Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flowing Through Winter, Practicing Dancing

By Karen Steinbrecher
Welcome to winter.   You may groan when you read this.   Smile. I write this on a rainy day. QiGong practice resonates with Traditional Chinese Medicine practice (TCM).   The TCM system recognizes 5 Seasons throughout the Year. 
We have moved through the Winter Solstice into the season called the WATER Element.
During the Winter Season, we send our energies into our roots, just as the trees do in nature. 
It is normal to sleep a bit more, to eat heavier warming food, and to build energy that can be released in Spring (the Wood element). 
Winter is a time to seek the warmth of love and friendship. 
It is a time for assessment and reflection. 
It is time to recognize the rhythm of nature and follow along.
QiGong is a tool for us to move and flow, to navigate around those obstacles.
To go with the flow of life. 
When our Qi (life energy) is blocked or stagnant, that is when we may dwell upon stress, pain and encounter problems. 
Our Qi helps us to weave through chaos (hundun) to find, even for a few minutes, that peaceful place within. 
Qi dao, Yi dao is my mantra. 
Where the Qi goes and flows, the mind goes.
Let us recognize Water as a great teacher. 
It shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination and humility. 
As it flows upon the earth, the water’s journey can be a mirror of our path through life. 
Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what is familiar. 
Water doesn’t cling to its past, it is brave, and flows onward without looking back. 
When there is a hole to be filled, water doesn’t run away from its fear of the dark; instead water bravely, humbly fills the empty space. 
In the same way we can face the dark moments of our own life bravely, and not run from them.
Qi dao Yi dao. 
We move through life encountering many twists, turns and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.  

Karen invites you to dance and flow through a QiGong practice at the Resiliency Center, Thursdays @ 2P.M. and @ 6:20 P.M.   $10.00 for a one hour class.  Bring socks or slippers.  To register go to:  http://www.meetup.com/Resiliency-Gatherings-for-Movement-Inner-Strength-Joy/ or contact Karen at karensteinbrecher@msn.com.

Embracing the Quiet (But First...)

Embracing the Quiet (But First…)
by John Muraco

I invite you to take a look around, or better yet, take a listen. . . .What is the landscape of your SOUND environment?  Are you at work?  Are you at home or in a waiting room?  Perhaps you are reading this somewhere in nature!  Regardless of where you are, listen.  Try closing your eyes, and ‘seeing’ if you can ‘tune’ in to a new sound arrangement as your sense of hearing becomes sharper.  What sounds do you hear?  How are they entering your body? 

I have found recently, that to really ‘embrace the quiet’ it can be helpful to take inventory of our own SOUND ENVIRONMENT by becoming aware of what is generating sound around us. 
Embracing the quiet doesn’t necessarily mean finding total quiet (is that even possible?).  You can invite some quiet and stillness into your body and mind simply by altering the type of sound you are taking in.  For example, specific forms of music can help to facilitate relaxation such as listening to acoustic guitar, Himalayan singing bowls, Native American flute, or trickling water.  Try this sample and see what you think:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrx1vyvtRLY.

We all live in a dynamic sound atmosphere.  Notice your current background sounds.  Do you hear a TV, the radio, the internet, a phone ringing, kids talking (or screaming), birds chirping, cars bustling by, a kettle sounding letting you know that it’s time to be taken off the burner, the hum of a dishwasher, or something completely different?  All of these sounds enter the ears and affect the body in different ways.  As such, some of us might have to work EXTRA hard to embrace the quiet – to challenge ourselves first to reduce our noise intake in our environment, and then to bask in this new quiet!  Not an easy task when there is so little quiet to draw from in our day and age.  This makes it even more important to delegate at least a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day for stillness, and quiet.  This will allow your nervous system to calm and relax, while supporting your overall immunity and good health. If you build a solid inner foundation, you will be better able to thrive in a sometimes chaotic and noisy soundscape.  Let us know what works for you!

John Muraco, ATR, RYT, is an art therapist, registered yoga teacher, and holistic lifestyle and wellness counselor.  His work since 2000 has integrated diverse approaches to creative expression and wellness to support clients in regaining personal power and reducing stress.  John's approach to individual and group therapy for teens and adults is person-centered and customized. His holistic wellness consultation includes herbal remedies, tea blends, relaxation techniques and nutritional education. Contact John at john@heartwellhouse.com or 315-256-7767.  For more information go to www.heartwellhouse.com.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

12-13-15 by Dean Solon

the back story is...in the early sunday morning, i am dreaming---
i am with a community, am speaking in the community:  "how do i live?
                                                                                                                     how do i sit?
                                                                                                                     how do i move?"
the words seem to be meaningful to the others, and to me.
awaking from the dreaming, am chanting inside:  how do i live?
                                                                                                     how do i sit?
                                                                                                     how do i move?
at 4 a.m., i am writing...

i spoke my despair.
i shared my despair.
by expressing, i walk the path,
walk through the door,
as always i have done,
crying and laughing.
how do i live?
as spirit, as body, as mystery,
as receiver and as transmitter,
as witness,
as companion,
lying on the killing floor,
born again
and again
                                           and again

how do i sit?
as wandering jew,
as one whose name is bliss,
as one whose bliss is God.
i sit in the darkness,
touching the earth, touching the sky,
radiant, luminous,

how do i move?
how do i rise from the killing floor?
washed ashore,
am crawling on the sand,
                               and                                as phoenix
as survivor,
as spiritwalker, as shapeshifter,
as shaman-self.

how do i live...
how do i sit...
how do i move?
blown open
with no direction home
whereabouts known                 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Finding Balance during the Holiday Season

 by Brittiney George

How is it possible that the holiday season can feel both energetically exhausting and exhilarating?  Both joyful and stressful?  Feel simultaneously warm and cold?  Maybe it is because the holidays ask us to do two extremely different things: (1) tap into our childhood and see the world through the eyes of a child again, and (2) continue to act like and make decisions of an adult.  This experience can shine light on parts of our lives currently – and within our childhoods – that felt extreme (good or bad).  We become consciously aware of our current life and often compare it to the life we thought we would be living or should be living right now.  In that moment our subconscious belief systems can get kicked back into high alert.  Some familiar phrases that might resurface: 

·      Get Control of Yourself
·      Get it Together
·      Keep it Together
·      Shut that Down
·      Let it go

All of these phrases indicate that something is out of balance and we are trying to figure out a way to respond to feel safe or fit in to our given environment.  There is an energetic release or movement that needs to happen to reset the scale back to even.  During different times in our life, the way we did that may have differed:

·      Tantrums:  The ultimate energy buster in a world that feels out of control, proportion, or too much (too fast, too loud, to unpredictable).  Tantrums allowed us to naturally get the extra energy/noise off our system:  If I am expected to take it all in, than I also need permission to let it all out.

·      Rebellion:  When we learned that tantrums were no longer acceptable by society or in our family, rebellion kicked in.  We still needed an energetic release, but the form of it changed.  It may have been quiet rebellion, or loud in your face rebellion, but either way it was our way of trying to gain back some control, let out some steam, or have our voice heard.  We got the message that we needed to keep it together but were still missing the staples, tape, and glue (aka support or internal resources) necessary to do that.

·      Peace:  Peace is the place where tantrums & rebellion meet and become friends.  Instead of fighting about whether we should or shouldn’t feel how we do, instead of second guessing why we feel that way when those around us don’t, it becomes knowledge.  Tantrum and Rebellion both may still be there, but they are not at war, they are sharing their knowledge about why it is upsetting, what it is throwing us off balance.  It becomes insight and space to acknowledge what we need.  In the acknowledgement of that information….even if you don’t know what to do with it…the energy can flow more easily, emotions can flow more naturally.  You are not getting shut down, tuned out, or broken into pieces by it all.  Now you have choices.  Now you can move.

So this holiday season I wish you acceptance of all of who you are so that your system can truly know balance and find its true peace:

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble,
Or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still

Be calm in your heart.”-unknown

Brittiney George is a Movement Practitioner offering Rubenfeld Synergy, Infant Massage Education, and gentle, exploratory movement classes at The Resiliency Center. She co-leads Connection, Expression and Movement (CEM), a monthly workshop series focusing on body-mind integration. To learn more about her practice and services, contact her at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com

Wishes for a peaceful and picture­-imperfect holiday

by Jen Perry
Ahhh, the holidays and its food, family, and friends. A beautifully laid out table, happy children, civil and perhaps even engaging conversation. We all have a perfect Hallmark­worthy picture of it floating around inside our mind. Can you conjure up yours? I know I have one: my great aunt’s lovely antique china, candlelight, gracious conversation about all that we are thankful for. 
The challenge with our idealized images is that reality often just can’t live up to them. Our human minds make it truly impossible. Whether gleaned from hazy memories of yesteryear or from yearnings in our hearts for just how it could be, these are fantasies. You see, if we have ideas about the perfect day or perfect dinner (or perfect partner, or perfect parent, child, job, or . . . really the applications are endless), then our minds act like a scanner constantly searching the situation for things that need to be fixed, done, changed, or otherwise wrestled into the idealized image. It’s exhausting. Out of the myriad of details before us, it takes just one to “ruin it.” One child’s temper tantrum, one sharp word from a loved one, one burnt pie ~ you get the picture. And THAT is actually where the freedom lies. 
Try this: take your most precious, perfect picture and allow life to happen to it. You may find the results difficult or you may find them hilarious. In my case, that antique table I mentioned? Well, it literally collapsed mid-meal this Thanksgiving with no warning. 
The carefully prepared meal, well maintained china, flowers and candlelight, glasses of wine and cider, and all the silverware came crashing to the floor. A child howling, guests staring in disbelief, and one alert responder racing around as if the torn photo could be repaired. 
2015 is now a year for the history books in my family. Fortunately, we can laugh about this one. 
One of my favorite sayings is: “Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” I encourage you to take your picture perfect image and your idealism and let life, or gravity, have its way with it. Holding onto our perfectionism, scanning life, real life, for all the ways in which it doesn’t measure up, is not a peaceful or present way to live. These perfect pictures we hold up – of a holiday, a spouse, the future, a child, even our very selves – they block us from seeing the real moments and people before us as they are in all their imperfect splendor. The relief after the surprise of it all falling apart is pure, pure magic. And a gift: the gift of a broken table, a broken picture of perfection is a gift of presence and peace with what is. 

Jen Perry, MSEd, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor and peaceful parenting coach. She teaches mindfulness and self­-compassion to people wanting more peace and calm in their hearts. Her next 6 week class offering, Beginner’s Mindfulness, starts January 11, 2016. Space is limited to 6 so reserve your spot today by calling 215­-292­-5056 or emailing jenperry7@mac.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fill Up this Winter with Positive Change: Lessons from the Practice of QiGong

by Karen Steinbrecher

As the ground hardens and the air chills, we are drawn to go ‘inside.’  In Taoist traditions, winter is the season when you are called to explore what lives below the surface, to pay attention to the internal workings of your intuition.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the time to focus upon the Kidneys, Yin, and the Bladder, Yang, as well as the adrenals.  This is a crucial time to nourish, warm and fuel your physical, mental and spiritual energy.  These winter practices have a cumulative effect upon your physical health, mental clarity, and innovative spirit. 

Infuse yourself with positive change by practicing and dancing Qigong!  Qigong is an invaluable tool to unite and align your thoughts, heart and physical body.  One of the best ways to infuse your being is with your intention, to bring in and initiate positive change.  May this Winter Solstice and all holy days that celebrate the light in one way or another feed your soul, your heart, your being.  May our Qigong practice help us call this light, this Qi into a joyful dance arounds us, our world, your world.  May we see the light in one another and joyfully acknowledge it with a smile or a hug.  

Winter in TCM celebrates the Water Element.  The waters of the earth and the waters of your body are one. As we dance and practice Qigong together, we are one in dynamic flow and movement.  Let us fuse with the Universe this New Year with Peace and Love and Light, bringing in positive change.  Feel yourself as you dance Qigong, grounded and home in flowing change.  Abundant Blessings to all of you with Gratitude and Peace and Love.  

Join Karen Steinbrecher at the Resiliency Center each Thursday at 2 P.M. or at 6:15 P.M. in the open workspace.  Learn more at http://www.meetup.com/Resiliency-Gatherings-for-Movement-Inner-Strength-Joy/ 

A Meditation for the Holidays

by Elizabeth Campbell, MS, LPC

Setting an intention for what you want this holiday season and expanding it through meditation can help you to stay grounded in what you are seeking.  Begin by finding a comfortable seat and either close your eyes or relax your gaze on something that is not moving.  Take a deep breath in for a count of three and out for a count of three.  Repeat that for another deep breath in for three and out for three.  Begin to notice what comes up for you as what you want to cultivate this holiday season.  Maybe it is peace, joy, or abundance.  Notice where in your body this intention resides.  And begin to imagine that it has physical characteristics.  Maybe it is a certain color, shape, or texture.  Watch the intention expand as you connect with it throughout your entire body.  And as you continue to connect with it, it expands past your body and grows and grows.  Feel its strength and power.  And know that this intention is grounded within you no matter what external stress the holidays bring.  Stay present with this for as long as you desire, then slowly blink your eyes back open or back into focus.  Connect with this meditation daily through the holiday season.

Thrive this Holiday Season

by Elizabeth Campbell, MS, LPC

The holidays are a great way to celebrate gratitude and spirituality and to connect with loved ones.  They are also a time that can be emotionally difficult and stressful.  There are many things that contribute to the difficulty of this season and also many ways to support yourself and thrive this holiday season.

The winter season is a time to slow down and turn inward.  The holidays in our culture ask us to do the opposite.  People tend to overbook themselves, stay up late, and engage in unhealthy habits.  We can decrease our stress during this holiday season by maintaining a schedule that honors what our body and emotions need.  It is also important to maintain healthy habits and practices that maintain grounding.

Because the holiday season is a time when we focus on friends and family, this time can be difficult for individuals that are isolated, in conflictual relationships, or have experienced a loss.  Feelings of isolation can be exacerbated by the push to constantly connect during this season.  There are times when silence and time alone are beneficial to an individual.  This can also exacerbate depression or grief.  It is up to the individual to determine what best serves them during this time of year.  Generally, a balance is ideal.  This can be difficult if those we are “supposed” to connect with this time of year can be difficult to be around.  Prioritize connection with individuals that build you up and leave you feeling positive and nourished.  And when planning to spend time with individuals that drain your energy, visualize boundaries or protection surrounding you prior to connecting to support your resilience.  It is also important to maintain healthy boundaries within interactions with individuals that trigger you.  Individuals that have experienced loss often experience intense feelings during the holiday season. For those that are going through a recent divorce, breakup, or transition within the family, this also applies.  Lives in transition can be especially difficult during the holiday season because of the focus on traditions.    It is important to maintain traditions that you choose, without trying to keep everything the same.  Another significant practice is to honor your loss.  This can be especially important if you have lost a loved one.  This can be done with a candle, doing something that person loved, or partaking in a tradition that they enjoyed. 

A final way that the holidays can be difficult is when we set our expectations very high.  Every family and life has “stuff.”  Few people survive a holiday without a kitchen conundrum, drunken relative, or spat between loved ones.  Often individuals imagine a picture perfect holiday, which may heighten disappointment when life is closer to normal.  Setting realistic expectations based on history may help to decrease stress in the upcoming holiday celebrations. 

Holidays can be stressful for a myriad of reasons.  The most important tool in setting yourself up for a healthy holiday season is awareness of the aforementioned things that exacerbate stress.  To enjoy yourself this time of year, prepare yourself and honor what you need.  Happy Holidays!

Elizabeth Campbell is a licensed professional counselor providing an empowerment and strength-based approach to support individuals in personal growth and change. She specializes in play therapy with children, family therapy, creative counseling for adolescents, and trauma-informed treatment. She utilizes an integrative, mindful approach to address the whole individual and promote healing and wellness.   For more information or to schedule a session, please call Elizabeth at 610-757-8163 or email at elizabethannecampbell8@gmail.com