Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Embracing Impermanence

by Jen Perry

I remember a time in my late twenties when I caught myself saying for the upteenth time to someone, "Well, I'm in a transition period ..." and it occurred to me that I had been saying that for almost the past decade of my life! The energy with which I was using the phrase implied that I was in a state of suspension - that my life hadn't settled yet, hadn't really started yet. This underlying stance stood in basic denial of the fact that life is basically one continuous transition. Nothing that is alive is unchanging. Some transitions are relatively small and occur regularly ~ night into day, day into night ~ noise into silence, one breath into the next. Some transitions are very big and only occur once or maybe twice in a lifetime: graduations, marriages, births, deaths. There are a million transitions in-between. Daily, monthly, seasonally, yearly.

Where do you land in relationship to all of life's transitions? What are your underlying beliefs about them?

If you're like my younger self, there may be an underlying assumption that life should, at some point, stop being so transitional: that it should steady out, become a bit more unchanging.

It's natural that if that is your underlying assumption, the evidence in life it isn't true may be ... frustrating, overwhelming, scary, some sign that you are doing this life thing WRONG.

Many, many people struggle with change: don't like it, don't want it, and are frankly terrified of most of it. And yet, if we look around us, in our own lives, the lives of those around us, and to nature, change is indeed the only constant. In mindfulness, we call this impermanence.

Cultivating an accepting and appreciating attitude towards change or impermanence has been one of the most powerful and life-enhancing endeavors I have undertaken. It isn't easy, but we as humans are known for being able to do hard things once we set ourselves to it. There is an aspect of refusing to accept change that is entirely at odds with reality. As the saying not so gently goes: Let go or be dragged!

There is an old parable told in many cultures about a king who challenged his sage to find a magical ring in six months time. This ring, he said, had the power to make him happy when he was sad and sad when he was happy. The sage couldn't find the magical ring anywhere and as his deadline approached he went to one last jeweler to ask about the ring. This jeweler was quite wise and while he admitted that he had never heard of such a ring he took a plain gold band and inscribed on it This Too Shall Pass. The sage immediately felt the truth in the saying and took the ring confidently back to his king.

This knowledge and acceptance of change, of transitions, of impermanence can have a mercifully gentle quality to it. It urges us to fully savor and be present to the ordinary joys of every day while comforting us through difficult seasons of life.  It is a reminder to pay attention to joy, and that hard times and difficult moods, no matter how sharp and painful, do pass. We need this ring, this reminder, because it is part of our biology that memories are mood-congruent. When we are angry, or sad it is very difficult, if not impossible, to recall memories or times that were not so.  To be able to loosen our grip on how we think life "should" be it makes it easier to appreciate small joys even in the midst of great difficulty. This realization and acceptance of impermanence is what truly turns transitions into transformations, challenges into opportunities for growth,  and life experience into wisdom.

To implement this work into your life, I'd like to offer you this - when you realize you are in this space of a transition into the unknown, accept that nothing is permanent. You can then gracefully move into the conscious awareness that in this very space, there is room for a deeper soul transformation. A chance for personal growth, turning your life experiences into sage wisdom.

To learn more about Jen Perry, MA, MSEd, LPC [insert link to http://theresiliencycenter.com/practitioner/perry-jen/], please call 215-292-5056, email jen@heartfulnessconsulting.com, or visit www.heartfulnessconsulting.com


Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Other Side Of This Life

by Dean Solon

clarity.  clarity coming to and through me.  a clarity that includes the allowing of another sentient being's clarity, a clarity that may arise and unfold and reveal different energy and information than mine.  this is a part, an aspect, of the weaving and the tapestry of the encountering, experiencing, and exchanging of information and energy among the embodied forms of life in the universe/multiverse.

what is real and true, is clarity, for me, is...real and true, and clarity, for me.  what is real and true, and clarity, for you, is real and true, and clarity, for you.  what is real and true for each of us may be shared, may be nearly the same;  it may be distinctly and differently experienced and expressed, and may be felt to be separate and singular understandings...and in no way does it diminish the authenticity and integrity of the clarity each of us is feeling/thinking/seeing.

the clarity that is moving to and through me rings and sings true.  the clarity that is moving to and through me is changing always, is evolving always, is new always.

the clarity that is moving to and through you rings and sings true.  the clarity that is moving to and through you is changing always, is evolving always, is new always.

each and every moment may be a ringing and singing true.

this possibility is an astonishing---and simple---Benevolence given to each and all of us who are born in human form.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Why Can’t I Just Get Up and Get Going?

by Brittiney George

Alternative therapies are not new, but have only more recently been embraced by Western culture as science is now backing what intuition has told us for years…that our body is brilliant in its wisdom and ability to heal.  Your body is the keeper of your unique story. It’s like the black box of an airplane.  It records your surroundings, your emotions, past mental or physical trauma, stress, and your memories.  Together, these become your unique story as told by the body in your posture, your walk, and in habitual patterns that develop over time.

Your movements reflect the conscious and unconscious aspects of who you are and how you feel.  Depression is one of the areas that bodymind integration can be an especially helpful tool in determining what you need.  After all, look at how different the definitions of depression are:  

To be in a slump
Weighed down
Heavy hearted
Stuck in a pit
Hollow or hollowed out

While research shows that movement can play an important role in lifting the fog of depression, sustained momentum and improvement is often only obtained by paying attention to the primary movement that is needed.  For instance, someone that is weighed down, or heavy hearted, may need to remove the weight of what is pressing down on them before they feel like they can get up.  For someone that is stuck in a pit, they don’t need to remove something; they need to get out of something.  Likewise, someone that feels hollow doesn’t need to get out as much as they may need to fill up with something new or something different before they can move on.  Getting “up” or getting “going” may be the end goal, but knowing the movements your system needs to start is an important tool to be able to sustain that momentum of change.  The body is brilliant at providing this insight. 

Somatic Therapy can be a wonderful way to access this information and is powerful on its own or partnered with traditional talk therapy. Through gentle touch and talk both the right and left brain as well as the nervous system are engaged in the conversation and can provide invaluable insight into what is needed and what is available.

Brittiney George, BS, CRS, CST-L3, ICI, CEIM, is a Movement Practitioner offering Somatic Therapy 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.


Big Picture Living

by Catherine McLaughlin

The term “holistic” can mean different things to different people. To me, it means looking at your life from a “big picture” viewpoint, and noticing patterns (good and bad) that may have developed. Some of your patterns may be detrimental to your life experience, while others may be supportive and guiding you through. While everyone has unique factors that comprise their “picture”, there are a few common lifestyle factors that work in everyone’s favor. By making small changes in specific areas of your life, you can move from dis-ease to ease.

As a psychotherapist, I see people who are struggling in various aspects of their life. But psychotherapy is only part of the picture. Visiting a medical doctor to rule out any medical conditions that could be interfering with your overall well-being is the first step. You may also be taking prescription medication to address your symptoms. In addition to psychotherapy and medication, assessing your current lifestyle habits could improve how you interact with your symptoms - and your life.

Good [psychotherapists and] psychiatrists most often look not only to medication and talk therapy, but also lifestyle changes, regularizing sleep patterns, daily routines, circadian rhythms, exercise and diet can make an enormous difference. A mind body connection continues to grow in relevance for everyone. Riding the Tiger, PBS Documentary

I love working with people as a “lifestyle detective” to figure out how all the pieces come together and interact. Once we determine your personal lifestyle factors, we can start putting it all together to create a picture of wellness and ease. There are a few lifestyle factors everyone has in common, including exercise, nutrition, and sleep.

Exercise
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing. But scientists have proven that not only can make you feel better, it can help prevent symptoms from returning. Exercise helps the brain release chemicals that make you feel good (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids), strengthens your immune system, and raises your body temperature. This combination can have a calming effect on your nervous system, which makes you experience fewer symptoms. Sticking with an exercise plan can positively affect your confidence, connect you more to a social network, and serve as a form of “moving meditation.”

Nutrition
Have you ever noticed how you feel after eating? Do some foods make you feel “different” than others? Foods with high nutrient density - like fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats - provide our bodies with nutrient-packed calories to use as fuel. Eating nutritionally rich foods can leave you feeling energized, alert, and light. Conversely, foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar can leave you feeling bloated and tired. Foods like doughnuts, chips, and french fries are high in calories, but low in nutritional value. Eating nutritionally sparse foods in excess can make you tired and irritable, then lead into a vicious cycle of overconsumption and a worsening of negative symptoms. Researchers have demonstrated that eating regularly (not skipping meals) and maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet can support holistic well-being and positive mental health. They are even finding that eating certain foods can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

In addition to paying attention to the foods we eat, it is important to pay attention to what we’re drinking. Drinks like juice, soda, and alcohol are high in sugar and calories, and low on hydration. While it may feel as if they quench our thirst in the immediate moment, their sugar content dehydrates us. Water is the best drink around: Not only does it lack calories and sugar, it contains nutrients vital to our brain development and maintenance. Appropriate water consumption not only make our brains work better, but enhances our memory and performance.

Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night (while teens need 8-10). As we know, lack of sleep is a factor in poor memory, concentration, performance, and mood. Individuals with insomnia are ten times more likely to suffer from depression. Paying attention to your sleep habits (hours per night, how you feel when you go to bed at night/ wake up in the morning, patterns) may help clue you in to how your symptoms may be connected to your sleep.

In addition to exercise, nutrition, and sleep, there are many other factors that can be considered when using a lifestyle approach. Monitoring media consumption, screen time, and stress levels - and adding in self-care routines, daily habits, hobbies, and alternative therapies, such as Reiki, Rubenfeld Synergy, Qi Gong, mindfulness meditation - can work together in harmony to support your well being. The Resiliency Center offers many of these programs; Check the calendar for times and dates. The most important factor, though, is to discover how it all fits together for you. The holistic picture of your life is yours, and yours alone.


To learn more about Catherine McLaughlin, MA, NCC, LPC, please call 267-800-5073, email catherine@cjmcounseling.com, or visit www.cjmcounseling.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parenting Your Highly Sensitive Child

by Jen Perry, MA, MSEd, LPC

Is your child highly sensitive? Does your child seem easily overwhelmed and over-reactive? High sensitivity is a personality trait distinct from other personality traits like introversion or agreeableness. High sensitivity means a person has a sensitive nervous system and processes sensory information more deeply and intensely than their less sensitive peers. They have a keen awareness of the world around them and their inner worlds, noticing many details that go unnoticed by others. They literally see, smell, hear, taste, and feel more in their environment than others. They are often very empathetic, so they are also picking up and processing subtle emotional tones of others. They can't turn this off ~ it is integral to how they experience the world. Perceiving more in the world and experiencing it more intensely, children with high sensitivity easily become overwhelmed and appear to overreact to everyday situations. It isn't hard to imagine the parenting challenges this presents. (Uncertain if your child may be highly sensitive? There is an online test here: http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-child-test/)

Highly sensitive children often have parents that worry something is "wrong" with their child, after all, their child's peers seem to be handling challenges in the environment just fine. Because high sensitivity occurs at a rate of only 15-20% of the population, many people with high sensitivity carry feelings of there being something "wrong" with them their whole lives. When parents are educated about high sensitivity, they have a profound opportunity to support their children in developing greater life-long self-acceptance, since many of these negative beliefs begin in childhood. If you think that your child is highly sensitive, the researcher of this trait, Elaine Aron, PhD, has written a book called The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them. Educating yourself and your child about temperament and personality traits can help make your journey together far less confusing and conflictual.  Without an understanding of this personality trait, these children are at risk of being seen as abnormal or their behaviors misconstrued as behavioral problems motivated to "manipulate" the parent. As a result, many parents worry that something is "wrong" with their parenting, their child, or both.

Compounding the parenting challenge is the fact that highly sensitive children respond poorly to conventional parenting wisdom. Remember, these children are taking in more sensory and emotional information and processing it more deeply than others. They can't turn this off - it is a personality trait and integral to how they experience being in the world. Children with high sensitivity often take their parents words to heart and can become very hard on themselves as a result. Harsh or shaming parenting can compound their feelings of "wrongness" and can be harmful to their self-esteem.

Fortunately, there are parenting strategies that can help children and their parents better understand themselves and how to be highly sensitive in a world where 80% of the population isn't. Parenting techniques that are based in empathetic responding can help a child not feel "wrong" and can help create a sense of being on the same team between a parent and child. Jamie Williamson has written a beautiful little book, Understanding the Highly Sensitive Child: Seeing an Overwhelming World Through Their Eyes that can be helpful to parents who struggle to see the world through the eyes and experience of their highly sensitive children. Additionally, seeing yourself as your child's emotion coach to help them understand themselves and the world and framing challenges as learning opportunities to help a child grow instead of mis-behavior in need of punishment is incalculable in its positive impact on the child. Two of my favorite authors and researchers in brain science supporting these gentler, more peaceful parenting techniques are John Gottman, PhD, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child  and Daniel Siegel, MD, No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture your Child's Developing Mind.

Raising confident, healthy, and happy kids is the goal of every parent. Parents of highly sensitive children may need extra support in understanding this personality trait. Education is important so that they can strive to meet the needs of their highly sensitive child instead of attempting to control their behavior with the expectation that they become like their less sensitive peers. Recent brain science and research has given us insight into how to best support all children in growing in understanding of themselves and the world around them. By keeping calm, helping an overwhelmed child calm themselves, connecting in the spirit of teamwork between parent and child, responding empathically and empowering the child to grow into peaceful solutions to problems is a set of skills that can be learned and practiced.

Great parents get great support - there is help out there in your parenting journey. Jen Perry is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Parent Educator and Peaceful Parenting Coach with her practice at The Resiliency Center in Flourtown. She loves working with parents of highly sensitive children. More about Jen and her work can be found at www.HeartfulnessConsulting.com.


Debunking the Myth of Sensitivity

by Brittiney George

Contrary to popular belief, being sensitive is a gift, not a curse.  It does not mean you are weak.  It does not mean you’re a cry baby, an exaggerator, or a wimp.  You have a gift, the gift of connection.  It means you are highly aware of both your external and internal surroundings.  When someone else smells smoke, you already can see, hear, and feel the fire.  This can be upsetting to the one that only smells smoke, because we often assume that if we can’t see it or feel it, it must not exist.  This same experience can be scary for the one that senses the fire.  It can be crazy making….Does no one else see or feel the way I do?  Statements like:
·      “Stop exaggerating.”
·      “You’re overreacting.”
·      “You’re too sensitive.”
·      “You’re too much.”
can creep in around these experiences and begin to physically and emotionally take their toll.  I often see clients survive by learning to shut down, shut off, hide, disconnect, and to devalue and mistrust their internal cues.  While this works in the short term, long term it can create physical pain, and a deep sadness and longing for “something different”.    Reconnecting the body and mind through transformative touch and talk is a wonderful way to begin to gently explore coming back to one’s senses. 

A session is like settling into your skin after having experienced a lifetime of things getting under your skin.”-Joe Weldon, Co-Founder of The Somatic Therapy Center



Finding a way to create clear boundaries to avoid overstimulation of the senses, and learning to trust your instincts again, is an invaluable tool in being able to reap the benefits of a highly sensitive system.  Come explore ways you can value the wonders of your gift.

 

Brittiney George, BS, CRS, CST-L3, ICI, CEIM, is a Movement Practitioner offering Somatic Therapy, and gentle, 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. Rubenfeld session contact Brittiney at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com

Understanding the Gift of High Sensitivity

by Elizabeth Venart, LPC

If you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), chances are that you grew up being called “too sensitive”, “too deep”, and “too emotional” by people who didn’t understand you. Most people are not highly sensitive and can’t comprehend that feeling everything around you as if it were you is not a choice but an inborn gift you had no power to turn off. High sensitivity is a gift that brings wisdom, deep compassion, an ability to understand complexity and multiple perspectives, and a deep sense of how and why things are connected.  But, it also brings its struggles.

The fifteen to twenty percent of people who have an inherited trait of high sensitivity have highly sensitive nervous systems and process information deeply. In addition to feeling the moods of others, HSPs observe the world around them, tuned into the nonverbal and unspoken, observant of subtle changes in the environment, deeply moved by the arts and music, and able to form strong connections with animals and the natural world. They ask the tough questions and have uncanny insights into patterns of behavior.

Because empathy happens automatically for the HSP, boundaries are challenging. An HSP feels the sadness of their opponent who is losing a game, connects to the wound underneath the angry mask of a teacher who is yelling, acutely sense the overwhelm of a parent whose attention is desperately wanted but feels out of reach, . . . It is hard for HSPs to stay present for their own emotions and advocate for their own needs.  It is as if the barrier that others have – to keep perspective on “what is me” versus “what is you” doesn’t exist. They feel what others feel, sometimes bombarded by the intensity of an emotion (that is not theirs) without being able to identify its true source. An HSP walks into a bar and. . . .feels the mood of the place, senses the depressed old man at the bar, notices the fake quality of the laugh across the room. 

HSPs contemplate the deepest questions about meaning, justice, right and wrong, compassion – and share these deep questions as soon as they are able to speak – if they feel safe to ask. Highly Sensitive Children can be unnerving to adults, because they see and understand things far beyond their years. They often see things adults cannot – or that adults wish they didn’t.  
Noticing so much, they can get overwhelmed, overtired, exhausted, and inconsolable if they don’t have the quiet time their sensitive systems demand. 

HSPs are often shaken by violence in movies, loud noises, bright lights, scratchy fabrics, crowds, chaos, and the push to do many things quickly, all at once. HSPs can get unglued when a lot is happening around them and by any big changes. They are conscientious and work hard to avoid making mistakes. Striving to avoid overwhelming situations, they often need time to themselves after a busy day, to be quiet and get relief from too much stimulation. They are also more sensitive to hunger, have more allergies, and are more sensitive to medications, caffeine, and alcohol. 

It is challenging for HSPs to make it through their childhoods without internalizing the criticism from the 85% that are not highly sensitive – and this goes double for highly sensitive males (the trait is just as common in boys as girls) who are taught to be “tough” and whose ready emotions are often scorned and ridiculed. Many HSPs internalize this scorn and struggle with an inner critic who tries to silence and squash what they know and what they feel. 

Researcher Elaine Aron first discovered and wrote about the trait of high sensitivity nearly twenty years ago, and several books have been written and communities formed since that time. Yet many highly sensitive persons (HSPs) are unaware that their experiences are normal and even a sign of giftedness. 

The highly sensitive long to be understood and to connect deeply with others, but, too often, they have trouble identifying other HSPs and, over time, learn to keep their experiences and gifts to themselves. Finding support and a community of other HSPs is important on the journey to empowerment and acceptance. If this description reminded you of yourself, a child, or a loved one, take the quiz (online at http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/), check out the links, and consider joining us for our workshop on March 1st. 

You and your gifts matter. My work supporting HSPs in embracing their gifts, releasing their burdens, learning to set healthy boundaries, and stepping into their power brings me tremendous joy and meaning. If I can support you on your journey, please reach out to connect at evenart@comcast.net or 215-233-2002. You can learn more about me on my website at http://elizabethvenart.com

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