Anxiety is not a choice. It’s not a characterological weakness. It’s a kink in your biological software. Sadly, the mood-as-a-choice crowd has been growing in the last decade or two, making it worse. Now, not only do you stutter in a crowd, have difficulty making eye contact, or find your obsessive thoughts getting in the way of rational decision-making, but you understand these to be signs of failure on your part. The shame, then, of being incompetent, unfriendly and untrustworthy, stupid, and my favorite absurdity, “attention-seeking,” makes it almost impossible for you to simply work with your physical self to heal it, because even admitting your anxiety is embarrassing. Once you can get past your shame however, and simply allow yourself with guidance to gently, compassionately step into your anxious body, you have the power to bring flow to the log-jam of chronic anxiety. Continue Reading Anxiety, Embodied: The Biology of “Mental” Illness
As a therapist, I deal with individual torment, but as a country, as a society, we must also think of trauma as something socially induced and with cultural impact. Regardless of where one stands with gun control (and I doubt that Las Vegas’ tragedy changed not one NRA mind), this country is subtly changed by each new slaughter, becoming more inured, more tolerant… much as my individual clients survived by dissociating, by learning to live without safety, becoming hypervigilent and chronically anxious. By learning not to care. Continue Reading Where is the Humanity?
This series has been an important step on my journey, but I have no conclusions as yet. Religions have been the cause of much pain, but within them are beautiful rituals of healing, the comfort of tribal belonging, and the daily practice of faith.One of the practices that speaks to me shows up in almost every religion, the cleansing power of water. Pagan circles celebrate is as the western quarter, carrying the gift of emotion and of change. Monotheistic religions, including Judaism and Christianity, place high importance on baptism and cleansing ritual baths. It is not surprising that so many of my clients with highly distressed nervous systems find a rare calm in their tubs. Continue Reading Religion and Healing: Final Thoughts
Why do I believe that religion can be an important vehicle for healing? Because I truly believe it saved my life. It was the 60’s, and hedonism was in, not just for my parents, but for most families in our tony Western Massachusetts cul-de-sac. Supervising the children, what’s that? Building character, so repressive! Consistency, pure… Continue Reading The Saving Grace of…Religion?!
Ritual does not equal religion, but it is like the hint of color in the leaf presaging fall. All that is required is the loss of safety, the contraction into fear, and the organization that follows. At some point in my pretty story, the people lost spiritual touch with the land, and ignored the signs… Continue Reading Ruining A Good Thing, Part 2: Can Our Story Be Changed, And Religion Serve Our Spirituality?
Ruins. All that remains of a culture that lasted continuously for over 700 years at Mesa Verde. Like a skeleton, its bones and articulations telling a rich story, from a nomadic people tired of wandering, to a frightened and fighting society starved into leaving for kinder territory in Arizona and New Mexico. When I was… Continue Reading Ruining a Good Thing: One Story of How Spirituality Becomes Religion
I’m not fine…how are you? Imagine being able to go into work, sit down with family members, or even respond to a stranger’s query with an honest response on one of your more unhappy days. And imagine what it would be like to receive, instead of a perplexed grimace—you know what I’m talking about, the… Continue Reading Communities free from shame
I’m not fine…how are you? Imagine being able to go into work, sit down with family members, or even respond to a stranger’s query with an honest response on one of your more unhappy days. And imagine what it would be like to receive, instead of a perplexed grimace—you know what I’m talking about, the… Continue Reading Community without shame