Monday, October 15, 2007

The “Wow!” Factor


It is time to sell my 36-year old trusted Sea Ray powerboat (a lovely pea soup green). If it were a car, it would be warmly referred to as a jalopy. This boat helped to launch my love affair with the ocean. Preparing to list my trusted 19-foot powerboat for sale triggers many fond memories with family and friends on the waters off of Cape Cod.

Several years ago I took some friends out for a trip over to Oaks Bluff. The crew included the free spirited captain (me), my equally fearless 10-year old son, his Sunday School teacher, her husband (who has “water issues”) and their studious 14-year-old son. My wife took one look at the seas and decided to stay home with our daughter (more about discernment in another blog).

As we neared Martha’s Vineyard, the seas were a little wobbly but not a big deal. Because of my love of the ocean and attraction to “adrenalin moments,” I have a fair amount of boating experience in difficult waters (particularly for someone who grew up on the plains of Kansas). As we were departing from the island, we encountered 12-foot waves running almost back-to-back (standing up, all I could see was a wall of water). Big waves are less threatening when they run further apart. These waves were running unusually close together. This means little time for corrections and adjustments before encountering the next wave.

As we engaged the first wave, I pushed the throttle forward to make sure we didn't take a one over the bow and swamp the boat. The old Sea Ray launched off that wave and went completely airborne. For a brief moment, it felt like we were suspended in air as if someone had hit the “pause” button. Then as quick as the press of a button, we dropped and the boat’s hull landed against the ocean with a jarring impact and spray of water. I let out an exhilarated "Wow!" The 14-year old standing on my left looked over at me and said, "This is way beyond Wow!"

Turning around to check in on the rest of my crew, I noticed that my son’s Sunday-School teacher was now the student, following his lead on how to stay inside the boat during rough seas. They were both hunkered down. Her husband Mike was sitting at the stern (backseat) looking surprisingly calm for someone who can’t swim. I wondered if he was numb with fear or living in a state of “ignorance is bliss.”

To my surprise, he later reported that he was just enjoying the ride. A buddy of mine who is a psychologist in New Jersey has written a short, simple and yet meaningful book entitled, “Enjoy The Ride” (Dr. Lee Monday, http://www.leemonday.com/) When I get around to my own book, it may be entitled “Embracing the Wow!” This story and Lee’s writing share in common the theme that life is a gift. When this gift is opened we share and experience joy, beauty and pleasure. Yes, there is pain, struggle and difficulty. But when we “embrace the wow” we find that moment of getting outside of ourselves where time stands still if for only a moment.

One of my favorite writers on Creation Spirituality calls this moment “ecstasy.” He writes, “Ecstasy is a memorable experience of forgetting oneself, of getting outside of oneself. Our ecstatic experiences are the memorable experiences of our lives. Ecstasy is our getting high, standing outside of ourselves if but for a brief moment – getting lost in time.” (Matthew Fox, Whee, We, wee All the Way Home…)

There are many natural divinely created paths to moments of ecstasy or wow: nature, friendship, intimacy, creating, sports, contemplation, travel, celebration and yes work as a labor of love. For others spiritual arts like service, prayer, fasting, meditation and study provide moments of grace

Anxiety, addictions, traumatic memories and depression are all conditions that can derail the capacity to see life as a gift. When feeling stuck, therapy can be a safe place to explore emotions, negative beliefs or memories as a way to get unstuck and discover what gives your life meaning and the capacity to “embrace the wow!”

Monday, October 1, 2007

Emotional Freedom



Wow! Seems like I should be able to come up with something more sophisticated, but that captures how I feel following four days of training at the "Boston Masters EFT Showcase." EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, http://www.emofree.com/. Click on the above video for EFT success stories and a brief explanation for how it works.

EFT is an amazing technique for providing positive emotional and mental shifts. At the very least, it is highly effective in providing stress relief. When applied effectively it can heal fears, anxieties and traumatic memories. In my personal life, it is my “go to” mind, body and spirit healing technique. In over twenty years of practice as a Family Therapist it is the most effective tool that I consistently “reach for” in my work.

Two and a half years ago I went to an EFT training event in Arlington Ma. led by therapists Caitlin Williams and Steve Joseph (http://www.energytherapyassociates.com/). I arrived very skeptical but open minded. When it was my turn to be the “client,” I chose to target a bundle of painful memories while counseling relief workers at Ground Zero following 9.11.

To gain first hand experience and practice, we broke off into pairs. Terry and I drove up together from Rhode Island, so we decided to be each others guinea pig. He asked me to rate my “disturbance” on a scale from one to ten. It felt pretty mild so I said 5. When we started tapping and saying the phrase “Even though I have this Ground Zero memory” the lid came off the “memory box.” My body could feel the jolt as it jumped up to a 10! That spike in intensity was very unexpected. Three times we repeated the phrase, “Even though I have this Ground Zero memory, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Within thirty seconds of tapping the EFT recipe “this painful memory” I could feel a major shift and relief. A second set reduced the emotional intensity to zero. “This is too fast, too painless and too easy,” I proclaimed. I dared my colleague to, “provoke me and test the results.” Terry is a good therapist, after several attempts he managed to provoke some intensity up to a three. I was down to a zero for good even before we finished with the setup phrase.

After observing several other participants clear out difficult issues with similar results, I was hooked. By the end of the day, I was highly impressed with the elegance, simplicity and outstanding results from this new technique.

You can read about EFT, but the best way to measure your results is to try it out firsthand.