Tending Souls Healing Center Blog

How Mindfulness Can Help With Anger

Great patience is required to handle moments of anger, especially those in which we feel justified to feel it in the first place. A Tibetan parable on patienceabout the hermit and the herdsman is the perfect example to start off.

 A hermit was living alone in the mountains. One day, a herdsman happened to pass by his cave. Intrigued, the herdsman shouted at the hermit and asked, “What are you doing alone in the middle of nowhere?”

      The hermit replied, “I am meditating.”
      “What are you meditating on?” asked the herdsman.
      “On patience,” said the hermit.
      There was a moment of silence. After a while, the herdsman decided to leave. 
      Just as he turned to go, he looked back at the hermit and shouted, “By the way, you go to hell!”
      “What do you mean? You go to hell!” came flying back.
      The herdsman laughed and reminded the hermit that he was supposed to be practicing patience!”

 

Most times we are the hermit sitting in our cave minding our own business and trying to focus on patience when some herdsman comes along and disrupts our peace. Sometimes as concretely as our mind knows how to act during some encounters (or most times we know how to act after the fact when we think retrospectively “this is what I should have said or done to best handle the situation that caused me anger”) we see how we fall prey to our impulsive emotions. It is our “fight or flight” response that triggers our inner biological impulse to perhaps act angrily, which in turn affects our heart and arteries. Cardiologists speculate that long-term anger has harmful effects on the heart and can lead to cardiac diseases. Negative emotions, not just anger, quickly activate the "fight-or-flight response." They also trigger the "stress axis," says Laura Kubzansky, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who has studied the rolse of stress and emotion on cardiovascular disease. "That's a slightly slower response, but it activates a cascade of neurochemicals that are all geared toward helping you in the short run if you're facing a crisis." While these stress responses mobilize us for emergencies, they might cause harm if repeatedly activated. "When they persist over time, they end up being potentially damaging," she says.

What does “heart” gotta do with it?

The difficulty in managing anger is our emotional center. We have a tendency to be dragged down by our emotions out of impulse. It is exactly in this area of emotions especially in the heart that we feel the “Me” being hurt or angered. When we are accused or hurt we point towards our heart or chest wondering “Who? Me?.” We never point to our head or brain, which thinks it runs the show out of rationale. This is because, emotionally speaking, it is in this emotional center within the heart that we feel that we are. Thus, when we are articulately angry, we might control the anger in the head, when we are physically angry, we can stop moving the body, but when we are emotionally angry, such anger in the heart is very difficult to control. When it comes to the emotions we want to control it, we want to push that anger away or even caste it onto someone or something else, but to no avail. Anger has a voice, an angry one at that, and with a very harsh tone states “No, this place is my home, you signed the contract.” In this way we need much effort and much patience with our surroundings and ourselves. In order to control the heart we need to sit with it like you would with an angry child that had their ice cream taken away or their newest video game. You sit with it and relax your body, and to remember why you’re sitting in the cave in the first place, to concentrate on patience.

 

Wed

08

Aug

2012

Emotional Revolution in a Cognitive World

We are now at a point in time where emotions are considered vital and important at the neuropsychological level. No longer can we rely simply on the pop-psychological approaches as Cognitive Behavioral practices have been readily using thus far. It has become what UCLA’s Dr. Allan Schore calls an “Emotional Revolution.” Dr. Schore, UCLA clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine reveals how the emotional importance of humans can no longer be dismissed. This in a way counters the behavioral model, which focuses solely on cognitive behavioral therapeutic approaches, which in essence focuses on the behavioral outcome. This model eventually becomes a crutch or worse a simple band aid to cover up our psychological wounds that come back with a vengeance or come out in other new ways.
 
“To feel, or not to feel”
Dr. Schore’s research and enlightening neuropsychological contributions reveal how the science of feelings can no longer be dismissed and placed in the “Old” or “Archaic” psychology. Thanks to him and his fellow groups we can no longer ignore emotions and the affects they have on our psyche. We cannot expect to become better within several sessions of positive or negative reinforcement. We can now look at a much more neuro-psychoanlytical model that uses the science of emotional revolution to take our cognitive world by storm.

 

Emotional climate in our dreamscapes:

 Our dreams are vitally connected to our dream worlds. Carl Jung was famous for his dream work and his focus on dreams in his therapeutic work. Dreams cannot simply be seen as occurrences of our past day or past years. They carry many symbols and are closely related to our emotions. It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you after having foods that give you adverse reactions that your are allergic or just simply irritated by it. Same with dreams. When we have a night with countless nightmares, we awake distraught and our days seem like a long nightmare. Many mornings we awake refreshed and happy, and perhaps at the end of the day we recount a part of dream that might have been running in the park with our long passed dog “fluffy”. Nonetheless, our mood affects our dreams and rest. Days we are stressed, we have restless or sleepless nights. The climate of our dream and emotional world are one and the same.

 

Dream journals are wonderful tools to become aware of our dreams and our deep emotional states. One begins to remember dreams better, and eventually come to a point of charting our dream with our emotions. It is of ancient cultures like the Tibetan Yogis that would invest time into their dream work and most of this occurred through skilled mastery of their emotions and adept memory of the dreams. Now these were yogis that took to the life of enlightenment and for our purposes we just want to get by our next fatal emotional breakdown at a hard day at work, when we need to plan who picks up the kids while you need to stay over time and make it to dinner with the in laws who are just going to throw in their two cents on what an absent parent you are.

 

So what does a dream journal or dream graphing do for us? Jung was skilled at working with dreams with his clients because he was well aware of his own dream landscape, as he wrote about and illustrated in his “Red Book.” A dream journal gives us a tool to become mindful of our sleepy times, which after a while gives us the tool to become mindful during our sleepy moments throughout the day. Similar to when you leave work in a rush to pick up dry cleaning and then the kids not knowing how you even got there and how you even stopped at the big red stop sign. We need to become more aware of our thoughts, emotions and our physical situations. We need to start to connect these 3 worlds in a better and less mechanical way. Then we can pass the world of sleep-like routine days and start to practice mindfulness that we continue hopefully into our dreams and upon awakening.

 

Tools for dream journal:

Pick a journal you really like, even an expensive one, or one where you just fancy the feel of the paper. If you don’t care write them on an old scratch book that is falling apart, as long as you write it.

 

Same with your pen, if your tactile you might want to invest in a good pen if not grab the one that’s running out of ink whatever!

 

Next write every single morning immediately after awakening! I mean immediately because you remember the most right when you wake up. You can lay there recounting the dream and write. Even if you don’t remember anything write down “I don’t remember a thing!” it’s the practice of the writing itself that will give commitment to the process. (you eventually will, believe me people start recalling vividly even colors and songs within dreams)

 

If you’re not into the writing, well then use a tape recorder, your smart phones can do it!

 

Next every two weeks review your dreams, look for patterns, similarities and repeats of the same theme. You will be surprised how connected they are to your emotional landscape. Hopefully it will get you to a point of solving the riddles to your own emotional rough patches. Sleep will become better and so will mood.

 

The affects of music have been proven to help the mood, and white noise or classical, world, Zen, meditation or whatever type of music that puts the mind to relaxation mode is the one to put on getting ready for bed and up till your in bed perhaps half hour after. Some have said that waking up and playing these same soothing tunes help them start the day. And it goes without saying how helpful mediation is, especially before sleep (for some it can help in order to fall asleep).



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Fri

20

Apr

2012

What makes death so difficult to bear?

From a psychological perspective, the death of a loved one is primarily difficult to bear because of a separation that involves a finality. The finality is that the loved one we have lost, has been lost forever in life as we know it, making the grieving very painful. 

What happens after death is in all practical terms unknown. However, various religions offer their version of life after death. Research has shown that in general, people with strong spiritual and religious beliefs cope much better with the death of a loved one.

The bereavement process is complicated by unresolved issues that one may have had with the deceased loved one. Anger and guilt feelings are the most likely complications. 

Another complicating factor is the age at the time of death. When the age at death is a fairly "ripe" old age, then there is not a likelihood of much complication. But the younger the person, the more the pain of: 1) a "senseless" death too young; 2) having been "robbed" of living a full life; 3) having missed the opportunity to contribute to this world; 4) having missed to basically enjoy so many things people normally would.

Also complicating bereavement is the way in which the person died: natural causes or a long illness involving much suffering or a violent accidental death or suicide or homicide, all produce different emotional reactions and grieving.

Symptoms of bereavement and depression are pretty much alike. A bereaved person needs professional help when--relative to the person's own cultural beliefs--the symptoms last too long. Support through treatment by a counselor, therapist, or psychologist would be highly recommended.

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Tue

27

Mar

2012

Sarah's Case - Continued - Step 3 Refocus

Sarah’s Case – Step 3 Refocus

This blog is a continuation of Sarah’s case working through feelings of depression and anxiety using a technique called the Four Step Method. Feel free to look at our previous 3 blogs on Sarah’s case for a history of her story.

Sarah has suffered from forms of anxiety and depression. Until now, she has learned to recognize the signs and symptoms, call them what they are (Relabel) and then change her perception of the importance of the deceptive messages her brain is sending her (Reframe). For example, she recognizes tiredness, body aches, and negative thoughts and Relabels them as depression. Next Reframes it by realizing this is why she was feeling like she hated herself…it is the depression and not her.

Sarah is ready for Step 3 - to Refocus: “Direct your attention toward an activity or mental process that is productive – even while the false and deceptive urges, thoughts, impulses and sensations are still present and bothering you”  (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

Refocus is an important step for Sarah for many reasons:

·         It is designed to reduce or eliminate destructive uses of her time while encouraging wholesome, constructive behaviors.

·         Sarah will gain confidence through experience that she can continue on with her day no matter the circumstances of her sensations

·         Sarah will learn that she has choices that can positively impact her life, despite her feelings

·         These result in a sense of empowerment to make healthy choices on your own behalf

 In order to Refocus, after her relabeling and reframing, Sarah actively places her attention on an activity that is healthy, constructive and beneficial for her – even though deceptive thoughts, impulses, cravings are present and may be urging otherwise. A sample activity list:

Activities

         Go for a walk focus on your feet striking the ground (ex: mindful walking)

         Go for a walk notice the scenery and environment (ex: feel the wind on your skin, notice the color of the trees, grass, birds, etc)

         Exercise alone or with others (something with strategy is better)

o        Lift weights

o        Go for a run, swim, hike, bike

o        Play basketball, tennis, soccer, etc.

o        Stretch

o        Class: yoga, spinning, Pilates, etc.

         Play a game like Sudoku, Solitaire, a crossword puzzle, etc

         Read

         If you are at work, Refocus on what you need to accomplish that day

         Watch a wholesome or educational TV show or movie

         Spend time with someone (friend, co-worker, family member)

         Spend time with your pet

         Write/blog

         Call someone

         Cook a healthy meal

         Pursue a hobby you enjoy (knitting, train models, etc)

         Learn a new skill, sport or game

It is important that this list be kept handy, as Sarah learned deceptive brain messages can arise at any time. She found that the Regulate and Refocus was especially beneficial for anxiety attacks.

Join us for the next blog as we bring the 4 steps together when Sarah learns about Step 4: Revalue.

Also for more information on this treatment method or for any questions, feel free to visit our contact page on our website http://www.tendingsouls.org/contact-us/

References

Schwartz, Jeffrey M. & Gladding, Rebecca (2011). You are not your brain. New York: Penguin.

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Tue

20

Mar

2012

Sarah's Case - Continued - Step 2 Reframe

This blog is a continuation of Sarah’s case working through feelings of depression and anxiety using a technique called the Four Step method. Feel free to look at our previous 2 blogs on Sarah’s case for a history of her story.

After suffering psychological and physical symptoms, until now, Sarah has learned to identify her deceptive brain messages and call them what they really are. In other words, Sarah recognizes feeling of anxiety and can tell herself; it is this anxiety raising her heart rate and making her uncomfortable. In the same way, she recognizes that the depression is why her muscles are weak and she has no energy. This is the first step in the Four Step Method, to Relabel.

Next Sarah must learn to Reframe. This is to “change your perception of the importance of the destructive brain messages; say why these thoughts, urges and impulses keep bothering you: they are false brain messages (It’s not ME, it’s just my BRAIN!)”. (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

There are a few ways Sarah can Reframe these deceptive brain messages: 1) by attributing them to her bad brain wiring or biology with the phrase “it’s not me, it’s my brain!” 2) by realizing “I’m feeling rejected – this is social pain” and 3) by recognizing the patterns of inaccurate thinking she is engaging in, known as thinking errors.  (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

For Sarah to really start changing her perspective, she had to learn recognize signs of depression/anxiety so she could see the negative thoughts were not representation of who she was. She could Relabel tiredness, body aches and negative thoughts as depression, but not as who Sarah is. Then she could Reframe those symptoms in many ways by telling herself: ‘okay, these feelings aren’t really me, this is some kind of problem with serotonin or who knows what in my brain.’  Or, I could say ‘oh, okay, so that’s why I’m feeling like I hate myself.  That’s what depression is.  Well, that’s what I’m feeling and you know what, that makes a lot of sense’.”  Reframing her depression in these ways helped, she says, “because now at least I knew why I felt that way.  Now I can see that it’s just the depression, not me.” (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

This process of Relabeling and Reframing are 2 big steps for Sarah. Now that she can accomplish this, she can now refocus her attending on an activity that is productive. This is Step 3 in the Four Step Method.  Join us next week as we discuss this next step in detail.

Also for more information on this treatment method or for any questions, feel free to visit our contact page on our website http://www.tendingsouls.org/contact-us/

References

Schwartz, Jeffrey M. & Gladding, Rebecca (2011). You are not your brain. New York: Penguin.

1 Comments

Tue

13

Mar

2012

Sarah's Case - Continued - Step 1 Relabel

Sarah’s Case – Step 1 Relabel

Do you remember Sarah’s Case from last week? If not, see the blog entitled Sarah’s Case from March 6th, 2012. This blog is a continuation.

The first Step in the Four Step Method is to Relabel. In other words, to identify your deceptive brain messages and the uncomfortable sensations;  Call them what they really are. (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011). The point here is to become aware of your thoughts, without getting lost in them. By increasing your awareness of these deceptive brain messages, physical and emotional sensations, patterns of action or inaction, you can position yourself to counteract and refute them with Step 2 Reframe.

Let’s go back to Sarah’s case. Sarah over-analyzes her actions and often worries about unlikely scenarios. She is afraid of not living up to expectations and questions whether she has upset or angered the people that she interacts with. She keeps asking herself ‘What if I do this?’ ‘What if I do that?’ and has found that if she simply Relabel the whole process as what ifs, thinking or worrying the cycle is broken and she can bring her attention back to what she wants to focus on. She doesn’t have to be lost in her thoughts.

In addition to the deceptive brain messages, Sarah experiences anxiety, usually panic attacks. These symptoms of panic came with a rapid heartbeat or sweating while her brain was signaling to her that this was a huge emergency. She would intensify this feeling by thinking that she needed emergency help and that she was going to die. She began to Relabel those experiences as anxiety and as panic, noting the sensations: rapid heartbeat, sweating and realized that she was not going to die. “As she became more adept at using the Four Steps, she would become more precise and tell herself, “hey, this is my anxiety that’s making my heart beat faster and making my palms sweat, but it is not something I have to act on or believe is signaling a real emergency.”  (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011).

The body can also respond in other physical and mental ways. For example, as Sarah knows, the body can shut down from depression. When Sarah experienced this depression, she felt de-energized, lethargic, and weak. She wanted to hide in bed or sleep. Sarah started to Relabel  ‘this is my de-energizing depression’ or ‘the depression is why I don’t have any energy or my muscles are weak’.

Join our blog next week to find out how Sarah used her increasing awareness of her situation & Relabel to begin Step 2 Reframe in the Four Step Method Program.

References

Schwartz, Jeffrey M. & Gladding, Rebecca (2011). You are not your brain. New York: Penguin.

1 Comments

Tue

06

Mar

2012

Sarah's Case

We’d like the Tending Souls blog to be an informative and healing resource. As such, we will update the blog with inspirational  articles, descriptions of our methods & treatments, information from experts as well as real life case studies.

Take the case of Sarah, a 29 year old public relations specialist who struggled with depression and perfectionism. Sarah often questioned her abilities and was afraid of not living up to expectations. She was sensitive to interactions with friends, family and co-workers with a tendency to over-personalize and over analyze the situation. For example, she admits that if a friend paused during a conversation - even for a second- she would assume it was due to something she had said wrong and was unable to consider a possible alternate reason for the hesitation. She would look for an explanation and heighten terrible feelings of anxiety. She felt like a failure and could not figure out what to do to avoid these negative feelings in the future.

“What Sarah didnt know at the time was that her brain was sending her the destructive message that to receive love, acceptance and adoration she had to be perfect and take care of everyone else.  In essence, she had to ignore her true self and focus on others no matter the cost to her.” (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

Her brain was sending her overwhelming deceptive brain messages. Deceptive Brain Messages are any false or inaccurate thought or any unhelpful or distracting impulse, urge, craving, sensation (physical or mental) or desire that takes you away from your true goals and intentions in life (i.e. your true self). (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

She eventually developed physical symptoms such as headaches, body aches and lack of motivation. The depression progressed and Sarah tried to shut the world out; diminishing interactions with friends and family as well as losing interest in normal activities and exercise.

Sarah did however begin treatment in the Four Step Method Program. Please join the blog next week for an explanation of Sarah’s 1st Step in the treatment.

 

References

Schwartz, Jeffrey M. & Gladding, Rebecca (2011). You are not your brain. New York: Penguin.

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Tue

31

Jan

2012

Relaxation Techniques

Relax  - Techniques to Manage Stress

Struggling with Stress?

Here are some simple relaxation techniques that will help you de-stress and find more balance.

1. Choose a spot in your home where there are no distractions. 

2. Create a peaceful environment: you can light a candle, burn some incense, play some soothing music.

3. Sit down in a comfortable position keeping your back straight.

4. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths. 

5. Observe your breath. Pay attention to your process of breathing. Count each breath 1 - 10, then starting back at 1. Do this for 5 cycles. 

6. Let go of the counting and just listen to the silence.

7. End by thinking of all the things in your life that you are grateful for; this can be as simple as being grateful for being alive, or grateful for loved ones in your life. 

 

This winter, instead of zoning out at the end of your day by watching TV try these 7 steps for relaxation. You will feel the difference in your sleep and into the next day.

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Tue

17

Jan

2012

Warm Yourself With Winter Yoga

How about winter yoga to warm you up during the Vata season? A new year can mean a new you without the I extreme resolutions. why not "re-resolute" to be more moderate an take on the practice of acceptance and slow progression with fast effects on your way of being! Make a small weekly resolution to give yourself a break and sync your breathe with movement with a 90 min yoga class.All levels available as well as half off private sessions or consultations to place you in the right class and style of yoga. Our classes are limited in space maintaining the appeal of a private session at a public price. Giving each student more one on one attention where your not just another person filling a mat spot.

As nature ushers in the new year with its cold an winter days we take a quick break cozied up in warmer clothes and our minds coming out of the winter holidays. Before we know it Valentine's day is here to announce the coming of spring. This is the season of Vata (air/ether element) that characterizes the cold, arid, dry and fickle season. If you find your mind racing in circles and your anxiety has heightened to the point of affecting sleep, Relationships or work or school your simply echoing natures natural way of the cold and air like qualities that are quite airy and ether like according to the science of Ayurveda.So why not come for a quick yoga fix like your quick coffee or caffeine stops. Enjoy a week for 10 dollars and see for yourself if a cup of yoga pick me up is for you!Yoga not only provides physical strength and balance or the Jennifer Aniston body people seek. But it's THE practice of connecting with the breathe to bring balance within.See how within a one week trial you will become in tune with your breathe and posture giving you tools to get that after work pick me upper! Allowing your Vata nature to take a back seat!

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Tue

17

Jan

2012

Checking In: Goals for 2012

As part of the annual New Years tradition, many people have set "New Year Resolutions" for 2012. It is now mid-January and time to check-in with our goal setting. Whether for New Years or not, goal setting is an important skill that helps promote motivation and inspiration, two very important aspects of maintaining optimum mental health.
A common problem occurs when we set goals that are too ideal or far-fetched. These goals end up floating on this ideal cloud that we have created which often are not accomplished and in return leaves us with feelings of shame and guilt. To avoid this common mistake we need to understand the difference between our ideal self and our real self. Our ideal self is the image that we project of a better more perfect version of ourselves; typically this version is quite far-fetched. Chasing after our ideal self can often leave us in a constant state of feeling "not good enough". Therefore, we need to begin accepting and having compassion for our real self first. 
We can take the first step by practicing goal setting for our real self:

     1. Set small goals that are not too far off from where you are right now. 
     2. Set small goals that you could reasonably accomplish tomorrow or next week if you put the right amount of effort.
     3. Keep the majority of your goals small and reserve one or two for bigger goals that are more for the long term future.
     4. Ask yourself, "is this goal that I have set too ideal?"
     5. Remember, it is more important to set small, real goals that you can accomplish than to set ideal goals that are unlikely to be accomplished.
     6. By setting small accomplishable goals, you will benefit from the satisfaction of actually accomplishing it and that will in turn promote more goal setting in the future. 
It is important to always be challenging ourselves and reaching for new heights, but to not push ourselves towards a destination that is too perfect, or too ideal. 
Happy goal setting!
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