Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Value of Time in Transitions: A New Kind of Stroll….Slow

by Brittiney George

“In other cultures, time is cyclical. It's seen as moving in great, unhurried circles. It's always renewing and refreshing itself.  Whereas in the West, time is linear. It's a finite resource; it's always draining away. You either use it, or lose it. "Time is money," as Benjamin Franklin said. And I think what that does to us psychologically is it creates an equation. Time is scarce, so we speed up. We try and do more and more with less and less time. We turn every moment of every day into a race to the finish line -- a finish line, incidentally, that we never reach, but a finish line nonetheless.” –Carl Honore (https://www.ted.com/talks/carl_honore_praises_slowness,4:10).

Does this idea make you curious?  Check out all of Carl Honore’s Ted Talk  - at  https://www.ted.com/talks/carl_honore_praises_slowness

Do you already know you need to find a new kind of stroll?  To reconnect to the world around you instead of being a prisoner to the clock?  There are some wonderful opportunities to join us at The Resiliency Center to do just that:
·       Meditation
·       Nature Walks
·       Qi Gong
·       Moms Support Group
·       Self-Compassion Group
·       Rest, Restore, and Move Class
·       Rumi and Hafiz Poetry Evenings
·       Infant Massage and Baby Signs Workshops
….and more.  See our Google Calendar at www.theresiliencycenter.com for class listings and other ways to reconnect and reenergize in your life.

Brittiney George, BS, CRS, CST, ICI, CEIM, is a Somatic Therapist specializing in Transformative Touch.  She offers Somatic Therapy sessions, Infant Massage, Baby Sign Language workshops, and exploratory movement classes at The Resiliency Center.  She also co-leads Connection, Expression and Movement (CEM), a monthly workshop series focusing on body-mind integration.  For a complimentary 55 min. Somatic Therapy session (new clients) contact Brittiney at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com.

Possibility and Presence through Transition


by Tracie Nichols

What if, by holding our questions a little longer, we saw answers where we least expected them…” Victoria Kindred Keziah

As day transits to night, I’m wrestling with words for this article about transition, specifically about the possibilities found in times of transition. I’ve been resisting the urge to “power through” and reach the end. Holding my questions a little longer, looking for a bit of unexpected inspiration.  

I notice that outside my window, low-angle sunlight flickers through sycamore leaves teased into movement by cooling daytime air. I’ve held my questions until I reached this transitional moment of the day. There are certain things - certain qualities - that can only exist in transitional zones like this late summer evening. Things like golden sunlight, rising breezes, and cricket song.

When we’re talking about transitions in our lives, the same principle holds. There are certain possibilities that only exist in the complex both-and state between problem and solution, ending and beginning, here and there.

Biologists call the transitional space between two distinct states of being an ecotone. In nature, these are places like a stand of shrubs between forest and field, or a reed bed between land and water. In our lives, these are the uncomfortable in-transition places between situations like being partnered and being single, or between one career and another.

Often we only notice ecotones in passing, if at all, our goal being to get out of the discomfort of between by moving quickly from here to there.

“Possibility only lives on the edge.” “Presence is the only way to walk the edge...” Margaret J. Wheatley

Translated from Greek, “ecotone” means “house of tension.” While tension can equate to unhelpful stress, it also means the productive, supportive kind of tension that our muscles exert to hold our bodies upright (without which we’d be floppy floor-dwellers), or the motivating tension of curiosity and anticipation.

To find the productive tension that opens us to possibility in our personal ecotones, we need to approach life transitions mindfully, bringing our full presence to the dance.

Then tension suspends us, holds us upright so we can notice possibilities being created by our here and there rubbing together sparking new ideas and opening paths we never would have seen had we only focused on reaching there.

The next time life tosses transition into your path, I invite you to bring your whole presence to the experience, be willing to surrender to healthy tension, and notice both what is and the unique potential of what could be.

Tracie Nichols, MA, is a Certified Career Services Provider with a Master’s degree in Human and Organizational Transformation and a passion for helping people explore their in-between places. She offers individual career coaching and strategy sessions, as well as classes helping people create a meaningful, enjoyable work life. Learn more about Tracie at tracienichols.com or connect with her at tracie@tracienichols.com or 215-527-5457.

Find your Roots to Bend in the Wind


by Elizabeth Campbell, LPC

“Like a tree, you have to find your roots and then you can bend in the wind,” Angela Farmer. 

September is a time when many individuals are transitioning.  Kids are starting preschool, transitioning to kindergarten, middle, or high school; young adults start college or a career.  Whether it is a change such as these or another transition such as a break-up, divorce, job change, or a move, it impacts us.  It can change our support network, routines, and what our day to day life looks like.  All of these things impact our mood and our ability to manage stress. 

Things that connect us with a sense of predictability and stability can keep us grounded during a transition.  Change can make us feel uncomfortable and like the rug was yanked from underneath us.  Things that make us feel stable therefore can help to feel like our feet are on the ground again.  This may be in the form of creating routine, such as a daily ritual for self-care, to bring stability.  Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and restorative yoga poses also calm the body and combat the frenetic energy that can come with change while also helping us to feel more grounded.  Giving a sense of predictability can especially be important for children going through changes.  Letting them know what to expect (ie. visiting a classroom beforehand, telling them the process of school drop off) can help them have appropriate expectations.  Providing predictability can also come in the form of maintaining consistency in areas that aren’t changing.   Finally, I cannot state enough how important some form of nurturing self-care is at this time, notably in taking care of our bodies through sleep and healthy eating.  Often we step away from the ways in which we care for ourselves when stress of change takes over.  This is one of the most important times to rely on self-care. 

One difficulty that can occur during transitions is that we may hold on so tightly to the way things were that we are unable to enjoy the benefits of the change. Shifting our focus to being flexible in our expectations can help us to connect more into the present.  We also often do not show compassion to ourselves during transitions.  Change, whether positive or negative, can universally be difficult.  Expecting no impact on our system and becoming angry or disappointed in ourselves when it inevitably occurs often breeds more stress.  Granting ourselves or our loved ones the flexibility to make mistakes, be irritable, or mourn the loss of what they are leaving behind gives room to bend so we don’t break.

Elizabeth Campbell is a Licensed Profession Counselor who provides empowerment and strength-based support to individuals in personal growth and change.  She specializes in play therapy with children, family therapy, creative counseling for adolescents, and trauma-informed treatment for all ages using an integrative, mindful approach to address the whole individual and promote healing.  If you would like to connect with Elizabeth, reach out at elizabeth@elizabethcampbellcounseling.com or 610-757-8163 or learn more at www.elizabethcampbellcounseling.com

Sunday, July 9, 2017

From my Heart: A Story about Dealing with Emotional and Physical Pain


by Karen Steinbrecher

I recently returned from a 10-day vacation to Norway and Sweden.  Yes, all was beautiful and fantastic, and the Scandinavian people were delightful. However, as with all things, there were challenges. We were constantly on the "go" on this cruise, walking, traveling, and mingling with many people in various activities. I did also experience pain, chronic neck and leg pain, while interacting with mean passengers from France.  I used the "inner smile" practice suggested by Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Tibetan monk, and was able to shift my feelings and state of being.

Qigong is my tool to weave through these situations.  Using my knowledge of the "tool" of QiGong, I was able to reduce and perhaps heal the pain I experienced. Emotional pain can lead to physical pain, and physical pain can lead to emotional pain. Research studies show evidence of the links between emotional, physical, and spiritual pain.

Listening to my body and my feelings during my trip, I knew I needed some alone time.  Qi Gong provides an opportunity to go inward and create a sacred space within, even in the company of others. Whether it was in my hotel/stateroom or outside touring the gorgeous landscapes, I flowed through QiGong movements. It is said that QiGong is even more powerful when practiced outside in Nature and with others. I felt the healing energy and the relief it brought. When others asked about my movements, I was so happy to share the gift of QiGong.  When we practice, we move the energy, Qi, that animates all life.  Gong means the moving, the work of cultivating that energy. The movements flow to harmonize Heaven and Earth/Sea:  Yang [Heaven] and Yin [ Earth].  The Norwegian words are Hima La Harv  [Himmel OgHav] for Sky and Sea.

When we flow with QiGong movements in my classes at the Resiliency Center, we begin with the Joy Practice and say..." I am the Universe, You are the Universe, and We connect for Peace and Love with Healing".  I remembered that Universe was presenting a challenge for me to do just that.  It was a challenge, and I hope that perhaps as I worked [Gong] to heal myself, somehow I did connect with others, kind and unkind alike, to promote Peace, Love and Healing.  As we heal ourselves, we heal one another.

QiGong is easy to do and easy to practice; in a group, the energy is even more empowering.  Moving and flowing through QiGong helps to balance the autonomic nervous system which is a key to healing.  Rather than sitting still, with QiGong movements your pain, emotional or physical, will be less.  Join me, Karen Steinbrecher on Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. at The Resiliency Center. Learn more and RSVP at karensteinbrecher@msn.com  or 215-836-7184.

Meaningful Movement with Others through Self-Awareness


by Brittiney George

“Taking responsibility for your physiological state is not only about learning how to down-regulate your system, but it is about communicating your state to those around you…mammals evolved to co-regulate – meaning that we help each other regulate our states through care-giving and reciprocity.”* So how does Self-Awareness impact regulation and relationships? 
A strong sense of self allows you to be in RELATION with others instead of REACTION to others.
Your body knows safety and danger and is constantly reacting to the cues received regarding it.  “Your body can sense something and react to it without it necessarily entering your conscious awareness.  In fact, your vagus nerve has two branches- an older branch that can be recruited for defense by going to the organs below the diaphragm and eliciting immobilization behaviors… and also another newer more evolved branch that, when functioning, keeps “fight/flight/freeze” in check, and supports your health, growth, and restoration.  This branch is the part of your autonomic nervous system that is responsible for allowing you to connect, self-soothe, be playful, and be in relationship.”*
When you tune in to the physical and emotional responses in your body you get to know how you can move with them and learn from them, instead of merely reacting to them.  When you acknowledge, give voice to, and share these experiences in relationship with another, it helps to regulate your system, and create more meaningful movement with your partner or friend.

What are some tools to help with regulation?

Change Your Breathing Pattern:  “Have you noticed when you are upset with your partner, you begin to huff and puff? This is your body physically preparing to mobilize for a fight or to run…in an effort to slow down, you need long exhalations. Try extending your exhalations through intentional breathing or through singing. Singing is wonderful because it uses muscles of the social engagement system.”*

Honor Your Story by Choosing Who and What you Share:  Honor when your gut is telling you, this isn’t someone I want to share my story with.  If you find that difficult, try out some of the empowering statements below:
·      Being authentic does not mean that everyone has the rights to all of me.
·      I can choose who knows the details of my life.
·      I can choose what I share and who I share it with.
·      I choose to honor all of my emotions, even the ones that are hard for me.
·      When I feel vulnerable, overwhelmed, or scared, I can choose to share my experience with someone that will receive my story with respect…..not agreement, not to hold the weight for me, not to take the pain away from me, but to respect the impact that what I’m sharing has on me.

Learn to Listen to the Cues of Your Body:  not sure how to even start listening to your body?  Or maybe you hear your body all the time (pain, anxiety, fatigue), but don’t know what to do with the information.  Somatic Therapy is a wonderful tool to help.  For a complimentary 55 min. Somatic Therapy session contact Brittiney George, at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com.

*The quotes in this article are from Dr. Stephen W. Porges, creator of The Polyvagal Theory, and a distinguished university scientist at the Kinsey Institute and a Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina.  Information from this article is available at:  http://www.neilsattin.com/blog/2016/04/34-the-science-of-safety-with-stephen-porges/

Brittiney George, BS, CRS, CST-L3, ICI, CEIM, is a Somatic Therapist specializing in Transformative Touch.  She offers Somatic Therapy sessions, Infant Massage and Baby Sign Language workshops, and exploratory movement classes at The Resiliency Center.  She also co-leads Connection, Expression and Movement (CEM), a monthly workshop series focusing on body-mind integration.  For a complimentary 55 min. Somatic Therapy session contact Brittiney at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com.

Regulating One’s Emotional Thermostat (Keeping Emotionally Cool)

by Kathleen Krol, LCSW, RPT-S

Summer has arrived with its warmer days and longer nights. At this time of the year, patience can wane – and internal thermostats can rise – as family members spend more time together. Awareness of our own emotional stress threshold in relation to others can be overlooked in the day-to-day hectic shuffle of life. Good communication skills tend to slide with the people whom we are closest; family and significant personal relationships. Many people push through stress with minimal awareness of heightened emotional tension and physical discomfort. Or if there is awareness of these sensations, they may be suppressed, after all schedules still need to be kept and the job still needs to get done. How often do we pause to check in on how we are affected by our daily tasks and personal interactions? Are we checking our emotional temperature throughout the day? 
The amygdala is the frontal lobe part of the brain that “fires up” when we are experiencing strong emotion like anger or emotional upset. The rational or logic part of the brain can shut down once the amygdala is “lit up” by emotion. So when we can self-regulate and become aware of our rising emotions, before it heats up too much, it can help us to consciously make choices about how we want to react in situations or with others. 
One way to emotionally self-regulate throughout the day is by picking a relaxation cue. Your cue can be anything from your watch or phone, a picture at the office or that armchair at home. Every time you look at or pass that object, take a deep breath and think “relax” as you exhale slowly, repeat this 2-3 times. Momentary pauses throughout the day, can help keep us in a more relaxed mode and alleviate tension before it builds up further. 
Body scanning for areas of tension can be effective by itself or as a supplement to the above technique. If your emotional thermostat starts to rise, that vague feeling of anxiety or being overwhelmed, your body is most likely tightening as well. Start at your head and quickly scan down to your feet for areas of tension. While taking a deep breath, focus on tightening the area, holding about 3-5 sec, then exhale and release the tension at the same time. Repeat 2-3 times.
At the end of the day, check in with yourself on the drive home, before walking in or out the front door. Are you still carrying something left over from earlier in the day? If so, take a deep breath, hold and then exhale by blowing out, saying “release tension” and imagining the tension being pushed out of your body. Follow by inhaling deeply and saying breathe in relaxation. You also might imagine a soothing color gently washing over your body with the feeling of relaxation. Being aware can reduce the chance of redirecting your frustration unto your significant other, children or pets. Conscious use of simple techniques throughout the day, can help one better regulate one’s emotional state and thus have a “cooling” effect in stress build-up.
How does one incorporate these suggestions on a day-to-day basis? By starting with one idea that resonates with you and consciously making it a part of your routine through phone reminders, a color sticky placed on your relaxation cue, a note on the mirror or refrigerator. Sometimes mutual friends can send a text of encouragement and reminder. Remember change is a process, give yourself time and expect lapses. But do give yourself credit for your effort at being more self-aware in your own emotional regulation!  
Are you interested in learning more about emotional regulation for yourself or your children and teens? Contact Kathleen Krol at kasiakrol17@verizon.net or 215-289-3101 #1. 
Kathleen also runs regular children’s groups for ages 4-9 on expressing and coping with feelings. Contact her for more information and to be notified when the next group will be starting again.  
Kathleen Krol is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Family-Play Therapist who works with children, adolescents and families combining family therapy, play and sand tray therapy along with parenting strategies to help the whole family system. Her specialties include emotional regulation, trauma, life transitions, anxiety, depression, and attachment issues. Contact her for a free 30 min phone consultation. www.kathleenkrol.com

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Playfulness in Creativity and Problem-Solving

by Rachel Kobin 

Playfulness is a crucial part of what I do to help people tap into their creativity in the Philadelphia Writers Workshop. As children, we learn by playing. We aren't as focused on the results as we are on enjoying the process. As adults, we lose touch with this spirit of play, and this can make it harder to spark unbridled creativity. When we were four years old, did we sit down with our Play-Doh and think, "Now, let's make a sculpture so striking it will soon sit in a museum?" No, when we were kids, we enjoyed the feeling of having that dough in our hands, the color and the smell of it. We pushed it through a garlic press and to our delight it came out looking like miniature purple spaghetti (pasketti!). We showed our blobs of clay to our parents and told the stories behind them. We didn't compare ourselves to famous sculptors because we didn't know or care about who they were. We were too busy enjoying every moment of interacting with our clay to think about how our miraculous blobs might not compare to “Great Works of Art.”

Some writers come to my workshop with one purpose or a fixed idea of what kind of writer they are: One might want to write a personal essay and have it published in a prestigious magazine, while another might have family members who have said, "You should write a children's book in rhyme!" Focusing too much on a goal, especially if it didn't come from our own desires, can be paralyzing.

Throwing all expectations out the window helps us avoid this kind of trap, but it’s not easy to do on our own. Using exercises that seem silly like beginning our writing by pairing veggies with random verbs, help reacquaint us with the playfulness we knew and were often untaught throughout our formal education. Just last week in the Tuesday Night Workshop, we wrote stories about childhood without using the letter a. Activities like these trick our brains into liberating our creativity. By allowing ourselves to be silly, and not expecting our first efforts to even make any sense, we free ourselves to keep going, to get to the rough draft. Once we have our jumbled ideas down on paper in a rough draft, we can begin refining the writing to make it say what we originally intended.

I believe re-learning how to let go and have fun is a skill that can be applied to many situations, not only those in the arts. How often might we be missing a possible solution to a problem at work when we bypass the fun — the brainstorming, the drawing, the imagining? Stopping to play isn't a waste of time; it's a way of giving our brains time to juggle ideas around. Sometimes a masterpiece does emerge, and other times we just feel better, which, of all the worst case scenarios, is one we can simply enjoy. 

Rachel Kobin has been the Director of the Philadelphia Writers Workshop since 2010. Rachel uses the Amherst Artist & Writers Method to help writers of all levels claim or re-claim their unique voice. Through experimentation and play, writers of all genres and forms practice the elements of their craft in a supportive environment. Writers looking to develop new material and writers in the process of writing full-length manuscripts find the support they need to complete their projects. Learn more about workshops and private editing services at www.phillywriters.com. Contact Rachel at 610-449-3773 or Rachel@phillywriters.com.
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