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)
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.
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.
Spring is making its appearance into the Fargo prairie land. I am grateful for the sun. Today I will focus on developing a healing relationship with yourself – mind/body/spirit that is and share with you the positive healing news in the plant worlds. Many of us were brought to separate our thinking selves with our physical bodies and our spiritual nature. The old adages such as :
…. are beliefs we have internalized with more power and influence than we may realize. I was talking with a young girl in grade school recently. I asked her what her 3 wishes were. She responded by saying ” I want to be great in gymnastics, a top horse rider and not be fat.” I tried in my own way to “positize” the last wish and said, “You mean you want to be in good physical shape?” Even at a young age we start training ourselves in what “should be the best” rather than what is best for our own self. Since I have my own “fat story” (see website blog, relatecommunicate.com) and am sensitive to this subject, senses reacted strongly. Each person embodies what we believe to be true and we store some of these beliefs in different areas of the body. Cells contain emotional energies. There are books and research on this subject that proves this connection within our bodies. In other words, we need to find the language that the body understands and that most often involves releasing all the old negative beliefs we carry and replacing them with more positive messages.
There are many healing practices that I practice myself and many that I teach to clients to help them find their own strategies. I am beginning to realize at this seasoned age that we can always do something, regardless of age number, to free and strengthen ourselves from what didn’t balance with our heart self…. or the authentic self. I have been doing chakra assessments for others over the last 6 months and continue to be impressed with how each of our body energy centers operate. They each have their own missions so to speak yet they work intimately with the whole. When there are problems on any level of functioning these energy, centers react. We may feel fatigue, pain, mood issues, interpersonal problems or other challenging symptoms. Awareness of these balances empowers us to act and understand. Usually, we will find the chakra essential oil blend that corresponds to the part of the body or chakra and test to see if this will help remedy the imbalances. This is a link to the chakra essential oil page to give you more information about how these oils are used. goDesana.com/newpath Scroll to the bottom and hit the chakra tab.
Personal Revelations – This last few years have been challenging for me physically. I experienced some hip/back related injuries that impacted my whole torso and tried many treatments to ease the pain/inflammation that developed. I tried to ignore it for the longest time, being that I was a “hard worker” and did most things “seriously”. One thing about pain, it usually succeeds in getting your attention which then decreases the attention you have for things you enjoy doing. Being a somatic person by temperament, meaning the body feels the emotions more easily than some, I was keenly aware of the physical symptoms which increased anxiety symptoms which let’s just say didn’t make things better. Interestingly, this came at the same time I felt healthy in my love life meaning that I felt my emotional needs were being met. Remember, determining if your emotional needs are me is a “felt” sense. Do I feel loved? and am I able to give love? This is in relationship to your loved one. Since I had known unhealthy relationships in the past, I could experience the difference firsthand. All I can say is there is a difference. Now I needed to focus on finding ways to support and meet my body’s needs, releasing old patterns that didn’t help and finding new ones that did. Still on the path, I have some new perspectives and am gradually getting stronger with all that I’ve learned. Here are some paths I’ve sought out in the process. All have been important in some way: Chiropractic, Emotion Code, ( healerslibrary.com ) Physical Therapy using postural restoration techniques, Yoga and Pilates, Nutrition testing to target specific nutritional needs that your body has, Prolotherapy to strengthen ligaments and Mindfulness and self-love strategies including Qi Gong, (Spring Forest techniques out of Eden Prairie, MN) and studying Louise Hay books/mirror work exercises. Recently I’ve gotten training in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) that is also effective in helping the body release and restore the energy flow by tapping on certain acupressure points of our body. I have explored many areas in the last 8 years and am beginning to develop perspective. “What do I really need?” Most people may not need to make the same colorful journey that I have chosen but the important pearl here is that we all need something to help go within and heal. Basically, finding the way back to loving and accepting oneself even though…. life happens and lessons are put in front of us.
My Recent Essential Oil Favorites
I traveled to Nevada last week to visit family and found that the most used oils were tea tree, (sore on body) Wellness for Kids, (helps with immune…roll on your feet in the morning) Ravintsara, (for congestion) I Connect, (foot chakra blend that helps ground and stabilize body) Lavender Ice and Trauma Relief, (back pain) I always carry a Lavender Vera, and one of the Spiritual oils such as Mary or Ruth if I need extra support. Lemon is another effective travel oil as you can cleanse water when you are out with one drop. I use the lavender-lemon blend to put in the wash machine for a clean and nice smelling wash. My family sometimes relies on me to suggest one essential oil or another depending on their issues. I also travel with Protector spray and mist it around my space or other areas that need cleansing – to disinfect and emotionally clear negative energies. You can use a variety of oils in mister sprays. Use distilled water with 10-15 drops of oil, depending on how big your spray bottle is. Bergamot is nature’s Prozac, Orange and Tangerine to ease anxiety, Peppermint for refreshing and more. goDesana.com/newpath You can search for detailed information on individual oils in the search bar.
Recipe of the Day – clean your shower to prevent mold/soap films:
2 oz. water
1 Tablespoon Vinegar
4 drops lime
2 drops peppermint
2 drops lemon
Use a glass or PET plastic bottle. Pour water and vinegar into the bottle and then add the essential oils. After your shower, shake the shower spray and spray tile, floor, shower door or curtain and faucet fixtures. You can leave it on or sponge it off it desired. This is best made fresh every couple of weeks.
MIND, BODY, SOUL NEWS
Alexandria Brighton, the formulator for all the goDesana essential oils and my teacher, has formulated 3 Ayurvedic superfoods that have been on the market for a couple of months. I have tried them. followed people who have tried them and observed feedback from others on social media. There are many positive testimonials and it is EXCITING! Essentially, Alexandria has blended a formula of raw concentrated superfood which targets inflammation. MIND focuses on cognitive, mood and brain health, BODY targets the circulation/heart system and SOUL supports the immune/liver system. I use MIND and SOUL together. Some combine a shot of all 3 and others do well with one. I have noticed “on the top of my game” thinking and less fatigue as well as decreased sinus congestion. I look forward to the daily “shot”. This is a sister company of goDesana called HB Naturals. If you are interested in the research and other information about them check out the website or contact me for more information. The company offers free sample packs with the cost of shipping. ($4.95) The aroma of each one is good energy as they say. healingtrilogy.com/newpath
Enjoy your Day,
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
OK, It’s coming and I have some “Inspirdrive”, to coin a phrase, of how I feel at this moment in this country’s history. Being in the mental health field for 30+ years I am bamboozled by this election season’s long and snarly road. I’ve heard more frustrations, rage, confusion, depressive and anxiety symptoms that I can remember in the past. Our mental health is stressed! (As if you didn’t know) The impact of stress is well documented in research. More than a little stress in our lives impacts our bodies and health and most of us have been told that at one point or another. We are designed to deal with stress on a short term basis. Our bodies are marvelous machines made to solve problems and get our needs met and once that’s done, calm down. Our animals have this figured out. I talk to my cat about all that is going on here, the political media blitzes, the polarizing of social media, the Protest in western ND, you name it. He lifts his head up while I get activated, assesses that it’s not going to hurt him and sinks his head back down on the rug…. although when the vacuum cleaner is brought out, he freaks out and disappears until its quiet again. This political season has brought out the low drone of a constant vacuum cleaner that follows us around and as much as we may want to avoid any fallout it is almost impossible.
Many of the clients I see have reported significant impact in their lives, whether it be work, social or family relationships. It brings out the Stress in them, meaning that when we are triggered by anything either in our external or internal environment that creates a negative emotion, a resulting reaction occurs. Research suggests 4 Stress Styles that are most common. The first one is Placator/Peace at any price style. If we are unaware, this can be rather automatic such as “I think Clinton should win” comment to a Trump supporter. “What, are you crazy? Can’t you see she’s a crook?” The response here may be related to what style of stress that is carried. Let’s just say the Clinton supporter was brought up to be agreeable and not to rock the boat. Her response may be…”Well maybe you’re right, I’ll have to check it out or Yes, she did do lots of things.” The second one is the Blamer/I’m right, You’re wrong style which would trigger a different reaction. “What? You’re the one who’s crazy. Have you seen that video?” The third approach is called Super Reasonable/Computer style which downplays any emotion. “Well, it says in the polls that there is a slight lead for Clinton. Let’s look at the statistics.” The fourth style is called the Distractor/Ignore and the problem vanishes. Responses may be completely unrelated to the issues at hand. “Hey, let’s just forget all this and go out and play cards/shop/clean the house/work/drink…you name it.” These reactions to stress triggers are usually tied back into our childhoods and that software is pretty tightly woven. In order to bypass these automatic reactions, we need to first be aware and understand the power that they have on our everyday behaviors. Once you do this then comes the good part. You can take parts of each of the styles and integrate them into your own style for a positive outcome. For example, the positive aspect of the Placator is being sensitive and compassionate to another’s emotions; the good part of the Blamer is the assertiveness it brings to the table; the ability to speak our truth without blaming. The Super Reasonable/Computer can remind us to use logic and reason when managing a situation and with the Distractor, comes the reminder to play and take breaks…. but we will get back to the problem.
Even though we can’t eliminate our negative tendencies to react in these certain ways, we can transcend them with practice. After the election will come all the waves of uncertainty of “what’s going to happen” until the dust settles in January. Then, it’s likely to resurface again given the roller coaster media ride we’ve all been on. What I’d really like is to feel a sense of stability and trust. One way to keep sane is to focus on things we can control. Look at your hands and for most of us we can move them. Let that be a reminder for the moment that what may be most important is self-management or as I like to call it Mindfulness. How am I going to cultivate stability and trust in myself given that I’ve just heard or seen someone make a triggering comment? The goal here is to catch your style going into action and allow yourself the chance to create the mindset that is best for you. Is this easy? It gets easier with practice but the rewards are great; one being the expression of your authentic truth rather than the automatic stress style dribble. The more you practice the more dribble you can experience which leads to a stronger sense of self and a better outlook which of course is a stress reliever. Although this is not the immediate “keep yourself sane” technique but it is one to work on daily.
Some of the best strategies for this season relate to catching yourself, breathing deeply and evenly and repeat to yourself 10 times “All is well”. There is a great mirror exercise written about by Louise Hay that confirms the power of positive affirmations to yourself daily. Check out the mirror exercise on You tube if you are interested. Even though you think all may not be well on the outside, this exercise calms the mind. If you want excitement and drama go for it. Media will be hyping it all up but keep in mind the balance of nature and the power of small practices to keep yourself sane. Don’t forget to add the water, herbal teas and lemons/limes. These are detoxing for any type of stress you are facing. One of my favorite essential oils to calm anxiety is Frankincense or Lavender Frankincense which combines two calming essential oils. Just make sure they are of therapeutic grade and organic. For more information on that check out http://goDesana.com/newpath In the short term, do-nuts, diet coke, a good stiff drink or any number of mind medicating substances may be calling your name What your brain really needs is care! Finally, on Tuesday let’s not forget that we are all in this together. Let’s do what we can – in our own ways – one task or practice at a time. Good luck!
Tina M Johnson, MSW, BCD
1321 23rd St So, Ste H
Fargo, ND 58103
Can 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.
The 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.
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
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.
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.
When 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.
This 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.