STUDIO PEACE

Feel at home in your body and at peace with yourself


 
 
 

Igniting connection

On: February 25th, 2016 at 3:30 pm | In: Addiction,eNewsletters,Psychological Healing,Trauma,Yoga

Remember the comic strip about Charlie Brown?  The lovable, awkward kid who was forever hopeful, and kept on going with life no matter what?

How about Lucy van Pelt, remember her?  The crabby, bossy girl in the Peanuts gang, who was keen on handing out her 5 cent psychiatrist’s advice to whoever would listen.

When Lucy and Charlie Brown would play football together, Lucy would set up the football for Charlie Brown to kick.  Just when Charlie Brown would run up to launch the ball, she’d quickly snap it back at just the last second.

This is what betrayal is.

According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, betrayal is a seductive deception.  It draws us in.  Just when we commit to something, that something gets snatched away.

Betrayal can be at the root of the trauma we experience in our relationships, where trust gets snatched away unexpectedly.

It hurts.

It hurts because our brains are hardwired for strong relational bonds and for trust.

It’s through the trusting relationships we have with the important people in our life that we form trust with our self.

When we experience betrayal as as children, we unconsciously think something to the effect of, “If I can’t trust this important person in my life to be there for me – support me, protect me, love me – there must be something wrong with me.”

After we’ve been through unexpected painful betrayals, we can learn to not be there for our self either.  As a result, disconnection from our self is born.

This amounts to a sad loss in two ways:  One, the loss of connection to our self, and, two, the loss of connection to the important other.

This breeds internal pain.  It can lead to a whole array of troubling ways of forgetting or blocking out the pain through self-destructive habits like alcohol and drug use, gambling, disordered eating, spending too much time video gaming, or over shopping, to name a few.

How do we ignite the connection to our self again?

By taking the time to listen to our body as a way of building connection to our self.  The two are   interconnected.  Here are a few ways of doing so:

We can listen to our body in a Yoga class.  And tune in to how our body feels in a posture.  Then adjust the body if needed to create a greater sense of comfort there.  We can listen to our body even before we go into a posture, to see if it’s the right place to be in that moment.  Listen, honor, yield.

We can listen to our body at the dinner table.  Am I hungry?  How much do I  need to eat to feel nourished?  When am I full?  How does this baked potato feel in my belly?  This cup of coffee?  This green salad?  We can listen to our body and how it feels in relation to the foods we eat, and, respond to what we hear by either eating more or less of that food.  Again, listen, honor, yield.

We can listen to our body through the talk therapy process.  What’s happening in my body as I speak my truth?  Do I numb out completely?  Am I overwhelmed?  Can I be present to my experience?

Betrayal through trauma disconnects us from our body and our self.  Taking the time to listen to our body, honor what we hear, and yield to this wisdom, is a way of building a relationship with our body and our self, again.  It’s a simple yet profound pathway to healing.

 

 

Do you trust yourself?

On: January 14th, 2016 at 3:30 pm | In: Addiction,eNewsletters,Psychological Healing,Trauma,Yoga

Trust Wooden Letterpress Concept

Trust.  It’s a big word. A big word that can have a big impact on the quality of our life and on our relationship to our self and to others.

But what does it mean?  In relationship, it implies having faith in another.  That they are who they say they are and will do what they say they will do.  We join with them energetically in good faith through words, affection, and time, and believe what we see and hear from them is both real and true.  Trust enables us to build a relational bridge to the other, and to find connection there.  Humans thrive on connection. Our brains are hardwired for it.  Trust is fundamental to satisfying human relationships.

In the same vein, our relationships with others are rooted in our relationship with our self. What does it mean to trust our self?

It means we know our history, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, who we’ve been in relationship with, both within our own clan and outside of it.  We know how we’ve been treated by the people in our world, both those we care about and strangers too, and we know how we’ve treated them as well.  We’re friends with our emotions and respectful of our bodies. We know our thoughts and feelings, and our intuitions and desires. And we know the dreams we harbour for our future.  With trust, we can know who we are.  A relational bridge exists within us.  We live in connection to our self.

The question is, Do you trust yourself? A level of trust has been built within me. How about you?

In the next edition, we’ll be talking about what we can do when the relational link to our self has been shattered. That somewhere along the road of life, we’ve become disconnected from our precious self.

 

 

Holiday wishes

On: December 24th, 2015 at 3:30 pm | In: eNewsletters

Vintage Hand Drawn Christmas Botanical Foliage Wreath

 

 

 

At this wonderful time of year,

may your days be merry and

bright, and may all of your

Christmas wishes come true!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harnessing our power for peace

On: December 10th, 2015 at 3:30 pm | In: Addiction,eNewsletters,Psychological Healing,Trauma

First, there was the peace train, from the popular Cat Stevens tune in the early 1970’s, that sang about how the train was coming to take us all home to peace.

Now, more than 30 years later, there’s a new way of travelling home to peace.  This time, there’s no train to jump on board, but simply a unique process to follow.

Let me explain.

We know there’s two ways of knowing peace, one is from the inside out, and the other is from the outside in.

With outer peace, we have little or no control over what happens around us, like on the global political stage, where decisions that are made can effect our personal safety and our potential for peace as a world community.

Then there’s inner peace, where believe it or not, we can have control over what we experience on the inside.  We can take control over how we react to what comes up on the inside in response to a threatening stressor on the outside.  This is the golden doorway to knowing peace in our heart.

An as we know, inner and outer peace are inextricably connected.  One cannot exist without the other.

Everybody wants peace.  Let me rephrase that, many people want peace, given recent events in Paris and those like it around the world.  But not all of us know how to get it.

It can be so confusing to know which way to go to get there.  Which one will be the best for us, and who we can trust to help us get there if we get stuck and need extra help along the way.

Plus, seeking peace inside is not about being selfish.  Quite the contrary.  This is about acting with compassion for our self.   Doing so can be just the right medicine for soothing old wounds and restoring vital energies.

Furthermore, for some of us, seeking peace inside may stimulate feelings of guilt.  That somehow we’re doing something wrong by caring for our self in a tender and focused way.  We must resist the temptation to align with this line of thinking.  It’s unloving.  No one will benefit from it in the end.

What if there were a way to get to peace that could be tailored to our own unique needs, our own unique history, our own unique experience on the planet.  One that would meet us where we’re at and show us the way home.

Well there is.

During this holiday season, when many of us celebrate peace on earth, can we get serious about harnessing our own power in the service of cultivating peace?  When we can harness this power, and then act on it, we’re powerful beyond belief.

To learn more about harnessing your own power, send me an e-mail and put “peace” in the subject line.  I’ll send you information about how you can embark on your one of a kind journey to peace.

 

Gone Fishing

On: November 26th, 2015 at 3:30 pm | In: eNewsletters,Poetry

Sometimes, one of the hardest things we can do is let go of our mind’s expectations, and simply go with the flow.

Go with the flow and ride the wave of whatever may come, knowing it’s in  service of our greatest good.  Hard to do, I know.  But worth the investment of time it takes to practice feeling comfortable here, as it lends itself to a fuller life.  As my words aren’t fully expressing what I want to say, let’s turn our attention to a wonderful wordsmith, American poet, Danna Faulds, and let her words do the talking.  This, through the metaphor of a favorite pastime of many, fishing, in her poem:

Gone Fishing

You seekers of truth,

  cast your nets beyond the mind.

  Bait your lines with longing,

  and let love be your lure.

  Watch and wait.

  Be patient while your bobber sits on the surface

  and it seems the expedition is for naught.

  That which you seek is out of sight for now.

  But here’s the captain’s guarantee –

  if you can have no goal but being one with waves and sunlight;

  if you can welcome equally the marlin and the minnow,

  your catch will be bigger than your dreams.

  When you draw up the nets and reel in the lines,

  your mind will have to open wide,

  or simply stop to receive such riches as these.

Consider spending some time with Faulds’s words.  Let them settle into a quiet place inside, where hope is born.

 

Yoga Directory Canada

On: November 7th, 2015 at 9:31 pm | In: NEWS

Studio Peace is delighted to be associated with Yoga Directory Canada (YDC), the largest resource online for all things Yoga, like studios, teachers, upcoming workshops and trainings, just to name a few, all across our big beautiful country.

Yoga Directory Canada is dedicated to showcasing and supporting the vast array of Yoga resources and talent available in Canada, and does a fine job of uniting us all under one big virtual roof.  Bravo!  YDC is just a just click away.  Hop over, here.

***

Power: Nine insights to take it back

On: November 5th, 2015 at 3:30 pm | In: eNewsletters,Trauma,Yoga

Power, the ability to act or do something effectively, comes in a number of different forms.

For example, to empower is to give power to, like empowering a friend to get a new job through encouragement and practical support.

On the other hand, to disempower, means to take power away, like undermining our friend’s ability to get that new job, by demanding they call us when we know they need to sit down and prepare for that job interview.

Trauma is disempowering.  It’s something that happens to us that takes our power away, our ability to act effectively, because it happens without our consent.  It’s a violation.  An emotional or physical or spiritual boundary has been crossed.  We know when it happens because the body signals us it has through the pain and hurt we feel.

On the other hand, to disempower, means to take power away, like undermining our friend’s ability to get that new job, by demanding they call us when we know they need to sit down and prepare for that job interview.

Trauma is disempowering.  It’s something that happens to us that takes our power away, our ability to act effectively, because it happens without our consent.  It’s a violation.  An emotional or physical or spiritual boundary has been crossed.  We know when it happens because the body signals us it has .  We can experience repeated violations as we walk through life.  Layers and layers of unattended hurt and pain accumulate in our body.  It further impairs us from taking effective action in our lives.  We become disempowered as a result.

How do we get our power back when we’ve been traumatized?  We can:

*Tell our story I.  Speak it.  Resist the temptation to keep it to our self.  When we do, it begins to loosen its power to take up space in our mind, heart and body.

*Tell our story II.  Share it with a trusted friend or relative.  Or share it with a therapist who knows trauma.  Someone who has the training and experience to create a secure environment for a transformational journey into the wounded body.

More and more research is reflecting the central role the body plays in letting go of trapped energies from a traumatic event(s).  If you’re thinking about talking with a therapist, consider body-centered approaches to healing trauma like Focusing or therapeutic Yoga.   For more information about these proven modalities, get in touch here.

*Be compassionate.  Have patience with our self.  Let go of self-judgement.   How do you do these things?  Slow down.  Be present to experience without judgment.  Just notice what’s arising in the moment.Be self-accepting.

*Self-protect I.  Learn to be our own best friend by being kind and compassionate to our self and listening to our needs, wants, desires, dreams.

*Self-protect II.  Formulate clear, firm boundaries in relation to people and places.  Exercise them until they’re ready to be relaxed, that is when you feel absolute safety in their company.

*Self-protect III.  Resist the temptation to take responsibility for actions that don’t belong to us, that aren’t ours.  Embrace the ones that do.  This too is empowering.

*Forgive.  Only when we feel ready, to forgive our self for what happened to us.

*Transform.  Re-create our life in a way that mirrors our deeply held values, treasured goals and heart felt aspirations.  Live that life.  Be empowered.

*Renew.  Invite into our personal world only those who are capable of seeing us as we are and respecting what they see.  The others can remain in the outer most orbit of our social circle, or in a completely different universe entirely. 🙂

These are but a few of the ways we can take back our power.  They’re by no means all of them.  But they’re important pointers in the direction of self-empowerment.

We can’t always prevent a traumatic event from happening, but we all have the ability to transform its debilitating effects to our body and our life.  Through high quality therapy, careful reflection and thoughtful action we can take the necessary action to prevent it from ever happening to us again.

Once we’ve taken back our power, there’s only one way left to travel, and that is onward.  Onward and into the joys and complexities of life.  But this time, it’ll be on our own terms.

5 things to do when we feel too little

On: October 21st, 2015 at 5:06 am | In: Addiction,eNewsletters,Psychological Healing,Trauma,Yoga

October 22 Image

There are those of us who feel too much.  And then there are those of us who feel too little.

When we feel too little after a traumatic event, we can look cool as a cucumber to the outside world, yet feel flat as a pancake on the inside.  We don’t just disconnect from our self and go to a safer place inside, we become frozen emotionally.

It’s when we can’t feel our own pain that we humans are the most dangerous to ourselves and others.

If we can’t feel what’s inside of us, we’re less likely to be able to bridge to another and connect with them empathically.  When we’re not able to connect empathically with another, the potential exists to lash out in pain and do harm.  And when we’re not able to feel our own pain, the potential also exists to allow harm to come us.

We can go for years in the numbed out zone, but eventually one, or possibly two things will happen:  our feelings will find a way of seeping out when we least expect it or, we enter a life changing moment when we realize we don’t feel, but don’t know what to do to feel again.

The good news is there is hope.  There is a way through.

One way of beginning to feel again is to consider one or more suggestions from a simple set of strategies that can help us to thaw out.  That is, melt the armor that is protecting a wounded place inside and preventing us from being present to our experience.  This same armour locks us up inside and prevents us from knowing real connection with ourselves, and by extension, our loved ones and other living things.

Here are 5 ways we can begin to melt our psychological armor and thaw out:

  1. The breath.  Breathing softly and deeply and while paying attention to what we’re doing while we’re doing it will help the armour to start to melt away.
  2. Yoga.  Hatha Yoga that is, and a gentle and subjectively oriented approach to the practice that will gradually soften and loosen the musculature of the body where the armoring is being held.
  3. Being present.  Resisting the temptation to turn away from a feeling and instead turning our attention towards it in the here and now.
  4. Transforming a destructive pattern.  There may be something that is being used to cope with the discomfort of not feeling.  It can take many forms like food, alcohol, drugs, internet, shopping, sexing, gambling.  The Universe has a wisdom all its own and can call us out to end an old way of being, transforming it into something fresh and new and life giving.  If you’re scared, and don’t know how to change a destructive pattern, then please, please, please reach out to someone in your community who can help you to do this safely.
  5. Talking.  That is talking honestly to someone trustworthy, someone who is emotionally safe and will not bring us harm.  This is a time honored way of thawing out, and with care and consideration for the magnitude of the changes that can take place through this process.

Make no mistake about it:  thawing out is serious business . . . yet it’s wondrous too, all at the same time.  It brings us back home to our bodies, our experience and our self.  From there, our world can begin to expand to include real connection to our loved ones, and from there, all living things.

What began as a problem can turn into a truly transformative experience.

 

7 ways to transform troubling feelings

On: October 8th, 2015 at 3:30 pm | In: eNewsletters,Psychological Healing,Trauma,Yoga

When we’re struggling with the effects of traumatic stress, we can really feel challenged by our feelings.

We can either feel too much when memories start unexpectedly arising, or we can feel too little, by numbing out or hiding out deep inside our mind.

Whichever it is, it’s our body’s way of coping.  Coping helps us to survive.

There are a couple ways of doing this, either consciously or unconsciously, intentionally, or on impulse.

However, coping is one thing, healing is quite another.  Healing has to do with paying attention to that something that is triggering the need to cope in the first place.  A body-centered therapy like Yoga is a great way of doing this, Focusing is another.  Coping on the other hand has to do with doing what we can in the moment to bring down the intensity of what we’re feeling.

There’s a time for coping and there’s a time for healing.  Each work in their own way to  move us forward toward integration and peace.

***

As a side note, the psychological terrain we walk through in order to heal our pain and grow can be treacherous to go alone.  It’s best to embark on this journey in the company of a skilled therapist, someone who knows the landscape and can provide us with the help we need to get through safely, even when the going gets tough.  To find out how, do click here.

***

Learning how to cope with our emotional condition is something we can learn how to do.

Take overwhelm for example, when it feels as if we’re being flooded with waves of emotion we can’t control.

One way of dealing with these waves of emotion when we’re feeling too much is through a simple set of practices called “grounding”.

Grounding can help us to detach from what’s happening in the here and now and get us back in control of our emotional experience.  This, when we’re in the throws of overwhelming feelings like anxiety or grief, or harmful impulses like wanting to strike out against someone, including our self.  In these scary moments, we can re-focus our attention on something that will help us to reduce the energetic charge flowing through our body and re-gain inner balance as a result.

Grounding can also help us to deal with those times when we want to catapult out of the present moment, and retreat to a place inside that feels safer than does being in the world.

There are many non-pharmaceutical ways of getting grounded.  Here are a modest 6 to consider:

1. Rock.  Holding a rock in your hands you like to touch. Tuning into its weight, temperature, texture, and letting your mind linger here with the experience of feeling the rock cradled in your hands.

2. Animal.  Spending time petting a favorite animal and noticing how you’re feeling while caressing its body.

3. Scent.  Sniffing a favorite scent of an aromatic oil that calms the nervous system.  Oils to consider for this purpose are lavender, camomile, bergamot, lilac or vanilla.

4.  Relationship.  Talking to a compassionate other who can be trusted, whether a friend, relative or therapist, is grounding too, and will go a long way to helping you find your emotional balance again.

5. Feet.  Feeling your feet planted against the earth.  With your shoes on or off, tuning in and feeling the weight of the balls of the feet and heels against the earth below.

6. Belly.  Either sitting in a chair or lying down on a Yoga mat, with the knees bent and resting in a knock kneed position, place the palms of your hands on your belly, and allow yourself to breathe long, slow, smooth breaths, here.  Do so for 5-10 min to bring deep calm to the bodymind.

Taken individually or in combination, we can work with these skills, and others like it, to regulate our emotional experience. This gives us what we need at our fingertips to take care of our self emotionally in those trying moments when we need a little extra support.  This is good news.  Grounding begins to give us back our power.

In the next edition, we’ll talk about what we can do if our tendency is to numb out or feel too little.

3 forgotten principles

On: September 24th, 2015 at 3:30 pm | In: Addiction,eNewsletters,Trauma,Yoga

Fotolia_64096513_M  3 Hearts with flowersOur magnificent body can feel like a battle zone.  Caught in the cross hairs of inner conflict, the body can experience dueling messages about how to be.

Messages like wanting to feel good, but getting fed junk, wanting to look good, but being deprived of exercise (or getting way more exercise than it needs).  Wanting to feel energized but  getting pushed beyond its limits.

For the trauma survivor and person struggling with addiction, this can be so true, because in the course of wrestling with these painful conditions, we can unknowingly loose touch with our body, how it feels, what it wants, what it knows.  

When we loose touch in these ways, it can open the doorway to pushing our body beyond its very real limits, when we’re just trying to cope with life.

What can wake us up to this kind of body neglect is either complete exhaustion or, heaven forbid, a stress related illness.

What can come along with this sort of body neglect is the sense of inner confusion, feeling grounded.  Now we’re not anchored.  We’re not connected to our self anymore because we’ve lost touch with our body and its inherent wisdom.

Now I know this sounds like crazy talk to suggest the body has a wisdom of its own.  We’re not taught to think about the body in this way.  But I humbly submit that it does. 

How can we connect to the body again?  In the same way we’d listen attentively to someone we care about.

One way of listening attentively to our body is through Yoga.  A gentle and subjective approach to Yoga that is, which helps us to slow down the restless monkey mind and connect with the felt experience of our body.  A style of Yoga that enables us to tune in, listen, and yield to what we hear from the inside out. 

Here’s a simple practice to do right now to experiment with this notion:

Allow yourself to find a comfy place to sit down.  Either on the floor in a cross legged position, or in a chair with the feet planted against the floor.  Perhaps covering your body with a blanket if you’d like, but finding your way into a comfortable seated position, one that makes sense to your body.  The hands can rest naturally in your lap.

Then, allow your eyes to close.  Turn your attention inward to the movement of the breath in your body, as it rises on the flow of the inhalation and falls on the flow of the exhalation.  Do this for at least 10 full breaths (1 breath = inhalation + exhalation), until things quiet down inside.

Then, as the breath rises and falls, allow yourself to begin to notice any sensations moving through your body.  Notice how the body feels here from the inside out.  If you were to gently move your body from side to side, allow yourself to tune in to where the movement is emerging in the body and to notice any sensations that you feel.  What’s happening here?

Does it feel as if you need to adjust the body to come into an even more comfortable position?  Consider listening to what you hear.  Yield to this prompting.  What’s happening now?

If you were to gently drop one shoulder a little closer to the earth, and then the other, allow yourself to tune in to where the movement is arising in the body and to any sensations that you feel.  What’s happening here?

Does it feel as if you need to adjust the body and come into an even more comfortable position?  Consider listening to what you hear.  Yield to this prompting.  What’s happening now?

Rest here for a moment.  Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling here.

Listening, attending, and yielding, 3 forgotten ways of coming back into connection with the body and its inherent intelligence.  When we do, we not only raise awareness of our body, but we re-connect and deepen our connection.  This allows us to cultivate trust in our self again, and over time, a little something called peace. 

With the sense of disconnect being a core experience of trauma and addiction, listening, attending and yielding become welcome allies as we embrace the body and its wisdom along the journey back home to our self.