Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

 

Stress and Anxiety – Synonymous with life in the current culture.  Sometimes we are oblivious to its impact on our very lives.  At other times we minimize or rationalize it, “normal” for  living in today’s world.  As a therapist for many years, I have a unique perspective of how this all works – on our beliefs, attitudes and relationships.  Emotions, real and perceived have a powerful effect on our lives and lifestyle we choose to follow.  One way humans are unique in the mammal world is that we can create stress with a thought.  Compare that with a deer.  When they perceive a threat, they go into high alert with all the stress hormones working together to assess and deal with the threat.  When the threat passes, they quickly return to their regular routine, all body systems operating at the parasympathetic level – meaning relaxed and ok.  We have an 18 yr.  old cat that reminds us daily of these differences.  For many years, I lived the life of worker bee with the passion to help others and a desire to be seen in a positive light from others around me and in the community.  When I did take time for myself, I tried to manage a marriage, exercised, went to church and tried to create the best home life for my children.  In other words, time was at a premium and stress levels were high.  As life would have it , there were more bumps in my life than I had anticapated.

Get ready.  I hadn’t intended to get divorced or co-parent and found myself coping with the stigmas of relationship failures and parenting challenges.   In my 20’s I went through 2 divorces and had one child.  In my 30’s I had another marriage and another child and later in my 40’s I had another divorce.  I couldn’t figure out why my life wasn’t going according to this grand plan that I had dreamed up.   I was filled with anxieties that I had no vocabulary for.  I was educated in the realm of social work, had spent many years in service to helping others have a better life, yet didn’t have the answers or understanding to tune into what I needed to change.    From a young age I was passionate about helping and relationships. Unfortunately, the road to understanding was long.  Despite theses  failures life did take some wonderful turns after the decision was made to find the way in to understand myself and tap into the wisdoms of my heart.  My son introduced me to this quote from Samuel Beckett that is now a tatoo of character:  Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. 

I walked the walk and tried to fit the mold and still wonder why I missed the many flags along the way.   I sometimes ponder the life that would have been if I had really understood the ways of anxiety, mood and thought.  I walked around with chronic anxiety and didn’t even know it. Now, I am realizing new perspectives of hardships and challenges that all humans have in one way or another.  Joe Dispenza refers to genetic destiny as the path that many will follow based on the learnings and conditionings of their earlier life, sometimes way earlier life.  We bring into this life emotional DNA which is related to the physical DNA characteristics we are born with.  Some refer to these energies as karma or perhaps past lives and there are many theories about this phenomenon.  My focus keys into the choices we have at various times throughout our lives.  These choices involve questioning ourselves and learning lessons we need to learn given our soul essences.  We can make changes and are not locked into our genetic destinies if we make the choice to do so.   “Be all you can be” or “Live up to your potential” or “You have to go through the fire to get to the gold” are some of the phrases that come to mind related to these critical times in our life.  Failures can turn into successes beyond our knowledge at the given time.  The key here is intention.  What do you really, really want.  I really wanted healthy love relationships.  Later on in my life path I met my husband; the one I had envisioned in my heart but not been able to realize until I had made significant changes and learned the lessons life was giving me.  Other positive and supportive  relationships have evolved and hopefully will continue.  Learning is a life long pursuit as they say…and very good for brain health…challenging the status quo and stepping into the unknown.

I recently returned from a conference in Sedona, AZ where the energies of the earth are particularly strong.  I was reminded again of the importance of stepping out of the comfort zone to “Embracing Bliss” (the name of the conference) where many new and creative ideas were shared and experienced.  Prior to this conference, I had decided to read and implement some of the practices of one of the presenters.  Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza was the book that tapped into my mind.  Learning ways to quiet the mind and be in the zone of No-thing the goal.  To design the life you desire and taking the steps on this path to see it manifest are highlighted in the book.  Mind blowing, yet I was open to experiment and work the steps so to speak.  Sometimes we are drawn to things – books, experiences, opportunities etc. that make us Feel.  This is the time for questioning yourself and following up on the draw of emotion in the response to whatever grabbed you.  I learned that about 60% of us humans have addictive behaviors that cause us suffering and that the keys include knowledge about ourselves and practices to tap into this self…and the better we know ourselves the less we fear change.

A primary job of a therapist is to help others tap into that inner self that really does know what to do and release those negative beliefs/emotions that have caused untold havoc.  We all have the secret knowledge and keys to a good life underneath all the stress layers formed over time.  The puzzle is how to tap into it without having to retreat from life and meditate/pray for long hours.  Greg Braden, researcher, scientist and spiritual teacher spoke about the heart brain – that our hearts contain 40,000 sensory neurons that are active in affecting our behaviors.  It’s where the wisdom lies in a sense.  You may have heard the phrase, “Listen to your heart”; now there is science to back this up.  Heartmath’s website indicates that “the heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes—actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect – it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.”  I purchased a bio-feedback tool that connects with your heartrate, measures the variability of the beats and lets you know when you are “out of coherence”.  It works with a smartphone and an app.  Finally, a gadget I could figure out!

When you learn how to tap into this inner wisdom, there is the potential to access deep intuition on demand.

Heart/brain coherence practice: 

The best part is the ease of this practice.  There are 3 steps.

  1. Touch your heart with your hand of fingers, whatever feels comfortable.
  2. Breath into your heart and slow down your breath just a little.  Maybe count to 5 on the inhale and the exhale.
  3. Think/experience gratitude, thoughts of appreciation, compassion or love for at least 3 minutes.
  4. Notice how you feel.

This has been powerful as I have worked with this practice and have seen the benefits in with those I teach it to.  I encourage you to research this and practice yourself.  It does involve closing your eyes from the environment that is so seductive with all its constant distractions.  We can easily succumb to the addictions of stress hormones of the daily grind but the power of really getting our heart’s desires is to create this quiet state; to really listen to what it is your heart – true self really needs to create happiness.  Couples that can enter this practice together have the potential to bypass trouble and create the life best for each other.  I am excited to experiment and see the results.    Let’s get to work!

 

 

 

Wake up and Change – The Search for Inspiration

 

 

A book ran across my screen last week…. and for some reason I paused and read the summary.  The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry MD is about the “hidden dangers” in healthy foods.  These types of books don’t normally stick but I started reading immediately and just finished it.  Audio books, for me, are a great invention as I can walk around, be active and still read.   I was immediately inspired.  There is no logical answer as to why.  I felt my body engage – motivation to keep reading was on and I felt “obsessed” to understand it.  This is a book about change – how to change your body by changing your gut.  I frequently see adds and info on products, weight loss strategies, and ways to improve health and usually skim through them.  I haven’t made significant changes to my diet for a couple of years and that was only because I had to when my husband decided to be a vegan; meaning no dairy, meat or animal products.  I adjusted to a moderated diet and considered myself a vegetarian that ate fish.  I chose not to be rigid or restrictive in my choices because for me, being flexible felt healthier.  Nevertheless, it was a change.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed changes in my body related to resilience, joints, muscle pain and energy.  I’ve tried to “figure it out” and find ways to reverse these symptoms.  I’ve had some successes but problems remain.  Pain on any level is a motivator so if you are a positive thinker, there it is!  Soon, another type of change is coming….one that will significantly alter the way I think about food and the way I consume it.   Some time back, I wrote a blog on “My fat story” which highlighted my journey as an obese child/teen and how I came to grips with it, made changes and moved forward.  I needed to be strict with myself for some time as that was the only way my mind could think of to lose weight. My memory of these major diet changes connects with the original Weight Watchers program in the 70’s.  Yes, I ate cans of french style beans and tuna fish, the ones where you could run your finger around the can’s edges and see the gray residues.  I was allowed 2 slices a day of Sweetheart white bread, hot dogs with mustard (no ketchup) once a week and lots of chicken, iceberg lettuce and weight watchers salad dressing sold in tiny packets filled with preservatives.  This was followed by diet soda, artificial sweeteners and an array of sugar free jello desserts.  You may be getting the picture of how much I was influenced by the culture – far removed from healthy human development but capitalism and the ads of the 60’s were in full swing – the power of the spin.  We all continue to be onslaught by media only far more and most people’s minds are spinning – which is part of the increased anxiety symptoms seen and high demands for mental health care.  More and more I am seeing the urgency to wake up from the culture spin and find truth an as I find strategies to coax myself out of this culture coma I experience many rewards.  When I started my study of essential oils, my knowledge was limited – basically started from scratch.  This relationship with the oils of nature has evolved and grown to include an even bigger perspective.  Now, on to repairing and finding ways to support my gut buddies as Dr. Gundry calls them.  His book is filled with knowledge of our guts chemistry and alchemy to keep us humans going.  He also has a history of being obese and trying all kinds of things to find a healthy weight and body.

Greatness begins with inspiration.   Now, I’m ready to sweat a bit and do the research needed to begin this life change.  First, it’s understanding to a reasonable degree what the science is and since I’ve “felt” it to be worth doing now, to balance this felt sense with logic.   Remember the Logic of Love and Emotion?  That is one of the central themes of creating healthy love relationships –  love is a feeling and creating a healthy relationship is work.  Tools are the communication skills.   In positive relationships this work has many rewards vs in unhealthy relationships this work may feel endless, discouraging or frequently frustrating.   I refer to the spin couples can find themselves in as emotional allergies.  Over time, we’ve all seen the impact of these emotional spins.  Creating a healthy body while in a healthy relationship – consider the potential!

Loving ourselves is where the power is yet we need the power and gifts of nature to help.  I am beginning to see a human-plant relationship in my thinking!  Dr. Gundry states, “My philosophy centers around the fact that the human digestive system is a very complex and very sensitive machine. It needs key energy sources that you’re not getting in your diet… and at the same time, it’s damaged by a vast number of foods that are a big part of our “Standard American Diet.”  What I’m learning is the importance of Polyphenols, the negative effects of lectins found in many types of processed and unproperly cooked foods, and finding the balance of bacteria in your gut.  As a therapist I am more keenly aware of the brain and the need to take care of it.  Its health is intimately entwined with our digestive system.  This isn’t new information but like I said I was inspired to take a closer look at what I was feeding my brain/body.  I want to feel better too!   I want an intimate relationship with my own body. The more we understand about our bodies the better we will be able to control what’s going on with it.    This will require some changes to my daily routines and have already spent a few days discarding foods like peanuts, cashews, breads and crackers, processed salad dressings and paying close attention to the labels of things to avoid additives.  Just in the few days that I’ve tried some of the changes my body has given me “I like you” signals. I’m happy about the dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee part.  Red wine can keep its place from time to time as well.  The book identifies lists of say yes to foods and say no to foods that seem handy enough.  I ‘m gathering my materials.  He reminds people that one can start where they need to start and only gives suggestions.  I’m excited and will keep you posted.

Winter is a challenging season for many reasons we are all familiar with.  Foot soaks with dead sea salts and essential oils soothes and provides vital minerals and magnesium that most of us need more of.  Earlier this month, I participated in a health fair sponsored by Natural Grocers in Fargo.  The individuals I visited with had genuine interest in essential oils and the holistic concepts of health.  Let’s keep the awareness going.  Maybe I should have added that to the Women’s march agenda last weekend.  My sign may have read -Support Natural Health Care NOW!  Somehow, my inspiration didn’t coax me out the door into the cold of Fargo.   Finally, Green Organics has a new line of hemp products which I am excited to try.  The hemp is grown in Kentucky and is organic.  It is naturally rich in Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 Essential Fatty Acids.  It comes in drops which you place under the tongue.  BTW it is 100% legal.  HBNaturals, the sister company of goDesana highlights the same strict quality standards as how essential oils are chosen and tested.  It’s marketed as a full spectrum oil and aids the brain/body in regulating sleep, appetite, pain modulation, mood enhancement and libido through the introduction of hemp-derived cannabinoids like the CBT oil.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. Cannabinoids are designed to promote homeostasis at every level of life.

The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.  This information was gleaned from HBNaturals so I will be searching more sources as I become more aquainted with it.

Don’t worry, no getting high here – just all the other benefits.  For more info check it out at  http://www.hbnaturals.com/newpath

This will be interesting to study and see the results.  I’ll keep an open mind.  For now, learning and experimenting will be on my schedule.  Inspiration can come to you at any moment.  Set an intention to invite this inspiration to come into your life in a surprising/unexpected way.  Take time to mediate or reflect quietly in prayer and get familiar with your thoughts – the ones that are important and the ones you want to send down the river.  Have a great month.  As always, please let me know if I can help you in your health journey.  Life loves you!

 

Emotions/ Lifestyle and Upcoming Classes

 

Summer in Fargo, ND is embraced by most of us who live here as a gift that is time limited. Trees and vegetation are lush and happy; the gardens are growing and the markets are outdoors….like the farmers markets of the city.  The topic today is related to nature, balance and some of the bumps in the road.    I continue to be amazed at the workings of the relationships in the  body.  In my own healing journey I am realizing more and more the power of knowledge and discernment.  Scents that hit our noses are packed full of knowledge in the chemical molecules.  In recent studies from Science AAAS, humans can distinguish up to 1 trillion scents vs the 10,000 that had previously been thought to be our human capacity.  Even those with rather poor sense of smell had the ability to distinguish 80 million.  Our immune network is a vast combination of interactive cellular communities, chemical potions of molecules, and the individual’s daily experience: attitudes, emotions, stresses, and happiness.  The immune organization is truly a body-mind experience.  In one of my classes with Alexandria Brighton, the aromatherapy formulator, we explored the system of the white blood cells defense/types of immune cells and was in awe of the different classes of cells and how they can learn to detect and protect.

 

NK “Natural Killer” cells are the earliest defenders against viral infections, killing virus-infected cells directly within hours of attack, even before the rest of the immune collaboration takes place.  These cells are sensitive to lifestyle and emotions.  This has been measured in the labs: If you are feeling lonely or depressed, your NK cells may become sluggish.  Meditate, find something funny to watch and you pep up these cells. (This validates laughter Yoga and comedy) Previously, I have referred to Candace Pert’s research in emotions and health.  A series of experiments performed in the 1970’s isolated minute chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are used by the nervous system to transmit information, including thought processes, throughout the body.  Scientists were excited to find that these neurotransmitters existed well beyond the physical boundaries of the brain.  They have been found in the adrenal glands of those with anxiety and in their blood as well.  We now know that our immune system does not exist in isolation from our emotions.

 

Alexandria Brighton has developed a line of essential oil blends that target the imbalances of life.  It is called the Release and Restore or Dispel and Restore – they are referred to in both those ways. There are 20 blends targeting fear, victimization, anger, unhealthy relationships, fear, judgement and self-sabotage.  Each negative emotion connects with its positive emotion such as courage, independent self, unconditional love, empathy, prosperity and reality check.  Changes have been observed.  They are a great tool.  I encourage you to research them.  goDesana.com/newpath

 

Google has been in the news lately with the controversial memo about how men and women perform in the workplace: that men may perform better and could handle more work stress.  Women tended to less driven to work insanely long hours and live the good life in corporate America so to speak.  The ability to power work is still glorified.  The series of Mad Men is recalled and the image of those skyscrapers, bars in the offices, and chain smoking and sex on the couches with the secretaries.  Science has not transmuted to our everyday culture yet.  Living a healthy lifestyle is still not the norm but is becoming more popular.  One of the positives of this memo was the response by so many.  People are standing up and noticing.  We are evolving despite what the news, governments and others may say: and this evolution is positive.  Let’s get to work then.  There is a man employed by Google called the Happiness officer.  His job is to teach others the practice of mindfulness and balance. I hope the author of that memo finds his way there.

 

Developing healthy lifestyles is a choice.  The question:  “What is best for me?  What is best for me?  What is really, really best for me?”  These are the questions I pose to those I work with to help the wheels start turning in a creative way.  When there is high stress, there is usually rigid or polarized thinking. (It’s either this way or that) It’s often hard to get out of our usual ruts of thinking and making up things.  Our brains make up solutions if we don’t have them, and sometimes these “solutions” are negative and not in the best interests of our whole self.  Anyone that is challenged with depression or anxiety knows the power of negative and critical self-talk.  These are some of the made-up solutions that I’m referring to.  I created my own business some years ago, It started as a leap out of the employee status motivated by a businessman who frankly told me I shouldn’t do it…that I didn’t have the skill set.  I was after all rather sensitive and with that some of the side effects of focus, anxiety and insecurities.  Still, in my 40’s I ventured out of my own box into the world of creativity and shades of color.  There have been many twists and turns but long story short, it was one of the best decision I ever made.  One common “solution” that my brain came up with was “I won’t have enough money” when my business would slow for some reason and “You must not be a good enough therapist.” When we hear things like this our bodies take it seriously and react in some way.  You may not notice it but it is recorded.   As time passes the jug fills up so to speak and the body has symptoms…all sorts of emotional or physical problems you have heard about or may have experienced.   This is a similar process in relationships.  You can run but cannot hide from your emotions.  The best way is to decide to be open to whatever they are and do something about them.

 

5 Steps to Transformation  (insights of the day)

  1. Decide to live more authentically and set that as your intention.
  2. Hydrate – drink lots of fresh, filtered water and use 1/2 of an organic lemon/lime in the mornings.  You can also add a drop of lemon essential oil and a drop of peppermint to cleanse the liver during high stress times.  Do this for a week and see how you feel.  It can be energizing.  My husband does this periodically and has noticed significant decrease in allergy/asthma symptoms.
  3. Wellness plan – Develop one…find good support from trusted friends/mentors/professionals.   Striving for your own excellence is a not done in a vacuum.
  4. Nutrition/complementary/medical care – Seek to understand your own body, use the best essential oils/herbs for healing and be check in on your medical Dr. to get the numbers so to speak on your internal health.  Medical school doesn’t educate doctors to understand personalized nutrition.  There is a product out called Gene SNP that is used by mental health professionals to assess DNA and best lifestyle practices.  It’s the science that we have available now although it is still in the early stages of being utilized.
  5. Think in abundant terms…You are loved on this earth.  Even though all these things may happen remind yourself in front of the mirror each day that You are Loved.  Google mirror work and see some of the results.

 

 

Classes:  I have 2 classes coming up on Friday, August 25th  that I am doing with Veronica Ortega.   Emotions and essential oils is from 11 AM-12 PM.  Healing with whole foods and introduction to Mind, Body Soul anti-inflammatory nutritional products is from 12 PM-1 PM.  For details about Veronica or the classes,  please refer to my facebook page – Tina M Johnson, MSW 

Location:  1321 23rd St So.  Ste H  Fargo, ND    Cost:  Free!  

 

As always, please contact me if you have questions or need additional information.

 

 

Scammed – the Trauma, Tragedy and Repair

Being scammed is more and more the norm of this technologically based culture.  I hear about it all the time, have seen its effects with others, myself in a few situations and clients who have shared their stories.  I do not consider myself scam naive and have done my best at keeping up with security issues.  The rug was jerked out from underneath my feet recently when I found myself the victim of one of the “old” scams.  The computer freezes, commands you not to shut it down and puts on a reputable Microsoft logo underneath the pop-up urgent request to call the Microsoft helpline which I did. I was simply buying movie tickets for that evening, looking forward to some leisure with my husband and within moments was hearing all about how my network wasn’t protected by the appropriate security.  I let this unknown person take control of my computer to “fix” the problem which led into the cost of the security products I was buying.  I kept going!  My intuition was sending me warning signals but the panic which I was not fully aware of was running the show.  It gets worse.  The fees for all these fixes were $375 with all the “fees” and “taxes’ that were applied in the end – even with the “senior discount.”  He wanted my checkbook account/routing numbers and I had it out before I stopped yet quickly he said, “No problem, we can go through your Amazon account.”  Sounded somewhat legit (not really) so I did it.  Amazon sent back an email questioning this purchase on Gold Coins, which is apparently a way to send money to a third party.  He then told me to go back and change my password on Amazon to validate the charge.

I finally felt the sinking nausea of what was really happening.  I put myself on hold and called the “real” Microsoft company which confirmed my body’s reactions.  They told me to turn off my computer immediately and that I could be helped by them if I paid the fee of $149 for a year contract of service.  It seemed I had no options and I paid it.  I was referred to the New Delhi computer techs to trouble shoot my problem and hopefully fix it.   Unfortunately, the language and background noise of his co-workers and the slowness of the process, it took me another 2 hours to hear that I needed to take it “into the store.”  I assumed this meant the computer repair shop.  I didn’t think there was a Microsoft store in Fargo, ND.  He couldn’t clarify this when I asked him.  By this time, it was 7 PM.  I had started my movie ticket purchase at 2:30 that afternoon and was mentally exhausted not to mentioned full of muscle tension.

As the evening progressed, I became more aware of what happened on another level.  I had let myself be victimized and was self-critical; chastising myself for being so stupid.  Then I felt the anger – what right do people have to hurt others all in the name of control and money? Then, the awareness of past traumas experienced in my life…. When I was a teenager, when I was hurt and taken advantage of in my life.  Slices of childhood memories before I had to grow up meander through with the mixed feelings of longing, joy and sadness.  The real world keeps you on guard.  Watch, always watch.  I have the scenario of what I would have said to this perpetrator when I saw that his call was coming in after I shut down the computer and his cold reactions of ruining my system.  Of course, I thought of his mother and what she would think of him doing this to someone.  I wish I could have grabbed the call and give him a piece of my mind so to speak.  I don’t think I’ve ever really done that.  Mid-westerners act with the most reserve…. that’s the world I grew up in that anyway.  As a therapist and one trained in critical incident debriefings, I knew the material.  Living life assertively and with maturity is a life worth striving for. Faking that is difficult.

Recovering from this trauma began almost immediately. Knowledge helps for sure but it didn’t save me.  I went to my stress tool bag and reached out to a few support people via text.  Just knowing that they knew and were sending love made a difference.  Next came my thoughts and focus on the bigger picture….my responsibility for panic and forgiving myself for not being perfectly composed/logical.  Positive, positive and even more positive thinking about any good that could possibly be gained from this ordeal. In this phase I would suggest thinking before speaking to loved ones…. emotions can be easily projected. I tried to keep the excess negativity away from my spouse.  He didn’t do anything.  Venting is great, dumping all your complaints isn’t.  I practiced one of the most powerful self-healing techniques that I use myself and teach to many of my clients and friends.  It is called Ho’oponopono which is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.  It consists of four statements:  I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, Thank you.  These energetic words, when said from the heart can be healing if not transforming.  There is some quality You Tube videos that take you through the practice to use whenever you create stress for yourself.  I do this practice along with EFT, a tapping strategy to use to help calm the body.  There are certain points on the body that when stimulated help the body calm, when you combine tapping with emotion awareness and positive affirmations one can significantly lower stress levels in the body.  These are practices that are easy to learn and have a long track record of benefit.  I use one of high frequency essential oils while I’m doing the tapping which only makes the practice better.  Transform is one such oil blend.

I got a call from Microsoft the next morning and they went through the process of refunding my $149 given the circumstances.  They were proactive on this and I am grateful…haven’t seen the refund on my card yet but I felt good about the effort.  I also attended my church, shared my experiences and did some singing…these activities were good for my soul and a great positive distraction which is another tool in the bag.  I also reached for my healing essential oils such as Lavender Vera and others supportive for the nervous system.  It’s always good to have some basic essential oil knowledge when you can really use it!  This afternoon I got a good walk in and went to the movie I had hoped to go to yesterday. Therapy for the mind.  My computer is non-functional and I assume it will be a rather big fix not to mention any other fall out from being hacked.   Even though things aren’t back to normal, I feel hopeful that they will be soon.  The computer repair man reiterated how easy it is to fall victim and how clever they can be to dupe the public.  “They keep doing it because people pay them money.”  He said if there are no global regulations of the internet these kinds of activities will continue.  Bottom line – Be aware, do your best to keep up be logical and Be Kind to yourself if it happens to you.  Still, I wonder about the hackers and how they reconcile their behaviors.  I’ll send them the Ho’oponopono message energetically.  That, I can do.

Six months later – I have retained the awareness of my experience and been able to assist others caught in the same computer trap.  I’ve worked on the emotion of frustration and learned that this emotion connects with many other negative feelings.  How have I worked on this emotion?  I regularly visit my own stress tool bag and look around for any new ones that might be effective.  The one I found for this emotion was a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  He highlights specific steps one can take to be who you were born to be, not taught to be.  Powerful and transforming if that’s the tool you choose.  I challenge readers to create their own stress tool kit.  Let me know if I can be of assistance.

 

 

 

Singing – Another Secret Finds Freedom

A few years ago I started singing in our local church choir.  I had been a visitor at this church for a few years and had imagined what it would be like if I were to sing with them.  The whispering mother-voice in my mind would replay the phrase “You should sing in the choir.” or “You should play the piano more.  You have such talent.” She did both – played the piano and sang in the choir. In some ways she was a remarkable role model, in others  she was restricted in her own expression as was the way of the culture in those days.  Turns out, she started studying the piano in her own way at age 69.  She has now done 15 annual piano concerts in Las Vegas and is planning her next.   Growing up in the 70’s in the small mid-size ND town of Jamestown, cultured music appreciation meant community concerts who presented various musical performers from “far away.”  Or, for me, the night the Cowsills, the 70’s family group who came to our High School auditorium.  I really wanted to go.  After all, it was just across the street from where we lived.  For some reason I was a wanna be as I just knew they were there and not in the audience.  Sometimes groups would come to the big city of Bismarck and our church group organized a trip to some of these events like Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell and 3 Dog Night.  Performers and those in the entertainment business seemed like another world far away from my own.   Desires for performing budded within during those middle school years.  For many reasons, these desires were unfulfilled and were filed as not that important.

I am reading  Amy Poehler’s new book  called “Yes, Please” and her highlights in growing her passion for performance and making people laugh.  It started early as did her confidence. One event at a time, Amy Poehler tells her tales of life experiences that motivated her to write this unique and funny audio book.    Despite the “Demons” of negative thinking she visualized her performing career and went into it with gusto and a positive spirit.  She takes care in not underestimating the impact of the inner demons who are you; just in a strange voice whispering or shouting out all kinds of put downs and sarcasms one could only find in the mud pools of the dark mind.   I was as reserved as she was “out there” yet I related to the desires for expressing myself in a creative way and wanting lots of love in my life.   With today’s transparencies and medias it seems that everybody out there is hard at work being an impressive  person and are at varying phases in this pursuit.  Impressive to me is thought about with a positive spin.  I have observed in my many years as a therapist that most people want to feel good about what they do, who they are with and what they want and along the way there is inevitable messiness.    

Today,we sang the song called “My Prayer”.  This is one of those powerful songs sung by Andre Botticelli and Celine Dion.  Unfortunately, we had a small turnout and had to create something beautiful with 8 voices….9 with the choir director.  We pulled it off as I imagined the duet by the artists joining us in my fantasy.   Interestingly, during the children’s sermon, the pastor posed the question to the kids:  “Does anyone want to sing a song?”  A young teenager who happened to be the pastor’s daughter got up, took off her jacket, revealing a snazzy black top with cut out sleeves that sparkled which incidentally matched with the silver sparkles of black boots.  She started to sing and it was may I say magical?  What was amazing was the moment.  It wasn’t a star being born moment yet it had the feel of that.  She was expressing herself and you could feel it.  This felt bigger than an audition or an amazed Simon Cowell reacting to a performance on America’s Got Talent.   That’s the way the mind can work – with comparisons and expectations.  That demon mind can live here.  This event appeared to me to bypass all these old ways of thinking and celebrated the authenticity of the gift of self expression…. something that was lost in me for so long.  I enjoyed imagining myself at that age doing something similar and it made my heart sing.  Now, that’s impressive.

Let’s return  to the business of finding love, self acceptance and expression of our own gifts and talents however diverse they may be.  I resisted artistic expression because I believed I wasn’t all that good and had been told that in various ways throughout my life.  Consequently I avoided any search or effort to develop these talents while minimizing any positive impacts for these pursuits.  This was easy to do in this work focused world.  I simply just worked a lot and gave lip service to the importance of creative pursuits.  In this same church service, the pastor opened the sermon up with the story of her own disappointments in “‘Being” recalling her love of just wanting to sing out loud as a child, joining various choirs and eventually un-joining them as events unfolded in her life that discouraged her from singing; from doing what she had originally loved to do.  ‘I stopped singing.”   The words hit me personally and sounded oddly familiar.   I had  desires and a love of singing and dancing and if I have to be honest, the fantasy of mastering the balance beam.  If I had to honest again I would include well known writer and author.   I imagined myself at a young age being asked to sing and dance, actually stepping out (in a prepared way) and looking good.  Looking good because it was genuine not because of it’s “talent”.   Looking fantastic because it was celebration of the “inner ding” as Louise Hay has coined it.  At a meeting one day,  Louise happened to hear these words:  “If you’re willing to change your thinking, you can change your life.”  For whatever reason she heard this with her Being and chose to do something about it.   She went out and created a legacy of resources for healing and self acceptance.  This inner ding is where power resides and I only wished I could have bottled some of it.  Perhaps I did as it provided the muse for exploring my own creativity in writing this blog.  Who knows?  One thing we do know is that there are many beliefs that we carry within that keep us from that inner well-being and happiness; beliefs that need to seen and transformed into action.

Despite challenges we all have the capacity for seeking and recognizing that inner ding.  Benefits do outweigh the costs so to speak.  I encourage you to set the intention for this new year; that 2017 will provide opportunities to manifest positive experiences and paths to travel.   The essential oil that I often suggest at these times is called Transform  http://www.godesana.com/transform.asp?sponsorsite=newpath   It is a unique blend of Sage, Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, Elemi, Clary Sage, Inula, Rockrose, Patchouli, Spikenard, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Sweet Marjoram, Pink Grapefruit and Rose Geranium.  The frequency of these oils can help increase your own energies setting the stage for positive changes.  I wish you well in your  journey and  appreciation for the synergy of today’s events. Continue reading

What’s New With Essential Oils?

Greetings and Welcome to Fall!
This is the season to prepare and plan for the colder weather and all that comes with that.  I just re-started my Vitamin D and making it a priority to step outside to take in and experience the outdoors.
This morning I heard from a young mother that the goDesana lavender chamomile she was diffusing in her room was really helping her sleep and feel better; that she wished she could find a way to use the essential oils more often.  That inspired me to review the literature on children and essential oils which once again reminded me of the importance of each oils complex synergies that are vital for therapeutic vs fragrance oils/preparations.  A typical Essential Oil will have 100 or more different constituents containing an elaborate mixture of chemical compounds such as alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, lactones, phenols, terpenes, and sesquiterpenes.  It is this unique and complex combination of chemical compounds that determines if an oil is therapeutic or not.
” The power of living plants (Herbs and Essential Oils) lies in the combination of their compounds, and the trace constituents are as important as the main compounds.  In fact, it seems to be that the minor constituents have a synergistic (controlling and strengthening) effect on the main compounds.  Many of these trace elements enable the herbs or oils to assist the body more efficiently and without the nasty side effects experienced when using the synthetic reconstructions (drugs or oils) that do not contain the trace elements.”
This information is from Alexandria Brighton and was written to help educate others about the importance of understanding the healing properties and safety precautions when using Essential Oils for wellness and healing.  OK!  These are the times when I wish for one of the great scientist minds to create the blueprint of understanding for my mind.  However, I keep in mind that even the most advanced scientists or Doctors can tell you just exactly how anti-depressants work.  The Great Mystery is one of terms used by Native Americans; often using their astute intuitions at how to use herbs and plants to heal our bodies and minds.  This summer I walked one of the bog trails in Bemidge, MN.  Throughout the trail was pages of the story of a young Native American  girl who traveled across the lake to get the healing herbs for her people during a crisis.  The story perhaps inspired MN to name the pink and white lady slipper as their state flower.   The experience reminded me of the impact of our modern culture away from nature and how mainstream healing was in the form of pills and painkillers.   More than 20% of kids in the US take prescriptions on a regular basis and nearly 7% are on 2 or more drugs.  Few of us had mothers and grandmothers  or grandfathers for that matter,  who knew the art of natural healing remedies.  In our family, we avoided the doctors and relied on antibiotics and the grin and bear it approach.
When using essential oils with children always know something about the oils or blends you are using.  Alexandria Brighton uses the 4 Safety group approach.
 Group #1 can be used in pregnancy, while nursing and on your children. (lavender, lavender vera, Mandarin, red, Niaouli, Neroli, Ranintsara, Rose, Spearmint, Tangerine, Tea Tree and Ylang Ylang complete)
 Safety Group # 2 is the essential oils that are safe with children over the age of 3. and while pregnant starting the 2nd trimester. ( Basil, sweet, Black Pepper, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Geranium, rose, Ginger Root, Grapefruit, pink, Lavender, spike, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Marjoram, sweet, Patchouli, Peppermint, Palmarosa, Sandawood Myrtle, green and Thyme ct. linalool)
 Group# 3 is never recommended for children or while nursing when used as a single oil.  They are considered safe when used in a blend and diluted. (Some listed are Eucalyptus Radiata, Fennel, sweet, Grapefruit, pink, Jasmine, Lime, Orange, sweet, Patchouli, Pepperint, Rosemary ct 1. 8 cineole, Sandalwood and Hyme ct. linalool)
Safety Group # 4 is the essential oils never recommended for children, pregnancy or while nursing.  For example, Basil, holy, Birch, Cassia, Cilantro, Cinnamon Bark, Whit Fir, Oregano, Sage and Eucalyptus Globulus are some in this group.
This is not a complete list but it gives you a good idea of how important some basic knowledge is.
Useful Stomach Ache Nausea and Colic Blend
* 2 drops Lavender, fine
*  1 drop Ginger Root
*  1 drop Mandarin, red
*  1 drop Dill Weed
*  1/2 oz Grape Seed Oil ( 1 ounce under 1 yr old)
 
I traveled to Idaho in October  for a 3 day Chakra II training.  I have completed my 10 practice sessions and am excited to prepare this new assessment tool  in my practice and offer Chakra Evaluations as a service on my website.   www.relatecommunicate.com   I will be updating soon.  I have observed these sessions to “dive deep”, find the imbalances that need some care and offering some remedies using the Essential Oils created for each Chakra energy system in our bodies.  Feedback has been positive and all have had “learnings”  from the experience.  As always, feel free to call or email with questions you may have or if you want to schedule a session.   goDesana.com/newpath  for shopping or more information.
Enjoy this beautiful fall month!

The Body and Love Relationships

 

hug imageCan the type and quality of your intimate relationships affect your health?  You are probably wondering, “What doesn’t affect your health?”  There are many studies that indicate stress as a trigger for most of today’s ailments and problems.  Emotions and the stress we feel are intimately connected.  We can’t control our emotions but we can learn to be aware of them and  the good news about managing these emotions is  that love is the big winner here.  So, how does love affect our health? It has a lot to do with it!  I’ve really only been tracking this with intention over the past 5-10 years  after I met and married the most authentic love of my love and, might I add the best teacher of myself.  The other factor was turning 50.  Nothing like a little age factor to wake up to the physical body.  Glasses and menopause came on the scene and life changed again.

Menopause in most women enters their lives in the 50’s….give or take a few years.  I entered this decade relatively naive – despite “education” I had little experience in the process of menopause in the women of my family history.  I grew up in the era of “grin and bear it” or “It’s not a subject worth mentioning” or “It’s not that big of a deal”.  Each woman has her own set of beliefs for this life stage too, and hand them down to our family, we do.  I often encourage women to examine the women in their lives for information to unearth their own guiding rules.  What does menopause have to do with love and health?  For me, these transitions melded together.  Other transitions include the birth of a child,  moving, caring for parents, or others that require major shifts.  I won’t speak to men’s mid life transition to this decade here.  That will be another piece to work on with my husband.  It’s a big deal too!

I have  worked with many couples in my psychotherapy practice over the years and noticed patterns of stress management depending on the stage of life, stressors experienced, and family history – meaning here the  family dynamics and biologic/personality traits inherited.  Humans generally have a huge capacity for doing what they believe they want.  We’re designed that way. We have strong defense systems.  Denial, minimizing, avoiding and blaming/projecting are examples of how we deflect our stressors.    How else are we going to survive?  I remember the drive I had earlier in my career to make a living and do something good for the world.  I choose a traditional path of social work and walked the way I was taught at home, school and at work.  I got married when I thought I was supposed to and ….well that’s when life’s twists and turns really started showing up.  Negative emotions fuels stress and if you don’t have the emotional skills, they will erupt into depressive or anxious periods, self- medication with any number of addictive substances or things and physical illnesses.   I’ve experienced divorce in all its complexities and traumas, been a single parent twice and all the while still believing that I would someday find the trail of happiness.  I eventually realized that it is usually not the most trodden one.  I had to find my own path outside that “box” of what I thought life was supposed to look like.  When I realized that it was OK to go outside the box, life changed dramatically.   It lined up with finding a healthy love relationship.   Interestingly, I needed to learn that before I was ready to begin that relationship which reflects one of those wise truths about tending to yourself first.

baby imageThe body is your first intimate relationship.  I was spending time with a baby this weekend:  Lucy, her 7 month old body in hand, reacted to impulses and stimuli with her whole body.  Her ear hurts, her fists try to go in, her curiosity aroused, she observes intently, tired, she reacts with fussiness.   She responds in relationship to how she is treated when she reacts to her body.  Much is written about child development and there are various theories of why we learn to behave in the ways that we do.  The point here is that our body is our best guide…always.  We just have to evolve back and integrate our first true and authentic relationship.  How does that relate to love relationships?   When you give your partner a hug next time, just notice what happens to your body.  Notice what happens in your mind.  That’s all you need to do to get started on a new path.  Your body won’t lie.  Notice if you are feeling any tensions, sensations, especially in your stomach. (the second brain)  If you can communicate what you are observing and your partner understands what you say then you have practiced a core communications strategy called Confiding.  Confiding is the ability to communicate what you think and feel and feel safe with your partner. Confiding is not complaining.  It is stating your reality of the moment.  If you find yourself rehearsing what you should say, then you are filtering and feeding your stress.  For more information on this skill I will refer you to www.pairs.com.

Another way into your body is a technique called muscle testing.  There are simple strategies to access your own body’s wisdom.  One easy one is called the sway test.  Stand with balance and a calm mind.  Make a statement that you know the answer is Yes.   For example:  I like chocolate.  Then, watch the way your body moves without intentionally moving it.  Make a statement with a No response and observe your reaction carefully.  Practice for awhile and soon you will notice a pattern.  When the answer is Yes, your body will sway one way and when the answer is no, it will sway another.  Once you have it mastered, you can use this technique whenever you want.   Anyone can learn it if they want to.  I suggest you don’t use it when you are emotional – wait until you are calm and able to focus in on yourself.  website couple image

My husband and I recently organized a workshop called Re-Awakening Love Relationships.  One of the main experiences of the day was learning to do just that –  are at any given time.  If you can master that one, you will never be one of those couples that sit in a restaurant with nothing to talk about.  You can always go back to your body and ask it what it is noticing and share these observations with your partner. It can be very sensual!  See where the conversation goes and you will be surprised.  Our bodies can talk and we can listen!  Loving our own selves is the best investment for a long and lasting love relationship.

If you are interested we will be doing the workshop in the near future.  Info on my website at https://www.relatecommunicate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Releasing the Raging Bull – Transforming Trauma

angry bull  It’s time for me to let the bull out of it’s congested cage.  That cage is, of course, a metaphor for my thoughts and the sometimes overwhelming control of this bull despite being in that rather small brain space of mine – the approximately 3.5 lbs of matter that is the governing force of my life.  The question is “Am I the chairman of this operation?”  Or am I being overwhelmed and controlled by the many forces that be – external or internal as the case may be.  What have I been paying the most attention to?  I remember high school biology class and the image of Mr. Olson informing us of how to complete the “leaf project” and the importance of the project in passing the class.  I wasn’t incredibly ambitious during my sophomore year and remember the resistance my mind put up to this project and the difficulty in completing it.  As I look outside today, I see the brilliant fall colors and autumn leaves everywhere, the result of a bountiful summer coming to an end and the likelihood of similar images that fall many years ago. horse vault
fall leaf project
 I actually liked  nature; what  I disliked was the categorizing and organizing  of each leaf and the  overwhelm felt within.  Consequently, this   created a negative set of thoughts and beliefs about myself.   “I can’t do this”  “Something must be wrong with me”   “I’m not smart enough,”  Gym class creates a whole other set of memories and beliefs.  The one that comes to mind is the one in 7th grade when the students all lined up to jump over the horse which is a gymnastics feat that was introduced in the class.  I stood there, with my snap up royal blue cotton gym suit, probably a little tight on my overweight body, and tried to muster up courage to get over that hurdle.  I ran, slowed and stopped just before I leaped, the motion pushing me into the horse. This resulted in  a clumsy fall over is what I would call it.  I remember the frustration that my body just didn’t do what I wished it would and I didn’t understand why.  I always liked the beauty of the gymnasts bodies artfully moving through their routines and the same is true for the colors of nature but what do you think has more sticking power?  The velcro of traumatic experiences cannot be understated.  Granted, there are temperaments that can predispose one to being more vulnerable to emotion but for the most part just being human creates the scene for drama and the importance of awareness of these created patterns.   My raging bull has taken various forms throughout my life and career and like for everyone, my life has internal drama.  It is time for this one to come out of it’s closet.  It’s been pounding around controlling my vary existence for too long.  I experienced an injury in the mid 2000’s – fell over the foot stool and landed on my sacrum fall which weakened my lower back.  Over the years it has gradually worsened and eventually  began to really cause problems in the last couple of years.  I’ve had to give up some things I liked to do, adjust my life and do my best to maintain a busy work and home life.  I want my body to work the way it used to and then….wait, when I thought about how it used to be I became aware of the tendency I always had to feel that I was rather weak – not like everybody else.  And when you’re not like everybody else as viewed by a child, especially a girl child. bad things can be felt.  More old negative beliefs.  The accident and injury only drew more attention to the underlying and most unacknowledged themes of my life.

This raging bull is the symbol for my steady stream of negative thinking about my condition, its limitations and possible consequences for the future.  I’m identifying the main ones as an exercise to exorcise and transform negativity to divine creativity….and one antidote to stress is creativity.  “How will I work?  Will I have enough energy?  What if I can’t work? What if pain overtakes me and I can’t do what I want to do?  Things in life I like are being taken away.  I don’t have control.  What should I do?”  Even as I write these statements by body is reacting – it feels like it is squirming as I reveal my inner ruminations.  One of the symptoms of my injury is nerve sensations at different areas of the body – like the nervous system has its own language when it comes to these things.  Each sensation has the potential to arouse my brain and be alert to it.   In psychological terms this reflects problems in the orienting response in my brain.  Instead of processing smoothly between the stages, I  remain stuck  and fail to effectively  evaluate and integrate what is actually being experienced.  Rather, old schemas patterning the trauma/old beliefs take over.  For example, I may feel a tingling in my foot, pain in my lower back, uncomfortable sensations in my body and immediately be on guard and negative thoughts which often ends perpetuating more self doubt and fear.

It’s a spinning machine, one that has remnants of past behaviors and habits.  Can I just say I hate this spinning machine?  That I wish it would just go away and then get mad at myself when it doesn’t.  All this internal spinning can be exhausting because in the meantime my life goes on in clock time and the emotions are kept within.   Writing is one of my creative outlets and  I enjoy spinning words so when I decided to tackle this subject, my heart stirred dare I say  with joy?   Strange but true.  I also came out and told my pilates/yoga teacher that I couldn’t maintain in the “easy” class and had no idea what my options could be.  Logical processing of the situation was laced with old trauma schemas and I stumbled over my words, worrying that she would say there were no more options for me.  “I’m hopeless” with remnants of my fall over on the horse.  A smile came to my lips as I imagined the incident in comedic form and I now take some liberties to alter the story just a little as they say.  I imagine the teacher giving me a great big smile for trying and reassuring me there is a way to accomplish this goal “if I wanted it”.  She would point out things like activities I may like such as dancing or power walking or better yet a class to help understand my body.  She would highlight differences and give me hope.  I love the image where I walk away with lots of options vs the sense of embarrassment and failure.  One add on – I altered my gym suit and found a very cool outfit.  I am curious about this new outlet for the spinning and may just have to write another update blog.  Transforming my  raging bull may be a long process…maybe not.  One of those noble truths comes to mind.  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  It’s one day at a time.    And about that pilates class…my teacher said there is hope for me and that we’d work together to come up with solutions.  cat in a basket

Who Am I Trying to Fool? The Jester Pain Body Strikes Again

fire image sillouetteWhen you least expect it, the pain body can jump right in the midst of your day…the moment  you were just minding your business.  The phone call may come in, the comment at the other end of the line, a person cuts in front of you on the street, the interaction with a loved one  sparks the fire.  I tried not to pay attention to the my reaction…”no big deal” I told myself.  “I’m beyond these kind of things.”  I’ve read numerous articles, even books on the subject of cognitive restructuring.  This is the fancy term for reorganizing your negative thoughts into ones that are more realistic to the situation and applying them to replace the negative thoughts you have identified.   “Who am I trying to fool?  I’ll never be a success.  I’m just not wired up the right way.  What’s wrong with me anyway?  Why can’t I be like ….? ”  I felt the fire start to go from a spark to the kindling stage each time I noticed another negative thought – one just slipped in after the other; some slipping in between the ones I could catch.  It wasn’t long before I felt the  waves of emotion begin to impact my body.

Life as a therapist has allowed me many opportunities to practice what I preach so to speak…but this one was a big one.  It involved one of my core issues…being good enough.  This, of course is what the researchers call shame.  Again, there are volumes out there; a recent body of research by Brene’  Brown,  a social worker and  researcher  is making all the media headlines with her emphasis on vulnerability and shame and strategies to re-think and re-shape our attitudes and perceptions of these emotions within all of us humans.   She slogged through many challenging times, learned some hard lessons and persevered all the way to the Super Soul Sunday with Oprah.  She is all about realizing our inner gifts and being who we were meant to be.  Sometimes just Being is plenty.

sloth imageThis is all well and good but today I slogged  – The good news about slogging is that it does end.  Once the pain body fire gets ignited and goes through it’s fire dance it gets played out and like a fire burns itself out where, according to Eckhart Tolle, the author of A New Earth,  it goes into it’s quiet place until it’s re-ignited again. He states that an emotion can be a response to an actual situation or event, bit it does so through the filter of a mental interpretation, through mental concepts of good and bad, like and dislike, me and mine.    For example, Tolle points out that you most likely will not feel emotion when you are told that someone’s car has been stolen, but if it is your car, the emotional impact will be felt. “It’s amazing how much emotion a little mental concept like “my” can generate.   Our body’s intelligence is amazing in its ability to function but it has trouble discerning worrisome, fearful thoughts as just thoughts.  It treats them as if they were reality.  If we have past conditioning that have created unconscious belief such as “people cannot be trusted” or “There is never enough money” or ” I don’t deserve love”  then these unconscious assumptions create emotions in the body which in turn generate  mind activity and /or instant reactions.  These negative emotions are connected to our egos and again cause all kinds of chaos and conflicts.  The good news here is that with each new breath one takes there is another opportunity to move forward.    Through practice I have learned to be more aware of my own pain bodies and can sometimes trace them back to their origins, whether that be in childhood or beyond.  Sometimes we can inherit these pain bodies from our families where they take up residence on the emotional level and cause havoc when triggered.

What does a wave of emotion feel like?  Pay attention to your reactions sometime and you will begin to experience your own unique expression although it usually involves the brain and the stomach, the 1st and 2nd brains according to the literature.  I feel heaviness, mood changes, irritability, some back/neck aches and pains as well as anxiety symptoms; not the ideal way to spend a beautiful fall day in ND.  There is much to learn about the power of these emotional pain bodies and no matter what stage of life we are in there is hope.  I need to hear this again and again when my mind/body is in this state of agitation.  So what did I do yesterday?  I lived through it.  I began to write which is a creative activity to counter negativity.  Painting, singing, music  and any number of mindful movements can help tame this lion. I would avoid any compulsive exercises where it is easy to numb out.  There is a place pushing and working hard but this is not the time.    I used my centering prayer ideas – to the best of my abilities and tried to be compassionate with myself.  I’ve been following Pope Francis as he has traveled among the people in this country.  I noticed the feeling of warmth and love whenever I would see him move throughout the different environments.  I became curious about the lives of others, the role of the Jesuit, the special roles of each and every one of us.  Everyone matters.  The truth of this is overwhelming yet it connects with each and every pain body reaction that occurs.  Pain gives us an opportunity to dive deep and look for what needs to change and  accepted with that same base of Love and Truth.   Here’s to encouragement and perseverance.  Taming the pain body lion is an act of your own truth and a connection to the Universal one.  I wish myself and the reader the tools of a compassionate Lion Tamer.fire lion

50 Shades of Midwest Intimacy

fifty shades of greyThe countdown began as the media and modern day America prepared for the opening day of 50 Shades of Gray.  Talk shows buzzed and parties planned; romance business blossomed on this February Valentines weekend.  I noticed the parking lots full at the local theater where they were showing the film multiple times in as many theaters.   Marketing wise, what a brilliant idea – sex, love and romance – big movie and even bigger hopes and fantasies of many of the fans.  I didn’t read 50 Shades of Gray until I had several clients reference it.  I have to admit, I didn’t read it to the end.  When I found out there were 2 more books following the main characters and  got the gist of just how steamy and edgy it was, I could just imagine the rest.  It didn’t take long to “get engaged” as I scoped out a few more sections at the end.

From E L James’s book, Fifty Shades of Grey; Ana is thinking during a visit to her mother: “What does Christian know of love?  Seems he didn’t get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother’s words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell what do you need?  A neon sign flashing on his forehead?  She thinks Christian loves me, buth then she’s my mother, of course she’d think that.  She thinks I deserve the best of everything.  I frown.  It’s true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it.  Its’ very simple: I want his love.  I need   Christian Gray to love me.  this is why I am so reticent about our relationship – and because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished…..and because of his fifty shades, I am holding myself back.”

Ana goes on to say that all is meaningless without his love and expressed her fears that he may not be capable of such love because of the abuse he experienced in his complicated relationship with his mother.  Still, the sex is amazingly fierce, creative and prolonged.  The scenes are filled with passion, youth, fantasy, and hope.  I’m engrossed again…but wait!  Today is Valentines Day, the day many couples will relate with each other in countless ways – beautiful and messy  as the case may be.  Most couples that I work with are seeking love and acceptance and priority – that feeling they are Number 1.  When dreams fade, symptoms and problems begin.  It can be a long and windy road once the bumpy road of frustration/conflict begins.  But Wait!  Can this relationship be saved?  Can my dreams be once again resurrected?   Can we once again feel the attraction or the passion or the warmth of positivity; that state of being that embodies trust and well-being, creativity and safety of soul?  Many relationships fail – their intentions and abilities to do the work are not able to create a new style and foundation.  The passion of the beginning, the unknown, the unbearable state of excitement and anxiety – the brain bathed in the love cocktail of endorphins and dopamine.  Not all couples fall into this intensity of emotion but all experience the illusion of creating something good and feeling happy withing their relationship.  Intimacy is that combination of confiding (sharing our thoughts and emotions) and physical touch.  Sexuality is the connection glue – powerful.  The combination of being open to explore each other’s bodies and minds and respecting one another’s differences.  Most of us Mid-westerners were not brought up in these open/affectionate households.  Stoicism  – a family trait in many of our family lineages still rules.  Being reserved, private and role-oriented.  This worked to help us survive; it doesn’t help us thrive.  We need to THRIVE!  We can do it!  But we can’t do it alone.  In my practice, I see a common theme of misunderstandings and resentments that zap the zing out of a healthy sensual life and creates symptoms we do not want to have in our life.  When they persist, we get sick…one way or the other so to speak.  We all deserve loving relationships and to get our needs met.  The book I routinely suggest is Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson.  There, you can test yourself and learn the inside scoop on why our early childhood, stress and negative beliefs impact us so much.  Just like Christian Gray, he had many shades and shadows to his life.  Just like Ana, who was attracted to his complicated energy to experience “the wild side” of love and sensuality, sex and maturity.  I have yet to finish the Shades of Gray series  – to see the evolution of these 2 characters of fiction who have touched and inspired many, both positive and negative reviews to take note of these sides to our humanity.sensual-touch

I encourage couples to have massage tables, use fantasy and role play, experiment with passionate essential oils, and have or learn to have fun together.   Many of us never learned that as kids – that was not on the top of the survival tool kit.  Fun can be learned – I’ve seen it done.  Start with intention, a beginners mind and avoid all judgement.  If there are negative emotions, see them together as a sedgeway to learning something new.   Seeking therapy is one tool but there are others as well.  The first step is doing a Couple Check up.  Know about your relationship!  There are several on-line resources for this as well as resources for learning how to “spice up” your sexual relationship in a healthy and loving manner.  Search couple check up and Better Sex.com., goDesana.com/newpath (romance oils)  Awareness has turned on America and beyond.  Let’s use this for the good and keep the chatter going.