March 4, 2011
posted by Admin

Do you wake up in the morning filled with dread or a quiet terror that the day is starting? Do you think it will pass if you jump out of bed and start your day? Or are you more likely to cover your head with the blankets or pillow and hoping and pretending that the morning has not quite arrived yet? Do you fear going to a party or traveling in unknown places? Do you fear new situations or illness or bugs? All of these fears can be generally listed under “anxiety.” The way I look at it you are either an anxious person or you are not. So for all of those anxious people out there…the reality is if you “cope” translate
“live with” your anxiety here are a list of antidotes that I recommend you try. None of these are new ideas, as I don’t believe I have to re-invent the wheel. But these are tried and true ways of correcting or distracting oneself from one’s own worries. This is not a complete list. But pick out one activity and run an experiment on yourself. You don’t even have to tell your therapist you are doing it. Just pick out one and try it.

So here’s the list to combat stress and anxiety and worries or whatever ails you in that category.

1. Relaxation Exercises: this is includes visualization, guided imagery and providing a safe place for your body and brain to relax for a short period. The goal is to slow down your breathing.

2. Breathing. Try taking a breath, long and slow. And then take another. Try to slow your breathing down breath by breath!

3. Take a beginning yoga class locally. Try a community yoga class.

4. Meditate! Put aside 5 minutes at night or first thing in the morning to sit still and listen to your breathing and clearing your mind!

5. Try to be creative. Paint, draw, sing, play an instrument, sculpt, mold. Do something that makes you feel highly inventive.

6. Learn how to relax your muscles. Lie down and as you follow your breath, scan your body with your mind’s eye and relax each area of your body section by section.

7. Plan a week or a weekend away! Don’t break the bank! Make it simple! Enjoy!

8. Listen to music that sings to your heart and calms your brain.

9. Find a pet and pet it! This experience releases endorphins that make us feel better.

10. When was the last time you experienced the feeling of getting your hands dirty in great, rich soil? Planting anything will ground you to the earth and return you to your rightful self.

11. Massage – We don’t utilize this approach to healing enough. One good massage can cure, and I mean cure a list of ills including our anxious self. If all you can handle is a sit-up back massage, try it. But it must be with trained someone that you can consistently trust.

12. Biofeedback.

13. Is the same old schedule boring you? Change it up….throw in a lunch with a friend or take an unplanned 20 minute walk.

14. When was the last time you walked through nature? No explanation needed here.

15. Practice Gratitude. Thank someone for something!

16. Practice Forgiveness. Whatever hurt you are holding onto is preventing you from living the rest of your life.

17. Water, water, water! Swimming in it, dreaming about it, walking along it… all good!

This list is not complete in and of itself. Certainly, professionals can medicate all of us into comatose states if that is what is needed. We need to discipline ourselves to utilize other natural means available to us. Happy searching for what works!

Finding that which brings us peace

February 5, 2011
posted by Admin

We are so accustomed to attaining a certain predictable control over our daily lives through all four seasons and their varying changes of weather, that we are deluded into thinking that we have full control over our daily lives. In this severe winter of snow, wind, ice and rain, we are not as in control as we think we are. Mother Nature has emerged as our life coach. And she is teaching us how we are not “in charge.” She and her cohorts, Inclement Weather, humble us each time! At the start of our busy, active day, we are unable to guarantee things, our schedule, delivery of services, and or our plans. We are totally dependent on the whims of Mother Nature. Whether we acknowledge it or not, our struggle for control this winter is with Her.
As we try to accommodate Mother Nature’s Will, we apparently experience a battle within ourselves. The more that Mother Nature tries to slow us down; the more we turn our energies to override her!. We try to keep up with what we have planned for the day or week only to know that it will collapse and that we will have to give-up what we want for something else. What happens if we stop the battle? What happens if we don’t heed Mother Nature’s message?
If we stop the battle, we can then turn to the Wisdom of Mother Nature. This is a time of hibernation and turning inward… a time of rest and restoration….a time of reflective listening to ourselves and those we live with….a time of spiritual hopefulness. If we just are able to let go of our attachment to activities and our self-imposed pace of life and focus on staying still within ourselves and listening to our own intuitive voice, we may just be able to renew and rejuvenate, restore and re-create, re-charge our bodies as well as our minds and hearts. Turning inward implies finding that which brings us peace. Maybe we have our priorities all wrong!

Valuing relationships before they end

January 25, 2011
posted by Admin

Today, I said goodbye to someone I love. It was very painful but mostly my heart ached. I felt for both of us as she granted me this last goodbye hug. I had expected this move…the sudden withdrawal….not returning phone calls. I knew that the separation was imminent and now it was here!
Up to now, I had never really thought about the natural cycle of a relationship. To take the step of loving another human is risky! Now, once I stepped out into loving someone and I am committed in a relationship, there is a beginning, middle and end to a relationship. At the start of the relationship, we often don’t realize this. We are flooded with feelings of curiosity and excitement about the other. We believe and hope that this beginning can last forever. We trick ourselves into thinking and believing that this is the way I should feel when I am with this person. We feel nourished when we are with this person, male or female, it doesn’t matter. Oh, our expectation that suspends us through the air of possibilities! But then, we are forced to view the reality, the limitations of time and space – the limitations of our simple, human condition. It is certainty that all relationships will come to an end!
We plead with our God, the Universe, Mother Nature to keep the love energy flowing between me and the other – that our relationship with the one we love will never end. But, of course, it must! When this happens, we are heart-broken!
It is the heart break that draws us to appreciate the middle, which most of us would agree is the daily, hum-drum part of the relationship. We also know in our heart of hearts, that this is the staple, the life-blood of any relationship. It’s like licking the cream out of an ordinary, yet quite extraordinary Oreo cookie! If we could enjoy the day to day with those we profess to love, the way we enjoy that Oreo cream, the quality of our lives would be vastly improved!

Active Tolerance

January 18, 2011
posted by Admin

Today was a typical day in my life. I grabbed my cup of coffee and sat down to read the New York Times. After reading the lead article, the title of which is not important, I can’t help but reflect on the polarization of our country and people. I am infinitely sad at the way my country is so polarized; the way that people are so angry. By highlighting differences, the average politician winds up inciting anger in his constituents. The result is confusion and upset in the minds of all citizens.
Politicians want to seek solutions. I get that! It is tempting for all of us to seek easy solutions. Find what you think is right, stick to it, and then categorize all other points of view as wrong! This standard black and white thinking reduces our struggle towards compromise and fully understanding other points of view. It feeds into a false belief that if we think that we are right, we are safe. But, it seems to me that we have shoved our fear into a box and covered it over with our anger towards opposing points of view. It doesn’t matter if this is left- right; liberal-conservative; Democrat or Republican. We are all entering into this kind of thinking that separates us from our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. We become more and more isolated from each other and fearful.

Does everything in this country come down to right and wrong? Are we that frightened of each other?

We will never truly know who is right or wrong in the way that we think or believe. We will never live in a world where everyone agrees with us. No matter what we believe, there will always be others who believe that we are wrong. We will not be able to exist or to create a future without the collective efforts and talents of all of our citizens, those that we think are right and those that we think are wrong.
In the end we will have to forgive those that are different from us if we are to heal and move on as a country. What is happening in our nation right now is important! We need to pay attention to our anger, fear and helplessness. In reading the paper today, I came across this quote:
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope……Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” Reinhold Niebuhr
May the New Year bring you peace!

No act of love…..

December 25, 2010
posted by Admin

We wanted to take this special time of year to remind all of us that: “No act of love, however small, is ever wasted!” Aesop May your holidays and New Year be filled with peace and joy and of course, great love. Dr Pat and Jed

Keeping the holiday peace within

December 8, 2010
posted by Admin

The holidays are a time when we reminisce; we take stock of where we have been in the past year and maybe, where we might be going. We celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died. We tend to re-commit to a new habit, plan, and resolve once again to do something different this coming year. However, as we rush around and buy gifts and decorate and purchase special foods, where is our mind? Where is our person? Where are we? Are we simply marching to the steps of the generation before us and holding to tradition mindlessly? Or is there perhaps a different way of “spending the holidays”, then striving for that perfect dinner or forgetting about everything and rushing off to vacation someplace warm? Are we paying attention to developing peace within ourselves?
Now, as a mental health professional, I could outline steps to get us to slow down, but the truth is we each have to see the need to slow down and want to slow down. Providing “steps” for any of us is simply an excuse to continue our rushing around and fitting stuff (gifts and activities) into our already overcrowded lives. No! “Steps” are not the answer!
So…it comes down to making a decision, to put aside daily time to take a walk in the cold weather, get up ten minutes earlier than normal, or sit by a fire. That is what it takes to search and find the gift within each of us.

Forgiveness and Compassion

November 29, 2010
posted by Admin

On Thursday morning I attended a United Nations celebration of the one year anniversary of The Charter For Compassion honoring Karen Armstrong. As you may know, I was invited by my friend and partner, Fred Luskin. I sat and listened carefully to all of the speakers. The theme that stood out in my mind is this: Forgiveness and compassion in the abstract doesn’t work.
Forgiveness and compassion cannot just be ideals that we try to attain, but rather they must be practiced in a daily way. When Fred spoke he referred to the Forgiveness training program as a model for interpersonal healing through forgiveness which is very much a part of compassion. Fred explained that forgiveness is a central part of the cultivation of compassion because forgiveness brings us back to our heart, the seat of compassion.
Our practice must begin by loving and being patient and kind to the individuals that are closest to us, those we live and work with daily. If we are to take forgiveness and compassion seriously, we must allow ourselves to become vulnerable with those we live with. Becoming vulnerable naturally brings about honesty in a relationship. Honesty is a magical energy that purifies our minds and souls. Honesty allows us to be real with those we love and therefore, we live more truly in our own skin!
I feel strongly with Forgiveness and Compassion when it is rooted in living, struggling, suffering people because that is who we are! “World peace must rest on the solid foundation of love between individuals.” Gandhi. It is this individual focus which makes forgiveness and compassion more believable to me.

Losing a pair of earrings…

November 22, 2010
posted by Admin

I lost my favorite pair of earrings. They were gold leaves connected to a single beautiful real pearl and anchored by a tiny clump of jade. They were so pretty and handmade by an artist in SoHO…therefore a one of kind piece! My husband bought them for me on a spontaneous, romantic jaunt to the city. At first, I thought I could locate them, somehow, but as hours passed, the truth of the matter had settled in and I was heart broken. Then, within twenty four hours, I had lost my inhaler and my favorite black golfing jacket. Again, I searched and searched and again to my dismay, I couldn’t locate either. So, I resigned myself to re-order the inhaler and to skip on the jacket until I play golf again, sometime in the spring. Disappointed and despairing, I was angry at myself and unable to “let up” on myself, at all. I turned to my piano for comfort. Practicing only distracted me; as soon as I finished I was in my sad, sorry state of upset. I told myself that I was careless; I didn’t care much about my things; I didn’t pay attention to the details in life. It may sound dumb, but I was heartbroken over these losses. I understood that I was much more attached to objects than I had realized.
Later that weekend, on an unusually cold Sunday morning, when my body was tired and I didn’t want to relinquish the ease and warmth of my bed, I had a strange, out-of-the-box thought. A tiny voice in my head said “Pat, the first part of your life, you collect and the second part, you let go!” Realizing that I was clearly into my second half of life, I was titillated by this thought from beyond my consciousness. I pulled myself to wake up more fully. I felt a tug of war go on in my mind: One end there was the ghost of fogginess; the other end serene clarity!
During the day I contemplated on the idea of “letting go of things,” I experienced myself as less confused and more still inside. It is time to “not collect” things. It is a time to be open to other ways of comfort other than what I have known.
Knowing that I take everything to an extreme, I asked myself, does that mean food should no longer be a comfort? Should I put myself on a diet purchasing beautiful romantic earrings? Should I sell my golf clubs? (You know, the clubs that went along with the lost jacket) These questions were enough for me to run to grab my inhaler, which as you will recall, I have lost and need to replace. Calming myself down, I realized that it means something simpler. Something that is like self-forgiveness, you know…where the mental attitude is one of taking myself off the hook of perfection and materialistic neediness. Instead of anxiously moving in the direction of control; move in the direction of letting go! Releasing! Giving in! Not having control over every detail. It is time to let go of different objects and expectations that I carried around the first half of my life. That in the tiny ways that life reminds us, letting go is the process of seeking peace!

Forgiveness at the United Nations!

November 13, 2010
posted by Admin

I (Jed) was transformed four years ago at a conference on Forgiveness presented by Fred Luskin, Ph.D. I took an instant liking to Fred and found his work simpatico with my philosophy of life. I learned a great deal about the method and details of forgiveness from Fred. I had an instinctive feeling that I was at the beginning of an important journey.
I hunger to share this journey with you and others. Once I studied and learned the forgiveness methodology, I presented forgiveness with Fred. Out of this friendship, we formed The Forgive for Good Center for Forgiveness Education and have been training others to teach Forgiveness to their communities. We now have in operation a certified forgiveness training program and have proudly graduated three classes. Today, hundreds of psychotherapists from various disciplines have incorporated this forgiveness methodology into their clinical practices.
On a personal note, I have found that when I forgive, anyone even for the smallest offense, I am significantly healed and the world feels more open and accepting. Forgiveness has not ended my suffering, but it has enabled me to ease my mind and body, so that I am not dominated by past, personal hurts. For me, forgiveness leads to compassion for self and others and eventually to Peace.

Recently, Fred called me to let me know that he had been invited to speak on Compassion at an event called The TEDPrize@UN which will celebrate the one year anniversary of the Charter for Compassion. This event will take place on November 18th, from 11a.m. to 1p.m. at The United Nations and will be broadcast on a special Webcast.
I felt honored that Fred would invite me to this event as his guest. I am so grateful to be a part of this momentous work. I want to share this with all of you! I hope you will get a chance to view the Webcast
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about it.


Feeling overwhelmed?

November 7, 2010
posted by Admin

OMG! It has been almost three weeks since I have blogged! I have committed a grave sin. I know that in order for a blog to get acceptance from you the reader- visitor, I must blog like my life depends upon it! However the truth is that I am overwhelmingly busy. First, there were all of these family obligations…you know the kind that if say “No can’t make it!” you may never see that person again. Then, the computer and billing system failed! Can’t have a business without those two things working properly! Then, our beloved, Vicky, who takes care of every practical detail in our lives, took a surprise trip to her native country. Yikes!
What do you do when you are so overwhelmed that you can hardly function without worrying every second? (With the holidays coming up…this is an excellent question.) It took me awhile to figure out the answer.
The Answer is Breathe!
That’s it…that’s the answer! Breathe!
BREATHE! Inhale and Exhale! Slowly! One deep, long, slow breath at a time! Don’t worry you are not going to fall into a hypnotic state or lose your edge! Just listen to your breath. Breathing in and Breathing out!
What does this have to do with feeling overwhelmed? Breathing forces us to slow down and BE in the present moment! It just does! If you take 5 breaths …say inhaling and exhaling, one complete breathing cycle, breathing 5 times a day, throughout your day….starting with waking up and ending with going to sleep at night and you actually pay attention to the feeling of breathing….Your life will begin to feel more manageable and it is this feeling that will help you tap into a sense of being thankful that you are even alive!