Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The first step in conquering fear is not to be frightened by fear itself.  Start by seeing fear as a friend, not as your enemy.

Actually, it’s o.k. to be scared at times, it’s a way to keep you safe from dangerous situations.  Fear is often connected with something familiar ending, like a relationship, or the unknown.

We resist change, yet we are living in a rapidly deteriorating world.  If you don’t change, life will leave you behind.  Once you can accept change, most of the fear will be disappear.

Here are some tips to overcome fear:

  1. Expect the best, but learn not to react when you don’t get what you want.  Just accept it and act calmly and powerfully.
  2. If you don’t know what to do immediately, do nothing, wait till the answer comes to you.
  3. Visualize being on earth to fulfill your duties (karma).  See each person also doing the same.  We are all in the same boat.  Accept everything that crosses your path, knowing that this too is “meant to be”.
  4. Feel the freedom of being involved in life and being a bystander at the same time.
  5. Take 15 minutes each day and visualize the condition you want.  See yourself with the object of your desire and become part of it.  Then do something that moves you towards your dream.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


It is human nature to feel a sense of attachment with primary figures, e.g. parents and/or grandparents.   If this does not happen during childhood, then it becomes more difficult to have a secure, fulfilling relationship as an adult.  That’s where relationships hit a brick wall.

Some of the physical and emotional aspects of abandonment are: no appetite, light sleeping, anxiety, etc…. In order to heal yourself from deep abandonment feelings, whether it is from childhood or adult trauma, it is not necessary to remember the incidence, just to deal with the feelings.

The way I work with this issue is by first getting in touch with the feelings of the small abandoned child through a Focusing exercise (guided visualization).  This child is the part of you that usually has the feelings of insecurity, worry, aching for kindness, acceptance and approval.

After that, visualize the adult part as the strong and capable part.  Think of when you have felt the most successful and competent.  Then have the 2 parts communicate with each other.  The adult’s role is to parent/adopt the child and give him/her what she needs: acceptance, love, admiration, a sense of being heard, and a person to turn for help. The child’s role is to share her/his feelings and help the adult understand them.

It always amazed me, as a therapist, how powerful the Focusing exercise is for all my clients.  There are often tears of relief and love for oneself.  I see the change in their face at the end of a session, as if a great burden is lifted off their shoulders.  For individual therapy, this is a very powerful tool in my practice which is gratifying for both the client and me. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Loneliness leads to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, altered expression in immune cells, poorer immune function, higher blood pressure and an increased level of depression.

It depresses your immune system, just like depression. Long periods of isolation can lead to feelings of helplessness, just like depression.  It makes us wonder how many people are taking antidepressants when maybe all they need is a “secure attachment and a hug.”

John T, Cacioppo, is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Chicago, who is one of the founders of the new, interdisciplinary field of neuroscience which has used brain scans to examine the ways in which social isolation impacts our bodies and behaviour.  Together with science writer William Patrick, he presents a fascinating assessment of loneliness and the need of social connection.

The authors lay out the roots of loneliness in 3 sections:

1. The person’s individual genetically based level of vulnerability to social disconnection
2. The person’s ability to regulate the emotions connected with feeling isolated.
3. The person’s expectation of others.

These factors combine to influence stress levels, immune response, and negative cycles of self-defeating behaviour. The authors claim that loneliness can be dealt with by understanding our fears and reframing how we think about social situations.

As a psychotherapist, I help my clients deal with the underlying emotional issues that cause loneliness.

Today we see people reaching out to others through: Social media networking: Facebook, Twitter, Meet-up groups, etc…

The studies report that a sense of isolation or rejection disrupts not only our abilities, will power and perseverance, but also key cellular processes deep within the human body.

Cacioppo and Patrick also demonstrate how loneliness creates a loop that reinforces social anxiety, fear and other negative feelings.  According to the authors help can be given by rediscovering those positive, physiological sensations that come during the simplest moments of human contact.  But that means overcoming the fear and reaching out.

Lonely people feel a hunger.  The solution lies not in being fed, but in cooking for and enjoying a meal with others.

What matters is not the number of social interactions, but the degree to which these social interactions satisfy a person’s need for connection.

Just like losing weight is a matter of eating less and exercising , rather than cutting out carbohydrates and taking over the counter drugs, the same way you cannot come out of your shell by losing weight, getting a fashion makeover, or go on E-Harmony to meet Mr. or Ms. Right.

You are going to have to be nice to people, volunteer at a place of your liking, and stop the destructive thought patterns. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Aging Gracefully - With Wisdom and Ease

In our society, aging is an ugly word, synonymous with: inferior, done with, not useful, ugly, etc....As life expectancy is growing, we need to ask ourselves: how can we put it to profitable use as individuals and as society?

Successful aging can be manifested as:

·         low or disease free living

·         great mental clarity

·         active engagement with life

In the East Indian culture, when your hair turns white and you become grandparents, this is the time to detach yourself from the world and go into the "forest", isolation, concentrating on spiritual matters.  By abandoning all attachments, one is now free to focus on union with your higher self (Spiritual aging).  When we are young, we are so obsessed with making money; there is no time for deeper thoughts or contemplation.

However, the kids grow and up move away, colleagues disappear, loved ones pass away.  We get surpassed by the younger generation and our sense of power and ego takes a hit.

In the West, we fight to overcome these losses, while in the East we embrace these changes.

Ask yourself: Who am I? If not Mom, or the /Vice-President, who is this wrinkled face in the mirror? Is there a true self that transcends this? According to the spiritual model, we need to confront such questions.

The elder Hindu sets off on a contemplative quest for introspection. The Native American remains within the bosom of the tribe, serving as a spiritual guide. Such a person, detached yet compassionate, is a blessing to the community. Despite such differences, these cultures share a vision of aging spiritually. 

The West, with all of its violence, alienation and injustice, desperately needs such a model of elders.  We are afraid of the older generation as a drain on our resources.  However, these white heads could be very valuable to a world where everything has gone hay-wire.

Growing older does not mean that we automatically become wise. This demands a process of spiritual growth. There will always be people telling us how to fight off old age, but amongst the losses of old age there are precious lessons and graces.  To find these is to age gracefully.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Power of Presence

The past is past; it’s only a memory and does not exist at this moment.

It's a tragedy when you carry negative memory of the past into the future

(book: Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle)

Clear out all waste thoughts, as any negative thought gets rid of purity.

Ask yourself:

1. What thoughts increase purity?

2. What thoughts decrease purity?

3. Am I responding or resisting?

Think about a challenging situation in your life and ask yourself, or write:

1. How would I like this situation to be?

2. What qualities do I need to make it happen?

                                  Every situation in life is to help me grow.

Worrying about what other people think disempowers your values. It places control in their opinion and their reaction. Let people think what they like, they will anyway. Instead, act as honorably and correctly as possible, and let them react the way they want. Don’t let it influence your own behaviour and thoughts. We are energetic beings; thoughts and feelings is energy that can be locked into our body.

I am responsible for my feelings. How do you clear up negative feelings? By observing your feelings and stay with the feelings, even if they are painful, as they will pass.

Don’t compare yourself with others, because when you do, you lose your own uniqueness. Stay present, observe what is happening in your life from moment to moment and decide how you will react to it with your thoughts, feeling and behaviour. When you do that, the law of attraction (The Secret by Rhonda Byrne) will kick in and bring forth more of the positive situation that you are now consciously creating for yourself.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oprah & Dr. Chopra

Recently there was a show by Oprah and her guest: Dr. Deepak Chopra

It seems like Oprah wanted to bring the topic of spirituality to the world.  She has been exploring Robinson and went to India with Dr. Chopra.
Oprah Winfrey with painted elephant at City Palace in Jaipur

http://static.oprah.com/images/experts/bio/deepakchopra-290x219.jpgDr.Chopra said something very interesting.  That he spent a month in an ashram where they meditated from 12 to 4 am. on their own death. That it really wakes you up to the reality: who am I? We are spirit in a body, using this vehicle to express our wants and needs.  That our life is temporary and that in a certain amount of years we will not be here anymore.  That every day, every minute counts and to LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT, as that's all you have.  The past is gone, the future is unknown, we only have the present to live life to the fullest.  That does not mean out drinking every night, but asking yourself: how can my life have meaning for me and those around me?  What is my purpose in life?

If we can live our life from this insight, that I am a soul and so is everyone else, living in our "costume" the body, playing out our role in this drama of life, then we can have compassion for others, having an inner knowing that they are in the same boat. 

What is our goal in life?  Enlightenment.  How do we achieve that?  Step by step, by being aware of who you are every minute of the day, knowing that we are here for a short while and then move on.  Be soul conscious instead of body conscious.  These are a few beginning steps.

Spend some time every morning and night, connecting with that energy that operates your body.  Try it out and let me know how you feel.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stop Obsessing: My Five Suggestions

Have you ever found yourself going over and over the same issue in your mind? It can feel like a train going downhill with no brakes on. You can’t seem to gain control of yourself.

1. Focus on the lesson learned. Every situation we go through has the potential to teach us something. Think about what you are obsessing about and see how to use it to improve yourself. For example, if you are ruminating about a mistake you made at work, think about steps you can take to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again. By looking at how you can improve, you begin to focus on the positive aspect of the situation rather than the negative.

2. Use a journal. Writing down your thoughts, especially about events that have not yet happened, can help you gain control over your ruminations.

3. Write down pleasant thoughts. Sometimes your thoughts need specific direction. You may list things like an upcoming vacation, going out to dinner with your partner. Make sure your list includes situations you are looking forward to or pleasant memories.

4. Behavioral techniques. For some people, snapping a rubber band on your wrist every time you have an obsessive thought may help.

5. Talk about your worries with a trusted friend or relative. Often, when we talk it out, we can begin to see it from a different perspective. This can help you find options for solving your problem.

However, if your obsessive thoughts are interfering with your daily life, it may be time to talk with a professional therapist.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Constructive Criticism

Would you mind if I gave you some feedback? What that really means is: do you mind receiving negative feedback that is disguised as constructive criticism?

The problem with criticism is that it challenges our sense of value. It implies judgment and we all recoil from that. Daniel Goleman, internationally recognized psychologist believes, "threats to our esteem in the eyes of others can be so potent that they can literally feel like threats to our survival".

Still, feedback is a necessary process that we can all learn and grow from. So then, how does one go about delivering feedback that has the greatest value? How can you give criticism that is beneficial and absorbed upon by the recipient?

First, what we say is often less important than how we say it. Do not give feedback when you feel that your own value is at risk. We are more likely to be reactive, insensitive and hurtful.

2. In the process of criticism, be considerate of the other person’s value. Even the most well intended criticism will make us feel our value is at risk and under attack. When that happens, the primal impulse is to defend ourselves. The more the person you are criticizing feels compelled to defend their value, the less open they are to absorb what you're saying.

3. Don’t assume you are right. Our stories are not necessarily true, they are simply an interpretation. It makes more sense to offer feedback in a spirit of humble exploration rather than declaration; dialogue rather than monologue and curiosity rather than certainty. Humility is acknowledging that we don’t know, even when we think we know. Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says: seek first to understand.

We are better off to eliminate words such as feedback and constructive criticism. Instead, we should approach criticism as opportunities for honest inquiry and genuine learning.

Try this out next time you need to give someone feedback: you may say, "here is the story I am telling myself….have I got it right or am I missing something?” This will help you to understand each other better and create open communication.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Family Therapy

Journey of transformation

Have you noticed how most of our “buttons” seem to get pushed by our family members? As challenging as the dynamics of the family can be, they can also help propel us to work on ourselves and to move forward, to evolve emotionally and spiritually.
And so sometimes when a client comes in, it becomes evident that in order for the client to move
forward, the entire family needs to be involved in the therapy process, especially in the case of a young person, like a teenager.

Seeing how the family interacts with each other, can give the therapist a clearer view of why the
client has difficulties in overcoming his/her problems. This process will help the client to not only gain new insights into her/himself, but to also learn how to communicate more harmoniously within the family. And by helping family members communicate with each other in a positive way, issues from both the past and present can be resolved in a peaceful way.

We are interconnected with our family members, genetically and karmically, but within that, each one of us is also playing out our own individual part. We are beings who need to follow our own path within the bond of the family. Family karma versus individual karma. This can create quite the balancing act, especially if the family’s path is very different from our own.

But if we are lucky, we can bring other family members on board the journey of transformation.