Desire Is At The Core of Our Being

Desire woman looking into forest

It takes us towards things. Relationship, lovers, work, purpose. When we shut it down, we shut down our life force energy. I think for much of my life I didn’t allow myself to feel desire, or I just wasn’t connected to it. Afraid to feel hurt, rejection? Where did I learn these things? When I started to allow myself to feel desire and started to really feel passionate about things it was potent, engaging, magnetic. As I started to dance with these potent feelings, I remember a man I was super attracted to. Feminine Shakti drawn into the magnetic field of this powerful Shiva.

But I couldn’t have him. He wasn’t available to me. I loved playing with him on the dance floor but at some point I realized I couldn’t have it, wasn’t going to have it and I kind of shut down. And as I was practicing a lot of mindfulness and self-inquiry, I noticed I was feeling depressed or that shut down ambivalent feeling that was so familiar.

So I decided to let myself feel the potency and primal energy of my desire for him knowing full well I couldn’t have him. I let it be the fuel to feel alive, passionate, wild, and take me on a journey. A wild ride into myself that needed nothing else. And in doing so, others felt my passion, the world responded to my aliveness, other doors opened for this energy to be met. And I was also content to just be in that field within myself. It was joyful, ecstatic, and I felt deeply connected to my essence.

What is your dance with desire? Can you live wildly in your own energetic primal life force energy? How do you shut it down?  

Want support in feeling yourself more fully, reconnecting to your deeper self, passion and desire? Contact me at 650-332-4656 or email me at valerie.sher@sbcglobal.net.

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Benefits of Mindfulness

Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be an antidote to delusion and is a powerful tool to reduce suffering. Being human involves experiencing pain. We cannot love without also grieving and/or feeling loss. Suffering is what we do to add to our pain. Mindfulness helps to support this human experience while reducing unnecessary suffering.

Mindfulness supports the arising of wisdom and helps us move organically towards health and wellness. The stabilization of emotions and cognitive processes that occurs with mindfulness practices has been increasingly found to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and the prevention of relapse of depression and addiction.

Research shows that mindfulness practices promotes improvements in metacognitive awareness, decreases rumination (repeating thoughts), decreases stress, improves working memory, improves focus, and reduces emotional reactivity. Additional benefits include increases in relationship satisfaction, improved insight, improved immune functioning, and improvements in well-being. It has also been found to promote empathy and compassion.

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What is Mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of attentive awareness, in the present moment with curiosity and without judgment. John Welwood writes about the great strength and courage it takes in observing ourselves and others and the need for compassion and acceptance for what we see. When we judge, we lose the ability to be compassionate and accepting and in its place we may experience shame, self-loathing, and separation.

In a mindfulness practice, without the veil of judgment, one can begin to more fully notice one’s experience which may include physical sensations, impulses, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, memories, and meaning making. While some spiritual traditions use mindfulness practices to achieve higher states of consciousness (enlightenment or bliss), the practice of mindfulness can be used in a non-dogmatic practice to more fully observe and experience what is. It allows for sensation and tolerance without over identification with thoughts and feelings. As a result we may feel calmer and have more ability to sit with what we are experiencing rather than reacting or contracting.  It’s the ability to observe anger without being caught in it, or to notice the impulse to become defensive without succumbing to the underlying anxiety and need to protect one’s self. It can be about observing when we want to be right rather than work collaboratively to solve a problem.

Using mindfulness in psychotherapy can compassionately reveal patterns, conflicts, and tension and help to find new options and unwind habitual holding. Awareness cures!

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Get Resourced – Safety, Stabilization, Skill Building, Development of Allies

Building on existing or developing new resources is critical to stabilization of trauma. There are a number of different types of resources one can and needs to call on when dealing with symptoms of trauma that address physical, practical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual well being.

  • Practical – food, shelter, clothing, job, locks on door, watchdog. Get safe!
  • Physical – strength, endurance, agility, activity – anything that gives feeling of strength, confidence, or peace will help contribute to an embodied experience of being able to protect one’s self. Running, boxing, model mugging programs are great physical activities that build on a sense of physical confidence.
  • Psychological – Calling on important psychological skills and abilities are essential. Intelligence (for insight), sense of humor, curiosity, other healthy defenses are important to draw on and may need shoring up after a traumatic event.
  • Interpersonal – calling on social support engagement rather than isolating is one of the key elements of mitigating trauma symptoms after a traumatic event. This can include people in your life and animals. Everyone needs comfort. You are not alone. Call someone now.
  • Spiritual – One often loses their faith at times of crisis and when it’s needed most.  Calling on spiritual strength can be faith or non-faith based and include things like being in nature or reading wisdom literature. If you’ve lost your faith, books such as When Bad Things Happen to Good People can help.
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Anger – What Is It and What Do I Do With It?

People ask me all the time, “What do I do with my anger?” And the answer is, it depends. There are different levels of anger which can range from annoyance, anger, and rage. There can be anger experienced in the here and now, and there can be rage which may be an accumulation of unprocessed anger and unmet needs from the past.

There can be raw, primal anger when someone is hurting you or violating your boundaries. This comes from our primal reptilian brain response of fight/flight when we think we are in danger or being attacked. This is a healthy protective response and one we can easily be enculturated out of (“I shouldn’t feel anger”) which leaves us unable to protect ourselves adequately and may lead to depression and victimization. Owning and honoring anger in response to personal violation is an important step towards healing, acceptance and forgiveness and cannot be bypassed or ignored. This type of anger may serve as a change agent and may help guide us in taking important steps towards self-care.

Chronic anger may be something we perpetuate with automatic trigger thoughts to life situations that perpetuate negative emotions, such as “other’s are out to get me”, “they’re disrespecting me,” or “they never ….” Examining our negative thought responses to events can help us develop alternative responses that allows for more ease and joyful living. See http://healthymind.com/s-distortions.html for a list of typical thought distortions and determine which ones are causing you the most distress.

The cycle of anger usually follows a course of elevated stress followed by a trigger event. We either respond either in healthy choiceful ways to address the issue and relax our physical being that gets activated with cortisol and stress hormones or we react in habitual negative patterns that can be damaging to not only our relationships but our physical body. Effects can include:

  • Hypertension
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as abdominal pain
  • Insomnia
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin problems, such as eczema
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

A key influencing factor to anger is stress. Being aware of stress levels, notice your symptoms for stress (elevated heart rate, increased rate of speech, can’t relax, worrying or ruminating thoughts, little things annoying you).

Anger can also become a manipulation having learned how to get your needs met as children. While being effective as a child or young adult, chronic use of anger as a way to get needs met can result in damaged relationships and resentment from others.

Change comes through doing something in the cycle such as changing thoughts, doing something physical, changing an action.

Things to Do

  • Manage Stress by Taking Steps Towards Self-Regulation and Balance.
    • Ongoing exercise, meditation, or relaxation practices are essential to maintain equilibrium and deal with life’s demands.
    • Engaging in pleasurable activities and allowing unscheduled down time are all helpful to balance life’s busy demands.
  • Evaluate your Anger Cycle
    •  Consider your last angry outburst and note the cycle of:

Thoughts->Feelings->Physical Symptoms->Behavior/Actions

Note any alternative responses you might do:

    •  Breathing – Breathing can calm down your physiological state which is useful before responding
    • Counting to 10 works!
    • Developing more positive self-talk – I’m doing the best I can, or They’re doing the best they can
    • Ask for what you want/need in a neutral positive tone – Turn gripes into requests!
    • Get more information – checking out assumptions
    • Walking away, let things go, pick your battles
    • Exercise, go for a long walk or hit the gym

Helpful Resources to learn more about your anger cycles:

  • When Anger Hurts by McKay, Rogers & McKay
  • The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.
  • Healing Rage: Women Making Inner Peace Possible by Ruth King
  • Mind Over Mood by Greenberger and Padesky
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