Creating Space for ‘Non-Doing’

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Creating Space for ‘Non-Doing’
by Steven Leonard

In a culture moving faster and faster, it seems contagious and desirable to be in a constant mode of comparison, self-improvement and achievement. Yet the ability to relax is essential for the overall health of the body and mind, as regulated by the nervous system. What can we do to bring ourselves back into balance when the excess of self-conscious “doing” creates more chaos? We can create space and time in our busy lives for “non-doing,” or simply allowing.

Although making time for conscious relaxation may appear challenging and counterproductive at first, the more we do it, the easier it gets. For a few moments each day, we can allow ourselves to lie down and rest, allowing the eyes to close; the muscles of the face, shoulders and belly to relax; the breath to be smooth; and the mind to flow without restriction.

Our inability to relax often comes from our unwillingness to feel life in the moment, and the fear of trusting what our bodies have to say. We all know the activities that are supposed to be relaxing: a nap, a walk, a bath, quiet music, reading a book — yet how often do we choose these activities? When we do allow ourselves time to rest, we often experience anxiety, boredom, or a feeling of “missing out.” How can we have ambitions, desires, goals, dreams, relationships — and also prioritize relaxation?

The key is trust. Relaxation happens when there is a sense of trust, safety and belonging. We must trust that we will find our own dance of being with what is around us and what is inside us, ready to blossom. We must trust that life will support our desires and actions. If life hasn’t seemed to make sense so far, trust that it will at some point. Trust that insight comes when the time is right. If we can trust, we can relax. If we can be with any given moment and trust that what it has to offer is exactly what we need, then we can relax.

Daily Practices for Relaxation

Bringing Awareness to the Body
The body and mind are not separate “things,” but rather intimate partners that inform and respond to each other. This practice is focused on the experience of relaxing the physical body, and the awareness of how that affects the mind. Since many people hold tension, worry, anxiety, etc., somewhere physically in the body it makes sense that, in the midst of a stressful situation, the muscles automatically engage to protect us. The trouble is that, when we become accustomed to a state of stress, the tension becomes more and more chronic.

Before trying to relax the body in the middle of a challenging situation, which may seem impossible, begin by practicing relaxation in neutral, everyday circumstances. The next time you’re driving, standing in line at the grocery store, checking your email, using the bathroom, walking down the hall, preparing dinner, waiting for a friend or reading a book, take a few moments to scan your body, and notice if there are any muscles that are engaged that don’t need to be. Experiment with allowing those muscles to release and relax, while staying aware of what you’re doing. Most likely, those muscles will re-engage again after some time. Once you become aware of that, allow them to relax again. As you remember to relax your muscles more and more, observe if it has any effect on your mind or attitude toward what’s happening in that moment. Give yourself plenty of space to not do it perfectly. As often as you can remember, bring awareness to your body and invite softening in your shoulders, belly, hands, or wherever you tend to hold tension.

Belly Breathing
Similar to the relationship of the body and mind, the respiratory system and the nervous system work as complements. When the nervous system is in its sympathetic mode (fight-or-flight), the breath become rapid and shallow, the muscles tense and the blood is sent out to the extremities to prepare for fighting or fleeing. When the nervous system is in parasympathetic mode (relaxation response), the breath becomes deep and smooth, the muscles relax and the blood is used to support other body systems that promote long-term health and balance (digestive, endocrine and lymphatic).

Whenever you have a few free minutes, allow yourself to become aware of your breath. Notice how your breath feels moving in and out. Notice how your body moves with the breath. Then, allowing the breath to be smooth and relaxed, let your inhalations deepen and your exhalations lengthen. Allow the air to fill up the lungs so that the belly relaxes and extends forward gently with the inhale. As you exhale, simply allow the breath to flow out of your nostrils. Whether you have 30 seconds or 30 minutes to practice belly breathing, continue to find the balance of allowing the breath to relax and expand the belly, without forcing it in or out. You may find that this practice helps take awareness from the mind down to the base of the torso, which is the body’s usual center of gravity.

How do you incorporate non-doing into your daily practice?

Steven Leonard is a Kripalu faculty member and founder of the Freestyle Meditation Community. He leads meditation classes, workshops and retreats throughout the Northeast, using an approach that offers a simple way of appreciating the range and rhythm of human experience. A musician and athlete, Steven holds a degree in exercise physiology and is the author of Throughout Infinity, a book of poems.

For more by Kripalu, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

Surviving the Fall: How Getting Laid Off Taught Me About Adjustment Disorder
I tossed and turned in bed, unable to find the rest I so desperately craved. It wasn’t that my thoughts were preventing me from sleeping — I wasn’t thinking of anything, at least not consciously. All I knew was that the ball of stress that had settled in the pit of my stomach sometime around March was wrecking havoc on my body, and that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the happiness that had always been such a hallmark of my personality. I couldn’t even close my eyes — when I did, all I saw was Candy Crush, my brain working to obliterate rows of phantom candy again and again, preventing me from sleep and peaceful thinking.

In early March of this year, it was announced that the media conglomerate that owned my company would be laying off many employees across its different businesses in an attempt to increase revenue. My company wouldn’t even be considered for layoffs, we were going to be sold off, and all of us would lose our jobs in one fell swoop. This news came at a horrible time for me — I had just moved into the job I had originally moved to New York for. I had just become completely satisfied with my life. Now I didn’t know if we would arrive at work one day to find our computers dismantled and HR waiting with exit paperwork.

As it turned out, we had six months before the company would close its doors, but we had no way of knowing that at the time. What resulted was the worst kind of hiatus, it was “business as usual,” with the knowledge that the work we were doing didn’t matter in the long run. My coworkers scrambled to find jobs, difficult and time consuming in our slow-moving and incestuous industry. The lucky ones got out early. The rest of us were left to suffer.

The entire situation was very disconcerting. I used to anticipate new work assignments, but after awhile, my response to everything was “F*#k it.” My coworkers and I all started gaining weight from the stress and unhappiness in the office was palpable. Work had become a toxic environment, and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it other than continue to apply for new jobs that were few and far between.

How do you cope with uncertainty that you have no way of controlling? Uncertainty is possibly one of the worst emotions one can feel. Not knowing the future is inevitable, but not knowing if you’re secure in your home, your job, or in love is wrenching. The stress of it all does horrible things to your mind, to your body, to your whole perception of self. I’m a very perky and social person by nature, but I saw myself change in unexpected ways as the days dragged on. I no longer treated my life as a happy adventure — where I would otherwise look forward to my time out with friends, spending weekends picnicking in the park and dancing the night away at concerts, I started to draw away from my them, finding solace instead in binge-watching episodes of Breaking Bad in my apartment by myself. I played Candy Crush obsessively — the idea that I could engage in something with a clear goal, something I could control, was very appealing. I tried to work out at the gym, but I found that I often didn’t have the energy to even make it off the couch.

What I didn’t realize until much later was that my coworkers and I may have had what is termed as an adjustment disorder , a fairly common occurrence that crops up when a person has trouble adapting to a major stressor such as financial troubles or a job change. Sometimes called situational depression, the main difference between an adjustment disorder and an actual depression is that once the stressor is removed, the feelings of helplessness disappear, whereas with major depression the problem is not so easily resolved. The symptoms can be quite similar — hence my antisocial behavior and general lack of interest in life– but the feelings typically don’t last as long. More than anything, it means that the person is ill-equipped in dealing with the changes in her life, and that she has two options: either solve the problem, or develop some coping mechanisms that kick those feelings to the curb.

Since I couldn’t easily solve the problem of finding another job before the old one disappeared, I had no choice but to find a way to make myself happy while I applied for new jobs. What I found was that although I am typically very good at handling stress — I’ve been meditating since I was 16 and have a very optimistic outlook towards life — losing my job meant losing a part of my identity, which changed my entire perspective on life. Suddenly, all the work I’d put in throughout my college career, all of the internships, the networking, the very fact that I’d moved here for this career, was all for waste. If a corporation could just dissolve my company with a snap of its fingers, did it truly have any meaning? If I didn’t have a company to pay me for the skills I’d worked so hard to cultivate, what would I do? Who even was Lauren?!

Clearly I was having an identity crisis, and before long enough I’d ditch my feeble attempts at happiness through yoga to watch Breaking Bad and consider dealing meth as a viable career option. I wish I could say that I found the key to banishing adjustment disorder, but honestly the most I could do was push myself to apply for jobs and force myself to be social while secretly wanting to be home in my sweats instead. I definitely had moments when I was at least halfway happy — going out of town with friends for a music festival, for instance — but my impending unemployment was always lurking in the back of my mind. The day that I was hired at a new company was the day I was truly happy again, and I swear I couldn’t stop smiling. It was as if all of the endorphins that had been denied for those months came flooding back all at once, and suddenly I was myself again. I felt as if I were greeting myself as an old friend when I teased the bouncer at a bar and got my friend in without her ID, when I started a dance party in the middle of the floor, when I actually wanted to talk to fellow partiers rather than being immediately put off by the fact that they were happy and secure while I was the opposite.

The most I can say is if you’re going through an adjustment, don’t let it get the best of you. Keep pushing for your identity, don’t let the fact that you don’t feel like yourself keep you from living your life. You may not want to smile all the time, but as long as you try, you’re winning. And while you’re avoiding constant Resting Bitch Face, identify the situation that’s making you unhappy, and do your damndest to change it. Seek therapy if you feel it could be helpful, but more than anything, don’t give up the knowledge that this too shall pass. Because if you give in to hopelessness, you’re letting unhappiness in the front door. Don’t be passive. Choose what you let into your life. Be the one who knocks.

For more by Lauren Taylor Shute, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.

Is a Failed Goal Better Than No Goal at All?
I’m in a spiral. That’s what my husband called it and he’s right. I’ve gotten so into my head about potential failure at this goal I’ve set that I’m paralyzed. And then that crisis of confidence leeches into other areas of life, too. Basically my mojo is nonexistent — it’s not just skill-based things that challenge me anymore, it’s daily necessities like parallel parking and finding my cell phone. Does this ever happen to you?

It all started back on October 1 with three beanbags and a dream — I was going to learn to juggle. How hard could it be? Watch a couple of videos. Put in the required time. And then boom — I’m a juggler. Sounded so easy. Instead, I’ve been trying too hard, and am way too anxious to say, “Look, I learned to juggle in a month and you can, too!” I’ve completely psyched myself out. Even the simplest throws that I mastered weeks ago I’m a mess with now.

My family is trying to be supportive but their comfort boils down to, “If you’re not having fun, just stop.” And “Does it really matter if you can juggle?” Of course that’s true, but what does it say when you can’t master juggling?

I turned to the online community for support. I Googled “How long to learn to juggle.” Who knew how many people were struggling with this? I happened upon one response that really made me feel I’d met a kindred spirit. He wrote, “It took me three months practicing nonstop to juggle three balls.” Finally, I was validated! Then he said he was 9 years old. I felt like Elaine in Seinfeld when she falls for the guy at the video store who makes the movie recommendations. She loves every movie he picks and wants to meet him. Then she finds out he’s a teenager.

Why did I have to go and overshare that I wanted to learn to juggle? Part of my spiral is directly correlated to going public with my goal. I’ve always admired people who can declare a future success and then make it happen. “I am the Greatest” made Muhammad Ali famous, and sure enough he won that fight against Sonny Liston. My friend was in a triathlon and another athlete was rude to her at the starting line. My friend made it her one goal to beat that woman, and then she did. Oh, how I admire people who can channel that competitive spirit so it brings out their best performance. For me, going public has the opposite affect — I get so in my head that I bring about my own demise.

Writer Emily Bennington makes the distinction between “thinking” and “thoughting,”

Thinking is accepting the facts of where you are and creating a logical path forward. In other words, it’s strategic. Thoughting, on the other hand, is emotional. It’s the time you waste picturing yourself publicly dive-bombing, wishing things were different, and focusing on the stress rather than the work.

Well Emily, you read me like a book. “Thoughting” is my go-to state. I’ve always had to chip away at something alone and then reveal the results. I applied to business school with only half a dozen people knowing. That way I didn’t have to worry about everyone’s pity or concern — I could just reveal the success if it happened. No success, no messy conversations. Same thing when I learned to golf. I went to the driving range at the crack of dawn for months before venturing out in public. By the time I went out with a friend, I played better than she did. This was even my strategy to meet my husband. I had been hoping to be introduced to him for months but never asked our very close mutual friends to set us up. Way too much pressure to make it work. I had to wait nearly a year to serendipitously end up at the same party.

My friend Cindy jokes about how I dropped a painting class because it was too stressful. We laugh at the irony that a class meant to be fun and creative could crush me (sounds like my juggling conundrum). Part of it is that it bums me out when I have a harder time doing something than someone else — eyeing all those other creative spirits was too much pressure for left-brain me. I’m not competitive, it’s not that I want to be better than them, but it frustrates me that they seem to have it easier than I do.

Boy, do I appreciate how hard it is to be a kid. Every day, kids are expected to try things that might not be their forte, subjecting them to frustration, humiliation (and occasionally, blessedly, a new passion). It’s not easy being thrown into things outside your comfort zone day in and day out.

We adults get to pick and choose (mostly) what we do. We can do the things we like and are good at, and avoid the things we don’t or aren’t. I think this is why we often turn to the mundane (but achievable) before the challenging (and unknown). I’ll get to the financial planning as soon as the kitchen is clean. I’ll look for a new job after we get through the retreat. We can always kick those scary unknowns down the road just a little. It’s not that I want to wait, it’s that I’ve been so busy with other stuff.

It has been good for my family to see me go through this frustration (even if it’s over something as ridiculous as juggling). I am usually able to seem pretty in control — I manage the house and meals and helping with homework, etc., fairly fluidly. Not “mother of the year” status, but mostly in control. It might be because parents generally bite off the tasks they are decent at, or stay relatively in their comfort zone, that kids think parents have all the answers. Now they can see their mother fall flat on her face. They could see the same thing if I tried to compete in their football, diving, tennis, kung fu or guitar, and if I tried to take their science or social studies tests.

Now I’ve got to decide if I should have bothered trying to learn to juggle in the first place. It feels like nothing more than a pile of angst. On the positive side, it wasn’t that much time — it was 10 minutes a day (some days when I was really frustrated I took more, and that made it even worse). And I’d always thought it would be cool to juggle, so I finally tried. On the other hand, it was sooooo frustrating and made me feel so stupid — I felt like Jennifer Gray in Dirty Dancing when she’s practicing on the dock and just can’t get the steps. Only I had no background music or success after a three-minute montage.

We all know “Better to Try and Fail Than Never to Try at All,” the title of the poem by William F. O’Brien. Sounds logical, makes sense. But failing is painful (whether you’re talking about something as mundane as juggling or as significant as investing your life savings in a business venture). So I read up a bit on pros and cons of trying and failing. Interestingly, most writing on the benefits of failure assumes an inevitable payoff with future success (like Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb after 1,000 attempts). Ralph Heath, author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big says, “The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward failure of ‘no fear.'” So it’s easier to write about failure when there’s a pot of gold at the end. But what if there isn’t? There’s not as much writing on that.

J.K. Rowling talks about how her rags to riches story is often portrayed like this. Reporters tie up the story of bouncing back from rock bottom with a neat bow, while she says it was long and deeply painful while going through it. During a Harvard commencement speech she says the biggest benefit of going through that period was the “stripping away of the inessential” to find clarity that she was meant to write.

For me, the gambit of future success based on current failure is not enough. What gives a little comfort is the last stanza of O’Brien’s poem:

When many moons have gone by,
And you are alone with your dreams of yesteryear,
All your memories will bring you cheer.
You’ll be satisfied, succeed or fail, win or lose,
Knowing the right path you did choose.

I do think my family and I will look back and laugh at the “juggling period” (“all your memories will bring you cheer”). Even if it’s been at my expense, it’s been a humorous blip in the relative status quo of family life. For me, probably the biggest motivator to go for it (even if it ends in failure) is regret. I don’t want to look back and regret not trying something. I don’t want to be “alone with my dreams of yesteryear,” thinking coulda, woulda, shoulda. While I may never be juggling fire or swords, at least I gave it a shot.

For more by Laura Brady Saade, click here.

For more on success and motivation, click here.

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Oprah’s ‘Super Soul Sunday,’ Rob Bell Preview VIDEOS: Christian Leader Talks Spirituality vs Religion & New Book

spirituality – Bing News
Oprah’s ‘Super Soul Sunday,’ Rob Bell Preview VIDEOS: Christian Leader Talks Spirituality vs Religion & New Book
Oprah Winfrey interview’s best-selling author and inspirational Christian leader Rob Bell about spirituality and his progressive interpretation of the Bible on the next chaper of Super Soul Sunday. He founded the Mars Hill Bible Church in …

Subliminal hypnosis: sports hypnosis, weight loss hypnosis, mental health hypnosis, and 40 different topics hypnosis at Amazon.com, full catalog    http://amzn.to/VGoe0Y photo 2163_zps044fb03b.jpg

This Emotion Is Weighing You Down. Here’s What You Need To Know About It.

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
This Emotion Is Weighing You Down. Here’s What You Need To Know About It.
Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, was obsessed with guilt. In his psychological framework, the painful emotion (a tension between the super-ego, or conscience, and the acting ego) played a critical role in the development of depression — and it was as a major roadblock in the pursuit of happiness.

“The price we pay for our advance in civilization is a loss of happiness through the heightening of the sense of guilt,” Freud wrote in his 1930 sociological masterpiece, Civilization and its Discontents, arguing that modern societies reinforce our sense of internal-stemming guilt.

While our modern understanding of human behavior has moved beyond many elements of the Freudian psychological framework, his analysis of guilt remains significant, and has been supported by some recent research.

Anyone who’s experienced guilt — which is to say, everyone — knows that it can cause a great deal of suffering, and can easily keep you from enjoying your life. Without question, guilt can be useful and essential; it can prompt us to evaluate our thoughts and actions, and function as a moral checks-and-balances system. But when guilt takes over, any misstep can become a catalyst for self-doubt, shame, and even depression.

Here are six things you should know about guilt — and how to keep it from controlling your life.

It can (literally) weigh you down.

According to new research from University of Waterloo and Princeton University, a heightened sense of guilt can actually correspond with feelings of increased weight. The researchers wanted to see if there was any truth to the popular notions of “carrying guilt” and of guilt “weighing” on one’s conscience. And what they found was fascinating.

“We found that recalling personal unethical acts led participants to report increased subjective body weight as compared to recalling ethical acts, unethical acts of others or no recall,” Princeton researcher Martin Day said in a statement. “We also found that this increased sense of weight was related to participants’ heightened feelings of guilt, and not other negative emotions, such as sadness or disgust.”

It contributes to depression.

A 2012 brain scanning study found that those who are or have been depressed have a heightened guilt response. For those who have suffered from depression, feeling guilt is less associated with a knowledge of socially acceptable behavior than it is for non-depressed individuals — meaning that those who are depressed may engage in excessive self-blame in a way that is not solution-oriented.

“The scans revealed that the people with a history of depression did not ‘couple’ the brain regions associated with guilt and knowledge of appropriate behavior together as strongly as the never depressed control group do,” the University of Manchester’s Roland Zahn said. “This could reflect a lack of access to details about what exactly was inappropriate about their behavior when feeling guilty, thereby extending guilt to things they are not responsible for and feeling guilty for everything.”

It might be the reason you’re procrastinating.

Many studies have found that guilt is a key factor in procrastination. We feel bad about something we’ve done, and so we hesitate to start a new task, perhaps for fear of making another error. And in turn, procrastinating causes us to feel guilty, which often undermines the good feeling we may have gotten from avoiding the task in the first place.

Need to finally get something done? Research has found that by forgiving yourself for procrastinating, you can actually prevent future procrastination.

Women really are more prone to guilt.

Research supports the cultural stereotype of women as the more guilt-prone sex. A 2010 Spanish study found that women experience guilt more frequently and more intensely than men, and also score higher on measures of interpersonal sensitivity than men. The difference in guilt levels between men and women in the 40-50-year-old age group was particularly stark. The researchers noted that lack of interpersonal sensitivity could be a central contributing factor to low levels of guilt among men.

It’s not a very good motivator.

Many psychologists believe guilt can prompt us to self-correct after doing something wrong — or thinking we’ve done something wrong — whether it’s eating one too many slices of cake or canceling plans with a friend at the last minute. Modest amounts of guilt have been shown deter bad behavior. But runaway guilt can actually keep you stuck in patterns of bad behavior — studies have shown that guilt can dip into (and deplete) our reserves of willpower.

“Feeling guilty is a cop-out. You feel guilty so you don’t have to take responsibility,” Cara Paiuk wrote in a Huffington Post blog. “Instead of actually taking action and fixing the situation, you choose to just feel ‘guilty’ about it. It appears as “Shoulda coulda woulda,” but the point is, you didn’t. Instead of moving on, guilt lets you live in the past and avoid the present.”

So next time you get caught in a guilt spiral, remember: it may not be the most effective way to motivate you to lose those last five pounds, become a better mother, or accomplish any other goal that’s important to you.

It’s not the same as shame — but the two feelings are intertwined.

While shame relates to the self, guilt has more to do with others, according to psychologist Joseph Burgo. Guilt generally involves feeling bad about a particular wrong action and the way it may have affected others, while shame is the painful feeling that there is something wrong or bad about who you are.

“The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between ‘I am bad’ and ‘I did something bad,'” “Daring Greatly” author Brene Brown told Oprah, explaining that shame is the more harmful emotion.

But the two feelings often go hand in hand, and what they do have in common is that they keep us stuck in the past, ruminating about our wrongdoings and perceived shortcomings. And in excess, neither gets us closer to truly coming to terms with the things we’ve done wrong or changing the parts of ourselves that we’re uncomfortable with.

The Job Of The Future With The Brightest Hiring Prospects
Two random things happened last week, which in hindsight, were perhaps not so random and may in fact have been a blueprint for the future. First I ran head first into a problem. And then, I met its solution.

My husband and I are contemplating downsizing to a smaller home and have identified a particular neighborhood that we think we might like to live in while our kids finish school. It’s a mobile home park in Malibu with an eclectic mix of celebrities and rich people who use these beachfront coaches as second homes; families like mine; and of course, retirees.

Two of the homes for sale that we toured were occupied by women in their 90s, for whom, I suspect someone other than them decided that they should no longer be living alone.

In the first home, the woman was an artist. Her paintings covered every inch of wall space and wherever there was room, canvases were stacked on the floor leaning up against the walls. She sat at her kitchen table surrounded by her oil paints, mesmerized by her work as we walked through her home. For us, her home would have been a tear-down, one where we hired a company to come in and bulldoze it and cart it away in dumpsters so that a week later we would have a brand new pre-assembled coach with lots of high-end features put in its place.The whole process of erasing this woman and her 30-year life in her home could be accomplished in a blink of an eye.

Her only request was that whoever bought her home please keep feeding the cat that comes around. He is a nice kitty who belongs to no one, she said, and he keeps away the mice. I think she added the last to justify the expense of buying him cat food. She said little else, which was good, because the sadness I felt about the woman’s situation was overpowering and it was all I could do to get out of there before I started to cry.

After her house, we saw another one, where the 94-year-old widowed owner sat in the living room staring at the TV on high volume while we went room-to-room. The woman’s walker stood off to the side and my daughter couldn’t budge beyond the decades-old family photos on a table. “Is that her?” my daughter asked me in a whisper, pointing to a framed picture of a mom wearing a swimsuit popular in the 1950s and playing at the beach with kids. “Shhhh,” I hushed my daughter, forgetting that the woman in front of the blasting TV likely couldn’t hear her anyway.

The listing agent explained that the owner was going to move to be nearer her children. The voice in my head translated “nearer her children” to mean “some kind of assisted living place.” Again, sadness overwhelmed my ability to see the real estate beyond the woman’s life.

Is this what it comes down to in the end? When the care we need means we dismantle our homes and lives and move to be closer to our caregiver? The answer is yes, of course it does. Our final chapters are written by those who assume the responsibility of our care. And in order for them to do that, their convenience often trumps our preference. Still, it left me sad. Independence is our only real freedom and when we can no longer live independently, we fall to the will of those who provide for our needs — which is why the one hope we all have is to stay living independently for as long as we can.

No, I didn’t sleep much that night, thinking of those two women. But an answer presented itself the next day.

I was having dinner at a friend’s house and met her former college roommate who has been staying with her — a middle-age woman who hopes to relocate back to southern California after decades spent in Oklahoma and who shared that she is looking for a job. I asked her what sort of work she did.

“I am an overnight caregiver,” she said, and the alarm bells in my head went off. She isn’t a licensed nurse and can’t prescribe or dispense medications, but what she can do is babysit the elderly. She can be the eyes and ears for their adult children who worry about them and who live a distance away. She is a smart grownup who has learned how to help someone safely out of a chair or bed and into the bathroom. She has learned the safe way to help her charge bathe and dress. She reads to them when they can’t fall asleep; she listens patiently to their stories, even when they repeat themselves; she plays Bingo and Scrabble and will watch their favorite TV shows with them.

You can slap a slick name on what she does — how does “compassionate caregiver” sound? — but at the root of it, she is an overnight babysitter for the elderly. And that is precisely what many need in order to stay in their homes.

But for reasons that I couldn’t fathom, she is still looking for work while just up the road a 90-something artist and a 94-year-old TV watcher will soon leave their long-time homes and end their independence because someone else decided it was best for them.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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Overcoming Codependency: Reclaiming Yourself in Relationships

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Overcoming Codependency: Reclaiming Yourself in Relationships
Many people stay in self-defeating relationships too long because they are fearful of being alone or feel responsible for their partner’s happiness. They may say they want out — but they end up staying. Others may leave but repeat the same or a similar self-destructive pattern in a new relationship. The adrenaline rush that they experience when they feel passionate toward someone can be addictive. For many people, the reason behind excessive emotional reliance on a partner is co-dependency — a tendency to put other’s needs before their own.

Recently, I asked a client this question: “What is it that stops you from getting what you want out of a relationship?” Her answer was: “It’s too hard to go through a breakup and to be alone.” My response went something like this: “Maybe it’s time to examine your fears and the ways you might be self-sabotaging.” I find that my clients aren’t always aware that they may be excessively dependent on their partner to feel good about themselves.

So what can you do if you are paralyzed by fear or unable to risk leaving a relationship that is unhealthy for you? First, you need to acknowledge it. Fear doesn’t go away by itself — it tends to morph into something else. If you sometimes find that you sabotage your own needs in relationships, there could be many reasons. However, codependency symptoms are common for people who grew up in a dysfunctional home — especially if you took on the role of a caretaker.

According to codependency expert Darlene Lancer, most American families are dysfunctional — so you’re in the majority if you grew up in one. She writes, “Researchers also found that codependent symptoms got worse if left untreated. The good news is that they’re reversible.”

Many people fear getting hurt emotionally and might flee a healthy relationship or engage in some form of self-protective behavior by staying in an unhealthy one. For many people, pain is what they know. Conflict is comfortable. Dealing with an unavailable, distant, or inappropriate partner is their wheelhouse. A partner who wants nothing more than to be with them and make them a top priority is alien.

Do you find yourself falling into one or more of these codependent relationship patterns?

People pleasing: You go above and beyond to make others happy. You might avoid confronting your partner about important issues because you fear rejection or worry more about a partner’s feelings than your own.
Define your self-worth by others: Do you care too much about what others think of you?
Ignore red flags: Do you ignore a partner’s dishonesty, possessiveness, or jealous tendencies?
Give too much in a relationship: You might even ignore your own self-care or feel that you’re being selfish if you take care of yourself.
Have poor boundaries: This can mean you have trouble saying “no” to the requests of others or allow others to take advantage of you.
Stay in a relationship with someone who is distant, unavailable, or abusive –
even though you know deep down inside that they may never meet your emotional needs.

The vast majority of the more than 300 women that I interviewed for my book Daughters of Divorce, described themselves as independent, steadfast, loyal and conscientious. They are hardworking, trustworthy, and self-reliant — and pride themselves on these traits. They often feel self-assured and autonomous — confident they can take care of themselves while others can’t. The truth is that in spite of many wonderful traits, many of the women I met with found themselves being attracted to troubled, distant, or moody men at some point in their lives — and dismissed “nice guys” as boring.

I sat down for coffee with Haley one afternoon. A beautiful, outgoing, and lively twenty-something, she has found herself in an on and off again relationship for seven years with a guy she just can’t seem to break away from. Haley never wants to be responsible for a relationship ending. And when her partner, Tyler, doesn’t treat her well, or devalues her love, she wonders why she wasn’t worth fighting for. She longs for a boyfriend who offers her love, security, and respect. But she says whenever she runs across a man who could potentially give her those things, she isn’t attracted to him. All she knows is the cycle of inadequacy and mistrust.

In a recent Huffington Post blog “Why Women Stay in Bad Marriages,” author Allison Pescosolido writes, “Nothing erodes self-esteem quicker than an unhealthy relationship. Many women remain in dysfunctional marriages because they are convinced that this is what they deserve.” In some cases, there is no need to end the relationship. I’ve learned that relationships can heal if people change. But in order to heal from an unhealthy pattern of codependency, it’s important to regain control of your thoughts and make your needs a priority.

Steps to Reclaiming Healthy Love in Your Life:

Visualize yourself in a loving relationship that meets your needs. If your current relationship is destructive, look at ways you self-sabotage and examine your own behaviors.
Challenge your beliefs and self-defeating thoughts about your self-worth. You don’t need to prove anything to another person about your worth.
Notice your negative self-judgments. Be kind and compassionate toward yourself.
Remind yourself daily that it’s healthy to accept help from others and a sign of strength rather than weakness. Counseling, friendships, and online resources can be tremendously helpful to supporting you in your journey of finding a happy relationship.
Don’t let your fear of rejection stop you from achieving loving, intimate relationships. Surrender your shield and let others in.

Take a moment to consider that you might be hooked on the feeling that being in love brings pain. If so, you might be self-sabotaging your chances of having a healthy relationship where you can get your needs met. Your fear of being alone or taking a risk, for instance, might be preventing you from finding the love and happiness you deserve. You may be freezing out the opportunity to love someone who can meet you half way. Author Karen McMahon writes, “By focusing on your healing and personal growth you will energetically transform your life and begin to attract others (friends, bosses, companions) who are your emotional equals.

Follow Terry Gaspard @ movingpastdivorce.com, Facebook and Twitter.

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Institute for Spirituality and Health luncheon set for Nov. 20

spirituality – Bing News
Institute for Spirituality and Health luncheon set for Nov. 20
Baker, wife of Secretary James A. Baker and author of ‘Passing it On.’ This celebratory ‘Gathering of Friends’ will be made even more special with James T. Willerson, M.D. of the Texas Heart Institute accepting the Caring Heart Award, presented for …

soulful – Bing News
James Blake Wins Britain’s Mercury Prize
James Blake, a pianist and singer whose music is a blend of gentle, soulful ballad structures with beats and electronic textures, was awarded this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize for his second album, “Overgrown,” at a ceremony at the …

Soulful Toad to cater for intimate events
It’s served many uses in its storied life. Built in 1886 by E.R. Strong, the “cream city brick” building overlooking the Rock River has housed Westphal’s Dry Goods, J.C. Penney, a tailor shop, a bookkeeper, a doctor’s office and, most …

spirituality – Google News
Meditation is Not Religion or Spirituality—It’s Technology – Religion Dispatches

Meditation is Not Religion or Spirituality—It's Technology
Religion Dispatches
Jay Michaelson, a Religion Dispatches associate editor and founder of Nehirim: GLBT Jewish Culture & Spirituality, writes regularly for the Forward and Tikkun. He is completing his Ph.D. in Jewish Thought at Hebrew University and his most recent book

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5 Simple Ways To Put Some Meaning Into Halloween

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
5 Simple Ways To Put Some Meaning Into Halloween
October 31 marks Halloween – complete with candy, costumes and a bit of spookiness. While the annual celebration is all about fun, there’s always room to add some meaning. Here at Goodnet, we have come up with five ways to insert a bit of good doing into the festivities, and perhaps even create some new traditions along the way. Feel free to share some of your own Halloween traditions with us in the comments below. Trick-or-treat!

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This Emotion Is Weighing You Down. Here’s How To Overcome It.

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
This Emotion Is Weighing You Down. Here’s How To Overcome It.
Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, was obsessed with guilt. In his psychological framework, the painful emotion (a tension between the super-ego, or conscience, and the acting ego) played a critical role in the development of depression — and it was as a major roadblock in the pursuit of happiness.

“The price we pay for our advance in civilization is a loss of happiness through the heightening of the sense of guilt,” Freud wrote in his 1930 sociological masterpiece, Civilization and its Discontents, arguing that modern societies reinforce our sense of internal-stemming guilt.

While our modern understanding of human behavior has moved beyond many elements of the Freudian psychological framework, his analysis of guilt remains significant, and has been supported by some recent research.

Anyone who’s experienced guilt — which is to say, everyone — knows that it can cause a great deal of suffering, and can easily keep you from enjoying your life. Without question, guilt can be useful and essential; it can prompt us to evaluate our thoughts and actions, and function as a moral checks-and-balances system. But when guilt takes over, any misstep can become a catalyst for self-doubt, shame, and even depression.

Here are six things you should know about guilt — and how to keep it from controlling your life.

It can (literally) weigh you down.

According to new research from University of Waterloo and Princeton University, a heightened sense of guilt can actually correspond with feelings of increased weight. The researchers wanted to see if there was any truth to the popular notions of “carrying guilt” and of guilt “weighing” on one’s conscience. And what they found was fascinating.

“We found that recalling personal unethical acts led participants to report increased subjective body weight as compared to recalling ethical acts, unethical acts of others or no recall,” Princeton researcher Martin Day said in a statement. “We also found that this increased sense of weight was related to participants’ heightened feelings of guilt, and not other negative emotions, such as sadness or disgust.”

It contributes to depression.

A 2012 brain scanning study found that those who are or have been depressed have a heightened guilt response. For those who have suffered from depression, feeling guilt is less associated with a knowledge of socially acceptable behavior than it is for non-depressed individuals — meaning that those who are depressed may engage in excessive self-blame in a way that is not solution-oriented.

“The scans revealed that the people with a history of depression did not ‘couple’ the brain regions associated with guilt and knowledge of appropriate behavior together as strongly as the never depressed control group do,” the University of Manchester’s Roland Zahn said. “This could reflect a lack of access to details about what exactly was inappropriate about their behavior when feeling guilty, thereby extending guilt to things they are not responsible for and feeling guilty for everything.”

It might be the reason you’re procrastinating.

Many studies have found that guilt is a key factor in procrastination. We feel bad about something we’ve done, and so we hesitate to start a new task, perhaps for fear of making another error. And in turn, procrastinating causes us to feel guilty, which often undermines the good feeling we may have gotten from avoiding the task in the first place.

Need to finally get something done? Research has found that by forgiving yourself for procrastinating, you can actually prevent future procrastination.

Women really are more prone to guilt.

Research supports the cultural stereotype of women as the more guilt-prone sex. A 2010 Spanish study found that women experience guilt more frequently and more intensely than men, and also score higher on measures of interpersonal sensitivity than men. The difference in guilt levels between men and women in the 40-50-year-old age group was particularly stark. The researchers noted that lack of interpersonal sensitivity could be a central contributing factor to low levels of guilt among men.

It’s not a very good motivator.

Many psychologists believe guilt can prompt us to self-correct after doing something wrong — or thinking we’ve done something wrong — whether it’s eating one too many slices of cake or canceling plans with a friend at the last minute. Modest amounts of guilt have been shown deter bad behavior. But runaway guilt can actually keep you stuck in patterns of bad behavior — studies have shown that guilt can dip into (and deplete) our reserves of willpower.

“Feeling guilty is a cop-out. You feel guilty so you don’t have to take responsibility,” Cara Paiuk wrote in a Huffington Post blog. “Instead of actually taking action and fixing the situation, you choose to just feel ‘guilty’ about it. It appears as “Shoulda coulda woulda,” but the point is, you didn’t. Instead of moving on, guilt lets you live in the past and avoid the present.”

So next time you get caught in a guilt spiral, remember: it may not be the most effective way to motivate you to lose those last five pounds, become a better mother, or accomplish any other goal that’s important to you.

It’s not the same as shame — but the two feelings are intertwined.

While shame relates to the self, guilt has more to do with others, according to psychologist Joseph Burgo. Guilt generally involves feeling bad about a particular wrong action and the way it may have affected others, while shame is the painful feeling that there is something wrong or bad about who you are.

“The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between ‘I am bad’ and ‘I did something bad,'” “Daring Greatly” author Brene Brown told Oprah, explaining that shame is the more harmful emotion.

But the two feelings often go hand in hand, and what they do have in common is that they keep us stuck in the past, ruminating about our wrongdoings and perceived shortcomings. And in excess, neither gets us closer to truly coming to terms with the things we’ve done wrong or changing the parts of ourselves that we’re uncomfortable with.

Is Do-it-yourself Faith Dangerous to Your Soul?
With God in our hearts, my wife and I watched the Trader Joe’s gluten-free cracker spiral down the toilet bowl and then flush away into oblivion — taking along with it, we prayed, our sins.

This was our own twist on the Jewish ritual of Tashlich, the discarding of bread crumbs into a river or flowing body of water — to symbolize the casting off of sin on Rosh Hashanah. The “sins” we were hoping to banish into the LA metro sewer system had nothing to do with our admittedly intermittent and mostly unaffiliated religious practice. The sins were, in fact, shortcomings that have caused real pain and damage both personally and to our marriage; among them impatience, mistrust, clinging to anger.

But was this freelance atonement enough to make a real difference in our lives? And is it actually possible to grow spiritually by an ad hoc and inconsistent religious practice?

When they’re not outright bemoaning our hedonism, the more vocally devout often decry our era as one of “supermarket spirituality.” They mean by this the secular browsing of ancient faiths for “cool” ideas and iconography — picking and choosing, careful never to take on anything that might inconvenience these do it yourself practitioners. Witness hipster chanting circles, non-Hindu henna tattoos, or crucifix earrings on twerking teens. It’s a faith, reduced to fashion, that seems to aggrandize, rather than transcend the self.

Take Madonna’s Kabbalah study. Most folks see the pop icon’s immersion in this obscure wing of Jewish mysticism as another narcissistic celebrity accoutrement, like Paris Hilton’s dog or Angelina Jolie’s children. But hold up: Could this judgement stem from our own spiritual insecurity? Maybe Madonna’s study has infected her with the joyous humility that prayer can evoke — clearing the way for her to be a better mother, artist, and bi-sexual icon.

My own failed efforts at becoming a bi-sexual icon aside (kind of a joke), it’s been my effort to recover from the profoundly alienating effects of alcoholism and drug abuse (not a joke) that’s helped me resolve my feelings on this matter of spiritual selectivity: cobbling together personally meaningful ritual — even mangled or mis-contextualized — is not only an effective way to enlarge a spiritual life; for me, it’s the only way.

In my experience, longterm sobriety seems dependent on enjoying your life sober. According to no less a scientific mind then Carl Jung, this requires a profound psychic shift — lest sobriety becomes just the pain and isolation of untreated addiction, punctuated by, say, too much sugar, TV, or an intense Lego building fixation which runs you into the hundreds on Amazon.com and enrages your wife. Some very devoted people interpreted Jung’s ideas, and helped convince me I’d head down this road to misery, and thus relapse and death, if not for a constant, experiential and personal connection to my spirit life. What I needed, I was told and have come to believe, was a relief from my self at least as great as that which I got from a half a bottle of sweet, sweet Bushmills.

But aside from helping others, the need for personal spiritual contact also means hanging onto traditions that resonate — and dropping the crap that doesn’t. For me that means I eagerly light candles on some Friday nights or accept a blessing from my old man when he’s in town. Or I have a Jewish wedding — to a non-Jewish wife (who occasionally does Tashlich with me over the toilet).

In another post, I’d like to address the profound social pressures that force too many of us into self-exile and self-rejection, rather than brave the toxic currents of shame and defensiveness provoked by selectively choosing from the church of our youth. But for now, sufficed to say that this story of doing Tashlich with my wife marked a new and unusual effort to face those dark forces.

My wife and I had been fighting a lot, over tensions generated from a year of failed efforts to conceive (and more free floating hormones than a middle school swim party). In my car, on my way back to a tense home the other evening, I heard a Rosh Hashanah mention on the radio and remembered Tashlich. Instead of now adding guilt and defensiveness over my lack of observance, I wondered if I dared use the ritual for the opposite: maybe it could help me to both escape the prison of my own frustration and to be a better husband.

To assess my discard-worthy sins I thought of the inventory from one of my twelve step programs (apparently a great warm up for Tashlich): Where was I at fault in our fights? What core anxiety was I protecting? Was I being a good listener, making my wife feel welcome to express her feelings? Or was I being, as the French say, a douchebag?

When I got home it was too late to go to a river — admittedly a more majestic and humbling altar than our commode. Regardless, after I wished my impatience onto a cracker and sent it down the can, my wife and I went into the bedroom and had one of the warmest, most productive talks in our short year of marriage. The small gamble of performing this personalized version of the ritual had paid big.

As I thought about it, I was struck by the obvious irony that worship is always personal. Because even when the prophet speaks, it’s our heart that interprets — our chaotic, willful, fixated heart. So à la carte faith, like any faith, can be used myopically to build a case for my worst, most narcissistic behavior. But with some effort, it can also do just what it intends — it can help me briefly transcend my self.

Whether fixed in cycles of celebration and atonement, found in a quiet moment on a canyon ridge, or practiced on Madonna’s pool boy, contact of any kind with our spirit is the only way to ensure its evolution. And having finally taken the reigns of my spiritual life on pain of an alcoholic death, I’m grateful that, in the words of Bill Wilson, “God does not make too hard terms with those who seek him.”

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