Monday, December 31, 2012

Another fresh new year is here . . .

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear,

To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me

To live each day with zest . . .

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!   ~William Arthur Ward~

Friday, December 28, 2012

Intentions & Resolutions.....


T''s the last friday of 2012.  In a couple of days a new year begins.  I feel like this year has flown by so quickly - almost like the blink of an eye.  Yet if I actually take the time to really note down significant milestones as well as things that on the surface may not be so significant, i find that i have so much to be blessed about and grown so much as a result of all these experiences.

Every new years' eve, my husband and i will do a writing piece on the year in review( or he lists rather) and after doing that, we will write out our resolutions.   We follow this by reading it out loud to each other - mine is usually a monologue, but the act of reading out loud what we wrote is very powerful.  This ritual is very important to me because it gets me to remember what may have passed and help me move forward to what is to come. It gets me to understand where I am in this place on earth, and analyze for me my vision for the future. It sets the tone, the intention for coming year.
The key word here is intention - our intentions guide us towards our resolutions - but our intentions are often clouded by our emotions and a writing ritual often helps overcome our clouded judegment.   AN example - if our resolution for the coming year is to lose weight - which for many of us it is is - it is not enough to simply state I want to lose weight this year - it has to be specific - i intend on exercising more and eating healthy in the coming year - writing out the plan helps because it allows us to actually visualize what we intend to do in the coming year.   Another resolution - is make more money - it is not enough to simply state  - I want to make more money - there has to be an intention of some sort - i plan on creating more opportunities for financial gains by
. I remember last year when i made my resolutions, i was very specific with what i wanted for myself in the coming year - i had done an inventory of what i felt was lacking for me spiritually, materially, personally and also how i felt fulfilled in those areas and doing that consciously made me be more aware of what i want for myself this year....i haven't done my year end this year but as i sit and write about it, i am amazed at all that i intended to do for myself was accomplished and even more - so i can't speak enough of the power of intention and how intention can drive our thoughts, our visualization and our path. Another piece here is that it is not just enough to set out ur plans for the year ahead but it is also importnat to list how and the supports we will use to get us through. We are not alone and if we know how to ask for help, the right kind of guidance comes to us when we ask....all we have to do is learn how to ask for that help ---and figure out people in our lives who are supportive - it could be a stranger to a family member to a co worker - identifying them is key.

Writing out the resolution helps you visualize what you intend to happen and reading it out loud helps you internalize the resolution sort of like an affirmation.  

One may aske why do a year in review? A year in review whether you do it in list form or you do it in narrative form and reading it out loud is that we can really see how blessed we all are in the simple ways.   Yes from a global perspective this has been an intense year filled with all sorts of natural and man made catastrophes.  But in the middle of it all if we look at our lives individually and list it out we really see how blessed we are- it can start with the simple fact that we woke up this morning with a roof over our heads and being warm with food in our stomachs and our families by our side.  It can even start with being unemployed for over a year and still managing to keep the sanity and the smile and accept what may come ...the lesson of that is acceptance...or perserverence. It can start with someone breaking free from a relaitonship that is hurtful and harmful and even though being alone can be very difficult - being free is even more can start with families not talking to each other and how at the end of the year u see that they can still be in the same room with each other for the sake of their children.  It can start with starting a new job and waking up everyday not knowing whether you are going to be laid of or no and keeping your positivity regardless of that....all these are lessons ----lessons to make us grow - they may not be measured in terms of outcomes. For those that like lists - make a column - Highlights & Challenges and list out in each column things that came up - look at lessons learned, look at blessings....write it out...
Sometimes the act of writing out a year in review puts things in persepctive for us -it allows us to look at our lives from a hawks point of view and we begin to see that nothing is really insignificant.  Every little thing leads us closer to our goal, our idea of where we want to be in our lives and it is a shame if we fail to realize that as the years fly in front of us.&- but they are the baby steps that teach us how to really live.
So as the new year approaches take the time to reflect and renew for the year to come ahead. Some ideas to put for you...

- This year for me was....
- For the coming year I intend on
- For the more creative ones do a vision board - you can even do it with your kids - i love collaging and i do it with my son - have them cut out images that are appealing to them and to you and paste it on a board - for the younger ones it is more a fun activity - but for you - i ask you to imagine the life you want for yourself and have that image in the version of a vision board in front of you--everymorning look at that poster/board....see what happens with it....
-pick an affirmation that will get you through 2013...a prayer....anything that in the midst of that chaotic/emotional/unbalanced moment, you have a mantra to go to that will center you.....

And above all a happy healthy, peaceful, joyful, love-filled, abundance-filled new year.....

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reflections on the Sandy Hook Tragedy ---words cannot describe what emotions ran through me as I heard the horrid news.  How could somebody do this-is what ran through my mind? those poor kids, and those teachers - how scary it must have been for anyone at that scene.  I felt goosebumps on my skin - and even though silence and prayer was the only thing i felt i could do at that time, deep inside me there was a push, a pull to do something more.  

My son who is five could have been in that school.   Everyday I drop him off, and I pray that he is okay in school and is given the strength to face whatever life puts in front of him, but not once did i imagine that there is a strong possibility that he too could have been one of those children - and that is a hard thing to digest.   A very difficult thing to digest.   So it got me thinking--what do we do with our children? How do we teach our children to still "BELIEVE" and be realistic about life.   There are so many things that we as parents in this day and age have to do that our parents may or may not have done.   For example - sexual abuse - how many of our parents talked to us about "GOOD TOUCH/BAD TOUCH?"  Today, as a parent, i am forced to at a very young age to teach my son about that, to teach him how to yell for "HELP" if there are strangers out there and to be honest about social issues without instilling a sense of fear in him.  
Do we then let them lose their innocence at such a young age - they say kids grow up too fast - they know so much more now than they did back then  -but part of it is because of technology, because of the media, because of an EVENT like this or 9/11 or hurricane sandy that will make each one of us in our own way wake up and say we need to find a way to take care of our kids and find a way to protect them in some way.   It's our way of feeling in control and trying to make sense of a senseless world.  The reality is that all this is around us, but we still can make them BELIEVE. 
So today's post is not so much about journaling, but it is about us as humans - to not take each day for granted - The Hindu scriptures always tell us again and again that this human birth has been given to us for a special purpose- we need to make use of that purpose, to realize our true purpose on earth and how we can contribute to making it a better place - not working to destroy it....AND that when tragedies like this happen, it is a call to the human spirit - it is almost like a soul crying out -and as a society i feel that we are crying out for help -

So while yes - there needs to be better systemic changes in our society - as individuals we need to be conscious of our thoughts, our behaviors, our patterns - if each one of us worked on that - collectively think about how much of an impact we can make.   Our thoughts need to be positive - we need to send that positive energy out - because as I see it - there will be more tragedies - this is just one of them -don't get me wrong - it was horrific- but so was columbine, so was arizona. -----and if we don't begin with our selves now, as a society things will continue to deteriorate.   They say kindness spreads - love spreads- smiles spreads - the power of love can change people - why not focus on those things instead - the ripple effects will be enormous.  
lets' start with our children - lets' start with our selves -
They say affirmations and the power of positive self talk works wonders - lets do that for ourselves as we wake up in the morning - choose one affirmation - for the day - and repeat it to yourself throughout the day - write about that and slowly you will see small changes in your lives.
Every day we have a choice no matter how bad our situation is - to be happy - lets choose that today regardless of our circumstance and lets spread that to those around us.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Psychotherapists' perspective on journaling....

Entering into therapy is the conscious act of an individual to face change and begin the healing process.  Similar to journaling, it is making the time to talk about undoing habits, making positive change, and accomplishing goals.   Today’s piece revolves around the combination of Journaling and Therapy from a psychotherapist’s point of view.  

Noelia Rosado, LCSW, began her private practice in 2008.   She specializes in working with Teenagers and Adults in various areas – from depression, to anxiety, to parenting issues, Sexual Abuse an Domestic Violence and Trauma.  Something unique to her practice is providing journals to her clients at the onset of therapy.   She states that "clients often hold onto therapy like a cane or a clutch" – combined with therapy, journaling helps someone develop their own tools and helps them come up with their answers.    

Below is an interview with Ms. Rosado on the benefits of journaling. 

What made you begin incorporating journaling into your practice?
Clients are only with me for 45 minutes a week, but life happens and continues to outside of therapy.  They have their journals 24 hours a day.   The journal is like their toolkit.   Something they can go back to, something they can use in a moment of confusion, something they can use for clarity.  
Within the first three sessions, all my clients will get their own journal.   Sometimes, they may be reluctant, but I tell them, that Journaling is anything they want them to be, anything that shares who they are.   There is no prior writing experience that someone needs, but more so making the time to do it.  I think most of my clients will see the benefit, but the hardest part is making and finding the time to journal. 

What are some benefits of journaling to assist in depression?
It can be helpful only if you stop writing about how depressed you are.  Writing about things you look forward to, goal setting, positive self-talk, all those things can help with alleviating symptoms of depression when used with journaling

Can you give me some examples of writing exercises that you do with your clients?
-         A letter to someone who is deceased
-         3 goals with specific dates and time you want to accomplish those goals.
-         Positive Talk on an everyday basis.
-   Writing for 10 minutes straight...and then reading out loud.
Each client is on a case by case basis.  I tell them that journaling is there for them to keep track of your thought process.  Often times in therapy, clients may feel stuck and feel that they are not getting anywhere.  But accompanied with journaling, they can monitor their words, they can see where they were, and where they are now.  An example – an exercise I use is have the clients write for 10 minutes straight and often will have them read out loud what they have written.  Often before beginning the exercise, they may not see the benefit or even after completing the exercise, they may feel that what they have written may be insignificant.  However, I encourage the act of reading out loud what they have written.  Reading out loud  lets you see YOUR growth, your words, see where you were, and where you are now.   Processing aloud what has been written can show the benefits and progress made. 

Other benefits of journaling that you would like to add…
 Sometimes we can get so confused and often writing about the issue, it may not appear “big” anymore.  IT may be big in our minds, but writing it out, one can grasp the issue, put your hands on it.   For those that are reluctant to try it, I would say JUST DO IT!!! You are never going to know if something works for you until you try it.  You have to give it a chance :)

For more information on Ms. Rosado's practice see link below...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 

I have been thinking alot about the word "Forgiveness." What does it really mean to forgive? As humans are we really capable of forgiving "the wrong" that has been done to us.  We go through life holding onto it on many levels- sometimes we think we have really forgiven, only to be triggered by something else to bring back the grudge that we hold.   The grudge we hold is resentment and in this resentment - we are held back on so many levels from being the person we are capable of being.  This is no way saying that the actual act is excusable, however holding onto that act- whatever it may be -can create life long issues for us in many areas of our lives.

What if we could be all that we really imagine ourselves to be? What if we take that time to really sit down and say to ourselves - Who am I ? Am i where i want to be in life - spiritually, physically, emotionally? What if we look and see that there are certain expereinces that keep repeating itself in various ways and those experiences hold us back from being our true selves.   Sometimes those experiences are the cause of the resentment we hold - subconcsiously or consciously.   Writing down what we really want to be and what prevents us from that is key to letting go.  

My definition of Forgiveness is accepting what occured to us without judgement and blame so that i could move on to higher levels and planes.  What is yours? How would you define Forgiveness.  

Oftentimes we think we have let go - we think we have really forgiven the person, but an event can trigger the whole experience, the feelings, the anger, the resentment to resurface all over again, often clouding our judgement and preventing us from really viewing a situation for what it is.   How do we move beyond that? Anyone in a relationship that was based on infidelity, to business transactions that are based on mistrust, to family disputes that often leave longlasting scars -all these mark us and hold us down if we hold onto to them and keep on brooding of the wrong that has been done.  Yes, the wrong was done, but in order to move forward, we need to ask ourselves - what can we learn from it? What can that teach us about ourselves? And how can i not repeat that again? It is also coming face to face with the truth and accepting Our truth whatever is without judgment.   

One of the fathers of research on the benefits of journaling is James W. Pennebaker, PhD.  Here is an excerpt from his book, Discovering the Secret Life of the Most Forgettable Words:
“We began running experiments where people were asked to write about traumatic experiences for 15 to 20 minutes a day for three or four consecutive days. Compared to people who were told to write about non-emotional topics, those who wrote about trauma evidenced improved physical health. Later studies found that emotional writing boosted immune function, brought about drops in blood pressure, and reduced feelings of depression and elevated daily moods. While the effects are often modest, the mere act of translating emotional upheaval into words is consistenly associated with improvements in physical and mental health.
A wrong act that has been commtted to us can be traumatic - and leave long lasting impressions on us that mark us for life.  Writing about that event can help in releasing that mark.   I will say that it is important to seek professional help for more serious symptoms as a result of a trauma and journaling can be in addition to that.   Meditation also works wonders as do massage and exercise amongst others. 
For those who have tried writing and feels like it doesn't help, perhaps the approach to writing and the prompts need to change.   For some having open ended writing prompts works fine, whereas for others having it more contained with structured writing exercises help.  

Some exercises that I have found helpful:
-Write a letter to your past self—the self that went through the loss or trauma—from your today self. What would you say to comfort her? What advice would you give? Offer your past self the acceptance and love that s/he needs.
-If you’ve suffered as a result of someone else’s actions, write about the event from his or her perspective. What was his/her background and what was going on in his life at the time? What does forgiving another person mean, and what would it take for you to forgive him or her?
-Write for twenty minutes, beginning with, "If that hadn't happened, I..." ...whatever comes up allow it to come and allow yourself to write about it.
- Write only what you can handle at this moment.  Don't worry about grammar.
- Journaling a Dialogue with the person can also be extremely helpful.  Write down a dialogue with the person noting the experience, the feelings, -the dialgoue is probably one of the most healing tools there are and often times you may have to do this more than once.    

There was a beautiful article I read recently on Forgiveness - although there was no mention to journaling -it was a beautiful piece and hit the heart - so i wanted to share with you.
If you have specific questions related to each of these exercises, please do not hesitate to email me.....
Happy Journaling:)