Friday, June 1, 2012

Emotions have a Life-span

Fritz Perls
Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy, said, "Emotions have a life-span that includes a birth and a death, a beginning and an ending."

We each carry within us all the unfinished emotions from all the traumas we have ever had. We may no longer be mentally conscious of these submerged, unfinished emotions, but they are still inside, playing a silent part in our day-to-day reactions to life.  What we present to the world, and those around us, is the accumulation of these unfinished aches and pains that subtly or not so subtly, direct our actions and reactions to today's events…

The residue of painful emotions from incidents in the past congregate into a tangled mass of emotional pain held deep in the body, lying there in wait to re-activate at the nearest sign of an emotionally charged event that feels similar. Each new painful event instantly connects with the bundle of pain inside and starts the reactivation. Since the pain being evoked is usually considered by society (and usually by ourselves) to be harmful, we try to suppress it mentally all the while our bodies are reacting to pain as they always do, by contracting, so the contraction continues to trap the pain inside.

Painful emotions provoke an involuntary bodily response [known as] ACPR, or Auto Contractile Pain Reflex, which squeezes the organs and glands in the bodily region where the emotion is being experienced.  

SHEN Therapists use the chi from between their hands to relax tissue, releasing the contractions to allow the emotion to lift and finally dissolve.

More information here: How SHEN works

And here: Emotions, Pain and Your Body

Note:  Text above partially excerpted from the chapter The Dynamics of Emotion, in the   Notebook given to students taking the SHEN Therapy Personal Empowerment Workshops.
Copyright Richard Pavek, SHEN Therapy Institute.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prayer to the Directions

Here is a prayer I wrote when I was studying with a Lakota Sioux medicine woman grandmother: 

 Invocation to the Directions

Spirit of the East, Wabun, I call you 
Air and Breeze help breathe me 
Eagle and all wind riders 
Please help me walk the Sacred Way.

Spirit of the South, Shawnodese, I call you 
Fire flower please blossom in my soul 
Cougar, Wolf, Coyote, Mouse, 
Please help me walk the Sacred Way.

Spirit of the West, Mudjekeewis, 
And element of Water, I call you
My heart aches and tears fall for what has been. 
I ask to feel all that has been and all that there is. 
Whale and Bear, I ask you, 
Please help me walk the Sacred Way.

Spirit of the North, Waboose, 
And element of Earth, I call you 
Please help me stand and deeply listen 
Great Ones, White Buffalo, Elk, please aid me 
Help me walk the Sacred Way.

Spirit Above, Father Sky, I feel you 
Your sunlight warms and lightens me. 
Thank you for your blessings 
Please help me walk the Sacred Way.

Spirit Below, Mother Earth, I come to you
With all my heart I ask to receive you 
Please take me into the Quiet and help me Walk the Sacred Way.

Spirit Within, I AM, I call you 
Please merge me with Great Spirit's intention 
Deeply and buoyantly let us travel 
Please remind me that I AM the Sacred Way

O Great Masters I invoke you 
Christed friends and spirit allies I honor you 
Thank you for loving me and reminding me of the Sacred Way.

—Ayleyaell Kinder “TurtleDove,” October 1996

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Being Present to One's Heart

"The most important therapeutic ability is the capacity to be present with the heart and to be grounded in our inner being, in the authentic self, in the meditative quality within, in the inner source of love and truth, through which we can meet another person." says Dhyan Giten, from his new book “Presence - Working from Within.

I agree with Dhyan, and I would say, in addition to being present in the heart and grounded in our inner being - a part of the work I do in SHEN Therapy-  be present to the "Now" (a/k/a mindfulness, what's objectively happening, "what's so"), and be aware of one's physical and emotional sensations. Have whatever comes up be ok (and in fact, these sensations are valuable teachers, as they can clue you to your authentic feelings).

I work with trauma survivors as well as highly sensitives. Some of my clients come to me habitually disassociating from their bodies, with panic attacks, and/or feelings of frequent overwhelm.  I've facilitated clients who were traversing a dark night of their soul and those in the midst of struggling to emerge from a history severe abuse. Some come to me out of touch with value in themselves and/or meaning in their life.

An insight I've received and shared is that those who have survived traumatic experiences bring an authenticity to their communication which is reassuring to others who have similar experiences  This authenticity is unmistakeable, and it can help other survivors of trauma to come to listen and to trust, and to realize recovery and healing is possible for them as well,  because someone else has been through it and understands. If it's their heart's desire, my clients can reach those who perhaps would not let themselves be reached a therapist who comes from academic theory only.

And at the very least, the experience of surviving incest, distorted caregiving, etc. can teach you what you don't like, and how you don't want to be. I tell my clients that now they have the glorious, gorgeous opportunity to discover for themselves what they do like, and what does nourish them. My clients start to do just that: in their exploration, they discover what their authentic self enjoys and what their heart enjoys doing. Some have gone on to become therapists, others have become speakers,  writers, artists, advocates and nurturing parents.

We can bloom out of a history of suffering and defilement, just as a Lotus grows out of rich muck, its blossoms, fragrance, and beauty inspiring all.

From Dhyan Gitan's Facebook pageSwami Dhyan Gitan was trained in modern psychology at the University of Stockholm, and in Eastern methods for awareness in USA, Sweden and India. He has 22 years of experience in individual counseling and teaching awareness.