigm defines reality, determines what sort of questions can be asked, and what sort of tools are used to analyze this reality (Note 5).

“Doubt frees us from illusions of having captured God in a creed.”

We have inklings of this Otherness, but our words anthropomorphize this Otherness. When we say, “God is Love,” our human ideas, images, and definitions of love immediately surface. Whatever negative or positive attributes we associate with love are now imputed to the God we defined as love.

When we reject “God”, what we might really be rejecting is the metaphor, the model, or the paradigm presented to us as the only or primary version of Ultimate Reality.  Perhaps it was imposed upon us in our childhoods and it no longer fits our experience. Our world picture changes as we grow and change.

Additionally, if you’re reading this blog, you’re either my good friend or relative, and/or you’re interested in growing spiritually. As noted in last week’s blog, spirituality conveys the idea of living peaceably with ourselves, with each other, and with our natural environment. The global battle for religious supremacy still rages among us. Thinking metaphorically vs. in absolutes (OUR absolutes) about the Divine opens up a space of humility within us where we can cultivate kindness, gentleness, and compassion for our fellow travelers.

Barbour says that, “Doubt frees us from illusions of having captured God in a creed” (Note 6).

So does thinking metaphorically.


Note 1: McFague, Sallie. Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982, 1987.

Note 2: The atoms subatomic construct cannot be directly observed, but based on theories we’ve developed amazing technology, such as this computer I’m typing on, my cell phone, and information available at my fingertips due to the internet.

Note 3: Barbour, Ian. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

Note 4: Luke 15:8-10; Matthew 23:37

Note 5: For more information on metaphors, models, and paradigms, see Barbour, Religion and Science; Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study in Science & Religion; Harper & Row, 1974; and Kuhn, T.S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; University of Chicago Press, 1996 ed.

Note 6: Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative


About the Author: 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.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Defining Sprituality

By Mary Coday Edwards
People House Featured Blogger

The best thing about discussing spirituality these days is that no institution or organization owns its definition and, therefore, can place judgment on what you or I believe is significant to our own spirituality. Google it and within two seconds more than 14 million hits are at your disposal.

However, generally speaking, spirituality seems to imply a two-way search: We seek for a connection with something greater than ourselves and at the same time, seek through self-knowledge to live a fully human and integrated life (Carl Jung called this inward seeking “the inner call to individuation”).

This, of course, erroneously implies dualism. As mystics and poets have written about for eons–and now quantum physics points to ever more tangibly–this search for connection ends up with the understanding that we are truly interconnected, not only with each other but also cosmically. We are made out of star stuff. 

Spirituality, not religion, is the focal point for People House’s personal and spiritual growth endeavors. Quoting from People House’s website, “Spirituality is less about doing and more about being our truest, most authentic self everywhere we go.”

This first blog on Spirituality in Daily Life will look at other contemporary definitions of spirituality–a brief and non-exhaustive review.

PRACTICING SPIRITUALITY: It’s simple but not easy! 

What I suggest is that you read this with a pen and paper at hand and jot down any words that “ping” within you, anything that touches an emotional chord, whether it be joy, peace, fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, sadness, or happiness. And then locate that emotion within your body if possible. Is it in your gut? Chest? A specific chakra region? What and where is your body reacting to? Register this emotion non-critically–emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are (it’s what we do with these emotions that gets us in trouble!).

Why the emphasis on our bodies? Our thoughts wander to past memories and plans for dinner–we have a difficult time focusing on what’s happening right now.  Meanwhile, our bodies are always here, present to our experiences, and hence are amazing founts of wisdom and knowledge. So jot down where that emotion is registering and later sit with that prayerfully and humbly, asking for more understanding.

Spirit Quest

If you should follow through on this exercise, congratulations! You have just practiced a key component of spirituality: you were present to your current experience. This moment is all we have–the past is gone, the future hasn’t happened. The now holds the seeds to the future. When we’re not present to this moment not only do we miss valuable information, we miss the opportunity for self-knowledge necessary to live an integrated life. This present moment is where we experience the Divine, Spirit, Ultimate Reality–where we come face-to-face with God.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness and says it is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS: How NOT to be vague at the family reunion! 

Historically, spirituality has been used interchangeably as a synonym for religion. One was considered spiritual if one followed the institutionalized and structured system of beliefs, practices, and morals within a given religious framework.

However, in contemporary Western societies, we find an increasing number of people describing themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”  William James, author of the 1902 book The Varieties of Religious Experiences, is credited with beginning this separation of spirituality from religion. While they can, and do, overlap, it is possible to be spiritual without being religious and vice versa.

Eckhart Tolle believes that a growing number of followers of traditional religions–once they are able to let go of identifying solely with their dogma and rigid belief systems–are discovering the original depth that is veiled within their own spiritual tradition. Tolle goes on to say that they realize that how spiritual one is “has nothing to do with what one believes, but everything to do with your state of consciousness. This, in turn, determines how you act in the world and interact with others (Note 1).”

In Integrating Spirituality and Religion into Counseling, editors Craig S. Cashwell and J. Scott Young define spirituality as “the universal human capacity to experience self-transcendence and awareness of sacred immanence, with resulting increases in greater self-other compassion and love (Note 2).”

Editors Streib and Hood, in Semantics and Psychology of Spirituality: A Cross-Cultural Analysis, do not offer a definition, as they wanted their research participants to respond to spirituality in ways meaningful to them (Note 3, pg 121). The editors did, however, include Zinnbauer and Pargament definitions of religion as “search for significance in ways related to the sacred” and of spirituality as “search for the sacred,” where sacred refers not only to God and higher powers, but also to a wide variety of life’s experiences: “Virtually any dimension can be perceived as holy, worthy of veneration or reverence [and] . . . not necessarily rooted in beliefs about God (Note 3, pg 5).”

Streib and Hood also include William James’ definition of religion, “as feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.” Spirituality, as it is used today, was not part of James’ 1902 lexicon; he used mysticism to express concepts inherent in spirituality (Note 3, page 6).

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Streib and Hood were seeking to capture how their research participants subjectively defined their own spiritualties.  In summarizing their conclusions, while finding no single concept of spirituality, Streib and Hood did identify 10 statistically significant characteristics. It is beyond the scope of this blog to further analyze these findings; these characteristics are included only as a tool to enable you to examine your own defining essentials. Note that these are not listed in order of importance nor were the participants asked to rank these attributes in order of importance – these are ways respondents defined their spirituality.  Following is the list, with short explanations given by the editors (Note 3, pgs 143-148):

1) A feeling of connectedness/oneness: Harmony with the universe, nature, and the whole

2) Part of religion: Christian belief

3) The higher self: Inner search for self, meaning, peace, and enlightenment – which following Abraham Maslow’s thinking, has to be sought and developed.

4) Ethics, values: Holding and everyday acting according to values and morality in relation to humanity; spirituality is often associated with the necessity to lead a moral life.

5) Belief in a higher power(s): Higher beings (deities, gods)

6) Belief in something beyond: Intuition of something of some being(s) that are unspecified, but higher than and beyond oneself. The participants chose not to further define the nature of the transcendent, but acknowledge its existence which they experience to be of importance.

7) Existential truth: Experiences of truth, purpose, and wisdom beyond rational understanding

8) Esotericism: Awareness of a non-material, invisible world, supernatural energies and beings (spirits, etc.)

9) Opposition to religion: Dogmatic rules and traditions

10) Individual religious praxis: Meditation, prayer, worship

So… did you feel any pings? What would you add? And how does spirituality manifest itself in your everyday life?


Note 1: Tolle, Eckhart. A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. Plume; 2006. Pages 18, 19.

Note 2: Cashwell, Craig S. and Young, J. Scott, Editors. Integrating Spirituality and Religion into Counseling, A Guide to Competent Practice. American Counseling Association, 2011. Ebook.

Note 3: Streib, Heinz and Hood, Ralph W. Jr., Editors. Semantics and Psychology of Spirituality: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Springer, 2016.


About the Author: Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Ordained 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.

My Partner Says I’m Crazy… Am I?Narcissistic Abuse: Cruel, Confusing and Corrosive

My Partner Says I’m Crazy… Am I?

Narcissistic Abuse: Cruel, Confusing and Corrosive

It’s common for me to get a call from a potential new client that goes something like this:

Caller: “Can you help me? My relationship is on the rocks. My partner told me that I need to get help because I’m crazy and that I’m destroying the relationship.”

 Me: “Is your partner going to join you in therapy?”

Caller: “My partner says they don’t need help. I’m the one who needs to learn how to communicate.”

This is when I usually chime in with a quote I’ve borrowed from that Geico commercial we all love: “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.” I usually follow with, “Why don’t you go ahead and see if they will come along. If they are hesitant, please tell them I would really like to hear from them, in person, about what is wrong with YOU.” This usually works… once.

That first session with the two parties tells me a lot. Many times, the person who made the original call is reduced to tears, defeated, hugging a pillow, crouching on one end of the sofa while the complaining partner lists off their endless criticisms that cut deep, “Lazy… Stupid… No common sense… Crazy… Over-emotional… Out of control….Dishonest… Seems to be losing memory,” and more. They take no responsibility for their part in any relationship strife. None. Any attempts to point out flaws in their arguments are met with a change of subject or cunning redirection.

After that first session, they never return.

The partner who made the original call, however, does return. I ask them a series of questions. Are you:

  • Constantly second-guessing yourself?
  • Accused of not remembering things correctly?
  • Accused of not hearing what your partner said correctly?
  • Feeling like you need a reality check?
  • Finding yourself apologizing… a lot.
  • Thinking no one else would believe what’s going on at home because your partner is so charming to everyone else?
  • Feeling a loss of your self, a loss of joy, self-esteem?
  • Always apologizing… even for things that may not be your fault?
  • Finding it impossible to confront your partner with even the smallest complaint?
  • Being accused of making stuff up?
  • Hearing, “It’s all in your head,” or “I never said that,” a lot?
  • Feeling like you get so confused and angry that you become someone you don’t like or recognize… and wondering if you possibly ARE crazy?

If these red flags resonate with the client, they usually have tears of relief to have their experiences validated…finally!

These are all signs of NARCISSISTIC ABUSE. It is toxic and DESTRUCTIVE and dangerous to your health – mental and physical. This type of abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD and many other odd or unexplained symptoms.

You’ve probably heard the word “narcissist” thrown around in the media, particularly in the realm of politics. Narcissism presents itself on a scale. And there IS such a thing as a “healthy level of narcissism.” But then there is full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder – NPD. The Mayo Clinic’s website says: “Narcissistic Personality Disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.”

Not all people with NPD are abusive. But, many are… and they can pull out all of the stops: Lack of empathy, manipulation, deceitfulness, smear campaigns, and gaslighting. The National Domestic Violence Hotline website describes gaslighting as “…an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power (and we know that abuse is about power and control). Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.”

YES! This sounds familiar! What should I do?

FIRST: Know you are not alone. This article itself should begin your process of realizing that it’s NOT YOU. And you’re NOT CRAZY.

NEXT: Learn more. I will list some great books at the end of this article. There are many out there.

THEN: Get support. Find a good therapist or support group. Sadly, your friends and family members may not understand. It’s so difficult to explain and leaves you so tongue-tied that many victims feel defeated when their typically supportive friends and family don’t “get it.” Find support people who list “narcissistic abuse” or “personality disorders” as a specialty. (www.psychologytoday.com lets you conduct a search using those criteria.)

DON’T: Show this article to your partner and expect them to have an “aha moment” and suddenly decide to get help or change their ways. Abusers with Narcissistic Personality Disorder rarely change because they rarely agree to get any type of real help. Basically, they don’t believe they need help.

They believe it’s you who needs help…

 

SUGGESTED READING:

BASSON, DR LINDA (2013-07-26). SURVIVING NARCISSISTIC ABUSE (e – Self help series) (Kindle Locations 3-6). LIANNE TULLOCH.

Bancroft, Lundy; Patrissi, JAC (2011-11-01). Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can–and Should–be Saved (Kindle Locations 1270-1271). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Tudor, H G (2015-10-14). Escape: How to Beat the Narcissist (Kindle Locations 39-43). Insight Books. Kindle Edition.

 

Janet Ferguson, LMFT, LLC, is a therapist with private practice offices at People House in both Denver and Aurora, Colorado. Her specialties include couples and family counseling, as well as individual work with abuse and trauma survivors. For more information about Janet and how to contact her, please see http://www.jfergusoncounseling.com.

 

NOTE: Author has purposely chosen to use the terms “they/them” throughout this article for gender neutrality purposes.

On the Edge of Creation – Lydia Taft

Today I am very aware that I am being led.  Everything is changing around me and I see that I am being moved.  I’m on a journey and I’m heading somewhere.  Spirit calls me forward.  I know this, because when life gets this messy, no one but Spirit can possibly be in charge.  But, I am both the pawn and the player in this life.

It’s all a matter of my perspective.  Sometimes I am dragged forward kicking and screaming, resistant to letting go of my limitations and beliefs about how life ought to be.  Other times, I jump right on board, trusting that I am loved and that Spirit always guides me toward my own greatest good.  Sometimes when things feel at rest I find myself asking: Now where am I? Who am I? What am I meant to do with what’s in front of me?

Just watch it unfold, Spirit will answer.  Don’t stand in judgment of it, don’t over analyze it.  Look for the fun in it.  Find the beauty of Creation’s hand in it.  Peer around the corner and expand into your newest you.  Expect that it’s going to be great.  This is a fast moving ride. So jump on board and prepare to have fun.

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Ride to the leading edge of creation and thrill at the unknowing of it all.  Use your mind as the tool that you have been given, to think of the possibility that is in front of you.  Use all of your senses to experience the pure joy of life.  Focus in on the energy of creation and flow with transformation into the next greatest being you desire – your highest Self.

Remember this: life is a journey and it is meant to be fun.  It is active and dynamic and expansive.  It always, in all ways, leads to the next greatest thing and next greatest thing.  And all you have to do is take the ride. Hang your head out the window and let the wind hit your face.  Savor the sights, inhale the zest, taste and thrill in your freedom to experience.  Howl in the pure ecstasy and pleasure of it, all the while expanding into the unknown and becoming your greatest Self ever.

There is no end to this journey.  You are always on the edge of creation.

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: 3 Steps to Success by Claiming Your Power – Glenn Bott

When you give your power away you leave yourself open to disillusionment, injury and regret.

 

Not good.

 

Think about the times in your life when you were riding high, having fun, and life was going your way.  I’ll bet you a lunch that you were feeling very powerful at the time.  In your goove.  Full of life and anticipation.

 

Here’s some steps you can take to start increasing your personal power and reclaiming those feelings and that “winner attitude”.

 

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Step 1 – Be Authentic                                            

 

Issue – Not speaking your truth and instead acting/speaking “appropriately”.  Whatever that is.

 

Solution – Society has many rules and interpretations.  I believe that the highest form of respect is to always speak your truth – no matter who you’re with or what the issue is.  Come from a place of love and be the best YOU that you’re capable of in the moment.  People will love, respect, and feel safe with you because they know you mean them no harm and will always speak your truth.  No games are being played.  YOU aren’t trying to gain an advantage.

 

Whenever you fall into the trap of thinking you need to behave a certain way, or give the appropriate response, you give your power away.

 

Step 2 – Be Impeccable                                         

 

Issue – you lack commitment in what you’re doing.  Your actions and your words aren’t aligned.  Your energy is split.

 

Solution – Be in the present moment and think before you speak.  Honor yourself and give yourself time to process the information before blurting out a response.  Being impeccable means walking your talk and doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it.  A simple equation.  Besides increasing your personal power, you will also be remembered because very few people actually honor their commitments.

 

Step 3 – Know Your Worth                                              

 

Issue – You let people walk all over you.  By trying to be liked and approved of, you twist and contort yourself in so many ways that no one knows the real YOU.  You’re always on the defensive, your self-esteem is in the gutter and you let people take advantage of you.

 

Solution – Stand tall and begin taking your best interest to heart.  If you don’t take of yourself, who will?  Take a breath, and start counting your positive attributes.  Take your time and do this until you start breathing easier, the weight on your shoulders lessens, and you regain your positive attitude.  Repeat to yourself that you matter, your opinions matter, and that you’re here for a purpose.

 

Learn more about the Warrior’s Way, LLC

Contact Glenn

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: Nimitz – Glenn Bott

Here is an excellent example of what the power of a positive attitude can accomplish in your life.  The life we live is all about our point of view and our internal dialogue.

Untitled-1In the following example, the reality of the situation was that the US had just been surprise attacked and our Pacific fleet severely damaged.  Admiral Nimitz accepted this reality while reviewing the damage.  His unique and positive viewpoint can be credited with the ultimate success the US Navy had in the Pacific.  He had a vision and held strong to that vision.  He KNEW that all was not lost.  He KNEW that repairs could be made in short order.  He KNEW that God/Spirit was on his side.

While we’ll probably never know what his internal dialogue was, we can be certain it wasn’t that of a defeatist.  I’m confident he had faith, KNEW we would get our ships back in operation, and was strategizing on how to move forward throughout the day.  He was single-minded on getting his fleet back in operation.  His determination and focused intent is what inspired those around him to move forward with equal confidence.  The entire attitude was one of “we can do this”.

To live our life to its fullest – we need to adopt the same attitude and internal dialogue.  Focus on what we want.  See the end result.  Find a way.  Trust in Spirit.

Remember – the Universe ALWAYS says YES!

From “Reflections on Pearl Harbor ” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C.   HeUntitled-2 was paged and told there was a phone call for him.  When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone.  He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.  He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941.   There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.  Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked.

As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”  Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.

Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America .  Which do you think it was?”

Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?” Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships.  If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired.

As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America .  And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill.  One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.

I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book.  It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it.  In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredricksburg , Texas — he was a born optimist.  But anyway you look at it–Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.

President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job. We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth