As I write this, I’m sitting in Central Park, as I often do on weekend mornings, attuning to the trees that have become my companions. I notice that I am resonating with their steady, still presence and that their steadiness and stillness, even their expression of presence, is moving into my body-mind experience. As I sit here, I absorb the qualities I experience in them and I find that access to the steadiness and stillness in me is enhanced by their presence. Central Park has been, and continues to be, one of the most important gifts in my life for over 35 years now, and my gratitude for having access to the natural life of the park is boundless.
This got me to thinking about how powerful it is to spend time in nature and to absorb the qualities that may not be easily accessible in urban life. When I look at the large rock outcropping off to my right, I think of its solidity, its constancy, its steady presence. When I hear the sound of the locusts that populate the park at this time of the year, I think of the freedom to express. When I think of one of the small waterfalls up in the northern section of the park, I am touched by a sense of flow. These are all projections, perhaps, and yet they offer me an experience that I find both strengthening and nourishing.Read More “762nd Week: Accessing and Nurturing Qualities from Nature”
I am living with cats for the first time in 24 years. There are three of them, all related, and less than a year old. What I’m aware of constantly these days is how much more often I find myself smiling. I’m kind of a “smiley” person to begin with, so it’s not new territory to me but—even with that familiarity—I’m surprised by how much moreof the time I seem to find myself smiling.
This got me to thinking about the research that’s been done around smiling. Read More “726th Week: Smiling as A Resource”
Each morning, I post a daily inspirational quotation and nature photograph on the Devadana Sanctuary Facebook page and the one I put up recently has stayed on my mind. I thought I’d share it as this week’s practice, given the amount of contention and negative feelings and events happening in so many of our human communities around the world.
The quotation is from the work of Pierre Predervand, who writes about the powerful practice of offering blessings as an aspect of, and activity in, daily living. I include gratitude in this practice because, for me, both offering blessings and expressions of gratitude are powerfully related. Here’s the quotation from Pierre Predervand (from his book, The Gentle Art of Blessing) that I posted the other day:Read More “749th Week: Offering Blessings and Gratitude”
One of the things that has been very much on my mind these days is an awareness of the stunning lack of empathy expressed by public figures, particularly in the political realm. What feels so impacting is that this apparent lack of empathy resonates with so many people around the world, as reflected in news reports about the many ways in which we harm one another. Read More “670th Week: Generating Empathy”
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”
Sitting in Central Park on a quiet Sunday morning, I find myself wondering what to offer for this week’s practice. One of the things most of us need at this point are ways to settle ourselves, reliable ways to re-center in the presence of so many adaptations required in this world of both a pandemic and an essential confrontation with racial and economic inequities that have been accepted as normal for far too long.
As I’ve been doing lately, I’d like to offer some practices that might be of help during stressful times. As a collective, we face necessary demands for fundamental social change even as we adapt to learning to manage a pandemic we don’t yet fully understand, and these inescapable realities are sources of stress for most of us.
Drawing from my hypnosis background as well as Somatic Experiencing and EMDR, here are some practices I’ve found useful over the years:Read More “800th Week: Some Approaches to Ease Stress”