Monday, June 1, 2020

The Ocean Sky

by Dean Solon


am looking upon the ocean's steadfast magnificence

a poem allowing itself to be surfacing
and to be known

the ocean is awash with waves

the white capped waters leaping
upon the rocks piled high
whose siren calls are singing
"wash over us
  wash over us..."

a passing of white pillowing clouds across the ocean sky

the human sign reads "fishing getty only"

yes
and there is far more

a continuing conversation
between heaven and earth
whose sounds we may hear
and whose meaning we may understand
if we listen closely

Friday, May 22, 2020

Breath Giving Moves during Breath Taking Times

by Brittiney George

Do you feel like you’re in a weird time warp right now? I know I do.  It is as if 
time is both simultaneously standing still and flying by.  I noticed that many of 
my clients are also experiencing the resurgence of old wounds and injuries as 
the distractions of day-to-day living have changed.   When you combine the 
lack of transitional time and space throughout the day with mixed information 
about how to move safely in the world, it makes perfect sense that many people 
are feeling disoriented, disempowered, or even disembodied (like a walking 
head, not an embodied being).
 
“These are breath taking times, so give yourself a breath”.
 
As the adrenaline of immediate change wears off, you may be feeling burnt 
out or burnt up.  You may be feeling “off”.  If you are, trust it.  It is your body 
letting you know, “I’m feeling out of sync”, and it is the perfect time to check in 
with a direct link to your nervous system-your breath.  
 
Are you doing a lot of yawning?
Do you feel disconnected from your body or energetically depleted?
Are you making a lot of out moves- giving all day long but taking little in?
These are great indicators that your body may want to take “in” a breath.  
 
Often with trauma or in times of stress, we reverse our natural breathing pattern. 
Instead of inhaling down into our core, hips, and pelvis (our root), we inhale up.   
Up into our chest and shoulders.  Up into the front of our body.  Our back body 
and sides, the backs of the ribs, get locked in place without the lungs finding 
their full expansion.  
 
Maybe you find yourself sighing often?
Or holding a lot in as tension in your torso, chest, jaw or face?
Do your shoulders feel as if they’re carrying the weight 
and responsibility of the world?
These are great indicators that your body may want to let “out” a breath.  
 
A system that is in overwhelm is looking to release, get out from under, to take 
less on or in.  Think of your exhale as your body’s natural gift of detoxification.  
It’s your body’s way of moving out stale air, pent up energy, and unwanted 
emotional residue.  During times of stress we are often told to “take a breath”, 
but it is the out breath, the exhale, that has the most impact in nervous system 
regulation.  
 
Breath taking times require breath giving moves.  Give yourself space. 
Gift yourself Breath.
 
Brittiney George, BS, CST-PRO, ICI, CEIM, is a Movement Practitioner and Somatic Therapist specializing in Transformative Touch.  She is also a faculty trainer and mentor for The Somatic Therapy Center.  Her areas of specialty include working with highly sensitive persons (HSP’s), and supporting nervous system reregulation by resourcing through the body.  For a free 55 min. introductory Somatic Therapy session contact Brittiney at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Emblazoned (The Inner Ocean #4)

by Dean Solon


i rise. i come up for air.
i hear no evil, i see no evil, i am no evil.
there is no problem, You have said.
there is no problem, You are saying now.
i feel the sea breeze,
i taste the salty air,
and i am as always i have been:
free.
free again
of the ties that bind.

all shortcomings,
just the imagination---
my imagination---your imagination---
running wild.

emblazoned in my memory
is the notion---
a deepest of memories---
that we human beings are noble,
blessed with divine gifts,
destined for goodness.

i awaken from a long dreaming
and as if awake
i state sincerely, oh so sincerely,
i shall not sleep again
---and saying this,
i laugh, as i will laugh
until the end of time.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Benefits of Awe

by Jen Perry, MS.Ed. MA, LPC

Awe has long been lauded by philosophers and spiritual teachers for its self-transcendent qualities that can reduce negative thinking and self-occupation.  Research on awe by psychologists has been increasing exponentially over the last 20 years.  A study at Berkeley found the benefits similar to healthy changes in diet and exercise, including a lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes, clinical depression, heart disease, and arthritis. Research published in the journal Psychological Science found that awe leads to feelings of more available time, reduces impatience, and increases pro-social behaviors and life satisfaction. Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania interviewed astronauts after viewing Earth from space, and they  report "an expanded sense of perspective on their lives, an increased sense of connection to others, and a renewed sense of purpose." For those of us not venturing into space, research suggests that similar effects can be evoked by watching awesome videos. 

I hope that I have inspired you to try cultivating awe as a process and practice to help you live life to its most awesome-filled fullest. 

Jen Perry, MSEd, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Mindfulness Teacher and Peaceful Parenting Coach. Her passion is helping Highly Sensitive People thrive in life, love, and parenting. She has been in the field for twenty years and is devoted to studying the human psyche or soul and is often in awe in her studies of human compassion, strength, resilience, and consciousness. In addition to seeing clients individually, she offers mindfulness classes and self-compassion groups via video. Learn more about Jen and her practice at www.HeartfulnessConsulting.com [insert link to: https://heartfulnessconsulting.com

Cultivating The Process of Awe

by Jen Perry, MA, MSEd, LPC

One of the best ways I’ve found to cultivate awe in my life is to bow to the Great Mystery of All. That’s what I started calling it when my kids were little. Instead of giving them answers to their countless questions, I frequently would ask them what they thought or felt about something first. I encouraged them to wonder. As I joined them in the energy of this delicious wondering (why is the sky blue? Do turtles like chocolate ice cream? What’s the highest number anyone has counted to?) I found it so much more enjoyable than knowing a bunch of applicable facts. And the truth is, anytime we study things at a high level, we are left with more questions than answers. It’s the process of wondering that leaves us open to awe, creativity, and discovery.

Bringing a fresh perspective can bring out the process of awe in even the most ordinary things ~ the flowers in your yard, your family member's faces, every night's sky. It is this perspective that I invite into each meeting with each client in my practice. It keeps our work fresh and often, surprising and spontaneous. I encourage clients to meet themselves and their experiences with the process of awe and reverence, and in doing so, magic can happen. Creativity in problem-solving and working through limiting beliefs, while still hard work, becomes joyful. Wondering about problematic behavior and how it may be adaptive (either now or in the past) becomes an exercise in being curious and appreciative of who we are and why we do what we do. Therapy then becomes a process of getting to know yourself better and deepening in love with who you are as you grow instead of a painful endeavor of fixing what was never broken in the first place.

In addition to seeking out awe-inspiring peak experiences, it is possible to live a more awe-filled life. Nurturing curiosity by learning to question (or at least identify) your underlying assumptions about yourself, others, and the world allows a spaciousness that is fertile ground for awe. Allow yourself to wonder actively about everything as an exercise. And lastly, noticing beauty in the ordinary. 

Quiz on Awe
Take this quiz by researcher Paul Piff to see how much awe is a process in your life:

Ask yourself these questions. Score each item from 1 to 5. If your total reaches 30, then you must be pretty enchanted by the world.

I often feel awe.
I see beauty all around me.
I feel wonder almost every day.
I often look for patterns in the objects around me.
I have many opportunities to see the beauty of nature.
I seek our experiences that challenge my understanding of the world.

Source: Paul Piff, clipped from Psychology Today Magazine, and hung on my bulletin board for the last few years.  

Engaging Awe as a Transformational Process

by Jen Perry, MA, MSEd, LPC

I wrote this article in February 2020, weeks before COVID-19 would turn our worlds upside down. As I reread it now as it is about to be sent out I wonder what utility awe may have as a transformational practice during these unprecedented and scary times for so many of us. Awe and wonder are beautiful states of awareness that are born out of not-knowingness. I have found, over and over, that a willingness to let go of what we think we know and allow ourselves to not know is a tremendously healthy psychological stance towards life if we can make friends with fear and uncertainty. I invite you to consider the ways in which allowing a not-knowing with regard to these uncertain times can help steady us and allow us to be present, creative, and resilient.  

One example that comes to mind is the not knowing when things will open up again. I know that for me, surrendering to not knowing, surrendering to let’s-wait-and-see-how-this-goes has been much better for my overall well-being than expecting and hanging any certainty on any date such as April 12 and then having that date come and go. The date itself is meaningless devoid of the important factors that go into such a decision as when to reopen. I know that all of us at The Resiliency Center cannot wait to reopen our doors. We are also balancing that desire with safety. The truth is that no one knows and each day more information is revealed. As Rilke says, if we can just learn to love the questions we will live our way into the answers. 

When was the last time you felt awe? The exquisite rush of expansive delight or reverence tinged slightly with fear. Awe can be found in nature ~ witnessing a breathtaking vista, or a night sky full of stars, or encountering a wild animal. Awe can be human-made ~ seeing a famous painting or hearing live music. Awe can also be found in particular moments in life ~ holding a newborn baby, or meeting your hero. But what we could invoke awe more frequently and on purpose, is this even possible?

Awe signals us to stretch ourselves out in wonder. It beckons us to be curious. It brings us to the brink of our understanding and stands before us as an appeal to become intimate with mystery.  Awe is not only a thrilling experience in and of itself, but it also stays with us, transforms us, demands of us that we grow inside to accommodate a new perspective, and to find a home for more questions, deeper wonderings. In this way, engaging awe is as much a process as it is an event. As a process, it makes us aware of the boundaries of our hearts and minds. It asks us to be mindful that there is always MORE just outside of our awareness. It invites us to stay open to the possibilities of shifting our paradigms, opening deeper into our experiences, and understanding more. As a practice and process, awe goes beyond momentary feelings and experiences and can be transformational. If you want to experience strong growth in your life, it makes sense to learn to cultivate awe.


Monday, May 4, 2020

The Inner Ocean #3

by Dean Solon

here it comes:
the sound of rolling thunder.
the deep sound---the quiet---
of thunder roaring to me, rolling through me.
is much like the roaring and rolling thunder of the ocean,
the ocean across the street,
the ocean in me.
the inner ocean.

OM...the Lion's Roar of the Cosmos,
around me, moving through me.
the Lion's Roar of all Creation
inside me and all around me.
the Unease
(the shadow, the portal)
allowing and making space for Intuition,
giving way to Clarity.

i entangling with IT,
immersing with IT and in IT.

a Stillpoint.

the Stillpoint.



Friday, April 24, 2020

The Inner Ocean #2

by Dean Solon

"Those who look out to sea become the sea,
and they can't speak about that. On the beach
there's desire singing and rage-ranting,
the elaborate language-dance of personality,
but in the waves and underneath there's no volition,
no hypocrisy, just love forming and unfolding."   (Rumi)


i wonder about everything
i wander around everything

i am in awe of everything.
the wildness in me refuses to submit to anything.
yet i do submit, i do surrender,
because i am a devoted one.
nothing needs to change to my liking...
because i am moved by everything.

i walk the worlds, learning, discerning.
i walk this world, in Astonishment.
no wishes are granted to me,
because i wish for nothing...
nothing besides this one:
that we cease destruction, cease obliteration,
cease the excuse of being triggered as an explanation
for projecting hatred and violence onto the world around us.
.
i

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Meeting

by Dean Solon

 
sitting...with an intention of an integrating understanding...

to be living with the grief, which may include the revulsion,
of living here on the earth with the activity and the phenomena,
the wildness and craziness,
the harsh and harrowing experience it can be
AND
to be living with the embracing of being here on the earth-plane,
with the richness of being alive in human form,
with the peace and the love and the mercy that comes to me
and that i may bring to the world of form and manifestation.  

i may be filled with sadness and sorrow, and righteous anger,
i may be filled with joy and bliss, and ecstatic vision.

i am to be accepting and surrendering,
finding the experience of feeling safe
in a world of impermanence and change and chaos
that is "not safe".

the greeting and welcoming of the orgasmic inner world
AND
the organic outer world,
the meeting of wonder and whirlwind, of grace and gravity.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Inner Ocean

by Dean Solon

the inner ocean.
the expanse within, the depth within.
the universe within.
the waves of the inner ocean.  the wind.
the core, the center, the crux of the matter.
the solar plexus, the belly, the navel, the lower dantian.
i am moved to be there.  to be here.
to be.

the inner ocean.
the living presence, the source of energy.
home.
bliss, ecstasy, rapture
flowing through me,
blowing through me.
even when i am not consciously aware of the inner ocean,
am not experiencing bliss, ecstasy, rapture,
it is here, i am here, You are here.
eternal.  primordial.
Path and Presence.
the ocean within and the ocean across the street,
each is and both are grace and gravity,
sensitivity and Shiva.

the waves of the ocean splashing and crashing on the shoreline...
and receding.
as the breath is...
rising and falling.
the outer banks
and the inner treasure[s].
each of it and all of it
an Astonishment.
each of us and all of us
an Astonishment.


today, the ocean a little calmer.  the waves, the wind, the sky, the sand,
an Astonishment.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

No Passing, No Failing

by Dean Solon

A day of resting, of resting more, beckons.
Waking into a deep of sadness and sorrow,
of a world suffering, a nation imploding,
a madness upon the land.
am not writhing, am not wound up in the whirlwind.
am simply seeing what there is to see,
and the strange way(s) we are living in this world.
witnessing this: whatever ways each of us is living
carries with it no passing, no failing.
no grades are given.  there is no passing or failing.

each of us in each and every moment living in and with the waves washing over us.  each of us sometimes swimming in the shallow waters, sometimes swimming in the deep waters.
no judgment applies, no judgment descends,  no judgment is relevant.  no one "doing better" on his/her own path than anyone else.
the footprints we are walking in are strange, are new, are familiar.  we have co-created them, and are co-creating them.

the view is extreme, the view is exquisite, the view is simple.

may we not be living harshly in these harrowing times.

what a wonderful time to be kind and gentle with yourself and with others.

and we need not be perfect in doing it.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Self-Compassion and Emotional Resilience

by Trudy Gregson, MS, LPC

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield

As we continue to adapt and manage our lives under the unusual circumstances of COVID-19, it’s as important as ever to make sure we’re giving ourselves the care and attention we need. In fact, according to Kristin Neff, one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion, “When we go through major life crises, self-compassion appears to make all the difference in our ability to survive and even thrive.”  

I’ve noticed that we often find it easier to feel compassion for others – for our children, our friends, our pets – than to turn that compassion towards ourselves. For some, self-compassion may feel like self-pity or selfishness or weakness, or they may believe that being hard on themselves motivates them to “do better”. We may use harsh words towards ourselves as a way to protect us from the harsh judgments of others, perhaps as an attempt to inoculate ourselves. Paradoxically, it has the opposite effect. Harsh self-judgment - our inner critic - makes us feel worse, not better.

To understand what self-compassion is, it may help to understand the difference between compassion and empathy. They’re similar in the way they both require us to put ourselves in another’s shoes. However, compassion includes the ability to stay present with another’s pain without being overwhelmed by it, and to be able to help from a place of love and kindness. Staying present with our own pain can be quite difficult, and people are very resourceful in finding all sorts of ways to escape it, but our escapes are short-lived. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is limitless once it is cultivated.

Kristin Neff describes self-compassion as, “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate… it involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience and… taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated.” Practicing self-compassion expands our ability to achieve growth and change for ourselves, as well as to support others. When we’re able to feel compassion toward ourselves, it fortifies us from the inside out and makes us more resilient in the face of adversity.

A 2017 study published in Health Psychology Open found that “people who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to handle stress better.” Dwelling on stressful events can create chronic health issues including spikes in blood pressure and blood sugar, along with suppression of the immune system. Self-compassion is the antidote. Research has consistently shown that self-compassion decreases anxiety and depression symptoms by improving our ability to better handle stress and allows us to have more emotional resources to share with others.

To cultivate self-compassion, try using:

Physical gestures, such as placing your hand on your heart or giving yourself a gentle hug (even it feels a little silly at first). This releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.

Compassionate language towards yourself. Notice what you say to yourself – is it critical or is it supportive? Practice speaking to yourself as you would to a child or a good friend.

Self-care –Make yourself a cup of tea, spend some time in nature, get adequate sleep and physical activity, prioritize your own needs by saying no sometimes. Remember, it’s self-care, it’s not selfish.

In her new book, “Radical Compassion”, Tara Brach shares how practicing RAIN can help us to be more compassionate towards ourselves. RAIN is an acronym to help us remember four steps for practicing self-compassion when we’re experiencing a difficult emotion or a holding a painful belief about ourselves:

R: Recognize what’s going on inside of you. Notice what’s happening in your body. Notice feelings of tension, pressure, anxiety, ruminating thoughts, or whatever response you’re having, and just gently bring your attention to it.

A: Allow what is happening to happen, just by breathing, being present with it and letting it be. You may not like the feeling, but see if you can set an intention not to judge it or try to fix it or change it.

I: Investigate what feels most difficult and ask the part of you that holds the tension or discomfort how it’s trying to help you. Ask it what it needs from you.

N: Nurture it by using tender language, gestures, or your breath to be present with and bring comfort to this part of you.

Self-compassion is the salve that eases our suffering –our everyday experiences of stress, frustration, anger, or feeling badly about ourselves. It takes courage to be able to stay present with uncomfortable feelings, so be gentle with yourself as you begin to practice bringing more self-compassion into your daily life.

Trudy Gregson, MS, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor providing counseling to adults experiencing depression, anxiety, issues related to trauma, life transitions, and relationships. Trudy customizes her approach according to each client’s needs, using Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), Mindfulness, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as the foundation for their work together, helping clients to notice, bring compassion to, and acceptance of their inner experience. Trudy can be reached at trudygregsontherapy@gmail.com or at 267-652-1732.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Compassion for our struggle with social distancing



While I share the urgency and frustration that many of us are experiencing as we notice people who are not socially distancing sufficiently to meet the public health concerns, I want to make a few comments.

1. ISOLATING IS REALLY HARD EMOTIONALLY. As someone who has spent most of her life focused on emotional wellbeing, it has still been really hard to handle the waves of anxiety and emotion related to this unfolding situation. Under the best of circumstances, many people struggle to be alone or idle for even a few moments. This demands psychological resiliency which can be a weak muscle for most of us.

2. PEOPLE ARE GRIEVING. I'm not even talking about losing loved ones to the virus. I'm talking about the college students who have left their school and friends, thrown their belongings in boxes and headed (if they are lucky to have a welcoming home) back to their families. People are missing milestone events like proms, graduations, weddings, and long-planned trips. People are watching their livelihood dry up out of nowhere, their retirement accounts plunging. There are schoolkids who have nothing to do – and the parents who now have an additional full-time job of caretaking on top of working. It is hard to keep up with the emotions, and resistance to social distancing can be an instinctive coping strategy.

3. A LOT OF US DON'T DO ABRUPT CHANGE WELL. Any change can be a challenge, even good ones like new jobs or starting a new relationship. We work hard to develop a life that works. Disruption is hard, and can jangle our nerves and our managerial methods. The amount of change in the last weeks has been crazy intense, and while this is not an excuse not to make the necessary changes, it is a reason to feel compassion for ourselves and others struggling to make it.

4. DENIAL OF ILLNESS AND DEATH is pervasive in our culture. We are sheltered and in avoidance and denial until we can't be anymore – when tragedy comes to us or someone we love. Our culture marginalizes and tries to hide most illness, death and disability. Now we are facing a pandemic, and the realities of what this means are not comfortable or on the radar of many. We are playing catch-up in a culture that pretty much stinks at humanizing suffering and sacrificing for others.

5. COMPASSION, COURAGE AND CLARITY are needed to get through this crisis, both as applied to ourselves and to how we respond to others. Compassion for all the parts of us that are stirred, scared, confused, avoidant, or seeking comfort, and compassion for others who similarly struggle. Courage and clarity to take necessary action, face our feelings, and urge others to do the same. And focus on what is necessary and try not to get overwhelmed with the rest.

These are not excuses; but it may help to appreciate the emotional aspects of the challenges we face. I pray we can all rise to these and more, for the health, safety, and return to social closeness that we all crave.


Tips for an Effective Teletherapy Session


We are grateful for the development of video technologies that allow us to continue to provide counseling support during such a challenging time. Research has proven the effectiveness of teletherapy as comparable to in-person therapy. We also understand that it is a new experience for many people. We encourage you to try the suggestions below in order to support yourself in having the most beneficial experience.
  • If at all possible, identify a quiet, enclosed space to protect your privacy. You may want to post a “Do not disturb” sign on the door. Please avoid doing teletherapy sessions while driving; however, some have found that sitting in their parked car is a perfect place for quiet and privacy.
  • Have whatever you need for your comfort nearby – water, tissues, blanket, etc.
  • Check in to the video session five minutes before your appointment time to insure everything is working properly.
  • For video sessions, be mindful of where you sit in relation to a window or source of light. Try to ensure your face is clearly visible, with no glare. Your visible expressions are equally as important via video as they are in person!
  • If you can, place your computer on a stable surface (not your lap) and avoid using your phone for video sessions.
  • Turn off any notifications and minimize sounds that could be distracting during the session. 

You may find the telehealth format difficult at first. We will work together to increase your comfort and ease so that we maintain connection throughout this challenging time.

Managing Anxiety during the Pandemic


by Trudy Gregson

How do you usually manage worry or anxiety? Maybe you focus on the positives, or minimize the worry, or reassure yourself it’s not so bad - “others have it worse”.  These are all true and can be helpful, but these methods may not be working as well for you right now. We’re in uncharted territory. There is much that is unknown, and this can be very unsettling.

Often our worry or anxiety works to protect us from more vulnerable feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, or fears about safety - all valid fears, especially if we’ve had experiences in the past in which we’ve felt helpless, powerless, unsafe, and most of us have at some point.

It can be helpful just to notice whatever it is you're feeling. See if you can slow down, settle yourself with a couple deep breaths, and then return to your normal breathing and notice what you’re feeling. Name it. Notice where in your body you’re feeling it, whether it’s tension, stress, or some other discomfort - however your body holds worry or anxiety. And then breathe into it. Noticing your breath. See if you can witness the sensation connected to your worry. If it feels ok, say some soothing words to yourself:  “It’s okay to feel this way. I’m here with you.” Maybe you can have a mantra: “Breathe in love, breathe out worry”, or whatever words of comfort the worried or anxious part of you needs to hear.  You can ask it, “What do you need to hear right now?”

Your concerns are legitimate and you may find it helpful to be open to the parts of you that need attention, that need to grieve the losses that our current situation is bringing about - loss of control over certain aspects of our lives, loss of our regular routines and in-person social contact, temporary loss of our usual way of life, even loss of the secure feeling that things will be as they always have been. Bringing your attention to these feelings won’t make them go away, but you may find that by bringing your presence and compassion to them, you can create some space for them and bring about greater ease and comfort.

5 Ways to Ground during a Pandemic


by Elizabeth Campbell MS, LPC

When lives abruptly change, we may be left feeling shock or fear.  This can include fear of change and the unknown on top of the very real and present fears people currently have for their health.  It is important as a parent to be a grounding force in the home.  That is extremely challenging during these troubling times.  Below are five ways to create some sense of normalcy and model coping to set an example and support kids in managing their own feelings.

1.     Create structure
We are used to a daily routine.  This provides predictability and comfort for us and our children.  When we suddenly don’t have to go to school or work, it can be unsettling.  Giving our family predictability, particularly if anyone in the family experiences anxiety, can help to create and set expectations and grounding.  Some possible things to include are academic time, free time, and my next recommendation for grounding…
2.     Get outside
Being outside in nature is one of the most grounding, calming experiences there is.  Whether you are walking, biking, sitting, bird watching, the list goes on and on.  It is also a great way to stave off cabin fever without risking close contact with others. 
3.     Put on your own oxygen mask first
You cannot model coping with difficult circumstances without doing so yourself.  If you haven’t felt, processed, and coped with any of the myriad of feelings related to our world right now, take care of yourself however you need to.  Whether it is taking a rest during nap time, a bath after bed time, or making sure the entire household moves during the day…the possibilities are endless.  Take.  Care.  Of.  You. 
4.     Stay connected
This is one of the most challenging ways to stay grounded in our current climate.  Thankfully, technology provides a lot of ways to stay socially connected while maintaining social distancing.  We may end up on devices more than we would usually want and that’s okay right now.  This is most important for teens, as it is one of their developmental tasks to build and maintain a social group.
5.     Have fun
There are a lot of things weighing on us right now.  But many of us have been given an enormous gift…time to connect with our loved ones.  Have a dance party, tickle war, a joke competition or whatever you do in your family that makes your heart melt. 
I hope that each and every one of you can find some peace in this global crisis and that you and all of your loved ones stay healthy and happy.

Navigating Turbulent Times with Caution and Compassion


by Elizabeth Venart, Resiliency Center Director

You matter.  Our physical doors may be closed during this time, but our hearts are open and we are here to help provide support, connection, and resources for you. As many of you already know, the practitioner community at The Resiliency Center made the decision to close our physical offices effective Friday, March 13th. We did so in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s directive for all non-essential businesses in Montgomery County to close for 14 days in order to address the COVID 19 global pandemic and prevent further community spread. We have been in the process of transitioning our services and programs to teletherapy (phone and video), so we can continue to offer support during this challenging time. 

Individual practitioners are reaching out to the people they support to provide necessary details about how we will continue to hold our sessions remotely. Additionally, Rachel has found a creative way to hold meetings for the Philadelphia Writers Workshop online. We may be offering additional online programming – and, if so, you can learn more about our offerings through our Facebook page and upcoming newsletters.

While we are saddened to have to close our doors, we are devoted to doing our part to protect the most vulnerable in our community. We hope that you and your loved ones stay healthy. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns, need resources, or wish to schedule an appointment. If you don’t yet have a specific practitioner with whom you are already working, please visit our website’s practitioner page and reach out to one of us to schedule a phone consultation. We look forward to connecting and navigating these turbulent times together.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Why play?


by Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC

As founder of the National Institute of Play, Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen.  That’s a strong comparison considering that none of us have gone without breathing in even the last minute, but how many of us can remember the last time we really played?  Not every minute, but daily or often. 

Brown considers play to be a “state of being” and “purposeless fun and pleasurable.”  It is a state of being because when we play, we engage our minds, bodies, and spirits. It is purposeless because there is no real goal or consequence. I’m fortunate to be able to remember playing outside as a child for hours on end; the excitement and anticipation of running out the door filled with a sense of freedom, anticipation and curiosity for whatever the next few hours would bring. I fully committed to whatever and wherever play brought me, whether it be creating a fantasy land for fairies, (whom I was sure existed), burying a box filled with treasures to be dug up when I was “all grown-up”, finding neighborhood kids to play hide and seek or kick ball, or just climbing trees and pretending I lived alone in the forest.  The possibilities were as endless as my imagination.

Besides the sheer enjoyment of play, numerous additional benefits exist. Play gives us the chance to connect to others and increases our sense of social wellbeing.  As Plato aptly said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”  In addition, play that utilizes our brainpower helps to maintain cognitive function and increases creativity, productivity and cooperation at home and at work. Furthermore, adults who play and are playful demonstrate higher overall life satisfaction, as reported by numerous studies.  Play adds to our social, mental and emotional wellbeing. Play is powerful!

Keep in mind that there are many ways to play, and getting in touch with your preference could enhance your life in a meaningful way. Try being light-hearted or silly or doing something out of character like tickling your spouse, whatever brings delight.  It doesn’t matter how you play, but rather, that you do play.

As George Bernard Shaw wisely reminded us: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC works with children, teens and families as well as individuals.  She specializes in working with individuals with ADHD and related behaviors.  She is dedicated to helping families work to create peace in their homes by working with all members of the family.  To connect with Lisa, please call 267-625-2565 or visit her website lisagrantfeeleytherapy.com.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Wisdom of Dreams


by Heather Hill, MSS, LCSW

What did you dream last night?  Every night, our dreams offer us a chance to evolve and grow if we pay attention to them.  In fact, they are absolutely essential to our creativity, health and wholeness as individuals and as a society.  The wisdom of the dream lies in the unconscious, the parts of ourselves that we can’t yet see, but on a deep and cellular level, our bodies and hearts know to be true.  What remains unconscious can block or arrest our psychological and spiritual growth or worse be projected into the world with sometimes harsh results.  Winter’s continued call for sleep, rest and reflection is an opportunity to learn from our dreams and to create more wholeness and vitality in our lives.  

My informal knowledge about dream interpretation comes from the work of Jeremy Taylor, a Unitarian Universalist minister, founding member and past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.  He worked for 35 years using dream interpretation as a tool for nonviolent social change in such places as residential group homes for schizophrenics and San Quentin Prison.  His life and body of work leaves behind an inspiring legacy of confronting and addressing such evils as racism, sexism, violence and environmental destruction – through dream interpretation.  Here are his basic assumptions about dreams:  

  1. All dreams come in the service of health and wholeness.
  2. No dream comes just to tell the dreamer what he or she already knows.
  3. Only the dreamer can say with any certainty what meaning his or her dream may hold.
  4. The dreamers’Aha of recognition is a function of previously unconscious memory and is the only reliable touchstone of dream work.
  5. There is no such thing as a dream with only one meaning.
  6. All dreams speak a universal language of metaphor and symbol.
  7. All dreams reflect inborn creativity and ability to face and solve life’s problems.
  8. All dreams reflect society as a whole as well as the dreamer’s relationship to it.
  9. Working with dreams regularly improves relationships with friends, lovers, partners, parents, children and others.
  10. Working with dreams in groups builds community, intimacy, and support and begins to impact on society as a whole.

To fully understand our dreams, it’s best to have other people to share them with.  There is no special training or education needed to listen and explore the symbols in your personal mythologies.  The most important thing to know is that the only person who has the authority to determine a dream’s true meaning is the dreamer.  The dreamer’s “Aha” moment of recognition is the only barometer that the dream’s message has been delivered.   Dream groups build community and generate multiple perspectives, but even one person, such as your partner or a psychotherapist, can help. 

Here is an example of how one woman participating in one of Jeremy Taylor’s dream groups, learned of a potential health crisis through her dream.  

A woman dreamt she was at her home and a party was going on in her basement.  She goes down to join them but has a purse with “rotting meat” in it that she is afraid will offend the guests.  She keeps trying to close the purse.

The dream group suggested that the “rotting meat in the purse” could be indicative of uterine cancer.  The woman initially dismissed the idea as ridiculous, but she couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling that something was wrong, so she went to her doctor who found nothing.  Not satisfied, she pressed for more scans.  Finally, a sonogram showed a thickening of her uterine wall which did in fact turn out to be a rare, extremely aggressive form of uterine cancer.  The woman had surgery and survived.  (Story found on pages 13-15 in Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill by Jeremy Taylor.)

If you cannot find a dream group, here are some useful techniques to encourage dream exploration on your own:

  1. Draw the dream.
  2. Separate out the emotional narrative from the content of the dream.
  3. Re-enter the dream in waking state.  Take a different role in the dream.
  4. Embody and act out the dream physically.
  5. Find the image or situation in the dream that carries the greatest energy for healing and bring it forth into waking life in some concrete or expressive form.
  6. Make a mask of one or more characters in the dream and wear it while “being” that character.
  7. Pray and meditate while focused on your dream.
  8. Look up images in a dream symbol dictionary.
  9. Rewrite the narrative adding the phrase “part of me” to each of the images.
  10. Dream more.

The first challenge in dream interpretation is actually remembering your dreams.  Having the intention to dream AND a supportive place to share your dreams can actually increase dream recall.  Science tells us that all of us dream about 4-6 times per night and even animals with “eyelids that close” dream.  For tips on how to remember your dreams, watch this TED talk called Dreaming On Purpose, found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odNc2MshuWI The best time to recall dreams is when you are in the transitional stage of consciousness in between being asleep and half awake.  But that time is short lived, about 3-5 minutes, so grab the dream journal you left by your bed and write furiously.   

February is like that transitional stage of consciousness for the Earth.  Seeds are starting to awaken under the ground and sap is rising in the trees.  Does the Earth dream?  I think it’s possible that the Earth dreams through us.  And maybe, by paying attention to our own dreams, we can awaken from our collective slumber and courageously and creatively act to ensure her survival.

Heather Hill, MSS, LCSW has been a psychotherapist for over 10 years. She specializes in helping anxious and depressed teens and women connect to and live in harmony with their true nature.  Heather is passionate about using mindfulness and Eco-therapeutic approaches to restore balance, reduce isolation, and create a greater sense of wellbeing. She can be reached at Heatherhilltherapy@gmail.com or 215-485-7205.