Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Transitioning with Children Following Divorce

By Jeff Katowitz, LMFT

       When two people divorce it can be a difficult process both emotionally and financially in making an adjustment to a new way a living. Through a shift in life style, never ending schedule changes and negotiations if there are children, and seeking a predicable flow and consistency in routines can be very challenging.  Many parents attempt to create a new family too quickly and are motivated out of a desire to put back together or establish an image of a family from one that had been broken. Parents, however, need to engage in a process of their own healing and reflect regarding what had transpired in their previous marriage or relationship first prior to establishing new relationships. Awareness is the key here, where many parents tend to find themselves feeling lost, trapped by their own pain and may seek refuge in a new relationship to cover over quickly the negative experiences that they had in their marriage.

      But what about the children of these divorcing couples. It is not within their control to pick a new partner for their parents (although some have a great deal of influence in this process). They too may have a similar need for normalcy and predictability but their parents’ judgment and timing of their decisions may be in question. Some children may carry and harbor resentment toward one or both parents for their decision to divorce. They struggle with their own feelings of abandonment and many feel that no one has considered the impact that the divorce has had on their lives.  It is therefore critical to assess how their children are transitioning and may need to work towards developing or reestablishing trust with their children if it has been compromised. But how do parents initiate a process in which they help their children feel acknowledged and cared for?  Parents seem stuck in a quagmire - between their own sense of entitlement and desire or need to transition out of an unfulfilling relationship and the guilt over hurting their children and not knowing what the most appropriate next step should be.

    Depending on the circumstances and the ages of the children parents may want to consider engaging them in an open discussion - asking for feedback and opinions regarding what had transpired specifically relating to the divorce. Many parents are unaware of how to gauge where their children are emotionally following a divorce and make assumptions about how their children feel. Without a clear understanding directly from their children parents may experience resistance and a great deal of conflict in their relationship with their children. From experience in treating very complex family systems and those transitioning through divorce and healing post divorce I have found that those parents who show compassion and patience with their children regarding the pace of their transition receive positive results.   It is not uncommon to hear children openly articulate that they want to “see their parents happy” and this suggests that they have made a shift towards letting go of past pain and resentments – they can now see more clearly of what is in the best interest of not only themselves but also of their parents. Those children who have been permitted and encouraged to draw their own conclusions are not only able to think about what will make them happy but also able to think about their parents’ happiness. It is also a strong indicator that their needs are being met and that they have been able to transition through a difficult chapter in their lives by forgiving their parents for the decisions that they have made.

Jeff Katowitz, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist providing individual, couples, family counseling. Specialties include adolescent development, separation, divorce, adoption, and blended families. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Jeff at 215-307-0055 or email him at jpkatowitz@verizon.net.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Whole Shebang #2 by Dean Solon

this is the way it is:  i am living in heaven and in hell, at once.
this is where i am.  in one world.  here, now---heavenhell.
this is the whole shebang.  this is the whole works.  this is the context, is the content:
there is one world.  heavenhell.
the delight and the desolation.  the beauty and the banality.  the soaring and the scarring. 
heavenhell on earth.  our eyes witnessing. our minds perceiving, our hearts understanding:  drama, attachment, falling aside, falling away,
revealing no separation,
no stipulation, no condemnation.
revealing THIS...

this is the way it is:  wild world, wild life, a core place, a center, a conviction, where
peace and love and mercy reside, abide, transmit an experience and expression of
abundance and nothingness.
you have done yoga, you have meditated.  what have you found to be real and true, there?  what have you learned? 
what are you knowing, now?

this is the way it is:  the glory and the genocide.

no matter how much we bring our western sensibilities to buddhism, we cannot escape the predicament, we cannot eradicate the possibility, of what the Buddha has presented to us:  you are not becoming IT;  you are IT.
this is the way it is:  not becoming.
in nearly infinite time and space, where there is not-time, where there is not-space, there is, only, here now....there is being.

the universe is not waiting, this planet earth is not waiting, for us to become something.
the accelerated path is urging, is demanding, is insisting:
now, be something, be someone.
now, be the Buddha-self.

now, be awake.  

Flash Flooding by Dean Solon

the expressing of this world is a river running through
every thing, a river overflowing its own furrowed banks,
a flash flood perpetually in the making
and the destroying.
mysteriously, in a moment, any moment
THIS moment
it disappears,
as if it never was, never could be,
as if a drought has overspread the earth.
as if a drought has overcome the heart.

mysteriously, in a moment, any moment
THIS moment
the river reappears,
and the heart again knows sorrow, suffering,
holocaust, again knows hope and loving kindness.
the heart again knows.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Laughter Yoga by Elizabeth Venart

Laughter Yoga is an exercise and wellness routine that combines fun laughter activities with deep yoga breathing. It was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria.  A physician fascinated by medical research demonstrating the positive health benefits of laughter, he decided to start the very first laughter club through an informal “experiment” in which he brought together a group of just five people at a local park in Mumbai, India with just one task: To laugh. They told jokes and funny stories and invited others in the park to join them. Their small group quickly grew to over fifty people! However, Dr. Kataria soon realized being funny was not the best pathway to laughter, as sense of humor is very personal, and offense is as likely to emerge as laughter when jokes are involved.  In his effort to address this challenge, he reviewed laughter research and discovered that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. We get the same profound health benefits whether we are simulating laughter or engaging in the real deal!

Laughter yoga is based on the principle that anyone can laugh at any time for no reason whatsoever, without relying on humor, jokes, or comedy. Since that first gathering in the park only 16 years ago, laughter yoga has now expanded to over 6000 laughter clubs worldwide.

In laughter yoga, we encourage laughter through simulated body exercises and interactive activities in a group. Using eye contact and childlike playfulness, this “pretend” laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter. The health benefits from laughter include improved mood, strengthened immune system functioning, decreased stress, lowered blood pressure, and experiences of pain relief. To top it off, laughing is FUN!

For more information on laughter yoga, check out the links below, and enjoy the video of the baby laughing. This baby was born knowing how to laugh. Research has shown that, on average, children laugh approximately 200 times per day, whereas adults laugh only seven times. Laughter yoga helps us reclaim our natural tendency to laugh and helps us learn to take ourselves less seriously. Join Elizabeth Venart on Mondays at 9:30 a.m. at The Resiliency Center for a weekly laughter yoga club. Learn more and RSVP through our Meetup group. 

Laughter yoga can be practiced in groups, done alone, or learned and deepened by working individually with a Laughter Yoga Instructor.  Elizabeth Venart, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and the Founder of The Resiliency Center, gained certification as a Laughter Yoga Instructor in June. Since that time, she has been offering the laughter club and also infusing laughter yoga into her work with individuals and groups.  To learn more about Elizabeth Venart, visit her website or give her a call at 215-542-5004.

Dr. Kataria’s Laughter Yoga Website

Laughter Yoga Program on Discovery Channel

Dr. Kataria, Founder of Laughter Yoga, Laughing Silently at 5:00 am

Yang-Sheng Mind-Body Research Update article