POLITICAL ANGST

THE BIG PICTURE.

 the-really-big-picture

While agonizing over the presidential election, I just remembered that, in the long-term, you and I have no idea what the outcome of a Trump or a Clinton presidency would be. A so-called negative event can lead to a positive outcome and then the positive outcome can lead to a negative.

Actually, sooner or later it always does.

Not only that, but one person’s negative is another person’s positive.

Not only that, but in THE BIG PICTURE we see that everything in existence is being born, ascending, descending and dying. That includes mountain ranges, species, nations, bugs and you and me. Consciousness is an eternal changing, a sequence of interconnected beginnings and endings.

Not only that, but when my internal wellbeing is dependent on outside events (like this election), I am doomed to the stress of trying to control those outcomes according to my versions of good and bad. I am also doomed to combat about those outcomes with those whose versions of good and bad differ from mine.

Meanwhile, I am human. I agonize. I care. I have opinions. I send money. I vote.

And, when I remember THE BIG PICTURE, I also relax.

A SESSION WITH AN UPSET CLIENT

A SESSION WITH AN UPSET (FRAGMENTED) CLIENT   upset-1

Riley K. Smith, MA, LMFT*

 

PREMISE: The upset about a current experience will have roots in an individual’s early history and effective psychotherapy addresses both – current event and early history.

One of my favorite topics covered in my Study/Support Series is a matrix for a somatic psychotherapy session that I learned as part of Integrative Body Psychotherapy1. It’s called Steps Out of Fragmentation.

My experience of the Steps Out of Fragmentation, both as client and therapist, is that it is both a powerful mental health tool and a step-by-step outline for a profound therapy intervention. Profound in that it addresses our upset pattern at the root of the problem and offers a self-healing experience at the level of the attachment injury. In the process of guiding our clients out of their fragmentation, we are also teaching them a way to handle their own upset whenever it comes up.

 

DAVID

“I haven’t been able to sleep or think straight for 2 days,” David was talking as he came through the door and flopped down in the chair.

This was David’s fourth session. I had learned his history. He had responded well when I introduced him to Charge Breathing2 leading to a feeling of aliveness and calm. I had helped him identify his Basic Wound3 which is the tender place, the attachment injury, that is the primal source of his upset and the problem that brought him in.

David slouched in the chair looking miserable. This was a perfect opportunity to take him through the Steps Out of Fragmentation3 so that he can begin to learn to do the process for himself. I asked him if he’d like to learn how to get himself out of “the miseries.” He said he did, looking slightly hopeful. I guided him through the steps.

STEP ONE: Notice that you are fragmented. What you’re experiencing right now and for the last two days, the upset you feel, we’ll call it Fragmented.

“Describe it as best you can”.

“I made a mistake at work and it came out in a meeting. I felt exposed and ashamed, just like when I was a kid at school”.

“What’s the feeling in your body?”

“My face is hot. My solar plexus is on fire. I want to cry but I can’t breathe”.

“Anything else?”

“My mind is racing. That’s why I can’t sleep”.

“All those feelings and thoughts are parts of being fragmented. That’s the experience of being fragmented”.

STEP TWO: Reality check. Say, “I’ve been fragmented before and gotten out of it. I’ll be fragmented in the future and I’ll get out of it and I’ll get out of it this time too”. Say it until you can feel the truth of it in your body. This will usually bring a little relief and calm so that you can proceed to the next step.

STEP THREE: Identify the fragmenting event or events.

“When did you fragment? What was the last time you were calm?”

“I was calm when I went into the meeting. When my boss identified my mistake, I felt like I’d been pole-axed and I’ve been like this ever since”.

STEP FOUR: What happened in your childhood that felt that way – the earlier the better? He told of an experience of being shamed in class when he was in second grade. What nurturing or parenting was missing in that moment that would have soothed or prevented the upset? Make a note of the missing nurturing message(s). Examples of nurturing messages: I see you and I hear you. It’s not what you do, but who you are that I love. I’ll take care of you. You don’t have to be alone anymore.

STEP FIVE: I coached him in Charge Breathing until he was energized, present, alert and calm.ecstatic-copy

STEP SIX: Give yourself the nurturing message(s) as if you were talking to the upset child that you were. I fed him the nurturing messages that he had identified, one at a time. He repeated them until he could experience the effect of each one as a body sensation. Each message deepened the relaxation and calm that he felt until he was peaceful and present. I then asked him to think about the upsetting event at work and report what he experienced right now. He reported that he had lost the upset about it and was beginning to think about what to do to fix the mess.

He said that it didn’t feel like a catastrophe anymore, only a problem to solve.

 

*ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LMFT in private practice since 1976. Faculty member at the Integrative Body Psychotherapy Central Institute in Venice since 2004. Trained therapists for eight years as Clinical Director at an out-patient drug program. AAMFT certified supervisor till 2008. Co-author of How to Be Happy Partners, a cooperative problem-solving manual for couples. Member of CAMFT, AAMFT and U.S. Assoc. of Body Psychotherapists.

1Integrative Body Psychotherapy was developed by Jack Lee Rosenberg, Ph.D., Beverly Kitean-Morse, Psy.D., Marjorie Rand, Ph.D, and others.   For more information about IBP and the training, see www.ibponline.org   Also there is a summary of IBP at www.wikipedia.org

2Charge Breathing. Breathing fully is essential to feeling and being alive. Regulating the breath is also the first and most fundamental somatic defense for coping with the Basic Fault. When an infant experiences the stress of a need not being met, it reduces its breathing to reduce the intensity of the stress it feels. Reduced breathing also makes it impossible to feel fully alive and present. We must breathe fully to experience our Core Self. In IBP, breathing fully is the most important tool for attaining and sustaining mental and physical health.

3BASIC FAULT.   The Basic Fault is the bad feeling, the somatic reaction, psychological upset, confusion and negative belief about the self that results from needs not met in infancy. It is the primal wound that is the foundation and reason for the psychological, behavioral and somatic patterns that interrupt aliveness and wellbeing. The Basic Fault is a lie about the Self that is held deep in the body and the psyche. It is also the root of upsets in the present. Everyone has a Basic Fault.

 

WHY DO WE DEFEND OUR BUBBLE? Why do I resist expanding my bubble?

 

ANOTHER BUBBLE QUESTION:  Following up on My Bubble Theory.

 

WHY DO WE DEFEND OUR BUBBLE? Why do I resist expanding my bubble?

 

Creating and posting this blog has been a major expansion of my bubble. In the days leading up to posting and announcing it I was imagining negative reactions from strangers and friends. Thoughts of “Arrogant” and “Self Important Fool” and “Irrelevant” circled like vultures in my brain. I was hyper aware and awestruck at the public antics of Donald Trump. Through a misunderstanding, a good friend criticized the site and an ex-client from many years ago posted a horrible comment on a therapist review website. On the morning I published the site and began telling people about it, I had an episode of diahhrea. I wasn’t sick. My body simply said, “I can let go now” and, boy, did it.SPEAK YOUR TRUTH AND DIE

So my bubble is larger…and I’m pretty sure I know what the resistance was about. My family, my heritage, my karma, my bubble was built on shame and fear. My father said a thousand times, “Don’t stick your neck out,” and “Always Be Careful.” He even abbreviated it, “ABC,” as I would go out the door. I believe I was beheaded for speaking heretical ideas in the middle ages (or I dreamed it. That’s another bubble issue).

I can see that not speaking up was a survival issue. One of my bubble beliefs, mostly unconscious, was “speak your truth and you die.” Of course I would defend my bubble.  I believed my life depended on it.

Does this example extend to the other beliefs that form my bubble? Does it extend to other people’s bubbles? I say Probably. It bears consideration. Discuss.

Another issue is what motivates us and allows us to expand our bubble? That’s for next time. Stay tuned.

 Riley

THE PATTERN ON THE TRESTLEBOARD

THE PATTERN ON THE TRESTLEBOARD  An ancient Masonic creed*

 

This is the truth about the Self:

 

0. All of the power that ever was or will be is here now.

 

  1. I am a center of expression for the Primal Will-to-Good which eternally creates and   sustains the Universe.

 

  1. Through me its unfailing Wisdom takes form in thought and word.

 

  1. Filled with Understanding of its perfect law, I am guided, moment by moment, along the path of liberation.

 

  1. From the exhaustless riches of its Limitless Substance I draw all thing needful, both spiritual and material.

 

  1. I recognize the manifestation of undeviating Justice in all the circumstances of my life.

 

  1. In all things great and small I see the Beauty of the divine expression.

 

  1. Living from that Will, supported by its unfailing Wisdom and Understanding, mine is the Victorious Life.

 

  1. I look forward with confidence to the perfect realization of the Eternal Splendor of the Limitless Light.

 

  1. In thought and word and deed I rest my life, from day to day, upon the sure Foundation of Eternal Being.

 

  1. The Kingdom of Spirit is embodied in my flesh.

 

 

 

*Source: Paul Foster Case, founder of The Builders of the Adytum, 5101 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90042

INTEGRATING BREATHWORK AND PSYCHOTHERAPY

INTEGRATING BREATH WORK AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
Riley K. Smith, M.A., LMFT #7928

My teacher, Jack Lee Rosenberg, Ph.D., passed away last November. Jack was a pioneer in the development of somatic psychotherapy. During the 1970’s, he was searching for a more efficient therapy for addressing the deep psychic wounds that therapy clients were presenting. His search led him to formulate what he came to call Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP)*.

There are therapies that focus on the mind, therapies that focus on the body and therapies that focus on the spirit. Many of us, possibly even most of us, in LA CAMFT are integrating all three in our work. So, while this may not be new material and is grossly oversimplified for this article, I hope that you will find it validating and helpful in your understanding of your work and an appreciation of Dr. Rosenberg’s gift.

LISA SAT UP on the table, beaming, and exclaimed, “I’m only human …and that’s enough!”
Six months before, Lisa, in her mid twenties, had come to me unhappy with her life. She was functioning well enough – living with a roommate, financially supported by her controlling father and passive, childlike mother and working to build a career as a graphic designer. She complained of being averse to relationships with men and didn’t trust women. Talented, smart and attractive, Lisa felt inadequate, unlovable and ashamed.

THE SUSTAINING CONSTANCY SERIES
During the time that I had worked with Lisa, in conjunction with object relations insight work, body awareness and teaching her self-nurturing and self-support techniques, I had been teaching Lisa to build and hold a charged state in her body using a particular way of breathing that builds energy throughout the body. When the energy is contained instead of discharged it energizes, relaxes tension and creates a felt experience of total aliveness and presence.BREATHE 2

(THE IMPORTANCE OF BREATHING. Breathing fully is essential to feeling and being alive. Regulating the breath is also the primal somatic strategy for coping with attachment deficits. When an infant experiences the upset of a need not being met, it reduces its breathing to reduce the intensity of the upset it feels. While it reduces the upset, reduced breathing also makes it impossible to be fully alive and present. We must breathe fully to experience our authentic Self. In IBP, breathing fully is the most important tool for attaining and sustaining mental and physical health.)

When Lisa was able to be present and charged after about thirty breaths I began to teach her the Sustaining Constancy Series, a series of stressing positions lying down while doing the charge breathing. The goal is, ultimately, to release all the muscle tension which limits the energy flow throughout the body. The energy flow that develops is accompanied by an experience of being profoundly alive and present.
Getting there, however, often requires addressing somatic blocks and energetic “speed limits” at the psychological level.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL/SOMATIC INTERFACE IN IBP
A part of her complex family-of-origin dynamic was that Lisa’s role in the family was that of a little girl. As a result, there was nowhere in her internalized family system for her to feel or experience herself as the grown woman that she is. Physically, she had to deny her woman-ness. This became apparent when breathing while lying on the table. When she began to feel alive in her body, she could feel her breasts and pelvic area. Her first few experiences of this led her to “split off.” She got dizzy and spacey and couldn’t continue the charging breath.

I was able to guide her through this “block.” First I asked her to make the connection to her family of origin. Once she understood her psychological need to be the child, Lisa was able to discover the parental messages that were missing in order for her to grow up. The next step was to coach her in self-nurturing using what, in IBP, we call Good Parent Messages – the basic nurturing that all children need to thrive.

Although there are twenty-two Good Parent Messages that we use in IBP, the ones most useful to Lisa in this case were:
The Mother (early childhood) Messages:
I see you and I hear you.
It is not what you do, but who you are that I love.
I love you and I give you permission to be different from me.
I’ll take care of you.
You can trust your inner voice.

The Father (later childhood) Messages:
I am proud of you.
I have confidence in you and I know you will succeed.
I give you permission to love and enjoy your erotic sexuality with a partner of your choice and not lose me.

I coached Lisa to build a charge in her body with the breathing. Then, from that place of wellbeing, say and write the Good Parent Messages to herself while tracking the sensations in her body – sensations of warmth and relaxation. Having embodied the self-support and self-nurture she could now complete the Sustaining Constancy Series without splitting off.

Lisa could celebrate the somatic experience of her woman self – her whole self. That was the point where Lisa sat up on the table and, with great joy, said, “I’m only human!”

There are many different processes and applications in Integrative Body Psychotherapy. This narrative describes one of the more fundamental processes and is greatly oversimplified.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Faculty member at the Integrative Body Psychotherapy Central Institute in Venice since 2004. Trained therapists for eight years as Clinical Director at an out-patient drug program. AAMFT certified supervisor till 2008. Co-author of How to Be Happy Partners, a cooperative problem-solving manual for couples. Member of LA-CAMFT, AAMFT and U.S. Assoc. of Body Psychotherapists.

*IBP is fully described in Body, Self and Soul, Sustaining Integration, Jack Lee Rosenberg, Ph.D, with Marjorie L. Rand, Ph.D. and Diane Asay, MA, Humanics Limited, 1985, and The Intimate Couple, Jack Lee Rosenberg, Ph.D and Beverly Kitaen-Morse,PsyD, Turner Publishing, Inc., 1996. IBP training information and listing of IBP practitioners is available at www.ibponline.org. A summary of IBP is available at www.Wikipedia.com.

NOTES FROM MT. OLYMPUS

NOTES FROM MT. OLYMPUS: What are we humans up to today?mount olympus copy

 

This human is looking for a place to stand where I can care about our foolish, cantankerous species and not be caught in the emotion and drama.

I’m reading a wonderful series of historically accurate (if possible) novels about the inner workings of the politics and personalities of the Roman Empire around the time of Caesar. I am struck by similarities between then and now. The same brutality, licentiousness, manipulation, jealousy, gossip, greed, betrayal and hunger for power at all costs took place in the halls of power. I can also assume that, like now, in the neighborhoods, the countryside, the homes, the workplaces, among the philosophers, the writers and the spiritual communities there are under-reported manifestations of love, justice, integrity, peace, personal courage and equanimity.

It seems that, then as now, it is the dark side of the human experience that drives this nation – the government and the economy. It certainly is what fills the media.

Meanwhile, where is my place of peace and truth? Is it possible to want the human race to manifest a just and peaceful world, recognize the mess we are creating and not be caught in anguish and frustration?

My thought today is that I can remember my cosmology, that is that the human experience is a playground for experimentation, creativity and expansion of the Infinite Consciousness. We humans are each a finite expression of that Consciousness. Our assignment is to immerse ourselves in the human experience without losing our identity as individual expressions of the Infinite.

So, the question of the day for me is HOW to do that.

What I get is that I can:

Remember my True Self.

Remember as Tom Waites sings it, “The world is not my home, I’m just passing through”.

Be grateful.

Keep my heart open.

Love my companions, my fellow travelers – all of them.

Have the courage to tell my truth.

Do what I can do and let the rest be.

Take care of business.

 

I’ll let you know how the day turns out.

Riley

 

 

 

HOW THE DAY TURNED OUT

 

I promised to let you know how the day turned out. It turned out pretty good, all things considered. I had two opportunities where I succeeded in walking the tight-rope between caring and equanimity on one side and caring and attachment on the other.

One opportunity was a conversation about who to vote for and the other was a cancelled celebration with my friend, the guest of honor, going to the hospital. (He’s going to be okay)

 

Thanks for your support.

 

Riley

FIND A PRACTICE.

 

FIND A PRACTICE

Riley K. Smith.MA, LMFT

Find an exercise, ritual or meditation that takes you to a place of peace and safety – a place within – where you KNOW that youSIMPLE BEING are okay. That place is a knowing that you are, at your core, exactly who you are supposed to be – nothing to be improved or perfected. Look for the experience of certainty that you are – you simply are – and that that is exactly and completely enough. There is nothing to do. Only BE.*

HERE’S WHY.

THE BASIC WOUND.   The Basic Wound is the bad feeling, the somatic reaction, psychological upset, confusion and negative belief about the self that results from needs not met in infancy. It is the primal wound that is the foundation and reason for the psychological, behavioral and somatic patterns that interrupt aliveness and wellbeing. The Basic Wound is a lie about the Self that is held deep in the body and the psyche. It is also the root of upsets in the present. It is the source of that shaming voice within, however subtle, that repeats: “I’m not good enough, I’m not lovable, I’m damaged, or I’m not okay.” It is the root of suffering and conflict.

Everyone has a Basic Wound –some large, some small. It is the task of being human to transcend our Basic Wound and simply Be – in peace, alive and present. From that place our Doing is a natural function of volition. There is no need to compensate, defend, dominate, protect or pretend.

SO, FIND A PRACTICE.

As a psychotherapist, I base my work on guiding my clients from the pain of the Basic Wound to the peace and power of simply Being.**   One of the tools, actually the most important tool, I use and teach to accomplish this is called the Sustaining Constancy Series.

SUSTAINING CONSTANCY SERIES (SCS). SCS is a sophisticated breathing exercise that creates a profound experience of wellbeing. It combines high-charge breathing with physical stresses that result in the release of muscular and organic holding in the body. SCS stimulates and balances the central nervous system, oxygenates the blood, releases endorphins in the brain and allows energy to flow freely throughout the body. Helping the client move through the interruptions that arise during the exercise is the somatic- psychotherapeutic work of IBP**.

SCS is a powerful antidote to the pervasive negative influence of the Basic Fault and when done as a daily practice, creates a constant sense of wellbeing and inner peace.

It is the core of my personal practice and is a practice that I teach my clients and students.

 

*That Being doesn’t mean not doing. It means that your doing is driven by volition, not the fear that you are insufficient.

 **The basic premise of Integrative Body Psychotherapy. IBP was developed by Jack Lee Rosenberg, Ph.D., Beverly Kitean-Morse, Psy.D., Marjorie Rand, Ph.D, and others.   For more information about IBP and the training, see www.ibponline.org   Also there is a summary of IBP at www.wikipedia.org

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LMFT in private practice since 1976. Faculty member at the Integrative Body Psychotherapy Central Institute in Venice since 2004. Trained therapists for eight years as Clinical Director at an out-patient drug program. AAMFT certified supervisor till 2008. Co-author of How to Be Happy Partners, a cooperative problem-solving manual for couples. Member of CAMFT, AAMFT and U.S. Assoc. of Body Psychotherapists.