Walking over to my chair, cell phone in hand, Bev exclaimed (the tone of her voice implying the answer was a given to her upcoming question), “Aren’t these pictures beautiful? Here, look at this one—I took it from the old Fort. Can you spot the house in the background across the inlet? That’s where my father would put the boat in the water to take us up the coast. Those were good times.” Bev’s photographs, composites of her beloved seas and shorelines along Maine’s southern and mid-coast, comprise a visual memorial to the beaches and bays that provided a measure of playfulness and serenity within the more chronic and painful vagaries of her childhood and adolescence.
“I’m so exhausted!” Emily sighed as she slumped into the rocking chair. “The store is driving me crazy!”
Congenial and generally upbeat, Emily juggles complex roles as manager of a profitable men’s clothing franchise: engaging saleswoman, savvy boss and compassionate housemother for her “kids” as she calls her staff. Emily handles the pressures with genuine warmth and contagious wit. Despite changing business requirements and the kids’ idiosyncratic quirks, Emily remains surprisingly happy in her job, often affirming, “My job is fun. It makes me feel really good.”
Yet, on this vibrantly sunny summer day, something was different. The energy with which Emily entered the room was visibly and palpably low, as if a cloud had blocked the light that had been beaming through the window. With a wan twinkle at the edges of her usually lively eyes, Emily recounted the latest list of stressors involving inventory, customers and the kids.
Sandra is one of those delightful clients who see therapy as integral to life’s journey. Now retired and in her mid-sixties, Sandra has worked on residuals of childhood trauma, health related issues, and various circumstantial and existential personal problems.
I have seen Sandra through family crises, car accidents, and a variety of health related issues. After surviving each event Sandra has emerged more psychologically integrated and more spiritually connected. From day one I’ve been impressed with Sandra’s courage and her shining spirit, inner strengths that fund her ability to adapt to and overcome difficulties.
However, on a certain cold, misty afternoon in early spring, Sandra came in as overcast as the day. In fact there was reason to be worried.
“Things aren’t coming out quite right.” She announced,
“I’m assuming you’re referring to the art project you’ve been working on.”
“Not exactly.” Sandra turned her head and looked sideways under one raised brow, a nervous smile at the edges of her eyes. “Actually, it’s a bit more personal.”
Vim reported sleep disruptions, irritability, anger and distorted negative self-cognitions. His negative affect states surfaced when he learned his department at a prestigious college where he had worked for over two decades was to be dismantled, absorbed into another program. At age fifty-seven, Vim enjoyed job flexibility and autonomy that allowed him to provide for his four-member household and work from home. With no recourse, he faced unavoidable unemployment within three months. He was understandably anxious, depressed and scared. He was also out of touch with his resilience.
Who am I? Why was I born? What am I meant to do? How will I do it? Your soul knows the answers to these questions and you can open to its whispers and wisdom. Come explore your soul’s essence, your heart call, and the next steps along your sacred journey to Self. The research-based science of Positive Psychology, in concert with intuitive awareness and spiritual guidance, offers tools to help you discover your unique destiny.
On a typically freezing February day in Southern Maine when icicles hang like gargoyles over the windows, frozen in place, destined never to move, even a short walk from the house to my office in the renovated barn, causes a damp chilliness to seep into my bones. My body, eager to ease from the stifling, stiffening cold into the felt sense of warmth from a thousand therapy sessions, was beginning to thaw when Carmen arrived. As it turned out, Carmen’s chill was destined to be a different story.
Why, I wonder, is it so important for all of us to immerse ourselves in imagination? To understand our dreams and to see what is reflected back to us for application in the here and now? Whatever the reasons, I do know this: As insights elicited within the unconscious mind are utilized by the conscious mind, and absorbed into the body, a powerful collaboration takes place. When we immerse ourselves in the wise, creative artistry of soma and soul, we can find meaning.
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.
Have you experienced the pleasure of getting so close to your goal that you can almost taste success? Have you tasted the coppery flavor of fear or characterized an unpleasant experience as distasteful?
Disappointment can be bitter; revenge can be sweet and babies’ feet are delicious. Getting something you want at the expense of something else can be bittersweet, and romance can add spice to your life.
If capturing events and emotions in olfactory and gustatory terms heightens the felt sense of the feelings, why not make the yummiest emotions burst with metaphoric flavor?
Take happiness for example.
You most likely don’t need a formal definition of happiness since it can be argued that you know it when you feel it. But because happiness can occasionally slip by unrecognized, it’s worth knowing what the Dalai Llama says about this state of pleasure.
“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.” His Holiness explains.
I was exploring the psychic dimension of mind as a channel for reducing stress, receiving intuitive information and promoting healing. While I’d forgotten most of what I learned about statistics, attunement to the intuitive power of the inner being remains my passionate interest and a core intention of my clinical work. My deep belief in the body/mind/spirit/heart connection as a source of knowledge, and the use of hypnosis for accessing its available wisdom, has led to some fascinating therapy sessions.