Living a Meaningful Life in The New Year

with Bette J. Freedson

Where does the turn of the year take your thoughts?

Each January we typically review the past and project hopes for the future. But this January is not typical. After a socio-cultural–political tidal wave in 2016, many of us are thinking about what really matters in the present and are attempting to make meaningful sense of what is to come.

This year my own thoughts include appreciation for beginning year two as a guest blogger for Somatic Psychotherapy Today, for the neurogenesis in the creative process, and for wisdom gained from coming up with a topic for this first blog of 2017.

I did not have writer’s block exactly; but rather, something more like writer’s tsunami—waves of ideas washing over me, each cascading into the next topic, ultimately receding, leaving deposits of soma and soul wisdom for me to discover.

How did I discover what really mattered?

I followed my thoughts, sensing what resonated within my body as right and true. My first thought was to write about how upheavals in the world can lead to personal stressors. I’d ask readers, “How do you decide to fight, flee or flow when impressed with the need to solve a stressful problem?” Then highlight how outside events affect somatic reactions and neurological systems. Focusing on our soul wisdom, I’d suggest that intention, embodied in intuitive Self-states, might be mentally directed to tamp down sympathetic arousal, facilitate healing of negative self-states, and motivate us to accomplish our goals. This led me to consider a focus on pesky resolutions we make each January.

When we set a purpose, i.e., a resolution, it’s absorbed in our inner mind and anchored in our body thus creating the most potential for follow through. People who visualize healthy lungs, imagine what it feels like to breathe fully and somatically anchors their intention for health are more apt to succeed in say smoking cessation or weight loss than those who simply make a statement.

As always, I’d offer a short exercise for embodying resolutions:

First, take a couple easy breaths and feel yourself entering the inner dimension. Next, envision your resolution on your mental screen, feeling the way you will feel when this promise to yourself is fulfilled. Now, absorb and anchor the felt sense of your accomplishment into your body. Memorize the feeling.

Yes, a good topic. But gratefulness is also good for a new year. My gratefulness list in Soul Mothers’ Wisdom and the gratefulness I have for absorbing wisdom from my clients’ stories come to mind. Like Robbie, for example.

Living with a cognitively and emotionally impaired spouse, Robbie hopes to experience less stress by recognizing emotional and somatic aspects of her frustrations. Recently she reported a breakthrough—she was determined to have less stress. She was making purposeful plans to develop more meaning in her own life by connecting more frequently with friends and participating in activities away from home and husband.

“What made you decide to take these steps?” I asked.

“I came to my senses.” Robbie replied, smiling. “I had too many headaches and backaches. My body was screaming. I had to listen.”

I felt grateful for Robbie’s somatic wisdom and for again bearing witness to somatic and soul wisdom in action.

Another possibility, I thought, but still something was missing.

At that point I remembered something I’d learned at The Brief Therapy Conference in San Diego earlier in December. In his course on using the transmental mind for problem solving, Dan Short proposed that the unconscious mind has more available resources than the conscious mind. Dr. Short advised setting intentions then going about other business and letting the unconscious mind do the work.

Remembering this, I decided that the next step in my search for a meaningful blog was to en-trance myself in something mindfully mindless—my Facebook page. In mere minutes, the unconscious delivered an answer in the form of an article about Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and author of the book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

A discussion of Frankl’s wisdom led me to realize that while I had been seeking the most meaningful concept, meaning and purpose were themselves the core of my search. The following excerpt sums up meaningfulness as the foundation of resilience, a key feature of health and the essence of appreciation for all life’s events.

“Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression.”

Finding meaning and purpose is a choice we are privileged to make each year and each day. So, wherever you find yourself at the moment, it may be just the perfect moment to consider all that has happened to you, around you, and within you in 2016.

How has soma and soul wisdom helped you find meaning in these events, and how has it helped you to find answers and solutions when it really mattered?

And finally, with all that 2017 may bring, how will you use soul wisdom to embody your resolutions and intentions, find solutions to your problems and feel gratitude each day for what really matters as you live a meaningful life to the fullest?

 

 

Bette J. Freedson, LCSW is a clinical social worker, certified group psychotherapist, and the author of Soul Mothers’ Wisdom: Seven Insights for the Single Mother. Bette’s specialties include stress management, parenting issues, recovery from trauma and the development of intuitive insight. She maintains a private practice in southern Maine with her husband, Ray Amidon, LMFT.

 

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