Over the past week I have been reminded, on several occasions, of the importance of acceptance on the road to healing. Situations with friends, colleagues, clients, and life circumstances have echoed with reverberations of how holding on to fixed ideas about outcomes, trying to control things over which we have no power, and harboring negative or painful thoughts bring about suffering on every level.
While The Serenity Prayer has been used widely in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous circles, I feel that it is applicable to everyone who struggles with letting go from time to time, which, in my understanding includes everyone. Coming home to the wisdom of this simple yet meaningful prayer can be profoundly transforming when we incorporate it into our lives.
I recently read Thomas Moore‘s 1992 New York Times Bestseller, Care of the Soul. A great book about the loss of focus on the soul in modern times, this book is rich with ideas about the lack of imagination and reverence for the mystery of life that have contributed to this unfortunate state. Luckily, Moore also includes many ideas for restoration and ways in which we can reconnect with our Selves and our soul’s purpose. The above quote is just one of many that resonated with me in my reading… stay tuned as I am likely to share more words of wisdom from this book as I continue to let the ideas linger in my mind and soul. I highly recommend this book!
In my private psychotherapy practice in Asheville, NC, I incorporate the ideas and practices of transpersonal counseling. It is my greatest pleasure to work with individuals as they do the ‘soul’s work’ of discovering their own spirituality, learning to listen to and value one’s own intuition and imagery. Transpersonal encounters relate to those life experiences that transcend, or move us beyond, the individual human experience and relate to a larger sense of connection to others, nature, and the universe.
With Valentine’s only a day away, relationships have been this week’s trending topic online! The task of being in an intimate relationship is, I often say to my clients, one of the greatest challenges of our adult lives. We love to romanticize the act of coupling, but the reality, is that true intimacy can feel scary, shaky, and pretty damn un-sexy. We all have blind-spots, imperfections, and room for improvement. What follows is a compilation of some of my favorites from this past week’s web-surfing activities for your reading and watching enjoyment!
Last night I checked out Esther Perel’s The Secret to Desire In Long Term Relationship on Youtube after learning about her work in this NY Times article The Sexual Healer. Perel began her counseling career with a master’s degree in expressive arts and has, in recent years, refocused her energies toward studying sexuality in couples. What I love about Perel is her non-prescriptive way of posing the important questions and eliciting responses. The way in which she honors the mystery of sexuality and desire, exploring the duality and seeming contradictions in the nature of human wants and needs is a welcome change from the formulaic dispensing of information from a researcher that has found all the answers. Perel makes you think about yourself as a multidimensional, complex sexual being, and may even change the way you relate to your sexual Self.
This week I also learned of a college course entitled Marriage 101 being offered at Northwestern thanks to The Atlantic’s The First Lesson of Marriage 101: There are no Soul Mates. This immediately elicited college-nostalgia and the wish that I’d been able to take such a course as an undergrad! As part of the reading list, Perel’s 2006 book Mating in Captivity is read and the focus of the course is on experiential self-exploration, which was the main style of pedagogy at my own alma mater, John F. Kennedy University. I have found this approach to learning to be the most transformative method for students, as it enables them to incorporate the class material in a way that reading and writing alone just can’t do. Some of the main lessons covered in the class include:
Self-understanding is the first step to having a good relationship
You can’t avoid marital conflict, but you can learn how to handle it better
A good marriage takes skill
You and your partner need a similar worldview
Daily Relationship – I learned about Brendan and Juna’s work last year via Facebook. Both are graduates of the Hendricks Institute and residents in the lovely Marin County, CA, a place that I am lucky enough to have called my home for two years. On their website they share their successes and struggles with their own relationship, which I have found to be tremendously courageous and entirely relatable. With their videos and writings you can learn about some of their challenges from the early stages of their relationship to their more recent engagement. Their mutual commitment to honor all that arises for them as individuals in an intimate relationship is clearly evident in their own deep introspection, admissions of imperfection, and their ability to consistently shine the light of appreciation on one another and their union. Definitely check them out.
Feeling down, stuck in your own negative thinking or bad mood? Do something for someone else!
It may sound counter-intuitive, but volunteering when you are down in the dumps is a great antidote. Both in my own experience, and in talking with others about this phenomenon, I have discovered that doing something for someone else truly has a healing effect. There is something about getting out of your own head and routine and making yourself of service to others that seems to create space for some new, positive energy.
Now, studies have found that spending money on others also leads to increased feelings of happiness. So, it seems, if you’ve got time and/or money to spare, use it wisely, and it could be a great investment for yourself and for those around you!
As an Asheville Counselor, I often see individuals who are dealing with varying degrees of anxiety and depression. It is my belief that we all deal with these feelings, to some extent, in our individual life-spans. Both can be debilitating, constricting conditions which cause life to feel like an incredibly uncomfortable, even miserable experience.
Recently, I have come across two resources that both speak to these states of dis-ease. The first is a TEDxYouth talk, by 18 year old Kevin Breel, who delivers an insightful speech on depression: both his own struggle, and our struggle as a nation, in accepting and understanding this condition.
The second is a recent article that way published in the New York Times by ‘anxiety-blogger’ Daniel Smith. In it, Smith recounts the experience of Alice James, the writer who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1891 at the age of 42, and the impact that the diagnosis had on her twenty-year experience of anxiety. You can read the full article by clicking the link:
I think one of the most important things to understand about anxiety and depression is that we all deal with them at some point. Exploring your feelings and gaining a greater understanding of the root of these issues in a confidential space can be beneficial and lead to insight and new ways of operating in the world. It is an honor to provide counseling in a sacred space to individuals of all ages to work through the anxiety and depression that is preventing you from living a life you love.