Category Archives: The Transpersonal

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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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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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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Filed under Alumni features, Mindfulness and Meditation, The Transpersonal

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

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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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Use your greatest pain as your greatest opportunity

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Dr. Valerie Baker holds a PHD in Transpersonal Psychology from The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University. She has found business success with a new method of healing called Heart Talk Yoga® which is a holistic, continuously expanding compilation of technologies for consciousness transformation sourced from yoga, psychology, and spirituality, and organized into a comprehensive system. This system is based on my research on transformation, my personal experience, and my privilege of helping thousands of people transform common unhappiness into uncommon happiness by breaking through the old level of consciousness that created their problems.
This article has been re-blogged from her website blog https://drvaleriebaker.com/blog/

THE WALL

What do you do when you hit the wall, when the rug is pulled out from under you, when the bottom falls out? I see this happen again and again.

Brilliant women stopped dead in their tracks to greatness by a challenging life event. And I just wanna scream: Keep going, love! This is NOT a sign to stop! This is a sign to push through and give birth to the next level of YOU, reveal your greater GREATNESS, tap into your more powerful POWER you didn’t know you had — until this challenge showed up in your way.

So today I show you how you can USE YOUR GREATEST PAIN as your greatest opportunity. I tell a story of my most powerful lesson in this… And share something we can learn from Wonder Woman.

 

THE WONDER OF WONDER OF WOMAN : USE YOUR WHOLE POWER

My 6 1/2-year-old and I finally went to see Wonder Woman and I did some obsessive research beforehand to make sure it was age appropriate. You know that I’m obsessive from the previous blog post when we had a power reclamation party. I encourage you to view this blog and leave a comment what’s wrong with you and we’ll use these as gateways of reclamation.

Today, the gateway we’ll use has to do with Wonder Woman. When Wonder Woman is a child, her trainer keeps telling her, “You’re not using your whole power. You’re much more powerful than you know.” Wonder Woman thinks that she is doing her best though. She rejects her trainer’s statements. Years later, she’s facing her arch nemesis at last. She falls down and she’s wrapped in this piece of metal and it looks like she’s not going to be able to get out of it.

Her nemesis laughs at her and asks, “What did you think you were?” She’s forgetting who she is or maybe she never knew truly deeply her power which I think is true for all of us. So she’s lying there and she’s giving up. There is no hope. Then she sees this plane in the sky and she knows this is her partner, the only man she’s known and we assume loved.

The plane blows up in the sky and she feels this deep pain the likes of which she’s never felt before, and she roars. She liberates herself from whatever was holding back her power. She rises and she taps into the power which she did not know she had.

 

Heart Talk Yoga

THE RECLAMATION

I hope you go to see Wonder Woman. It is incredible. As I watched it, I kept checking in with my daughter during the battle scenes. I’d check in with her and ask, “Is this scary?” And she would whisper back to me, “No. This is amazing.”

Amazing it was. It was amazing to see that reclamation. When we watch a movie like Wonder Woman, we get it, right? It takes this extreme circumstance, this extreme pain to tap into the power that she didn’t know she had. That makes sense, right? That’s a very common story arc of a hero’s or heroine’s journey.

MOVING INTO THE PAIN

But what happens when it happens in our own life? In our own life, we’re very conditioned to retreat from pain. I’m going to tell you a story of my own learning of how conditioned I was to retreat from pain. It also has to do with my daughter. A lot of cool stories have to do with her.

This was one when I was giving birth to her, and I had a wonderful doula (thank God for her) who was coaching me through. I was pushing and feeling this excruciating pain and at some point the nurse turned around to me and said, “You’re not pushing.” What? I think I am. I feel like I am. I’m feel like I’m about to explode.

Then my doula leans in to me and she said, “Well, you’re moving away from the pain. This is not like labor. This is giving birth, so your only way out of the pain is through the pain, so the more it hurts, that’s where you need to go. You need to go into the pain to get out of the pain.”

Because I was completely delirious out of my mind, so much in pain, I guess I had no resistance left in me and so I decided to take her word for it and just go. I went and I went and I went into the pain and into the pain, and at some point the pain became just a sensation which was irrelevant to what was going on. My glorious daughter emerged, all almost 10 pounds of her, and so that was my very visceral learning of how conditioned I was not to go into the pain.

It changed the way I live my life. It really did. Now, when I see the opportunity created by pain, I try to go right in. If I don’t, guess what? Life has its own curriculum. Life is not going to let you get away with not tapping into the fullness of your power. Life creates these circumstances, these painful circumstances for you to go in and reclaim your power fully.

 

Heart Talk Yoga

TWO CHOICES

What happens is just like on a hero’s or heroine’s journey. When you declare yourself, when you declare, “I’m going to step into my power. I’m going on a journey,” the shit hits the fan. The bottom falls out. The journey actually begins.

So this is inspired by a wonderful, powerful woman I had a conversation with a few days ago. We tapped into her power. We tapped into her vision and we decided how we’re going to move into that vision. Then just a few days later, she sends me a message saying that her life has brought this extreme circumstance, a lot of pain, and that she’s not going to continue through with implementing her vision.

This pains me very deeply because those exact circumstances, this is like giving birth to yourself, right? It’s moving into the pain. Her life has created a perfect opportunity for her power reclamation. It’s perfect. It’s painful. It hurts but by leaning into that opportunity, she stands to reclaim so much of who she truly is and fully deliver her vision, fully deliver on her divine assignment in the world.

So at every point the pain comes up, we have two choices. We can move away just like I was doing when I was not pushing apparently, or we can move right in. Life gives us these opportunities to give birth to ourselves very often. Small pains or big ruptures, when the bottom falls out, and if you’ve been following me for some time, you know that I’ve been dealing with one of those in my own life. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can find it on my blog at valeriebaker.com.

This has been a dance all to leading me leaning away from it and leaning into it, but by leaning into the pain what has been happening is really stepping up in a bigger way, really reaching for bigger things and playing bigger than I had ever thought possible. Because why does life create these excruciating circumstances for us? Why? Is this God punishing us? No, life is very compassionate but life knows that given a place to hide, we will hide. Given a place to hide, we will die.

So life creates these circumstances where hiding is no longer an option such as in my own life with my husband’s illness, it became not an option for me to lean back and say, “Well, it’s okay. If I don’t earn enough money, it’s okay. If I don’t make this work, it’s okay because he’s a guy and we’re married and he’s supposed to be the breadwinner.”

It’s not my conscious thinking, believe me, but that’s the subconscious conditioning that keeps us playing small. This is what Wonder Woman was falling back into when she was lying down on the ground, helpless because she hadn’t yet tapped into her power.

So what rupture are you going through in your life right now? What’s the invitation? What can you reclaim when you lean into it? Does it have to be painful? Well, no. In her wonderful book “Eat, Pray, Love” Elizabeth Gilbert told the story told to her by Ketut, her mentor, and he said that he’s traveled up to Heaven and down to Hell in a beautiful metaphor and he said to her question, “What’s the difference between Heaven and Hell?”

He said, “Heaven, you go up, through seven happy places. Hell, you go down, through seven sad places. This is why it better for you to go up, Liss… Same in end, so better to be happy in journey.”

Life presents opportunities for us to go up and be happy on the journey every day. Every day we can step up and play bigger, every day, but if there is a place to hide, we will hide. That’s why sometimes life has to pull the rug from under us. Sometimes the bottom has to fall out. It’s done compassionately. It’s not done to punish us. It’s done to help us like Wonder Woman reclaim her deepest power.

 

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.

Learn more about our programs.

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8 Ways to Remedy Stress on the Cheap

The Corless Family Fall 2016-29.jpg

About 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.

reducing Stress overwhelmed relaxation denver therapist valerie abitbol

 

Don’t break your piggy bank yet. Here are a few cheap remedies against stress. Start here and now!

Here’s my “prescription”: Practice at least two of the tools below every day to increase your resilience to stress, and get back to feeling more grounded, faster.

1- Don’t be a hamster, breathe!

stress anxiety denver therapist valerie abitbol

Yes. It really is that simple. So basic. But when we’re stressed, we forget about our breath; we tighten it, hold it, or simply have a hard time breathing normally. Having less oxygen circulating in your body and your brain will increase your stress and/or anxiety.

And there you are, the little hamster stuck in the wheel.

Here are 3 different options depending on the time/place:

Option 1:

Make it a habit to take a deep breath every day when getting up, leaving the house, getting in/out of the car, going to a new place, meeting new people, before eating, and when noticing tension in the chest or the body in general. Think of the breath during transition points, from one activity or place to another.

Option 2:

Inhale on 4 counts – hold the breath two counts- exhale on 8 counts. Repeat until you feel calmer.

Option 3: 

Take a deep inhalation, filling first your belly with air, then moving to your chest. Hold the breath for two counts. Exhale, emptying fully the chest and belly. Repeat 10 times and continue as needed.

2- Flex those muscles

Practice some progressive muscle relaxation:

muscle relaxation stress denver counseling valerie abitbol

First, tense a muscle group in your body, such as your calves, thighs or shoulders.

Hold it for a few seconds.

Next, release the tension and notice how your muscles feel when you relax them.

Repeat with other muscle groups as needed.

For a guided version, you can download my free progressive muscle relaxation audio recording.

Note: Very important! Always check with your doctor before doing anything physical, especially if you have any medical conditions or injuries.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation | Flow Counseling | Denver
Valerie Abitbol MA, LMFT

 

3- Show your stress the way out

Option 1: When stress starts to go up but is manageable: go for a leisurely walk around the block, focus on the breath and surroundings. Notice the colors around you, the smells, noises, touch some trees. Feel the ground supporting you.

Option 2: When stress becomes more intense: alternate walking one block quickly, with running or walking faster the next. When you start feeling better, slow down and go to option 1.

Include any other physical activities beside walking/running that you enjoy. Go at the speed that feels right for you at that moment. Today may be different from yesterday.

And of course, do what you can based on your physical shape, health situation, and seek medical advice first.

4- Bathe your mind in calm

Bring to mind soothing and calming images of people or pets in your life, things, places and memories. Anything that helps make you feel safe, loved, supported, peaceful, and helps you calm down.

Stay with the image and notice as many details as you can to make the image more vivid.

Notice how it makes you feel in your body, as well as the emotions, and sensations you experience. Let your mind connect freely, from one positive experience to another, and follow the trail.

5- Meditation…

meditation mindfulness  stress denver therapy valerie abitbol

I recommend you use “static” meditation (vs. walking meditation) once you feel a little calmer, to help you maintain and reinforce that state. It can be frustrating at the beginning to try meditating when you feel restless. Use one of the more physical tips above first to release some tension.

If you have a meditation practice, go for it. If not, you can use a guided meditation app. Regular use will provide the most benefits. Here are few free ones I like:

The Mindfulness App for iOS and Android

Headspace for iOS and Android

Stop, Breathe, and Think  for iOS and Android

6- Playful and relaxing activities

Remember when you were a kid?

Wrestle with your partner, your kids or nieces and nephews – have a tickle fight, jump on your bed… bring back the silly and lightness that goes with it.

Take your dog for a walk, play with your pets, or simply give them a long petting session. You’ll both get benefits out of it.

7- Give yourself the spa treatment

Do I even have to mention massage? No matter what kind (back, foot, neck, from partner or professional), get one, or do it yourself.

Get a foam roller similar to this one on Amazon, and start rolling.

Here are a few ways you can use it. How to use a foam roller.

overwhelm stress denver counselor valerie abitbol

Take a warm relaxing bath at end of the day, include essential oils, candles, music… soak in for a  minimum of 10 min.

And if you have more time available, consider making a de-stress trip to some hot springs.

Here’s a list of 30 Hot Springs in Colorado if you’re local.

8- Naps

Short naps can be very beneficial to manage your stress better.

Go for 15-20 min and remember to set a timer. Wash your face with cold water after waking up to feel more energized.

Try at least two of these tips on a regular basis and leave me a comment to let me know how they are working for you.

If none of these hit the spot, consider getting some professional help to get to the root cause and find more customized tools. Just don’t keep letting stress be in charge of your life and relationships.

 


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.

Learn more about our programs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni features, Mindfulness and Meditation

Are the Mind and Body Truly Separate? Exploring Mind Body Healing with Dr. Deepak Chopra

There’s a mind. There’s a body. Distinctly different right? Maybe not. Are mind and body the same thing or are they just different modes of conscious experience? How does Cartesian dualism thinking stand up in scientific communities today? Has the idea of non-dualism taken over?

Exploring these concepts becomes clearer once we have defined the understanding of healing and its relation to health and wholeness. Dr. Deepak Chopra, Professor of Consciousness Studies in the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University, discusses these thought provoking topics and more in this video.

If these subjects intrigue and fascinate you, consider taking your studies to the next level with a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology, residential or global, or a residential or global PhD in Transpersonal Psychology.

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Filed under Faculty at Sofia U, The Transpersonal

Math, Consciousness and Artificial Intelligence with Deepak Chopra

Dr. Deepak Chopra speaks on the topic of whether placing consciousness into something that is non – biological material is possible. Chopra explains his interpretation by speaking about mathematical frameworks, Einstein, and the gap of discontinuity.

To learn more about taking a course with Dr. Chopra at Sofia University, try a sample lesson from our course “Death Makes Life Possible.”

 

About Dr. Deepak Chopra

DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, Health Sciences. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine.He is currently a professor at Sofia University in the PhD program.

 

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Descartes, “Political Deals” and Inner Experience: Reconciling Science and Wisdom Traditions

Is consciousness an illusion? Dr. Marilyn Schlitz, Program Chair of the Doctoral program at Sofia University discusses her views on this fascinating topic.

Dr. Schlitz, who also serves as President Emeritus and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Senior Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center and board member of Pacifica Graduate Institute, has been a leader in the field of consciousness studies. Her research and extensive publications focus on personal and social transformation, cultural pluralism, extended human capacities, and mind body medicine.

Her most recent research has focused on how death makes life possible, of which she was lead author with Dr. Deepak Chopra.  You can view her videos on diverse perspectives to healing  here.

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Filed under Faculty at Sofia U, The Transpersonal