This is the first in a series of articles about the power of the pause in life and in therapy. In this article, I talk about why I am calling this kind of pause Active Pause, instead of just calling it a pause. In a nutshell, because the word ‘pause’ alone doesn’t do it justice. In everyday language, what we call a pause is a moment where activity is suspended, i.e. something that we associate with a blank as opposed to activity. I use the word ‘active’ to make the point that the pause is not just a ‘blank’ but an intentional rupture from the status quo, the flow of things as they currently are. Without rupture, there is no possibility of a breakthrough. If the pause were just a pause, in the ordinary sense of the term, what comes after it would be pretty much the same as what comes before it. But the value of the pause is that it allows for disruption, for the possibility of change.
John Chitty, RPP, RCST®, (1949-2019) had many passions in his work: The two-chair method (working with polarity and pendulation), babies, relationships, energy medicine, states of health versus pathology, and autonomic nervous system state change. He had advice for every occasion from personal tragedy to business practice. He told several stories over and over again, which clued me into things he was most passionate about. One of them was the following, stated in an adamant and sometimes outraged insistent tone: “I have people coming in here and telling me that they want to get to root of their trauma to be rid of it once and for all. Well, I don’t think that you need to get to the root of trauma; all you need is state change. (picks up hand and points at me) State change is the name of the game (inflection and repeated pointing with every word).” “Yes sir!” I’d say.
May I begin with personal history? Shortly after beginning my undergraduate studies in England, I became incapacitated with a moderately severe depression. I come from a working class background and could not afford therapy, but was fortunate enough to be taken into an experimental program run by the National Health Service and received a year of intensive psychoanalytic treatment. The results were profound.
My journey involves a deep and prolonged exploration of the Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2011). In my quest to understand when intimacy, emotional expression, and connected communication are possible, I delved deeply into Porges’ research with the vagus nerve and its role in the evolution of the nervous system. His insights provided a road map for me and my clients to a fuller emotional life as we connected with our interoceptive awareness of emotions that motivate our behavior, their influence on our relationships, and the conscious choices we have.
John Chitty, my teacher, mentor, supervisor, friend and fellow pilgrim-on-the-path, has transitioned to the “magical place” where his life began.He often said, “We are a unit of consciousness that comes from an invisible spiritual world to Earth for the purpose of gaining wisdom through experience.” He offered these words as a mantra, used whenever greeting a baby. And, I think, perhaps everyone he met. I imagine him back in that other realm having new experiences, gaining more wisdom.
12 Guiding Principles – Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology: Nurturing Human Potential and Optimal Relationships...
Understanding our earliest relationship experiences from the baby’s point of view and how these experiences set in motion life patterns has been the intense study of the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology for over 40 years. The field uses this lens to focus on our earliest human experiences from preconception through baby’s first postnatal year and its role in creating children who thrive and become resilient, loving adults. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology incorporates research and clinical experience from leading-edge fields such as epigenetics, biodynamic embryology, infant mental health, attachment, early trauma, developmental neurosciences, consciousness studies and other new sciences. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology incorporates research and clinical experience from leading-edge fields such as epigenetics, biodynamic embryology, infant mental health, attachment, early trauma, developmental neurosciences, consciousness studies and other new sciences.
Holy Moly! Every day in this country seems like a roller coaster ride and you know what, a part of me welcomes this new wave, especially the “bad” and “ugly”. Some people think it’s being exaggerated since our new administration took office but that isn’t so, the status quo is now merely being exposed. I see this as a good thing. America must awaken to sexism, classism, heterosexualism, and unsustainable ecological practices. Beyond obvious prejudice, behind superficial masks of equality, beside our continued denial of rights to the vulnerable and the disenfranchised, we must openly acknowledge insidious issues that have been both denied and accepted as long as human beings have been alive. Exposing what has been obscured is essential to facilitate change.
When we think of an anniversary, we usually think of the yearly advent of a wedding, birthday, beginning of a business. But there are subtle anniversaries that do not correspond to a date on the calendar. They are reminders, often even unconscious, of a significant event in the past. These may have been positive events or negative events.
Sweetie Pie Syndrome typically starts in childhood — it is usually characteristic of females, but it does occur in males. This condition begins as young children are either ignored by or are demeaned by a parent or parents. This behavior can also be role modeled by a parent. As a result of this chronic neglect, abuse, for example, these children develop a sense that a) there is something wrong with them, b) they are basically unlovable, and/or c) if they do not do things to be accepted, they are unworthy. They then develop a behavioral repertoire of constantly trying to do good things and help others to gain a sense of worthiness and lovability. But no matter what or how much they do, the dysfunctional parent perpetually ignores or fails to respond with recognition, positive reinforcement and love. So, the children invest in doing more.
In a clinical world of diagnosable disabilities, there are those who create theories, those who propose methodologies, and those who ascribe to them. And then there are people who simply do what they do, intuitively, without knowing the science behind their actions. I recently met such a couple, Michelle and Troy Wheeler. They founded Dream Theatre Inc., eight years ago in Roseville, California, as a year-round, full-time theater arts program for adults with disabilities (ages 18 to 64). The program was designed to instruct, develop and guide students with disabilities who want to become actors, musicians, dancers, visual artists and behind-the-curtain technicians. While many day programs teach daily living skills, the Wheelers guide students in relationship building and maintenance with a focus on the social engagement skills necessary to facilitate them (i.e. inter and intrapersonal communication skills, self and co-affect regulation, trust, self-confidence, and more). Within the context of classes and annual performances, students learn how to be part of a working community that involves team work and personal responsibility.