As I write this practice, I’m sitting in Central Park on a Sunday morning, having some quiet time to write, to soak in the sounds of birds, insects, hawks, dogs, and people. It’s a place I come to each weekend morning when weather and schedule permit. What comes to mind this morning is that I bring my iPad so I can write. I bring my container of coffee. I bring the muffin I buy along the way. I carry everything in my backpack, including my phone and earbud connections.
As I think of all these things that are part of my weekend morning routine, I also begin to think about the many people and resources that went into making this moment possible, people I will never know and yet without whom I wouldn’t have all the things with me that I want to bring along on these quiet, meditative morning journeys. Read More “725th Week: Noticing Relationship and Gratitude”
One of the things that most of us find challenging is to manage uncertainty. It’s a natural response to be uncomfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen next or where we are headed, individually and collectively. For some people, finding conspiracy theories offers an experience of “knowing what’s going on” that calms the discomfort most of us feel around uncertainly. For others, anxiety becomes a constant companion and they have difficulty truly soothing themselves. For yet others, becoming numb and shutting down is their natural response to constant and mounting uncertainty.
Also, I want to affirm that having a response to uncertainty is certainly normal and not necessarily something that needs the kind of process I’ll describe below, so please be gentle with yourself when circumstances elicit discomfort and anxiety about the future.
As I’ve been thinking about how we can expand our capacity to be uncomfortable and find some degree of equanimity, I found myself thinking about a concept I have taught for many years—a process of uncoupling trauma-based associations, called over-couplings in the Somatic Experiencing® world. Let me define these terms as I did when teaching SE.
Trauma over-couplings are associations that become “glued together” during times of overwhelm or distress. These are individual elements of experience or learnings that actually don’t belong together. One common trauma-based, attachment-oriented over-coupling is: If I do what I want, they (whoever “they” might be) won’t love me. Those two things don’t really belong together and especially so in adult life. Another common trauma-based over-coupling is: Unless I know what’s going on, I won’t be safe. The problem with trauma-based over-couplings is that they predict something that may not, or probably won’t, happen. They often arise from childhood experiences where we were not only ill equipped to have options available to us but when we also weren’t mature enough to understand what was happening.
I’d like to offer one way to deal with these trauma-based over-couplings. I called it “therapeutic dissociation” in my book, Getting Through the Day, but it’s actually a form of uncoupling adult awareness and options from those arising from earlier overwhelming experience.Read More “812th Week: Managing Uncertainty”
Several times in the last week, I’ve run across postings in classes I’m taking, as well as postings on Facebook, that speak to something that offers what, for me, is a source of support during these challenging and distressing times. Unfortunately, at the moment, my brain won’t give me the names of the people or places where I’ve run across these postings, so I’ll share some general ideas about what has touched me along the way.
I’ve written before about the importance of not going into collapse in the presence of what seem to be overwhelming circumstances. One of the ways to avoid collapse is to feel able to act in ways that meet, ameliorate, or change what causes suffering to our brothers and sisters of every species all around the planet, and to the planet itself. Read More “720th Week: Small Acts Matter”
Walking across Central Park one morning, I became aware of the returning presence of birdsong throughout the park. It’s always a sure sign of spring and, along with the brightening of the light, touches me with the promise of the season to come. It also reminds me of the inevitability of change and of the gift of having a head’s up that change is coming, no matter how subtle that signal may be.
As a trauma therapist, and someone who works with shock trauma on a pretty consistent basis, I know the price the body and psyche pay when experiences emerge for which there was no warning. As a person who constantly delves into new information about science and processes in nature, I also keep in mind the idea of “emergence”, of the ways in which nature seeks novelty and brings together unlikely elements to create something new. I mentioned this in a prior practice, about how bringing together two air elements—a molecule of oxygen and a molecule of hydrogen—creates an unexpected outcome—a fluid, water. For me, this demonstrates how nature is full of surprises, how life is full of surprises, and that we never really know what will emerge within the context of a new cycle. Read More “709th Week: Noticing Emerging Change”
878th Week: Appreciating the Life Around You
In a recent practice, we explored what it would be like to notice that everything we encounter is conscious in its own way and that we are in relationship with everything around us. I wanted to offer some examples of those relationships here, as well as another practice. This week’s practice adds another element.
One of the things that has added profound levels of richness to my life across my adulthood has been my sense that everything I encounter is a companion along the way. For some people, my way of living is too far out there and would land in a category of “fantasy”, I’m sure. I say this because I have relationships not only with the humans, felines, plants, and stone people who are part of my life, but I also have very active—and interactive—relationships with all my gadgets. My computers are always my friends and I bring a great deal of gratitude to them whenever we work together. My kitchen has a deep sense of how much I appreciate it and my vacuum cleaner has my constant appreciation and gratitude.
This may sound way out there or even silly, and I can understand that, but I can only say that to live in relationship with all that I encounter offers me a number of gifts. First, it invites me to stay conscious of how I’m interacting with my world and orients me to stay centered, grounded, and present even when doing mundane tasks. Because I feel I’m interacting with everything around me, I’m mindful of being attentive and present to what’s unfolding. Secondly, it keeps me oriented to a sense of gratitude, which is always a gift, as it is such a heart-opening state of awareness to be in. Thirdly, it nourishes a sense of relationship, which is also heart-opening and heart-nourishing as an internal state.Read More “”