Sunday, February 28, 2016

Setting Intentions as a Catalyst for Growth

Setting Intentions as a Catalyst for Growth
by Jennifer Perry

Welcome to March! Our theme this month is fittingly “Growth: Thought into Action”.  I love March and looking for the first signs of Spring. Small flowers that start to come up, even as they are covered in snow from a late winter storm. While it may not seem like it, according to the winds and bluster that accompany March, I think of the small snowdrops and crocus as Mother Nature’s intentions of Spring.   

Intention is defined in three ways: 1) a thing intended, an aim or plan; 2) the purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct; 3) the healing process of a wound.  This Spring, I have a new offering. It was once a thought, then an intention, and is now an action! I am offering a 10 week Peaceful Parent Coaching Program. One of my favorite pieces of the program is sharing with parents how to have “Empowered Conversations” that both honor the authentic reactions of all parties AND seek to reach a peaceful resolution.

Setting an intention for a conversation is remarkably healing. Even the old, chronic arguments in relationships that seem beyond resolution not only can be healed but can be a catalyst for a deeper intimacy and growth. The conversation starts with an intention.  Even in the most conflictual of impasses that can occur between spouses, parents and children, friends and other family members, an intention can reach out like a small flower in the midst of the iciest storm.

Imagine starting a conversation with: “My intention is … to clear the air with you … to come up with a solution together … to remember that we are on the same team and we love each other ...” Conversations, especially conflictual ones, have an energy all of their own. We often get caught up in the moment, saying things we don’t necessarily mean but say “for argument’s sake” or to prove our point. This dynamic turns what could be a collaborative-spirited, problem-solving, empowered conversation into one full of sharp words that invalidate each other and pits loved ones into the positions of adversaries. We don’t need to be too hard on ourselves about this. It is part of our human natures. However, we can consciously set an intention to help us remember where we are, what end we seek, and how we influence each other - keeping in mind the real prize: empowered, connected conversations with our loved ones with enough spaciousness for everyone’s feelings and needs.

In going through the 10 weeks of the Peaceful Parent Program myself with my own family, I know first hand how difficult old habits can be to change. But with intention they certainly can change.

Experiment with a few of the suggestions below for empowered conversations (adapted from the Jai Parent Institute and Non-Violent Communication: 
  • Breathe and notice ~ as you are talking to your loved one keep your breath and body sensations in your awareness. If you notice yourself getting hijacked by the argumentative process, stop. Take a sip of water, notice it out loud: “I’m getting worked up and unproductive, let’s take a break and come back in a few minutes.”
  • State your intention ~ and restate as many times as necessary. Your intention is a guide for the entire conversation. Encourage your loved one to state an intention as well.
  • Take responsibility for your part ~ own any fears that are pulling you into combative mode and anything that is affecting how you show up to the conversation. This also helps your loved one understand where you are coming from.
  • State your feelings and needs ~ we can argue about rules and points of view but feelings and needs just are. Get clear on what your own feelings and needs are and practice communicating them.
  • Offer empathy for your loved one’s feelings and needs ~ Imagine how they must be feeling and given who they are, how they experience the situation.  Ask them if your understanding is correct and resonates with them. This is fertile ground for intimacy and respectful problem solving.
  • Make a request ~ after laying down the groundwork (it gets easier and more natural with practice!) make a request in the spirit of collaboration toward a common goal. “Would you be willing ….” is an excellent way to clarify and move forward together.
Jennifer Perry, MA, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mindfulness Teacher and Peaceful Parenting Coach. Using Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment strategies she helps clients relate to themselves and their experiences with compassion in order live full and meaningful lives. She builds on her clients’ values and strengths and teaches them mindfulness and creative problem-solving skills, empowering them to find authentic self-expression in the world. Her approach balances the desire for personal growth and change with acceptance and loving-kindness for self and others. Contact her at and 215-292-5056.

New 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Program
Is parenting more difficult than you ever imagined?  Do you react to your child in ways that you feel horrible about later?  Do you long for connection and cooperation with your child but find yourself relying on techniques that seem to pit you against each other, locked in a seemingly endless battle? There is help. You can learn the practice of peaceful parenting. You can learn tools and techniques supported by the latest brain science to infuse your parenting with more mindfulness, presence, attunement, and connection. You can parent from a place of love, not fear; cooperation, not coercion. A peaceful home is possible! Parenting is a journey, a practice. You can get support so that you can:
  • Learn to address your triggers as a parent.
  • Become your child's emotion coach and learn an empowering communication style based on feelings and needs.
  • Discover and articulate your family's values and use them to set limits that peacefully stick.
  • Explore and manage anger in healthy ways and repair the inevitable ruptures that occur.
  • Shift from a dominant, "power-over" paradigm to a peaceful parenting paradigm.
To learn more contact Jen Perry at 215-292-5056 or


Thursday, February 25, 2016

A New Life

by Dean Solon
(with nods of gratitude to Ken Wilber and Kim Stanley Robinson)

closing your eyes, lightly and gently, allowing the activities of the brain, the activities of this life, to subside, to quiet within you.
allowing a silence to envelop you, to touch you, to permeate you...

in the inner landscape of your mind's eye, looking around, you may see the great tapestry of the universe woven and weaving with a wondrous ebb and flow, you may be honoring the natural rhythms and cycles of your nature.
we are told the entire cosmos is pulsating like our hearts are pulsating, and like microcosmic atoms are vibrating within us.

to be feeling the rhythm of life is to be dancing to the greatest symphony of all, and to be denying its pulsing is to be missing the essence of all expression. about changes, growth, retreat, activity, rest, unfolding, going inward, participating in the outwards.

a new day beginning, a new day dawning.
who am i, today?  who am i, now?
who are you, today?  who are you, now?
a new being...a new version...a new vision, a new life.

encountering a new day.
engaging with a new day.
encountering and engaging with a new life,
encountering and engaging as a new life.

any and all thought-forms,
like clouds passing across the big sky.
as clouds passing across the big sky...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Inner Peace

by Jeff Katowitz

How would one define inner peace? Is it a state where we feel calm, quiet, noticing that things around us are slowing down? We continually hear of the pursuit or quest to “find peace.” This “quest” suggests a movement of some sort – a depiction of a future concept where a situation or a shift in a circumstance may lead to an anticipation of feeling better, happier and perhaps more peaceful.
Is it possible to experience “peace” no matter the situation or circumstance developing or unfolding around us? Perhaps we could consider engaging in a short exercise of consciousness where we begin to become more aware of what we are feeling and sensing – a strategy to help slow down or to gain a better perspective of how our mind is operating. 

Imagine if we could learn how to sit still and be able to deflect the wave of turbulent thoughts. Imagine being able to replace the turbulent thoughts with a vision or alternative way of processing information that may help us to place our situation in a different context – one where we become curious of what is unfolding around us. What if we could give up the need for outcome or an attachment to a situation that we’ve defined as “better?” It may be quite refreshing to be able to find an opening where we become free of a need to “feel better” and rather choose to engage in a quiet internal dialogue that consists of a knowing that despite what is happening in front of us visually or what we are able to hear, touch, smell or anticipate, our curiosity can serve to detach us from the situation. It could be quite extraordinary being in this place of “detachment” where the stillness or quiet is clearly present. Imagine this brief moment that may consist of a matter of seconds or minutes feeling calm and still. Might this be a definition of peace?

Experiment with a few of the suggestions below from Echkart Tolle as way to gain a sense of Inner Peace through the cultivation of power and presence: 
  • Window Meditation: “Behind your thoughts there is a stillness. For example, I recommend looking out of the window several times during the day. For a moment, look out and just take in what is there. Perhaps, there is a vast expanse of sky or a tree. Give it attention for a moment. There is a shift that occurs inside of you. That is stillness.”
  • Sky Meditation:  “Look at the sky for a moment — giving it your full attention. It takes you away from mundane things, all the little stuff that you have to deal with continuously, and then you have a moment of stillness, of presence, of awareness.”
  • Simple Activity:  choose a routine activity and bringing consciousness into the ‘doing.’ “Step out of your thoughts and just be conscious of your sense perceptions, so that the dimension of awareness grows in you.” An example could be a daily chore such as doing laundry or making the bed. Instead of rushing through the activity to get to the next item on your to-do list, take a conscious breath and feel the texture of the fabric on your hands.
  • The Gap: “Pay attention to the gap — the gap between two thoughts, the brief, silent space between words in a conversation, the notes of a piano or flute, or the in-breath and out-breath. When you pay attention to those gaps, awareness of “something” becomes just awareness. The formless dimension of pure consciousness arises from within you and replaces identification with form.”
“Gradually, as we increase the moments of stillness in our lives, we begin to experience presence power. This helps to free us from the voice in the head; the continuous stream of thinking that prevents us from experiencing inner peace in the present moment.”- Echkart Tolle

Jeffrey Katowitz, LMFT, AAMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. His areas of specialty include divorce and separation, blended family issues, adoption, adolescent development and transitions, grief and loss, and managing and working through traumatic life events.  Jeff’s goal is to provide a safe a nurturing environment for the individual and family system to feel more readily able to access the strength to overcome difficult transitions and events in their lives. Contact him at and 215-307-0055.