Friday, April 3, 2020

Correct All Wrongs With One Intention

This morning I pulled card 40 in my Lojong/Compassion practice. I thought this was the perfect topic to write on for my blog. In the here and now of the worlds everyday experience the "wrong" that this card is speaking to is the difficult circumstances we are all presented with the Coronavirus pandemic. This is a shared experience of all beings, so I think it is safe to say that all beings are in this together. As a psychologist I am aware that this experience is resulting in a lot of fear for my patients and for humanity at large. We are all presented with the same uncertainty and doubt, the big unknown who in our lives and in the general population will be struck next. Will I experience this virus, will it be my beloved, my children, my grandchildren, extended family, friends, colleagues or neighbors?  No one really knows how, when, where or why. All of these pervasive unknowns are creating a lot of fear in the world. This fear is resulting in panic for goods, such as paper products, household cleaners, food and water. This hoarding of products is creating a lack and panic for others to not have the everyday necessities. This is creating a shared experience of pain and suffering.

When we experience fear, panic, uncertainty and the impermanence of life/death. Our minds are sent into danger modality, we have triggered the automatic response of flight, fight or freeze. This invisible, unknown perceived threat results in the prefrontal cortex of our brains shutting down and our primitive mind/emotions taking over. This is the mechanism that results in the fight, flight and freeze response. This response can and does result in anxiety and panic disorder for many. When adrenaline and cortisol flood the nervous system, what we notice is shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and what I call the elephant sitting on my chest syndrome. This can feel life threatening to many and it may result in some people thinking that they are having a heart attack.  This feeling of constriction in our chests/possible heart attack could present a dangerous visit to the emergency room which could result in possible exposure to the Coronavirus. If you are prone to anxiety and panic disorder this is a time to sit down breath very slowly, meditate if that is your go to or utilize yoga, or tapping to help calm yourself down.

This is a time of choice in our lives. Do we relax into what frightens us or soften into our fears? Will we lean into our heart or do we respond with fear, prejudice, greed, hatred and ignorance? The problem with functioning from our primitive mind means that people are prone to swarm to the markets scouring for foods, filling their carts with paper products and cleaning supplies leaving a lack of supply for others. This creates a climate of scarcity. This then presents a climate of the haves and the have nots. In our fearful attempts to take care of ourselves we have forgotten about our brothers and sisters needs. I just have to put something true and funny in here, the toilet paper situation is so bad that my daughter in law had to purchase toilet paper from Norway for her family. This seems a little insane for a country that has an abundance of everything that we have run out of toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies to name a few. What people don’t seem to realize is that their unconscious attempts to protect themselves has created an unsafe and fearful experience for others.

So, what is the choice here, are we going to respond with love or fear? Are we going to perpetuate fear, prejudice, greed, hatred and ignorance? How do you want to respond in this world crisis? Do you want to look for the good in others and yourself? Do you want to be grateful and generous to others with acts of kindness? As humanity we have a choice to do things differently to change our minds so we can change the world.

We are presented with difficult circumstances in the here and now- the pandemic/Covid-19 is not going away today or tomorrow. At this time, we don’t even know when things will begin to correct themselves and the numbers begin to trend down. What do we want our intentions to be, do we want to use this time of suffering to join together and have a greater good? Will this pandemic open us all up or destroy us in the process of trying to beat it and beat each other to the market for a roll of toilet paper? Through this shared experience of suffering we are called to hear the voices of all of our brothers and sisters as a call for love for help! We have a choice to remain in our suffering, darkness, fear and make it all about “me” or we can rise to the occasion and share our gifts with others. This is a time in our lives when we are being called to embrace the unknown, that we cannot change the circumstances in our world, but we can change our experiences in the world one person at a time. We cannot change others, but we can all change our minds and how we see and experience each other and the world at large.

A wise man, Dr. Kenneth Wapnick once told me and others that were fortunate enough to hear him, “we are all from the same shattered pane of glass.” No matter what it looks like in the world we are all brothers and sisters. We all suffer, and we all want love. Be kind to all beings as we are all fighting the same virus.

Practice Loving Kindness and Compassion:
·      May all beings be free of suffering and the root of all suffering.
·      May we be safe and free of the virus
·      May we be free of anger, fear and worries
·      May we all be free of indifference towards each other
·      May we all be free of greed and cravings
·      May we all be mindful or our unconscious dark side.

May we all practice generosity, love, kindness and compassion towards each other in these difficult days ahead. Who do you want to be and what do you want to be known for, what is your legacy?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dr. Linda Comin: Anxiety and Depression due to Covid-19

Dr. Linda Comin: Anxiety and Depression due to Covid-19: The Pandemic the New Worldview and How Do We Manage it? I cannot believe I am actually doing this but I decided that today is the day. I ...

Monday, March 30, 2020

Anxiety and Depression due to Covid-19

The Pandemic the New Worldview and How Do We Manage it?

I cannot believe I am actually doing this but I decided that today is the day. I have always maintained a low profile in all of my endeavors, however at this time of my life I am feeling the warrior within. For me and I am guessing for others this is a time in our lives that feels very unstable and unknown. As someone who has been dealing with anxiety for most of her life, I have begun to feel the overwhelming underlying pangs of uncertainty and doubt for all beings in this world.

We have certainly been exposed to this theme of pandemic in movies, and novels, but now fantasy has hit reality. Yes, suddenly the world we live in has become unsafe and very scary. We are all being asked to do things in our lives that we have not been asked before. Stop socializing with others, stay at least 6 feet away from each other and stay indoors except for necessities. When I first heard this directive I took it very calmly and agreed with the message, that this is necessary to keep the virus at bay. But today I am really feeling the pain of the world and a deeper sense of loss in my own life.

I attended an online retreat this weekend with 80 other attendees and the theme was,  how we are dealing with this "pandemic"? According to the definition of pandemic it is a disease that is prevalent over the entire country or the world. This is indeed a pandemic according to the news that is disseminated daily. Keep in mind that we are all exposed to the network news, online news and social media. This exposure is resulting in a surge of anxiety and panic among us. This heightened sense of anxiety/fear in our lives causes inflammation. Inflammation causes disease.

 So my question to all of you is what are you doing to take care of yourself during these stressful trying times? The reason I ask this question is because this is what I do for a living. I  help others to deal with difficult moments in their lives. We are currently all experiencing difficulty in our lives.
I too was asked this question over the weekend. I wrote it all down and I will now share it with all of you: First of all my philosophy has always been one of looking at the whole being not just parts of who we are. Therefore I approach myself in the same way, I am comprised of mind, body and spirit.

1. For me it has been very important to be mindful of my fears and my internal messages. Being mindful means looking at what is going on in my mind, write it down in my journal and meditate to go deeper.
2. Meditate: Meditation is not just about feeling good it is about going deeper. If we get focused only on feeling better we have missed the meaning of meditation. Most of the time when I recommend mediation to my clients their first response is "I can't do that. It does not work for me. I cannot stop my mind from thinking." When we start meditating we all feel we are doing it wrong it's our natural response to doing something that is foreign to us. To meditate is one of the best things we can give to ourselves. Meditation is a transformative process that assists us in relating to difficult situations in our everyday lives. Meditation provides the pathway to our souls without being unkind, critical and deceiving ourselves with our negative habitual patterns.
3. Emotional Freedom Technique also known as tapping. This is a very effective way to assist us with anxiety, sleeplessness and pain. I have been utilizing this technique since the 90's and I am also certified in this technique. I have personally used this for anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain.
4. Every morning I participate in writing what is known as morning pages. Morning pages is usually three pages long. Usually I write for 45 minutes to 1 hour a day. This is very helpful in getting my worries and feelings out on the page.
5. I read something spiritually inspiring daily and there are many great examples out there.
6. Working out has always been very important to me in managing anxiety and painful tight areas that need to be addressed.
7. Yoga is an integral part of my life and has been since 1975. I always incorporate yoga into my daily workout. Sometimes I add one at the end of my day before I meditate it is really helpful.
8. Music is very helpful and soothing to me and depending on my mood it could be pop or classical.
9. I love lavender and I find it very soothing especially before bed.
10. I always end my day with a gratitude practice. But it is helpful to put that anywhere in your day. I have a plaque in my office that reads, "gratitude turns what we have into enough."

Each and every one of us can benefit from having a routine in our lives. Humans love having structure, it gives us a feeling of safety and security which is very calming to our mind and body. Anxiety and depression can cause a lot of pain in our lives. This time of uncertainty due to the coronavirus is resulting in a lot of anxiety, panic and depression in the world. There are things we can do to help ourselves deal with this pain.
The reason I decided to take this leap forward today is because, we need each other to get through this pandemic and since we cannot reach out to each other we have to look for other ways to connect. I believe there are a lot of us out there searching for connection and meaning. I am here to be most helpful it is my purpose in this lifetime.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Beauty The Paradigm Shift

I am proposing that every woman has their own individualistic sense of beauty;  there are no two women alike in the world.  So instead of striving for an unrealistic image of self, which is a futile, never ending undertaking, with no real end in sight, and typically unrewarding with no related joy.  As well as a journey destined for failure and leading to an excessive amount of money and time spent to achieve an external appearance that is unrealistic and nothing more than vanity.  What's more impermanent with constant upkeep, meaning that you will always have to go back for more, a touch of this and a nip and tuck there and the only ones that benefit from this in our society is the cosmetic industry, dermatologist and plastic surgeons.  What are the sacrifices as women that we make for beauty?  Is this the legacy that we want to leave to our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, etc?  I am hoping that you will all consider what I am proposing here.  I want you all to think about the time and money that you invest in the beauty industry and how it is never-ending.  Here are just a few astounding statistics gathered by NPD Group in 2012, in the U.S. $10.2 billion dollars, U.K. $3.4 billion, France $3.5 billion, Italy $2.2 billion and Spain $1.6 billion.  In the U.S. the dollar percent was up 7% from 2011, and most of that was driven by the skincare industry, $3.4 billion, makeup had the next highest gain of $3.4 billion followed by fragrance $2.9 billion.  The aforementioned statistics only represent the cosmetic industry.

Now lets take a look at the Cosmetic Procedures for 2012.  According to the America Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) in 2012 over 10 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States.  The top five surgical procedures reported are as follows:
  • Breast Augmentation: 330,631
  • Liposuction: 313,011
  • Abdominoplasty: 156,508
  • Eyelid Surgery: 153,171
  • Rhinoplasty: 143,801
According to the ASAPS women had more than 9.1 million in cosmetic procedures, 90% of the total, men seeking cosmetic procedures comprised the other 10%.  These reported astounding numbers increased by 252% from 1997.  Breaking these numbers down further in 2012 Americans spent $11 billion on cosmetic procedures, $6.7 billion was spent on surgical procedures, $2 billion was spent on injectable procedures; $1.8 billion was spent on skin care rejuvenation; and more that $483 million was spent on other nonsurgical procedures such as laser hair removal and laser vein treatment of legs.  The numbers above however do not take into account other doctors and naturopathic doctors that are getting into this market these numbers are only those reported from ASAPS.

How many of us have fallen victim to the beauty industry?  How many of us have been maimed by the beauty industry?  I am sure we can look around in our everyday world and see women that have suffered at the hands of bad plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures.  Even women in Hollywood are not immune to this.  I have also fallen victim to this, in 1990 after my last child I decided that I wanted liposuction so that I could get rid of that after childbirth little tummy bulge.  So what did I do I looked for a good reputable plastic surgeon, I was 38 years old and I thought I had found one of the best.  The aftermath of this procedure was very painful and the long-term results were not worth the pain or going under general anesthesia.  Back then they left your abdomen scarred from the suction tube going in and out to suck the fat out.  Just saying it now sounds gross because I was not fat then and never have been fat so why did I do it because I thought I could look better of course.  But it did not last and now I am stuck with what I think are the ugly remnants of the suction hose, which no one can fix.  I am now 61 years old and I think about having a tummy tuck and every 5 years I go to a plastic surgeon and ask him what he thinks and thank God some of them are ethical because they only tell me to go home and come back in 10 or 15 years.  Not sure I would care in 10 or 15 years anyway.  But my point of telling you this is there really isn't anything wrong with me it is in my mind and even I have those moments when I think I am not good enough.

But this "not good enough syndrome" is emblazoned in my mind and it began in childhood and I can honestly say that I think I was brainwashed before I was 5 years old.  My mother and grandmother were convinced that there was something wrong with my skin and that I was way too hairy technical term hirsutism.  Well first let's put things into perspective I am Italian and so was my mother and her mother and her mother.  But on my mother's side they had no body hair and on my father's side they did, so I took after him.  My mother convinced me that I could not wear short sleeves or a bathing suit unless I bleached every hair on my body.  I of course complied with her wishes because she was my mother and I was young and she was placing the bleach on my little body.  They convinced me at that age that there was something wrong with me and till this day it's chiseled in my mind.  Once they invented the laser hair removal process I was the first one knocking at their door in 1996.  I had every hair removed from my body and even raised my hairline so I would not have a widows peak anymore.  The process took me over 10 years and they even accidently removed my beautiful eyebrows and now I have to have them tattooed on because they no longer exist.  I work on acceptance everyday, but I am still caught in the beauty trap of thinking that I am not ever good enough.

So my dear sisters where and when does this insanity stop because we are the only ones who can stop this, one by one we have to all change our minds and begin to believe that we are good enough and that beauty is not a standard one size fits all.  Beauty is a perceptual experience and that by changing our core beliefs and how we feel about ourselves we really can influence our external appearance.  Think for a minute about women that you know who really are quite beautiful, but because they are unhappy and ravaged by life's difficult circumstances they do not appear beautiful.  Maybe they have too many worry lines, or maybe they have smoked too many cigarettes, or they are addicted to alchohol or drugs, all of these variables influence our appearance.  Even think about women runners that pound the concrete everyday or women who spend too much time in the sun, or women who have eating disorders.  All of these variables affect our appearance and all of these variables are choices. 

My purpose is to convince women to recognize that changing theirs minds about themselves can alter their internal and external beauty.  I want women to be able to look in the mirror and visually see that there is a greater "vision of beauty" to be seen.  It is my belief that beauty is the sum of all of our parts.  This means our physical wellbeing, our psychological wellbeing and our spiritual connection these three elements in combination can modify and increase our beauty.  So much of beauty is about changing our minds.  Our minds are one of our most powerful instruments and we have that manifesting power right at our fingertips.  So let's all become part of the "beyond beauty" paradigm shift we need in this world.  We need to connect with other women on a greater level it is true that we are all deeply connected and intertwined with each other.  It is not just about you or me it is about "we."  As a whole we can do this but we need to do this together.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A New Beauty Paradigm

Currently we have a perceptual veil that interferes with our ability to see the truth.  Like looking through a clouded mirror it distorts our ability to truly see who we are and the true beauty we possess. 

Through the aging process we accumulate beliefs, memories, experiences, and information that contributes to the way we see the world, which is known, as perception.  There are very few of us that seem to question or suspect that this may be an illusion.  Most of us do not realize that our perception is a compilation of accumulated beliefs, feelings, past knowledge and conditioning due largely to our own individual exposure in the world.

Our perceptions are based on our individual experiences of "self" that are generated from our memories of past occurrences.  There aggregated life experiences/memories/stories are not fully integrated into the "self", and tend to create more confusion and separateness than inclusion or connection.  This separate "self" is referred to as the "ego" that part of "self" that reacts to life experiences in non-productive ways.  They can be categorized as fight, flight or freeze, these responses generally support negative ways of being.  The goal here is to increase consciousness that would enhance the probability of integrating these past perceptions through our heart and soul with the intention to culminate a more loving and kind perception of "self" and other.

This loving and kind perception of "self" is going to increase are feelings of self-worth as well as a connection to "self" and other that will change our internal perceptions of beauty giving us a more balanced and realistic evaluation.  Which is not available to the divided ego's view of "self" that is disintegrated, disconnected and distorted.  This is the paradigm shift that is necessary for the development of our children and our children's children.

I am proposing that every woman has their own individualistic "beauty principles"  meaning that no two women are ever alike.  Instead of striving for an unrealistic image of "self" that is a futile and never-ending journey with no joy in sight.  A journey destined for failure and leading to excessive time and money spent trying to achieve an external appearance that is highly improbable if not impossible!

Therefore what I am proposing here is the "Beyond Beauty Principles" which assert that beauty is comprised of the following categories:
  • Physical Wellbeing,  consists of nutrition, hydration, sleep and fitness as well as our individualistic internal and external structure, in other words things that we can and cannot change, but we are still beautiful.  This means that we as women need to radically accept and love ourselves for who we are.
  • Psychological Wellbeing, consists of self-acceptance, meditation, quality relationships with others, self-sufficiency in thought and action, a sense of mastery and competence in the world, a sense of purpose and the pursuit of meaningful goals, a sense of self-realization and continued growth potential.
  • Spiritual Connection, consists of faith, forgiveness, healthy attachment, grace, compassion, acceptance, kindness, love, truth and gratitude.

A woman can raise her Beyond Beauty Principles by manipulating the elements defined above.  Any combination of modifying the above variables can increase a woman's beauty.

My purpose is to convince women to recognize that changing their minds about themselves can alter their internal and external beauty.  I want women to look at themselves in the mirror and visually see that there is a greater vision to be seen.  It is my belief that beauty is the sum of all of our parts.  So much of your beauty can change by changing your mind.  Let's all become a part of the "Beyond Beauty" paradigm shift we need in this world.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world"  Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Does Beauty Mean To You?

The word "beauty" is subjective, poorly defined, misunderstood, individualistic and controversial.  Therefore, when looking at defining beauty, what is considered beautiful to one person may be perceived differently by another.  The question here is, has beauty ever been understood and can it really be defined?

I have decided to begin this journey into beauty by exploring the simplest definition of this very difficult and contentious subject matter.
Beauty is defined in generic terms as a "quality" that a person or object may possess which is then interpreted by the mind as a pleasurable experience.
 This pleasurable experience then activates the mind or spirit and seems to be synonymous with "loveliness."  What makes the word beauty so controversial and difficult to define is "perception" because everyone has a different interpretation.  There is an overused cliche` "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," is this true or false?  Perception, which is the process of observing and interpreting, is based on our individual experiences, beliefs, feelings, past knowledge and conditioning.  However, each of us has a different perception of beauty.  Furthermore, our eyes that we depend on for observation, do not tell the truth.

Truth requires turning inward, towards the eye of the soul in order to perceive the true consciousness of beauty.  If as beings we only look with our visual eyes and interpret what we see with our minds eye then what we see is what society deems as beautiful.  Unfortunately relying on beauty magazines, fashion designers, and Hollywood for our definition of beauty, in my opinion is a colossal mistake.

These "beauty experts" are anything but an authority on true beauty, they only consider the external embodiment, the face, figure, hair and eyes.  The standard for judging beauty in our society is fundamentally wrong, absurd and completely unrealistic and I believe unfair to all women.  It is a standard that no one can or should be forced to live up to by the multimedia advertisements that women are inundated with daily. 

Models and stars are either 20 and under, or they are made to look like they are in their 20's by the way the photographs are photo-shopped, airbrushed and drastically altered.  I personally had the opportunity in the late 80's to visit Playboy magazine behind the scenes and watch how the computer program was utilized to photo-shop, airbrush, add and subtract whatever qualities they want, to enhance the beauty of a woman.  I remember feeling shocked and betrayed by the industry that makes women look perfect and flawless.

This is an injustice to all women young and old alike.  We cannot possibly live up to such a standard and more importantly why would we want to?  What I am proposing here is a paradigm shift, which I am labeling "Beyond Beauty."  Beauty is a concept based on ones individual perception.  "Beyond Beauty" is not a perceptual concept; it requires the eye of the soul in order to perceive the true consciousness of beauty.