My mother’s life was not easy. She dealt with and battled domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, and eventually mental illness. She was affected by and surrounded by the nature of mankind’s cruelty. And yet, she gave my siblings and I her gift of strength. In writing The Shattered Oak, I came to terms with her thought process and experienced her level of bravery and reliance. I finally comprehended her intense strength, courage, and determination by acknowledging her survivor skills and her deep love of faith that provided her comfort that she was never alone.
"There is a certain kind of suffering that our clients experience which seems to not be so responsive to the standard work we do in body psychotherapy. In an earlier staging in our profession, this suffering was associated with what was called Personality Disorders. No matter how much we were able to help our clients experience the discomfort that was associated with life experience, still these problems hang on. I would like to suggest that the reason for this is that these problems, called core fears, do not arise out of life experience, but instead are core lenses through which we see all life experience. Such fears as fundamental unlovability, badness, unworthiness, hopelessness, defectiveness, insufficiency, insecurity, unfulfillability, impotence are examples of such core fears about the self.
"The word wild is like a gray fox trotting off through the forest, ducking behind bushes, going in and out of sight. Up close, first glance, it is “wild” - then farther into the woods next glance it’s “wyld” and it recedes old Norse villr and Old Teutonic wilthijaz into a faint pre-Teutonic ghweltijos which means, still, wild and maybe wooded (wald) and lurks back there with possible connections to will, to Latin silva (forest, sauvage), and to the Indo-European root ghwer, base of Latin ferus (feral, fierce), which swings us round to Thoreau’s “awful ferity” shared by virtuous people and lovers. The Oxford English Dictionary has it this way: Of animals – not tame, undomesticated, unruly Of plants – not cultivated Of land – uninhabited, uncultivated Of wild crops – produced or yielded without cultivation" (Snyder, Practice of Wild, 2010: 9.)
I guess there might be as many colorful descriptions as there are authors attempting to define not only the term but the actual state of being, as there is no single, widely agreed definition for the concept. Related to me, I was blessed with a rather sudden consciousness breakthrough four years ago that totally transformed my inner and outer life and continues to form and transform my life in many positive ways. I am a doctor and Integral psychotherapist and mindfulness instructor and most of all I am a human being. My intention in writing this essay is to reflect on my personal understanding of embodied spirituality—of living my spirit.
The Traumatic Stress Research Consortium, founded by Dr. Stephen W. Porges, is seeking therapists to join in their research projects.
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.
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.
Sarah and David sit across from me. Their chairs are far apart and turned towards me. They escape eye contact by focusing on me. It’s our first session. Tension is evident and felt, in all senses. This is a well- known situation when couples start therapy that stems from normative embarrassment and difficulty seeking help. During our first conversation, I listen to them while trying to feel the energy and atmosphere in the room. I look inwards, feel my body, my breath. I resonate with myself and with them. The room feels cramped, stiff. There’s a sense of heaviness. The atmosphere is remote, and it seems cold. I notice that neither of them is breathing, and it affects my breathing, which also halts. Out of awareness and inner resonance, despite the tension I breathe deeply. I reflect to the couple: "There’s so much tension in the room," and then I take a deep breath again which allows Sarah and David to breathe as well, to release some of the difficulty, and start discussing what's in their hearts.
What do you think of when you hear the word “dissociate”? Do you wonder what it means, or think “I never do that” or maybe, “that’s my go-to reaction”, or anything in between? What is dissociation? The dictionary tells us it is separation, disconnect of parts (dictionary.com). So how does it show up in our psyche? Dissociation can be any moment you might disconnect from the present moment. Generally, in psychology, it is discussed within the context of extreme trauma cases as a full separation from reality leading to disorders. Yet it is in our daily life as well.
Michael Ostrolenk speaks with Dr. Dee Joy Coulter, a nationally recognized neuroscience educator known for her unique ability to present complex ideas in clear and humorous ways that are useful for her audiences. Dr. Coulter discusses COVID-19 and the cognitive complexity that would be necessary to adequately deal with the pandemic.