Tag Archives: Emotions

Blog 44: Love & Anxiety, Pleasure matters- Part 2.

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Hello all, and happy July! I received a few comments after the previous Pleasure blog expressing a desire for more content about how to get more Enjoyment from healthy Pleasure. So as requested, part 2!

My first suggestion comes personal experience. Learn how to SLLOOWWW DOWN! We race through our lives, cramming in experiences, relationships, long to-do lists, and job/career pressures. We are so busy, (I was so busy) it is hard to have any space to deeply feel anything, much less Pleasure.The pace by which we live our lives impacts our ability to feel our lives. The slower we move through life, the more time and space we have to FEEL our lives. Of course, this stance is challenging when it comes to unpleasant sensations. One reason many of us compulsively ‘water ski across the surface of our lives’. But the benefits of slowing become more evident when it comes to increasing enjoyment of our healthy Pleasure. Being Present is so much harder when we are racing about.

The best way to get more enjoyment out of Pleasure is to be “Fully Present” and solely in that period of time the Pleasure is occurring. In this way, allowing the Pleasure to deeply register in mind and body. This is important because what we FOCUS upon we potentiate, increasing its power. Rick Hanson’s research Rick Hanson suggests that we must focus upon, keep in our awareness, a positive experience for at least 30 seconds. This enables the brain to register the positive experience as stimuli that matters. Our brains are biased toward negative stimuli so it takes extra effort to register positive stimuli. In the past, by barely noticing when something pleasant occurred, I have skimmed over (missed) the Pleasure within that experience in my hurry to move onto what came next. And, consequently I missed enjoying that Pleasure.

Many of you have heard about  Mindfulness. But for those that are less familiar with the concept, here is a simple definition of mindfulness, or being “Fully Present”. Being Present occurs when you are aware and conscious of what is occurring, and keeping mind & body fully in the experience. This sounds easy but it is not. Many of us have an experience but do not register the impact or notice what is occurring within our own body. This can occur due to living in our head/thoughts, or in a different time zone. We think about the contents of our to-do lists, or worry about tomorrow, or obsess about an earlier situation, i.e. the past. Another words, we are not actually living in the Present, but in the past, or the future, or in caught in worry or compulsive mental loops.

Healthy Pleasure restores safety physiology, as I have previously stated. But did you know that experiencing the physiological impact of Pleasure (the Enjoyment) also improves heart health, deepens bonds in relationships, and balances out the pain and stress that can very easily overwhelm our everyday lives?  An additional benefit of Pleasure is that it increases gratitude, which has its own health benefits. When I feel the Pleasure of a loving encounter with friends, or the rush that comes while surfing (every day surfing is a good day even if I never catch a wave), not only does my heart rate slow and harmonize, my physiology settles and my sense of well-being and feelings of gratitude soar.

Our usual behavior creates our sense of Normal!” A very simple statement but a profound truth! What you and I do on an everyday basis, our habits, attitudes, and behaviors, create a way of life that feels normal to us. Though it may be far from normal when compared to that of  the general population. For example, when I was an inveterate workaholic, putting in 12-14 hour days and working while on vacation, to me this seemed perfectly rational and normal behavior. However, now, after years of personal work in therapy, spiritual direction, and Somatic Experiencing, I am shocked at how out of balance I was and saddened by all the life and Pleasure I missed while enslaved by my old “Normal behavior”. Life feels so much better now! I am far from achieving expert status, but I continually focus on attaining a healthy work/life balance and have made Pleasure and Enjoyment primary values and this has made all the difference.

I will close by suggesting we use the truism, “ your usual becomes your normal” for our benefit!  Experiment by changing your usual behavior gradually but consistently to include more healthy Pleasure, Mindful awareness, and Presence, in order to enjoy life’s Pleasurable experiences. Make a new habit of adding more self-care and Pleasure into your life, and/or more deeply noticing and enjoying your Pleasure until that becomes your new normal.

In the next Blog I will share a simple but profound exercise I learned at a Tara Brach conference. It is easy, enjoyable and Pleasure focused.  As always, I invite you to write in and let me know how the experiments go.

GOING DEEPER

  1. What does the term ‘Being Present’ mean to you? Does it have a positive or negative connotation? Where do you spend most of your time, in your body/being or in your head/thoughts?
  2. What keeps you from living fully Present to your life and relationships? Do you need to let go of some past pain, or surrender a future concern in order to really feel the overall goodness of your life?
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Love & Anxiety #23: The Felt Sense & Anxiety

Today I am introducing the concept of the felt sense and how it relates to our body anxiety, using a “prayer” written by a doctor of Chinese medicine. I can not give credit to him because it was written anonymously. The next blog will flesh out this concept in a more linear fashion, but I think this is a great introduction!

Felt Sense Prayer    

I am the pain in your head, the knot in your stomach, the unspoken grief in your smile.

I am your high blood sugar, your elevated blood pressure, your fear of challenge, your lack of trust.

I am your hot flashes, your cold hands and feet, your agitation and your fatigue.

I am your shortness of breath, your fragile low back, the cramp in your neck, the despair in your sigh.

I am the pressure on your heart, the pain down your arm, your bloated abdomen, your constant hunger.

I am where you hurt, the fear that persists, your sadness of dreams unfulfilled.

I am your symptoms, the causes of your concern, the signs of imbalance, your condition of dis-ease.

 

You tend to disown me, suppress me, ignore me, inflate me, coddle me, condemn me.

I am not coming forth for myself as I am not separate from all that is you.

I come to garner your attention, to enjoin your embrace so I can reveal my secrets.

I have only your best interests at heart as I seek health and wholeness by simply announcing myself.

 

You usually want me to go away immediately, to disappear, to slink back into obscurity.

You mostly are irritated or frightened and many times shocked by my arrival.

From this stance you medicate in order to eradicate me.

Ignoring me, not exploring me, is your preferred response.

More times than not I am only the most recent notes of a long symphony, the most evident branches of roots that have been challenged for seasons.

 

So I implore you, I am a messenger with good news, as disturbing as I can be at times.

I am wanting to guide you back to those tender places in yourself,

the place where you can hold yourself with compassion and honesty.

If you look beyond my appearance you may find that I am a voice from your soul.

Calling to you from places deep within that seek your conscious alignment.

 

I may ask you to alter your diet, get more sleep, exercise regularly, breathe more consciously.

I might encourage you to see a vaster reality and worry less about the day to day fluctuations of life.

I may ask you to explore the bonds and the wounds of your relationships.

I may remind you to be more generous and expansive or to attend to protecting your heart from insult.

I might have you laugh more, spend more time in nature, eat when you are hungry and less  when pained or bored, spend time every day, if only for  a few minutes, being still.

 

Wherever I lead you, my hope is that you will realize that success will not be measured by my eradication, but by the shift in the internal landscape from which I emerge.

 I am your friend, not your enemy.  I have no desire to bring pain and suffering into your life.

I am simply tugging at your sleeve, too long immune to gentle nudges.

I desire for you to allow me to speak to you in a way that enlivens your higher instincts for self care.

My charge is to energize you to listen to me with the sensitive ear and heart

of a mother attending to her precious baby.

You are a being so vast, so complex, with amazing capacities for self-regulation and healing.

Let me be one of the harbingers that lead you to the mysterious core of your being

where insight and wisdom are naturally available when called upon with a sincere heart.  

Lucky from Uganda

Going Deeper:

  1. Can you relate to this prayer, does it resonate with your own body’s messages? If so, what changes might you make to better care for the amazing being that is your body?
  2. What messages does your body send you on a regular basis? Are they pleasant messages, ones of peace, relaxation and joy? Or, are they more often messages about exhaustion, pain, or anxiety? 

#22: Love Leaves Tracks!

Early one morning I was on the beach checking out the surf. I happened to look down and actually notice my surroundings. I saw imprinted in the sand, an abstract work of art consisting of many different bird tracks. There was not a single bird on the beach, but so many bird’s footprints. Just by looking at the unique shape of each track, I could tell what species of bird left them behind. This visual stimulated some thoughts about how things other than birds can leave tracks in the “sand” of my life. Even “intangibles” like Love and Anxiety, especially these two.

When I am deeply loved by another human, it leaves a tangible imprint on my heart and in my life. I was on crutches recently and so many friends offered to help me. Even a few kind strangers opened restaurant doors and carried my coffee. Kind and loving acts change us a little bit each and every time we experience one. Love’s imprint, opens our hearts and allow us to feel the deep goodness of this wonderful life we have been granted.

Some of my readers may be having a hard time right now and do not feel love is available to them. But whether you believe the Source of Love is called God, a Higher Power, or even a benign universe, this world is bathed in love. Strangers donating a kidney to save a life, people building homes for hurricane victims they have never met, parents patiently nurturing crying infants night after night, or even parents rescuing their adult children from yet another big mess! Love leaves footprints. Some of these include; an open heart, delight, expansiveness, peace, joy, trust, safety, a sense that life is good. Love is everywhere, though sometimes we miss it because we are not looking for it.

Often we fail to see the tracks of love in our life, because the tracks fear and anxiety leave seem bigger and more relevant. Anxiety leaves tangible tracks in our life as well. These can include: fear, worry, a self protective stance, doubting our decisions, selfishness, and anger. Because anxiety/fear screams at us internally, it is so easy to only notice the anxiety tracks and move into worry or panic mode. Love and peace are much “quieter” sensations and are easy to miss in the daily stress of our lives. And, since the brain is more interested in negative information than positive information, the anxious tracks catch and hold most of our attention. (See previous blogs is this is new information to you.)

There is a simple, but not easy to practice, antidote to living constantly in stress and worry. Choosing to deliberately refocus our primary attention from the tracks and sensations of anxiety. Honing our focus and attention onto the the tracks love has made and is still making, even in stressful situations. (This is an aspect of mindfulness.) Love is more powerful than fear! This week I encourage you to try this practice, deliberately look for love and away from the anxiety. You will have to do it over and over, but the more you do this, the more you will be able to calm down and see the good, even in hard situations. Love does cast out fear, but we need lots of it!

Going deeper:

1.) When you think of the tracks in the sand of your heart, what comes first to your mind? What specific tracks do you experience with both of these “emotions”?
2.) Who are the people in your life that make the most Love tracks? Do they know how grateful you are to them? Who or what makes the strongest anxiety tracks in your life? What might you do to decrease some of these?
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Blog #16: Part Two-To Feel or Not to Feel….and how to Deal!

I am curious about what you have have noticed or experienced after reading the contents of last week’s blog? We talked about about Emotion, Sensation, and Living Embodied. I concluded by suggesting that living Embodied helps us better handle our emotional storms. If you did not read (part one) last week’s blog, it will help you understand this one better if you go back and read it first.

Living Embodied is our birthright as a Human Being and something little children do extremely well. If you want to learn more about it, with openness and curiosity, watch a child for long periods of time. You will learn more from watching a child live in her body than from my few words.  

When you do learn how to live Embodied -that is being aware of the sensations and messages from your body, listening to them and responding appropriately-  you begin to notice the emotions you are experiencing when they are small and more manageable. When you first begin listening to your sensations, you might not know how to respond appropriately right away, but if you keep listening, your body will teach you all you need to know. (Every human body has an amazing Organic Intelligence within. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why wounds always heal themselves, as long as the area is kept clean). When we allow our sensation and feelings into our awareness immediately, we can ‘metabolize’ them so much quicker and they do not build up in our bodies. Just like our digestive system metabolizes a big meal, by breaking it down in usable portions.

In order to ‘metabolize’ emotions and allow them to pass through us without causing great havoc, use the two E’s, or E2. We first need to Experience our emotion as it surfaces out of our physiology/body. We do this by awareness and attention, we notice and are honest about what we are feeling internally. To further metabolize this emotion, next, we then figure out how we want to Express that emotion. Do we want to write a letter, cry, yell at someone, or talk to a husband, friend, or therapist? When we utilize the two E’s, most emotions will pass right on through our mind and body fairly quickly, like a wave moves through the ocean and then returns to the body of the sea. This may be a challenge when you first begin to try, but like anything else, it gets easier with time and practice.

So this week spend some time re-learning, if you have forgotten, your body’s language of sensation. Notice how your throat/chest/belly reacts to uncomfortable experiences. Or, how that same region reacts when things go really well and you feel deeply loved and cared for by your loved ones. 

One big additional benefit of living Embodied, your emotional range will begin to expand. Instead of just the primary emotions of mad, sad, glad, and afraid, you will begin to experience/feel many nuanced and other subtle emotional experiences. Having a larger emotional range brings more exquisite experiences to your life. As when a painter with access to a greater range of colors, rather than painting with only the primary few, makes his painting much more vibrant and expressive.

Images

Babies are the best example of Embodied living-Africa trip 2011

Going Deeper;

1.) Do you remember how your parents dealt with their emotions when you were a child? This week try to notice, do you handle your emotions in similar ways, or did you take a different path? 

2.) What emotions were you allowed to express in your home growing up? Which one(s) were outlawed? Do you still live by those “old” somatic rules?

3.) Are you able to utilize the two E’s when it comes to emotion? If not, which one causes the most difficulty, Experiencing or Expressing?  This week just practice listening to mind and body and see what is different.

To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join one of my 3-week anxiety reduction workshops. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving.