Hello, Dear Reader

It’s been a long time.  I’ve not written to you for almost one year to the day, with one exception being the post I wrote entitled “On Listening,” written right around the time of the presidential election. I was so outraged with people going to extremes, not honoring differences, not listening with respect, that I needed to speak out about compassionate, open hearted listening.  After that, I thought I would be on track again, but no—that was November and now it is one-half year later.  It’s not that I didn’t want to write, I just felt silenced.

What happened, you ask? 

Dear reader, this is what happened. On Tuesday morning, May 10th, 2016, I had a sports injury.  I was doing a hamstring exercise in my living room with one leg on my red chair and my other arm supposed to be on the back of the chair for balance...  In one nanosecond, my awareness went away from the present moment, I didn’t put my hand on the back of the chair for balance, and wham, bang! I fell back onto the raw oak wooden floor.  Not directly on my spine, or my head; I didn’t go unconscious, but I fell from standing up to the floor. I lay on the floor in shock and amazement. As I scanned my body I could tell I had no major injuries.  In that moment, and all day, I felt blessed and filled with gratitude. 

What happened next? First there were the bruises from the fall. In the months of May and June of 2016, I experienced some of the most excruciating days and nights of my life. My back had tightened up.  I could barely stand upright or walk. Something had happened to my ribs that restricted my breathing. I went to the acupuncturist several times and he got special Chinese healing pads for me, and I saw my massage, cranial-sacral person weekly. However, my back seemed to be healing slowly. It felt like the fall set something inside of me into chaos. Each week something else seemed to emerge from my body. One week, it was my thigh that had tightened, then it was my sacrum. Then it was indigestion.  Then it was elimination issues.  There seemed to be no healing pattern. As I said, it felt as if my body-self had fallen into chaos.

Falling backwards is no small thing. It truly can trigger fear or terror, especially if you have never felt held or held enough.  The fall was the fall. This was one level.  Then, it affected the years of contraction in my right leg and difficulty in walking freely.  Now, one year later, from hindsight, it feels clear that the fall also opened a deeper emotional wound of not feeling safe or protected, of not feeling that my mother or my father had my back.

So many of us have current reality situations which trigger deep unconscious wounds.  The more we recognize that, the more we can make that which is unconscious, conscious.  The more we will be able to know what is a feeling and what is current reality.  The more we will be able to hold and listen to these unconscious forces, and the more we will stop being run by them, so that we are no longer victimized by these very early, often preverbal, wounds. Then we are healing, we can choose new behaviors, beliefs and responses.

After three months of falling into chaos—from May to the end of August—I hardly shared what had happened, falling into an old pattern of isolation and not seeing consistent progress in healing.  I knew I needed something more. I began seeing a Feldenkrais—Physical Therapist. As I lay on the table near the end of that first session, I heard a little voice within say, “I know my fragmented body will become whole again—whole and integrated.”  My body was not really fragmented, or broken, but it must have felt that way to the very young me.

I’ve been seeing the F-PT person weekly since August 30th, 2016. These sessions began a very core healing journey filled with delight, awareness, surprises, grief, longing, loss, joy and new habits in moving.

Now, one year later, not only is my walking better than ever, but I have changed and keep changing. Was it a mess or a gift?  Both!

As painful as it has been, as restrictive as it was, as evolving as it has been to recover from the hamstring injury, falling backward and the deeper physical and emotional wound it triggered, it has taken a full year to begin to speak to you again, my dear reader. I’m not sure why I was silenced, but perhaps I needed my energy to face inwards. And when I began to speak it was more personal.  I shared with friends and family what had happened.  That sharing was right.  I saw the profound difference between isolating and not sharing, and opening up and saying it like it was.

“Hello!”  As I write this today, I’m imagining I could have also shared with you, my dear reader, a long time ago.  I could have let you in on my journey, because it was also a teaching moment.  But it didn’t occur to me until now, so it must not have been right. My voice, however, is back now and I have a lot to share with you. I want to hear your thoughts and comments, but before we begin…

During this very long year, I did do one lovely thing for my soul – and yours. I sent you quotes and photos that I discovered. Now, I invite you, in turn, to share a quote and/or photo that touches and feeds your soul.  Perhaps we can hold them together in a beautiful container and go to them as needed.

This beauty stands in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.  I see her grace, flow and beauty.  She is a wonderful container to hold all our quotes and photos.

This beauty stands in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.  I see her grace, flow and beauty.  She is a wonderful container to hold all our quotes and photos.

Together let’s build a soulful collection of photos and quotes that sustain us, that inspire us, that feed our soul. Send them directly to me by email, or share a comment on my Facebook page. I will share them all on my social media with your name and contact information.

 Blessings on your home,

 Lynda

On Being Interviewed

A brief comment on what to remember when being interviewed for an article

The other day, I was interviewed for an article.  Given what happened, going forward I will remember to require editorial rights for the article.  To me, that means I can review the article and see if my message was correctly conveyed or not, and then have the right to change or edit it with the writer.

Going forward I won’t forget.  And I’m reminding you as well.

The working title of the article I was interviewed for was, “How to Always Make the Right Decision.”  Perhaps the most important thing I said was, “There is no right decision. There is only the right thing for you, and then there is still no guarantee that it will yield the results you are looking for.” 

Enough said.

Lynda

On Listening

On Listening Blog Post Image.jpeg

One Saturday evening, months before the election, I got into a cab in New York City and almost immediately, the driver asked me—straight out— “who are you voting for?”  I told him.  Then I asked him, “who are you voting for?”  And thus, we began.  I was voting for Hillary Clinton and he was voting for Donald Trump.  It was a half-hour long ride and we had the most respectful conversation about the election.  I don't know if our conversation convinced him to change his vote.  I know he didn’t convince me.  Actually, we weren’t trying to convince each other; we were talking and listening.  When I arrived at my destination, we both thanked each other for such a respectful conversation in which we both really listened to each other and didn’t make each other feel wrong.  I know that I felt energized; I believe he did too.  I had learned something: another point of view.  I also felt really listened to.  That kind of conversation changes people.  It is transforming.  It connects rather than separates, we become a “we" rather than a "we vs. they."

We live in very challenging times.  We did before the United States’ presidential election, and now even more so.  One way to grow and heal a divided country, a divided family, or a divided self, is to develop strong muscles to respectfully heart-mind-body listen to people—especially to those who have a very different point of view.  We can also listen to ourselves: our inner conflicts, confusions and reactions.  Such listening to all points of view, all parts, and all sides heals great divides.

Listening can be learned.  We can increasingly learn to stand in a place where we listen to all.  We can use all of our tools: Mindfulness, Meditation, Prayer, Self-Talk, Breathing, Awareness.  So often we want to avoid, not feel, because it hurts too much, or causes too much anger.  We would rather react and rush into action.  Listen with respect and hold everything from love, from compassion without judgment.  In this spirit, one thing I decided to do after this election is to listen, read, and watch programs that have very different points of view from my own and the “liberal bubble.”  I want to deeply hear other points of view, like that of the cab driver, and know that listening like this is critical for healing great divides.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is soon upon us. Can we set some ground rules that we choose to follow with our family and/or friends?
* No yelling.
* No interrupting.

* No blaming or making someone feel wrong. 
* Listen with an open heart-mind-body, as best as you can.
* Speak and share from a place of respect.

IT WILL GET EASIER! When we begin listening this way, starting NOW and moving into Thanksgiving, it can become a time when we are muscle-building a very important shift in communication, conversation and relationship. The more we do this and spend heart-respectful time with each other and ourselves, the more WE will have the courage to meet each other AS OURSELVES.

 

"Perhaps things will get worse and then get better.  Perhaps there’s a small god up there in heaven readying herself for us.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  Maybe many of us won’t be here to greet her, but on a quiet day,
if I listen very carefully,
I can hear her breathing."

—Arundhati Roy

 

I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me and share your point of view.

 

Why self-love is SO important

Self-Love is not:
SELFISH
It doesn’t mean you can’t love another
When we are in love with ourselves, then we can love everyone and everything forever.

Self-Love is not
how few wrinkles you have,
or how big or small your belly is,
or your muscles,
or how much money you made last year,
or, or, or
whether you are married,
drive a Mercedes,
or live in a million-dollar house.

Self-Love is an inside job!
It is a love for yourself
no matter what you do or don’t do,
feel or don’t feel, 
think or don’t think,
accomplish or don’t.

Self-Love is an unconditional love,
a love without conditions,
a love that brings compassion, forgiveness, an open-heart and kindness
for yourself, for others,
Period.

True Self-Love is our Ground
We feel safe and protected,
we can go deeper and deeper into life,
embrace people who are different from us.
it is the open door to inspiration, intuition, and revelation,
and a holding space for our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.

True Self-Love is our wholeness
and when we have it:

  • We have a beautiful relationship with ourselves.
  • We don’t take things personally.
  • Our relationships improve.
  • So do our conversations and communications.
  • We are deeply connected to the web of life.
  • We feel full inside, not hungry, empty, lonely.
  • It is highly likely that we will practice self-care.
  • It is highly likely that we show up and contribute our best to life.
  • We take more risks, have the courage to fail and succeed.
  •  It is more likely that we celebrate the all and the everything.
  • We see more beauty.
  • It is more likely that we will succeed at our passions because they are real and true and not because we need love or prove we are enough.

When we are in love with ourselves, then we can love everyone and everything forever.  Love is the natural state of relationship between everyone.

Self Love can be learned.

On this Valentine’s Day, and everyday, whether you are in a romantic relationship or not, have a loving relationship with family and celebrate self-love! 

Then you will be more in love with all of life, forever.

Happy Valentine’s Day!   

 

A Blessing for the New Year

One year ending and a new one being born,
and all through the land there is a smoldering cloak of fear.


In this year may we open to new possibility
we don’t have to be ruled by our fears—inner or outer.
There is another way and
it doesn’t mean we can’t feel afraid.
 
We can learn to sit with our fears, holding them with compassion,
feeling them in our body.  Rather than be afraid of our fears or believe our fears are “the truth” we can get bigger than them.
We transform ourselves.
 
We return to our center,
our breath slows and deepens,
we calm down
we make wise choices.

May 2016 be a year when we transform our fear
Transform ourselves and our organizations
May we live in Freedom and Peace and all that they bring . . .

"As human beings, our greatness lies  . . . in being able to remake ourselves."
                                                                                               ~Mohandas K. Gandhi


 

 

Breathing and the Power of Letting go!

Want to live and love more deeply?

Want to feel more empowered to be yourself and more creative in your work?

Want to experience letting go in your body-mind and a new kind of freedom?

Working with the breath and voice is one of the most empowering ways to learn to let go and be free. If you can’t let go in your body, you can’t let go in your mind. The more you can let go, the more you will experience the true joy of being alive. 

Years ago I experienced an opening of my heart, seeing with new eyes and experiencing a transformation, a radical paradigm shift of what life is. It lasted a brief three weeks and left rapidly. But never to be forgotten.  

So many of us are unaware of how we breathe and if we have an issue we don’t know how to repair it. In the early days I had no idea there was anything wrong with my breathing. Because breathing is involuntary we forget that we can use our conscious mind to affect it and change it. Voice work is a potent way of developing breathing. Voice and mind are synergistic; each helping develop the other.

When I first began studying breathing I was at my doctor’s office. He said “make a muscle” and without thinking my old habit popped in, I took a big inhale and made a muscle. Immediately I remembered my latest affirmation: “Live life on the exhale.”  So I told the doctor I wanted to make another muscle. This time making a muscle on the exhale, I observed that I used less energy and effort and had a stronger muscle. It was an epiphany.

The relaxed exhale is the key to full and free breathing, an embodied voice, and being centered in the present moment. The more you develop your exhale the more you can let go, surrender, open, be vulnerable and know your strength. The more you can connect with yourself and life.

The more you are living on your relaxed exhale, the more you are letting go, the more you are in harmony with the power of the universe.  

Realizing that letting go is empowering and not weak is quite important. Letting go opens you up to yourself and allows a free self to emerge. In our culture we don’t honor letting go and not pushing; we think it’s weak.  

Are you resonating with what I am saying about breath, voice and the power of letting go?

If what I am saying talks to you may want to investigate the new in-person workshops I am giving in NYC. Dates will be announced soon. Click here to read more about the workshop.

To your fullest, richest life,

inside and out,

Lynda

On Freedom and Love this Valentine's Day

{There are two types of living. One is fear-oriented; the other is love-oriented.}

How is your love this Valentine’s Day? Perhaps the most loving thing you could do on Valentine’s Day is to reflect on your relationship. Don’t judge. Reflect with compassion and kindness.

The more aware we become of what it means to live in a fear-based life, as opposed to a love-oriented one, the more can see and know where we live in our romantic relationships. The poem below makes this contrast vivid and poignant for us. We can apply the lessons in this beautiful poem by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to our relationships with family, friends and colleagues, in addition to our romantic relationships.

Most of us have relationships which contain both fear and love, as opposed to being strictly fear-based or strictly love-based. This can also be true of our relationships with ourselves. What really matters is that we can identify what fear looks like and what love offers, hold both, and choose what we want to energize and what we want our relationships to grow into.

Don't Hold Back by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Brought to you by Dr. Lynda Klau

A relationship is one of the mysteries of life.
and because it exists between two
persons,
it depends on both.

Whenever two persons meet,
a new world is created..
Just by their meeting,
a new phenomenon comes into
existence –
one which was not, before,
one which never existed before.
And through that new phenomenon,
both persons
are changed and transformed.

Unrelated, you are one thing:
related,
you immediately become something
else.
A new thing has happened.

In the beginning, only peripheries meet.
If the relationship grows intimate,
becomes closer,
becomes deeper,
then, by and by,
centers start meeting.
When centers meet,
it is called love.

Where peripheries meet,
it is called acquaintance.
You touch the person from without,
just from the boundary,
then it is acquaintance.
Many times,
you start calling your acquaintance
your love.
Then you are in a fallacy.
Acquaintance is not love.

blog pic.jpg

Love is very rare.
To meet a person at his center
is to pass through a revolution in
yourself,
because if you want to meet a person
at his center,
you will have to allow that person
to reach your center also.
You will have to become vulnerable,
absolutely vulnerable,
absolutely vulnerable,
open.

It is risky.
To allow someone to reach your center
is risky and dangerous.
You never know what that person will do
to you.
Once all your secrets are known,
once your hiddenness has become
unhidden,
once you are exposed completely,
what the other person will do
you never know.
Fear is there.
That’s why we never open.

You can allow somebody
to enter you to your centers
only when you are not afraid,
when you are not fearful.

So, I say to you
there are two types of living,
One is fear-oriented;
The other is love-oriented.

Fear-oriented living
can never lead you into a deep
relationship.

You remain afraid,
and the other cannot be allowed
to penetrate you to your very core.
Up to an extent,
you allow the other to penetrate.
Then a wall comes
and everything stops.

The love-oriented person
is the religious person.
The love-oriented person
is one who is not afraid of the future,
one who is not afraid of the result
or of the consequence,
one who lives here and now.

That’s what Krishna says to Arjuna
in the Gita:
Don’t be bothered about the result.
That is the fear-oriented mind.
Don’t think about what will happen.
Just be here, and act totally.

Don’t calculate.
A fear-oriented mind
is always calculating,
planning,
arranging,
safeguarding.
His whole life is lost in this way.

When you are not afraid,
then there is nothing to hide,
then you can be open,
then you can withdraw all boundaries,
then you can invite the other
to penetrate you to the very core.

And remember,
If you allow somebody to penetrate you
deeply,
the other will allow you to penetrate
into himself or into herself.
When you allow somebody to penetrate
you,
trust is created.
When you are not afraid,
the other becomes fearless.

Kabir has said somewhere:
I look into people.
They are so afraid, but I can’t see why.
They have nothing to lose.

It is like a person who is naked,
but never goes to take a bath in the river
because he is afraid his clothes will be
stolen.

This is the situation you are in:
you have no clothes,
but you are always afraid of losing them.
What have you got to lose?
Nothing.
This body will be taken by death.
Before it is taken by death,
give it to love.

Whatsoever you have will be taken away.
Before it is taken away,
why not share it?

That is the only way of possessing it.
If you can share
and give,
you are the master.

It is going to be taken away.
There is nothing you can retain forever.
Death will destroy everything.

So, if you follow me rightly,
the struggle is between death and love.
If you can give,
there will be no death.
Before anything can be taken away from
you,
you will already have given it.
You will have made it a gift.
There can be no death.

For a lover, there is no death.
For a nonlover, every moment is a death,
because, every moment,
something is being snatched away from
him.
The body is disappearing –
he is losing it every moment.
Then there will be death
and everything will be annihilated.

What is the fear?
Why are you so afraid of being known?
Even if everything is known about you
and you are an open book,
why do you fear?
How can it harm you?

The fear is just a false conception,
given by society,
that you have to hide,
that you have to protect yourself,
that you constantly
have to be
in a fighting mood,
that everybody is an enemy,
that everything is against you.

Nobody is against you,
Even if you feel somebody is against you,
he, too, is not against you.
everybody is concerned with himself,
not with you.

There is nothing to fear.
This has to be realized
before a real relationship can happen.
There is nothing to fear.

 

For your romantic needs and relationship issues in work and life, please check out 
couples counselingrelationship issues and people centric leadership.

May your relationships flourish,
Lynda

The Evolution of Humanity

Last Friday evening I was at a dinner party and something a guest said pierced my heart deeply:  what our world needs is the "Evolution of Humanity."  

 In these three beautiful words I heard the music of a dream that I have be longing for since childhood. I often talk about taking the journey from fear to freedom and helping others do the same. The evolution of humanity is this, but seven levels deeper.  

 Many of us, from all walks of life, and nature herself, so say the senior scientists, are ready for a quantum leap in evolution. 

 The dinner guest was thinking of his children and grandchildren and the world we have created and are leaving for them.  There are other reasons.  Some of us are “beyond success,” according to the American dream.  We have it all-the money, the materialistic goods, yet long for something beyond these limits of success. Some of us are still caught up in chasing the American Dream, yet we feel that something is missing. Perhaps we knowingly or unknowingly wish to learn how to live a life of peace, self-love, and compassion. We want to heal our judging selves that destroy, instead of build. We want to we long to speak our truths and have conversations that are true dialogues. We see the problems that our people and our earth are facing. We want to end war and live in inner and outer peace. Some of us are fortunate to feel passionate about doing work that we love, knowing that if we follow that stream, we will be giving our best to the world.

 The Evolution of Humanity will not come if we only feel depressed, outraged and pessimistic and if we do not hold the vision for an evolved humanity. It will not come if we keep exhausting ourselves from an overloaded “To-Do list.” 

 We are the seeds for a new earth. We can choose to work to evolve. There are many levels at which we can do the work. My focus has always been from the Inside-Out.  

 The Evolution of Humanity has been spoken of by many teachers. Here are some examples, recommended for further exploration:

  • Ekhard Tolle's A New Earth
  • Teilhard de Chardin’s The Divine Milieu
  • David Spangler’s Revelation; The Birth of a New Age
  • Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul
  • Michael Brown’s The Presence Process
  • Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy

 

Krishamurti spoke of it this way:  

“And as we are — the world is. That is, if we are greedy, envious, competitive, our society will be competitive, envious, greedy, which brings misery and war. The State is what we are. To bring about order and peace, we must begin with ourselves and not with society, not with the State, for the world is ourselves … If we would bring about a sane and happy society we must begin with ourselves and not with another, not outside of ourselves, but with ourselves.”

 

 

What can we do to evolve ourselves?  What can we do to bring out the best in ourselves? We can make a conscious choice to Do Less and Be More.  It can be helpful to focus on one transformative goal that speaks to you.  Here are some ideas:

  • Become Breathe Aware and develop a breathing practice
  • Connect with silence
  • Be Aware of our bodies
  • Be Conscious of self-talk and feelings
  • Connect with the earth
  • Share in our communities
  • Read for our souls
  • Develop mindfulness

Starting small is a great way to insure success.

These practices can help us go forward into the light of day from a more centered place. The more each of us commit to the Evolution of Humanity, by working on ourselves from the Inside-Out, the more we will take action to heal the world.

We will see the Evolution of Humanity manifest organically and gently.

I can hear you protesting to me, "But Lynda you don't understand.  I have no time for all of that.” And I hear my mother saying to me, many a time,“Lynda you always find the time to do the things you want to do!” How right she was and still is.

Be More, Do Less And Save Time

 
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I just came back from a BEING, DO NOTHING vacation. More than ever I spent time Being and doing nothing. No agendas, no digital, no schedules.  Lots of sleep, rests and more. I returned renewed, restored and relaxed beyond words. As human BEINGS we need Being time.

Vacations are important, however, we need to have Being time everyday.

The blog post saving time by doing LESS by Alex Cavoulacos from wework.comcame my way and it is so relevant to what I want to share about more time to Be.  She is on target offering us ways to save time by doing less.  Here are some of the tips that Alex suggests that I particularly resonated with:

  • Say no-it’s crucial-and she tells you how.
  • Let go of control – delegate more.
  • Pare your To Do List down by asking yourself, “What is the impact of doing this?” Great question. If there is no impact, let it go.
  • Length of meetings-shorten meetings to 20-30 minutes-that one gave me pause.

Those are smart Doing ways to save time so you have more of it.

We can also save time by Being more.

Here are some ways to Be more, Do Less and Save Time. The more we Be and stop doing, the more focused and clear we will become about what we have to do and how to do it. We will learn to let go of feeling stuck and taking things personally, and therefore save time. These Being times bring us back to center and into the presence of now, facilitate our receiving intuitions and inspirations and open our hearts.

As human beings we also need Being time to fulfill our natures.

Make time for Being in Silence and Solitude

  • Unplug everyday from everything for at least one minute. Gradually work up to three, five, ten or even fifteen! The longer the better.
  • Light a candle and sit quietly.
  • Meditate: sense your breath, watch your mind quiet and connect to your body and soul.
  • Do restorative yoga which includes holding poses for an extended period of time.
  • Soak in a bathtub.
  • Weed the garden.
  • Rock in your rocker.
  • Rest on a bed or sofa for a few minutes.
  • Practice mindfulness in all that you do. Click here for tips from Lynda.

Being more has you stopping, dipping into the well.

Returning to your center.

Resting in your inner home.

Going slower, saving time and living longer.

When we are in Harmony with ourselves, we are in harmony with the universe.

We want to be both Being and Doing, in the proper balance for who we are and the needs of the day. We want to live from our whole self, fulfilling our deepest potential.

***

Song of My Soul: a personal reflection

 
 

by Lynda Klau Ph.D.

Previously published by the Global Association For Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies

The first arm didn’t do it.   The second arm completed the transformation.   

Almost one year before, after I had broken my left upper arm, I would sit at my kitchen table in the dark of the night crying from the pain. As I did so I began to hear another voice, it was my very young self crying, now not from the physical pain but from the agony of long ago.

It’s Thursday morning, February 16th. I’m leaving my apartment building in New York City, stepping from the building’s front entrance to the street, when my left foot gets caught in my right pants leg. I crash down onto the sidewalk, landing with the entire weight of my body on my right shoulder and arm.

When I arrive at the hospital, the surgeon tells me that the humerus of my right arm is broken in three places and I dislocated my shoulder. He immediately schedules me for surgery.

After the operation, I’m home again. People keep telling me how traumatized I must be from the accident and the surgery. They’re right: I observe a tremendous amount of fear coursing through my body and my thoughts. I feel vulnerable, emotional, and powerless. For the first few nights, I’m afraid to sleep alone, so I have friends stay over. I only feel safe enough to leave the house using a hired car service— not even a street cab, let alone my own two feet. 

Clearly, part of me is being run by my most primitive emotions. But paradoxically, at the same time, I notice something new blossoming inside me.  

In the days that follow, I can do very little. I spend most of my time inside. My home is comforting; its simple beauty nourishes my soul. Almost every day, I wear my red velvet jacket lined in silk charmeuse. I feel like I’m being held by its loving arms. To eat, I order my favorite wild salmon miso stew: it is so warm and healing.   

Between my friends, family, and colleagues, as well as my therapist, body workers, surgeon and his team, I’m surrounded by a circle of love, support and protection. I watch myself begin to relax and feel safe. As I do so, my body begins to thaw. Only then do I realize how frozen it had been.

To my amazement, almost miraculously, as I begin to work with clients again, I notice that I’m more open, intelligent and present than ever before. My thoughts and energy flow, with stories and quotes leaping to the tip of my tongue. This is also true with close friends. 

By being mindful, I can hold what seems like this pot of contradictions. Now is not the time to figure any of this out. It’s the time to be quiet, take care, and listen. 

ii..  insight

It wasn’t until I finally went to the hairdresser for the first time since the accident— when my knotted, unkempt curls were lovingly washed, brushed and combed— that I had a profound insight into the nature of my trauma from the accident and the contradictions that emerged.

During the car ride home, I asked myself: “What are the facts about what I’ve been going through?” I told myself: “Well, I have a broken arm and I went through surgery.” Period. It wasn’t a life threatening accident, or a major operation. So why was my emotional response so intense? What was opening in me? Within the space of a breath, the answer came: my broken arm, as well as the surgery, had triggered a deep symbolic trauma rooted in my early self. 

iii. Sorting it Out: Interpersonal Neurobiology

In many ways, Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) provides a map of my transformation that I believe can be useful to others. My own experience validates and reinforces the framework of IPNB on a subjective level. Knowing this allowed me to embrace an even deeper evolution and awareness. Once I realized that I was living the map, I was able to let the map guide me further. 

From my current perspective, it is clear that the shock of my accident triggered what IPNB would call a limbic trauma originating from my early relationship with my mother. In the words of psychiatrist Donald Winnicott (1971) and the Attachment Research literature (Gerhardt, 2004), when a mother is “not good enough” and does not provide enough of her presence—her heart, her eyes, her attunement—the baby develops an insecure attachment. As a result, her earliest understanding of life and love is one of fear-based survival, rather than her own goodness, connection and inclusion. She feels isolated, unconnected and bad, and the world around her seems dangerous. 

Up until the period of my recovery, I had not been able to differentiate this early non-verbal limbic trauma from my present reality. Finally, feeling “safe enough” inside and without, surrounded by a loving “village,” and having the mindful awareness to observe my feelings without identifying with them, I was able to bring consciousness to this implicit limbic trauma. I could differentiate and hold my limbic wounded self with love and compassion. When it had words, I could listen. When it was unable to express itself, I could sense its feelings and put them into words. I could take care of my very young self in a way that my mother couldn’t. How lucky we are to be able to have a second chance at becoming ourselves.

The more I was able to differentiate my early limbic trauma from present reality, the more my hippocampus could do its job, integrating my left and right hemispheres. This felt like a huge bilateral leap forward.

At the same time that my emotional-psychological self was evolving, my body was transforming too. Our bodies are our psychological mirrors. The way I had previously held my body reflected the deep neural tracks of a scared, frustrated, and powerless woman. My awareness of what I could sense within my body deepened. What seemed like pounds of fear dropped away. A limp that I had developed years before— which I had tried everything to heal— began to disappear. My body-mind, vertical Integration, was now stronger than ever. Most importantly, I could trust my body to support me in a way I never could before.

As a result of all of this, my middle pre-frontal cortex became unblocked, stronger, and more present, enhancing my energies for the Nine Functions and integration in the Nine Domains.

My life changed in ways both subtle and profound. Now I was increasingly able to align with my calm center—what Dr. Dan Siegel (2012) terms “the hub of the wheel.” This is what mindfulness practice calls the “witnessing presence,” “awareness,” or the “invisible realm.” Rather than reacting from an undifferentiated limbic trauma, I could pause, breathe, reflect, and consciously choose how to respond. I had found my way out of the prison of conditioning and into freedom. I had finally earned a secure attachment. In my words I had finally come home. Hallelujah!

Of course, this doesn't mean that I’m immune to being triggered again, or temporarily falling into a limbic hole. Transformation and growth is always a cyclical process. Yet what I do know is that— like a train—I have changed tracks. 

iv.  Endings and New Beginnings

The steps that I experienced on my journey may have implications for all of us. Consider your life; consider how Interpersonal Neurobiology provides an exquisite framework that can help each of us cultivate and evolve our selves and our world.

What a joy to watch ourselves walking solidly on the ground between heaven and earth.

References

Gerhardt, S. (2004). Attachment Theory. Routledge, NY. 

Siegel, D. MD (2012). The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the

Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (2nd ed.). NY: The Guilford

Press.

Winnicott, D. MD (1971). Playing and Reality. Ann Arbor, MI: The

University of Michigan Basic Books.

©2013 Lynda Klau Ph.D.

Mindfulness: The New Zen of Time Management

 
 

By Lynda Klau Ph.D.

Previously published by the Global Association For Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies


As a licensed psychologist and business coach who has spent over two decades helping people who work in various business environments and professions - from the corporate world to small business, from CEOs to lawyers, artists and more - I've repeatedly heard comments confirming that almost everyone these days is harried, hurried, and exhausted. It's not an overstatement to say that the majority of us are having a significant crisis with Time and we've become Time's victims. What's more, we have no idea how to find freedom.

Here are just a few examples of comments I've heard not only from clients, but from colleagues as well:

"With work and my family occupying most of my time and energy, I feel the continuous pressure to meet my responsibilities. I constantly "keep on going" and I never sleep or relax. I have no idea how to pull myself out of this cycle!"

"All day long, virtually every day, I feel imprisoned by email, Facebook, my cell phone, and my Blackberry. It's consuming my life to the point that I can't focus on all that I want and need to get done."

"When I'm working in my office, my plans for the day constantly get derailed with interruptions and demands. I don't complete what I set out to do. "I spend so much time thinking about the past or the future that I feel like the present is slipping away. I know I'm missing out".

"Because I don't love my job, I feel unfulfilled at the end of the day. I don't have time to focus on what really matters."

Why The Old Solutions Don't Work
Clearly, this widespread problem requires a radical solution. But most traditional approaches to "Time Management" only ask us to change our behaviors, as if all our conflicts with Time could be solved simply by "establishing our priorities," "sticking to a concrete schedule," or "organizing our files." These external solutions are logical, but they're not psychological; they ignore the internal emotional conflicts and pressures that influence us on the most fundamental levels.

While it must be acknowledged that external pressures and distractions inundate us constantly, their effect on us can trigger internal psychological conflicts. These conflicts cannot be addressed only on an external or behavioral level. In fact, when left unaddressed, internal conflicts influence our behaviors profoundly, potentially wreaking havoc on our ability to maintain a healthy equilibrium with Time.

When we only try to change our behaviors, in neurobiological terms we're using the left hemisphere of our brain to logically decide how to manage our time. These external, behavioral resolutions, however, can easily be undermined by reactions from the limbic brain, which push us into a fight or flight survival state. This disrupts even our best-made plans, from completing tasks to following schedules, and makes interpersonal relationships more difficult (Siegel, 2007).

Here are two examples of how internal psychological issues can interfere with efficient Time Management:

  • Imagine you're the director of a branch of a real estate company. You're writing a promotional piece to advertise a new housing complex. Each time you sit down to work, you're inundated with interruptions. A co-worker asks you a timeconsuming question. The phone rings while your secretary is out to lunch; it's your daughter calling from school to say that she's sick. By the end of the day, exhausted, you realize that you wrote your piece within scattered, fifteen-minute chunks of Time.
  • Imagine you've been assigned to prepare a presentation at work for a group of your colleagues. With the best of intentions, you decide to start working on the project in the morning, when your energy is at its best. Even though you've planned to leave your whole morning free, you put off working on the presentation until the last minute. By procrastinating, you've wasted your best energy and wind up rushing to finish the presentation.

Although the first example might seem to describe only external factors interfering with time, varying degrees of internal conflicts might be at work under the surface as well. These could range from the inability to create professional boundaries, to trouble setting limits, to fear of delegating responsibilities and giving up control. In the second example, no amount of external time management solutions can address the unconscious internal conflicts that cause procrastination. These could range from beliefs rooted in childhood experience, such as "They'll judge and attack me," "I'm not good enough to do the job well," or "I'm terrified to speak in public."

In both of these situations, old neural nets from childhood are likely suppressing our ability to function from a balanced state of mind. From infancy, neural nets that can hamper us as adults are generated when early caregivers aren't sufficiently attuned to our physical and emotional needs. These experiences create implicit memories, including nonconscious mental models about our worth, our abilities, and the way the relational world works. When there is not sufficient empathy in our early environment, such neural nets remain dissociated from the flow of the integrating brain, so when they are triggered in adulthood, our rational choices are overwhelmed by the super-fast limbic rush of these mental models. We may fully intend to work on a pressing project, and find ourselves consuming ice cream instead. Because these experiences are dissociated from connection with the middle prefrontal cortical regions, we are deprived of the complex processing available there, including the capacity to see a range of options and the response flexibility to choose the best option and act on it. Consequently, we're less able to address clearly and potently the issues that arise regarding ourselves, others, and the task at hand, making it virtually impossible for us to make decisions from a place of choice and freedom (Siegel, 2007).

Although we can't always change our external situation, we do have the ability to influence our degree of neural integration, giving us the power to change our internal and external responses to challenges. The freedom given by increased capacity for choice is an effective time management skill that frees our energy for the task at hand, while changing the quality of our work and life.

Ideally, each of us experiences the integration of body, thoughts, and feelings or, to say it neurobiologically, body, left hemisphere, and right hemisphere. Any successful approach to time management must incorporate all of these aspects of our being, each of which shapes the way we interact with and relate to Time. In order to manage Time successfully, we first must learn to manage ourselves. It's important to recognize the significant difference between "management" and "control." Rather than closing off from difficult feelings or beliefs in order to regain control, true self-management involves being in touch with all parts of ourselves. In this way, we can gradually develop the capacity to respond to any situation from a place of awareness and choice, rather than be pulled off track by external pressures, old neural nets, and our own feelings and beliefs. As we become increasingly aware of internal (psychological, emotional, and bodily) factors that inform the way we relate to Time, our middle prefrontal cortex begins to integrate with previously dissociated limbic firing. So the next question is, "How do we promote the neural integration that will lead to greater freedom in regard to Time?"

Mindfulness: A Radical Solution to Time Management

Originally derived from the Buddhist tradition, but increasingly applied to a wide spectrum of Western modalities for mental and physical well-being, mindfulness is the practice of bringing your awareness to what is emerging in the present moment. This refers to what is occurring for us internally (our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs) and externally (the environment around us) from moment to moment. It is a radical wake-up call to become conscious of all parts of ourselves, bringing to awareness the unconscious behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs that have been running us.

Research demonstrates that mindfulness facilitates brain-wide integrative processes, including vertical integration (body, limbic, and cortex) and bilateral integration (right and left hemispheres). Mindfulness meditation shifts the brain laterally toward the left, which increases the potential for approach states of mind, allowing us to confront and resolve problems (Davidson, 2004). Correspondingly, Lazar and colleagues have found that long-term mindfulness meditation increases the thickness of the middle prefrontal cortical region (Lazar, et al 2005). For there to be measurable changes in cortical thickness, a great many new synaptic connections must be made. As integration between the middle prefrontal and limbic regions occurs, we are more resilient under stress and have increased response flexibility, allowing us to pause and process our responses to any situation more slowly and completely (Lutz, Duane, and Davidson, in press).

One key to improving our relationship with Time is developing a "mindful awareness" of ourselves at all levels. This offers a fresh perspective from which we can nonjudgmentally witness whatever is arising for us in the present, internally and externally, from a place of curiosity and openness. When we encounter the present with new eyes, we are less likely to identify with the unconscious feelings and beliefs that interfere with our relationship with Time. This opens the door to new possibilities and solutions.

Research by Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer and Tenet (2006) indicates that the more mindful we are, either by nature or by practice, several benefits will result:

we are much less likely to react to thoughts and feelings as they occur;we increasingly notice, observe, and attend to our sensations and perceptions;we increasingly act with awareness;we have the increased ability to describe all of our experience in words;we become increasingly non-judgmental.

With enough practice, mindfulness can become a trait of being, rather than just a transient state of mind as it is when we first begin to practice. This will profoundly affect the functioning of our body and brain, our thoughts and feelings, and our relationship with ourselves and others (Siegel, 2007).

Simple Steps for Developing Mindful Awareness

If you are a newcomer mindfulness practice, taking a kind attitude toward yourself is an important part of the process. For many of us, our minds are used to running very quickly in many directions, so it will take some time for the capacity for focus to emerge. As you approach your practice each day, coming to it with an open state of mind, without expectations about how it will go relieves the additional tension that comes with pre-judging the experience.

Here's a traditional, easy-to-follow exercise to help develop mindful awareness:

Sit down in a room where you won't be disturbed.Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing.Become aware of yourself inhaling and exhaling.It's natural for your attention to become distracted from your breath. When your attention becomes distracted, don&'t judge yourself. Simply gently return to your inbreath and your out-breath.Practice the above steps until you've developed the ability to sustain focus on your breath.From this place, continue to focus on your breath, and expand your focus to allow your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and bodily sensations to enter your awareness, receiving all experience with an attitude of openness, curiosity, and love.

Developing mindful awareness isn't just limited to exercises like this. Mindfulness can be practiced in many other ways: from washing the dishes, to weeding the garden, to listening to music, to doing yoga. Any activity can be an opportunity to stay in the present moment and allow the richness of experience to change the way we perceive and behave.


The more we become mindfully aware of ourselves from moment to moment, each level of our being will communicate to us with increasing power. This open channel of communication with all parts of ourselves will reveal the internal mental, emotional, and interpersonal issues that are interfering with our ability to manage our Time.

Making Mindfulness a Way of Living

In the words of the poet Stanley Kunitz: "You must grab ahold of time and draw it into your self. You must train it so that it corresponds to your own interior rhythms. Otherwise, you'll be chasing [time] all your life."

To truly manage Time requires making mindfulness a way of living, as we remain aware of our bodies, feelings, and beliefs from moment to moment. This means respecting our own natural energetic rhythms and responding to each situation accordingly. As soon as we notice that we've slipped back into our automatic reactions, triggered by dissociated limbic neural networks, we can mindfully choose to "wake up" again.

When we live from a mindful place of alignment and integration, new possibilities and solutions will emerge. All parts of us work together as a whole. Just as a choir that sings in harmony, where each individual's voice synchronizes perfectly within the whole, through mindfulness we become more than the sum of our parts, reclaiming the full power of who we are. The challenges and conflicts that once overwhelmed us and ran our lives no longer threaten us. We're able to pay attention to important deadlines and timeframes while still giving ourselves the space to enter the fullness of the present moment, the source of our calmness, creativity, and inspiration. In this way, we live at the intersection of Time and Timelessness. This is true freedom.

References

Baer, R.A., Smith, G.T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13(1), 27-45.

Davidson, R.J. (2004). Well-being and affective style: Neural substrates and biobehavorial correlates. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society London, B, 359, 1395-1411.

Lazar, S.W., Kerr, C.E., Wasserman, R.H., Gray, J.R., Greve, D.N., Treadway, M.T. et al (2005). Mediation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16(17), 1893-1897.

Lutz, A., Dunne, J.D., & Davidson, R.J. (in press). Mediatation and the neuroscience of consciousness. In P.D. Zelazo, M. Moscovitch, & E. Thompson (Eds.). The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Siegel, D.J. (2007). The mindful brain: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being.New York: W. W. Norton.

 

Lynda Klau, Ph.D. ©2013

Transference: Cleaning up the Past and Entering the Moment

 
 

Originally posted July 21, 2010

by Lynda Klau, Ph.D.

Defining the Issue

Faced with the deep uncertainty of our times, many of us desire not only to live better and more successful lives, but to find an expanded vision of who we are, through which we can fulfill our deepest potential and to contribute to the world. Knowingly or unknowingly, we seem to be moving collectively in the direction of this "wisdom perspective." Whether it is yoga, bodywork, or meditation, all these tools are valuable in some way, and give each of us more power to work and live creatively.


The "wisdom perspective" invites us to embrace a level of being that transcends the personal self. This contrasts sharply with the traditional Western psychological model that identifies us with the personal self. But how can we create a solid foundation for moving beyond the personal self without having first developed a sufficiently healthy one?


As more of us move toward the "wisdom perspective," we risk shortchanging ourselves of the tools offered by traditional psychology. This creates a serious problem. We are bypassing the basic issues that only traditional psychology can address.


If turning towards the "wisdom perspective" is simply designed to cover up the dysfunctional beliefs of the personal self that we inherited from our families and our culture, then this equates to a new way of avoiding old issues. The bottom-line is that this doesn't work. As long as we keep ignoring them, our personal issues will remain in conflict. Our basic psychological issues deserve to be understood and healed, not just released or "transcended."


The value of using traditional psychology to complement the wisdom perspective can be demonstrated by exploring one important psychological phenomenon: the concept of transference.

Transference: A Key Psychological Concept.

Transference, in the broadest definition of that term, refers to the unconscious act of redirecting or projecting the feelings that we had toward our parents or early caregivers onto people in our everyday lives. To say that it affects our behavior constantly would be an understatement.

Imagine that your boss doesn't look you in the eyes and it instantly makes you feel exactly as your father did when he treated you dismissively as a child. Imagine walking into a job interview and finding that the person behind the desk talks constantly about herself, which unconsciously triggers the way you felt when your father incessantly lectured you without asking your opinions. Lastly, how many times have you been strongly triggered by someone, either positively or negatively, without knowing why? The truth is that most of us react to these transferential situations emotionally and unconsciously. The "wisdom-perspective" would advise us to detach from the situation at hand because our personal feelings do not reflect the objective facts. One of the common catchphrases of the wisdom perspective is "Don't take it personally!" But what happens when we can't help but do so?


If we understand the psychological concept of Transference, then we realize that the 'real" situation we're dealing with often triggers a "symbolic" one that is often unconscious, activating feelings that arise from our past. By addressing Transference, we begin to distinguish between what is real and what is symbolic, allowing us to return to everyday situations with awareness and choice.

Transference Exercise

Here is an exercise to be done in your own private time and space, designed to help decrease the negative effects of Transference in your life:


Step 1: List the people in your everyday world who "push your buttons."

Step 2: Select one person on which to focus specifically.

Step 3: Perform a review of your feelings about this person. Ask yourself: "What happened in reality? Who in my past does this remind me of? How do I feel about that person?"

Step 4: Now visualize a boundary and separate the "real" person you're dealing with from the "symbolic" person they trigger

Step 5: Listen non-judgmentally to the feelings triggered by the "symbolic" person. For example, pay attention to the things you might have wanted to say or do to someone from your past, but which you never did. You may even want to write your feelings down concretely.

Step 6: Return to the "real" situation. What has changed?

This exercise should be repeated as often as necessary. It brings us back to the "real" situation with a greater sense of emotional freedom and clarity. The more conscious we become of our transferential responses, their effect on us will increasingly diminish. We will not simply unconsciously react to a person or a situation, but we will respond productively with awareness and choice.

Concluding Reflections: Reintegrating the Wisdom Perspective

Since the phenomenon of Transference is so ubiquitous in our relationships, it is invaluable to remain open to addressing it. In working through these "symbolic" projections, we increasingly establish a clearer boundary between our internal thoughts and feelings and the external realities we face daily. We can then appreciate Transferential situations not as areas of conflict, but as opportunities for growth. This process not only fosters a more sturdy, healthy, personal self: a great accomplishment unto itself, but also facilitates our immersion into the joys of the "wisdom perspective" as well.

Lynda Klau, Ph.D.   ©2013

 

 

.

Reclaim Your Authentic Voice: Drinking From the Well

 
 

Originally posted June 8, 2011

by Lynda Klau, Ph.D.

We all yearn to be real, to feel connected to ourselves and to others. Often, however, we lose this connection. We're not living from our deepest passion, but we cannot find a way to bring it into our lives. We yearn to be more successful at work, but we lack the courage to take the necessary steps. Or perhaps a personal crisis, such as divorce or illness, has shaken our foundations. To survive, we let fear push down our true feelings, so that the creativity and wisdom we long to bring forth remains buried and unborn. In this way, we remain unconscious of and avoid our entire spectrum of emotions and beliefs, from fear to anger to loneliness to love, and we never transcend them to discover the authentic self within that is filled with wisdom beyond convention.

Paradoxically, to live from our authenticity means two things: on the one hand, to connect with our innermost "core" truth: that unchanging place in us that receives our deepest inspiration, intuition, and insight, and on the other hand, to honor the feelings and beliefs of our personal self, ingrained in us by our parents and society. In other words, to live authentically means preserving an openness and natural harmony between our hearts, our bodies, and our minds. Once we have aligned with our truth at this "core" level, we can embrace our personal self from a perspective of understanding, compassion, and freedom, in other words, from our "wholeness." To be authentic, therefore, involves honoring all of who we are: our thoughts and feelings and bodily sensations.

How Do We Lose Our Connection to Our Authentic Self?

Let's call the largest, outermost circle the "persona," the public mask we show to the world. This is the part of us that seeks approval for our achievements in our daily and professional lives. Trapped in our "persona," we define our value based on our surface level of "success": the kind car we drive, the size of our house or television screen, or the amount of power we have in our job.

The second circle can be called the "shadow," the private self that we are afraid to show to others and often even to ourselves. This is the part of us that we suppress for fear that it would be met with disapproval if acknowledged and expressed. The "shadow" is the voice in us that judges and fears our anger, our sadness, and even our love. It feels shamed or guilty by what it construes to be our weaknesses and failures. In the depths of the "shadow," we suffer from a fundamental belief that we are "bad," or at least "not good enough."

The more we fixate upon or overly identify with these first two circles, the more we lose connection with the third, innermost circle, our "core." This is the intuitive "gut" self that knows our own intrinsic goodness and self-love, and also recognizes it in others. Our "core" remains unaffected by either our perceived achievements or our shortcomings. Rather, it is the place in us that follows our deepest passions in the face of enormous social and psychological pressures. Think of the dissatisfied student who leaves business school in order to become a photographer, or the computer expert who quits her corporate job to start her own business. History provides many examples of individuals who have had the courage to speak out beyond conventional rules and to follow the song of their souls.

To the extent that we stop listening to our center, however, our center stops communicating with us clearly and succinctly. We either become stuck on the surface of the "persona" or we sink into the depths of the "shadow," and we believe that either one or the other represents the real Truth about us: "I'm great because I have a Mercedes!" or "I'm a failure because I don't have a Mercedes." These types of beliefs profoundly affect our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. When we define ourselves by such extreme voices, we become nothing more than a "good" learned-self and a "bad" learned-self, but never a true, authentic self.

How Can We Reclaim our Authentic Voice?

Our Western culture teaches that the personal self is the center of our universe, the place where all of our competing, conditioned voices live. In this model, the rational mind of the personal self reigns supreme. The first step toward reclaiming our authenticity, however, is to embrace a more expansive model of who we think we are and of how we view the world. In truth, the whole of who we are is more than sum total of our personal self, our "persona" and our "shadow." It is necessary to deconstruct the old hierarchy that places our ego above our core self, our heart and our body. Once we realize that all parts of us deserve to be listened to, we can begin to refocus our intentions and our attention upon reclaiming our authentic voice.

Our ability to impartially observe any part of us has been called our "witnessing presence." This refers to a place within us that stands apart from our conditioned beliefs and self-judgments. It allows us to differentiate between, harmonize, and ultimately transcend them. To develop our "witnessing presence" just as we would any other muscle is the key to emerging from our obstructions into an authentic way of living. From this perspective, we enter a space in consciousness that is separate from our identifications with the personal self's thoughts and feelings, but which also respects them. This allows us to experience these beliefs fully without becoming lost in them. From here, the authentic adult in us surfaces, the person who can successfully integrate all of his or her conditioned voices and selves, as well as open to fresh inspirations.

Imagine that you have been in business for fifteen years and you've just been downsized. Your savings are minimal and your expenses have not changed: the monthly bills keep piling up in the mailbox, and no new business is coming in. A common response to such a situation would be to automatically respond with negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings rooted in fear: "I will never be able to recover financially. What am I going to live on? I will never be able to support myself and my family." Harsh self-judgments and blame typically accompany these beliefs: "This is my fault! I must have done something wrong!" It is crucial to realize that these beliefs, whether coming from the "persona" or "the shadow," are just that: beliefs. Rather than representing the entire truth about us, our beliefs account for only one way of responding to a difficult situation. In reality, our deepest wisdom does not speak to us judgmentally. When situations challenge us, it is the authentic adult in us, supported by the "witnessing presence," that keeps reminding ourselves that our negative thoughts and feelings are not based in actual reality, but in our default, conditioned beliefs.

An Exercise: Developing Your "Witnessing Presence," the Key to Unlocking your Authentic Voice

The following exercise is designed to launch you on your journey toward reclaiming your authentic voice by helping you to develop a strong "witnessing presence":

1. Think of a situation that is currently a source of stress and conflict in your life. For example, this situation could involve a frustrated desire to move forward professionally or personally. It could also involve difficulties in your family or in your romantic life.

2. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. In your left column, make a list of concrete facts describing this situation. In your right column, list your feelings and beliefs about this situation.

3. Often, we are so entrenched in our feelings that we mistake them for facts. Carefully examine each item on each list and ask yourself, to the best of your ability, whether the "facts" are actually objectively true, or if they are your subjective emotions or beliefs. Facts, for example, don't tell us "The sky is falling!"; only feelings do!

4. Based on your findings, reconfigure the two lists so that you have a more accurate reflection of what information is purely factual and what is based in your own personal and subjective reactions.

5. Without judging, look at the column on the right, where you have listed your feelings. Do they seem disproportionate to the facts? If so, try to listen to them with the knowledge that these are your subjective beliefs and feelings, not objective facts that define the situation or who you are.

6. Give yourself the space to inhabit and express these feelings on the page. You are now beginning to witness your feelings without becoming entirely identified with them.

7. Return to the "facts" of the situation with this new perspective. Having developed our "witnessing presence," and having realized that our subjective responses to a situation are not a direct reflection of reality, we are in fact developing our authentic voice, a tool of extraordinary power. The feelings and beliefs rooted in our "persona" and our "shadow" suddenly become less daunting. Their power over us is diminished profoundly because we see them in their proper light. This offers the adult in us the ability to address challenging situations from a more knowing, creative, and proactive place.

Final Thoughts

The power of possessing our authentic voice applies to virtually every aspect of our lives, from relationships, to our self-image, to our careers. The power of increased authenticity creates a larger perspective of hope and possibility, profoundly transforming our sense of who we are.

Aligned with this greater perspective, we have a second-chance to overcome the limitations of our upbringings. There emerges a space for our authentic self to flourish, manifesting our deepest inspiration, creativity and wisdom. Having reclaimed our real power, our freedom, and our choice, we can truly drink from the well of our entire being.

By rooting ourselves in our authenticity, we not only shift our personal sense of self, but we radically transform our ability to communicate with others. We can respectfully honor diverging opinions, whether they agree with us or not. In this way, we even become a vehicle for enacting larger changes in the world. Just imagine the possibilities of a group of individuals joining to express their authentic voices together.

Lynda Klau, Ph.D. ©2012

Mindfulness: The Art of Cultivating Resilience

 
 

Originally posted January 18, 2012

by Lynda Klau Ph.D.

Mindfulness: A Tool for Re-contextualizing and Reframing

People are not afraid of things, but of how they view them.
— Epictetus

Although it's understandable why we might react from fear when facing the prospect of losing our job, or other challenging situations, Mindfulness is a powerful tool that offers us the opportunity to make a radical shift in orientation.

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our awareness to what we are experiencing in the present, both internally and externally, without judgment (Kornfield, 2009). It is a wake- up call to become conscious of the ways we perceive and respond to life's situations. When we live mindfully, we shift our entire ground of being.

Here's a traditional, easy-to-follow exercise to help develop your mindfulness during difficult situations (Klau, 2009). Mindfulness takes time to develop. It is an ongoing process. Be kind and compassionate to yourself as you follow these instructions.

Sit in a quiet room where you won't be disturbed.

Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath.
It's natural for your attention to become distracted. When that happens, simply return to your breath.

While focusing on your breath, allow your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and body sensations to enter your awareness as you perceive the external situation. Now ask yourself: What are the facts of the situation? What are my thoughts, feelings, beliefs and body sensations? How am I responding?

With practice, this exercise can bring us to our calm, reflective center. This safe-haven, in which we can rest and see more clearly, holds and contains everything arising for us in the present. From here, it is possible to deconstruct, re-contextualize and reframe our original fear-based feelings and reactions, honoring and embracing them without being their victims.1

For example, let's return to the original situation, where you've just lost your job. Rather than automatically reacting with fear, Mindfulness helps you realize and accept: "The only fact about this situation is that I don't have my job right now. Everything else (my self-judgment, my fear, my blame, my anger, and the tightness in my body) is my feelings."

We don't have to meditate to practice being mindful. There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives. As we become increasingly mindful, we can begin to respond from a place of freedom and choice.

In other words, we can act with resilience.

What Does Resilient Living Look Like? The more mindful we become, we broaden and build several inner resources that help us strengthen our resilience (Fredrickson, 2001). These include:

Compassion: You hold the intention not to judge yourself or others. You are mindful of your self-talk. However, if you do judge yourself, you don't judge yourself for judging. You are kinder and more supportive. If mindfulness brings the wisdom to see clearly, then compassion brings a loving heart (Neff, 2011).Acceptance: You increasingly accept the facts, which you can distinguish from the feelings. Acceptance isn't about "giving up." It is having the strength to "let go" of control and stop fighting reality.Openness: You're progressively open to viewing even the most difficult situations as opportunities for growth. You trust that they have something to teach you, and you expect to learn.Creativity: You draw on your power to visualize and create the results you desire. At the same time, in the spirit of acceptance, you are not attached or fixated upon your own expectations.

Living resiliently is more than just "bouncing back." It is about shifting our perceptions, changing our responses, and learning something new. For example, a resilient response to losing our job might re-contextualize and reframe the situation in any of the following ways:

"I'm going to breathe deeply and take things one step at a time."

"I may not like it, but this is the way it is. My first step will be to file for unemployment."

"I'm not going to play 'the blame game.' It's not my boss' fault or mine."

"I'm sure that there's a lesson or two for me to learn from all this."

"It would be easy to get 'just another job.' I'm going to find one that I'm truly passionate about."

In Conclusion

Living resiliently represents a whole new way of being and doing.

In this way, resilience isn't just for the hard times, it's for all times. Empowering us to live, love, and work adventurously in the face of change, it builds a well from which we can draw for the rest of our lives.

This discussion shares much in common with neuroscientist and clinician Dan Siegel's work on the concepts of "differentiation" and "integration," which he views as the key to well-being.

References

Fredrickson, B.L (2009) Positivity, Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity and Thrive, Random House, NewYork.

Klau, L (2009) Mindfulness: The New Zen of Time Management, GAINS Quarterly, Summer.

Kornfield, J. (2009) The Wise Heart, Random House, New York.

Neff, K (2011) Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.

Siegel, D.J. (2010) Mindsight, The New Science of Personal Transformation, Random House, New York.

 

Lynda Klau, Ph.D. ©2013

Love and You: The Top Ten Tips for Loving Relationships

 
 

Originally posted August 22, 2010

By Lynda Klau Ph.D.

How many of us have learned how to build loving relationships? Where did we learn? At home? At school?

There is an art and science to building strong relationships.

These indispensable tips were written with romantic relationships in mind, but with a little modification you can apply them to your friendships, family and even work relationships.
Create a safe environment where you can trust and share openly without being afraid.

This means: don't interrupt, even if you need to put your hand over your mouth to stop yourself. Learn to fight fairly. No name-calling. Don't make threats. Apologize when you know you should. If you're too angry to really listen, stop! Go into another room, take space for yourself, breathe, and "calm down." Remember: your partner is not the enemy.Separate the facts from the feelings.

What beliefs and feelings get triggered in you during conflicts. Ask yourself: Is there something from my past that is influencing how I'm seeing the situation now? The critical question you want to ask: Is this about him or her, or is it really about me? What's the real truth? Once you're able to differentiate facts from feelings, you'll see your partner more clearly and be able to resolve conflicts from clarity.Connect with the different parts of yourself.
Each of us is not a solo instrument. We're more like a choir or an orchestra with several voices. What is your mind saying? What is your heart is saying? What is your body saying? What is your "gut" saying? For example: "My mind is saying 'definitely leave her,' but my heart says 'I really love her.' Let these different voices or parts of you co- exist and speak to one another. In this way, you will find an answer that comes from your whole self.Develop Compassion.
Practice observing yourself and your partner without judging. Part of you might judge, but you don't have to identify with it. Judging closes a door. The opposite of judging is compassion. When you are compassionate, you are open, connected, and more available to dialoging respectfully with your partner. As you increasingly learn to see your partner compassionately, you will have more power to choose your response rather than just reacting.Create a "we" that can house two "I's."
The foundation for a thriving, growing, mutually-supportive relationship is to be separate and connected. In co-dependent relationships, each person sacrifices part of him or herself, compromising the relationship as a whole. When you are separate and connected, each individual "I" contributes to the creation of a "we" that is stronger than the sum of its parts.Partner, heal thyself.
Don't expect your partner to fill your emotional holes, and don't try to fill theirs. Ultimately, each of us can only heal ourselves. Your partner, however, can be supportive as you work with yourself, and vice versa. In fact, living in a loving relationship is healing in and of itself.Relish the differences between you.
The differences between you and your partner are not negatives. You don't need to be with someone who shares all of your interests and views. We may sometimes fear that these differences are incompatibilities, but in fact, they're often what keeps a relationship exciting and full of "good fire."Ask Questions:
All too often, we make up our own stories or interpretations about what our partners' behavior means. For example: "She doesn't want to cuddle; she must not really love me anymore." We can never err on the side of asking too many questions, and then listen to the answers from your whole self: heart, gut, mind and body. Equally important is to hear what's not being said: the facts and feeling that you sense might be unspoken.Make time for your relationship.
No matter who you are or what your work is, you need to nurture your relationship. Make sure you schedule time for the well-being of your relationship. That includes making "playdates" and also taking downtime together. Frequently create a sacred space together by shutting off all things technological and digital. Like a garden, the more you tend to your relationship, the more it will grow.Say the "Hard Things" from Love.
Become aware of the hard things that you're not talking about. How does that feel? No matter what you're feeling in a situation, channel the energy of your emotions so that you say what you need to say in a constructive manner.Your tip:
Do you have a great relationship tip of your own? If so, please share it with me. If you have any other thoughts and reactions, I'd love to see them. Feel free to post them on UnlimitedLifeNY.com blog

There you have it. Be kind to yourselves. Remember: change takes time and every
step counts. 
 

©2013 Lynda Klau