Tag Archive | counseling

Mental Health Apps

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I recently had the honor of adding my two cents to a local CBS news station report on mental health apps. Here’s a link to the clip:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2017/06/29/mental-health-apps-for-that/

Although they’re not for everyone, especially when someone is in crisis, apps can help us become aware of what needs adjustment in our thinking and perceptions. When we pay attention to the emotional noise going on in our minds and make adjustments to our thinking and behaviors, we are one step closer to supporting our healing.

Are You a Pirate?

There is a fun song on the internet called “You Are a Pirate“. The words are:

Do what you want ‘cause a pirate is free

You are a pirate

Yar-har-fiddle-de-dee

Being a pirate is alright with me

Do what you want ‘cause a pirate is free

You are a pirate.

Repeat continuously, loop-style, ad nauseum.

The song originally comes from a children’s television program in which the town villain disguises himself as a pirate to lure the children away from their good behavior. He makes being a pirate sound fun with his happy pirate song and promises of freedom from discipline and rules. The children, of course, enthusiastically take their places as his crew mates. Who doesn’t want freedom?

On the spiritual path, one of the skills we learn is distinguishing between short-sighted egoic impulses and the true promptings of our soul. We start learning this by more closely observing the thoughts and feelings that arise and incite us to act. When our ego pulls us toward personality freedom, often it can excite us and feel good on a short-term basis. Ego pulls don’t take into consideration the needs of those around us or long-term consequences of our actions. We can liken this to the pirate from the song, and the children who happily followed along.

Soul freedom leads us toward greater responsibility for what is ours to do this lifetime. It also aligns us with our higher potential. Hmm…Not as enticing at first, is it?

Paramahansa Yogananda, the great Indian mystic, once said, “The mind is so powerful, it can make you taste salt and think it is sugar, and when you eat sugar, it can make you think you taste salt.” Our ego pulls are the salt that tastes sweet at first, but then we feel disappointed when we discover it wasn’t what was in our best interest. Our soul promptings taste a bit salty at first, but as we stick with them, how sweet it is! Everything flows better when we are aligned with our soul responsibilities!

How much time and energy do you spend following the piratey impulsiveness of your personality self? How long does that satisfy you?

The children who followed the pirate to his false “freedom” (and were subsequently captured) quickly learned that the rules they ran from actually provided structure so they could play more freely! Likewise, our intuition is there to help us learn the best structure and steps to take to free our souls from ego-captivity, allowing greater energy to flow into a more joyful expression of who we truly are!

Increase Body Awareness, Increase Intuitive Sense

Did you know that your body awareness has a great deal to do with your intuition?

Intuition is a higher expression of our emotional sensation and perception. While emotions are mixed in with our contradictory human issues, our intuition is free and clear, always speaking to us!

To increase our awareness of both our emotional and intuitive bodies, we can practice being aware of our physical bodies.

Here are a few ways to increase body awareness:

1. Physical movement: yoga, martial arts, walking, exercise of any kind

2. Mindfulness body scan

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breath)

Work with one or two of these daily to increase your body awareness as well as intuition!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW
http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/
Links to Body Scan and Breath exercises:
http://mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html

For more on Soul Evolution and intuition:
Center for Enlightenment
http://www.cfenlightenment.org
http://www.soulevolutionist.com

Commitment-phobe or Intuition?

Recently, I had the fun opportunity to write an article for Love Evolve and Thrive, a website dedicated to helping women with their relationships, personal growth and wellness. Click the paragraph for a link to the article:

Relationships, by nature, are going to push our buttons, trigger our insecurities, and demand that we get out of our comfort zone. How do we know when our fear is telling us to leave a relationship, and when it is a sign for deeper work?

love

Five Tools for Inner Housecleaning

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Spring cleaning is not just for Spring, or for your house! Here are five tools for your inner housecleaning that you can use daily, as needed, and enjoy the fresh air that peace of mind brings!

1. Meditate. For five minutes a day (at a consistent time and location), observe the thoughts that go through your mind. Don’t push them away, judge them, or feel ashamed; just notice what they are saying to you and let them pass.

2. Journal. Write about the time during the day when you felt frustrated, hurt, sad or angry. What were you feeling and thinking? Get to know your reactions and look for a pattern in them. Writing about your feelings can help you understand when to back off, and when to stand up for yourself.

3. Forgive. Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is an excellent forgiveness method. Unforgiveness balls you up in body, mind, and expression; while forgiveness frees you to experience more overall joy.

4. Use difficult people to learn about your hidden issues. Take that guy at the office that grinds you like fingers down a chalkboard. Get your journal and list all the qualities and behaviors about him that bug you. Ask yourself who this person represents to you. You can learn a lot about what is blocking you from your potential by embracing those you find difficult to be around. Forgive them even if you don’t know what it is that you don’t like. The health benefits of this action alone will be worth your effort.

5. Trust yourself above all others. There is no teacher, master, therapist, guru, or life coach out there who is any good unless they are telling you to listen to your own inner promptings. As you watch your own thinking and journal out your feelings, you will begin to understand more about who you are. This is a wonderful and scary thing! Trust that your inner wisdom will reveal itself and support you as you work to resolve fear and false beliefs.

Life Isn’t Solved by a Facebook Post

Did you grow up with platitudes that don’t seem to work in everyday life? Can you recognize them as you scroll through Facebook?

A platitude is a statement, usually with a moral message, that is used so frequently that it loses it’s true meaning.

Even though my family was part of a positive spiritual community, I still grew up with several platitudes that I eventually had to unlearn.

Anytime we receive advice from others, or see an inspiring message on social media, we need to still run it through our intuition: Is this right for me? Will it help me resolve and move forward from my present circumstance?

What platitudes have you evaluated and found to work only in certain circumstances?

Thanks for watching!
Lynn

P.S. You might also enjoy Discernment versus Judgment!

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Discernment versus Judgment

I hear from many people who worry overmuch that they are thinking or saying something judgmental, when in reality they are making a clear and healthy discernment regarding a person or situation.

In this video, I help define discernment–which is healthy and helps us make wise decisions–versus judging, which generates negative feelings and energy for everyone.

The questions to ask yourself when you are worried that you are feeling judgmental are:

  1. What is happening?
  2. What is my experience of what is happening?
  3. What can I do about it?

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences!

Take Time Apart

804972302Lately there has been much talk about how busy our lives are, the pull of technology, and the practice of connecting online more than in person.

Yet there is another practice that is emerging in the midst of busyness–electronic or otherwise: Realizing the importance of taking time away from it all! Meditation, yoga, sitting by the beach, and other forms of quiet time are finding their way into many people’s routine.

Sometimes clients share their involved story with me, then say, “I just don’t feel I am handling it well.” In most cases, they are handling the situation beautifully, but forgetting to handle themselves as conscientiously as the other people and events. I will gently reflect that perhaps instead of needing to do more, it is time to do less, to take time apart from the situation and renew themselves. Often this helps them see a situation anew.

What are some ways you renew yourself? Having a list of three or four things can help your renewal time feel fresh. Other people like their standby of one or two activities (or inactivities!). Taking a walk, listening to music, relaxing in a hammock, reading a book are other ways to take a vacation from busyness for a while.

I love riding my bike around a lake near our house. Biking has always been a refreshing activity for me—feeling the wind cooling me as I ride, looking at natural surroundings or pretty neighborhoods, and enjoying the exercise-induced invigoration when I’m done. My favorite trail is Busse Woods, passing the elk as I ride; but even shorter rides near home can feel like I was gone for hours!

If these activities still seem too time-consuming in your busy day, try taking two minutes two or three times throughout your day to breathe. Stop what you are doing and do some diaphragmatic breathing—breathing from your belly—in and out for two minutes. Try it right now…Refreshing, right?

There is always time to take time apart–and there is always the need to do so!

Look Who’s Talking Now

Stick Snake

A root I encountered which my mind reacted to as if it were a snake. Our minds are not always reliable upon first response!

At any given moment, there is a voice talking to you in your head. Maybe it’s a positive voice. Maybe it’s a negative voice. Maybe it’s a neutral, narrator, commenting on your every move. Do you notice it? It’s processing as you read this, maybe throwing in an opinion or two. What do you find it is saying to you right now?

That voice can be likened to the weather in the Midwest: If you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it will change.

To understand why this is so, let’s define a couple things. Your brain is the organ through that functions as the machine for many physical functions, thinking being only one of them. Your mind is how your consciousness moves energy through the brain in order to function in your life.

Your brain stores every experience you have had, ever, and the thoughts, decisions, attitudes, emotions, and opinions surrounding those experiences at the time that you made them. Some of those are well-outdated, yet there they are, in the storehouse of your brain’s memory.

Your mind, in its automatic, semi-conscious state, pulls up those memories, thoughts, decisions, attitudes, emotions, and opinions as it sees fit. In neutral times, those thoughts, etc, might be simply random. Other times, the mind is quite certain that the thought, emotion, opinion, etc, that it is pulling up is quite fitting for the situation at hand, even if it might not be helpful.

For example, think about what you think about while driving. Maybe you’re singing along with a song (lyrics pulled up from your brain’s memory). Maybe you are worrying about what just happened at work or with that family member; in which case, all past experiences, opinions, emotions having to do with that person, or someone very similar from your history, come up and invade your thoughts about the current situation. This adds confusion to the current situation: Are you really upset at the thing that just happened, or is that thing not so bad, but it is reminding you of that other thing that happened, so the negative thoughts and strong emotion are actually coming from some previous experience, being dumped onto the current one? Probably both, but the current situation is getting the brunt of the past, unresolved emotion.

That little example holds about five topics of discussion; but for this article, let’s simply understand that the mind has a mind of its own, and a lot more is going on than you are often aware of.  In fact, there are many voices in your head, and often they have competing opinions and perspectives! You’ve probably heard someone say, “The committee in my head is arguing about this.”

What can you do about that mind that can be so unruly?

Notice it, step back from it, wait a few minutes and it will change.

Notice it. You can’t be in charge of that unruly inner voice unless you are aware of what it’s doing in there. Take a few breaks during the day to check in and listen to what it’s saying to you. Is it positive? Critical? Sad? Afraid? Numb?

Step back from it. Listen with compassion and non-judgment; be the observer of it. Cup both hands together and hold them in front of you. Pretend that the thoughts and feelings going through your mind are in your cupped hands. Since they are now outside of your head, watch them like a scientist watches her experiment with curiosity, not knowing what exactly is going to happen. What do you see happening with those thoughts and feelings?

Wait a few minutes and it will change. As you observe the contents of your mind, they will inevitably shift and change. See how long you can hold them before they morph into something else. How long does it take? Five minutes? Twenty? Three? One? This is a great practice in not taking your thoughts too seriously. Just because it is wafting through your mind doesn’t make it true.

This simple process is helpful especially when big emotions are on the surface. As you observe and wait patiently and compassionately through the wave of emotional dialogue and felt sensations, you will feel yourself rise above it into a clearer thinking space. As you practice with this, your conscious self moves into more of a leadership role in the mind/brain process. You can be more in charge of who’s talking to you, who gets the promotion, and which voice gets phased out.

Who’s talking within you?

Let Your Emotions Teach You

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Let’s face it, most of us were not adequately taught how to handle our emotions while growing up. Depending on your upbringing, emotions were overlooked, at best; forbidden, at worst; and everything in between. We were not taught how to use our emotions for the best interest of our emotional maturing and spiritual awakening.

We humans are naturally wired for wanting to hang out with good feelings all day long, and avoid feeling bad. Yet our emotions are here to stay for a while, and are actually incredible signs for how to embrace a better way of navigating life!

No one loves to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or afraid. But what if those emotions that we avoid are trying to help us wake up? What if, beyond the physical experience of the emotion, there is a message that is trying to come through? What if there is a slight shift we could make that would bring new understanding, perspective, or positive change?

When we try to avoid feeling an emotion that we judge as “negative”, we are only adding energy to it, and stuffing it back into our subconscious for it to resurface with a vengeance down the road. Fun stuff (not). Allowing an emotion to arise and BE, without getting lost in it, being the curious watcher of it, will allow the message to surface.

How do we let uncomfortable feelings just BE?

1. Notice when you are feeling something. This is not always as easy as it sounds! Our emotions usually have a physical counterpart: butterflies in your stomach, achy shoulders, increased heartbeat, et cetera. The more you pay attention to this body/emotion connection, the more you get to know how and when your emotions are expressing through you.

2. Listen to the emotion. Observe it with compassion, curiosity, and acceptance, like you are watching the wind blowing leaves on a tree. What is it showing you?

3. Determine whether you really need to do something about this feeling. Questions to ask to help you determine this are:

  • Did my emotion dissipate on its own?
  • Am I still feeling the emotion physically?
  • Is there a new perspective I can take that will calm me?
  • Do I need to do some deeper work on this? Forgiveness, grieving, self-acceptance?

Our emotional maturity and spiritual awakening rely on the effort we make toward learning more about what is going on inside our minds and hearts. The more we allow space for our emotions—the fun and not so fun ones!—the more efficiently we can move through them! Give it a try!