Why Men Often Wait to the Last Minute to Save their Marriages

 

a6a6d-thecorlessfamilyfall2016-29About the author: Valerie Abitbol, LMFT, owner of Flow Counseling, PLLC  received her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University. She is a counselor and therapist in Denver, Colorado who specializes in couples and  women dealing with major life transitions. We have re-posted an article from her blog here.

 

What Happened When You Stopped Fighting

Did you know that over 2/3 of divorces are initiated by women?

Photo by Charlie Foster on Unsplash

You’ve had it. It’s been months or even years that you have given up on the relationship and have been slowly preparing your exit. You’ve reached a state of status quo in the relationship; no real interactions, just a few words exchanged to deal with the logistics of living together.

At some point, you stopped complaining about the relationship. You’ve grieved on your own, while your partner didn’t have a clue. I know, it may seem hard to believe that your partner didn’t read the signs and realize you were checking out, and yet most of the time, that’s the case.

When you stopped fighting for, and about, the relationship, your partner took it as a sign that everything was OK again. It may sound shocking, but bear with me.

The Bomb and It’s After Effects

Maybe in the past couple of years you went back to school, got a job, or even met someone new. Whatever action you took, you found something that helped you cope with your pain, loneliness and hopelessness about the relationship. You found something or someone that helped you feel alive, valued, loved, and feel good about yourself.

cry-2673270_1920And here you are, finally ready to end it and move on with your life. At this point, I’m not sure who’s in shock the most: your partner who thinks you just dropped a bomb and who feels completely blindsided; or you, for not believing that he didn’t see this ending coming, considering you had told him over and over how upset and unhappy you were (prior to reaching the “status quo” stage).

This bomb is a huge wake-up call for your partner, but for you it seems too late. Maybe it upsets you even more to see your partner making all these incredible efforts to salvage your relationship. Why now, when you’re already on the way out?

You don’t even want to believe that these efforts could make a difference. You may even think that he’s trying to manipulate you, that he sounds fake, and that as soon as you give in and agree to stay in the relationship, he will go back to be less caring, loving, and ignore you again.

You have every reason to doubt his good intentions. After all, you’ve had months or years of feeling lonely, unloved, unimportant, so why would you trust him?

Caution is definitely important, and I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to protect your heart and your overall wellbeing.

However, if you’re even the slightest bit open to the possibility of making your relationship work, here’s what you should know about men. [And granted that I’m generalizing here of course, and that at times the situation could be reversed.]

Considering the Possibilities

people-2598196_1920

According to Michelle Weiner-Davis, “The Divorce Buster”, women tend to communicate better with words while men are more action-oriented. So when you keep using words to explain to your partner that you’re unhappy, that you want things to change, he can hear it up to a certain extend, but it doesn’t always fully sink in.

Now, when you decide to leave, ask for a divorce or move in with someone else, you’re in the realm of actions and that’s something men get a lot more easily. That’s when they really listen, and they are willing to DO anything to make it work. Whether it’s spending more time together, stop unhealthy habits, going to see a couples therapist, working less, retiring… you name it, the impossible becomes possible.

You see that your partner is really trying, but your fears and grief may get in the way of being open and giving the relationship another chance.

Of course, there is no guarantee it would even work. However, know that this is really typical and that your partner will often do the work to change, and that if you don’t give it a try, the next person he will meet will benefit from the change, which you will probably resent as well.

junction-2156349_1920So you’re at a crossroad, but know it’s not too late for you to try to save your marriage or relationship – if you’re open to it.

Find some professional support to help you navigate this major transition, and process all the thoughts, beliefs and emotions that come along with it.

 

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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The Dreams We Dream: The Benefit of Digging in as a Tool in Psychotherapy

imgres-200x200Creative expression and psychotherapy go hand in hand, particularly in the fields of Transpersonal and Jungian psychology. Courses in the ITP at Sofia U doctoral program , such as the Psychology of Dreams taught by Dr. Stanley Krippner include archetypal influences in dream interpretation, the physiology of sleep and dreams, daydreams, and nightmares.

FB Animoto photosProfessor Emerita, Dr. Jill Mellick, who has been in private practice as a Jungian-oriented psychologist in Palo Alto for over twenty years and directed and taught Creative Expression in the masters and doctoral programs at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, also worked with dreams in her book “The Art of Dreaming: Tools for Creative Dream Work.” In this book she asks readers to think about how you enter the dream world and how you can you merge your dreams with creative expression.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

We asked our students to take a moment to think about how dream work fits into their lives or even the lives of others. Here are some of their responses. What would you say?

 

“I have been an avid dreamer from a very young age. I find that my relationship to the realm of dreams is often as deep as waking reality, if not more so. I find support, questions, communication with my ancestors, symbolism, prophetic vision, melding of the worlds, and communing with spirit (and the deepest part of myself and my psyche) through this symbiotic relationship. I look forward to diving, ever deeper, as I walk through the remainder of my life.” – Sarah

Jungsm“I attribute all of my successes in life to my dream work from a Jungian perspective, which I was introduced to in my early 20s. I am in agreement with Dr. Russell Lockhart, that “everything has a secret soul,” (Psyche Speaks, pg 14), and I believe our dreams, if we listen, guide us like our own North Star, connecting us to that collective soul, and providing a “map” to show us the way back home to the Self.

Though I’ve been working with dreams for over two decades, it was Dr. Lockhart just this year, who introduced me into the notion that the dream is “just so,” and I can go much deeper by “allowing” myself to “experience” the Dream, rather than “interpret” the dream, and in this way, “take communion.” As such, a result of these encounters, I am open to exploring various Jungian approaches to the dream, that I will be able to use in my own work in the future as I’m beginning a counseling Psychology program this fall, with a focus on depth Psychology.” – Tanya

“I recently started working on allowing myself to have more lucid dreams. It has been fun. It’s almost like creating a small movie for yourself out of your own life every night, and you don’t know what to expect. Traditionally in my culture we didn’t like to dream. I used to always associate dreams with nightmares. But now I am enjoying the freedom to allow my hidden thoughts to come out.” Ting

“I love discussing and exploring my dreams with others after recording them in a notebook, looking over the themes in a dream interpretation source and connecting my dreams with my waking life. This has been a self learning process for me and I have never explored my dreams with a clinician or clients I have worked with. Although it is something I would enjoy delving into with clients.” Sabra

imagination-2699130_1920“The concept of language and what is seeking to be communicated equates to the symbolism behind truth, and that which seeks to be expressed. Truth is the consistent underlying factor behind the subconscious realm of the mind body and spirit. Everything we experience is emblematic in divine language. The projective force of truth is the very essence of universal communication. As we begin to co-create a relationship between ourselves and our truth we start to ask ourselves, are we being honest?

So much of illness and imbalance lies within what lies dormant, stagnant and residual calcified energy, energy that houses our well being, that seeks to move forward and expand and ascend in consciousness. In dreams our subconscious communicates. Patterns emerge that can only be interpreted by our own truth. These are valuable channels of healing and awareness that live in dreams and intuition, channels that seek to carry that energy forward into our waking lives.

Indigenous Toltec philosophy believes our entire life is a dream and our dreams are our reality. If this is true then are our experiences are “access points” towards a universal body consciousness. It’s a mirror of un-foldment to induce all the truth in knowing. Dreams can offer such a reflection …. the best part is this subconscious infinite well of truth is communicating whether we are awake or asleep. ” Kris

people-2562024_1920“I find dream work quite fascinating and to be one of my favorite therapy approaches. I have tried dream works as an experiment on myself before after attending the Dream interpretation in Spring intensive 2016 at Sofia University. I find using art expression to be one of the most helpful ways to express out my dreams and then to observe my art work to find the story my unconscious has tried to reveal about myself in my dream.

Using dream works has helped me discover and become aware of a lot of inner issues from my sub-conscious that I have been unaware about before, which has then helped me grow more as a person. Hence, from my own personal experience, I can tell that dream works can be very beneficial in various well-being practices such as psychotherapy, counseling, substance abuse, PTSD therapy, etc.” Sneja

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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The Secret to Building Trust Lies in the Unspoken: Train Leadership in Your Body Language

Rachel Tegano, M.A. has spent the past 12 years using her academic and professional expertise in psychology to help individuals and organizations optimize their interaction with each other. She holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University and completed her clinical training in neuropsychology at Stanford University and somatic psychology at The Hakomi Institute. We have re-posted her blog on Building Trust here.

The Secret to Building Trust Lies in the Unspoken


Great leaders empower those around them by creating a sense of trust that many of us find elusive.  When people on your team feel safe and seen, they’re able to present an authentic picture of themselves and their situation, and consequently, take risks, grow and develop, and to do their best work. So how do great leaders build this sort of trust?

Researchers have found that nonverbal communication can account for as much as 93% of communication. You might be surprised to learn that the secret to building trust lies in things unspoken. In fact, the key to creating an authentic and deep connection with your team is grounded in effective nonverbal communication — in your body language, the tone of your voice, and the manner in which you speak (far less than what you actually say). Studies have shown that the majority of communication is actually non-verbal. In fact, researchers have found that nonverbal communication can account for as much as 93% of communication, depending on the topic matter. As it turns out, gaining the trust of others comes from what you are communicating when you’re not saying anything at all.The good news is that being a skillful non-verbal communicator is something you can learn through practice. Here are three strategies to help you improve this essential leadership practice.

Step 1:  Explore your own non-verbal communication

attractive-woman-2722932_1920The first step to becoming a great non-verbal communicator is to recognize that you already have a non-verbal communication style, even if you aren’t sure what it is. We all start life communicating through sound and movement before we acquire words; we cry when we need our diaper changed, or put our arms out when we want to be picked up and held. These and many other gestures are the early foundation blocks of how we still communicate at a nonverbal level when we become adults.

Becoming aware of our current style of nonverbal communication is essential to making it more effective. Here is a simple exercise to help you better understand your non-verbal communication style. First, identify two different people in your life: someone you feel comfortable and at ease communicating with, and someone you struggle to connect with or feel less confident interacting with. The next time you are speaking with each of them, ask yourself these questions:

  • What was my tone of voice?
  • How was the pace and volume of my speech?
  • How was my posture?
  • Was there any tension in my body, and if so, where?
  • Did I use any specific mannerisms?
  • What physical gestures did I make?

In this first step, it’s important to not change anything about how you normally interact; your goal is to paint an accurate picture of yourself before you start making adjustments. Simply observe your behavior while you’re speaking, and note your reaction to the other person’s communication.Once you’ve collected data from both of these situations (i.e., interacting with these two different people), compare the data. Notice the subtle differences in your own non-verbal communication style in each situation, and begin to make yourself  aware of which of these elements are consistent patterns across multiple interactions.By trying out this exercise, you are developing a crucial aspect of self-awareness which will be essential to gaining control over your own communication style, so that you can later be more effective in using non-verbal communication to deliberately build trust in your relationships with your teammates.

Step 2:  Recognize the nonverbal communication of others

wings-1940245_1920Being an excellent non-verbal communicator isn’t just about understanding your own style and being able to modulate and control it. It also requires developing an awareness of how others are communicating, so that you can see what they are trying to say “between the lines,” and adjust your own style to better connect with them.The exercise in this step is a straightforward extension of the previous one.

Repeat the exercise above, but this time, focus on the person you are interacting with, and their non-verbal communication style. Take note of their tone of voice, posture, and body language, just as you did above for yourself.

Now you are in a position to find some interesting insights. Compare your own non-verbal communication style with that of your interlocutors. Chances are, you’ll find similarities between your communication style and that of the person you feel a connection with; while you find discrepancies between your style and that of the person you struggle to connect with. Why is that?

The simple explanation is that familiarity creates trust. Recognizing elements of another person’s behavior helps us feel kinship with their character and a sense of empathy with their experience. Cross-cultural communication shows how challenging diverse styles can be for establishing a sense of connection; while a sensitivity to the nuances of communication within a culture help to deepen intra-group bonds and understanding. As a result, it’s natural that we will feel greater connection with those people whose communication style is similar to our own.Now that we have observed this pattern in action, we can use these fundamental insights to improve our relationships with our teammates.

Step 3:  Adjust your communication to unlock connections with others

Human beings are biologically equipped to be natural empathizers, so long as we don’t let our own habitual patterns of communication get in the way.

in-love-2503412_1920The key to establishing a sense of familiarity with someone is finding that connection between your nonverbal communication styles.The biological mechanism behind this process is the operation of mirror neurons.

Have you seen a loved one cry and suddenly felt your own tears welling up? This is the power of mirror neurons; they fire in our brains when observing other people, giving us an experience that mirrors their experience. While science has studied and explained these neurons in primates in more technical detail, the simple way we can think about their operation is as literally giving us a way to feel what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes.

Human beings are biologically equipped to be natural empathizers, so long as we don’t let our own habitual patterns of communication get in the way. So how can we take advantage of the operation of mirror neurons to develop a connection with someone?

Here’s our last exercise:The next time you’re having a difficult time connecting with someone, start by identifying what about your two styles of communicating is the same and different, as you did in the previous exercise. You’ll find that, sometimes, simply observing this is enough to create a deeper sense of connection.

Next, begin to play with mirroring your non-verbal communication style to match the other person. Notice their manner of speech and body language, and see how you can weave those into your own behavior. The key to doing this successfully is to also stay true to yourself. If you force yourself into a mode that’s too foreign, you run the risk of creating further disconnect. Look for the aspects of the other person that are somewhat familiar already and start there.

This exercise is similar to the practice of reflective listening, i.e., verbally repeating something back to someone right after hearing it. Mirroring someone’s body posture, movement, or pace opens up communication between your bodies in a way that words alone cannot, increasing the opportunity for you to develop familiarity and trust. When teammates feel they can trust you, they’ll be more likely to show you their strengths and weaknesses, so you can collaborate to find the ways to best develop and utilize them, and create a relationship of empowerment.And that is a major step forward in becoming a great leader.

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

 

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Sharing Your Love: Poetry & Letters from the Heart

 

SHARING LOVE THROUGH WRITING

Whether you believe in Hallmark Card holidays like Valentine’s Day or not, this month is a good time to think about someone you love, either alive or passed. But instead of sending flowers, giving chocolate, or going out to dinner, consider writing a letter or poem. If the person is deceased, you obviously can’t send the letter, but it’s a nice way to remain connected to that individual. My dad passed away twenty-eight years ago, and I always use this month as an excuse to write him a letter telling him how much I miss him, and letting him know what’s going on in my life.

9780141027562For creative inspiration, you might consider reading some love poetry. The poetry of our beloved Leonard Cohen is always inspiring, especially his book of Love Poems, more commonly called, The Book of Longing. More recently, for spiritual inspiration and to surround myself with love, I’ve been reading the works of the Sufi poet Rumi, and I’ve been blown away by his words and sentiments. There are numerous translations of Rumi’s work, but I’ve found those by Coleman Barks to be the most powerful and compelling. As Barks says in his introduction to The Essential Rumithe poems “are food and drink, nourishment for the part that is hungry for what they give. Call it soul” (p. xv). Barks goes on to say that Rumi’s poems help us feel what living in “the ruins feels like . . . heartbroken, wandering, wordless, lost, and ecstatic for no reason. It’s the psychic space his poems inhabit” (p. xvi).

These feelings are what many of us experience now and then, which is why Rumi’s poems have resonated with me and so many others over the years. They fill us up when we’re empty, and illuminate all that is wonderful when we feel good.

rumi-774725_1920Barks’s introduction shared a lot about Rumi, his history, and his life. This timeless poet was born in Balkh (in what is now northern Afghanistan) on September 30, 1207. As a teenager he was identified as a great spirit, and in his 30s he met Shams Tabriz, with whom he shared many mystical conversations, resulting in a strong and magical friendship that inspired and informed Rumi’s poetry.

Rumi died in 1273, and on his tomb is the inscription: “Do not look for him here, but rather in the hearts of those who love him.” For many, Rumi’s poems deepen their overall sense of faith and hope. He was a wonderful soul and spiritual teacher. As Barks says, “He shows us glory. He wants us to be more alive, to wake up . . . he wants us to see our beauty in the mirror and in each other.” Rumi’s poems in their original form have no Persian titles. Barks says this is because “they are works in progress in a life in progress, oceanic living tissue always reconfiguring itself”; however, for the purposes of his book, Barks assigned titles for each poem to facilitate accessibility.

It’s not easy choosing one of my favorite Rumi love poems—I simply adore all of them—but here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite ones, “Buoyancy,” which coincides with February, the Month of Love:

Love has taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.

I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn’t.

I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That’s how I hold your voice.

 

 

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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Reducing Resentment in Your Relationship – What Can Be Done?

psychologist-san-jose-caDr. Randi Fredricks is a PHD in Transpersonal Psychology graduate from The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University. She is a researcher and practicing psychotherapist and marriage counselor. She specializes in preventing and reversing mental health problems through natural methods. The focus of her practice, writing and research is on the development of models that incorporate complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders and related problems. For more than 20 years, Dr. Fredricks has been at the forefront of addiction research.

In addition to her work in the area of mental health counseling, Dr. Fredricks is an award-winning artist and designer. She maintains a number of blogs on natural medicine and mental health, cinema therapy, and the therapeutic use of film. Her dedication to helping people develop personal and shared exceptional human experiences speaks to these lifelong interests. She lives and works in San Jose, California. To learn more about her work, visit her website at http://www.DrRandiFredricks.com. We have re-posted her blog here.

Anger

pexels-photo-277870Anger is a normal part of every relationship, whether it is between partners, family, friendships, or work relationships. Still, anger that accumulates and remains unprocessed becomes resentment, something much more corrosive and dangerous to all relationship.

When resentment shows up in a relationship, it’s as if the grave is being prepared for the feelings of love and connection. The relationship may remain in spite of resentment if commitment is built into it, such as a family relationship. But a romantic relationship, such as a marriage, marches towards a slow and painful death with enough accumulated and unprocessed resentment.

If you or your partner have feelings of resentment, these feelings can lead to certain predictable actions. The person feeling resentful may be:

  • Less trusting of the other person
  • Stop wanting to give as freely in the relationship
  • Feel less love or desire for intimacy
  • Not want to spend as much together time

As you can imagine, these feelings do not lead to a happy, satisfying relationship. Yet, most people ignore the deteriorating effect on their relationship, trying to continue to have the relationship on top of resentment.

arguing-1296392_1280Where Does Resentment Come From?

Resentment is comprised up of old feelings of anger and disappointment. To prevent it from eating your relationship from the inside out, you and your relationship partner need to do something let go of these old feelings.Uncleared resentment works against the good feelings between you and can be a path to more distance and more negative interaction.  Resolving resentments together, if done right, creates understanding, closeness, trust, and love.

Resolving Resentments 

First of all, talk to your partner about the state of your relationship. Let them know that you notice less closeness, more frustration with each other, less connection. Talk about how and why both of you are carrying around some old frustration, anger and resentment at each other. Ask if they are willing to work through these feelings with you in some honest, calm conversations about how each of you feels. If you get a yes for an answer, you picked a partner who’s going to work with you to make your relationship better.

Resolving resentments may take a while and depends on the length of your relationship and the amount of resentment each one of you is carrying towards the other. For some couples, the process could take months to complete.

The good news is, if you are committed to resolving the resentment clearing correctly, you will be growing closer to each other with each conversation. This means the time of resolving resentments is also a time of positive relationship building, and is a time well spent.

For more information on how resentment can affect a relationship, visithttp://sanjosecouplescounseling.com.

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

 

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Virtual reality as a window into our multidimensional nature? Dr. Marilyn Schlitz thinks it’s possible.

Marilyn-SchlitzDr. Marilyn Schlitz, program chair of the doctoral program at ITP/Sofia U is a social anthropologist, consciousness researcher, and co-author of the books Consciousness & Healing and Living Deeply.

Reality Bubbles? Paradox? Multiple Worldviews? How can we move into this new world? Well Dr. Marilyn Schlitz believes virtual reality technology may help us. Dr. Schlitz’s anthropological research has focused on indigenous practices and mind-body interaction in healing. Taking this a step further, she is wondering how virtual reality technology can catalyze collective shifts in consciousness. Intrigued?

She says that we’re each living within our own reality bubbles, and that some of the most important skills in the 21st Century will focus on coming to an awareness of our filters and to cultivate the capacity to understand, empathize, and interact with people who are living in completely different models of reality.

The following podcast features an interview with Dr. Schlitz as she talks about some of the game design work that she’s doing in order to achieve this, as well as how virtual reality might provide a window into our multidimensional nature and help us become more aware of our own aspects of inattentional blindness.

LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST


About The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia UniversityITP-logo_small

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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Meditation- Not Just for Relaxation. Try the Development of Your True Essence.

Jain-Wells-Profile-Image

Dr. Jain Wells holds a PHD in Transpersonal Psychology from The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University.  and is a transpersonal therapist – which blends Western psychology with the wisdom of the world’s esoteric traditions. Jain has a particular interest in transformational practices that help individuals develop at the psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual levels — aspects of the Whole Self. Her greatest passion is the practice of Meditation.

This article has been re-blogged from her website blog: http://drjainwells.com/what-you-really-need-to-know-about-meditation/

“Meditation practice is a skill that you learn by committing to regular practice. However, once you learn how to meditate you understand that this state of ‘presence’ that you are developing is your true essence. To operate your life from this centered and aware state affects your choices and your potential for success in all areas of life.” 

The main purpose of meditation isn’t just to relax. If you want to do that, best have a beer and put your feet up or have a hot bath. Meditation is about cultivating present-moment awareness and reaping the countless benefits that come from the practice.  This includes activating your body’s natural healing powers, increasing self-awareness that leads to more conscious choices, and becoming less reactive in daily life. Meditation is mental training that helps you become alert and aware. So to say it’s about relaxation is misleading.

attend-1786103_1920With consistent daily practice and learning to sustain mental stillness or present-moment awareness, the depth to which meditation can promote deep changes within is without limit. The reason meditation is associated with the ancient wisdom traditions is because it has a profound impact on consciousness, which is another word for self-awareness. Over the course of a lifetime, consistent meditative practice and maintaining present-moment awareness continues to peel away aspects of your psyche that are unconscious and conditioned, and makes them conscious.

The more aware you are, the more you notice things. The more you notice things, the more you’re likely to take mindful action around what you see and perceive. Your ability to live more of your life in a state of present-moment awareness creates a broader range of experiences, enhanced creativity and spontaneity,

Learning how to do it takes some commitment. Depending on the level of mental busyness you naturally have, the more challenging it may be to slow down your thought process. One of first things you begin to notice when learning mindfulness meditation is the persistent thinking nature of your own mind. You become aware of your internal dialogue or inner chatter and the habitual nature of your mind.

awareness-1052371_1920As you reorient yourself to present-moment awareness you become more aware of the details of your sensory faculties in the moment what you see, hear, and feel inside yourself and in your immediate environment. This is distinguished from thoughts of the past and future. Eventually you readily recognize the difference between being present versus becoming preoccupied with your thoughts, because only in the present moment are you fully aware, alive and creative. Conscious breathing helps bring your focus into the present moment simply because your continuous stream of breathing is always present.

How to do Mindfulness Meditation Practice:
  1. Find a comfortable place to sit down, either on the floor or in a chair. Sit with your spine straight, yet relaxed. Rest your hands in your lap or by your side.
  2. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths of air to settle yourself.
  3. Place your attention on the inflow and outflow of your breath. Notice the continuous movement of your breath in the present moment.
  4. When thoughts of the past or future come to mind, simply acknowledge them and return your awareness to the inflow and outflow of your breath. There may also be distractions or sounds in your environment, or sensations that you feel in your body simply acknowledge them and return your awareness to your breathing.

The objective of mindfulness meditation is to allow all aspects of the present moment to be held in your awareness without focusing or fixating on any one thing, other than using your breathing to keep you aware of yourself and in the moment. This mental training naturally develops your ability to focus in daily life when you need to and to be less reactive as well.

Begin with five minutes per day and work up to establishing a 20-30 minute practice. It may be challenging at first, though with consistent effort you will learn to sustain present moment awareness and deepen into the practice to experience the benefits.

* This blog by Jain Wells was originally posted on Mind Body Green.

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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Staying Wild: Connecting with the Women’s Temple as Spiritual Practice

Women’s Temple as a Spiritual Practice

by Author Ashleigh Kramer-Walthall, MA, LMHC, PsyD candidate.

Ashleigh.JPGThe Women’s Temple is a sanctuary for the feminine where participants resonate with their empowered selves in joy, freedom and desire. Participants gather in circle to awaken Feminine Love & connection.

I have been attending Women’s Temple for 2 years now with Dr. Melanie Hernand, who serves as a powerful guide and mentor in my life.   I remember feeling so intrigued and elated to be a part of this movement and these ceremonies as I wanted to have a place to safely explore my feelings, curiosities, depth, connection and perspective with other women.

Dr. Melanie Hernand : Dreaming Themes and Channeling the Divine Feminine

My good friend and colleague, Dr. Mel, who specializes in women’s health and wellness, breathwork, meditation and women’s temple practice,  started facilitating Women’s Temple in Santa Cruz. Dr. Mel recognized that she felt called to start organizing one for the women’s community in Santa Cruz.

Dr. Mel says that she often dreams of the themes, or that they simply appear during her meditation practice and that she operates more as a channel for the Divine Feminine. Dr. Mel focuses on cultivating love and consciousness in her life. She makes decisions that continue to support her happiness, her growth, and her wellness. As someone who models the wisdom she shares, when I am in her company I often notice that I feel more aware of my feelings, my needs, my body sensations, more confident, and connected to love and thankfulness .

Ashleigh’s Experience: Staying Wild

11954777_885419194898799_8424658446493401501_n.jpgMy own experiences at Women’s temple have been insightful and powerful. One of the earlier Temples focused on devotion and how devotion shows up in our lives. We were paired up with another woman and each asked to be in the place of the Goddess to receive the devotion, as well as the devotee who offers our worship.

Both roles evoked great emotion for me. As Goddess, I was able to let down my insecurities and deeply open to my worth as a divine entity. I could experience love in every cell of my being.

The experience as devotee to have my Goddess in material form right before my eyes, left me weeping, overflowing with gratitude for this inspiration, this guide, this unconditional supportive force. I was able to weep, bowing down before her and continuously offer my voice and expression of love and appreciation. I actually brought this practice into my relationship with my learning partner, and we continue to devote time to creating ceremony toward deeply honoring each other’s divinity and preciousness.

This most recent Women’s Temple was centered on “staying wild”. This felt in alignment with the ferocity, anger, dynamism that we as many women in the U.S. have been feeling and functioning with since the outcome of the recent presidential election. This theme of staying wild also taps into my rage about the oppression and disparagement of women figures in religious history.

984px-Durga_Barisha_Club_2010_Arnab_Dutta1024px-Goddess_Kali_By_Piyal_Kundu1I love that we celebrate Kali and Durga, powerful Goddesses who represent surmounting fear, creation/destruction and tenacious boundaries. These feminine figures who are revered for their intrepidity and audacity encourage me to feel more comfortable to use my voice to stand up for myself and what I believe in without feeling as though I need to apologize for my needs or ideas. To have a space where I can unleash my fury and my confusion, where it is understood, and welcomed is invaluable to me.

Women’s Temple creates a container for me to make better sense of what is happening internally for me as well as externally. There is so much safety, wisdom, virtue and fortitude cultivated in our times together. Women’s Temple continues to change my life for the better and I am forever grateful for getting to dance and love in this life with these divine women.

Interview with Dr Mel

1) How would you describe the Women’s Temple?

Women’s Temple is a sanctuary for the feminine where we meet from that holy place in our hearts. A practice of embodied spirituality with movement, prayer, connection, and respectful touch. A place for you to be celebrated, seen, and deeply nourished–all of you is welcome here. It is a community of conscious sisterhood.

Together, we create a safe and sacred container to dive deeply into practices that bring us face-to-face with our feminine essence, opening us to the insights we need to live fully awake in this modern life, and support us to relax into the knowing that we are not alone–that we do this together.

2) Is the Women’s Temple a spiritual practice for you? If so can you elaborate?

Yes, for me, Women’s Temple feels like home. We are alive & passionate women awakening our hearts with emerging Feminine Rising. We are part of a worldwide current moving, when we gather together, a powerful field is created. We experience our Feminine essence & awakening in devotional practice where all of us are seen and loved. This circle fulfills the deep longing that hungers for connection, love and awakening.
Chameli Ardagh, founder of awakening women, writes:

“An awakening woman is a spiritual rebellion engaged in a glowing and embodied, nothing-held-back love affair with the great mystery. She moves in the world with fierce compassion, grace and freedom, and is passionate about truth, rest and real love. She is fluent in angelic, diva, and in Kali roars. Earth is home and so is infinity.”

Women’s Temple is a spiritual practice where we meet beyond the mind to practice embodiment practices to open the divine feminine essence within each woman. We use meditation, breath, dance, movement, respectful touch, voice, writing and sharing to go deep within and awaken our hearts. All of who we are is welcome in this space and this work heals our relationship with the divine feminine inside and out. It is powerful, nourishing, and deeply fulfilling to the feminine spirit.

Each gathering focuses on a different theme. In this “Stay Wild” Women’s Temple event, we were working with the energies of goddess Kali Ma & Durga (empowerment, creation, annihilation). Our focus was on breaking thru shame, unworthiness, lack, and disempowerment. We are building strategies to recognize our divinity and reclaim our power, while maintaining our feminine essence in the world.

3) How has The Women’s Temple influenced/benefited you?

In essence it has helped me to plant my roots deep down into Her soil, into my body, into the soul food of sisterhood. The Women’s Temple nourishes me in the ancient, timeless magic that sparks when women gather together in ritual until I overflow with a wisdom that speaks as purely as the pulsating Earth, as the tides, white blossoming lilies, falling ash, the rushing river of my soul. It helps me to tune into the subtle rhythms of my body and listen deep for the reply.

4) How do you hope The Women’s Temple benefits others?

We gather to worship and honor the wild, ruthless, soft, luscious, deep, mystic, achingly beautiful feminine root of existence that speaks Life into being. Steeped in beauty, rooted in a wider perspective than the day-to-day, we gather to mirror each other’s immaculate hearts; to remember with every cell that our bodies are miracles of nature; to clear the dust and debris so our true nature has space to seed and sprout as our very lives.

I hope for us to awaken to there being endless love, endless connection in our letting go. The only direction is IN. The Women’s Temple helps us to explore where our fuel is, deep diving, and using all the available fuel at this potent time of our transformation to break thru and let go. The intention is to encourage us to dive into this sacred time together to do our deepest inner work and open to the next greatest version of ourselves. The world is waiting for this movement, the world is waiting for us and our gifts.

About Dr. Melanie Hernand

MelHeadshot-300x300.jpgDr. Mel holds a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley and a Doctorate in Chiropractic from Life Chiropractic College West. She has a passion for helping people create new strategies for reducing pain, dissipating tension and adapting to stress. She effectively helps people connect to their bodies, open up their ability to feel, heal and transform. For the past 17 years Dr. Mel has helped thousands of people transform and awaken to more meaningful and purposeful lives. Dr. Mel specializes in women’s health and wellness, breathwork, meditation and women’s temple practice.

 

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

 

 

 

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Moonlight Beach: Writing Love Notes to the Universe & Living Zen

Ji Hyang Padma, Ph.D. has been practicing and teaching Zen for twenty years, 15 of those years as an ordained nun. She has completed several 90-day intensive retreats in Korea and North America. While her practice has been situated within the Korean Zen tradition, she has had the benefit of studying with teachers across a wide spectrum of Buddhist lineages. She is gifted at finding an entry-point into practice for people who are just beginning their journey.

Ji Hyang has combined an academic career with her work as a Zen teacher. She holds a Ph.D in psychology from Sofia University. Her dissertation research focused on consciousness & healing, through the lens of traditional Buddhist healing practices. She currently serves as Director of the Comparative Religion and Philosophy Program at California Institute for Human Science in Encinitas, CA. Her first book, Living the Season: Zen Practice for Transformative Times, was released by Quest Books last year.

We have re-posted the following blog from her website.

Taking a walk along Moonlight Beach, discovered these designs, which brought me joy. The act of writing love notes to the universe upon beach sand is one of the most romantic endeavors of which human beings are capable.

 

Love and compassion are like the weak spots in the walls of ego. They are like a naturally occurring opening. And they are the opening we take. If we connect with even one moment of good heart or compassion and cherish it, our ability to open will gradually expand. Beginning to tune into even the minutest feelings of compassion or appreciation or gratitude softens us. It allows us to touch in with the noble heart of bodhicitta on the spot.  –Pema Chodron

 

So I work on… generating more warmth, more open heart. A good way for any of us to do this is to think of a person toward whom we feel appreciation or love or gratitude. In other words, we connect with the warmth that we already have. If we can’t think of a person, we can think of a pet, or even a plant. Sometimes we have to search a bit. But as Trungpa Rinpoche used to say, “Everybody loves something. Even if it’s just tortillas.” The point is to touch in to the good heart that we already have and nurture it.

At other times we can think of a person or situation that automatically evokes compassion. Compassion is our capacity to care about others and our wish to alleviate their pain. It is based not on pity or professional warmth, but on the acknowledgment that we are all in this together. Compassion is a relationship between equals. So in any moment of hardness, we can connect with the compassion we already have—for laboratory animals, abused children, our friends, our relatives, for anyone anywhere—and let it open our heart and mind in what otherwise might feel like an impossibly frozen situation.   –Pema Chodron

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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Fitting In: Sociocultural Beauty Standards and The Psychology of Body Image

portrait

Sarah Astarte, PhD is an  ITP at Sofia University alumna where she graduated with her Ph.D in Transpersonal Psychology. She provides spiritual guidance and counseling in Fair Oaks, CA. She and her blog posts can be found through her website

Her first book “The Lover Within: Exploring the Relationship Between Body Image in Adult Women and Archetypes of the Lover” was released in 2010. Her book was based on research indicating that negative self-image, which produces self-abusive thoughts and behavior, is a sociocultural problem for adult females in the United States. Body image is an important part of overall self-image.

We have re-posted her article on Sociocultural beauty standards here.

 

THE DREAM

downloadI had a dream one night during the week that I was teaching about body image and self-esteem in my psychology of women class. I was in the garden of a small house, and it had a large tree with a tire swing and tall grass growing in it. A young girl, about age four, with blonde hair and blue eyes, was my daughter. As more people gathered in the garden, I noticed that the little girl became more self-conscious, and her slender body became more artificial looking and like a doll.

At one point I was on the tire swing with her, and she hugged her knees to her chest, causing her to break into pieces. Her eyes became like glass orbs instead of flesh. I woke up feeling disturbed. Firstly, someone with dark features like mine is unlikely to give birth to a Nordic-looking child. Secondly, I felt pain at the thought of this little girl breaking and essentially dying. I sat with this dream for half the day, and as I reviewed my lecture material, decided to include a documentary about eating disorders to my class.

UNDERSTANDING BODY IMAGE

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 10.27.08 AMAs part of the lesson I have my students make a full, life-sized body map. I do this as a body image workshop as well. It is to take inventory of what we think and feel about ourselves. Each body part must be labeled with either a positive or negative message that we give ourselves. I instruct them to include scars, stretch marks, blemishes, freckles, and body art (tattoos and piercings). I also have them include emotional scars, and where they carry their tension, stress, and pain.

They write and draw on the map, using numerous colors, symbols, words and expressions. I have had both men and women taking a deeper look at themselves, some with curiosity, new awareness, reflection, and even pain. I have had a few people who will cry in the middle of the activity, as they realize that their beliefs about themselves are mostly negative.

EMOTIONAL REACTIONS

We walk around all day with certain thoughts about what we believe about ourselves. We give messages, often subconsciously, about who we think we are, and what our self-worth is. For some, their body image is relatively in sync with what they actually look like, making them people with a good amount of self-acceptance and even self-love. For those that have a self-critical monologue going in their minds, it has very little to do with their actual appearance but more to do with the negative image in their own minds.

After looking at a magazine for three minutes, about 70% of women have a negative self-evaluation. What is also interesting is that the images that we see are airbrushed and altered by computers. In other words, the images we see of perfect bodies are not real. Over half of all American women have normative discontent, meaning that on a day to day basis, they are unhappy with themselves. For men, this is about thirty percent, and climbing.

SOCIETY

8306032982_f261ac2c1e_bAdvertisers play on insecurities to sell consumers products that they do not need. Both women and men are sold on body types and proportions that are not found often in the general population, as about two percent of the American population looks like models. The average female model is about 5’11, a size 0 or 2, and weighs around a hundred pounds. The average American woman stands at 5’4, is a size 14, and weighs 140 to 160 pounds. Men are told to look extremely muscular and wear a large size, and stand over 6 feet tall. The average American man stands at 5’9 and is a medium to large size, and is not necessarily rippling with muscles with only 8 percent body fat.

Having an unrealistic standard to strive towards can lead to constant insecurity, fear of aging and changing with time, and continued discontent and unhappiness with one’s self. It burns a lot of cognitive energy, and can put a damper on anyone’s day. They are less likely to go out in the world with confidence. Negative body image and low self-esteem can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, unhappy relationships and sexual dysfunction. It can also lead to discontentment with life in general. Going through everyday disliking ourselves, berating ourselves, and not valuing ourselves can lead to a less than mediocre existence. The potential we have to be all we can be is diminished every time we look at ourselves in the mirror. Instead of seeing ourselves with love we see ourselves with loathing. This is beyond counterproductive.

No matter what we look like in terms of height, weight, shape, size or color, it is important for us to face ourselves. This is why I have my students do the body mapping exercise- even if we do not like what we see, before we can change anything, we must accept what is. In looking at and learning to accept it, we can develop a higher self-evaluation. Instead of having a berating belief, such as “My thighs are too big.” we could look at it as “My thighs are strong and part of the legs that I stand on,” “my thighs are part of me,” and “my thighs (and legs in general) help me to get where I need to go.” We can learn to look at something we have in a whole new way.

heart-914682_1920.pngWhen we realize how diverse body types and people are, and we can more easily find each person’s uniqueness and beauty. Our bodies tells a story of who we are and how we survived. They are deserving of respect, care and kindness. Our bodies will change with age, and that is also something to be patient with ourselves about, so we should enjoy the abilities we have while we have them. Like the little girl in my dream (who fit the standards of being the beautiful blonde but was more fearful of others judgments and had it ultimately destroy her) we can choose instead to give ourselves the right to live, just as we are. Instead of trying to fit ourselves into unrealistic outlines of appearance, we can draw our own lines and define beauty for ourselves, one person at a time.

Sarah’s first book “The Lover Within: Exploring the Relationship Between Body Image in Adult Women and Archetypes of the Lover” was released in 2010. Intuitive Inquiry was utilized to gain greater understanding of the relationship between self-image in adult females and the archetype of the lover. This research is grounded in Jungian theory. The archetype of the lover, when activated, can nurture one’s creativity, sensuality, emotions, body, and spirit, leading to greater self-acceptance. The work included a 4 session experiential process, in which co-participants engaged in creative activities such as collage making, body mapping, eating different kinds of foods, dressing up, dance/movement, and mirror exposure work. The groups of co-participants were ethnically and culturally diverse. This helped to deepen the understanding of the ways in which this archetype may be of service to those suffering from negative self-image.

ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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