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Breathe Easy

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Relax Those Muscles

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Body Scan

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Mindfulness

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Guided Imagery (Part 1)

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Guided Imagery (Part 2)

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Visualization Exercises

In his book, “You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore”, psychologist Steven Stosny offers a method for regulating your own emotions.  This process (which therapists call “self-soothing”) is based on his belief that anger, hurt, frustration and resentment can be calmed or soothed by accessing what he calls your “core value”.  Dr. Stosny contends that you can access your “core value” by activating within yourself your instinct to “protect”, “appreciate”, “connect”, and “improve”.  By “protect” he means “safeguarding the physical and emotional well-being of another person”; by “appreciate” he means “allow yourself to feel enriched by the qualities of another person or something in nature or something human-made, like music or art”; by “connect” he means “emotionally fitting together with another person or with something larger than self, like God, nature, social causes, or community”; and by “improve” he means to take something and “make it a little better”.

So, if you are presently feeling angry, hurt, frustrated or resentful, try the following 4 exercises which are designed to help you access your “core value” and soothe the negatively-charged feelings you are currently experiencing:

Protect

If your own “core hurts” have been activated in same way, perhaps through an unpleasant interaction with another person, then try this quick self-soothing exercise which centers on your instinct to protect.  To begin, take a minute or two to think about which of your “core-hurts” has been activated.  Has your "core construct" been assaulted?  Your “core-construct’ consists of your values, and expectations, your sense of fairness, your sense of power and control, your sense of adequacy and competence, your sense of self, and your sense of “the way things ought to be”.  Or has your fear abandonment been activated? (as in, “I fear you are not or will not be here for me”)?...or perhaps feelings of engulfment (as in, “you are intruding upon me” or “you are not allowing me to be me"), Or has your the another persons behavior threatened, to one degree or another, your survival?  For more on “core hurts” click here.

Once you have zeroed in on the particular core hurt that has been activated, think back to your childhood, and see if you can associate this core hurt with one or both of your parents or with whomever was your primary caregiver.  Try to visualize and feel how you felt when your parent(s) activated this hurt in you.  Once you have the memory fixed in your mind’s eye, stay with this feeling for a minute or two.  Now visualize yourself as you are now, an adult, comforting and soothing this wounded child (your inner-child).  Visualize loving and protecting your inner-child.  Stay with this visual for a minute or so.

Appreciate

If you are still feeling upset then try this exercise:  Picture something in nature, or perhaps a work of art that you think is beautiful, or if you prefer, imagine a particular song or music or even a poem that you really appreciate, and try to hear it.  Stay with this for a minute or two.

Connect

If you are still feeling upset, do yet another exercise:  Close your eyes and visualize yourself connecting with something larger than yourself.  It could be God, a social cause, a community, or a charity.  Stay with this visual for a minute or two.

Improve

If you’re still feeling upset, do one last exercise:  Imagine something that needs improvement.  It could be something related to work, your waistline, your yard, your relationship, or your relations with your children.  Imagine whatever it is that needs improving, and now visualize “making it a little better”.  Stay with this for a minute or two.

For more on Steven Stosny’s work, visit www.compassionpower.com

Self-Soothing Hypnotherapy

Benjamin Moss (www.benmosshypnosis.com) , is Board Certified in clinical hypnotherapy and has been in private practice since 1989.  He has provided MindSpa® with the following self-soothing hypnotherapy session. This recording is amazingly effective in helping you to calm down and regain your “center”.  So, sit back and relax.  Turn your phone off and your speakers on.  Run time is approximately 12 minutes.  Enjoy!

Inner Sanctuary (Audio Affirmations)

Created and recorded by acclaimed therapist and relationship expert, Dr. James Walton (MSNBC, Discovery Health) and renowned intuitive advisor and life coach, Suzannah Galland (NBC Today, W's Hollywood A-list and CW's hit show "America's Next Top Model), This soothing and life-affirming audio is perfect for helping you relax, regain your composure and adjust your attitude.  Run time of this audio is 3:23

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

Pioneered by Dr. Roger Callahan, and refined by Gary Craig, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a method for relieving energy and emotions by tapping with your finger tips on well-established energy median points on your body.  Click the link below to access the EFT manual which gives you all of the tapping points and procedures you need to get started.  For more information visit:  www.emofree.com

Click here for EFT manual

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy best known for treating problems like panic attacks and sleep trouble that come from psychological trauma. In fact, it's the most researched method for treating post traumatic stress disorder, the problem that many veterans and victims of violence suffer from.

Most people report that symptoms such as panic attacks, rage, and sleep problems go away after EMDR. Therapists have discovered that EMDR is helpful for a number of other problems, even speeding up personal growth and preparing people for challenges such as sport competitions. It can be a key tool in relationship therapy. Some researchers believe that EMDR actually "re-encodes" memories so that they do not trigger symptoms like panic or sleep difficulty.

An important part of EMDR is the use of rapid, back-and-forth eye movement while focusing the mind on difficult memories or issues. This approach lessens the impact and power of those thoughts and traumas. Sometimes sound, called bilateral sound, or back and forth tapping takes the place of eye movement.

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that requires training and supervised practice, but there is a part of EMDR that can serve as a self-help technique. However, it is not appropriate for people who might have trouble tolerating deep relaxation or increased awareness.

To get started, do the following:

Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Think back to the circumstances that caused your current distress, and feel its negative emotions. Notice how you have thoughts about it, and also physical feelings.

While paying attention to the thoughts and feelings, move your eyes back and forth, left-right-left-right, somewhat quickly, for about twenty seconds . Remember to stay with your thoughts and feelings at the same time.

Stop the eye movements and take a few moments to notice any way that your experience of this issue has changed. Either the intensity will decrease, increase, stay the same, or change its theme somehow.

If the intensity has decreased, then you have found a way to make your issue less of a trigger. This means you are likely to approach the situation with more creativity and objectivity in the future, because you will have less of a negative charge connected with it.

If it has increased, then you need to decide if you are getting too uncomfortable and need to stop, pending getting professional help. After all, we are just talking about one ingredient of a more complete method.

If you like, you can repeat this technique a few times on your issue. Many people find that this creates a relaxed, meditative effect.

Once you feel that you are not triggered very much, see if it is easier to come up with some kind of improvement in how you approach the situation; an improvement that would bring out the best in you and your partner. Don't try too hard. Just see what ideas occur to you for now.

When this works, people are surprised to find that it changes their automatic reactions before they even realize it.

It is important to remember that this is just a brief description of a part of EMDR, and that serious problems will need the help of a professional.

An alternative to eye movement is bilateral sound, such as UpLevel, found at Amazon.com. It creates a sort of sound "environment" for doing this kind of inner work.

For more on EMDR, visit: www.EMDR.com.

Breath Awareness

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Peaceful Focus

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Brief Muscle Relaxation

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Breathing Technique (Part 1)

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Progressive Relaxation (Part 1)

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Deep Muscle Relaxation

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Autogenic Relaxation

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Sleep Technique

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Breathing Technique (Part 2)

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Progressive Relaxation (Part 2)

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Autumn Walk (Music)

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Forest Stream (Nature Sounds)

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Ascension (Ambient Sound)

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Reiki (Ambient Sound)

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Meditation India (Ambient Sound)

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Shimmering

You may have already learned about self-help techniques or therapies that can eliminate problems like anxiety, fears, and compulsions very quickly. Methods like emotional freedom technique and EMDR are quite popular now. These methods somehow trigger our ability to "digest" our experiences and issues, so that they stop being stress triggers. They can even help us go beyond this, to turn these experiences into wisdom.

Many of the things we do are an attempt to turn our experiences into meaningful, productive memories. Funerals and wakes can help us come to terms with loss. At a funeral, we celebrate with others what someone's life means to us. Dreaming is a natural way to "process" the day's experiences and turn them into a web of understanding. You could say that we have both natural and "on purpose" ways to turn experience into wisdom and adversity into peace of mind.

Robert A. Yourell has coined a term for this, because no existing words really capture this. That word is shimmering. When you shimmer an issue, you, at the very least, turn it into a non-triggering thing. Better yet, you let it enrich you with wisdom and peace of mind.

The essence of shimmering is to mentally connect with an issue or troubling memory; to get into a positive, relaxed state; to activate both sides of the brain; and then, to focus on more aspects of the issue as they come up. You'll find this core technique in many methods, and those methods have different opinions about why this works. They also add on various things that may or may not be useful to you, like believing in chi (acupuncture meridian energy), as in emotional freedom technique.

Robert has worked with thousands of people as a therapist, and uses a number of approaches to shimmering, but his favorite way is to go beyond relaxation or de-triggering by expanding awareness. He does this with things like mindfulness meditation. He feels that shimmering is a key missing ingredient that will take stress management, self soothing, meditation, and even mind body medicine to a new level.

You can experience a free, guided mindfulness meditation with Robert Yourell's popular shimmer sound called UpLevel. It is a four-minute meditation that is deeply relaxing and provides the most basic shimmering skill. His full double album of talks and guided experiences is at www.Yourell.com

Core Hurts

“Core Hurts” are childhood emotional wounds that each of us experienced while growing up.  These emotional wounds were inflicted upon us (often unwittingly, but sometimes intentionally) by our parents, our siblings and other caretakers.  When we engage in adult-love relationships or marriage, these core hurts can easily be activated by our spouse/partners, primarily because our spouse/partners often mirror many of the characteristics and behavioral tendencies of our parents and caretakers.  When a core hurt is activated, the response usually starts with a feeling of hurt, but can rapidly escalate into frustration, disappointment, or anger.  The escalation to frustration, disappointment or anger can happen so quickly and reflexively (literally in seconds), that we often do not even recognize that we are feeling hurt at all.

The reason frustration, disappointment or anger surfaces is because the pain of the core hurt is so exquisite, that we reflexively turn to one of these reactive emotions as a means of masking the pain. 

Core hurts generally occur in one of four ways:

  • When part of your “core construct” gets assaulted or disregarded;
  • When you feel abandoned;
  • When you feel engulfed; or
  • When your survival is threatened

Core Construct

Your “core-construct” consists of your values and expectations, your sense of fairness (including right and wrong), your sense of power and control, your sense of competency and adequacy, your sense of self (self-esteem) and your sense of “the ways things ought to be”.

In effect your “core-construct” is who you are and the way in which you perceive and engage the world around you.  Unfortunately, the rest of the world is, for the most part, indifferent to your “self-construct”.  Therefore, it is not uncommon to have parts of your self-construct assaulted or disregarded on a daily basis.  For example, if a waiter treats you rudely, a friend fails to deliver on a promise, a co-worker gossips about you, or your boss makes you feel incompetent, you experience an invalidation of, or disregard for some part of your “core-construct”.  While these daily assaults from others can be hurtful indeed, they are even more so when the perpetrator is your own spouse/partner.  This is because we expect that our spouse/partner should always love us and never hurt us, much like we expected our parents and other caregivers to do.

One of the most common ways in which a person feels that his or her core construct is being assaulted is when the person perceives that their adequacy or competency is being questioned or impugned.  This is particularly true for those who grew up in a highly critical, judgmental, and shame-based environment where the expression of needs or insecurities was discouraged, ridiculed or generally squelched.  Those who were raised under these conditions fear exposure of their inner-shame, human frailty, vulnerability, or perceived inadequacies.  Later in life as these individuals enter into love relationships and marriage, their fear of exposure can be activated by interactions with their spouse/partner where it is expressed or implied that they are somehow inadequate.  Because they have a life-long sensitivity to issues relating to adequacy, such interactions often leave them feeling shameful, devalued, powerless, guilty or even unlovable. 

Abandonment

Each of us has an innate fear of abandonment owing to the fact that when we were born into the world, we spent the first months of life believing that we were “merged” with our mothers.  Gradually, as we developed, and were encouraged to individuate, we each experienced a form of abandonment, as our perceived “merger” with mother slowly gave way to the realization that we were individual beings, separate from our mothers.  On a very deep core level, this period of infantile abandonment signified the “loss of other”, and is forever imprinted on our psyches.  For many of us, however, this initial brush with abandonment was only the beginning, because on into childhood, many of us experienced a variety of ongoing abandonment’s…everything from the illness, or death of one of our parents or caretakers, to parents divorcing, or even parents who were just not there for us due to their careers, their own emotional issues, faulty parenting, or due to drug or alcohol dependency, etc.

Much later in life as we become young adults and enter into love relationships and marriage, these archaic abandonment fears are still with us, and can easily be activated when our significant other behaves in a way that is reminiscent of our early childhood experience.  Behaviors exhibited by our spouse/partners which trigger feelings of abandonment can include rejection, distancing, being emotionally unavailable, as well as separation due to military deployment, or prolonged work-related travel.  When these occur, we suffer separation anxiety and emotional wounding much like the early emotional wounds we suffered as children. 

Engulfment

In early childhood on through our adolescent and teen years, many of us experienced engulfment.  Engulfment is somewhat opposite of abandonment.  Parents who engulf their children are overly meddlesome in the child’s life, continually frustrating and thwarting the child’s natural and healthy inclination to separate and individuate.  Often one or both of the parents encourages the child to mirror them, and can become very intrusive into all aspects of the child’s existence, from infancy through the teen years.  Individuals who experienced this type of upbringing are imprinted with a “loss of self”.

Much later in life as these children become young adults and enter into love relationships and marriage, these archaic engulfment fears are still there lurking beneath the surface.  Not surprisingly, if you have engulfment issues, and your significant other behaves in what is perceived as a controlling or intrusive way, these old engulfment fears are activated, and your childhood wounds are re-opened. 

Survival

Each of us is hard-wired to avoid pain, suffering, and death.  If your spouse/partner inflicts pain and suffering on you, or in the extreme, threatens your very existence, then hurtful feelings will be triggered.  This, in turn, may activate a “flight or fight” response, which is designed to protect you from pain and possible extinction.

So it behooves both you and your spouse/partner to understand not only your own core construct and primal fears, but each other’s as well.  Once you each have a thorough grasp of the other’s core construct and primal fears, you will each be more sensitive about not activating the other’s core hurts, and be more empathetic when you inadvertently do so.

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Jun 21, 2024
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