Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Generosity of Spirit


by Dean Solon

Gentleness with self opens to and reveals a wonderful “secret” teaching: you are perfectly all right as you are

You are perfectly all right as you are.

This gentleness and generosity with yourself unfolds to a feeling and to a sharing of light and warmth, of compassion and lovingkindness, with other living beings.
And so your perception of life and of the world begins to change and to expand…and so the world changes, too.

Sitting…in this moment…in this present and precious moment.
The concoction and connection is already residing inside you.
The concoction and connection is already and always breathing, already and always living, inside you…
waiting to be released,
waiting to be revealed,
waiting to be shared freely.

Dean Solon leads meditation groups on Monday mornings and Thursday evenings at the Resiliency Center.  He has been practicing for over 45 years and facilitating meditation groups since 2003.  He encourages a personal, gentle, non-rigid approach to mindfulness-and- heartfulness meditation.

Loving-Kindness and Generosity of Spirit


by Karen Steinbrecher

In QiGong practice, I lead participants in a “Lovingkindness of the Heart” practice from Lee Holden also called “Lotus Flow”.  We send out lovingkindness with our hands.  This diamond-light is sent to the earth, to our hearts, to one another, back to the earth and ascends up in the shape of a lotus-flower, returning to our hearts, and continuing to ascend up above our heads to the Universe.  We repeat this several times with words of lovingkindness, compassion, forgiveness and peace.  These lovely peaceful words help to bring expansiveness of the heart, inviting joy to blossom in your heart.

To practice opening your heart through the gentle movements and deep breathing of Qi Gong, join me at the center and/or watch a video of Lee Holden introducing some gentle Qi Gong practices at https://youtu.be/zAKqL3elCjg

Karen Steinbrecher leads QiGong classes twice a week at the Resiliency Center, on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday evenings. 

Emotions and Compassion


by Catherine McLaughlin

When we experience emotional pain, our natural tendency is to push “bad” feelings away before we fully experience them.  To be alone with them.  These feelings can get trapped in our bodies and cause physical and psychological pain.

Many approaches to therapy teach us that if we think or behave differently, our pain will naturally go away.

However, this focus on changing thoughts and behaviors doesn’t work for everyone.

There is another way. We can free up the unfelt “bad” feelings when we experience them in the presence of compassion and lovingkindness.  Facing feelings together, we learn that we are not alone in our pain and find a way back to ourselves. 

Catherine McLaughlin, LPC, practices Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) at the Resiliency Center.  If this therapeutic approach sounds like a good fit for you, please give her a call at 267-800-5073 or email Catherine@cjmcounseling.com for a complimentary consultation.

From SAD to Glad . . . Giving grace through nourishing the self and others

by Kristin Fulmer

One of the greatest ways to express loving kindness to yourself and others is with preparing and enjoying eating wholesome, nutrient dense foods. Unfortunately, living in Western society we are often inundated and encouraged to eat quickly and for convenience, a Standard American Diet or SAD. A typical Western diet or SAD is full of unhealthy fats, refined sugars, processed foods, pasteurized dairy, and genetically modified foods that can play havoc with our physical and emotional health causing us to feel SAD, MAD, and overall just plain BAD.

During this holiday season, allow the wisdom of your body and the compassion of your spirit to rejoice with eating a more traditional wholesome diet - a diet rich in pastured meats, wild fish, vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grains, a natural remedy for diseases of body and mind.  

Here are three delicious ways to go from SAD to Glad:

1. Increase your consumption of whole unprocessed nutrient dense foods sourced from healthy and happy animals and organic (if possible) produce. Keep it simple - pastured meats and eggs, wild fish, cultured or raw dairy, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, properly prepared whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

2. Reduce the consumption of packaged ‘food-like’ products. If you can’t read or recognize the ingredients then don’t eat it! Here’s another clue, if you served this food to your grandmother or great grandmother would she recognize this food? If not, don’t eat it!

3. Get back into the kitchen. Cooking more meals at home means spending more time with family and involving other family members in the meal choice and preparation. There’s no hidden ingredients to worry about and recipe modifications are easily accommodated. Yes, preparing meals at home may take more time but your health and the health of your loved ones are worth it!

Here’s to your health, harmony, and happiness!

Kristin Fulmer, MS, NCC, LPC, NTP, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Nutritional Therapist, providing individual, family, and group counseling. Kristin utilizes an integrative and functional whole-person, mind-body approach with an emphasis on nutritionally-dense, whole foods approach to improve emotional and physical wellbeing. To learn more about her practice and to schedule an appointment, contact Kristin at (267) 843-4888 kristin@healthybody-happybrain.com and visit her website [insert link to: www.healthybody-happybrain.com]

Monday, September 11, 2017

Lessons from Summer

by Catherine McLaughlin
 
For me, fall is a time to get back into a routine. With three young children, summers are an all-out party for us - my kids want to go all the places and do all the things. In my former life as a School Counselor, I had summers off, so I could make that happen for us. But working over the summer changes things. Here’s what I learned, and what I’ll take with me to next summer.
 
1. Stay on a schedule - Most kids respond better when they’re on a schedule, even when they think they don’t. Remember when they were babies and we tried to nap and feed them at the same times? Being on a schedule also works better for a family with two working parents. Being on a schedule doesn’t mean that life has to be boring - it just provides kids with a framework for their days. Most kids can relax when they know what’s up next.
 
2. Mix it up - Plan some fun activities and surprises. During summer, days are longer, more daylight, more time to fill. Planning some surprise outings will keep everyone guessing and having fun. It will also score you some parent points.
 
3. Maintain your own routine - This is a big one for me. Letting my own exercise and meditation routine fall to the wayside did nothing for my parenting. Like my kids, I need a schedule to be able to relax and feel comfortable. With kids at home all day, making time for yourself can be difficult. Next summer I’ll have to be creative - waking up earlier than usual or exercising after kids go to bed. Practicing mindfulness meditation can be especially helpful, especially when dealing with more family time than we’re used to. 

Happy Back to School!

Catherine McLaughlin is a Licensed Professional Counselor and School Counselor. She sees adolescents and adults in private practice, specializing in issues of adolescence and providing therapy for parents of teens experiencing difficult times. Catherine can be reached at 267-800-5073 and catherine@cjmcounseling.com.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

It’s Harvest Time!! Autumn – A Perfect Time to Nourish the Body, Mind, and Soul

by Kristin Fulmer, Certified Nutritional Therapist

Autumn is officially here, the days are getter shorter, the leaves are changing, and the kids are busy with school and activities. And if you are like me….perhaps you may have indulged over the summer on way too much barbeque, beer, and burgers. Thankfully, the Fall provides us with wonderful opportunities to get back into a routine, reevaluate our needs and make some healthy improvements.

Our body, mind, and spirit flourish when we can appreciate and experience the changing seasons while also being aware of our changing seasonal needs both physical and emotional. For me, one of the greatest joys of Autumn is visiting the numerous local farmers markets and enjoying the bountiful selections of delicious produce, meats, cheeses, teas, and chocolates. As a nutritional therapist, I encourage my clients to become more nourished by eating seasonally, cooking locally produced real food, and sitting down with the friends and family to enjoy lovingly prepared meals. Frequenting local farmers markets also means supporting local economies, local farmers and food artisans, which can enhance our individual health while contributing to a thriving community wellness. It’s a yummy win-win proposition!

Happy harvesting!

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few great places to begin…

Local Harvest, https://www.localharvest.org, connects people looking for good food with the farmers who produce it. For Local Harvest, the goal of the local food movement is to create thriving community-based food systems that will make high quality local food available to everyone.

Farm to City, Real Farmers, Real Food, https://farmtocity.org/find-local-food/farmers-markets/ manages 13 weekly, outdoor farmers’ markets. These markets provide neighborhoods with fresh foods produced in the region.

The Food Trust, http://thefoodtrust.org/farmers-markets , in partnership with Get Healthy Philly, operates 22 farmers markets in Philadelphia, including Clark Park Farmers Market, Philly’s oldest year-round market and The Headhouse Farmers Market the city's largest outdoor market. Many of The Food Trust's farmers markets are located in neighborhoods that otherwise lack access to healthy foods; these markets accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits and Philly Food Bucks to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to everyone.

Pennsylvania Farmers Markets Directory is a helpful search for open air markets in PA,  http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/fm/Pennsylvania.htm

Kristin Fulmer, MS, NCC, LPC, NTP, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Nutritional Therapist, providing individual, family, and group counseling. Kristin utilizes an integrative and functional whole-person, mind-body approach with an emphasis on nutritionally-dense, whole foods approach to improve emotional and physical wellbeing. To learn more about her practice and to schedule an appointment, contact Kristin at (267) 843-4888 kristin@healthybody-happybrain.com or website: www.healthybody-happybrain.com

Stuffed Heirloom Squash with Sausage, Bacon, Caramelized Onions, and Sage

Recipe by Kristin Fulmer, adapted from MyHumbleKitchen.com

The flavors of the roasted squash with its filling seasoned with sage and cardamom complimented each other well. Sweet and savory filled with spice.

Ingredients:
2 heirloom or acorn squash (suitable for stuffing)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to season
3 thick sliced pieces of (pastured, nitrate-free) bacon, diced
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1lb ground (pastured, nitrate-free) chicken, pork, beef, bison, or lamb
2 cups market greens or veggies – use whatever you bought at the market (kale, chard, spinach, zucchini)
1 tablespoon, chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbl apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sliced preferably raw cheese (omit if problems with dairy)

Method:
Cut the squashes in half, scraping out all of the seeds. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (reserve the seeds to toast later with some fats and salt)

Place on a baking stone or sheet, cut side up, and roast at 375F for 1 hour or until its soft and can be pierced with a fork.

Once the squash has been roasted:
In a small cast iron pan or skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until its fat has been rendered and the meat is brown and crispy. Set aside.

In the bacon fat, saute the onion until it's soft and begins to turn brown and caramelize, add market greens and saute lightly. Set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet or pan, cook the ground pork over medium heat.

Once it's cooked through, add the onion, 1/2 of the bacon, sage, cardamom, 1 tsp salt, and apple cider vinegar. Mix through.

Cook on medium low heat for about 5 minutes allowing the flavors to incorporate.

Stuff the Squash.

Divide the mixture into the four squash pieces.

Garnish with cheddar cheese, fresh cut sage, and the remaining bacon pieces.

Return to the oven for an additional five minutes, allowing the cheese to melt.

Adapted from: http://www.myhumblekitchen.com/2012/10/stuffed-heirloom-squash-with-sausage-bacon-caramelized-onions-and-sage/

Kristin Fulmer, MS, NCC, LPC, NTP, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Nutritional Therapist, providing individual, family, and group counseling. Kristin utilizes an integrative and functional whole-person, mind-body approach with an emphasis on nutritionally-dense, whole foods approach to improve emotional and physical wellbeing. To learn more about her practice and to schedule an appointment, contact Kristin at (267) 843-4888 kristin@healthybody-happybrain.com or website: www.healthybody-happybrain.com


Autumn and The Art of Gracefully Letting Go

by Tracie Nichols, MA, CCSP

Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, the way the earth smells, and I especially enjoy having fewer humid days. But, what I most love is how the seasonal rhythm encourages me to deepen my personal development journey.

Every year autumn invites us to distill all we have acquired, learned, and experienced through spring and summer. New habits, freshly discovered strengths, new ways of seeing ourselves - these are all integrated and refined to guide us as we discern the next right steps.

Autumn also demonstrates the art of gracefully releasing what we no longer choose to carry. Take a moment to notice what your wild neighbors are doing, now. Trees release leaves. Plants let go of what is above ground and pull their energy into their roots. Deer drop antlers.

Consider consciously aligning with autumn’s gentle releasing rhythm to let go of beliefs, fears, or habits that no longer nurture you.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:


Spend uninterrupted time outdoors observing and feeling the pace of life in your ecosystem. Let it sink into your bones. 

As you watch leaves fall, visualize the things you choose to release drifting away from you.

If you rake leaves or pull weeds, imagine gathering those things that no longer serve and composting them with the garden trimmings.

On foggy autumn mornings, imagine that the fog represents the things you are releasing. See them being evaporated as the sun rises.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Listen to the poem here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/hnifn3rf6mndsud/Wild%20Geese%20~%20Mary%20Oliver.m4a?dl=0

Tracie Nichols, MA, CCSP is a Holistic Career Coach who believes we can learn a lot from nature about being happy humans. She offers individual career coaching and strategy sessions, as well as classes helping highly sensitive and multipotentialed 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.

Slowing Down This Fall ~ Living Life From a Place of Rest

by Jen Perry, LPC

Summer had a spontaneity to it for me this year with lots of kids activities and spur-of-the-moment trips to the lake and beach. This fall, I find myself craving a bit more paced of a schedule and routine. The benefits of rituals and routines are many - including a gentle holding pattern that allows us to live our lives from a place of rest.

Can you imagine what living life from a place of rest might be like? Instead of letting the frantic and frenetic pace of modern life dictate our personal pace in the world ~ living life from a place of rest has three important components: 1) prioritizing the essential basic need of sleep; 2) daily scheduling periods of activity with periods of downtime; as well as 2) cultivating a sense of calm moment to moment. This article will focus on the first component: Sleep.

"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” ~ Thomas Dekker

Living life from a place of rest means to emphasize that we rise each morning from rest and will return again in the evening to this restful state. It means to be intentional about our nighttime routines so that we can deepen the level of rest we can achieve. It is knowing how to skillfully meet occasional bouts of insomnia with confidence. Insomnia and sleep problems are often considered effects of stress, depression, and anxiety but new research shows that it can be a considerable contributor to these problems. Here is an article about just that: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/06/lack-of-sleep-could-contribute-to-mental-health-problems-researchers-reveal. Being intentional about how we approach this important third of our lives can be preventative as well as help address many mental health challenges.

Sleep “is a pragmatic response to good health. If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health. If you get sleep, it reduces your mood changes, your stress, your levels of anger, your impulsivity, and your tendency to drink and take drugs.” ~ Russell Foster. His Ted Talk can be found here: https://www.ted.com/talks/russell_foster_why_do_we_sleep

There must be some important reason that our bodies require so much rest. For a fascinating dip into the history of humans trying to figure out why and how we sleep here: https://www.howsleepworks.com/how.html I’m struck by the apparent import of sleep: if you live to be 100 you will have spent a cumulative 30 years asleep. I firmly believe in working with our bodies and natural rhythms for health and wellness and given the sheer percentage of time dedicated to sleep from an evolutionary standpoint I think it is worth considering how we approach it nightly.

And yet, many of us (myself included at times) deny or at a minimum rail against this very basic human need for rest. Many of us find we have an inner revolt of sorts towards bedtime, most of us carry an inner child who continues to throw a tantrum at bedtime. This is an invitation to re-parent ourselves and take our inner three year old to bed with intention.

A few suggestions to get a good night’s sleep:

Have a bedtime routine that puts you to sleep on purpose. This does not need to be complicated, just a few simple cues to your body that sleep is coming. Washing your face, brushing teeth, making a gratitude list, doing a guided meditation are all good ideas. Instead of crashing on the couch, send yourself off to bed with the intention for rest.

Lower the temperature in your room. Experts seem to suggest a temperature between 60-67 degrees for adults, 65-70 for kids.

Darken your room. Turn off all lights, electronics, get dark out curtains or a bed tent. (Find a bed tent here: https://www.privacypop.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI76zQzdaa1gIVgiaGCh1Ndg6dEAAYASAAEgIU3PD_BwE. Bed tents are great for kids!

Use a white noise maker such as this one at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/HemingWeigh-White-Noise-sound-Machine/dp/B01NAPB57J/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1505048583&sr=8-4&keywords=white+noise

Shut down screens at least an hour before bed

Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep

Go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time each day. Your body is amazing … if you ask it to stay up beyond bedtime you WILL get a second wind and be able to stay up, albeit at some cost to your health and well-being that accumulates over time. Read more at https://brightside.me/inspiration-health/how-to-fix-all-your-sleep-problems-with-science-302110/

What to do when you can’t sleep. If you have insomnia, the worst thing you can do is freak out. This will push sleep further away. Instead, emphasize to yourself that rest counts for something and sleep studies show that we often get more sleep than we think we do during sleepless nights. Breathing and intentionally relaxing your body, or practicing sleep yoga or yoga nidra can be very helpful. Here is an example of a yoga nidra:  http://www.yoganidranetwork.org/mp3/space-love-compassion. Counseling can help with insomnia and other self-care issues.

Jen Perry is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, Peaceful Parenting Educator and Coach. Jen’s approach to her client’s mental health and wellbeing focuses on implementing mindful self-care and self-compassion practices. Jen helps people prioritize what is truly important to them and build a heartful life that they love. In addition to seeing clients individually, Jen works with families and runs a weekly Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Therapy Group. Jen can be reached at jen@heartfulnessconsulting.com or 215-292-5056. Additional blog posts can be found at https://heartfulnessconsulting.com/blog/

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