Trust; how something bigger caught my tender and held it for me

Sitting at my desk, feeling tender, writing from my heart. A half unpacked suitcase sits nearby from a week ago.  The house I tidied spotlessly (rare event) before Christmas now has piles of paper and life residue everywhere.

Feeling tender and writing from that place.  It feels important, like in the time out from schedules and deadlines I’ve tapped back into that precious thing inside me that wants to create and help others do the same.

Meanwhile, my website’s crashing, admin from my client work is piling up, a throat infection is slowing me down, my new year’s ideas to hire a coach or get some marketing help have faded to the background and then a surprising thing happened.

I had a sense that I could trust the universe to hold space for me a while, that a larger consciousness had my back on this, that I could let go into something for a moment.

It’s a long time since I felt that way.

There was a younger time in my spiritual journey when I was full of talk about letting go and trusting the universe and saw it through naïve maiden’s eyes.  Life has led me on a merry dance since then, to a point where all I could trust was the moment, a spark of light inside my heart and it’s connection with light outside.  That expanded to a trust of my breath and the sense of breathing in and out with the universe as a whole.

But this sense, this practical sense, that the universe has my back on the detail and the big picture and just do what you can, what you’re most feeling for the moment, well that feels good.  Is it a new energy for 2014 I wonder?

Who or what can you trust in?  How has your sense of what trust means evolved?

It was great just now, to get the visceral reminder that I am part of a larger whole and there is some holding in that.

My tips for strengthening your sense of trust:

  1. Listen to your feelings, needs and desires and honour them, the best way you can in each moment.[spacer]
  2. When it feels hard to trust, bring it back in close to what you do trust.  Keep your awareness there, allow the feeling of that to grow through your body and to infuse your thoughts and day-dreams.[spacer]
  3. Act from this place.  The acting on it part is important, it’s the embodiment of self-trust.

What continues in the crying?

There’s different types of crying.  Some are a relief and a let-go and bring a sense of healing.  Others are more desperate and hopeless.  There is a wound that comes up in one area of my life that sees me in this place at times.  Sometimes I get fired up and passionate, sometimes I am accepting and soulful, sometimes open and optimistic, but the tricky one is the collapse response.  The slow caving in.  I watched this as it came on this morning after my morning walk, not wanting to be tearful and at the same time watching the unfolding.

I still had my observer self intact, which is great.  Sometimes the observer gets pretty small and the pain gets big.  In the midst of this today a question arose – what continues in the crying?  The collapse may sometimes feel like an annihilation, but what continues in the crying?

I noticed for me today, it was my breath and a sense of spaciousness as I watched the process of tearful collapse begin.  In that there was easing for me, mellowing, gently inhabiting more of the current moment.

If you are someone who ever finds themselves lost or drowning in a difficult emotion, notice your present moment experience through your five senses and ask yourself … what continues here, through this emotion?  Keep some of your attention with this and some with the emotion.  Watch what happens.

Counselling approaches that help.

Why is self-belief important?

A student at Bond asked me some questions today about self belief:

1.    Why do you think it is important to believe in yourself in order to succeed in life?

When someone believes in themselves they are likely to take little risks, to embrace opportunities to approach life from an open place, know that they have the resources within them to deal with whatever may arise.  Without enough self-belief we can find ourselves shrinking back into an avoidance pattern that limits our opportunities for connection and achievement in life.

2.    What is your advice for people who want to start thinking more positively about themselves?

If you feel that your self-belief could be a little shaky … slow down a moment, get a little reflective and start remembering the good times, the fun times, your past achievements, times when you felt in the flow and in the zone – what personal qualities were you drawing on in those moments … how did you help create those experiences?  Now become more aware of when those qualities are at play in your own life, draw on them consciously as you go about your day, to deal with challenges, to create connection, to step towards your goals.

3.    Do you come across many patients who struggle to believe in themselves?

Most of us struggle, on some level, to believe in ourselves enough.  Life can be quick to put barriers and challenges in our path.  It’s a very human trait to focus on the fear or worry, rather than on the personal strengths that can help us navigate the worry.  But with practice it gets easier.  Start to notice the strengths in others too and reflect it back to them. This way we can start to create mini communities or networks of people who support each other to operate from their strengths and the whole thing starts to get easier.

There’s a link here to a scientifically validated strengths assessment tool – VIA Character Strengths. 

There’s a short and long version.  If you have 20 or 40 min free, do the questionnaire and it will reflect back to you your top 5 unique character strengths.  Notice how they operate in your life today.  Bring them into play more consciously and start to experience the rewards of feeling more authentic, at ease and creative.

Consider personal coaching to get more from working with your strengths.

Party in the sky

Glimmer, shimmer
Lying in wait.

Who knew what was there as the cars drove past.

Party in the sky,
As sunlight fills past full to festival,
and unbound sheafs tip their hats to tiny rounds
that pack a punch.
That laugh and dance and tease their luminosity.

Are you ready for me?

Neurotransmitters, talk therapy and creating a healing climate in the brain

I’m  going to a workshop in Brisbane this week facilitated by Pieter Rossouw.  Pieter is the Director of the Master of Counselling Program at the School of Psychology and the School of Social Work and Human Services at The University of Queensland. Through his research and teaching, Pieter has amassed a really helpful level of knowledge and insight into how to work with the brain to best support healing and growth.

There can sometimes be a divide in the medical and therapeutic industry between those who rush to prescribe anti-depressants and those who are “talky-touchy-feely” (or seen this way).

I sit a little to the left of centre on this one, but not all the way. SSRI’s, SNRI’s and the like have their place under certain conditions, but they are usually a long way from the whole answer.

This workshop looks at a bottom up approach to therapy where the first focus goes to down regulation of stress related neurotransmitters and neural structures and up regulation of safety triggers (oxytocin release, healthy attachment, upregulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, increased GABA release), as the foundation for talk therapy. Under these circumstances, talk therapy has been shown to be more specific in the way it impacts neural structure, than chemical interventions.*

Put simply, find ways to reduce stress that don’t rely on “thinking your way out of it” – because clear thinking is limited under stress and limited in an ongoing way with long term stress and trauma. Then find ways to increase your “feel good” chemicals and hormones – this can come from the quality of the therapeutic relationship, lifestyle changes, time in nature, natural supplements, rhythmic activity (dancing, drumming, music) healing touch, spiritual connection and anything that creates a sense of safe belonging and care.

From this point, you are much more likely to be able to take full advantage of your cognitive abilities to support change and maybe a little less likely to need them!

* (Kumari, 2006 “Do psychotherapies produce neurological effects?”).

Compassionate seeing

I was challenging myself yesterday, what do I stand for, in my work and in life?

Compassionate seeing

Care for self and other

Vision and excitement

Breathing into the one-ness of all and lighting with it …

Back to compassionate seeing, I want to explain further …

For me, compassionate seeing helps people unlock the mysteries of their lives.  This is not about “playing nice” or excuses as some tough love proponents might suggest.  It says that once we get there, to wherever that place is where there is stuckness or holding, fear or shut-down, enough compassion will melt it.

I had this demonstrated for me once and this woman continues to inspire my work – for those based in Sydney, I highly recommend Karen Daniels, should you be lucky enough to secure sessions with her for Expressive Therapies.

We can do this for ourselves, of course, this is essential.  And it is amplified when someone holds the field with and for us. Or more than one person. Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have experienced this?  Or maybe you haven’t experienced it so much in your life.  So go ahead, close your eyes, imagine what this would feel like.  Paint a vivid picture.

By my late 30’s I had learned a lot about letting go and surrendering into each moment, about being kind and accepting, allowing of myself.  But something happened when she added her seeing to my own.  There was extra focus, more energy, more space, more opening and more movement.

She stayed with the process and I did too – long enough.  Just.  Maybe.  Shit happened.  Through the turmoil and darkness, through intense subtle level experiences and initiations, through physical pain and destitution in life, through crazy alone-ness and awe-filled gratitude for the process that was unfolding within me and through me.

Karen worked in the modality of expressive therapies – this meant utilising art, movement, sound and breathing to deepen into and express inner experience.  What happened as an outcome of all this compassionate seeing, space holding, deepening, accepting and expressing … well I will see how I can share this another day, but for now let’s say it gave me a direct experiencing of Life Force moving through me in a way so rich, so powerful, so tender and so unifying …

I like to hold that space for all the people who come to see me, the possibility of this.  Perhaps even the inevitability of this, under the right conditions.

So this compassionate seeing, it’s not an airy-fairy thing.  In my view and experience it unlocks powerful energy and the direct experiencing of your true self, your divine self, Life in all its fullness.

Practice

Below is a link to a 20 min meditation practice, to open into an experience of self-compassion and to use this energy to help heal and bring ease to any aspects of self that may be feeling a little “less than”.  Also an invitation to utilise compassion to open up and support any difficult interpersonal dynamics.

 

Small moments ..

 

I was stretching, reaching, wanting a breakthrough.

The house was small, I didn’t stray far.

The light over the river was fresh then stark then soft.

 

And it’s rhythm got in.

 

The night stars spoke to me from the inky water.

The scrapey, scratchy old love seat said “lay me down” and I did.

 

I never sat in the movie star chairs, they told stories of other people and all people and no people, of twosomes.

 

And the gentle breeze of the treehouse eased me.

Reflections from a time-out mini retreat just for me.

 

Counselling, coaching, dreaming and exploring sessions available via Skype or face-to-face on Gold Coast – phone 0423 167 376 to set up a time.

Deborah Jackson, Psychologist.

What do you really look like?

Ever watched a child play and felt your heart open, a smile catch you unawares as you see the beauty in their absorption in life, whether it be the ice-cream, their sadness or the kite in the sky (hey, I love how kites have become cool again for a whole new generation!).

And as you observe like this, do they each look beautiful in their different sizes, shapes and colours?  Have you ever looked like this at your girlfriends around the table, feeling yourself glow and your heart warm as you take in and take your place amongst the beauty of each of them, knowing something of their journey, their battle-scars, their heart?

Have you ever looked at yourself the same way, in the mirror, taking it all in, seeing and loving the stories behind the extra weight, the strange bend in your nose or the emerging wrinkles?

I have.

Now I have spent as much time as the next woman in front of the mirror, sucking in my tummy or taking selfies with the camera held high so I look younger than my years with no double chin.  This week a client, who is also a photographer, asked me if I would feel embarrassed if she shot me as I was, in that moment, in the session and I could honestly say “no, not embarrassed”.  Kylie went on to explain how she would shoot me to smooth out my muffin tops and disappear the extra chin and yes, I would be grateful for her careful eye, should I be having professional shots taken…

Back on point.

I spent a decade or two managing around a chronic illness, oftentimes watching sadly as the world went by without me, spending days in bed to work up to or recover from an outing into the real world. So yes, now I am so grateful for all my body brings me – the movement through the world and the joyful movement of energy within it.  When I’m in touch with this, with life, with my breath and my heart, I look in the mirror and see so much light it warms me, makes me smile and lights me further.

Try it.

body love

Close your eyes and begin to settle into the rhythm of your breath through your body.  Stay with it for at least three breath cycles.  Gradually focus on the area in the centre of your chest, breathing in and out of your heart centre.  Think about how you touched someone in a good way this week, this year and how someone else’s kindness affected you.  Relax, settle, make time for this.

Take stock of your top three character strengths – perhaps your resilience, your creativity, your caring nature, and be in touch with these qualities as you breathe in and out of your heart centre.  Should a smile or a laugh creep up on you, let it be!  Now slowly open your eyes and look in the mirror.

What do you see?  Can you see your inner light shining?  See yourself as your loving friends do, the beauty that has nothing to do with lip gloss, hair colour and exercise classes?

Write down what you love most about your natural beauty, how it feels to notice it, what it puts you in touch with.  Challenge a friend to do the same.  Write to us and tell us about it.

Now finally … WATCH THIS VIDEO … guaranteed to move you. A forensic artist draws a woman described by two different people …

Deborah Jackson

Psychologist and Dream-Catcher.

I listen, reflect and set up experiences for you to move through stress and stuckness into the power, wisdom and vitality of your true self – and move with it, create from it.  Gold Coast based, Skype sessions available.  Call on 0423 167 376, see more at www.djpsych.com.au or find Deborah Jackson Psychology on Facebook.

Book a session or inquire here.

 

Soft yoga.

I went to a yoga class last Friday night, run by a wonderful woman I work with, Dee Parkinson.  It had been a full on work week with late nights, challenges and changes.  I finished with my last client just in time to don some stretchy pants, eat two squares of dark chocolate (hey, it’s good for you!) and get to the community hall.

It was dimly lit, with quiet music and people lying down with their legs up the wall. Made me a little nervous.  I’m not really a yoga person.  Dance I love, but I never really got into yoga classes.  I think I understand something of the experience of yoga, meaning union, as a freeing of blocks in the body and a breathing into all of life, but the classes never quite worked into my timetable.

She said “lie down”.  Gratitude.  I lay down and put my legs up the wall.  “Just be” she said.  OK.

Over the next 90 min, my eyes shut for half of it, my body was gently turned and coaxed from this position to another with so much time to sink way past the stretch and wobble into a deep letting go.  What did she say?  Like merging into water.  Once I felt gentle, beautiful tears behind my eyes.  At other times it brought an opening and an energy flow that was ecstatic, I could have stayed there forever, the last woman on the dark floor.

Woven through was a little information here, a gentle touch there.  Nurturing.

When I left I felt my body in a new way and loved the all over tingling and freedom.

Best thing for me though – it was all so slow and gentle.  No challenge or “push through” here, just a gentle opening, an invitation into feeling and aliveness.

If yoga to you means “physical challenge”, I encourage you to find and experience something slow and beautiful in your local area.  Try searching under Dru Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga or Integral Yoga.

Living your values – what’s most important to you in life?

Hi … hoping everyone managed some R&R and maybe some time for quiet reflection over the holiday season?

The start of a new year is a great time to check in on what’s really important to you in your life, so that you can focus your time and attention on creating and enjoying more of it.  How often does the urgent end up taking priority over the important and days, weeks, months and years can go by this way.

My invitation to you is to take a little time to check in on your most important life values, across key life domains and use this as a guide throughout the year.

Defining values:

So, for each of these life domains, ask yourself “what really matters to me here?” and “what do I really appreciate or value in this life domain”?  Write a few words under each heading to capture this.

Remember that certain life domains will be more relevant than others at different times in your life.

–       family

–       friends and social

–       love partner

–       work/career

–       education and personal development

–       recreation and creativity

–       spirituality

–       community

–       physical health and wellbeing

Living values:

Next have a think about how actively you are living these values in your life at the moment.

For example, in the domain of family you might value being there for each other, having each other’s back.  Now, if you knew your sister was going through a hard time and you didn’t get around to calling, you might rate that category a 4/10 for living your values at the moment.

Under recreation, if you value time outdoors and have recently joined a 4WD club and gone on some camping trips, you might rate that an 8/10.  Where you are actively living your values, notice how that feels.  Is it energizing, calming, nourishing, inspiring?  Check in on how you are making this work.

In the areas where there is a gap between your true values and how life actually is right now, think about a goal you might like to set yourself.  What would it take to shift a “4” to a “6”?  Think about what’s needed in the medium term and also something you could start work on straight away.

If you’d like some help clarifying your values or working out a plan so that they are more active in your life, you might like to book in for a life values counseling session.

Image source: graur codrin  freegitialphotos.net