Stress Management (c)
Judy Martin, LCSW
It is important to become aware of the impact of stress on your life. Dealing with the acute stress and fear in these turbulent times demands taking preventive steps to protect ones self and build emotional immunity.
Stress reactions throw us off balance, affecting our physical health, emotional stability and mental clarity. Mental exercise such as stress management, is as important for mental health as physical exercise is for the body. When we are thrown off balance by the stresses of daily life, we can meet our personal problems and challenges with emotional equilibrium and presence of mind or react with worry, fear, anger, resentment, guilt or hurt.
We can't always control the events of our life, but we can learn to control our reactions to the events.
Stress management requires being aware and in tune with the subtle shifts in your energy, constantly monitoring yourself for changes in mood, motivation, energy level, anxiety and depression. Once identified, obsessional thoughts and feelings of fear, worry, anger, guilt and hurt can be weeded out and replaced with health producing thoughts that are pro-active and help the system create positive change.
Even when it seems that a situation in life is hopeless, never underestimate the power of the mind. All change begins in the mind and it is your most valuable tool. However, the mind must be trained and disciplined in order to access this mind power.
The Five Principles of Healing (c)
Judy Martin, LCSW
Healing is a natural power of the mind, body and spirit which lies within each one of us. We all have the power to heal ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. In fact we must always work on all levels in order to be whole.
The first principle of healing requires Dedication and Commitment to oneself in order to potentiate your healing power. There is no compromise when it comes to healing. Oftentimes we fail to heal ourselves because we want to continue living and thinking the same way we always have and are not willing to let go of the old habits of mind and body. Giving up old habits is often experienced as deprivation which creates feelings of resentment and victimization. Letting go of the old ways is an opportunity to open to the mystery of the unknown. Right attitude is essential so that the new is embraced with an attitude of gratitude rather than with resignation or feelings of deprivation.
The second principle of healing is about Self-Empowerment rather than victimization. Any debility or health crisis can bring up feelings of helplessness, fear, anger and despair. It is a challenge to remain centered, confident and feel whole despite what you might be facing. Healing demands that you take care of yourself and balance your needs for proper diet, rest, meditation, exercise, work, leisure time and social support.
Taking Responsibility is the third principle and of utmost importance. When you veer from your healing regimen, don't make excuses (e.g. "there was nothing for me to eat at the party so I had stuff I shouldn't have" etc.). You need to take responsibility for your choices, good or bad. If you didn't plan well and ensure your dietary needs in advance either by checking to see if there would be food you could eat, or bringing your own; then accept the fact that you didn't take care of yourself as well as you could in this instance and put yourself back on track. Becoming responsible for all your choices is essential. Until you give up blaming or passing the buck, you don't heal. Excuses are a way of not assuming responsibility for your choices.
The fourth principle is Discipline. Healing is a full-time job and needs to be your priority. This means your healing protocol needs to come first no matter what. If you are using meditation and visualization, both powerful tools for healing, it must be practiced on a consistent basis, putting in the time daily to build the skill to achieve the results. You also need to do your exercise program everyday. No matter what physical limitations you may have, there is some type of exercise you can do. You can learn a great deal from restorative exercise methods such as yoga, Tai Chi, Feldenkrais and others. It is always good to have a teacher who inspires you and can help you keep up your motivation.
The fifth principle is Patience; healing often demands that we slow down and move in incremental steps. We tend to rush through life high speed and when forced to slow down are resentful, partly from our desire to get everything in, do as much as possible, and not miss a beat. Healing teaches us that sometimes less is more; to simplify and allow ourselves just to be. To do anything well (including healing) we need to be able to do it gracefully.
Healing is what our life journey is about: healing ourselves, healing others, healing the planet. It is the axis from which transformation and compassion evolves.
When the emotional state is out of balance, overly reactive, obsessive, depressed, fearful, negative, etc., we are not in alignment spiritually and suffer from a constriction in our energy flow. The body reflects the mind and spirit. Illness symbolizes for us a stagnation of energy and the need to release the blockages and regenerate the flow of positive energy.
Healing is an art and discipline. As you embrace healing yourself as a priority, you will seek the expertise of those healing practitioners who can assist you on your path. You will create lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, spiritual practice and attitude that will facilitate health. Most of all you will come to know and trust yourself and develop confidence in your healing abilities.
Mental Fitness (c)
Judy Martin, LCSW
In order to keep mentally fit, you have to exercise the muscle of the mind. When the mind becomes fixated and dwells obsessionally on the same thoughts and worries it loses flexibility. Flexibility is the key to staying young, mentally and physically. Being locked-in to the same emotional habits (anger, resentment, worry, jealously, insecurity etc.) is living compulsively rather than consciously. When free and flexible, you are free to choose how to react rather than being enslaved by your feelings.
Freedom of mind is a state of balance where you can transmute compulsive energies into constructive creative energy. In other words, you can consciously choose a feeling or behavior rather than it choosing you. When you are a victim of your emotions you live addictively without awareness. Awareness is the key to conscious living. Include mental exercise such as meditation as part of your total health regime for staying young and healthy.
Judy Martin, LCSW
GRIEF: From Loss to Healing (c)
Q My wife (of 30 years of marriage) died last year after a long bout with cancer. Although I was prepared for her death, I have not been able to get on with my life and make peace with the loss. After a year's time, everyone thinks I should be adjusting by now. Can you suggest any methods that may be of help?
A Grief is a natural and healthy response to loss that can lead to healing and personal growth. The attitudes most of us grow up with surrounding loss, death, and dying, set the stage for intense emotional reactions of fear, panic, denial, abandonment, guilt, anger and more. In working through any grief reaction we must tackle these feelings and the underlying beliefs generating them. When one has been blessed, as you have, with a long-term loving relationship in your life, naturally there is sadness and sorrow surrounding the loss and change. Loss, however, is not the experience of deprivation; it is in fact, change. When we can re-structure our beliefs and embrace the idea that change and transformation is the Universal Law of life and inevitable, we are able to see life as the evolutionary process it is. Life is about creation and in that creative process lays the genius of conceptualizing, transforming energy into manifestation, decomposing and re-creating. The reincarnational cycle of energy is limitless and infinite.
Grief work is very much about letting-go of fear. Our desire for stability and security often consumes our energy to ward off the threat of change and loss. So much of our fear in life is about losing what we have, our health, a relationship, a job, a house, an investment etc. The attachments we form become encrusted with fear and produce clinging, possessiveness, territoriality and ownership in our relationships to things and people. The natural love and appreciation which originally inspired the relationship becomes marred with rigid rules of expectations and demands and the flow of love becomes ritualized.
Love and loss do not produce pain, attachment does. Grief is a natural and healthy response to loss. It is a life-long process, not something you 'get over'. It is a way of continuing the expressive outpouring of loving appreciation of another. When you can tap the spiritual life-line within, you are also able to experience deep gratitude for the gift you had, knowing that this blessing does not grace everyone's life.
Pain is born of attachment, not love. When we understand this difference we can begin to work on the attachments that keep us in the state of pain.
All life is change. Transformation is a constant in all of nature and life forms. The birth, growth, decay, and rebirth cycle plays out on every level. Our Western beliefs stop short on the re-birthing of energy when it comes to the human form.
We are really not given a spiritual philosophy that moves us towards wholeness, acceptance and integration of change and loss in our lives. Instead we are filled with fear, spooky rituals and major denial in facing, embracing and dancing with the dying process as one more transition in life's journey.
The more palpable your spiritual connection is, in feeling a part of the Universal energy; knowing that as a part of the whole, you are always supported, are never alone, and can access this state of union with Spirit, the easier it is to begin to move out of the state of pain towards healing.
Oftentimes the pain of our life situations is for the purpose of moving us on our spiritual evolutionary paths to finally release the fears, the attachments, and the feelings of abandonment, victimization, guilt and angers. When we use these painful states to work on letting-go and transforming these feelings, the pain of the 'grief reaction' magically transforms into the beauty and grace of appreciation, acknowledgement and gratitude. These are the qualities of your energy which remain connected to the beloved and keep the flow of love present.
Allow yourself the freedom of your own process. There are no time limits or 'shoulds'. We are all charting this path anew in moving from grief to healing.