Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Focusing

Reading an interesting book by Ann Weiser Cornell, Ph.D, titled "The Power of Focusing:  A Practical Guide to Emotional Self Healing."  Dr. Cornell describes "Focusing" as a body-oriented process of self awareness and emotional healing.  I often use the term "noticing" with my clients to describe a similar process of noticing how you feel and where the sensation is located within the body.

Often by noticing and having a conversation with our feelings that which is causing discomfort relaxes.

There is wisdom that comes from the body that is often inaccessible to the logical mind.

Some body awareness techniques and trauma treatments start with the worst pain or what can be called the "Oh My God!" moment.   

Dr. Cornell correctly states,  "Think of your emotions as a big lake.  You have a choice: you can plunge into the lake, or you can sit next to it.  Focusing works best when you "sit next to" what you feel instead of plunging into it."

So far her ideas seem spot on easy to understand.  I will check back with you as I move through her book.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some Helpful Reaources

Rick Hanson has a new book that is about to be released that sounds very interesting.  "Hardwiring Happiness:  The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.  Dr. Hanson states, "through new developments in brain science you will learn practical, research-based ways to:
-be on your own side
-be mindful
-take in the good
-rest in love
-come home to happiness"

I am looking forward to his new book and have thoroughly enjoyed his book, "Bhudda's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom."

Rick is all about practical application while making brain science discoveries understandable.  For example,  were you aware that the primitive part of our brain operates 5-6 times faster than our thinking brain!  Were you aware that our brain dedicates mores resources to survival and thus creates a negativity bias (remembers negative events more easily than positive events)?

My clients have found it helpful to discover that briefly focusing their breath and attention for 10-15 seconds on positive experiences we can counterbalance the brains negativity bias.

This brings a while new meaning to that ole' saying, "thoughts are things."


Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Happiness Paradox

We all live busy lives, but finding something – even a small something – that we find enjoyable, is important to function to our fullest potential.  Some people find this enjoyment in the form of sports, others in music; some find they simply need to “veg out.”  I have a few different methods myself, most of which do not involve writing.   My daughter, Sarah, is constantly on the search to find new, small things that keep her occupied in search for this “happiness break.”  Her quest most recently leads her to snatch my copies of Psychology Today and now she would like to give her hand at writing, which is why this post will be hers.   Greg C.
 
By Sarah Carpenter
Happiness is addicting.  We want it, we crave…we need it. 
Nothing feels better than that spike in our dopamine levels (a.k.a. the “feel-good” chemical).   
It is not exactly a well-kept secret that an increase in happiness is associated with higher salaries, improved physical health, and a growth in creativity. People simply do not function to their fullest potential when they are unhappy; although, ironically enough, the pursuit of happiness leads to quite the contrary outcome.  Do people really know what makes them happy? Most of us like to think so.  If that were the case, however, why are there not more people satisfied with their lives?
Recent studies show that the small life decisions people tend to make in order to avoid negative emotions may actually prevent them from achieving a certain level of happiness.  For example, people tend to ignore their curiosity of new activities and settle for their usual routine.  It’s worked for them long enough, why risk an unpleasant experience? According to Kashdan and Sterger (2007), however, individuals who acted on their curiosity were more likely to express satisfaction with their lives. 
Exploring the unknown often causes minor states of anxiety causing people to avoid basic changes to their routine.  This outcome is completely understandable because common sense tells us to try and appease our anxiety.  However, while this temporary state of discontent may lead to a positive, long-term outcome. 
Think “that which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
I experienced this for myself during finals week, my sophomore year of college.  Every week was so similar to the last that I would become irrationally annoyed at a friend for not knowing my schedule.  I once snapped, “No, I can’t go.  It’s Thursday – every Thursday I go to the gym at 5:30, grab dinner at 6:30, then go to dance until 10 pm.” (As if everybody should know my obsessive need for scheduling).  Friday nights usually consisted of homework, the gym, and maybe a movie with I needed a break. 
One Friday, however, I went from my last class of the week to lunch and then into Boston for a baseball game.  This change in schedule left me twitching; I spent the full week beforehand trying to convince myself that it wouldn’t be a miserable night (although, I didn’t even like baseball…how fun could it have been?).  But I was curious. I almost backed out of the plans several times, but I just kept thinking, “what if it’s fun?”  So, strictly to appease my curiosity and indulge my sense of adventure, I went.  In the end, it was fun.  It was windy and cold and the game lasted far longer than it should have.  But it was fun. It was different.  And so a new routine formed:  trying something different on my free days. 
The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to be happy is to stop trying.  The worrying and the planning only cause (at best) no or minimal increase in happiness or (worse) further distress in the long run.  So instead of worrying that if you sit outside too long, you won’t catch the movie you wanted to watch, just enjoy the moment. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Feeling Alive

A few year ago I posted a blog entitled The Wow Factor!   The other day I was rereading a booklet by Silvia Hartmann titled "Events Psychology and EFT." Hartmann is a very innovative EFT therapist who has this to say about "embracing your Wow." 

She writes,  "People like to feel good - the Creator made us that way.  We are meant to feel good - and what feeling really good actually feels like, well, the energized end state gives us a new higher taste.  Most of us don't even know how good we can feel, inside ourselves, about ourselves, about the world around us.  I do believe that feeling better makes us into better people - more exciting, more interesting, more lovable and being able to give love too, better friends, partners, parents, members of society.  That is an upward spiral that will take us all higher and higher."

Therapy often begins at the opposite place of feeling good or alive.  It usually begins with folk feeling stuck in their story or content.  They are presenting experiences that bother them.  This is the content of "people, places and things" spoken about in recovery programs.

The energy driving their experience is emotion.  Feelings give texture and color to life for good or bad.  Advanced therapy techniques or what I like to call Alphabet Therapies, Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping therapy), Brainspotting (David Grand), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and sound therapies (to name just a few) address the deeper emotional drivers that cause folk to get stuck in their pain.

As a client is telling their story focusing on content, emotions that are driving their experience will appear.  That is when a technique like EFT is indicated (Basic EFT Recipe).  Traditional talk therapy is often not enough to remove the emotional charge.  Especially if it is a traumatic memory.

In EFT, we tap on acupressure points, together we can remove the negative emotional charge connected to the content and memory.  By tapping on a person's story that is driven by emotion, we start to collapse the charge.  This allows for new feelings of aliveness and shifts in perceptions.  Often folk will state that the room looks clearer and brighter.  They start to feel more alive.

Techniques like EFT that involve the body/mind connection speeds up the process of change and desired results.  The goal isn't just to have less pain or even no pain.  The end goal is to reach a feeling of aliveness and vitality in the world.