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Applying mindfulness to depression

Hello

Depression interferes with one’s capacity to be mindful.  It skews one’s vision – not the vision in your eyes so much as the vision of your heart and mind.

When one is depressed their thinkings and feelings are skewed to the negative.

Often they have no ability to actually remember when things felt better or positive.  They don’t have access to memories of being successful or things working well.

I call this depressive thinking.  Depressive thinking is the opposite of mindful thinking.  I think of depression as blocking out the exact thinking and feeling style that is required for mindfulness.   It’s a problem because one of the best antidotes to depression is mindfulness.

It’s a conundrum.  So I suggest the first action is to somehow trick yourself out of it.

This is difficult because the depression makes it so that you don’t have access to the part of your thinking that helps you paradigm shift, be mindful, and bring in historical positive experiences to modulate the depression.

There are a number of tricks to try.  Here are some that I think are clever and effective.

Change your environment.

If you are inside and feeling bad, go outside for a walk or run or to sit in the nice sun.  If you are outside in some activity go inside and look at an inspirational book or listen to beautiful music.

Take a break.

If you are dealing with a stressful activity or situation, then take a break from it to get back your distance, perspective, or focus.

Don’t give in to the seductive negative thinking – fight it.  This is a big one.

Depressive thinking is seductive and the energy of depression is passive and going along with it… so to fight it is a non-depressive action.  Just that can help to change the curve of your thinking and feeling.

If you feel like you want to quit and give in you can say that, acknowledge it, but then say and do the opposite – fight for your perspective.

Don’t argue and prove how your depressive thinking is right – what Richard Bach called argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours – this is the automatic depressive thinking, action.  Don’t do that instead Argue with your limitations.

This is hard in the moment unless you prepare ahead of time.

Get your arguments established when you are not depressed so that you have them when you feel depressed.

Write down a list of times when you were able to get out of depression and had successful, positive experiences.  Or just document that there have been good, happy times and that depression is transitory – it comes and goes SO it will go again if it comes again.

Know your depressive patterns so that you can immediately identify when you are sliding into depressive thinking.

Ask for help.

Maybe the help is another person to remind you of the whole truth of who you are your successes and positive qualities.   Maybe the help is the list you created when you were feeling mindful.  Go to it and read it – not fighting what it says but using the information to fight the depressive thinking.

Fight for mindfulness.  Stand by yourself instead of against yourself.

Writing exercises that can help.

When you feel the depressive thoughts write them down and then write down the opposite of what you’re depressive thinking is focusing on.  Also write down what you actually want.  It shifts the energy of the negative, depressive thinking.

Sometimes the depressive thinking has an obsessional quality and you can’t let go of what you have stuck in your thoughts and feelings.

A great trick to deal with this, especially if it is interfering with your sleep is to write it all down.  Often if you can get it out, you will find that you can sleep.

I think of this as a way to let your mind know that you will not forget about these worries – because they are written down – so your mind will quiet and let you sleep.

If what is bothering you has to do with negative events that happened in your past then writing them down is a way of dumping them so that you can have some peace for sleep.

Mindfulness is an antidote to depression.  Getting to mindfulness is the best way to treat depression.

Depression can be insidious and difficult to see at first but if you can identify it is happening these tricks may be helpful to get you to a neutral place so that you can use mindfulness to redirect your thinking and actions.

Try them to see if they shorten the course of your depression or give you time to breathe so that you can get your bearings in a situation.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Healing in everyday interactions

Hello

“The healer knows that there is only one way to solve the truly difficult problems of this world:  with love, the energy of the heart and its permutations – – gentleness, kindness, patience, tolerance, and ethical behavior.” — Warren Grossman, PhD

I found this quote while researching information for an ethics seminar. It’s kind of cool.

Grossman was a therapist who developed this as a philosophy in response to his work as a therapist.   His website states the following:

For Grossman, ” Love – not romance, Tolerance – which does not mean to tolerate, Interdependence – with the rest of nature, Intelligence – not intellect, Healing – becoming more whole, Forgiving – exchanging anger for love, Respect – appreciative regard for that which is not familiar, Here and Now – The only time that is neither memory nor fantasy, Naturewhat you are, Transformation – becoming better, Epistemology – knowing about knowing”;

his book Earth/Heart –’ what you are reflects the many important things the author learned through the years, specifically his encounter with the flow of life and his thoughts about the simple truths of nature’.  Warren Grossman, PhD

This is remarkably similar to what I have been writing about over the last few months.

There are many paths to this concept of Mindfulness.

Focusing on self-knowing and compassion toward others allows for the opening of one’s heart in a way that is different from falling in love.

One of my favorite authors Erich Fromm wrote about the Art of Loving.  Loving is not so much a feeling as an action; it’s a way of being in the world.

It seems to be more a matter of knowing the other, understanding the other, and accepting the other rather than making the other become something from your imagery.

When I think about the sixties and how free love was interpreted I think they missed out on the opportunity for truly freeing love and opening up to a higher level of consciousness toward others.

Then it was about getting out of the constraints of social mores here I am talking about upleveling consciousness.

Love is healing.

Truly gifted therapists love their patients.  They attend to them with this compassionate, accepting, understanding way and guide them toward health with openness, honesty, kindness, and resilient focus.

If you have been in therapy with a gifted therapist you found a healing path for yourself with their guidance.  Those who know this, know psychotherapy works.

The reason that it has not been proved that it works is due to the sad fact that not all therapists act in this manner.  It is not specifically prescribed to do so – in fact there are many boundaries, rules, and constraints set up to avoid such a relationship because most individuals don’t love in this higher consciousness way and falling in love with your patients will and does injure them.

It is my contention that one of the reasons for therapy is to resolve the injuries of the heart that occur without intention in childhood.  As such, often the work in therapy is to re-parent those beings you find in your practice.

As I meditate on mothering and parenting I see the similarities between therapy and parenting; how to best heal or help birth the consciousness of our children is to use these actions of higher love.

Compassion, understanding, accepting, being with while guiding forward these actions as parents make it so that injuries may be avoided or healed from the inside out.

Think about how you can free love or free your heart toward your partner and /or child – increasing your understanding of them so that you can be more accepting of them.

Of course I am not suggesting co-dependence or neglect of response-able expectation in relationship just seeing the person in front of you and loving who they are.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Inoculation for bullying

Hello

I see mindfulness, present moment interaction with the insight of figure/ground understanding, being congruent in speech and action, having compassion and empathy, and acting for the prosperity of all  as a set of principles on how to inoculate your child from the infection of being a bully or being debilitated by  bullying.

In the previous Power blogs, I wrote about the importance of having a number of different group connections, including spiritual, and physical activities, so that if one group had a style of bullying as part of its foundation then other groups would allow for personal self-confidence and resilience building.

Most of the information that I have presented on this topic is designed to set the foundation to develop the kind of resilient character and personality that allows a person to choose to not take an action like bullying or suicide.

I have also been writing about how adults being more mindful, ourselves, in how we communicate, speak and act towards other groups with which we disagree sets the stage for teaching such to our children.

These two components go together to create an environment where bullying is not tolerated.  They are the meta and micro, figure/ground, aspects of how we transfer social aspects of being in the world to our children.

It’s a choice to behave in a way that supports the upleveling of the whole group – not to see life as a limitation of resources so you have to step on others to get to the top of the heap.  The latter sets up the in-group/out-group behavior that results in the outsiders resorting to bullying or suicide.

When you have adults speaking in this in-group/out-group way, choosing a group to belittle and malign, you have the makings of a situation where it is acceptable and almost respectable to be a bully.

In this kind of scenario it’s seen as cool – and makes you part of the it crowd.  That’s what I think we’re going to find out about the recent bullying/victim tragedy in the Northeast; it was the cool and popular kids that were harassing the young girl who ultimately took her life.

Setting laws to try to punish the perpetrator(s) is a way of dealing with them after the fact.  But if you want to extinguish the behavior it can not be condoned – not in the schools but also, and very importantly, not in other high-profile areas like entertainment and politics.

I see this negative behavior in television and movies even those identified as family oriented, and from our politicians on both sides of the aisle.  I have heard teachers support this bullying behavior, possibly in reaction to their own sense of powerlessness.  Even the cool media too, are using labeling techniques rather than reporting neutral facts.

We are in a difficult social environment where acting properly is NOT seen as good and cool, or something to which one should aspire.  Ask an adolescent and they will tell you that it is NOT cool to be a good and supportive person – that’s being a nerd or a sissy or a pushover. It doesn’t leave a lot of space to teach mindfulness to children and adolescents.

The developmental stages of high and mid school age kids are profoundly laden with being cool, which makes it feel like a losing battle when the social environment is working against you.

So, if we want our children to be strong, resilient, thrivers then we need to stand up for them and stand up to those who are pushing their agenda by putting down others or using bullying tactics to get to power.

And we can’t use the same in-group/out-group tactics to stand up for our children either.

Think about the blog on being descriptive rather than labeling.  We need to communicate to our children about mindfulness and help them develop their self-confidence and internal sense of empowerment.  And we need to be decisive, strong, compassionate, congruent, and mindful in our actions and responses.

It is a lot, but these go together easily when remaining and responding in the present moment, connected to your own self-confidence and faith.  Mindfulness is the key.

Think about how you already do model this behavior and teach this way of being in the world.

Look for sources that identify this as cool and something to aspire to develop as best benefiting oneself and society at large.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Being with while guiding forward

Hello

Parenting, healing, Cranial-sacral energy work, and relationship all have this one thing in common – Being with while guiding forward.

Cranial-sacral work is a type of energy work wherein the practitioner holds the client’s head and gently moves it back and forth  to realign the natural flow of energy from the cranium to the sacrum.  Practitioners of this type of energy work state they both follow and lead the energy.

This seems contradictory in nature but if you think about it we do it every day in other arenas.  It’s a function of staying mindful, and focusing on the present moment, with individual responses to input stimuli, and making adjustments to our actions.

Think about driving on the freeway.  You have a plan and you pick a lane but you also have to go with the flow of the traffic both in terms of how you move forward and what speed you travel as well as whether you continue on your path or make an immediate decision to change the course you chose based on the blockage of flow due to an accident, or emergency vehicles.

Healers and management consultants have a similar situation.  They have a plan and goal based on the information requested/provided by their client.  Then as new information presents itself the facilitator may need to go a different route to get to the identified goal – or the goal itself may be dramatically changed based on the circumstances.

The process of psychotherapy itself is much like this – both following the flow of energy as well as directing the client to reveal and investigate different aspects of the situation through mindfulness and paradigm shifting to come to a new understanding and or style of being in the world.

Parenting is this action of Being with while guiding forward on a minute by minute basis both in meta– and micro terms – big and small issues.  Meta issues being things like how the child sees himself, moral development, and socialization.  Micro issues being things like getting dressed, going to school, doing homework, and  getting along with friends.

From this perspective parenting is the most powerful kind of energy work – responding in  a moment to moment basis with mindfulness and recognition of figure/ground issues to the realities, daily requirements, mood, and unconscious of the child.

Parents need to have a mindful approach to their children to be able to both identify the flow of the situation as well as guide the flow in a direction that is most beneficial.

Think about this from the perspective of de-escalation.  If your child is sleep deprived or feeling sick she may have a tendency to react negatively to any push to move forward toward going to an activity that is less preferred.

Paying attention to cues from your child really help to identify blocks in energy or flow.  Vocalizations like whining especially if the child tends to be easy-going is a cue that something is off and needs attention.  Also moving slowly, not at their typical fast pace is another cue that the child needs attention.  Silence is another type of cue especially with a child who tends to be active, talkative and social in nature.

Using the Stop, look, and listen technique is a great way to gather information quickly and respond quickly.  When one is mindful and knows her child she can better utilize cues from her child to identify blocks in the energy flow.

Being mindful and reading the flow of energy – your child’s mood and behavior – allows a parent to use responses that both validate the emotion/feeling while guiding the child forward toward the required activity.

If you are a manager you can utilize these techniques and concepts to better manage and supervise those individuals under your care.  You can look for complaining, delay and excuses to identify where there may be problems.  This is especially true when you are interacting with someone who overall does not have these kinds of behaviors as a general course.

Mindfulness applied in this way to one’s everyday life can increase your connection to others and sense of real power in your own environment – it increases one’s and others’ empowerment.

Being with while guiding forward is a beautiful concept of how to be interacting in an empowered and respectful way in your environment.

See you tomorrow.

Beth



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Negotiating groups with mindfulness and empathy

Hello

Gandhi said:  Be the change you want to see in the world.  I think that living by the silver rule may help all of us to live by this statement by Gandhi.

In Christianity there is a saying Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In the Jewish tradition the saying is taught Do not do unto others what you would not want them to do unto you.

Wikipedia calls this the ethic of reciprocity and does not apply these as Christian and Jewish but rather calls them the golden rule (the positive form) and the silver rule (the negative form). This concept is also found in many philosophies including Egyptian and Greek.

I am more familiar with the golden rule.  However, of late, I have been thinking that the latter rule may be more efficacious.  Here is why:  If you need to do unto others all that you would like done to you that may be a long list however it seems to be more limiting and helpful as a boundary to simply not do unto others what you would not like done to you.  That is a smaller, clearer list; easier to follow and act on decisively.

If you consider all the things we want versus the things we do not want – most of us would agree on the big things we do not want and therefore should not do to others.  The list is limiting and defining of reasonable, social behavior.

I find the application of a set of negative rights as an interesting debate.  At present that is how our Constitution is written.

As an application to parenting it is a useful way to set up social structure for our children; the silver rule seems to be easier to grasp for children – they are pretty clear about what they do not want others to do to them.

Beginning in early childhood, identifying how to relate with one’s peers via this silver rule allows for the development of empathy and an internal moral structure.  It also teaches mindfulness; they have to consider the outcome of their actions and whether they would like it done to them.  It is a great tool for increasing and teaching mindfulness.

Of course for adolescents and adults it can be an internal process of evaluating our behavior based on this.   And allowing us to change aspects of our behavior which do not conform.  It requires Being mindful and acting in the present moment with a focus on the figure/ground of a situation.

By focusing on this we can better apply basic limits, and have a more empathic, socially supportive, style of being in the world.

I think this application of the silver rule helps to define how to deal with the line where individual needs and group needs meet.  This is one of the trickiest aspects of living in groups.  Where do my rights to something get overridden by the group right to something or the other’s right to something?  Helping our children negotiate this is one of our important tasks as parents.

Being mindful in the application of this rule helps to teach empathy and increases a person’s capacity to see figure/ground perspective.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Every twelve years

Hello

I like to think about adolescence as a second childhood.

It seems like what didn’t get resolved in the first 12 years gets a second chance in the second set of 12 years.  So 13 is about year one, and 14 is about year two and so on.  It’s a cool way of thinking about the issues of adolescence.

I will often ask kids and parents what was going on in those early years when I am working with adolescents and I find the insights are fascinating.

When dealing with adolescents remember that they act out what is going on – in fact the work of this period is to get them to talk about rather than act out their issues and psychological injuries.

They don’t have the self-control to not act on their impulses.   They feel deeply, as deeply as adults, but they have a truncated impulse control mechanism.

Of course for many parents this is the one area in which they have trouble – talking with their teenagers.

The best time to build your relationship with your children is when they are children.  How you treat them in their early lives sets up the relationship you have with them in their adolescence and adulthood.

Do not buy in to the belief that all children do not like their parents; that is not the case.  It is a way of abdicating responsibility to deal with our children and their relationship to us.  Just because it is common, doesn’t mean it is normal.

This is a perfect example of you reap what you sow.

Children are real people right at the beginning.  They have feelings, needs, desires, likes, dislikes that are all personal to them.  It is important to get to know your children and treat them like they are real in this way.

That doesn’t mean don’t discipline them – DO.  Do it in a way that is mindful and allows for development of a deep and secure relationship.  That is the foundation for creating trust AND strength.

Trust, strength, self-confidence and a sense of self are what children need to steady themselves through the storm of adolescence – it’s the closest thing to impulse control for an adolescent – to know himself and feel strong even in the face of adversity.  Feeling connected to a parent may be the only thing that helps an adolescent though their existential angst.

That kind of closeness is created, and built, in childhood – early childhood.

Although you can build on it later it gets more difficult to create that foundation as they get older.  There’s a lot you can heal in the first years of adolescence if you are willing to put in the effort to really connect, be present, and be congruent with your child.

Focus on creating an atmosphere where your child’s feelings, and experiences are validated.

Set limits and explain why – not as an avenue to change your mind, rather as an avenue to encourage your child to change theirs and to give them a way to align with what you are setting as structure.  This teaches them that you have a plan, a course, a reason for what may feel arbitrary.  It can create a confidence in you that is very positive later.

If your children are very young and you don’t think they can understand your plan – think of your explanation as a way of setting the structure for yourself so that you will remember to keep those communication lines open.  You’ll need those lines later.

Children get the unspoken energy of things more than the spoken – so if you are honestly trying to connect and create a structure for them – they will get that and feel that you are creating trust and relationship.

If your children are adolescents this is harder. First you need to set the stage.  Explain you are going to be doing things differently.  Talk about the importance of communication and connection and being mindful.  Show them that you are available and be congruent – do what you say you are going to do and what you expect them to do.

You will find they are not immediately responsive to these action but don’t stop.  Adolescents are always watching for incongruence.  If you can hang in there with them, continuing to honestly try to connect – they will note that internally, even if they do not appear to change externally.  That is your way in.

You will have to be consistent, trustworthy, and real or they will not trust you.

Apply the stop, look, and listen strategy, and the attention, intention, perspective, perception strategy,  that I have talked about in previous blogs, to keep yourself in the moment and mindful.  Don’t bring in the past unless it’s directly relevant to the now – or you will lose them and they will feel like you are lecturing rather than connecting.

Practice, be patient, be real and have faith.

In order to be there when they need you, you have to create the relationship when it seems it isn’t needed.

See you tomorrow.

Beth


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Inner clarity, outer adversity

Hello

One of my favorite children’s books is called Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day by Judith Virost.

It is a great book about how sometimes everything goes wrong and you just have to make your way through it, one foot in front of the other, with some degree of humor.

The hexagram Ming I / Darkening of the Light in the I Ching provides the best advice for a situation that is more serious than things just not going right. 

K’un above – the receptive earth and Li below – the clinging fire, together indicate that the sun has sunk below the earth and is therefore darkened – its name literally means the wounding of the bright and indicates the opposite of progress; this hexagram indicates a dark nature in authority and it has a negative connotation.  The proper action under these circumstances is:

“One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavorable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken,  He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable.  With this attitude he can overcome even the greatest adversities.  In some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his will prevail in spite of his difficulties in his immediate environment.  Perseverance must dwell in inmost consciousness and should not be discernible without.  …One should let things pass, without being duped.”   pg 140, Wilhelm, I Ching, 36 “…he veils his light, yet still shines.”

Recently, I have had an experience where no matter how I applied mindfulness, staying in the present, paradigm shifting, to the situation, I could not push through to a success or get the group to where I thought it needed to go.  Ultimately, it came down to just getting out, completing the task at hand, and reviewing  where the disconnects in expectation and what was requested occurred, and what had gone wrong. 

I was pleased to observe that I was not taking inappropriate responsibility for the badness.  I did not lose my center or my connection to the light. I could see how a number of different people, and main stakeholders had helped to create the difficulty in front of me.

I could see the conflict in the group and where the problem was, but could not get the stakeholders to work toward the required change.  Furthermore, I assessed as the day went on that I was not going to be able to change the wave of the energy toward the good.

The key to remaining strong through a difficult situation is to know what belongs where, and to whom, in terms of ownership and being able to flexibly respond to the situation.  It is also important to know when to exert a degree of personal effort to control the situation and when to allow it to flow to its negative outcome.

Sometimes, certain negative outcomes are needed to force the change required.

Being a change agent is generally considered an active role however sometimes the role requires being a target for others to work through their problems.  This latter role occurs more in therapy or consulting, but can present itself in other situations.

In certain structures, organizations, and family systems a kind of cataclysmic experience is the only way to move toward change.  It’s as if the internal conflict has to get so great or obvious that anyone passing by might be able to point out the issues.

This is because people tenaciously hold on to what is familiar; as a result they do not allow themselves to be open to inevitable and important change.

So if you practice mindfulness, paradigm shifting, staying in the present moment and you still can’t get to a place of understanding you may be in the middle of such a situation.

The best thing to do is to use questioning to increase your and the other person(s) perspective and expectations.

Identifying, describing, and focusing the group on what you see happening is a good beginning place to start.  And if you cannot assist the light being shown on the situation then it is best to hold to inner clarity and let the situation flow to its natural conclusion, without losing a connection to your own center.

It’s important to remain mindful, and in your center. Do not let the darkness overtake you.

Maintaining your light and awaiting a change in circumstances so that you can shine that light to effect the required change is the best action.

From a parenting perspective this is akin to picking your battles to achieve success.

Patience and good humor are important elements in all of these circumstances.

See you tomorrow.

Beth