Santa Claws: The rotund huckster of retail excess and elfin slavery who punishes reindeer with Eurocentric names and whips them into a flying frenzy . Lewis black
I often work with groups using lists. In movement therapy as well as psychotherapy, educational and process oriented groups lists are a great structure for groups to explore thoughts, and/or feelings. Here is a list that often comes up in groups ten suggestions about feelings.
1. Become emotionally literate. Label your feelings, rather than labeling people or situations.
Use three word sentences beginning with “I feel”.
Start labeling feelings; stop labeling people & situations
“I feel impatient.” vs “This is ridiculous.” I feel hurt and bitter”. vs. “You are an insensitive jerk.”
“I feel afraid.” vs. “You are driving like an idiot.”
2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.
Thoughts: I feel like…& I feel as if…. & I feel that
Feelings: I feel: (feeling word)
3. Take more responsibility for your feelings.
“I feel jealous.” vs. “You are making me jealous.”
4. Use your feelings to help make decisions
“How will I feel if I do this?” “How will I feel if I don’t?”
“How do I feel?” “What would help me feel better?”
Ask others “How do you feel?” and “What would help you feel better?”
5. Use feelings to set and achieve goals
– Set feeling goals. Think about how you want to feel or how you want others to feel. (your employees, your clients, your students, your children, your partner)
– Get feedback and track progress towards the feeling goals by periodically measuring feelings from 0-10. For example, ask clients, students, teenagers how much they feel respected from 0 to 10.
6. Feel energized, not angry.
Use what others call “anger” to help feel energized to take productive action.
7. Validate other people’s feelings.
Show empathy, understanding, and acceptance of other people’s feelings.
8. Use feelings to help show respect for others.
How will you feel if I do this? How will you feel if I don’t? Then listen and take their feelings into consideration.
9. Don’t advise, command, control, criticize, judge or lecture to others.
Instead, try to just listen with empathy and non-judgment.
10. Avoid people who invalidate you. While this is not always possible, at least try to spend less time with them, or try not to let them have psychological power over you.
When we come out of the womb and take our first inhale and when we pass away and take our last exhale the breath is primal and fundamental to are being.
Since breathing is something we can control and regulate, it is a useful tool for achieving a relaxed and clear state of mind. Here are some simple breathing exercises:
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. When you take a deep breath in, the hand on the abdomen should rise higher than the one on the chest. This insures that the diaphragm is pulling air into the bases of the lungs.
After exhaling through the mouth, take a slow deep breath in through your nose imagining that you are sucking in all the air in the room and hold it for a count of 7 (or as long as you are able, not exceeding 7)
Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. As all the air is released with relaxation, gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely evacuate the remaining air from the lungs. It is important to remember that we deepen respirations not by inhaling more air but through completely exhaling it.
Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breaths and try to breathe at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds (or 6 breaths per minute). At this rate our heart rate variability increases which has a positive effect on cardiac health.
Once you feel comfortable with the above technique, you may want to incorporate words that can enhance the exercise. Examples would be to say to yourself the word, relaxation (with inhalation) and stress or anger (with exhalation). The idea being to bring in the feeling/emotion you want with inhalation and release those you don’t want with exhalation.
In general, exhalation should be twice as long as inhalation. The use of the hands on the chest and abdomen are only needed to help you train your breathing. Once you feel comfortable with your ability to breathe into the abdomen, they are no longer needed.
When I work with groups I am constantly observing and evaluating. I use evaluations to guide and direct; to ascertain the problems and needs of the group, and program. According to Cruz, Berrol, (2004), “…quantitative methods explore measurable observable phenomena related to human experience, and seeks to explain and predict behavior.”
For instance, in one particular workshop assisting Dr. Rutkowski, I observed a client clench her hands, contract, and stand in a posture that would be difficult to move from whenever she used the phrase, “moving forward.” My hypothesis was she did not truly believe and embrace what she was saying, and had some physical tension around this phrase based on her body language.
I have observed countless times before, the relationship between words and phrases and stances and postures (known behavioral phenomenon). Further, I have witnessed how one could change one part, stances/postures for instance (known variable), which would change the manner of the spoken words/phrases and thus their meaning for the client (predicted state). Based on this data, I suggested the client consciously take a stance/posture that was physically non-contracting (opening), and begin a movement process that was opening and flowing. Her body stance/posture changed and the manner in which she said her words changed as she experienced the concept of ‘moving forward.’
Afterwards, she shared that she began to truly believe both physically and emotionally that she could ‘move forward.’ My assertion that she did not fully embrace what she was saying was confirmed by the client.
In my process of leading groups I rely on my Halprin Method/Motional Processing/Life Art Process knowledge, my experience with many great teachers over the years, my intuition, and how I would want a workshop to be if I were the participant. I observe the dynamics of the individual and group, whether it is elders or preschoolers, and adjust accordingly. For instance, while leading the preschoolers in a creative movement exercise, they got out of control and ran about wildly ignoring my directions. I changed the quality of my voice and directed them to move like wooly worms. Naturally, it’s difficult to move wildly about when you’re lying on the floor wiggling.
Each group presents itself based on not just the dynamic of the individual and the collective, but also on the culture that the group is a part of. With the church group, there seemed to be a polite non-cooperative nature in their response to my direction of movement while reading a psalm. Having them close their eyes and adding more direction to the exercise seemed to open up the movement quality and quantity.
It gives me the giggles when I think of how terrified I was as a child to get up in front of a group and read a book report, or engage in some sort of activity. Today when I teach/lead a group, I actually feel more balanced, whole and in harmony than when I am not teaching/leading.
Cruz, R,F. & Berrol, C.F. (2004). Dance/Movement therapists in action: A working guide to research options. Springfield, Ill.: C.C. Thomas.
Rutkowski, A. (1984). Thesis: Development, definition and demonstration of the Halprin Life/Art Process in Dance Education. Unpublished doctorial dissertation, John F. Kennedy University.
Winter, R. (2001). Handbook for action research in health and social care. New York: Routledge.
Hervey, L.W. (2000). Artistic inquiry in dance/movement therapy:
Creative Research Alternatives. Springfield, Ill: Charles C Thomas.
Reprinted from my unpublished manuscript: Renewal and Rediscovery of the Self in the Life Art Process: 20 years as participant, assistant and facilitator. By Richard Brunner MA, R-DMT. Copy write 2006.
I have been practicing meditation since the mid-70’s and started a mindfulness meditation practice in the mid-90’s. Mindfulness has to do with the quality of awareness that we bring to what we are doing and experiencing, to being in the here and now. It has to do with learning to focus on being in the present, to focusing our attention on what we are doing and what is happening in the present.
Many of us are distracted by images, thoughts and feelings of the past, perhaps dissociating, worrying about the future, negative moods and anxieties about the present. It’s hard to put these thing away and concentrate on the task at hand.
I started teaching mindfulness to patients a few years ago and often used the following as a hand out:
Mindfulness has to do with states of mind. Reason Mind, Emotion Mind, and Wise Mind. Reason Mind is your rational, thinking, logical mind. It plans and evaluates things logically. It is your “cool” part. Reasonable Mind can be very beneficial. It is easier to be in Reasonable Mind when you feel good. It is much harder to be in Reasonable Mind when you don’t feel good.
You Would Use Your Reasonable Mind To:
Build a bridge
Figure out how to double a recipe
Balance your checkbook
Figure out the fastest way from point “A” to point “B”
Emotion Mind describes times when emotions are what influence or control your thinking and behavior. Emotional Mind can also be very beneficial. Emotions are what motivate us to action. Emotions are what keep us attached to others and building relationships.
Emotion Mind can be aggravated by:
Illness, Lack Of Sleep, Tiredness, Drugs, Alcohol, Hungry, Overeating, Poor nutrition and/or lack of exercise, Environmental stress and threats, not taking your meds.
Both Emotion and Reasonable Mind Are Equally Important And Valuable
Reasonable mind gives you a way to solve your problems.
Emotion mind gives you a reason (motivation) to want to solve them.
Wise Mind is the integration of emotional and reasonable mind. Wise mind is that part of each person that can know and experience truth. It is where the person knows something to be true or valid. It is where the person knows something in a centered (balanced) way. It is almost always quiet and calm in this part of the mind.
Everyone Has A Wise Mind!
Some people have simply never experienced it.
No one is in Wise Mind all of the time.
Wise Mind – An Analogy for Wise Mind is like a deep well in the ground. The water is at the bottom of the well. The entire underground is an ocean called Wise Mind. But on the way down, there are often trap doors that stop progress. Sometimes the trap doors are so cleverly built that you actually believe that there is no water at the bottom of the well. The trap door may look like the bottom of the well. Perhaps it is locked and you need a key. Perhaps it is nailed shut and you need a hammer. Perhaps it is glued shut and you need a chisel.