Why Hear the “Psychotherapy and Spirituality Summit”

I watched/listened to the online conference listed above for 10 days.psych-spirit-final_1.png There were a total of 30 individual one-hour-plus sessions provided by 30 different presenters.

To untrained me who loves seeing the integration of both subjects into this unified psycho-spiritual approach to helping people, I think this methodology is extremely important in evolving psychotherapy for clients: to focus on ourselves as Spiritual beings simply trying to make sense of the world around us while determining our working relationship to it, to ourselves, and to each other.

There were some excellent speakers/practitioners participating in this summit; and the 30 individual sessions were totally worth hearing for those dedicated to listening within the allotted 24-hour, free-listening option, but I personally would not pay $300 for the DVD set, although some folks might. If you are interested, here it is: ( https://www.soundstrue.com/store/psychotherapy-and-spirituality-summit?sq=1&utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=C171108-PASParticipant10&utm_content=Welcome+to+Day+10+of+The+Psychotherapy+and+Spirituality+Summit#jumplink-buy )

Screenshot2017103021.27.01However, after listening to all of these practitioners and their own takes on how each one integrated spirituality into a psychotherapy practice, I can also personally say that there were some psychotherapists I would readily hear further in discussions or even in a personal session, and then there were some folks that I wouldn’t want to sit across from at lunch and have to listen to more than a sentence or two. Authenticity or falseness came across loud and clear with these folks in an hour-long session of them talking about what they do and how they do it.

This leads me to one point of my posting here: Not all psychotherapists are equal in spiritual depth and professional therapy skills. Those who were genuinely deep vessels of Spirit and who could relate readily to an audience and to their clients, were amazing and felt wonderfully aware, and, in my opinion, were likely helpful to a client.

Others, …well, …I couldn’t even handle listening to them for more than 10 to 15 minutes without thinking that they must be absolutely terrible with clients and simply taking a client’s money by extending session after session with little intentional progress or problem resolution for the client.  So if you are considering personal therapy, do your research into well-recommended therapists—and I’d look for client recommendations of whether or not this therapist helped the person make better sense of her life.

The second point I would like to make was: I personally liked the folks who talked about a ‘collaborative’ interaction allowing the client and therapist to work together to determine the healing direction for that person, rather than those therapists who acted more rigid and maintained an authoritarian relationship to their client.

A therapist’s job should be to help the client discover how best to help themselves, and many presenters taught clients self-empowerment as a major aspect of their sessions. Some folks actually stated that was their goal—to teach the client how to constructively frame life for themselves for future reference.

The Sounds True producer and moderator, Tami Simon, was great. She asked pertinent follow-up questions, pulled the more spacey folks back to reality and tried to get specifics about what they were explaining and HOW that approach applied to a psychotherapy practice—made each one elaborate and provide anecdotal evidence on how this approach actually helped their clients.p&s summit2.jpg

There were many approaches to these two main subjects of integrating psychotherapy and spirituality with differing techniques pertaining to how each therapist conducts their own practice. Every therapist was unique in some way from the others—and some were quite radical in their approach to helping a client, and even in how they framed the therapy experience for the client.

Overall, I felt it was enlightening to hear so many different takes on what makes a person human and how that humanness is to be explored and assisted in today’s world. To me the layperson, integrating spirituality into psychotherapy is recognition of our wholeness as soul-based incarnations on this often chaotic planet, and I feel this is a very good direction for the future of psychology in general.

(Hint for the future in my blog: I needed to mention the summit itself first, to then post additional subjects pertaining to those individual summit sessions in the near future.)

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Who Is the Healer Here?

It’s such a shame that by the time most of us finally get a handle on how life really works, it’s pretty late in the game.

It turns out that all those vices that we once adored may not have been so beneficial after all.

All thexcessose wild and crazy times with friends and anyone else around us back then, might not have been so “fun” the next morning when our eyes finally opened and our head stopped spinning. But then we went right back to them the next weekend, and the weekend after that, etc.

All those wheelbarrows full of chips, dips, sodas, hot dogs, nacho grandes, and candy bars we carted home from the grocery store or the fast-food joint, might not have been as nutritious and body-supportive as our younger minds once told us that they were. (Or as nutritious as our after-adolescent/pre-retirement minds told us they were.)

All those times we took the elevator rather than the stairs because the extra exercise was just too much effort, is starting to add up around our ever-expanding middle. Elastic waistbands or sweatpants have become our favorite mode of lower-body coverage. And those spandex pants stretched to infinity trying to cover 20-lbs of potatoes in 10-lb sack, is almost obscene from the rearview people! (Please don’t make me see that again.)

So here we are now….approaching middle-age from one side or the other (that’s if we live to be at least 100yrs), asking various doctors and nutritionists why we feel so awful.

  • Why does my body hurt?dr and pill
  • Why do I have indigestion?
  • Why can’t I eat the things I once did without regretting it in an hour?
  • Why do I have no energy?
  • Why can’t I sleep?
  • My head hurts. My body hurts. My back is killing me. My feet fall asleep.
  • Is there some pill or supplement that I can take to feel better NOW?

You know, I could claim that as an energy therapist or a hypnotist these are the very symptoms that I hear when people come to me hoping that I can help them find relief from some suffering and pain symptom; but in truth, I’m no different than any of those folks are—I’ve been there doing the “not so healthy” things in my youth that have likely contributed to my own present-day aches and pains. I just don’t do as much of them any longer, if at all.

So it’s pretty hard for me to criticize anyone; and it’s even hard for me to listen to those proselytizers who mount their mobile soapbox in front of a captive audience and shake a pencil-thin finger at others for their evidential health transgressions.

I mean really. We ARE human. We likely have had poor role models throughout our youth (and I don’t mean the razor-thin ones walking the fashion runways).

Not to mention that most of us didn’t have “Michele Obama mothers” who were as educated and disciplined about our early eating habits; because we more than likely had “Bill Clinton appetites” for fast burgers and fries on the side, oh yeah, …with a chocolate milkshake—to go, please.

However, in saying that we are both the products of tainted genetics and marketing-driven environments, there is still the important fact that WE are in charge of our own health; and it is UP TO US to change our ways to eating a healthier diet and to getting more exercise.

But it’s also up Jesus and the blind manto us to realize that the only one who really “heals you” is yourself. I and any other health practitioner can help all that we are able to help, but the rest is up to you (or me with my own aches and pains). We actually are the main determiners of our own healing—sometimes at this level of awareness and sometimes at the level of our Higher Self—depending on the lessons we came here to explore.

In reality as we presently know it there are NO silver bullets that magically eliminate a health foe. Nor are there instant “feel better” pills for chronic suffering. Yes, there are “feel-nothing” pills (or alcohol) that are addictive, but those aren’t the same as actually improving your health condition. Those just make you care less if you ever feel anything again—good or bad. That’s why they should be avoided.

In conclusion, I wish I could tell the person who called me over the weekhealthy body quoteend pertaining to his deteriorating health condition that, “Yes, you bet. I’ll have you feeling WAY better in no time.”

Except in all likelihood, I might be able to help you a little, but most of the work will be up to you and how you choose to live your life.

Budgets and Expendables

I usually avoid writing about government policies and politics in my blog because that’s not what this blog is about—it’s about maintaining a higher-frequency focus of living with love and compassion for everyone.

However, I guess I’m still reeling at the news that our Governor (Iowa) is planning to close two of the states remaining mental health institutions and booting out the residents to use “out-patient” mental health facilities in their original communities (if those communities even have them).

silhouette of womanThis subject of cutting the state’s budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our society is really bothering me because I think it will adversely affect a personal friend who has frequented one of the facilities over the last several years.

To me who has known of and shared some of her lesser challenges, I anticipate that she will face a sink-or-swim, tough-love approach to coping with her daily life. While I truly hope she can master the stroke necessary to do laps across the pool, I also know the greater likelihood of her failure to do so; and that failure can result in her quickly sinking to the bottom.

What I see as the greatest benefit to residents at a state-run mental health institution is in viewing the institution as a place of sanctuary and security—which are two of the biggest issues in anyone’s mind to establish and maintain their own wellbeing. People need to simply FEEL safe. Even being contained within a locked room provides them protection from “others” when they are in their most vulnerable states of mind and unable to make rational decisions, or to physically protect themselves (and likewise not to harm themselves)

That sanctuary and security assurance will be the first casualty when the residents are booted out onto the streets. Families and friends will be faced with impossible situations of helping/not-helping and not even knowing what “helping” really is, for someone with mental health challenges.

I’ve been trained in many different healing techniques, and I’ve seen how easily the mind can be affected and altered by devices, substances, and the ill intentions of others, besides our tendencies to adversely undermine our decision-making abilities through self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-denigratimental_health_awareness_ribbon_mousepadon.

There is so much at stake when you are messing with someone’s mental health stability. I just can’t believe that these “budget cuts” in state-run mental health facilities are wise or even conscionable for an enlightened society that claims it cares about human welfare.

Don’t take away the only safety net that some of these extremely vulnerable people have. That leaves them with even fewer options, and those options are more likely suicide or jail.

Shades of “The Knick”

Clients often ask me pertaining to their long-term, difficult-to-diagnose health problems, the questions of “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t all these doctors find the real problem?”

Those are questions that I can’t even attempt to answer, because the underlying “reason” for someone’s presenting problems could lie in other levels of that person’s being. We could explore possibilities in the spiritual/energy realms, but I can’t give them the definitives that they want.

Medical professionals may well have isolated some specific causes for the person’s present discomfort, but there may also be underlying reasons that have created the situation. The problem situation may simply be signaling a need to address those hidden reasons by creating this pain symptom waving such a bright, red flag to draw attention to the still unresolved issue.

In today’s world, most medical doctors look for a physical reason to a pain symptom. Psychologists might address the stubborn physical problem as a physical manifestation of suppressed mental or emotional reactions at an earlier age; or perhaps it could be a recurring trigger situation that sets those correspondingly-painful physical symptoms in motion. Exhaustive possibilities are likely examined in search of the originating cause of a person’s stubborn pain because most medical professionals operate by eliminating known possibilities for the pain. But they don’t pursue the unknown possibilities.

I, who am not a doctor or a therapist, might cite a possible spiritual or an energy-body reason, because when you often dig down to the roots of a chronic or recurring problem, it may lie in a past or parallel life, rather than in this one, but this life is making sure that you can’t keep ignoring those still-lingering residues from a different time and place by making the pain so undeniable. In other words, we explore the unknown realms for answers to your questions. We are simply the explorers of possibilities.

Other than well-known past-life regressionist, Dr. Brian Weiss, and a few additional high-end therapists who do understand this level of an originating-problem-lies-in-another-life-experience, most modern-day healing professions are in early exploratory phases now on what is really creating a person’s illness or medical crisis—as being something beyond what can be presently measured, tested, and scanned.

The_Knick_Promo_PosterOddly as I’m writing here, this explanation reminds me of the new show on Cinemax: “The Knick.” Set in New York City’s Knickerbocker Hospital in the early 1900’s, the brightest and the best surgeons of the time explored and expanded medical treatments and surgical procedures in what we would now call the crudest and most appallingly unsterile medical-treatment conditions imaginable.

For me, watching that show is a little like watching a car-wreck in motion—hard to turn away from an inevitable calamity, yet the resulting “yuck” factor is high. But what “The Knick” does best is to show that at that time—in the early 1900’s, those gruesome medical procedures were considered ground-breaking and (excuse me) “cutting edge.”

Now, with our present standards of medical care, watching what was common practice a hundred years ago, simply makes your skin crawl; and yet there is something about the point of the show that is so important to understand. Those doctors at that time were considered the best and brightest in their field—the ones with the most up-to-date knowledge of how to help people and handle those existing medical problems.

But as we now view it from a future vantage point looking back to what they considered major revelations and advancements in the field of medicine, it helps us to understand not only how far we have come in present medical standards of treatment, but also how naive it is to think that any standard of treatment protocol at any period of time, cannot be improved or expanded beyond what it is or was considered acceptable.

When knowledge and understanding advance, so do protocols on how we view or handle a problem—any problem.

What Freud and Jung did for mental health in their day, and Palmer did for skeletal manipulation with Chiropractic in his day, Weiss has enabled future health practitioners to explore other dimensions of existence and connect us into our highest multi-level consciousness that not only knows the answers to our deepest problems, but can also help us understand why we are experiencing them. The underlying reason for your present difficulty might be far more than you think it could be.

The two most important things that I’ve evolved into believing as true are that time is malleable and consciousness is infinite. We are only starting to comprehend how multi-dimensional we truly are.

Given a future hundred years from now, and looking back at this time period in terms of medical treatments for all kinds of problems, how do you think you’d feel about it from that vantage point?

It might be similar to how I presently react to “The Knick.”

The Hypnotic Power of Metaphor and Storytelling

From the beginning of my hypnosis training, I’ve been a fan of Dr. Milton Erickson, often best known for his prolific use of metaphors and casual storytelling to seamlessly integrate hypnotic suggestions past a client’s more resistant conscious awareness. Those Ericksonian “Secret Ops” techniques were skillfully employed as needed at the time.

In other situations with less-resistant hypnosis clients, Erickson was direct and specific about the requested changes to be made, but fewer people remember him for protocol shock-inductions of pretending to shake a new person’s hand and instead momentarily confusing the client with a quick arm-lift movement followed by commands to drop him into a deep-trance state.

That was more the stage show aspect of his practice. It revealed his total mastery of the medium and wowed his audiences every time. That’s not the aspect of Erickson that I admire.

While it often produced positive results for clients, to me it also violated a basic trust between the client and the hypnotist. You don’t pretend to do one thing and instead shock them into a confused state to easier access their subconscious mind. That’s not my style of hypnosis.

I don’t care for that kind of deception. I find it unethical and unacceptable. So as much as I admire Erickson’s many storytelling techniques, I will not jerk your hands or arms around to “put you under,” as it was then called, but I will talk a lot and do a lot of guided imagery in a hypnosis session because I want clients to feel comfortable and safe in my office, and to naturally relax into their requested life changes, while I simply clear the obstacles from their path to reach them.

Some of you might have even noticed, that most my blog posts are very Ericksonian: full of metaphors and suggestions—some indirect, some direct. But I never try to deceive a reader, because I personally feel that if you once violate someone’s trust in you, that person will never completely trust you again.Image

And if you wrote something with the intention of deception, then how can you even trust yourself?

This alludes back to my previous post of “Baby the Rain Must Fall” on the two NLP books premise about incongruent behavior being a leading cause of disharmony and dissatisfaction in many lives. When our behaviors don’t match our values, we end up fighting with ourselves, and that is not a battle anyone can win.

So, I’ll conclude this tribute to Dr. Milton Erickson post with Shakespearian prose from Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)  :

Juliet:  “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” … and an Ericksonian metaphor: “A rose by its very sweetness smells.”

Shifting Sands and Shifting Energies

I’m sure many have noticed the unstable energies lately: both locally and around the world. Astrologers are heralding the Grand Cross of April 23rd, 2014, as the primary culprit. The four cardinal signs of Astrology come into 90-degree relationship to each other on that day and mark a time of tremendous upheaval and change.

Or, …another perspective might be that somebody is seriously shaking the rug while we’re still on it.

It isn’t doom and gloom related—that’s not the point at all. It is simply bringing the heavy stuff (energies) to the surface for release and clearing. Many have felt it personally in their own lives and in their relationships, and for certain the news is full of it now.

What does this mean to you and me?

It means we are being given the opportunity to more closely examine our own shadow issues (often ego-related stuff), and provided the conscious awareness to release that which no longer serves us; to deeply heal all levels of our being.

Have you ever noticed that when you walk on the beach, the sands beneath your feet just seem to give way, and you feel like you have to try harder to maintain your balance and momentum? That’s what is happening energetically right now. Energies are shifting back and forth between extreme high frequencies and extreme low frequencies, and we are right in the middle of it all, trying to maintain our own equilibrium in every aspect of our lives throughout this process.

An example being: I’m an Aries Fire-sign, and I haven’t been immune to challenges to my own temper, besides noticing some fiery-energy expansion within me that makes the implausible possibility of running a marathon seem do-able to me—which it isn’t.

But I also recognize the choice to ground this excess energy down and be more physically active, trying to better balance explosive emotions and rational decision making. That’s what is happening on a global scale right now. That is why there is so much unrest and so many power shifts unfolding.

This is a time of the “old ways of doing things” being reassessed and discarded for the new perspective—the new focus—the new mode of operation.

It is a natural “death and rebirth cycle.”

It’s that darn vulture or buzzard energy that I mentioned in a previous post. It’s all about intense transformation: of us, of our lives, of our world. We’ve been crawling about on our bellies long enough. It’s time to enter the cocoon for the big changes to come. And to do that, requires us to do some serious introspection of our lives: to determine who we truly are, what we want from life, and to assess what we value in this life so we can better define our sense of purpose for being here, and better align to our intended future direction.

No doubt about it, this is heavy stuff right now. But we CAN get through it.

ImageThat’s what butterflies do. They spend some quality time in the cocoon first before testing out those magnificent wings.

Try to get out in nature more and simply enjoy your cocoon time. Earth Day is April 22nd, the day before the Grand Cross on the 23rd, so take a walk, hug a tree, sit on a river bank and just watch the current flowing on by you. Let the energies of the Earth help to stabilize those wild and crazy energies within you, and when your wings are ready to unfold, …you’ll know.

“Baby the Rain Must Fall”

It’s a good 60’s song—slightly dated, but still lyrically solid with a catchy tune. Sung at the time by Glenn Yarborough, the repeating chorus is: “Baby, the rain must fall. Baby, the wind must blow. Wherever my heart leads me, ….baby, I must go, …baby, I must go.”Image

That was an anthem of the sixties generation: Wherever my heart leads me, …baby, I must go. Funny to think that many of those free-spirited, idealistic, make-love-not-war, folks of the mid-sixties have now become the established autocrats running the world.

How could that ever be? Did their hearts lead them into international banking industries and global exploitation? How do you turn the free-love-hippies generation into world domineering power-brokers? Was it magic, …or just greed? Was that song refrain actually: “Wherever money leads me, …baby, I must go”?

In reality, sometimes our inner values take a hit to external demands. Somewhere, at sometime, our “heart” leading us may concede that direction over to our “head” that prefers living a more comfortable and secure lifestyle. We may cave on our values— pushing aside our ideals for the promise of something more lucrative and predictable.

Sometimes we justify what we do for whatever reason best fits the moment; and we might tell ourselves that we aren’t really giving up our dreams of simplicity and non-conformance—we are just maximizing our present potential to create the best possible future for ourselves and for our loved ones. Now who hasn’t said that same thing?

Why I mention this at all is that I was just reading a couple hypnosis/NLP books on incongruent behavior being a leading cause of why people can’t find a viable solution to their problems: with relationships, in careers, and in feeling that they have no sense of purpose to their lives. Both books’ premise was that these problems occur when people find their behaviors in conflict with their values.

Whenever we pit ourselves against ourselves, even unknowingly, we invite dysfunction and failure into our lives. We set ourselves up for dissatisfaction and unhappiness by failing to be true to who we are and what we believe about life in general.

The books suggested that people should “be true to their values and follow their hearts” to lead more satisfying and successful lives. Sounds like a familiar song, doesn’t it?

But what happens when the rain is falling and the wind is blowing, and your pockets are empty? Are you following your heart to the soup kitchen and the homeless shelter?

That is part of the problem with being true to our values: we don’t live in an ideal world that applauds that sort of thing. So we make choices in the moment. One choice leads to options in one direction, and one choice may lead in the other direction.

It’s that Robert Frost “Two roads diverged in a yellow woods…” dilemma. Which road do you take?

I think that is an important decision we all must make at some time in our lives, but hopefully we at least make it in full awareness of whether our hearts or our heads are leading the way.

However, that also means we must KNOW who we truly are and what we truly want from our lives to be able to recognize the difference between those two choices.

My suggestion: meditate, journal, and spend some quality time just getting to know yourself so you can determine what you DO truly value in your life.