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
For the last month, you’ve probably been off-schedule, regardless of how or if you’ve celebrated the holidays. Truth is, like infants, it’s surprisingly easy to get us humans off-schedule. In somatic terms, we become more disregulated. For many of us who have healthy-enough nervous systems, we can get back in gear with a few practices and some time. Many of us don’t even realize we’re doing it, when we cut out sugar, return to a regular bed-time, return to baseline on the amount of human contact we allow in a particular day. Come January 2nd, you step back into ordinary life. And while the season’s stressors are a relief to see in the rear-view mirror, most of us, even those who really hate this time of year, may feel a bit of a let-down. Somehow, the banal suggestion that one find a way to carry some wisdom, or some element of beauty, into mundane life feels lame.
We are resourceful, creative creatures! And we can reclaim this holiday season for our own. We can defy the commercialism, the expectations of others, the din of the desperation surrounding us and instead use this time to heal, cultivating a deeper spiritual awareness, inner peace and joy. Continue Reading Ready for the Holidays?
Trauma deeply impacts our sense of personal territory. Do we have a right to territory? What does it take to keep myself safe within that territory? If I feel an alert, should I mention it, because I might hurt someone else’s feelings? Because for me, and in my experience, our boundaries physically mark the beginning of what constitutes “us,” they are not merely a concept, and in becoming more embodied, less dissociative, we are more able to feel physically when someone is crossing those boundaries and entering what we sense as our personal space. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Boundaries, Part 2
Boundaries. I love how the therapeutic community throws words like “boundaries” around, without a clear explanation. Before you read on, in fact, go ahead and test this (and for those of you who’ve had therapy, or at least read a multitude of self-help books, this should be especially fun). How would you describe boundaries? Are… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Boundaries, Part 1
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?
A child of four runs around the house, flying a towel above his naked body like a sail, shouting “I’m MEEEE!” Arms flung wide, he knows no shame…and why should he? In his home, there is the safety and love of adoring parents. What should we call what he is experiencing? Arrogance does not come… Continue Reading Shame’s Opposite: An Exploration of Pride’s Healing Power
Every time a new client walks into my office, I am aware of the tremendous courage it took for many of them to overcome the shame of needing to ask for help with their distress. I value the work I do, and cherish the portion of the path I get to share with my clients… Continue Reading Now More Than Ever
This is not a love story about the value of family. This journal entry is instead dedicated to all those scorched souls out there who are still recovering from being with family and finding out that they’re no better this year than last. Especially those who are kicking themselves for knowing better, and falling victim… Continue Reading Holiday Fantasies