Monday, January 26, 2015

The Power of Biology and Belief

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
-Andy Warhol
Living through another persons journey is a powerful experience. Last week I wrote about my journey and experience through a very small part of my fathers life. This journey could be witnessing the growth of your child, standing by a friend going through a difficult time, watching a loved one losing their mind, and so on. Through it all is a strand that connects every one of us……our minds. 
Our minds are mysterious. They are both what sets us apart, and what connects us all. We are learning so much about our brains and how they function and the biology of belief. Our brains are also amazing and powerful, and yet they are not the same as our minds. What is true is that as we believe something, everything in our mind and thoughts follows the belief; including our biology.
An example of this phenomenon is with illness. I have seen people riddled with migraines for example, begin to see and understand something within their selves. This understanding could involve a pattern of anger in them and in their families, and with that new understanding, a new set of movements and awareness opens for them. They begin to know that they have permission to be well and they dont have to carry their parents anger, or be like them, or disrespect their selves or others. They begin to eat differently and care for their selves differently and their migraines disappear. 
Another example of this phenomenon with our minds I witnessed with my father during his last visit. He has known and believed for over 50 years that he is diabetic. When he first made this discovery, he couldnt tolerate sugar, including rice and yellow corn. If he ate sugar or rice inadvertently, he would feel horrible and go into a diabetic coma. Looking back, most likely at that time he had type 2 diabetes, not type 1. Type 2 is adult onset and is usually controlled well by diet and exercise. As one changes ones diet, loses weight, eliminates sweets and processed foods, often the diabetes goes away. My father believed he was a type 1 diabetic, and controlled it through diet; not insulin. He successfully stayed away from sweets, rice and corn and did well for years. Recently, as his minds awareness is receding through dementia, he has forgotten he cant eat rice and corn and barbeque sauce and such. In fact I saw him eating sweetened sauce, rice pasta, liberally sprinkle fried eggplant with sugar, and had no after effects. He has forgotten he cant eat these foods, and now he can tolerate them. He didnt have type 1 diabetes, which he believed he had. Yet still, he can now eat foods he wouldnt allow himself to touch for many years with no or little ill effect. 
Our minds are amazing, and so is the power of our beliefs on us. What do you believe strongly that affects you psychologically, emotionally or physically? Can you see how that belief affects you? Is this belief tied to one your family carries, or your church, or your friends, or your community?  What would happen if you tried something different; how would that feel?

Give these things a try, and I would love to hear from you what you discover. 


Monday, January 19, 2015

Gone

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
                                                                                                         -John Green
My father just visited. He was relocated to Denver by us, his children, last October. This was his first visit here since he relocated. I have gone to visit him a couple of times, but this was his first visit back home. This time, we needed to take him directly to the airline gate, and pick him up directly at the gate. He can no longer negotiate new spaces by himself. He is not the man he had been. He is in the throes of dementia. It is very weird and sad to be with the man I have always known as my father and find him in ways the same, and in ways so different.

Gone is the quick wit; except for an occasional glimpse. Gone is the verbal sparring and manipulation he was so good at. As one of his patients said to me recently, he once had an IQ of around 180, and it is so strange to see how much of his mind is no longer there. He is now at once sentimental, emotional, moody, self pre-occupied, and oddly lost. He wakes up from a nod and wonders where he is. He goes to a room and has trouble finding his way back to where he came from. We find him staring at his image in a mirror for hours; or what looks to be staring at his image. Maybe he is just lost in space; being at once in more than one dimension. Maybe he is moving through different dimensions and we can’t reach him in his travels. 

He gets easily agitated; a trait I didn’t know him to possess. Who is this man, where did his mind go, and where are his beloved words that were so elegantly on his tongue? And yet, he is here at times; a word, a memory comes back to him. I can feel his affection for me, and I love him. I at once am the little girl looking for her father’s love, and the adult child looking after him, mourning the loss of the father I had, and sometimes laughing silently at the silly and odd things he now says and does.

Laughter helps me cope. Some of the things he says are quite funny; except now they are unintentional, where before he tried to be funny. It is amazing how we can go back and forth through different emotions so quickly and fluidly. He is like a little lost boy where with what mind he has left, everything is about him. Everything was always about him and now it is more so and exaggerated. He no longer eats vegetables or salads, or even drinks water. He could eat hamburgers and french fries and onion rings every day. He also seems to have forgotten that he can’t eat sugar as he begins to eat brisket covered with barbque sauce. 

We are what we think. If we think we can’t eat sugar, we can’t. If we have forgotten we can’t, we can. Our minds are amazing. They are connected to our higher self. We are such fluid beings. What is the nature of dementia and Alzheimer's? I don’t really know. I know I miss my father, am enchanted by the lost little boy, and a little awed by him and the very power and nature of our minds.

He is still here alive in this world and also he isn’t. I took him to his last beloved Cardinals baseball game where he would sit and excitedly explain to me the details of the game. I took him to see a friend maybe for the last time. I may be seeing him like this for the last time. My father is alive, and yet he is gone.

I know many of us are dealing with parents and have dealt with parents in the throes of dementia and Alzheimers. Would any of you like to share your poignant experiences? As we share, we help each other.























Monday, January 12, 2015

Breakfast With My Father Part II: Who Are We Anyway?

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking."
                                                                                        -Albert Einstein
       

Rituals are an important aspect of our lives; or they can be. They could be as simple as saying a prayer before the dinner meal, or reading a bed time story to the children before sleep. In our family, it was breakfast together; mostly Sunday breakfasts. These rituals bring us something important. Often they are little nuggets we incorporate as a way of belonging with our families. For me, it was the time set aside to be together, away from the usual day to day life happenings. We would go out for Sunday breakfast, or when we were very young, it was the homemade banana pancakes as we sat and ate together. That was a time when our father wasnt working and it was a time for us children, and us as a family. 

Recently, we brought my father back into town for a visit. This could be the last visit he is able to accomplish in this life. Last year we had to move him out of our home city to another city where another sibling lives. He is in assisted living, and it is working out well for him. Because I no longer see him on a regular basis, and it had been over two months since my last visit, I was especially struck by how much he has changed. He is in the throes of dementia. It starts out fairly slowly, and then accelerates quickly. Seeing and feeling the changes in him has been a very touching and sad experience for me. He is no longer the man he was. He has lost so much of his mind, and yet, every once in awhile, there is a glimmer of the man he was.

Our families shape us, and at the same time, we are our own person. Trouble occurs when we are too close to our family, when we are separated from them, and when we take on a family members beliefs and way of being when they arent ours. Who are we anyway? With my father, as I will talk about over the next few months, he was distant from his parents. In fact he rejected them as completely as he possibly could with no pull towards understanding them or accepting them. In the winter of his life as he has decided to not deal with some of his ghosts and his blind spots, he is now losing his mind. He wrote a book called: Mr. Magoo is My Role Model. In case you dont know who Mr. Magoo is, he is an old cartoon character who was almost blind. My father embraced his blind spots instead of wanting to see more clearly. There is a young man I am working with who wants to know who he is and is having trouble.

This young man struggles with knowing who he is. Throughout his life, until he graduated from high school, he thought he knew who he was. He was a fun loving, easy to get along with kind of guy. Then he graduated high school. While many of his friends left town to begin college, he stayed in town and lived with his parents while he went to a two year college. He tried to buckle down and study, but had difficulty. Suddenly he wasnt the fun loving guy anymore. He had a hard time talking with others and was self conscious. His girl friend broke up with him, they got back together, but they werent the same. He later tried working for his father and putting school on the back burner. He wanted to be more like his father: organized and hard working. But he isnt so organized, and certain things dont come easy to him.

His family came from Poland and he is a first generation immigrant. His father left Poland with his parents when his wife was pregnant with their son and went back and forth from Poland to America for the next four years until he could bring them to America with him and his parents. His fathers brother was left in Poland while he watched his brother and parents move to another country. You see, his uncle was in Polands military and couldnt leave. His uncles father wanted to bring his family to a new country because he didnt want his other son to have to fight in the military and they wanted a better life. The uncle was left behind. The dad worked hard with his father, and the son, my client, got very close to his mother.

In working with him, I used felt footsteps to help give an outer image to his inner story. I even had him step on the footsteps to see if he had a feeling from the perspective of others; father, uncle, America, Poland, himself, grandparents, and mother. He clearly placed himself in between everyone with his feet crossed; one foot pointing towards his uncle and Poland, and one foot with his family in America. He clearly felt pulled in different directions. Who is he, and where does he belong? His dilemma began when friends left him to go to college, and his girlfriend broke up with him. It made us wonder together how it must have been for his father, with one family in America and one family in Poland, knowing his wife had her baby son with her? His uncle felt left out when his family left. His mother felt left and abandoned by her husband when she was at a time of great need. And when people left him, he felt pulled and no longer knew who he was.

It is amazing to me how we are all so connected; across family members, across generations, across countries and nations, etc. There is a lot for him to put together in his life. By feeling and seeing the connections outside of himself so he can see it better inside himself is a great beginning. The same is true for all of us.


SMALL LIFESTYLE CHANGES THAT PROMOTE BIG RESULTS:


So, this leads me to a question for all of us personally to answer. What are you struggling with in terms of your identity? What do you have in common with your parents or care takers? How are you like them in thinking, dressing, living style, eating, beliefs, etc.? What conflicts do you have with them, or in life? What makes you angry? What gets you confused? Take a few minutes to answer one of these questions every day, and after a week, read what you have written and compare what you have written to how you think you know yourself.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Breakfast With My Father

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
                                                                  -Leo Tolstoy

We are forever connected to and with our families and caretakers. Often it takes years for us to learn who we are separate from our families. We are greatly influenced by their ideas, beliefs, ways of operating in the world, and it isnt until teen years and older that we begin to see that their way may not be ours. In addition, we begin to discover that their way is not the only way or the normal way; it is their way.

Their way is also influenced by their families. When we view a parent as being sad or depressed or abusive, as we grow older and do our inner work, we can begin to see that maybe they are sad or abusive as a repetitive pattern from their parents, and so on. These patterns are repeated by us in a compulsive way unless and until we can become conscious and we separate our true selves from theirs. This year, 2015, I am writing blogs which do three things simultaneously: talk about stories in my patients lives which are examples of what I am learning in my life and work, stories from my own life and family and how they have impacted me, and a memoir of my fathers life including some of his written correspondence and pictures as they pertain to the dynamics I am talking about in our lives. I will call this a living memoir to my father, to his impact on me and my life, and how I am working with this, working model, to share with my patients and you. 

It is a working memoir and a tribute to my father and a way to honor the good work he did in his life. I want to pass on what I am learning, even from a personal standpoint, to help us all live full, vital, and healthy lives, in connection with our true selves. Each month I am discussing a different story from my life as a child of my fathers, and explore it in context what I am learning from working with my patients. This is a memoir, a tribute, a way of honoring where I came from so I can help our future, and examples of how I use this learning to help others.

In my family, a ritual which had meaning to us was breakfast. Breakfast, especially Sunday breakfast brought us all together, me, my siblings, my father, and sometimes my mother in a way we didnt come together at other times. It also is a great example of the difficult with the good, all rolled up in one. This is life. Almost everything has a mixture of good and bad. It is by embracing it all that we can learn about ourselves and nurture ourselves at a deep level, and grow. 

We birth ourselves at lest twice in our lifetimes. The first birth is from our mothers womb. The second birth is our own birth into a life without illusions, where we birth ourselves consciously into the world. This is who we are separate from others ideas, beliefs, and our ways of surviving in this world.  Another tool I use is understanding the bodys language combined with energy medicine to help align and connect us with our whole self. Each will also have a portion at the end of the blogs which include meditations and visualizations and recommendations which help me and my patients along our paths. This living work is a metaphor for how we function in this world, how our parents have influenced us, and what brings us together as people and what sets us apart.

I welcome any of your insights, ideas, and anything you might like to see added that I might not have thought of, or what you find yourself going through at this time in your life. I hope you feel free enough to contribute. This is a living work, and I invite you to be part of its movement.


RECOMMENDED RESOURCES WITH LINKS:

Much of this body of work will include pictures, stories, and correspondence. It also is about the tools I use to work with my patients and help them to birth themselves. 

One of the tools I use is the body of work called Family Constellations. You can read more about this on my website, www.bodypresencing.com., click on Family Constellations and read on. There are also included a couple of cases which help to more clearly see how this work works.  Another tool I use I call Body Presencing  which you can also read about fully on my web site. I invite you to peruse it, and feel free to ask me any questions that come up for you.


I look forward to this year, and to helping us live with vitality, wholeness, and health.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

How Can I Help My Children?

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
                                                                                     -Steve Maraboli

Most of us want to create a different life for our children than we have had. Even if we experienced a good childhood and life, there are things we would like to be different for our children; our future. December is a time when we also think about the New Year to come and we make resolutions. We prepare for what we would really like in our coming year and the lives of our future. 

Our future; that is a big subject. Many of us plan ahead, and save money and pay off our loans and put things aside for our future. The trick here is in being able to live fully in the present and take care of us while also seeing how we can create a future filled with love, connection, hope, acceptance, inspiration and clarity.

Recently I had an opportunity to work with a new mother. She was concerned because she was very aware of many of the issues she carries and didnt want to carry them forward through her children. She loves her mother, but is slightly distant from her. Her mother lives in Denmark and she lives in America. After living and studying in the UK for a few years, she doesnt know how much longer she will be in America. She is physically as well as emotionally distant from her family. 

As I asked her about her early experience, she has a memory of a happy childhood. So I asked her if there was a period of time, over a week, where her mother and or father were away during her first 7 or 8 years of life. She said, yes, that her parents travelled on holiday when she was around 2 for almost two weeks, and at that time her mother was also pregnant with her brother. Then again, when she was around six, her parents went on an extended holiday. I explained that this distance can cause an interrupted bond. She was so young, she couldnt understand them not being there, and it felt like forever. She first got sad, then angry, and then, something shut down inside. 

So we thought we would take a look at her family dynamic through the use of footsteps and figurines. These props are used to represent family members so she can have an image and a feeling as to a perspective of her family. This allows her to get out of her mind for a bit. Through the images that developed, we saw that her mother was distant from her mother, grandma, and now this woman is distant from her mom. It showed there was also a family secret, which was kept by everyone, and this secret helped to keep everyone apart. Secrets do that. As we welcome the secrets in and shed light on them, things begin to change. Maybe no one remembers the actual events of the secret, but the energy of the secret is revealed. For this lovely woman, we saw that her mother and she were both loyal to the secret and not looking and refusing to look. As we worked with her to help heal her interrupted bond with her mother, we saw that she still couldnt look and wanted to rush through the experience so that she could have a close relationship with her mom. We saw together that there is no rushing. It is in the slow movements which allow for looking and really seeing and feeling her feelings that allows the healing to occur. It is in the seeing and the feeling that the future she wants lives. She had lost trust at a crucial age, and it is by taking the time to see, feel and regain trust that opens her to bringing her mother to her heart in a real way. Through these movements lies the future for her children. How do we help our children? It is by healing ourselves.


Shift Your Story: Guided Visualization

Taking the time to see and feel can be very difficult. We develop a way of operating in the world to protect ourselves. Really feeling our feelings can be uncomfortable. Yet, if we want change, that is what we have to do. 

Take a few minutes and sit down comfortably with both feet easily on the ground. Take a few deep breaths. As you breathe, tune into your breathing rhythm and just breathe. Begin to bring into your minds eye someone you feel distant from who is important to you. This could be your mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandmother, partner, sibling, etc. Allow this persons image to take shape in front of you and just look at this person. If you need to close your eyes to this person, figuratively, do so, and then open your eyes again. This is an inward looking. Just look. See what happens inside of you as you look at this person. Do you tighten up, do you have trouble breathing, do you need to close your eyes? Just notice what happens inside of you. Then continue looking even if you have to have back up from them until you feel comfortable, or more comfortable. Then again just look and see if at some point there is a softening inside of you. Maybe your heart softens, or opens a bit. Maybe you can breathe a little more deeply. Maybe you feel a pull or longing to this person, but dont feel comfortable going towards them. Just notice and pay attention. Keep looking until you feel some internal change or you can breathe more deeply. Tell this person you want to feel when you look at them, but are having trouble. And just breathe. Tell them a simple truth, whatever that may be. It could be you long for them, but are afraid of them.it could be anything, but keep in simple. It could be you are angry with them, and so on. Then again notice if there is any change inside of you. Just notice. When this feels complete for now, thank them for being there, and then tune into your breath again, and feel your feet on the ground, and slowly open your eyes. 

You might try this visualization a couple more times in the week and see how it develops, or not. There is no judgement; just learning...This is for you and for the future generations.


Monday, December 15, 2014

How Do You Know When It Is About You or Not?

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” 
                                                                               -H. Jackson Browne JR. 
                                                                               
It is December, the beginning of winter, and a month where most of us become consumed with the holidays of Christmas and Chanukah. These are holidays in which the custom is to give gifts to those who mean something to us in a symbol of love and of giving. In order for us to give fully, it is important for us to seeclearly the other person and persons to whom we are giving. If it is truly a gift, then it is about the person to whom we are giving. When we live in a selfish manner by seeing others through the lens of our own personal, separate awareness, is it really about the other person? How do we know if something or some action or words are about us or not?

Most of the time we go about our lives disconnected from who we are and from others. We are aware of ourselves and our feelings and everything is about us. We may not think of ourselves as being like that, and the truth is, often we all are like that. Sometimes selfishness is great and helpful. We need to be able to nurture us. When everything stops at that place of self, then we stop the beautiful balance of giving and taking in this world.
A gift is in the eyes of the beholder. Most of us would love to be able to see us and others clearly. We are separate from others, and yet, in a true sense, also connected to others. 

Earlier this year, I was at a party for Fathers Day. We were all sitting around eating and having a good time. We began to wish the fathers a happy day in appreciation for them. One young man at the table with his father didnt buy his father anything or make a card, or even wish him a happy fathers day. If he didnt appreciate his father and was distant and angry with his dad, that would be one thing. This wasnt the case. He loves his father. He said his gift to his father was him! His gift was just being with his dad. He himself is the wonderful gift. It was all about him. He truly believes he is the be all and end all for his father. He is very selfish, and not in the nurturing sense. Yes, he is young, but he is eleven years old and old enough to have grown past the young years of everything is about me. Those young years are important because when we are babies and very young, things do have to be about us because we need it for our survival. As we get older, hopefully, we begin to grow and see us as separate from our parents and not just take, but give back some. A day set aside for appreciation is a good example of a time to be able to give back. If everything is about us, and we dont want to grow up, there is no separation and we cant truly give. And we cant see anyone else or have something be about anyone else.

On the other hand, as we also grow up, we begin to see that most everything anyone says or does is about them and not about us. We are seen by others through their own lenses. That is why when we ask everyone at a table to tell us what happened, the stories differ. We all have our own perspectives. Can we live in a way in which we also can be connected to us, to see others as separate individuals with separate needs, and to give to others from a sense of who they are? 

This father would love to be seen for who he is. We all would love to be seen for who we are. This father would love to be appreciated. If we give too much to our children as they become older, and give them the sense of too much power over us and a sense of entitlement, that is not about us or about the other either. If this father did this, his actions were about his own self and not about his sons. So he too didnt see his son clearly and as separate from him. In this case, most probably, neither person saw each other for who they are. And in fact, we all do this to varying degrees. It would be a great goal for us to see others for who they are, see us for who we are, and to give and receive in a balanced way. It is possible to do this as best we can if we step away from our own internal lens and know that everything is not about us. By doing so, we give us the way to live with clarity and vitality and wholeness.


Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:

A simple exercise you can do is this: think about a time recently when you were acting selfish and seeing something only through your eyes. Now, go through the same scenario, and see the experience through the eyes of someone else there. If there were more people, see the experience through everyones eyes there. When you have done this, write down your experience and also if you now think of what happened slightly differently than before. 

Try this anytime and with any situation. I find it very enlightening. 


Friday, December 5, 2014

What Do We Do In The Meantime?

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”   
                                                                                -Kahil Gibran      


The daylight is shorter in duration and less intense. The days are becoming cold and we are bundling in our clothes. It is a time for more introspection and when we climb inside of our minds. In this time of year, many of us experience a SAD syndrome from not enough light. This can be a part of us becoming more sad and melancholy. For some of us who feel a need to be more active, this can also contribute to a feeling of being lost. December is the beginning of our winter. This month, as in October and November, I am taking us into our future in terms of living in a future we create from nurturing our past and present in a deep and profound way. As we learn to do so, our future can be filled with love, acceptance, connection, inspiration, hope and clarity.

Many of us experience times in our lives when we wonder what to do about something in the meantime. This could be as we are waiting for someone to arrive, to hear how we did on a test, and so on. This period of time can be fraught with opportunities for our old and more wounded selves to take over. Or, we can find a way, through understanding ourselves and how our past has impacted us, to nurture us through this period of time, continuing to reinforce our new muscles.

Recently I lost a beloved pet. She was with us for 13 years and gave us many wonderful memories and taught us a lot. She was a very loving and generous girl. We had adopted a puppy when she was 11 which gave her a renewed purpose in her life. She loved this little, big dog and generously shared everything with him. They played hard, and loved hard. Frequently I would see them lying entwined with their arms around each other and with his head on her body; blissfully asleep. As can happen with all of us, she became filled with arthritis and could barely walk and was obviously in pain as she whined until she could find a comfortable position for a few minutes, only to go through the process again. We had to make the decision to help her, and were all with her as she was put to sleep. In fact our little big dog touched noses with her just as her spirit left her body. This was a sad and difficult time for all of us.

Suddenly we were in a winter of our sadness and feeling a bit lost as to what to do. Our frisky 2 year old loved to play and seemed to need another dog to play hard with as only dogs can do with each other. Yet, we werent ready for another dog, and we didnt know if he was either. At first a time of mourning was necessary. And then we were in that period of what to do? Do we adopt another dog and take up that training and new period again? Will our dog really want another dog, or play too hard? We were in a period of what I call, in the meantime. What do we do in the meantime? So we at first felt a little lost. We then just went day by day feeling it out. We were paying attention to our feelings and our needs, and also as best we could, to our little big dog. Do we want another dog was a question we continually asked ourselves? That transitioned to, if we got another dog, what kind, how big, what disposition, who would best fit with all of us? Slowly it became clear to us that we didnt want another big dog, and we didnt need another high energy dog. A real picture of a dog in our lives began to take shape. I started dreaming about dogs. Meanwhile, my present companion got more personal, hands on time and training and began to settle a bit more. We would take more walks with him, and longer walks, and sit on our front porch together. I even found my husband and our little big dog sleeping on the porch swing one day.

I found myself on the computer looking at dogs in the Humane Society and Stray Rescue. A couple of days later as I was just reading the paper, I saw there was an event for Stray Rescue on a Saturday in which I dont work.  So, I decided to go by there and see if any dog resonated with me. We made a meet and greet appointment with a gentle girl rescue and the rest of our family..and so it went.

Our meantime resolved itself. We began feeling lost and sad and as we let time work with us and within us, allowing us to grow together, a sense of what we wanted took shape.and it was suddenly the right time. We ended up connecting with a new companion for all of us, and we did this by connecting with ourselves. We created a new future. It is possible for all of us to do this. Pay attention to our meantimesand let us grow into what is possible.


Recommended Resources:

I happen to love animals and to love dogs. Nature also inspires me; I like lots of little critters. They feed my soul in a way that is profound. 

I found a book recently which I really enjoyed reading which speaks of both, what to do in the meantime, and also a love of dogs and how they enrich our lives. The book is called, The Dog Year, by Ann Garvin.

I recommend it heartily, and hope you enjoy it.