For those who would prefer a guided meditation with visual images, here’s a link to the youtube version: https://youtu.be/vP9ILva4lh4
One of the books from graduate school that powerfully impacted me was “Blaming the Victim”. I was in a class where I focused my work on shame—collective and individual—and got deeply immersed in how we tend to blame the victim as a way to validate our beliefs and actions. The impact of that class, and particularly the above book, has never left me. It started me on a 40+ year journey of tracking my own internal process of judging and blaming, catching myself when I can and challenging my own rationalizations about what’s happening to people locally and around the world. Even with this practice, I know that there are countless times when I engage in blaming the victim, unaware of my own biases and limiting beliefs.
As I watch the current situation in the United States—and we are not alone in our mistreatment of people we consider to be “other”—I not only feel deep heartache and distress, but am also keenly aware of how vividly a “blaming-the-victim” mentality seems to have captured the minds of those in power. That this stance lacks empathy goes without saying. The deeper problem is that blaming victims allows us to remain unaware of our privilege, of our seemingly justifiable disconnection from the suffering of others. Read More “716th Week: Blaming the Victim”
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”
Sitting in Central Park one weekend morning, a morning that was cloudy and quiet in the park, I felt a deep sense of peace radiating from all the trees around me. The quality of the trees and the environment they evoked reminded me of the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”, where people go amongst trees to soak in the healing that naturally emerges.
Attuning to the peaceful quality of the trees is, for me, similar to tuning in to a particular radio station, television channel, or on-line program. It reminded me, yet again, of the importance and power of mindful awareness, of being able to choose where I focus my attention… Read More “692nd Week: Resonating with the Essence of Peace”
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”