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Beyond Mindfulness ll By Erin Amundson

Beyond Mindfulness 
By Erin Amundson

I live a life that I love.

While I am not above feeling difficult emotions or having stressful moments, I’ve found a sweet spot to divine living that’s at least one step beyond mindfulness.  Sure, I started somewhere in being mindful, bringing conscious awareness to my thoughts, my actions, my food and my relationships. But I quickly realized that none of this does anything for me if my subconscious mind is busy running other programs.

If you aren’t familiar, the subconscious is the area of our brain that is responsible for things like our heart beat, our digestion, and our blood circulation.  It controls all the aspects of our functioning that our conscious mind doesn’t, kind of like our computer’s hard drive. All of these things happen without our conscious awareness.  

In addition to regulating our body functions the subconscious mind also regulates some of our bad memories, sensations and emotions for us so that our conscious mind doesn’t have to carry such a heavy burden. This is a pretty ingenious survival technique, since we would actually go crazy or die in shock from too much trauma on the conscious brain. Our subconscious handles what our conscious mind cannot.  

If all of this isn’t enough, our Natural Technology holds the blueprint for our greatest gifts, our purpose in the world, our healthiest body, our most fulfilling relationships, and the keys to rapid healing for our conscious mind.  This is the stuff we all want in life – and it’s my mission to make sure we access it.

This is the journey to the sweet life, my friends.    

I think most of us would say we want that sweet life, right?  Most of us try really, really hard to achieve it. We read books, attend seminars, meditate, do yoga….and on and on.  I do all of these things, too, because I enjoy them. Not because I believe any one is the key to my greatness. Because, in my search for a great life, I discovered something really important.  No amount of yoga, fasting, reading or meditation is going to bring me my best life if I have a wound operating out of my subconscious. So, I set out to heal my subconscious, and in the process, educated myself to provide healing to others.  

NOTE: A subconscious pattern creates a problem in our life that operates automatically, without our conscious awareness or any understanding of the cause or solution. Most of us store some form of hurt, rejection, trauma or limitation in our subconscious minds. The most common of these are rooted in childhood because our underdeveloped brains are less capable of processing heavy emotion and experience.  

Young children have undeveloped brains that cannot think abstractly.  We cannot separate what happens to us from who we are. Our conscious mind also is not developed enough to deal with certain levels of pain.  This can happen with a traumatic event at any age, but our child brains are especially susceptible. So, for example, when a child is abandoned by a parent or suffers the death loss of someone very close to them, this pain is often stored in the subconscious.  

Then, throughout life, the subconscious creates automatic emotional, physical and sensory responses to triggers that resemble what is stored there.  For example, having an intense emotional response to a good friend wanting some alone time or a close co-worker deciding to move to another country. To the subconscious storing the old memory of abandonment, this trigger event causes a great deal of tension in the adult relationship that feels unsolvable.   

In addition, the subconscious will cause us to make choices in our life from this automatic response based on a wound, or core shame message, we are not aware of.  Most of us are unaware that we make choices based on both the conscious and subconscious mind.

Now the wounded subconscious begins EVERY time to choose partners who end up abandoning the person.

This, of course, causes a lot of pain. 

The victim of this subconscious program usually believes they are worthy of love. They spend a lot of time in therapy trying to figure out why this keeps happening. The problem is, we can never solve a subconscious wound with our conscious, rational mind.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how much you practice mindfulness, if you don’t know why you have the problem in the first place.  

Many of us have some kind of limiting problem that feels bigger than it needs to be. 

There is some area of our lives that we just can’t seem to master no matter how smart we are, how much therapy we’ve done, or how successful we’ve been in other areas of life.  Perhaps we have the perfect partner but can’t seem to find meaning in work. We may be happy in every area of life but have a fear of flying. Good news. I have a new solution for you that works – and it’s your own Natural Technology that is available to you any time.   

Anytime we cannot consciously understand or process a problem in our life, there is an invitation to look in the subconscious.  Developing an ongoing relationship to the subconscious, learning its language, and engaging it regularly has been the key to success for me and hundreds of those I’ve worked with in the last 10 years. If you have a problem you can’t seem to solve in your life no matter how many things you’ve tried, I encourage you to explore approaching it through the subconscious in dream work, past life regression, astrology or Depth Psychology. 

Your life WILL change. 


 

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.

Dark Nights of the Soul, Part 4: Living in the Dark ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dark Nights of the Soul, Part 4: Living in the Dark
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

To go in the dark with a light is to know light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight.
And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings.
And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings. (1)

In my last blog  I wrote of signposts and some reasons why a dark night moves in. Maybe you’ve ascertained that you are in a dark night. Now what? Is there a way to chart a course through murkiness? Are there guiding stars in the sky?

1-Pay attention to what’s going on in your life. In my past blogs on this topic, I’ve laid out two nonexclusive strains of soul talk: a secular , and a religious.  Paying attention is NOT the same as trying to figure out what’s happening—the latter implies you have serious problems and that you need to fix something. A dark night implies transformation. Think of the chrysalis transforming into a butterfly. It doesn’t emerge as a stronger, happier worm crawling on its belly on the ground. No, it emerges with breathtakingly beautiful diaphanous wings giving it flight.  

Continue with your mediation and/or mindfulness practices. “Mindfulness,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, “is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

2-Work with it creatively. Write poems or prose, paint it, sculpt it, draw it, sing it, dance it, garden with it, cook with it, build with it. Walk with it in nature. 

3-Don’t expect flashes of brilliant light—or even a dribble of it—to light your way. Follow the wisdom in Wendell Berry’s opening poem:  let the darkness be your light. Befriend it. Live with it. Contrary to all expectations, this is the key. Incomplete contemporary ways exist to deal with your dark night: expert and not so expert advice; books and tapes; workshops; and religious institutions. Well-meaning friends and family will tell you “do something,” anything to dissipate the mood. But as Thomas Moore writes in his Dark Nights of the Soul, that is the hero’s shadow in the background—and ego’s. 

4-A dark night might require you to give up all concepts of success, progress, and enlightenment. Our Western view is that our lives are linear, that we will continue to do what we’re doing, just getting better and better at it. But that’s not true. Life is a series of transformations, of deaths and rebirths, of becoming a person with new competencies and skills. 

As I mentioned in my last blog, we outgrow our skins—the skins of unconsciously accepting and following values and attitudes. Live with life’s experiences, and let those experiences do their work. 

What is needed is a view of life that includes the dark.

5-Get used to it. You may carry it with you for years. Don’t try and push it away. Moore says, “What is needed is a view of life than includes the dark.” It isn’t that you embrace masochism but you surrender to your Tao, to your path, to your life. 

And you continue with your sacred commitments—to your partner and children, to your work. 

6-Avoid the blame game. Your ennui, sadness, deep funk—whatever you choose to call it—it’s no one’s fault. This is life. Yes, maybe you made choices that you recognize may not have been the healthiest, but you did the best you could with the knowledge, the wisdom, and the skills you had at the time. And now, gently, your soul is telling you it’s just time to move on, to live with a greater vision, a greater clarity of who you are, and what you’re created for.

Life is a mixture of pain and joy.

7-Happiness is not the end goal. You wouldn’t know that by the messages our culture repeatedly bombards us with. 

“Happiness is more a temporary sensation that things are in place and Heaven seems to have blessed the moment. But life is . . . a mixture of pain and satisfaction . . . .Weaving the dark into the light in your expectations and personal philosophy might temper the role of happiness and offer a way to appropriate the dark night with style and wisdom,” says Moore.

8-It helps if you can find a compassionate spiritual facilitator, one who knows about dark nights. You don’t need advice on what you’re doing “wrong,” and what you need to do to be “right.” You need someone to sit with you nonjudgmentally as you look within your darkness for its light, to untangle what’s going on inside you, to reassure you that you’re OKAY

In Part 5 of this series, I’ll bring in examples of how people lived their dark nights. Meanwhile, sit with T.S. Eliot’s poem (3): 

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
wait without love
For love would be love for the wrong thing;
there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all
in the waiting.

_____________

Notes & Sources: 

1.Wendell Berry, from “To Know the Dark,” in Farming: A Handbook. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1967.

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

3. T.S. Eliot, East Coker, from his Four Quartets. Faber and Faber. 1940.


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. 

Conscious Communication Matters ll By Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Communication Matters
By Dorothy Wallis

Your life is happening right now.  Will you take the opportunity to connect with those you love and care about?  Being able to communicate your thoughts and feelings is an extraordinarily high form of specialized functionality in human consciousness.  Skill is involved and many articles and books will outline all of the techniques of communication.  Yet, at the heart of worthwhile communication is the desire and willingness to connect with honesty, kindness, well meaning and love.  That can actually be a tall order.

When I ask couples “what is the biggest challenge with your partner?” the most frequent answers are, “my partner does not understand me,” “she/he doesn’t listen to what I am saying,” “I don’t know how to talk to him/her,” “I can’t get through to him/her” or just “we don’t communicate at all.”  Communication may seem like the simplest of skills and yet misunderstandings are common and can easily escalate from annoyance and frustration into fights.  Without compassionate conscious communication relationships fall apart.

Conscious Communication is not just for couples.  It is important for everyone. We are taught how to read and write however, we have not learned the basics of clear communication that expresses not only your thoughts but also the meaning and intention behind the words.  It is a skill and an art to cultivate.  If you want healthy relationships with family, friends and colleagues, it pays to be a conscious communicator.  Conflict and drama lessen.  You experience more understanding, sharing and intimacy with those you care about.  Constructive communication skills will give you confidence to express yourself clearly and give you an advantage in business or work environment.  You will attract friends and have happier long lasting relationships.

Consciously Communicate with Presence

What does it mean to Consciously Communicate?  Being Conscious is a purposeful act.  It means you are aware and present with the other person in an intentional way.  The ones you care most about are the people that you are likely to ignore or take for granted and they most likely do the same with you.  How can communication take place when there is a disconnect?

Communication is a two-way Connection.

There is always a speaker sending a message and a listener receiving it.   For a smooth dialogue to take place each person must be conscious of their part and be able to switch between roles.  It takes effort and concentration.  Think of it as a circuit that you are completing.  Both people need to actively and consciously participate.

Your Role as a Conscious Speaker 

Think about Why You are Communicating 

Are you communicating to express an idea, to relay important information, to express a thought or emotion, to share an experience, or to deepen your connection?  Are you speaking to solve a problem?

Communicate with the Intention of Connecting 

Be aware of the person in front of you.  If this is your partner or someone you care about remember your love for them.  If this is a friend or colleague, speak with kindness no matter what you are asking, talking about or discussing.  Always speak with integrity, honesty and respect.  Do you care about the impact of your words and how your words will be received?

Speak to Make things Better

When an issue arises between you and another person be honest about your true intention and purpose in speaking.  Are you speaking to clarify, to resolve the issue or dilemma, and to create a harmonious meaningful connection or are you retaliating and attacking?  Being contentious, demanding, resentful, abusive, or manipulative will alienate, disengage and create separation or worse amplify into a battle.  Is your ego involved?  Do you need to win?

Speak so People Will Understand

Great speakers are interested in the recipient and want to help them understand.  Speak the listener’s language.  It is the role of the speaker to convey the message in the clearest most concise form for the listener.  Doing otherwise would be talking just to hear yourself speak and not getting your message across.  Delivery matters.  Keep it simple.  If you go on and on you will lose the listener’s attention.

Relate Your Emotions as Well as Your Thoughts

Whether you realize it or not, your feelings are detected by those in your presence.  Allow yourself to speak the truth about what you are feeling.  Thoughts and ideas are important, yet your emotions reveal your interior dimensions in a way that thoughts cannot.  Sharing your emotions with those closest to you creates intimacy.

Notice the Sound of Your Voice

Pay attention to the tone and volume of your voice. Your personality is reflected in the tone, inflection, volume, and pace of your words and reveals your attitude as well as your mood.  Is your voice even, calm, nurturing, expressive, charismatic, persuasive, and easily understood?  Is your intention clearly expressed?  Shrill, whiny, loud, yelling, pleading, caustic, and piercing words will drive people away.  Contempt, resentment, and anger will distance others and undermine any attempts to persuade, resolve problems or create harmony.

Notice Body Language

The way a message is expressed helps the listener to receive.  Are you relaxed and engaged?  Is your body position cuing the listener that you are equal to them and not dominating them nor shrinking from them?

Pay attention to the listener.  Be present with them.  If possible, look into their eyes and notice their body language.  How are your words being received?  What does their body language say?  Are they bored?  Have they stopped listening?  Are they irritated?  Do their eyes roll as you speak?  Do you sense interest or curiosity about what you are saying?  If you are aware, you can adjust your words to help the person understand or you can stop and inquire about what is happening for them.

Your Role as a Conscious Listener

Listen with Presence

The role of the listener is just as important as that of the speaker.  Be fully attentive and curious about the speaker’s perspective.  Listen carefully to their words, take in the details and watch for subtle messages in their tone and body language.  Receive them as a fellow being with ideas, experiences, as well as struggles.

Listen without interrupting

Are you actively listening to the person speaking or are you waiting for your turn to share?  Hold onto your questions and assumptions.  Give them “the floor” and don’t interrupt.  Their perspective may differ from yours.  Difference can be exciting and sometimes turns to a sense of threat.  When you drop your ideas, open and receive their truth and honestly listen to another’s perspective, you don’t become “different.”  Antagonism drops away and a realization of the fundamental “sameness” can enter.  Their struggles don’t look different than your own.  You will reap the benefit as conscious listening soothes your nervous system.

Watch the Speaker’s Body Language

Watching the speaker’s body language will tell you a lot.  It will reveal information beyond what the words alone are saying.  Are they sharing a joyful experience?  Do their words match what their body is telling you?  A person’s words may describe being “fine” while their arms are crossed, their body slumped and their eyes gaze downward.  You sense something is off.  If you pay attention, you will notice the incongruence.  Is there more not being said?  Sense the emotions of the speaker with interest and compassion.

Listen to Understand

Be curious about their perspective instead of making judgments.  When it is your turn to speak, inquire or ask questions for clarity and to help both of you reach deeper into knowing the other. Be open to alternate ideas and viewpoints.

When someone has an Issue or Complaint Listen without Defending 

When issues or problems are brought up let go of defensiveness.  When you are defensive you are not listening to the experience or perspective of the other person.  Long explanations of your intentions give the impression that you are not paying attention to the other’s complaint or request and are only concerned with yourself.  It can sound like an excuse or that you are deflecting or invalidating the other’s experience.

Magical Tips to Improve all Relationships

Be Compassionate 

Sense what the other person is experiencing.  Have empathy and be supportive.  Help them to feel heard and safe.  If your friend or partner is hurting, they will not be at their best.  Receive their struggle and offer what you can.

Validate Other’s Emotions and Experiences 

When someone has an emotion, it is what he or she is experiencing.  It is the truth.  Whenever you tell a person not to feel or that they should not be having that feeling, you are invalidating their experience.  It is painful and causes people to question their reality.  It is dismissive and they may react with resentment, anger, and frustration.  They do not feel seen, heard or cared about.

Let go of Criticism, Blame and Retaliation 

Focus on your own issues and growth rather than on the other person’s.  Attacks, diminishment, digs, debasement, passive aggression, condemnation and threats are hurtful, harmful and mean.  It does not cause people to change.  Are you retaliating to punish them?  Resentment is destructive and creates contempt.  If you are hurt and want to understand, you can ask for clarity.  Listen with an open heart rather than assuming the worst.  You will learn more by honest inquiry than with blame.    

Give up Your Compulsion to Be Right

What is the point in being right?  Will your version of what is “right” change their truth?  Are you attempting to dominate or belittle someone with your opinion of what is right?  If you continue to batter someone with your point of view, what happens?  Are they happy that you corrected them?  Notice what it does to your relationship.  It is actually a form of violence.  Realize that there are as many differing worldviews and opinions as there are people on the planet.  Does it really matter that you went to dinner at 6:00pm on Saturday night or Friday night?  Let go of the little things.  Do you have a photographic memory of every word of a conversation?  Better to find out another’s perspective rather than berate them for what you believe is the “truth” about what they meant.  Be flexible and adaptable.  You can disagree without assaulting someone.  A difference of opinion does not make you or them less.  In fact, truly listening to different perspectives opens you up to a wider understanding of the other person.

Acceptance and Kindness create Harmony and Understanding

The more you are able to accept differences in others with kindness, the more harmony will enter your life.  The key to understanding is to relate to others as kin rather than enemies.  Everyone makes mistakes.  You will make mistakes and your loved ones will too.  Everyone has struggles, problems, times when they are up and times when they are down.  Compassion begets compassion.

Have Appreciation and Gratitude for the People in Your Life

Relationships are the most profound experiences in life.  The people that enter your world offer you a mirror into the innermost depths of you.  In the end your intimate connections with others is what you will cherish.

As you relate to others, you learn more about yourself and humanity.  Treat people as the gift that they are.  As you appreciate them with gratitude, you give yourself the gift of love.


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

Why are we so stressed? ll By: Rich Brodt

Why are we so stressed?
By: Rich Brodt

Gallup’s 2019 Global Emotions report was recently released; it revealed that Americans are among the most highly stressed people in the world. America has the largest Gross Domestic Product in the world, an economy that has enjoyed the highest growth in the world in the past year, and people who live here enjoy more freedoms than people in many other places in the world. Yet, people are still stressed, anxious and worried for many of their waking hours. While we should not be surprised that a high GDP does not lead to decreased stress, the lack of other information available leads me to search for reasons why Americans are so stressed out.

For me, at least one of the answers seems to be embedded in American culture. As a whole, it seems that Americans value success, ambition, innovation and the collection of material possessions. These ideals put pressure on individuals to work towards these values even when they are not particularly important to the individual. Many seek success, financial gain, acquirement of possession not because they strongly identify with these values, but because they feel societal pressure to meet these standards. Social media and the news media just compound this stress.

Social media’s impact is becoming more and more apparent. It creates a space outside of reality where individuals can curate a particular image for themselves, filter and edit photos as they choose and then release those curated images for mass consumption. This allows an individual to project an image of themselves that is not accurate. These images are consumed by other individuals who then become envious of this person’s lifestyle despite its lack of basis in reality. We see an image of a lifestyle that is probably unattainable for most people, we see an individual who is claiming to live that lifestyle, and we assume that we can also find a way to do so. But the reality is that most people are pretending. This pretending leads to positive validation in the form of likes and comments. In essence, people are creating a dishonest version of their life for the purpose of having that dishonest version publicly praised. It is easy to see how this can lead to a disconnection from our true, genuine selves with individual values. How can that lead to anything resembling joy or happiness?

The images used to market products to us are not dissimilar to the images we are finding more and more on social media. In fact, many regular people who post on social media are now being approached to market products, which creates even more pressure for them to maintain an image. We also feel the need to purchase these products in order to attain a similar lifestyle to the person we observe on social media. This leads people to overspend, get into massive amounts of debt, and feel no better off for what they have spent their money on. Thus the cycle continues as that debt often causes long-term financial issues. Those that consume social media are constantly being marketed to both by the people they follow and by independent advertisers that now have unfettered access to their personal browsing and shopping habits. This compounds the problem, leading to more impulsive purchases and increased debt.

While the above addresses the burdens of financial debt and pressure to maintain a certain image, the current political climate must also play a large part in American stress levels. Since the election in 2016, the country has never felt more divided. Both sides are absolutely sure that they know what is right 100% of the time. This has lead to a severe lack of connection and lack of dialogue between people with differing viewpoints. If we avoid people who have different political beliefs than us, we are cutting out nearly 50% of the population, and basically judging their entire character based on what candidate they support. We are closing ourselves off when we are not able to see past a single viewpoint. We are creating a climate of adversarial interactions where people always feel like they are on the defensive. This is no way to create a dialogue. As a result we are losing our sense of connection to others, which is essential for feelings of well-being.

Many of these issues come from our individual attachments, to our beliefs, to our political views, and mostly to being right. We seek information that confirms our beliefs, and we block out the information that does not. We actually have less of a role in this than we might think. Internet search algorithms are designed to lead us to a space where our firmly held beliefs will be confirmed, and those opposing ideas are filtered out. This leads to a lack of empathy for anyone but the group that we identify with. This is a dangerous direction for a nation to be headed. We need to close our computers, put down our phones, and try to see and accept one another.


About Rich Brodt
I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 2 ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 2
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

As I said in my last blog, dark nights of the soul result from the pressures building under the oceanic tectonic plates of our unconscious worldview, readying to propel a tsunami that will forever rearrange our surface lives.

But before we proceed further, more definitions are in order, including spiritual transformation, soul from a religious perspective, clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder, and sadness.

In an earlier blog I discussed spiritual , and basically it’s what brings meaning to our lives, usually through our sacred practices, disciplines, and rituals. Dark nights of the soul occur when that meaning fails us.

Our psyche is pushing for an upgrade to our operating system

We then work harder at our sacred disciplines, blaming ourselves for the fact that what used to bring us a measure of peace doesn’t anymore. Advice from well-meaning people increases the pain: “You must not be mediating right or long enough. You need a retreat.” Or “Well, God doesn’t change, so it must be you. What are you doing wrong?” And more.

What’s happened is that we’ve outgrown our world picture, our worldview—it’s not working anymore. AND THAT’S OKAY. Our psyche is pushing for an upgrade, time to update that old operating system or maybe jettison it in its entirety. Crudely summarizing John of the Cross’ reasons for a dark night: we have incomplete and inadequate ideas about ourselves and/or God—however we define Ultimate Reality. The box we’ve put ourselves in can’t contain us anymore, and it’s not meant to.

This upgrade comes in the form of spiritual transformation, which will leave us with a greater sense of who we are and our purpose in this world. Perhaps our outdated meaning was passed onto us by our parents, our teachers, or our culture. We’ve never consciously made it our own, but unconsciously let it rule our lives. And when it’s time for these unconsciously appropriated beliefs to shift, along comes those dark nights.

It’s time to examine our motives and the foundation of our values, ideas, and belief systems. These drive our actions and determine what’s still serving us.

That’s what being an adult means. We take responsibility for our lives and the choices we make. We are not under the control of unexamined beliefs and values anymore. We may decide to return to those, but we will do so consciously. Our psyche refuses to stay an adolescent.

Linking soul with genuineness and one’s true nature

I defined soul in my last blog from a Jungian perspective. What follows are from major world religions. Keep in mind these are basic definitions—and subject to controversy by various schools of thought and accredited meaning inherent in each spiritual tradition.

• Hindu: Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means inner self or soul. In Hindu philosophy Ātman is the first principle, the true or real self or essence of an individual (Wikipedia).

Buddhism subscribes to an Anatta doctrine, translated variously: No-soul, No-self, egolessness, and soullessness. The Buddha regarded soul-speculation as useless and illusory (Wikipedia).

Judaism: From the Hebrew scriptures, Genesis 2:7: God did not make a body and put soul into it, like putting shoes in a box, but God formed the body from dust and then by breathing divine life into it (nepesh, or breath), the body of dust became alive, it became a living being. Nepesh refers to the principle of life in any living organism, just like any other living creature. A tree does tree things; an elephant does elephant things. A doctrine of an immortal soul in Judaism developed later through the interaction of the Greek philosophies of the separation of soul and body (1).

•The Christian scriptures use the Greek word (psūchê), or psyche, for soul, translating the Hebrew word nepesh for the Greek. It kept the original meaning, however, of nepesh, or breath, or of a living, breathing, conscious being, which initially did not have an intent of an immortal soul. Later, the Biblical Patristic writers would adopt the Greek interpretation for soul as a separate, immortal entity (2).

Islam uses the Arabic word which includes several definitions, one of which is a person’s essential, immortal self (Wikipedia).

And it’s not necessarily either/or

Clinical depression is the layman’s term for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), its symptoms laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (see Note 3, with the symptoms included at the end of this blog under Depression DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria). An MDD diagnosis for a mental health professional centers around determining for how long, and to what degree, these symptoms persist in an individual’s life and whether or not he/she still finds joy in everyday life. Can the sufferer still enjoy a good book? A good movie? A night out on the town with friends? Hiking in the woods? How is the individual functioning in life’s daily routine?

And it’s not either/or—we’re not limited to a dark night OR a MDD—but it’s often and/but. Sometimes life throws many stressors at us at one time—death of a loved one, a job change, a divorce, a cross-country move—and pharmacological interventions can help us get over the hump. These same events often then act as dark nights when they strike “you at the core of your existence. It’s not just a feeling, but a rupture at the core of your very being, and it may take a long while to get to the other end of it” (4).

Sadness or depression?

Sadness intertwines itself with depression. How to discern what’s going on? Sadness is a normal emotion, usually triggered by external life events, such as the passing of a pet, the moving away of a friend, or loss of a job. But one can still find pleasures and joy in everyday life. And with time, it will go away.

Sadness in depression, however, needs no external trigger. But it isn’t just the degree of sadness, but the combination of factors in a MDD as noted above: how long, and to what degree, these symptoms persist in an individual’s life, whether or not he/she still finds joy in everyday life, and is the individual able to function in life’s daily routine (see Note 5 for a link for more details on sadness).

As oceanic tectonic plate shifts wound the ocean skin with its tearing apart, dark nights of our soul do the same. Author Jean Houston writes, “The wounding becomes sacred when we are willing to release our old stories and to become the vehicles through which the new story may emerge into time.”

More on this in my next blog. Meanwhile, honor your psyche by paying attention to the energies moving in your soul. Watch for when your true essence buried within you is seeking a passage  out to the light of day!

_________

Notes & Sources:

  1. 1. Atkinson, David. The Message of Genesis 1-11. Inter-Varsity Press. 1990. Pages 55-59.
  2. 2. Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Volume IX, page 55. Fleming H. Revell Company. 1966.
  3. 3. American Psychiatric Association. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). See also: https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/
  4. 4. The best resource I have found on determining if it’s a dark night of the soul or a clinical depression requiring the attention of a mental health professional is Thomas Moore’s book, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Penguin Random House. 2004.
  5. 5. https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

_________

Depression DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria: The DSM-5 outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

a. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.

b. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.

c. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.

d. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).

e. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.

f. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.

g. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

h. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition. For more details, see https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

_________

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.

How Well are You? ll By Rich Brodt

How Well are You?
By Rich Brodt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The environmental dimension, while important, is often overlooked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality ll By Erin Amundson

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality
By Erin Amundson

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The Importance of Taking Care Pt. 2 ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care Pt. 2
By Rich Brodt

 

In my last post, I focused somewhat disproportionately on the external financial pressures that many of us feel as business owners, and how those pressures can lead to poor self-care. There is another side to this coin.

As healing professionals, our product is us.

It is the space we make for our clients, it is our background, our experience and our genuine self that the client is paying for. It is important that, as much as possible, this is what we deliver.

When life is difficult, when stress is really running high, the easiest thing for any of us to do is withdraw. Withdraw from our friends, family, our feelings, and most of all our selves. When we are having a hard time, the tendency is to hide that from those around us. It feels vulnerable.

But spending time with the people in our lives who support us is one of the most important ways we take care of ourselves.

When we spend time with those who we love and respect and receive mutual love and respect in return it validates who we are. We should not always need this type of validation, but it is important that we have people in our lives who make us feel good about who we are – who fully accept us. When people reflect our positive qualities we become more at ease with who we are and more able to make space for others. This can be difficult for those who have not built a strong support network, but within our community there are always opportunities for group supervisions, workshops and classes. These are all great ways to connect with like-minded people.

That being said, connecting in the ways mentioned above is not for everyone. There is not a single right way to take care of yourself. Different things work for different people, though there are certainly some favorites. Cardiovascular exercise such as biking or running works for many people, as does hiking or swimming. Generally, anything that gets you moving and leads to improved overall health is a good start. Meditation, yoga and other mindfulness-based practices seem to help quite a bit as well.

However, self-care takes on many different formats, and I do not think it should be so narrowly focused.

When trying to choose a hobby or activity, I often ask people to think back to a time where they completed something that was not related to their career and felt a sense of satisfaction upon that completion. Was it a horrible portrait you painted of your dog? A 14er you summited? A computer you built from scratch? A haiku you scribbled in a bathroom stall? The point is that it does not matter what it is. There is no right way to live and there is no right way to care for yourself. But we all need to seek some sort of joy outside of what we do for a living.

What brings you joy?

We can only identify with our careers so much. When this gets out of balance we lose a sense of our self. Seeking outside activities or hobbies that help to bring us a sense of meaning go a long way toward rebuilding the self and regaining a sense of balance.


About the Author

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

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

720.295.1352 or RichardBrodt@Elevatedcounseling.org; http://elevatedcounseling.org

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

From a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

He penned this on April 16, 1963, and would be assassinated five years later, on April 4, 1968.

Last week we honored his birth. His largeness overwhelms me—not his size, but his activism against injustices. And there are others: Mahatma Ghandi; Mother Teresa; Nelson Mandela; Gloria Steinem; Cesar Chavez; Rachel Carson and Steve Biko—to name only a few of the greats.

While working in Peshawar with Afghan refugees and the reconstruction efforts of their war-torn country after 10 years of fighting Soviet occupation, all my Afghan friends had plans for how I could help them rebuild their nation. The war had destroyed their nation’s infrastructure of bridges, roads, schools, and irrigation systems. My education and experience were in the architectural/engineering field and that’s where I focused my energy—an easy choice for me.

But life in the States today proffers a crush of struggles. My days in Peshawar didn’t include internet media depicting a global non-stop volley of suffering and grief.

“What can I do?” becomes our common cry. Paralysis slides in to protect us from so much angst and its accompanying stress.

We can fall back on a supportive quote attributed to Dr. King:

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

And just empathy—entering into another person’s pain—isn’t enough. It eventually extracts an emotional toll on our bodies. Compassion takes us to the next step: doing something.

We are back to spirituality in daily life. Can we—and should we—include activism as part of our spiritual path? Dr. King certainly believed so.

“Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest” (1).

All major religious traditions include acts of compassion in their practices; if we say we love, the suffering of others ought to move us to do something (2). Our souls/psyches/spirits do have the capacity to live with—and to a measure, move through grief—otherwise why do our greatest loves die and leave us physically? But we’re not made to carry as much grief as we’re bombarded with daily. I’ve become especially careful about pictures and videos imprinting themselves on my psyche through social media. I control how much grief enters my life.

How to start:

1.Choose your passion (see non-exhaustive list below). Where you will focus your attention? As I run through my never ending list of injustices that need righted, I listen to my deepest self. It becomes part of my spiritual practice, my spiritual discipline. Where shall I focus my attention, and hence my energy?

2. Know thyself—what are your strengths? Do you tend toward extroversion or introversion? Where do your gifts lie? Author Madeleine L’Engle tells the story how she was asked to make a cake for her young child’s school function. The cake flopped, and she told the teacher that while she couldn’t cook, she could write a play for the children to perform, and that’s what she did.

3. Recognize your commitments and/or limitations. Are you raising a young family and/or working full-time? A full-time student? A primary caretaker to an aging parent? Limited in physical mobility? Perhaps you can still make a few phone calls to your elected officials or write letters. As your children grow, include them as much as possible—be an example.

A partial list of injustices follows that we read about daily. Pay attention to what pings your spirit—and then write that down. If your list ends up too long, read that list also, and watch for greater movement within you for one or the other. Which sorrow marks your soul? Which one (or two) leaves a deeper and more painful impression?

It’s like going to the eye doctor: “Which one is clearer? Slide one or slide two?” “This one [pause] or this one?”

Watch for other ideas springing up from these words; these are clues, saying, “Walk this way.”

•Chemicals killing our bees.

•Pollutants in our freshwater supplies.

•Pollutants in our soil.

•Plastics and computers in the ocean.

•The dying off of insects due to chemicals.

•Our nation’s wealth inequalities.

•Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

•Women’s rights.

•Rights of children.

•LGBTQ+ rights.

•Our nation’s war machine.

•Melting polar caps.

•Corporations writing our nation’s laws, vs. elected representatives.

•Disenfranchised voters.

•Abused dogs.

•The international trade in endangered species.

•Unfettered access to weapons.

•Our nation’s lack of decent public transportation, forcing dependency on the automobile and oil and gas industry.

•Corporate greed and bullying for our nation’s natural resources, often at the expense of our nation’s natural heritage—our national, state, and county forests, parks, and reserves.

•The weakening of laws protecting our nation’s air, water, and ground supplies, thus threatening our children’s health.

•The anti-nuclear movement.

Keep in mind that just as life changes—the children grow, the aging relative passes on—so might your passions and giftings ebb and flow. Don’t let society or the status quo dictate to you what injustice you fight or what shape that battle takes. Let Dr. King be your example.

______

Notes & Sources:

1. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929-1968) Pastor, Civil Rights Activist, Morehouse College 1948. http://hbcustory.org/on-conviction-martin-luther-king-jr-morehouse-college-48/

2. Contemporary author on religion Karen Armstrong has written extensively on how compassion flows alongside the cruelties of fundamentalism which raises its head in all religions, through all the centuries. Les Miserable plays itself out continually in our societies through Victor’s Hugo’s character Inspector Javert, as we balance the God of Mercy with the God of Judgment.

3. https://charterforcompassion.org/ The mission of the Charter for Compassion: “To that end we support and work to achieve the seventeen sustainable goals of the United Nations.”

4.  https://www.thenation.com/article/fifty-most-influential-progressives-twentieth-century/


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.

How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ll By Brenda Bomgardner

What’s It All About? – How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Brenda Bomgardner

 

If you’re like many people, you may have an inner voice telling you things like you’re worthless or that no one wants you. Every day, an exhausting battle may rage inside of you.

Sometimes you try to push back against all those negative thoughts, but they come crashing through anyways.

In fact, trying to counter your negative self-talk only seems to make things worse. Spiraling down quickly, it often feels like there’s no relief in sight.

Now, imagine that there’s a way to counter the effects of negative thinking without pushing back or repressing your thoughts.

That’s what acceptance and commitment therapy is all about.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Unlike other coping skills—where you try to avoid negative thoughts or drown them out—acceptance and commitment therapy involves shifting your thinking to more productive outcomes.

This is accomplished by:

• Becoming more aware of your actions
• Recognizing what you consider to be your own values
• Making a commitment to act

The idea behind acceptance and commitment therapy is to face those negative thoughts in a more productive way.

It can be very difficult to drown out or counter negative thoughts, especially if they have been deeply ingrained into your thinking. However, acceptance and commitment therapy empowers you to choose what to do about thoughts.

Decide on Acceptance and Take Action

When you practice acceptance and commitment therapy, you utilize a process to make decisions independent of your negative thoughts.

For example, let’s say that you struggle with feelings of low self-worth based on negative experiences in childhood. When you think “I am worthless” you suddenly now have a choice. You can decide whether to take action right now to address this negative thought and might enter into a battle with the thoughts. You might try to counter the negative thought with a positive thought. You can spend a lot of time and energy in the battle and feel like you’re spinning your wheels and the thought keeps coming back. Here’s the deal. You can battle with your thought or you can act on creating behaviors that infuse your life with meaningfulness and fulfillment. You can act independent of your thoughts and/or feelings. You can accept a thought or feeling as a process your mind does based on your learning history and work towards making behavior changes.

Make a Commitment

Another important part of this process is making a commitment not to push back against those emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Often, what causes people emotional distress is their attempt to push back or fight thoughts or feelings they find distressful. However, this frequently only causes them even more unnecessary pain and suffering.

When you commit to stop pushing back, and begin to be willing to accept your feelings you can begin to approach these issues from a new perspective and make changes based on what you truly value.

Why Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Helpful?

Perhaps the biggest reason why acceptance and commitment therapy is helpful is that you are no longer trying to avoid painful thoughts or feelings.

If you have thoughts about your low self-worth, you may be tempted to “numb” those thoughts through drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, you may try to bottle those thoughts and feelings up inside. Any attempt to release them causes you loads of emotional pain.

Let’s face it, this may temporarily work for you. But avoidance doesn’t really solve the larger problem. You still carry uncomfortable and unwanted emotions around you, and eventually, it will come out one way or another. Acknowledging to yourself that you have and experience painful feelings and thoughts transform them.

How to Practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

To practice this technique, it’s helpful to work with a therapist who understands acceptance and commitment therapy.

While it may be hard to discuss painful memories and difficult emotions with anyone, a therapist will be able to support you through the process. They can also help you find alternatives for viewing these thoughts and emotions so that they need not be compounded by the fight against pain causing distress for you.

If negative thinking is an issue and fighting those thoughts is causing you problems, consider acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll likely find that by finding acceptance and committing to changing your thinking based on your own personal values, you will find relief and peace of mind.


To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page

About the Author: Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career. One of her greatest joys in her career is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. And the path to reaching your life’s purpose is as unique as each individual. We all have dreams. Step by step she will walk with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor and specializes in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. Before becoming a therapist, she completed a successful 17 year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. On a personal note she loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page, https://brendabomgardner.com/brenda-bomgardner/

The Importance of Taking Care ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care

By Rich Brodt for People House Blogs

Folks in the helping professions tend to have pretty good awareness of the idea of self-care. However, that does not always mean we put it into practice. I regularly hear of helping professionals slipping into substance abuse, bad habits and unhealthy relationship patterns regardless of the fact that they are regularly able to help other individuals though the same issues. It is likely that they even talk about self-care with their clients, yet have a difficult time applying the principles to themselves.

Most of us in the helping professions are self-employed and run our own businesses. We tend to identify with our business and genuinely feel the ups and downs, and financial pressures that can lead us to poor self-care.

We will not take time off, because we need to get those appointments in, and meet our year-end goals.

We agonize over a tough case instead of coming home and transitioning out of work mode. We skip a workout to return a call or do some other inane task that will have negligible effect on our business. These things do not help us feel good, and these things do not make us better at our jobs. When we start to lose control of how we take care of ourselves, things become disorganized, jumbled and stressful. We lose track of the borders between our personal and professional lives. This can lead to a state of both exhaustion constant stress.

I believe that exhaustion, stress and anxiety are all made much worse by a lack of boundaries. The boundaries may be absent in one’s work life, one’s home life, or both.

In my experience, if a person has poor boundaries, they usually apply those poor boundaries to all aspects of their lives.

By definition, boundaries are intended to mark limits. Without them, we constantly push past our limits and have little left for ourselves. Since most helping professionals have a tendency to be on the more empathic side, this can have really negative consequences. If we are constantly pushed past our limits, we have a very difficult time trying to regain our center.

When you mention boundaries to a client, they often react with fear at having to set and maintain boundaries. After all, it is not uncommon for the setting of limits to be met with conflict. When you mention them to other professionals they react in much the same way. They do not want to leave their clients high and dry during difficult times.

The desire to help comes from a good place, but often leaves the helper feeling exhausted.

When we lose track of our boundaries we have a hard time differentiating between our own feelings and the feelings of others. This can lead to some difficult situations if we are not careful. If we consistently maintained poor boundaries, we’d all run into an ethical problem eventually.

As far as I am concerned, the first step in taking care of oneself is identifying and setting boundaries. Once we gain more control over our time, we are able to focus on our own needs. My next entry will continue on this topic, focusing on ways to identify and meet our own needs.


 

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

2727 Bryant Street Suite 550 Denver, CO 80211

People House Denver, 3035 W. 25th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

December 5, International Volunteer Day: Who you been giving it to?* ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dec. 5, International Volunteer Day: Who you been giving it to?*
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.‘Tis the season that brings out the good in us through donations of our time and/or money. Who and what are the recipients of your life?

Peshawar, Pakistan, fall of 1992.

We sat on our sunny veranda drinking coffee with a visiting professor from the United States who had his PhD in Hydrology and Water Management.

“I had a contract with the Pakistani government, but I realized that my efforts to improve Pakistan’s irrigation systems were only helping rich landowners. I wanted to help the poor, so I quit,” said Dr. J. Maurice.

Dr. Maurice knew that by increasing the wealth of the elites, not only was he not helping the poor, he was shoring up the institutional systems that kept the poor dis-empowered.

I met Dr. Maurice in Peshawar when I attended a course he taught sponsored by the International Rescue Committee, an organization that aids refugees and people whose lives are crushed by conflict and disaster. His class focused on providing sustainable and low-tech water supply and sanitation options for poor people in developing nations—people whom governments and the wealthy bypassed.

In 1991 my husband and I moved to Peshawar with our two sons. We’d met Afghans back in the States through a USAID-sponsored study abroad program which, over the duration of three years, brought more than 100 Afghans to the University of Nebraska. Because the Soviets were withdrawing from their 10-year occupation of Afghanistan, our friends had persuaded us to come over and help them rebuild their shattered country: Mike would work in health and I in reconstruction projects.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

For social change, we followed the example set by an 1800s English politician named William Wilberforce, who spent most of his professional career as a leader in the movement to stop the slave trade.

Wilberforce worked to change the INSTITUTION of slavery and fought powerful politicians and landowners who defended their rights to own people. He spent decades  battling down the structural elements embedded in Britain’s political and economic systems which believed it was okay to own, beat, rape, and starve to death other human beings—all for financial gain.

Alongside Wilberforce’s efforts to demolish the institution of slavery were groups who worked to improve the basic conditions of the enslaved, such as humanizing their living situations and providing free health care and clothing—band aids basically—treating the symptoms vs. the disease.

And in aid work, both structural changes and band aids are needed.

During our 20 years of striving internationally for social justice by changing the institutional systems that kept people poor, something flipped in the United States. Religious establishments and non-profits began to model their organizations after private enterprise. They filled their boards with successful business people. Leaders in groups such as Philanthropy without Borders sought “market-friendly solutions” to extinguish poverty.

It all felt “off” to us. Our goals of changing unjust social institutions seemed at odds with the wealthy who benefited from these institutions. Think U.S. mortgage crisis of 2008.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of private enterprise as an essential tool in fighting poverty. I’ve seen how one cow through the sale of its milk buys education and healthcare for a Tanzanian family; how one electric mixer opens up the door for an enterprising young woman to make and sell desserts for the Muslim’s Eid holiday; how one propane gas grill creates a restaurant—and jobs—in a remote Indonesian village.

And now, Anand Giridharadas, in his 2018 book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, articulates why it felt so off (1).

Giridharadas presents familiar statistics, in that in the past 35 years, the average pretax income of the bottom half of Americans has stayed almost precisely the same—that’s 117 million Americans who’ve been left out of the benefits of progress. But the pretax income of the top tenth has doubled, the top 1 percent has tripled, and the top 0.001 percent has increased by seven times.

Out of this wealthy one percent have emerged philanthropists eager to change the world—but on their terms. Elites have assumed leadership of social change, reshaping what social change is, and in the process, they protect the institutions that created their wealth.  

How corporations make their fortunes and any serious social consequences are conveniently ignored as discussion topics.

In Asia, resource extraction industry CEOs would approach Mike, asking him to head up their health clinics (he always refused) in order to fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR) piece. They needed to “give back” to the community—by contributing a negligible percentage of their profits to social issues.

“Make our employees healthy after we’ve poisoned their drinking water through our unregulated gold mining operations—and because the government doesn’t provide any healthcare,” they’d infer, while the wives of CEOs bragged about their new Mercedes’ they’d waggled out of the predatory corporations. CSR sugar-coated the human rights’ abuses and environmental blight they created, aided and abetted by government-sanctioned poverty and environmental destruction.

Government-controlled media extolled the virtues of how these profitable companies had installed clinics in remote jungles, while these same governments refused access to outside journalists for fear of them exposing human rights’ violations.

The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens.

Anand Giridharadas

 

Giridharadas tells of the Even app to download on your phone—for a fee of $260 per year. Even’s mission as laid out on their website is to “end the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.” It says that, “More than 50 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. We’re trying to fix that, by building new financial services that make it easier to make ends meet, pay down debt, and save money.” It’s basically a banking app that tells you how much is in your account.

But according to Giridharadas, the unaddressed and sidelined institutional issues of the Even app include the increasing practice of employing people intermittently “and the new on-demand economy that left many eternally chasing work instead of building livelihoods.” This on-demand economy often offers no pension plan and or paid time off—thereby generating more predatory corporate profits. Paychecks fluctuate weekly. Even encourages businesses to offer its services as a benefit to its employees—employees who stagger under the predatory effects of the same corporate employers.

Ergo, the creators of the Even app protect their wealth-producing systems and make money off the disadvantaged, calling it a “win-win” situation.

“The only thing better than controlling money and power is to control the efforts to question the distribution of money and power. The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens,” Giridharadas says.

In other words, with a near monopoly on wealth and power, the elites of our country are changing society in ways that do not change the underlying economic system from which their wealth flows—and they end up with a near monopoly on the benefit of change.

Who will decide what the requisite reforms of our common life ought to look like?

Will these reforms be led by governments elected by and accountable to its citizens? Or by patronizing wealthy elites claiming to know our best interests? And what needs changed? For starters, let’s talk about the rising inequalities of income, wealth and opportunities. Or how about political campaign finance reform, and the corruption and capture of politics and institutions through unregulated corporate and individual political influence. And then there’s education reform, ending the voucher practice of siphoning off tax dollars to private education to the death of public education—where most children are still educated.

In 1985 the United Nations mandated December 5 as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, with particular emphasis on volunteer contributions to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at local, national, and international levels (2).

Unless we have anesthetized ourselves against its commercialism, this month of holidays brings out the giving in us. We give our lives and energy in the form of time and/or financial resources—sometimes to strangers. So please, go ahead and put on those band aids, but at the same time look for ways to change the system!

                                               I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me,                 and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible …. except by getting off his back.

Leo Tolstoy, What Then Must We Do?

Who you been giving it to?*

 

*I owe this phrase to Northern Arizona blues singer and song writer Tommy Dukes https://www.facebook.com/Tommy-Dukes-Blues-1464722743832632/

______

Notes & Sources:

1. Giridharadas, Anand. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Alfred      A. Knopf publishers. 1998.

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Volunteer_Day               https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Development_Goals

______
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 People House 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.

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

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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

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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/

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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

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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

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth