A Shift in Perception
"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down." -- Lily Tomlin
Words are only pointers. Every person will interpret them differently.The following is an attempt to communicate my understanding and how this informs the work with you. Of course, every client's situation will be different, and no two sessions are ever alike.
If this page sounds like nonsense (and there's a good chance it will!), we probably won't be a good fit. If you are curious or have additional questions, please send me an email. If you resonate with the words on this page, there's a good chance we will work well together.
The most important thing you can do is show up for your appointment. This is often the most challenging step. Once you allow your mind and body to settle into the session, you have already-whether you know it or not-set the course toward more peace in your life.
As soon as we decide to be present with ourselves, however, all of our hindrances (traumas, fears, doubts, cravings) will be there to greet us. The way home is through the hindrances, which is the opposite of what we have been conditioned to do for most of our lives. It's not a personal pathology, it's biology; all living organisms naturally resist pain and seek pleasure!The challenge is that life contains both pain and pleasure, and most of us only want the pleasure part.
Pain is inevitable...Suffering is optional. Pain x Resistance = Suffering.
If we are going to welcome and learn from our hindrances (pain), we must feel relaxed enough to do so. This is why I recommend taking some time to find a supportive counselor who you feel comfortable with. As a person-centered counselor, my approach is sincere, welcoming, supportive, and deeply sympathetic to our common humanity. My practice also incorporates mindfulness meditation training, to help you widen your window of tolerance in stressful circumstances.
Counseling helps us understand why we suffer. Many of us are moving in an unskillful direction, or what I like to call "The Self-Improvement Hamster Wheel." This comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of who we are. A core issue for most of us comes from the thoughts and perhaps more significantly, the feelings that we are not good enough, and that something is wrong with us.
This belief is established early in life and reinforced over the decades. We are taught to compare ourselves to others and to believe that we will only be ok if and when certain circumstances and conditions are met. All our energy goes into trying to control life and lock it down in some way. But if we know that everything is in constant flux, and we are basing our happiness on something that is impermanent, doesn't this seem like a setup from the start?
*Please note: I am not suggesting that we don't take action or engage in activities to improve our lives and the lives of others. What I am suggesting is that we be clear about where our actions are coming from. Are we reacting out of conditioned fear and resistance to what is happening? Or are we responding from a place of wisdom, and from the natural response of the heart to the present situation.*
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." --Viktor Frankl
It only takes a flash of insight to see through the illusion that we are separate. Like the Buddha upon his awakening, we too can discover that we are worthy and inherently loved, simply because we are here. We are not separate from anything. This is not new age mumbo-jumbo. This is what modern science confirms and what the sages have pointed to for centuries. Our natural functioning (breathing, seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, tasting) is the only evidence we need. Take a moment to ask yourself, maybe with your eyes closed, what is animating my body right now?
Meditation to Help Integrate Insights
Seeing the truth of our nature is an important step on the path. It is incredibly freeing, but before we know it, our ego and all of its tricks will quickly reform itself into the sense of being a small, fearful self that needs something to be different. We may find ourselves reacting even more strongly to discomfort than we have in the past.
A Zen master on her deathbed says to a student: "I'm doing just fine with the dying process, but my body is having a hard time catching up with this understanding." The teacher in this situation is being honest about the fact that just because we understand something, it doesn't mean we suddenly start feeling or behaving differently. Like a car going 120 mph, it doesn't suddenly stop just because you take your foot off the accelerator.
Guided meditations during the counseling process are designed to help gradually realign your experience of the mind, body and world with your deeper insights. It is these exercises that help you to feel your interconnectedness with everything. If we only think we are connected (and live our lives quoting mantras such as "be in the now" or "we are all one"), while not really understanding and feeling it, we become blinded by more dogma and this ultimately leads to what is known as spiritual bypassing. My hope is that you will live your life more fully and engaged, rather than aloof and "protected" by beliefs.
How can you be out of "the now?"
"We are all one" is a contradiction.
With sincerity, a willingness to say "yes" to whatever arises, and rigorous honesty (like our Zen teacher mentioned above), you may start to travel lighter, be more at ease around others, and let go of judgments that are causing you to suffer.
At some point in the work with me, you will realize that anything I can offer is already within you, and our work will naturally come to a close. You will then, hopefully, continue to enjoy a life rich with exploration into what it is to be alive.
"It's dangerous to be peace, because you have to stop fixing yourself, and maybe you're not perfected yet. The danger is that you will be as you are, not as you think you should be."
"The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After being disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything."
--Jesus in The Gospel of Thomas
"The recognition of our true nature of ever-present, unlimited Awareness is instantaneous or, more accurately, timeless. The realignment of our thoughts, feelings, activities, perceptions and relationships with this understanding, is endless."