Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Calming the Mind (literally)

Dear Mind:

When it pertains to emotions, I agree with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche-there are times when I don’t know how to relate to your emotions very well, particularly when they are intense. For me, I feel mostly out of control when it has to do with a certain level of anger. For others I know, it may be sadness, loneliness, panic, or anxiety. I have even come across people in whom that feeling could be an extremely low level of energy and motivation. Trungpa writes, “This seems to be the point where emotions become painful, because you are not quite certain what your relationship to your emotions is. There is tremendous conflict, a feeling that you are being overpowered by your emotions, that you are losing your basic identity, your center of command. So the pain of emotion comes from this conflict; the relationship is always ambivalent.”[1]
Meanwhile, while helping myself and clients with this particular issue-what to do with intense feelings, I was reminded while reading Francine Shapiro’s book, Getting Past Your past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques From EMDR Therapy,[2] that we have to practice these calming strategies during more peaceful moments, before being overwhelmed by our feelings. The more we practice, the better prepared we will be for emotional upheaval. And even better, practicing our Relaxation Response can likely prevent emotional hijacking.
Doctor Shapiro suggests a few calming techniques which I know from experience can be very helpful:
·       Safe Place Technique-use an image of a positive, peaceful, relaxing place where you can feel safe, such as the beach, or just off the trail in the woods.

·       Next, practice connecting the associated relaxing feelings in your body to a single -feeling word such as “peaceful” or “relaxed”, that describes the scene and the calm feeling in your body. 

·       Notice your relaxed breathing that comes with this calming experience and practice linking it to the scene. Dr. Shapiro calls this the “Breathing Shift Technique.” 
This can all be reinforced with some gentle bilateral sensory stimulation and within psychotherapy sessions, can be greatly reinforced with EMDR Resource Installation. 

[1] Trungpa, Chogyam (2003). The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa: Volume 3-The Myth of Freedom, Shambhala Press, p. 229.
[2] Schapiro, Francine (2013). Getting Past Your past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques From EMDR Therapy. Rodale Books.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Few Recommended Guided Meditations for InsightTimer

Anyone who has worked with me and readers of this blog will know my affinity for the android and iPhone app, InsightTimer, which, by the way, has recently been updated and has some neat new features.

I am a strong advocate for meditation for anyone and everyone and the structure of guided meditations such as those featured in InsightTimer can be particularly helpful for a variety of emotional issues and concerns, including difficulties with sleep. Because there are so many to choose from (845 as of today) , below is a list that may help you get started.

·        Mindful Senses
·        James O’Sullivan
·        5’

·        One Minute Meditation
·        Don Reed Simmons
·        1’

·        Simply Being-Relaxation & Presence
·        Mary & Richard Maddox
·        5'

·        Timeless Presence
·        Stephen Pende Wormland
·        22' 

·        True North Sleep Meditation
·        Franko Heke
·        10’
I would be very interested in hearing from you if you have any particular favorite guided meditations to add to this list!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


 Hello again and thank you for reading. I hope you find these thoughts helpful. Feedback is always welcomed and you may want to check out earlier posts for previous calming of the mind steps and techniques.
It can be interesting and very useful, to notice when you try to change and alter the hearts and minds of others because you believe they are responsible for your pain and suffering. In the moment, your reaction is likely to be that of anger and anger is a nice early indicator that there is a negativity, an ego-based resistance to what is. I noticed this in a recent dialogue with the mind.

 Dear Mind,

 I now see you when you want to change the hearts and minds of others, of course that is because you assume to know the hearts and minds of others, as discussed previously (see below). The reasoning is that if you can change the hearts and minds of others you will not have to feel some form of pain and suffering you might be feeling at this moment. But now since I am on to you, starting with the understanding that I know where you are coming from, I will be catching you more often. This tendency of yours will then also fade away.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Calming The Mind-Step 2
Please feel free to back up a post or two below to see how I began this conversation with the mind in order to calm it. Comments and responses are always appreciated.

Dear Mind: if you are going to attempt to know the hearts and minds of others, which I know you will, how about knowing mine? Knowing mine (minding my mind) and remembering the positives. There are so many that there are some that I’m probably not aware of. Perhaps you can remind me of that! Oh, and while you’re at it, remind me of my strengths, previous successes, and perhaps other encouraging words (we tend to think using words).  

Dear You: this is step 2 for calming the mind.  When you notice yourself being self-critical, which may not have been too long ago, just notice the words and language that you are using toward yourself. Are you calling yourself names, for example? This approach to calming the mind is known as Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy (CBT), which I use and refer to often.  It helps to cultivate what James Swartz refers to as a Reasonable Mind-a mind that is not inclined toward superstitions, opinions, and beliefs that do not correspond to common sense and reason (How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non— Duality). Just by noticing the negativity that is being attended to by your mind and being aware of how your mind is working in this regard, is a significant step toward being released from it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Calming the Mind - Step 2


 Dear Mind-this one you’re really not going to like to lose because you do it all the time:


 Why? For two reasons:  First, you’re not that good at it, and Second -even when or if you do get it right, it does not help my situation, and more often just makes things worse. A lot of my emotional discomfort, anger, and anxiety, and sometimes sadness comes from your believing people are thinking or saying something that has to do with you when it doesn’t.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Calming The Mind - Take a Breath & Let Go Slowly

Dear Mind (Ego):

This is the beginning of "goodbye." You serve many functional purposes and much of the time I actually enjoy having you around. But you will not be needed as much anymore. I'll get back to you later.


Me (Authentic Self)

Dear You:

This is step 1- take a breath. Do it now, take a breath in and just let it out. The slower you let it out, the better. You now have completed this simple, but intensely meaningful first step. Breathing is the easiest accessible body mechanism that is available to us at any time that also can have the biggest impact upon our minds and body. The more you do this, the calmer and more relaxed you will be.

Dear Mind:

You might be thinking that something as simple as breathing can have little impact or any positive effect upon you or me. However, as you will soon see and experience, it will be a significant step in my becoming disconnected from you. Again, I will get back to you later.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Calming The Mind- Dear Mind, "Goodbye."

Dear Mind (Ego):

This is the beginning of "goodbye." You serve many functional purposes and much of the time I actually enjoy having you around. But you will not be needed as much anymore. I'll get back to you later.


Me (Authentic Self)