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Turning over a new leaf


I have been thinking about change and the idea of turning over a new leaf.  It is really quite poetic.

Change happens whether there is focus upon it or not as this is the way of things.  But the intentional act of looking at something from a different perspective can have the feeling of transformation and illumination.  Turning over a new leaf has a voluntary aspect to it. It is the action connected to changing perspectives or paradigm shifting.

This works equally as well when considering the need to change a belief – turning over a (be)-lief so that you are shifting your perspective allows you to change the lens of your internal vision in the same way you zoom in or out on a subject with a camera, focusing and refocusing.

In Gestalt therapy turning over a belief is also used to see what is under the belief – what is the etiology of the belief.

This idea is a great one for assisting you to determine how to shift your perspective.  When you understand what idea or experience is the beginning form of the belief and you understand the function of the belief then you can determine if the belief still fits into your overall core value system or if you need a more functional belief.

Beliefs are the things that guide you.  They are based on your core values.  Some beliefs are a misconnection of core value and action.  These are the beliefs that need to be investigated and understood at a deeper level.

How you know you are acting from a belief that doesn’t serve the purpose you think is through recognition of our feelings.  You have to identify what you are getting out of the belief and the action.

To identify which beliefs may be not serving you, look for how you feel in certain circumstances.  If you are feeling anxious or a sense of urgency – and the anxiety and urgency seem out of proportion to the situation – then you are probably acting under a belief that is not benefitting you.

Many beliefs keep you tied to others in a way that uses your energy to maintain the connection.  And the actions you take to maintain that habit can be automatic and unconscious, or unthinking not mindful.

As an example:  A person who believes she is unlovable, (belief) will over-give  (action) to another in order to make up for her insecurity and low self-esteem.  She is cementing the other’s reliance on her because she feels the relationship is not balanced without this extra action.  However, this creates a lack of balance in how the energy flows between herself and others.  She may feel taken for granted or not recognized.  She may at times feel unhappy about how she is unable to focus her energy onto herself, can’t create success in her own life,  or can’t get out of difficult relationships.  Yet in attempts to shift her energy she will define it as necessary until she reviews the underlying belief – because she is acting from this underlying belief.

In order for a person to change her actions she must first shift her perceptions of truth or reality.

She must change the world within to change the world outside.

In the example above she must discover her truly lovable self and then from that space interact.  This discovery would come less from some deep understanding of why and more from an alignment with what she observes.  She would observe that she is connected, and others do care for her, and that it is through her overextension of herself that relationships breakdown.  This allows her to simply shift her action to be more in balance and then her relationships would be more in balance.

The only time this equation doesn’t work is when the other person expects the overextension.  If a person chooses to overextend but knows that is what she is doing then she is acting from a balanced and mindful state that allows her to be living more healthfully.  It is when a person is taking actions unconsciously, in habit, from a misunderstood belief that lack of health occurs.

The action of making a change for the better, of Turning over a new leaf, requires the mindful action of reviewing and turning over the belief underneath the undesirable or difficult action, mindful paradigm shifting.

Your actions and thinkings are linked and together define how you see the world and how you act in the world.

If the world seems bleak or you are in a habit of acting in a way that does not serve you, doesn’t bring you joy, and you want to change,  first look to the underlying beliefs that guide your behavior.

A simple technique is to get two pieces of paper and cut these into the shape of two large leaves.

On the top of the first leaf write the feelings that are bothering you, the habits you feel are destructive or not healthy that you want to change.  Then turn over that first leaf and write what beliefs drive those habits.  These will be deep inner feelings about yourself and your self in relationship.  Issues of lovability, survival, fear, and loss are strong motivators for actions.

On top of the second leaf – the new leaf – write down changed actions – how you want to act in the world.  Then turn over the second leaf and write down the opposite belief of the information on the first leaf ( so if you had written I am unlovable then here you would write I am lovable).  The simple action of righting the belief will give you greater strength to change your behavior.

With this task you have created a path to change,  turn over a new leaf and begin to live in a way that is more in-line with your true self.  To further solidify this path you can write down a set of actions you are going to take to realign your actions with your true beliefs.

In the example above, she would discuss her feelings of overextension and being taken for granted with her friends and family.  She would define different ways to both be helpful and identify what is too much.  Then she would have to catch herself when she was acting habitually or automatically, rather than mindfully, to overextend.  This would take some adjustment.  In time her inner sense of balance and self-confidence would grow and she would feel more connected to the people around her.

Effective change happens when beliefs and actions are in balance.  It is an act of mindfulness, with a focus on congruency and balance.

I see a pile of new leaves blowing in the wind.  The seeds of change.

See you tomorrow.



meditation and mindfulness, your mind’s natural anti-anxiety for attentional problems


Anxiety can feel like an internal restlessness, an irritability, a desire to avoid something and a need to distract yourself from what is in your senses, emotions,  mind, and thoughts.  It splits your focus and your energy.

This can be a conscious set of activities or an unconscious one.  It can look to another as if you are distracted, bored, inattentive, irritable, disagreeable and sometimes hyperactive.  Due to this, anxiety in children can be confused with ADD and when hyperactivity is present treated with a number od different medications.  For individuals wanting to keep their children free of medications I encourage you to look at how to decrease your child’s anxiety or stress reactions through structure, compassion development of mindfulness activities and meditation.

Attention is a combination of focus, interest, and energy.  There are neural pathways involved in attention that incorporate emotion (interest, focus, and energy)  the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus.  The frontal and parietal lobes assist with memory, attention, and behavior.  These pathways can be excited by overuse, overstimulation, and create problems with mediating fearful, anxiety provoking situations.  Some of these fearful states can be as simple as test anxiety, anxiety in social situations,  and intense worry in young children who are sensitive.

Gestalt looks at this anxious activity as a way to keep yourself out of a present moment state and uses various techniques to get you into the present.  For the most part, much of Gestalt therapy is the development and use of mindfulness.

Anxiety defined in Gestalt therapy is having your attention focused in the past or the future, with rumination about what has happened in a circulatory way or what might happen, what if, in a circulatory way.  These actions keep a person out of the present where he has actual power to make decisions and take actions. These actions are distracting and in general the person looks unfocused, bored, inattentive, restless, and defiant.  Mindfulness and meditation are present moment activities that help to quell anxiety and refocus the person’s attention.

Actions and connections in the brain happen quickly and sometimes an individual may not be aware of feeling anxious – they may feel irritable, restless, or bored but not know the etiology of their feelings.  When this happens with children, teachers and parents often respond by being more firm providing consequences for the inattention – if the lack of focus is related to anxiety then this normal response from parents or teachers can exacerbate the problem within the child and increase his anxiety resulting in more negative behavior on the part of the child.

Creating space for downtime, lengthening transition time, attending to the child’s physical stressors of sleep, nourishment (both physical and emotional) and exercise ( lack of or too much), and teaching mindfulness and meditation tools to your child are your best antidotes to anxiety and inattention.

This is true whether the underlying issue is social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity.  Structure, connection, mindfulness, and meditation all allow the child to move into the center of his world so that he can increase his internal sense of power and see from a neutral perspective.  This moves your child into a present moment so that it is virtually impossible to feel anxiety since anxiety is connected to past- or future-time concerns.  It increases the down cycle of your child’s brain so that he can incorporate new learning and integrate old information with new information – the required cycling of the brain is intense focus and down cycling for incorporation.

1.  Set up a routine for sleep, rest, exercise, and nourishment that is reasonable for your child and predictable.

2.  When transitioning from play to work wakefulness to sleep – (and vice versa), and intense activities make sure you create 20 to 30 minutes of transition time – longer when the next activity is anxiety provoking for your child.

3. Know your child.  Educate yourself on the specific symptoms your child has developed to telegraph his anxiety.  Educate him on these too.

4.  Develop specific strategies for your child to use to manage his anxiety when he notices one of his triggers or symptoms.  I.E.:  focused breathing, visualization techniques, journaling to release fears and increase opportunities for reality testing (paradigm or perspective shifting), meditation, mindfulness, and changing his environment to shift his energy.

5.  Engage other caregivers to assist your child in utilizing these strategies.

6.  Maintain clear boundaries with fair and loving, compassionate consequences.

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADD and is being treated with medication but still has attentional issues it may be that the medication is assisting your child with his anxiety through the “frontal lobe putting ‘reins’ on the amygdala…”  This is only covering the possible underlying etiology of the inattentive behavior and under stressful circumstances your child’s anxiety and negative behavior will recur.  According to Srini Pillay a psychiatrist and author of  Life Unlocked:  7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear (2010).  He suggests:

1. Ask yourself: If anxiety were the culprit, what would the reason be?
2. Have you tucked away any fears that you don’t know how to deal with?
3. Do you avoid situations to avoid anxiety?
4. Are you “tolerating” anything in your life, and if so, what?
5. What are your greatest unfulfilled desires and how could your dissatisfaction about this be impacting you?

If you write down brief answers to these questions, you will be well on your way to understanding the possible unconscious anxiety in your brain. If you work with a professional, ask them about his, and check to see if treating the anxiety restores your attention. Exploring this possibility in the longer term is usually what helps people find a way to deal with the anxiety. Remember, anxiety is really just “electrical energy” gone haywire in your brain. The best way to deal with random electrical energy is to make sure you are “grounded” and to make sure that there is an appropriate channel through which it can flow.

It may well be that your attention deficit disorder is actually an anxiety excess disorder. Consider this carefully before deciding on your strategy. Taking a little extra time to explore this may be worth the wait.  Srini Pillay  (2010)

Emotion, memory, attention and experience are all interconnected.

Mindfulness, meditation, and structuring your life to allow for physical and emotional nourishment, and the natural cycle of stimulus and downtime for integration will assist you and your child to deal with the complexities and stressors in life that can cause anxiety and a lack of focus.

These suggestions are helpful for adults and children struggling with inattention, distraction, lack of motivation, and moodiness that may be indicative of internal anxiety.

Practicing mindfulness, meditation, compassionate, neutral paradigm shifting to access an internal centeredness allows you to create balance within so that your response to your environment can be balanced.

See you tomorrow.



The Arousing, 51 chen (shock, thunder) Source energy uplifts in times of crisis

When there is an upheaval in your environment you get an opportunity to re-evaluate your perspective, your beliefs, and the values on what you base your life and actions.

You get an opportunity to re-set your core values – your inner guidance system.  Just as your senses are your internal emotional guidance system to know when a boundary is being crossed, so are your core values your internal spiritual guidance system to set your course through your life.

When your life is bombarded by a set of upheavals or changes you are given an opportunity to reset your life course, your choices in how you move through, and act in your own life.

Upheaval and change can be a profoundly freeing and joyous time.  In every element it is like a new birth and new commitment to yourself and your goals.

Spiritual connection is paramount.  This does not have to be a specific belief in God or a religion.  Although, having the structure, ritual and connection of a set-belief is useful for some, for others it can be a barrier.  Opening your heart to a source connection without getting hung up on a name, or structure that is limiting, is best.  It may simply be knowing  that there is a fabric, an underlining, underpinning thread that connects all beings, one to another, and that your life is guided by some abiding principle of love and light and joy.

Intense and shocking upheaval can be debilitating if the fear of change is too strong.  This is especially true when the upheaval is in the area of health or relationship, or in some way in which you feel your capacity for survival is challenged.

  • If you are being challenged by a loss of how you usually deal with things
  • or if you are receiving sensory feedback that you must change your style of being in the world
  • you can feel very vulnerable and alone.

An example of the latter is if you have been struck by a debilitating illness that can only be treated with a complete change in how you handle stress.

  • Many auto-immune disorders are like this.
  • They are exacerbated by stress, and imbalance of spirit, mind, and body.
  • Continued physical and emotional stress to your body and attempts to control that which is out of your control will result in further injury to  your body.
  • You can become physically debilitated.

To heal, you would have  to relearn how to be in the world.  This is frightening, shocking and resistance is often the first response.   Stress and lack of balance cause dis-ease in emotions and thoughts, and disease in the body.  So, although the precursor event was long, enduring, and insidious the appearance of the disease feels like a shock.

Another example that manifests as a shock is a change within yourself about how you want to relate to those around you.

  • Perhaps you have discovered that you give away your energy in order to facilitate a sense of intimacy and survival, but in reality you feel alone and disconnected.
  • You may have discovered a system of behavior wherein you are a caregiver for many others, but have little exchange, so that all your energy is going out.  This is another example of a longstanding insidious belief system misconnected to a core value of giving and compassion that has left you with an internal emptiness and illness.
  • The sense of emptiness and illness are the shocking, arousing experience.

In order to assist your spiritual development and manifestation of balance you can use mindfulness and meditation to review earlier events and current events from a neutral perspective.  This allows for a renewed perspective that allows you to reset your core values to your current behavior, actions, and thoughts to create Joy and Health.

In fact, mindfulness, meditation, and neutrality are essential in order to resist the sinking into the abyss of fear or despair under these circumstances and to rebuild your inner core strength.

The I Ching, a profoundly spiritual, Confucian-Taoist text describes the underlining component of  upheaval in hexagram 51, Chen, The Arousing, (shock,thunder) as a time when one is enlightened and sustained by his knowledge of God.  And this sustains him and leads him to success.

The shock that comes from the manifestation of God within the depths of the earth makes man afraid, but this fear of God is good, for joy and merriment can follow upon it.  

When a man has learned within his heart what fear and trembling mean, he is safeguarded against any terror produced by outside influences. Let the thunder roll and spread terror a hundred miles around:  he remains so composed and reverent in spirit that the sacrificed rite is not interrupted.  This is the spirit that must animate leaders and rulers of men – a profound inner seriousness from which all outer terrors glance off harmlessly. 

The shock of continuing thunder brings fear and trembling.  The superior man is always filled with reverence at the manifestation of God; he sets his life in order and searches his heart,lest it harbor any secret opposition to the will of God.  Thus reverence is the foundation of true culture.

It is a profoundly compassionate and reverent passage and brings to the fore the importance of spirit in the life of a successful person.  Success here is a sense of joyful, balanced, purposeful action that creates wellness in action and experience.  The text is meant to be used by leaders and individuals in powerful positions so that they may deal with the complexities of life and leadership in a profoundly compassionate, directed, focused, balanced way to protect guide and create prosperity for the community.

The concept of God is not commonly discussed in this treatise.  In Confucian beliefs, there is a predominance of communication about energy following a course of increase and decrease and that is the way of the universe.  Yet, here it is a central theme and identified as the preeminent focus for internal strength in times of crisis and strategy.  This indicates to me that source energy is personal and private, and of great importance in our internal guidance system.

The methods of mindfulness, prayer, and meditation are the best avenues for discovering and maintaining a connection to source.

Practicing these methods will assist you in developing a strong positive connection to source so that when you are faced with an upheaval that is shocking you can utilize these techniques to redirect your life and create Joy and Health., in love and light, bg